We’ve all heard of it, this supposed “friend zone,” a category where Nice Guys are placed after the person of their affections doesn’t return their feelings. This phrase is often invoked when girls decide that they don’t want to start a relationship with someone, and it’s usually met with understanding and sympathy for the Nice Guy. How dare a woman decide that she’s not attracted to a friend and does not want to start a relationship with him? How dare she, when the Nice Guy has spent so much effort trying to court her? What a bitch. The least she could do is give him a chance. He deserves that much, right?
If you find yourself thinking this way, please stop. Reevaluate. Maybe sit down, because you might be shocked at what I’m about to tell you: The friend zone does not exist.
It is a product of male entitlement that pervades the headspace of men in today’s society and makes them think that they have a right to a relationship or sex or whatever it is that they want from women just because they’re nice to her. Just because they put time and effort into a friendship. A friendship.
Let’s take a look at the definition of friendship again:
(Thanks, Oxford Dictionaries!)
Friends aren’t romantic partners. Friends can become romantic partners, but funnily enough, not all of them do.
Friendships are based on mutual trust and loyalty, outside of attraction. At the risk of sounding contrived, I’d say friendships are sometimes even more important than any romantic attachment you’ll form in your life because it’s literally just you and this other person liking each other’s personalities enough to want to spend time together doing whatever. There’s no ulterior motive there – or at least, there shouldn’t be.
Male entitlement comes into play when men start to expect things in payment for their friendship. Do you know what happens when girls are friends with the people they want to pursue romantic relationships with? They realize, hey, these people are actual human beings who can choose whether or not they want a relationship with me. Although “friend zoning” a girl is definitely something that happens, it’s still not even as close as being as a) pervasive and b) socially acceptable as men being “friend zoned” and angsting about it.
If a girl were to complain about how the guy “totally led her on by being nice to her,” she’d instantly be labeled “desperate” or “needy” or even “self-absorbed,” because, hello, not every guy wants to fuck her, Jesus.
But these are the exact things men think when they’ve been purportedly “friend zoned,” and instead of being called “self-absorbed” (because, hello, not every girl wants to fuck him, Jesus), these poor Nice Guys are given a sympathetic pat on the back, and the other person is berated for not being attracted to him.
“Give him a chance.”
“He’s a good guy.”
“Maybe your standards are just too high.”
You’re probably right. My standards don’t include entitled men who think that just because they show me some kindness I’m obligated to give them something in return. I’m not – and women are not – a machine that dispenses love and sex when fed kindness coins, and if my friendship isn’t good enough for Nice Guys, then why on earth would I want to start a relationship with them?