If you’ve heard about the concept known as “the friendzone,” you have probably heard about it in the form of controversies and really heated debates on the internet. I’m going to talk a bit about this controversy today, but first, let’s talk a bit about the concept itself, the idea of the friend zone.
I’m going to talk a little bit about this concept, and some related concepts to give it a bit of context. The word “Friendzone” has two parts, “Friend,” and “Zone.” Both parts are important.
Friendship, that’s one of the ways that people can relate with each other. Other ways, are sexuality, romance, family, professional, and so on. In this context, friendship, sexuality, and romance are the most relevant ones. So, they are the ones I am going to focus on today.
A zone is a scenario that is kept separate from the surroundings in general, and from other zones in particular. Using this system, the friendzone would be friendship that is cut off from sexuality and romance. And, I think most people who have been debating about this word would agree on this definition.
Using the same system, a sex zone would be a sexual relationship walled off from friendship and romance. While a romance zone would be love walled off from sexuality and friendship. This sex zone is not complicated at all. It’s just one instance where people refuse to get to know each other at all.
The romance zone, that’s a bit more complicated. It could refer to some one protecting his or her own emotions, making it an all-or-nothing deal, refusing to have sex without becoming a serious couple first, maybe even refusing to hang out as friends. More like, you have to take all of me, or we don’t be together at all. It could also refer to some kind of Madonna-whore complex where, for example, a man don’t see his wife as sexual because she’s pure, or a woman don’t see a man as sexual because he’s a provider, something like that.
To confine relationships in to zones like this, can that be said to be a good or a bad thing in general? I don’t think so. I think it depends on two things. First of all, is it needed to zone off like that? And second, are everybody involved being honest with themselves and each other emotionally and otherwise?
I think zoning can be a very good idea if it’s needed, and done in an honest way. Of course, if it’s not needed, it becomes an unnecessary restriction. Some people can be friends with benefits, or go back and forth a bit, between being just friends, and dating. This can be a bit on a continuum, sliding scale? And it’s not a problem for them because it works just fine.
But, not everybody works this way. For some people, this doesn’t work at all, and for some people, it works with other people, but these two individuals don’t have the right chemistry for that kind of thing to work. In those cases, some zoning off might be needed. And of course, if one person is attracted, and the other is definitely not attracted at all, then there might also be need for some zoning in one way or another.
If you are clearly attracted to a friend, who is clearly not attracted to you, then you should probably do some zoning yourself, not leave it for the unattracted person to do it for you. If you’re just horny, you should put yourself in the friend zone, and if you’re actually in love, you should put yourself in the romance zone, instead of putting up with a lot of bullshit.
Trying to exploit someone who you call a friend, that’s a really shitty thing to do, sexually or otherwise. Trying to squeeze some sexual favors out of someone who isn’t interested, that’s a shitty thing to do regardless, but doing it to someone you call a friend, that’s really low. And using someone who’s in love with you, trying to squeeze non-sexual favors for nothing, that’s a shitty thing too.
And this is really where the controversies get started. People get fed up with manipulation, dishonesty, and bullshit from the problem they see, which is usually either people trying to exploit people sexually, or people trying to exploit people non-sexually. But both problems exist, they are different sides of the same coin. Really shitty coin at that. In many cases, both problems exist at the same time. Two persons being dishonest with themselves and each other. In other cases, it’s just one way or the other. But, on the whole, both problems exist.
They are usually discussed as gendered problems. People are talking either about men trying to get sexual favors from women, or about women trying to get non-sexual favors from men. And these are probably the two most common variants, but both problems exist regardless of gender and orientation.
Friendship is not about gender, and it’s not about sexuality or romance. When two persons are friends, it doesn’t matter what gender they are, or what sexual orientation they have. It doesn’t matter if they are sexually compatible or not. Because that’s not what friendship is about. If they can combine the friendship with being friends with benefits, or having a bit of dating, or whatever. Well, that’s fun for them, but that’s not really the point, is it?
The thing is a friendship needs to be mutual. You need to be able to talk with each other both ways, be there for each other. If you enter a friendship on bad terms, in bad faith, that’s a bad thing. And bad terms? That’s things like, “Okay, I’ll put up with listening to her because maybe I’ll get laid later. That’s not friendship, that’s manipulation. And likewise, if you go into a friendship thinking, “Oh, but I’m so cute, so he should be honored having to put up with my bullshit.” That’s not friendship either. That’s manipulation as well.
All in all, friendzoning yourself, or one of your friends is a good thing to do if you do it for the right reasons. And being in the friendzone is not a bad thing at all if the friendship is real, and neither of you is dishonest or in love.
The core points here are:
* There are many different zones or nodes. Friendship, sex, romance, coworkers, and so on. Each of them is used for many different reasons.
* To zone or not to zone is not a bad thing in itself, it depends on how and why it is done. Dishonesty and manipulation sucks.
The implication that all zones would be equal or interchangeable is unintended and unwanted. As is the implication that all forms and levels of manipulation would be equal or interchangeable.
Manipulating someone for a certain goal ranges from rather innocent forms (listening to a new acquaintance as if your were interested in what they are saying, hoping for a ride home and/or a one night stand) to truly abusive forms (making someone emotionally dependent on you for the purpose of exploiting them financially or sexually). These higher levels have a certain “evil apples versus nightmare oranges” quality to them. They are not the same or equal or interchangeable.