Evaluating the Friend-Zone

The friend-zone. This banishment to a pit that strictly defines the relationship between you and another as inflexibly platonic. Just friends, buddies, pals. Specifically, it is “a particularly aggravating metaphorical place, that people end up in when someone they are interested in only wants to be friends. It is impossible to get over someone while in the friendzone, because, as friends, you still see them too often for them to be erased from your memory, and yet, you cannot be with them the way you want” according to Urban Dictionary. So, as we can see, the key factor in the friendzone is unrequited attraction or desire for a more intimate relationship. But let’s actually think about this concept a little deeper.

By definition, the friend-zone requires that you want more from the relationship that you already have with someone. You feel like you are owed more from this relationship. Perhaps, you think the person is leading you on by flirting. Maybe you think your behavior is evidence that you deserve a more intimate relationship with this person. The thing is… this other person doesn’t owe you anymore than they’re already giving you. 

Your attraction to them doesn’t mean you deserve any special treatment; your attraction doesn’t obligate any change in action on their part. The sheer concept of friend-zone comes from entitlement and reveals a hidden ulterior motive for your friendship. Treating someone with kindness and compassion because you find them attractive is fake and toxic. If your friendship is built upon your attraction to someone, it’s manipulative, self-centered and not friendship at all. 

I’m not trying to devalue or dismiss the pain of rejection. It hurts a lot; I know that, and I empathize, but think about your impact on the other person here. You might think that you’re making grand gestures that show how much you care about them, but do they want that? And if your motivation for these behaviors are fueled by romantic or sexual desire, are you actually genuinely caring for them? If you’re only focusing on your attraction to this person, you are inherently devaluing the friendship you have with them. Romantic relationships can develop from friendships, and often do, but forcing it is building a relationship on lies and manipulation.