This is a VERY controversial topic and been the centre of many spirited debates amongst me and my friends. The general divide seems to be between boys and girls; with boys advocating the ‘yes it definitely exists,’ and girls advocating the opposite. But, is it even real? And why is it such a massive deal? AND can men and women ever be ‘just friends?’
First of all, what is the ‘friendzone?’
Well, the friendzone (in typical male culture) is this ‘zone’ that women apparently ‘shelve’ men in when they do not think of them as particular romantic interests. The official definition from our friend wikipedia is:
“In popular culture, friend zone refers to a platonic relationship wherein one person, most commonly a man, wishes to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship, while the other does not. It is generally considered to be an undesirable or dreaded situation by the lovelorn person.”
The question is, does the friendzone really exist, or is it just made up by angry boys who are suffering from unrequited love?
Personally, I both do and do not believe that the friendzone exists. On the one hand, myself and many of my female friends definitely have boys as friends who we have never thought of engaging in any sort of romantic relationship in. These boys are classified as close friends, more often then not just male incarnations of our own close circle of female friends. There is systematically nothing wrong with these boys; it is not because they are not attractive or too much of a ‘nice guy’ that we have designated them as ‘friends only.’ It is simply because we do not find ourselves romantically interested in them, for one reason or another. It might be because we have nothing in common with them, or they just aren’t our ‘type.’ But the main point is, I guess in this sense that the friendzone does exist.
On the other hand, I do not believe that there is a transient ‘zone’ that these boys exist in. Too often the friendzone is associated with women refusing men’s advances because those men are ‘too much of a gentlemen’ or because they are ‘nice guys.’ (ever heard the phrase nice guys finish last?) I often think the friendzone is the way these boys and men help themselves feel validated, as if it is the fault of the friendzone for existing that has made that certain women uninterested, rather than the fault of the man themselves. In a sense, I guess you could say it is an infantile coping mechanism developed by unrequited love in popular culture. These men are looking for ways to blame the woman for not returning their affections, rather than simply accepting that maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
The issues that the friendzone and it’s connotations raise are quite alarming. I’m sure many people have heard of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old man who went on a shooting spree (which killed seven people) because he felt as if he was deserved female attention and could not see how and why women wouldn’t be interested in him, as he was the ‘perfect gentleman.’ (The article on this is here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2638049/7-dead-drive-shooting-near-UC-Santa-Barbara.html) In Rodger’s haunting and deeply disturbing video he titled ‘Retribution’ (filmed before his killing spree in which he himself died) he states that he feels as if he has the right to dole out ‘punishment’ for the women that have rejected him. He can’t seem to understand why he, ‘the supreme gentleman,’ or the ‘alpha male’ as he liked to refer to himself, would not be the object of all women’s affections. It is feelings such as these that pop-culture phenomena such as the friendzone breeds amongst young, hateful and impressionable males. This has to stop.
My reasons for rejecting you are mine alone. I promise you, it is not because you are too much of a gentleman, or too much of a nice guy. It is because you crowd my space or limit my development and growth as a person. It is because you do not allow me to have a chance to breathe, or to exercise my independence as a woman and as a human being. It is because when I want to watch Game of Thrones, you want to watch Come Dine With Me, and we are into different things. It is because I actually have no feelings for you except platonically, and I am not going to pursue a relationship with someone I do not have romantic feelings for just so they can feel validated, important, justified; and I also promise you, that it is not because of the friendzone.
This leads me on to my next question, can men and women ever exist as just friends?
My answer to this; of course we can! How hard is it to just be friends with someone? I have many friends who are boys, who have felt no romantic attraction to me and vice versa. These friends are sources of great humour, companionship, support and understanding to me! We co-exist together, with no hatred, no resentment from those boys about my rejection of them. We can definitely exist as just friends, just as we exist as not-friends together.
I’m sure you all have your own opinions on this, especially the case of Elliot Rodgers. If you have any interesting comments, please post below!