I had been thinking about the Friend Zone lately. For reference, what I mean by the Friend Zone is a condition where one person is interested, romantically, in another person, but that other person only thinks of the first as a friend. And they maintain that connection and keep feelings in check and often hidden.
I’ve seen a lot of it in my life and I’ve seen how it turns out. When I was younger, I got shoved into the Friend Zone at least a few times and even put up with it in a misguided attempt to get out of it.
In my experience, it is nearly always a man who wants more of a woman but sticks around as a friend. I’ve heard of it going the opposite direction, but it’s rare. What has become really clear to me, however, seeing this stuff play out, is how toxic these relationships are to both parties.
Clearly it’s bad for the guy. Who is pining after someone else and is in close proximity with little chance of advancement. Like a starving person working at a bakery. So they are wasting chunks of their life and putting themselves through emotional turmoil. The number of times a long-time friend zone has morphed into a romantic connection with stability is roughly equivalent to the number of times people get hit by lightning and go on to become Lightning Man, Defender of the Golf Course. I mean, I guess it can happen. It’s a non-zero chance. But modern science is incapable of predicting probabilities so small. I don’t think I’ve ever once seen a long-term Friend Zone become a boyfriend/girlfriend. At least not the kind of Friend Zone I’m talking about. Clearly friends become more. But that’s not really a Friend Zone.
To throw out a blanket, women seem to put you in a category and you’re that forever. I was just talking to a buddy at the beach about this. And men are a bit more flexible. Which is why they get Friend Zoned. Our mock example was if his wife of 15 years suddenly died, this waitress he knows could come up to him when he was sobbing on the park bench and be like, “hey, want to go to my place and fool around? or are you still broken-up about your wife?” And he’d be like, “who?”
But it’s a terrible situation for both parties. The woman now has a stand-by “friend” who is giving 110% in the hopes of securing something else. Not only that, but he will put up with his friend-ee giving 75% in return, because any attention is good. It’s a totally inequitable relationship.
I’ve found that women who maintain a lot of Friend Zone connections tend to have shit regular relationships. Because they’re used to giving 75% and getting 110%. So when they’re in equitable relationships that are trying to be 1:1, she is justifiably like, “this person is a very poor friend and lover.” Well, yeah. Because you have to actually work at it. I used to hear a lot of women saying they had primarily guy friends because “women are so catty.” Maybe. But it might be those women are requiring 1:1 relationships with actual give and take reciprocation. And having a stable of Friend Zone friends means you got a million people giving 110% and are happy as shit if you send them a text once a month. Even if it’s an accidental butt text. Cuz, in a way, they got to touch your butt.
The way I’ve seen these relationships morph is that, over time, the woman gets older. The Friend Zone people finally clue up that they will be forever in the Zone; or they meet someone who gives them 1:1 and they recognize they’ve been crapped on all this time; or the woman simply loses some of her appeal.
But someone who maintained a lifetime of Friend Zone pals is going to be ill-equipped to have normal, mature relationships. Being a good friend and having a mature dating relationship takes practice for everyone. A Friend Zoner didn’t have to go through the learning process of getting burnt or maturing. It’s like actors who become child stars. There’s a 105% chance they become drug addict porn stars because they didn’t go through the normal growing process and everything was so easy in their youth that they can’t handle it when it inevitably goes away.
I did an experiment some years ago where I grabbed people who were notorious for having a lot of Friend Zone pals. I ruthlessly interviewed them to see if they could be honest about it. The guy friends in the Friend Zone, I could, about 95% of the time, get to admit they wanted to be romantic with their women pals. And the women pals, never, ever, recognized or would state that the people they had in the Friend Zone were anything other than purely platonic friends. And if they were ever itching for more, they should leave. So just in that small sampling, they were incredibly toxic and inequitable. But the big thing I’ve come to realize is that they were also quite unhealthy for the women. Because at some point you’re not going to be able to have that herd of Friend Zones and you’re going to have to rely on your own skills as an honest friend.
Of course, all of these are just broad generalizations and stereotypes. But that’s what blogs are for.