I’m not sure at what point the term Friend Zone became a thing. We didn’t have it back in my day. There were guys who liked girls and girls who liked guys, some returned the affections, while others did not.
I’ve told many stories about being ghosted, if men and women can be friends, and unrequited love. None of which are friend zone material. Why? Because there is no such thing as being friend-zoned. It does not exist. If you like someone who thinks you’re their friend, then that’s just how it is. No one is putting you in any real or imagined zone, except you.
While I’ve seen women and girls go on about being friend-zoned, the majority of the people complaining are men and boys. A guy who wants in a girl’s pants, but she sees him as just a friend, well that’s on him. If he continues to hang around and put up with it, giving her rides, paying for dinner, buying her gifts, that’s still on him. He’s the one who keeps coming around, hoping one day she will finally see him as a boyfriend or hook-up material when in reality, he doesn’t have to keep putting himself in that situation.
Every relationship is about two people (unless you are in a poly relationship, then just use whichever number applies here). Both parties in the relationship need to agree on what the relationship is. Is it a friendship? Friends-with-benefits (FWB) situation? Just hooking up with no strings attached? Dating each other and other people? Only dating each other? Whichever it is, both people have to be on board.
If one person decides that they want to go from friendship to FWB, that should be discussed. Maybe after the sexy time, if it is one of those things that just happens in the middle of a pillow fight or something. Either way, a potential status change needs to be agreed upon by all involved. If not, then things will get confusing and feelings will probably get hurt.
When I first met The Hubs, we were just hooking up with no strings attached. Which worked out great for our life plans. He was getting ready to move to Hawaii soon and I wanted to be single for a while. We were both brutally honest with each other about our life’s failures and successes, dreams, worries, and our sordid pasts. We had no reason not to be since we were just sex buddies.
Being so honest is likely why we soon became FWB rather than just a hookup with no strings attached. There still weren’t too many strings, except for the mutual agreement that we texted and called each other a lot, in addition to sexy times.
Very soon thereafter, I realized I had a problem. I was falling for him, fast and hard. I knew this changed our arrangement and I knew I had to tell him. I was also painfully aware that if he didn’t feel the same way, I needed to stop being anything with him. No FWB, no sex without strings, and not even just friends. I was in love and it would be bad if he wasn’t. Trying to be around him, just friends or just a hookup would be bad for me and my self-worth. Once I told him, it was either, say goodbye forever or we would mutually agree to a different type of relationship. Me choosing to step back would be MY choice. Me choosing to not say anything would still be MY choice. It wouldn’t be HIS fault that I caught feelings.
This is why there is no such thing as a friend zone. It is a choice. You’re friends, you start feeling more than just friendship and the other person doesn’t, then that’s on you if you keep hanging around. You can’t control other’s emotions or actions. You can control your own and what you do about it. You can’t make someone love you and no one can put you in this fictitious zone. That’s not the way reality works.
A few days after I realized I was in love with him, I waited until after one last sexy time. After, as we laid there in the dark, I told him what I was feeling, knowing this may be the last time I ever got to spend with this amazing guy. To my relief, he had caught feelings for me as well! Now, almost a decade later, we are still sick with feelings of love for each other.
No matter how it turned out with my now-Hubs, if I stayed around if he didn’t reciprocate my feelings, then that would be my choice. I wouldn’t have been “friend-zoned” by him. I would be pathetic for not moving on when someone just wasn’t into me. No one can “put” us anywhere we don’t want to be in a relationship. We simply need to be strong enough to know that if we fall in love or really like someone, and they don’t like us back, it’s time to walk away. Why torment ourselves or the person we supposedly love? Why potentially be used or treated less-than?
So, no, there is no real Friend Zone. It’s just a cute phrase to put the blame on someone else for not loving us back. And how fair is that?