27 July 2012

It's a Zone Not a Verb, My Friend

Ok firstly, it's sad that The Friend Zone isn't as amazing as it sounds. Secondly, I'm not really sure or particularly bothered whether the Friend Zone is a thing or not. It has a wikipedia page if that helps at all. Thirdly, the term has reached the point where, if it is a thing, I don't actually know what it is.

Like most people who were watching American telly in the mid-90's, I first came across the idea in Friends. This bloke fancies this woman with this hairstyle. They later fuck and don't fuck and fuck again until the show ends 10 years later. But, before that (1994), this other lothario-type bloke warns him that if you wait too long to make a move on a girl, you'll end up in The Friend Zone and she'll have lost interest in you sexually. Two years later, Chris Rock also uses it, with the implication that he's an idiot and it's his fault. Five years on, 2001, it crops up in Scrubs, but where the running gag fuckcouple have exactly 48 hours (exactly) to kiss or else they'll get Stuck in The Friend Zone. This one's especially interesting as it seems they get stuck there, due to them both being rubbish and idiots, rather than just the hapless bloke.

In both of these, it's a force of nature. It's a natural process that women, or men and women, go through with interpersonal relationships, and the main thing with it is time. Maybe this is true. I've had friends and acquaintances that I've fancied a lot when I first met them but then as I got to know them, I cared less and less that they were fit. I've also been friends with a lot of women who didn't particularly want to fuck me, though I wasn't sure specifically why and spilling my guts on the matter earlier or later didn't seem to make any difference.

In 2005 someone based a whole film, the cryptically titled Just Friends, on the premise of The Friend Zone. I've not seen it so I don't know if they fuck in the end, but its approach is slightly different. In this one, you do end up in The Friend Zone, mostly by having lunch, but the woman decides that you're a friend. Either way, there's a shift in agency. Women, with clockwork efficiency, consciously give you Friend status. But ending up in The Friend Zone is still your own stupid fault.

Nowadays, and I'm not sure when it happened, there's Friend Zoning. Instead of blundering into The Friend Zone because you're terrified of initiating things and leave it too long, a woman actively puts you there. Instead of an accident that was sort of your, or human nature's, fault, it's an act of spite on her part, a special manspace in her psyche, with all razorwire between it and her fanny. So rather than dating advice, you get batshit biotruth hypergamy conspiracies and sexual violence-based revenge fantasies that really aren't the way to treat your friends.

The Friend Zone, as in the dating balls-up, might well be bollocks, and might not. Either way, it makes you fucking miserable, and more so than your standard romantic disappointment. If she's genuinely your friend, you've probably got quite fond of her, which not only makes it sting that little bit more, but turns your friendship from something fun into something painful. On top of that, a friend is someone who actually likes you personally, so you've not ruined things yourself by being an arse, and if you're also passably attractive, it's hard to see where you went wrong. It also feels unfair on a gut level, because you didn't get what you wanted and she did, and all she had to do was not want as many things. Basically, rejection is heartbreaking and frustrating and you're probably allowed to be a bit heartbroken and frustrated over it.

Friend Zoning, as in some weird mean thing women do to men because fuck knows why, is definitely bollocks. Using it as a verb makes the woman personally responsible for not fancying you, morally culpable for the fact that not everyone wants to fuck everyone at any given time. It goes from fucking up and not getting what you were hoping for, to being fucked over and not getting what you were owed. The difference between The Friend Zone as an accident and Friend Zoning as a verb is the difference between deserving sympathy for being unlucky, and squandering sympathy by being a cock about it.


  1. I have nothing to add to this. I just wanted to say that it is brilliant.

  2. gubulgaria9/1/13 00:37

    Yes,spot on.

    You could rehabilitate 'Friend Zoning' the verb as something women and men do to each other involuntarily, like forgetting, but it sounds as though that isn't how it's really used.

    1. Or things enemies do to each other deliberately, like reconciling. It's a weirdly inconsistent word.

  3. Anonymous3/3/13 05:12

    You're ignoring that just because someone is nice or passably attractive it does not mean you have romantic chemistry with them. Women don't befriend men out of spite. They do so because they like this person, but feel no physical attraction to them. It's really not a hard concept to wrap your head around. Men treating it like it's some sort of injustice just proves that those men weren't worth dating in the first place.

    1. "Women don't befriend men out of spite."
      This is kind of the main thrust of the post so it might help if you read it more thoroughly before telling me what I have and haven't ignored.

      "Men treating it like it's some sort of injustice just proves that those men weren't worth dating in the first place."
      This is a weird, weird sentence. There's a slight difference between treating something like an injustice and being unhappy because it's happened, especially if it's happened a lot and you don't understand why - this is also part of the main thrust of the post and I'm beginning to think you read it in a bit of a hurry.

      Plus I'm not sure what you mean by "those men aren't worth dating in the first place" - are you saying men who have trouble finding partners are morally at fault? Maybe if they were just nicer and better friends women they'd deserve to get dated? Are you sure you want to follow this through?

  4. Anonymous3/4/13 06:40

    This is a very good post, I agree with a lot of what you say, except people especially those with low self esteem will try to externalise rejection.

    You don't acknowledge sometimes people who are the subject of crushes do exploit the fact that somebody has a crush on them to form a sort of unequal one sided friendship or unpleasant power relationship. While I can't say it happens more than general unrequited love, this seems to happen a fair amount especially in the teenage years and early 20's when most people don't have a lot of self esteem. I know lots of girls who have done this and I have done this to girls also(I'm not proud and have apologised).

    The proscription for my younger self is not "have a relationship with everybody who crushes on me" but "not to exploit those who do" and if they are a true friend you have some obligation to avoid making them feel bad.

    1. Um, the main reason I didn't acknowledge it is that I've no experience of it ever happening, despite having had a lot of unrequited crushes, almost all in my teens and early 20's.

    2. Anonymous4/4/13 04:36

      I admit that your formulation is more common, and I say again that it is a fantastic article, I'm just giving some context.
      It is strange that you've never heard of this version of 'the freinzone.'

      I can think of perhaps 4 girls I did this to. Looking back, I was selfish and dumb and wasn't used to having female attention, took every opportunity to get it and strung some girls along even though I didn't want a relationship. This hurt at least one person a lot. Like I say I'm not proud,I've apologised, we are proper friends now.

      I also know a few (at least 6 or so) girls who had these kind of relationships with string of guys in (UK)college, and lots of guys who had a few unpleasant unequal 'friendship' relationships at (UK)college before getting some self esteem.

      It is a common enough phenomenon to have it's own onion parody.

      afaict this is the original (internet) meaning of 'friendzone,' when somebody loves the adoration and other things that your crush gives them but doesn't want a romantic relationship and so actively tries to keep you in that kind of unequal 'friendship.'
      I think externalising the rejection "he/she is a bastard etc" can help people to get out of these kinds of relationships, although it is obviously bad for self reflection.

    3. God, that Onion thing is a rubbish bit of satire. It also doesn't have anything in about "zones", though I see how it fits into the superstition about people doing it deliberately.