How it Feels to "Friendzone" Someone

The idea of the friendzone is one that has permeated culture, especially sitcoms and internet memes. In these cases, the girl is the villain. She has broken the boy's heart, and stupidly failed to see that what she wants is in front of her. These ideas never attack the problem from the other side- the girl’s feelings are not as important as the feelings of the boy she has “stupidly” overlooked.

I have personal experience with this situation. About two years ago, I had just broken up with my boyfriend and sought comfort from a mutual friend of ours. I had been friends with him for over 10 years, and although we hadn’t always been close, we became much closer in high school. About two weeks after my break up, he sent me a text that I couldn’t believe. He told me that he had feelings for me, and that it was getting in the way of our friendship.

Being only two weeks out of a long term relationship, this was the last thing I wanted to hear. I felt taken advantage of, because he had waited to tell me until I was vulnerable and heartbroken. I felt sick to my stomach reading the message, and it took me days to be able to respond. I didn’t feel the same way. How could I?

Telling my friend that I didn’t reciprocate his feelings felt awful. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I couldn’t begin a relationship just to save his feelings. He took it worse than expected. We got into a huge fight that lasted several weeks, and it ended with an ultimatum. He told me that if I didn’t want to be with him, he didn’t want to talk to me again. At the time, I thought he was being overdramatic, but we genuinely haven’t spoken to each other since.

In the eyes of the media I’ve been exposed to, I’m the bad guy. A friend who was generally kind to me put himself out there, and I shot him down completely. Despite all the effort he had put into our friendship, I had a relationship with someone else that ended badly. I was the stupid girl who failed to see that a nice guy was right in front of her.

But he wasn’t a nice guy. He took advantage of my weakness and need for comfort in the hopes that I would be more likely to cling to him. When I didn’t respond the way he wanted me to, he decided that his feelings were more important than our decade of friendship. My feelings in the situation didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I felt hurt and betrayed, to him, all that mattered is that I didn’t feel the way he wanted me to.

Though this situation clearly didn’t work out well for either party, the way it is portrayed in media would tell a different story. The idea of the friendzone implies that the only reason for a friendship between men and women is the future potential for a relationship. It allows men to think that they need to be compensated with physical benefits for being emotionally connected with women, making women feel isolated in their friendships. This idea is still being pushed in media, and it is one that needs to be left behind.