Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Friendzone

It's not a TV series hosted by Rod Serling. It's not the place at the end of the gridiron where you make a touchdown and do the victory dance that makes you look like a chicken with a neuromuscular disorder (in fact, there's a conspicuous absence of scoring). It's...the Friendzone, a much-lamented but nevertheless completely bullshit concept, a not-so-subtle outgrowth of (mostly male) privilege and entitlement. For those of you not in the know, let me explain the Friendzone by giving you an example (or you could just look it up on Wikipedia--whatevs). Names have been changed to protect the innocent--and the guilty. I'm going to assume for the purposes of this post that a woman is the 'friendzoner' and a man is the 'friendzonee,' not because I want to be sexist or homophobic but rather because 99.99% of the time I've seen it play out, that's been the dyad involved.

I know a guy named Bob from, I don't know, those nights when the moon is dark and evil menaces Metropolis and we put on our capes and masks and fight crime together. Yeah, that's it. Anyway, Bob has a thing for another member of our superhero squad, Julie. They go to movies and bars together on weekends. He helped her move into her new apartment a few months ago. He brought her ice cream and the first two seasons of Golden Girls when she broke up with her old boyfriend Evil Evan, and held her while she cried about what a jerk he was. Now, Bob would looove to be in a relationship with Julie--or at least to get into her skin-tight-leather crime-fighting hot pants. BUT. Bob has never said a thing about it. He's never asked her on a date (and CALLED it a date), he's never told Julie he's into her, he's never gone in for a kiss while they were watching a movie...nothing. Finally he works up his courage and tells her he's interested in being 'more than friends' (Bob's corny like that, but at least it's more romantic than 'Let's bone,' which I swear to Jeebus I heard at a frat party once). Julie tells him she loves him--he's the best friend she's ever had--but she's not in love with him, not that way. In common parlance, Bob has been Friendzoned; and in this example, as in so others I've heard of (in person, on the internet), Bob is PISSED.

So Bob and I grab a beer the next day, and he starts spilling his guts. I feel for him at first; unrequited love is painful, after all. Then he goes into attack mode.
 "She's just a bitch. She totally used me--to move her stuff, to be her shoulder to cry on! Shit, I even went shoe shopping with her. What straight guy goes shoe shopping with a girl he's not screwing? She totally exploited me, and I was such a nice guy [this will be an important phrase later--ed.], and I totally got friendzoned. Women are just users. They only go for assholes."

Now, let's analyze this. Bobs of the world, I'm going to speak directly to you. Everyone else, feel free to listen in.
1. If you befriend someone with the sole intent of getting in their pants, and you aren't honest about it (instead keeping your plans to yourself and thinking, "Oh, but if I go with her to this John Mayer concert/Sex and the City movie/do what the hell ever other 'nice guy' things, and never ever pressure her romantically, surely she will see that I'm the perfect guy for her and jump on my manhood like a starving dog on a bratwurst"), you aren't actually a 'nice guy.' I hate to break it to you, but you're misguided at best and a manipulative jerkface at worst.

PS--If you really think there should be a sort of contract, where you agree to act friendly and she agrees to give you a chance at a relationship, make that explicit at the beginning--ie, "Hey, I'm just helping you move and listening to you talk about your utterly boring friends in hopes that you'll eventually let me do unspeakable things to your awesome breasts. So let me know if we're a go on that, 'cause otherwise you can move this shit yourself, mmmkay?" Wait--you think that sounds totally awful and would probably get you kicked in the unmentionables? Yeah, exactly, because it lets her know what you yourself are incapable of seeing--you're kind of a self-centered, disingenuous git and not a 'nice guy' at all.

2. Being nice to a woman doesn't entitle you to her body. This idea that hanging out with/doing favors for a woman (you know, like actual FRIENDS do for each other?) means you should have a shot in bed is as old as it is ludicrous. It's like a lite version of the old date-rapey "I took her out to dinner, how dare she not sleep with me!" outrage. She didn't keep up her end of the contract, that frigid friendzoning bitch! Yawn. So twentieth century.
Look. Women are not agency-less sex-vending automatons whose legs spring open after you insert enough 'niceness tokens.' Believe it or not, women are people! Just like men! And they have thoughts and preferences and desires, just like men! And sometimes those desires don't coincide with yours, and that doesn't make either person's desires wrong. You're allowed to want her to sleep with you, and she's allowed to say no.

3. If your ego/emotional equilibrium is so fragile that someone telling you they aren't romantically attracted to you is enough to send you into paroxysms of rage and despair and misogynist Tourette's, you probably aren't ready for an adult relationship anyway. You don't need a girlfriend; you need a therapist.

4. Lastly, what's wrong with being friends with a member of the opposite sex? Friends are awesome--friends of all genders. Viewing every interaction with a member of the opposite sex in terms of humpage potential is limiting and sad. Don't be limited and sad.

For more awesome takes on this issue, try here or here or here.

1 comment:

Yondy said...

As much as I want to agree with you, I am afraid that for some people the friend zone does exist. It is out there, just not as often as people make it seem. I guess it’s story time…

Many months ago I met this girl (let’s call her Liza) and I thought she was perfect in every way. She and I talked a lot and we shared many of the same interests. I tried not to rush into anything, so I kept my intentions a secret. We became very good friends. All that time I was totally star struck over her. I took her to the movies several times, I took her out to dinner, I took her out for ice cream, all that good stuff. She even went as far enough to invite me to celebrate her birthday with her family. I had gotten her a $40 necklace as a way to tell her that I was interested. At that point I didn’t know whether or not she was. After that I saw her wearing it almost all the time. Then one Friday night we went to see the Taken sequel (at her request) and after I took her to get ice cream. It had been a couple months at that point and I finally told her that I loved her. She was taken aback and asked if we could speak outside. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for that. She told me “Yondy, (not my real name) my last relationship didn’t end very well, and because of that I never talk to my ex anymore. I really don’t want that to happen to us, because I value our friendship too much.” I agreed with her of course. However, driving her home while fighting the tears back was one of the hardest things to do in my life. I was at a loss for words, I understood what she meant, but I “hated” her for making me feel like this. I hated myself for not making my intentions clear. I still respected her, and that didn’t make me love her any less. Was it my fault for saying i loved her? Was it her fault for not taking the hint? I have eventually decided that all of that was my fault. i never should have told her how i felt. I know some people might be thinking that i only wanted her for sex, but i know for a fact it wasn’t true. Whenever i looked at her, i realized that i could die a virgin as long as it was me who was buried beside her for the rest of eternity. I understand her wanting to be friends, and i am okay with that. I never complained or said anything negative about it. Now whenever i see her i am still filled with these emotions, but i feel guilty for still feeling this way. The worst part is, after that night I never saw her wear that necklace I got for her again.

Story over. I understand that this is probably the same story every man tells. But I firmly believe in unrequited love. The friend zone exists, just not too the extent people want you to believe. The friend zone is a temporary emotion where you are filled with love, anger, confusion, hatred, and sadness. People usually go through this after realizing that their love is unrequited. It disappears after a few days. But even though I still find myself longing for her love every day. Think what you ant about me, call me a misogynist. I probably am for all I know. I just wanted to get my story out there, and hopefully someone could give me advice.