The “friend zone” refers to when someone, typically a woman, treats another person as solely a friend rather than as a romantic suitor.
The first step to getting out of the friend zone is to acknowledge the fact that it doesn’t legitimately exist. It’s irrational. Problem solved!
The term came to rise in popular culture when Joey Tribbiani, a character from the hit sitcom Friends, dubs Ross Gellar as the “mayor of the friend zone” for being unsuccessful in his attempts to enter a romantic relationship with long-time crush Rachel Green.
Many other films and shows perpetuate the “woe is me, I’m just a friend, let me be a little vengeant about it” storyline. Think Jane from “27 Dresses,” Jacob from “Twilight,” Cady from “Mean Girls,” the insufferable Ted from “How I Met Your Mother”… the list goes on.
The concept engenders a lot of problematic attitudes. Namely, it relies on the assumption that being incredibly nice/passionate/flirty/cute towards someone automatically admits you as potential partner material. Secondly, it undermines the platonic friendships that many men and women share (not that the friend zone doesn’t apply to same-sex attractions as well, but it’s undeniable the male-female friendship has a huge stigma in contemporary culture). It treats friendship as an abyss leading to nowhere, a punishment, a deep wound to the ego. Thirdly, it shames the friendzoner for saying “no” and creates an undeserved sort of sympathy for the friendzone.
Basically, there’s no point in being amicable with someone you could be sexually attracted to unless you’re going to hook up with them—which is so, so wrong.
I understand where the phrase comes from. Being turned down by a crush is not the best feeling. Unrequited love sucks—but being rejected doesn’t give you the right to act like a victim. Attraction is more complex than just effort. The friend zone is a messed-up coping mechanism for desire that is not recpropcated.
Platonic friendship is cool too, y’all!