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The “friendzone” and why the whole concept annoys me. 7, May 2012

Posted by Iphigenia in Personal memories, Thoughts.
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There’s a certain website that I browse more or less every day where a heavily used term is beginning to outstay its welcome. The concept of a “friendzone” has always existed, I can remember people complaining about it when I was a teenager. However, I feel that recently in cyberspace there’s this attitude that a man and a woman can’t interact on any level without someone insinuating there’s an ulterior motive. It’s also becoming increasingly likely that someone will make a joke about this so called friendzone.  Every time someone posts a nice item involving a man and a woman, probably doing something as pals, out come the guffaws about how badly one of them is obviously in the zone. As though just being friends isn’t enough.

For the uninitiated, friendzone is apparently what happens when you’ve got two people, usually of the opposite sex, and one of them harbours romantic feelings for the other. Those feelings are not returned. Unfortunately the friendzone seems highly gendered. It’s believed that it’s usually the man who has the feelings and the woman who rejects them. Often the woman is shocked because she didn’t see her male friend as anything else. It can be quite traumatic for both parties involved.

Nobody likes being rejected but equally no genuine friend wants to hurt someone’s feelings. Yet on this website I see it all the time that because the man was nice to the woman, she at the very least owes him sex. It really devalues the idea of friendship and also relationships. I like the physical side of my relationship very much but I have to say if that’s all I wanted, I just wouldn’t bother with the relationship. My boyfriend offers me so much more and I’m very glad to have him in my life. So it annoys me when I see people reducing all male and female interactions to just being about sex. Excluding situations where sex is all you’re after (nothing wrong with that) we’re worth so much more to one another, surely?

But there’s something that annoys me a little more. There’s this idea that the friendzone very rarely happens the other way around because men will accept sex from anything that offers and if you’re a woman who finds yourself friendzoned well, it’s your own fault. You’re obviously ugly. 2 out of 10. Would not bang.

Why does this get under my skin? Well you see, I’m a woman. And I was friendzoned.

It’s been about six years now and I think I’m more or less over the bitterness. Maybe it’s because I’m in a long term relationship with someone else now or maybe time is a healer. Still, when I see the friendzone conversation a little part of me reverts back to being the 20 year old who believed the only reason this happened to me is because I wasn’t attractive enough to fuck. Even I wrongly associated all male to female friendships as having a sexual element. Of course, I wasn’t long out of my teens and my hormones were still raging. I wanted sex…but I also wanted a relationship too. In my mind we were perfect for one another.

Unfortunately this guy had other ideas. He, I think, took on the role that is traditionally assigned to the woman. He thought we were just friends. I don’t know why but in my mind the fact that we hung out with each other more than anyone else, seemed so similar and were pretty much best friends for a few short months made me think that the only logical conclusion was a relationship. I tried to make the friendship work but after feeling rejected so many times (I couldn’t get over my feelings) I basically ended it. And yes, I was bitter. For years. Every attempt made to contact me over the next couple of years was cruelly rejected. Was it revenge? Probably. Do I regret it? Maybe a little bit. But emotionally I was no way stable enough to keep him in my life. As long as he was around I had hope. Having your hopes and dreams dashed is ok the first couple of times but after the fifth or sixth attempt to move things along I started feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall until nothing but a bloody pulp of skin and bone remained.

As for “men will always accept a free shag” – not this guy. I was very much offering it on a platter. Now here’s the part where people will go on about how sexually unappealing I obviously was/am – well why don’t you say this when the friendzone happens the other way around? I have rejected advances from men (what a bitch!) because I just wasn’t attracted to them and couldn’t imagine having sex with that person. But apparently because I’m a woman I’m not meant to have sexual desire and am meant to “give him a chance” and maybe his sparkling personality might make me ignore the fact that the thought of sex with him leaves me cold.

My boyfriend’s personality is what made me stay but when we first met there was something about his mannerisms and the way he looked that I found attractive. I met him around three and a half years ago and back then I thought I had a type. The type didn’t match my boyfriend’s description. But there was a spark between us and lucky for us it led to something more. I also realised having types is a bit silly.

If there’s no spark I can’t help that. Personally I have never been able to get over the “no spark” – I know some women (and even men) say they can and good luck to them. So when I allegedly friendzoned guys I wasn’t trying to be a bitch. I thought very highly of them. As friends. I just couldn’t see anything romantic happening between us.

That’s probably how the guy who friendzoned me felt. Yet even at the time my female friends of all people said variations of the phrase “you can’t make him attracted to you” – what happened to “oh give her a chance, you might grow to like her!” – does that only apply to men who are hopelessly in love with a friend? I know I couldn’t make someone attracted to me but the difference in language used did wonders for my confidence. Not.

Right from high school until my early 20s I believed I was only worth something if men found me attractive. I was bullied at school, mostly about my academic performance (I did very well – other kids didn’t like this) but occasionally there’d be an insult about my looks thrown in there. The guy who friendzoned me was really unlucky. He was the latest in a long line of men I had feelings for who had then seemingly rejected me. He wasn’t rejecting me as a friend but as far as I was concerned rejecting me as a lover was the worst thing he could’ve done.

Really I think people are doing men a disservice when they say that men will accept sex from anything. He could’ve used me, but he didn’t. Still, in my love sick mind that was very much craving physical contact as well I hated him. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t willing to give me a chance. I was using exactly the same kind of throught process behind women being pressured into giving men they don’t fancy “a chance.”

So I have great sympathy for people who feel like they’re in the friendzone. You start thinking things like “what more do I need to do for you to make you see?” and when they show interest in other people you graduate to “why? I spend more time with you than she does!” and “what’s she got that I don’t have? She looks like a rodent” – yes these are actual things I thought, and I’m not ashamed to admit that because we’ve ALL done it at some point. It’s not right but it seems it is perfectly normal to be angry and try to find something at which to channel that anger. There are other circumstances in my case where the anger was justified but for the sake of my point, I don’t need to get into those. My point is: you have to try and accept things the way they are and it IS difficult but eventually you’ll come to a point some years down the line and wonder what all the fuss was about.

And before anyone says of course I thought bitchy thoughts. I’m a woman. Well all those guys complaining that “she dates jerks and then comes crying to me” YOU are being bitchy. Very rarely is there a nice sentiment behind calling someone a jerk. I’ve also heard men call love rivals much worse things than that. In matters of the heart, we’re all capable of being nasty towards rivals – and again, it’s understandable because rejection HURTS.

I can understand both points of view, having lived both points of view. I don’t think being just friends is a bad thing, even though I was terrible at it. I admire people who can make friendships work in spite of an unrequited attraction. I just couldn’t get past my issues. I also feel that if all you wanted out of a friendship was sex then you probably don’t value that friendship as much as you think. If you wanted a relationship you probably value that friendship a little bit but it’s still not nice to pressurise someone into something they don’t want under the pretense of friendship. Trust me, I feel a little bit awful about how I must’ve acted when I did this myself.

I don’t think I’ll ever successfully campaign to rid our language of the word friendzone. I just wish people didn’t use it to mean “that bitch, I did all this lovely stuff for her and she won’t even give me a blowjob!” I see what roughly equates to that sentiment all the time and all I can think is: poor girl. She thinks she has a really good friend there.

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