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I have been reading books on dating and, to a less successful degree, trying to find places where I could initiate dating—and one term I kept coming across was “friendzone.”
In a recent conversation, I tried to explain to my friend what my view on friendzoning is, and it seems we didn’t agree on it. So I have decided to write some of my thoughts down and share them just so I can get some understanding of the term.
First of all, let’s try to define friendzone.
An urban dictionary reference said this:
“A particularly aggravating metaphorical place that people end up in when someone they are interested in only wants to be friends. It is impossible to get over someone while in the friendzone, because, as friends, you still see them too often for them to be erased from your memory, and yet, you cannot be with them the way you want.”
Person 1: Hypothetically, how would you react if I told you I like you?
Person 2: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt you, but I want to just be friends.”
Person 1 is now in the friendzone.
As I was writing this, I asked my other friend (a woman) for her opinion, and she told me that men and women look at the friendzone differently, and she mentioned something that got me thinking more about this difference. There probably are biological, societal reasons why men perceive this metaphorical place negatively.
I should probably start with myself though.
First of all, I don’t mind having women as friends; almost all of those I consider friends, fall into the below categories:
>> Women I have no romantic feelings for (various reasons)
>> Women I could have romantic feelings for but they are low-key feelings, and I don’t feel a great urge to find out what they would say should I express them.
>> Women who I have (or had) romantic feelings for but it was established that we’re not mutually aligned in this regard.
The third category is probably the most difficult one as it seems I can handle being friends well if she’s only friends with other males too, but if she’s in romantic relationship with some other man, I struggle to put much effort into the friendship. This is where my woman friend commented that it’s probably something to do with how the brain of a man is wired, and whilst she used the word “ownership,” which is not exactly what any of us want in a relationship, it makes sense to not be that keen on investing much energy and effort into a friendship with someone who has ultimately chosen someone else as their priority.
Obviously, the woman in a romantic relationship isn’t owned by the partner, but I would say there’s definitely some hurt ego involved as we all want something unique that no one else has. We want to be with someone who chose us, and when we can’t have this unique bond, it doesn’t appear attractive to us.
And I think that’s why most men would describe the friendzone as a negative place to be. It’s not necessarily the case of not wanting to be friends with women, but it’s hardly ever clear what it entails. In my case, I am unsure how to ask her to hang out with me, knowing well that there’s a high chance of her saying no, and let’s be honest, no one likes to hear no. Though they say don’t ask, don’t get.
There are a lot of posts online that suggest we should never settle to be the one who always asks the other to do something without them doing the same in return. I also have male friends who don’t reach out as often as I do though, so this applies to all relationships. It all comes to investing one’s energy where we get most out of it. So if we don’t feel like our efforts are matched by others, it’s probably a good idea to review that relationship and decide if it’s worth our efforts. We all probably think twice before ending something that once was precious to us, but things and people change.
One of the things I also read about in the book about dating was that if we ask someone to meet and they say no, but they give an alternative, different date or place, it’s a green light. If they just say they can’t, and give an excuse and leave it at that, it’s pretty much pointless to try again as there’s a high chance of them not feeling as enthusiastic as us about meeting. Which, of course, is their choice, but it’s then our choice to not follow it up any further to keep our own personal integrity.
And because in the moment of being friendzoned no one actually bothers to clarify what it means, it tends to feel like a pity offering, like an attempt to soften the blow of rejection. The ball is back in our court and, quite frankly, you have to be a pretty good player to return it back in the way that makes the other person lose it.
I’ve recently accepted the offer of friendship from someone I felt really strongly about. It just felt like the okay thing to do—you know, we all need friends—but as time goes on, I keep noticing less and less interest from her to actually follow up on the offer, with me being the one that suggests things. It is beginning to feel like something I probably should let go. Perhaps it was just a lesson to be learned, or perhaps at some point in the future something of it will come back. But right now, being a friend seems just hard. I guess I’m scared of admitting that something that once meant the world to me suddenly means almost nothing. Which maybe isn’t even true, it all means a lot still, but it’s in the past as a memory.
So it isn’t just about men rejecting friendships as something not worth having with women, but also about men wanting these offered friendships to work the way they should, where both parties put equal effort in making it work.
I’d like to hear your opinion on friendzoning, either in a comment or by sharing a link to a good post about it.