Recently the “friend zone” — the magical and mystical and metaphorical zone people are placed into by those they are romantically or sexually interested from which they cannot escape from the fiery hell of being labelled nothing more than a friend — has been a hot topic. Well, probably not that recently, since I tend to give it a while before I make my own comments. Blame it on taking time to observe and think or simply being behind the times. I suppose I don’t like to compete for the spotlight on matters either. It puts me off.
We hear this term mainly from men complaining about how they’ve been supposedly catergorised, and only men for a long time as far I can tell, until more recently women and feminists have highlighted the injustices and inaccuracies of the term, however without seeming to fully explain what exactly the issue is, which is what I’m going to try to do. Perhaps slightly more ground-breakingly, I’m going to attempt to also advise how it can be avoided simultaneously, which is something I’ve not yet seen done in a non-sexist way. Wish me luck.
The thing is, the “friend zone” is predominately a myth. I say this is because I’ve seen countless relationships move from being friends to lovers, even after years of friendship. I know those indignant unrequited lovers amongst you are going to be shouting that it doesn’t happen all the time, so let’s get into the next issue: why it might sometimes happen that a woman doesn’t view you as a potential romantic partner. The way I see it, there are two possibilities:
- You’ve acted like a friend and the object of your interest doesn’t want to lose you as that. Relationships are messy, and perhaps you are much too valuable. In this instance, you shouldn’t see the “friend zone” as an insult to your sexual irritability and your romantic qualities, but as a compliment. Maybe she just wants you to stick around indefinitely. Maybe you’re marriage material and she’s trying to figure things out at the moment. Maybe she’s not into anything too serious.
- There isn’t a mutual spark. Sometimes there just isn’t. She could find you physically attractive, and may well have told you so, but perhaps your personalities don’t quite match. Just because you treat her like a princess and are smart and interesting doesn’t mean a woman’s guaranteed to fall at your feet. There are numerous other factors at play. Human connection is a complicated matter. Things you’re not even conscious of — discreet scents, chemistry and body language — are all relationship deciders when it turns to romance, and unfortunately, perhaps the two of you aren’t destined to be.
Now, obviously I can’t tell you how to prevent 2; 2 is an unavoidable incident of life. You can, however, do something about 1, and it’s quite simple: If you are romantically interested in a woman, don’t become her close friend without her knowing where you stand on her feelings towards her. You can’t instantly expect a woman to change the direction of her feelings towards you as soon as you decide it’s okay to unravel yours. Of course, you should absolutely and without fail treat a woman with respect, consideration and kindness. But there is a fine line between this in a romantic nature and this in a friend nature. You are simply not expected to care for a woman’s every need until you are in a romantic relationship with her if that’s the way you view her. It’s too painful, and she’ll only assume you’re not wanting anything other than friendship. So, if you want to portray your affections, ask yourself if you could see a close female friend doing the same action as you before you decide. Make it romantic and thus you’ll have an indicator on whether she’s interested in you in that regard from almost the beginning.
I know unrequited love isn’t the best but look how things turned out for Romeo! Up until he mucked up and killed himself, that is. Don’t kill yourself. You can’t get angry with a person for simply not feeling the way you do. If the person was ever your friend you wouldn’t feel that way anyway. Real love comes to all of us eventually, and real love is requited and the attraction is mutual. However, if there is a girl who you’ve been friends with for a while and have suddenly developed intense feelings for, you’ve got nothing to lose by simply telling her. Be gentle, and if you feel you could cope with still being her friend if she doesn’t feel the same, tell her that too.
NB: I know this is directed towards males pursuing females, but it could work either way. I just have more experience with a woman’s feelings being one myself.