Friendship vs. the “Friend-zone”

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When a girl says to a guy who is interested in her, “I want to be ‘just friends’”, this is often not what she actually means.  Women have a hard time being direct.  Perhaps they are well intended, in that they are trying to make an awkward situation less awkward, but men rarely get that…especially the kind of men who are “just friends”.  In reality, when she tells you that you are in the friend-zone, it actually means “stop bothering me”.

I was a late bloomer, to say the least.  Being the academic type that I am, when I finally decided to bloom, I approached it as though I were conducting a social study on the opposite sex.  Women, therefore, were the phenomenon.  When I was told “just friends”, to me, that was an opportunity for further study.  How I felt (heartbroken) was irrelevant.  Well, that was when I learned what “just friends” really means.  That just made me more curious about this phenomenon that is the male/female friendship, purely platonic.

Fortunately, when I began this study on friendships with the opposite sex, I was in London surrounded by people from all over the world.  I must say, European women are remarkably sophisticated on these things.  I found them relatively easy to befriend.  I gather, however, that they are not so easy when it comes to that “one thing” that guys usually want.  That was fine by me, since my study focus had shifted to friendship.  I actually made quite a few lady friends, who really were friends, and I enjoyed it.  It was great to be able to sit comfortably with a member of the opposite sex and just talk.  It was even better when some guy was into her, and she would cling to me as a way of turning him down (I’m wicked, I know).  I miss that!  I’m back in America now.  Is this sort of thing possible with American women?  Well, yes, I do see such friendships.  I haven’t figured out how it works yet, however.  But I do know genuine friendship when I see it.

Now I would like to distinguish the genuine friendship from the “friend-zone”.  We men have our flaws, but women have their’s also.  Women, even the most attractive, have an insecure nature and often need validation.  Women find different ways to satisfy that validation.  For some, they do so by finding “floaters”, that is, guys they will keep in the “friend-zone”.  Some of them love having guys around them who are attracted to them, but will never get what they want.  It gives them an endless supply of validation.  This is a very one-sided relationship, bordering on emotionally abusive, and is certainly not friendship.  Both parties are selfish in their own ways.  The guy hangs around pretending to be a “friend”, but wants her physically instead.  (Yes, I know that he often thinks he’s “in love”)  She keeps him around, knowing that the situation is torment for him, because it makes her feel a little better about herself.  This is the dreaded “friend-zone”, and one way or the other, it needs to be ended.

First, here is my advice for the one who is “in love” but in the “friend-zone”.  (I’m writing from a guy’s perspective, but this could also be a girl.)  If you haven’t already, you need to confront her about how you feel.  I don’t know how it will turn out, but anything is better than this.  If she is interested in you as more than a friend, great!  If not, however, you need to know now.  If she is unaware of how you feel, but she cares about you as a friend, than she doesn’t want to keep hurting you.  If, however, she has you “friend-zoned”, then you need to cut off her supply of validation.  In this case, you may think you love her, but you actually love who you think she is.  If she was truly worth loving, she wouldn’t knowingly hurt you this way.  Confront her, find out where you stand, and if you are indeed friend-zoned, here’s what happens next.  First, it’s heartbreak.  Self-loathing might accompany this.  It’s natural for a little bit, maybe a few weeks depending on the severity.  But anger must follow.  You must realize there’s nothing wrong with you, but with her (Could be him if it’s the other way around).  Be angry, it’s healthy.  You may say some harsh words, but get it out of your system, and then move on.

Lastly, here is my advice if you find yourself on the receiving end of this desire.  First, if you are knowingly friend-zoning someone, cut it out!  It’s cruel.  You are not being kind to this person by “sparing their feelings”.  More than likely, however, you have just started to realize that this friend you care about has more romantic feelings for you, and you don’t feel the same way.  You need to confront this person.  I don’t know how it will affect the friendship, but I can tell you that the longer you wait, the more you will hurt your friend.  Confront them and get it over with.  If it ends the friendship, it was ending anyway.  But you may be able to salvage the friendship.  If the person is severely heart broken, but you both still want to keep the friendship, I’d recommend some time apart to heal and for the heartbroken party to find some perspective.  You can say things like, “there’s someone out there for you”.  It won’t help much, but it certainly won’t hurt.  They have to realize this for themselves.  You can’t end their pain, but you can at least stop dragging it out.  It’s really the kindest thing you can do, though it may not feel like it at the time.  For girls, especially, don’t drop subtle hints.  He won’t get it.  The best way with guys is to be straight forward.  It’s like pulling a piece of duct tape off of a hairy chest, or maybe waxing your legs.  Do it in one quick pull, RIGHT OFF!

Friendship is a wonderful thing, but the “friend-zone” is just plain cruel.  If you care about your friends, don’t let them end up in the “friend-zone”.  If you care about yourself, don’t allow yourself to stay in the “friend-zone” for very long.

Interesting and relevant links:

Ray William Johnson’s “Friend zone”.  Not normally a fan, but this is his best work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSwsJtSfyXU

This guy’s spot on…and hilarious!  I don’t recommend his other vids though…it’s just more angry atheist BS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1SOx2ePySY

She’s very clever, and it’s hard to see through her layers of sarcasm sometimes.  She seems to be blaming the guy who is in the “friend-zone” however, for playing “friend” because he fears rejection.  There’s some truth to that.  With that said, don’t send him signals.  Like I said above, just be very direct.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tNTckSW7zI

If you’re in that anger stage, following rejection, singing this song will help:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzF79xzEfsg

I wish everyone some genuine, quality friends, and eventually that special someone.  Trust me, you gotta learn to crawl before you learn to walk.  So learn to love yourself, and find a few good friends first.  That special someone will come along later, when you’re comfortable with who you are, and probably aren’t even looking.

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