I have toyed with a post explaining why I believe the word friendzone is bullshit for over 5 years. I have outlines, ideas, and just random thoughts peppering my work in progress document and nothing I wrote ever could quite get past the whole “I don’t like the label and it’s implications”. Until recently, I felt writing this post would be irresponsible and give people the wrong impression about me (by that I mean, I didn’t want men who felt they were in the friendzone to start pushing boundaries). But I write this now because there is something bubbling beneath the surface of the word that I think needs to be addressed here. With a few beers in me, I wrote this in reply to a comment on my Predators blog post: I have tried numerous times to write a post on the friendzone, however I stop myself in light of this very context. Until there is a clear understanding of consent, and boundaries, there are certain men that should just stay believing in the friendzone for the sake of the women they are in essence pushing boundaries with…. OK, maybe this should turn into a post.
Any guesses where I am going with this yet? The friendzone is a word, that I have always felt, was a copout. We use it to place a person who we may or make not actually like, but definitely do not want anything physical to happen with (at that particular moment). And as we are still trying to figure out what role they play in our lives, we relegate them into this so called “friendzone”. The implications of that zone, are that the person will take the hint, and therefor understand that they are to stop being flirty, or expect that the person who placed them there will ever sleep with them. Basically, it’s code for “just give up already”.
So, there are two parts that I will touch on here to explain why I think the friendzone is bullshit
The first, is why do we allow, or even encourage people to place labels like this on other human beings. It’s often cruel. If a person likes you, man up, and have the conversation that says you are tired of them doing such and such behaviour, and would like it to stop for the friendship to continue. Then set a clear expectation, for example, this is what will happen if you don’t. Off the top of my head you could threaten that the friendship will be over if they continue to push your boundaries. Of you could simply state where you are at in the moment and call out the persons bad behaviour as it happens.
Perhaps you would like an example from my colourful past? Ok, here is a little story time…Once upon a time when I was in a long term monogamous relationship, I had a friend who would constantly try to buy me drinks, text me cute pet names, and when he got drunk he would meow at me. I really appreciated all the free stuff I was getting, and when we texted it was playful, it was fun, and quite flattering being on someone’s mind like that. However, when he got drunk, he repeatedly tried to cross the line, would hold his hugs just a little too long, and the weird meowing turned into this creepy cat-like howl. To be clear I had zero attraction for him, and was in a completely monogamous relationship that he was fully aware of. He was a teddy bear in the day time with whom I always hugged when I saw him, was a great listener, and overall I loved the boost he gave my ego. So, I, without realizing it, was letting him ride in that weird friendzone territory, while I sorted out my feelings and tried to rationalize where he was in my life.
But then, I grew up. Ok, the truth was, I got sick and tired of his drunken behaviour and watched it start to spill into our sober text messages. So, I gave him a choice. Either stop crossing the line with me when you’re drunk and allow me to trust you 100% of the time, or you will not be in my life. And guess what? After two strikes, he was no longer in my life. I won’t lie, I missed the attention, but ultimately, the ego boost just wasn’t worth having someone like that in my life.
Ok, so now let’s talk about the other side of it. Why people find themselves in the friendzone. I’m not going to mince words here, if you have ever found yourself in the friendzone it is because you do not have the social skills to handle the situation that you are in and you are the problem. See what I did there? I told you what was wrong in a direct manor. Let me explain, if you’re sitting there, shell shocked, or feeling like you want to start defending yourself, take pause and hear me out. If you are attracted to someone, and the feelings are not returned in the same manor that you are wishing they would, there are a few things going on. First, you have picked a target way out of your league and you are either too shy, under confident, or socially awkward to overcome that hurdle so you tell yourself, just being close to this person is enough. Guess what? It’s not, it’s weird, and you need to start learning how to build your confidence.
Second, you have this person in your life who keeps telling you no, but you have decided, that they are wrong, and you are going to keep trying. Guess what? That makes you an asshole and you have violated the whole consent thing. Maybe this person is just being too nice, doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, or is just genuinely trying to figure things out. That shouldn’t matter to you though. If you hear the word no, it’s time to back off immediately. Perhaps they will miss you, and come around. Or more likely, they will realize their gut was right, and they just were one of those genuinely amazing souls who are nice to everyone, and are so relieved that they don’t have to feel awkward around you anymore. Either way, respect the word no, and back off!
The friendzone is not healthy, for anyone. The friendzone is a bullshit place to be, and equally to put someone in while you figure things out. I propose that we remove this silly label from our vocabulary and start actually communicating with people. You don’t have to use black and white labels. We are blessed with a whole range of words, body language, and clear methods of expressing ourselves. So, start building those skills. And did you know that you can always change your mind about a person too? If you tell a person you aren’t into them, and then realize you were wrong you can go and talk to them and share your feelings? Crazy, I know! But it’s far better than playing this whole in the friendzone, out of the friendzone charade. So take these new and improved communication skills you have learned here, and go have meaningful conversations with people you like. And always remember, if they say no, for the love of everything, respect that, and do NOT keep trying!
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