So there’s a new song out by Marshmallow and Anne-Marie (No I had not heard of them either) called Friends. It’s all over pop radio right now. The song and video encapsulate what we call the Friend zone. In fact it is often called the Friend Zone Anthem.
Here’s the video – warning, there are a couple of bad words in the song. If that bothers you, don’t watch it. Here’s a video with just the lyrics without any bad words.
Now I’ve written extensively about the friend zone and avoiding it here at the blog for years. (Some posts are linked below). But I haven’t written on it in a while and I know that there are a lot of people, especially younger guys, who find themselves in these situations.
Let’s first define some things. I’m not saying now, nor have I ever said, that you can’t have friends of the opposite sex. That is not what the friend zone is. I have had many female friends over the years. The friend zone instead occurs when one person (usually a guy**) is romantically attracted to another person (usually a gal) but the feeling is not mutual. What the woman says to the guy is that “I don’t want to date you, but I want to be just friends” or something to that effect.
What happens next is that the guy thinks that if he stays friends, and in fact increases his friendship with the woman (because after all she just invited that friendship verbally), that eventually the woman will see him in a different light and become romantically attracted to him. The guy does all sorts of nice things for his friend. The woman, may well appreciate some of those things, but at the same time doesn’t become more attracted, and in fact usually less so. This is because that plan is no where in the vicinity of how female attraction works.
Some might say, what’s the big deal? Everyone needs friends right? What’s the harm? In a way that is what the song/video seem to be saying. That’s why its the Friend Zone Anthem. Just a part of life, poor guy.
But the truth is there actually can be a lot of harm.
First, it isn’t really an honest relationship. What I mean is that the guy is being a friend to “get the girl”. That’s not usual friendship. Also, many times when the woman says this, it is her way of saying no, not her way of saying let’s hang out more.
Another thing that can happen is that the guy can get mad at the woman. This happens because in his mind he’s working to win her affection. She gives it to other “unworthy” guys who don’t treat her as good as he does. Let me be clear right now on this part. No woman owes you her romantic feelings. You owe no woman yours.
It’s also a colossal waste of energy, emotion and time. If you spend all of your time as a guy trying to “win your friend” you just become more emotionally invested. You don’t spend time meeting and trying to date other women. The truth is, if you want to be married, you don’t have time, energy, emotions or resources to waste chasing someone who wants to be “just friends”. It’s not worth it. There are plenty of others.
Here’s the point: The harm in the friend zone is that people get more hurt than they have to.
Look, I lived this as a young adult male. I was always this guy. So I’m not writing this as someone who has always been above this speaking down to you. I’m writing it to implore you to avoid it. Like the plague actually.
How do we do that?
First, let me say this to the ladies. If you are in this spot where you have someone in the friend zone, I get it. But you have to draw a harder line. Say no. Don’t say, “no but I want to be friends”. Just don’t. You are not being nice. You are either being naive or you are using this guy for whatever he does for you. The best thing you can do for him is tell him no and then not hang out “as friends”. It might be hard. But it’s right. Better for you and better for him.
If you are a guy who finds himself in this spot, it’s time to change. Right now. Walk away from it. Now. You won’t be hurting her by doing this. You aren’t missing an opportunity with her later. She is not The One. You are only hurting yourself.
Don’t be friends to get her to like you. Don’t be friends and hang out with someone you break up with. Don’t hang out with someone as friends who you went out with a few times and she still wants to hang out as friends but not date you. Don’t do things for her thinking it will change her mind. Walk.Away.Now. Move on.
Again, is it easy? Probably not. But is it the truth? Yes.
What you don’t want be ever is the guy in this video:
This is a real life picture of what it looks like. Even better, he’s still hanging out with her apparently:
Take a good look at this guy. I’ve been this guy. Don’t be.
Friend Zone Post Links
Why It Doesn’t Matter If You Treat Her Better
You Can’t Serve Your Way To Attraction
** I understand that this can happen the other way around where the guy tells the woman that he just wants to be just friends. However it is far, far less common and usually ends much, much more quickly. But, if you are in that situation, everything I just described applies the other way around.
I’ve been the girl who was kept in the friend zone with a guy. I would’ve married him in a heartbeat – until a few years ago when I was made painfully aware nothing would change. I’m still friends with him today, but not in the capacity I was previously. Thanks for the reminder.
Friendship only works when there is a mutual non-interest.
The post said,
“Say no. Don’t say, “no but I want to be friends”. Just don’t. You are not being nice. You are either being naive or you are using this guy for whatever he does for you. The best thing you can do for him is tell him no and then not hang out “as friends”.”
This is from a woman’s perspective – and there is no short way of saying this.
Women are socialized in and out of the church (that is, secular society does this to women as well, not just churches) that we should always be pleasant, sweet, and non-confrontational at all times, which means…
We ladies are heavily discouraged from the time we are girls to do what you are suggesting in your blog post: be blunt and direct. We are taught that being direct is mean-spirited, cruel, and un-feminine.
We women get the message early from secular and Christian culture that being assertive, blunt, direct, and plain spoken is for males only.
All this is especially true for Christian single women who were brought up in churches that taught something called “gender complementarianism,” as I was (I rejected gender comp teachings years ago).
But many Christian girls and women are still indoctrinated to believe in gender complementarianism.
Depending on the type of gender comp a woman and girl is taught to believe in, she may get actual messages from gender comp men and women (such as author John Piper) that it’s supposedly ungodly or unfeminine for a woman to be direct and blunt with a man.
We women are taught (by complementarian John Piper and men like him) that being direct with a Christian man may deeply injure and wound his delicate male ego, so we ladies should “dance around” what we really think and feel when talking to men.
-Personally, I find all that ridiculous and un-biblical, but that hog-wash is absolutely taught by some Christian complementarians to teen girls and to grown women.
Also, women learn as young as kids or teens to be in-direct when talking to men, especially in flirtatious contexts, because we cannot tell which men will get violent and beat or kill us if we turn down their flirtation.
So, if a boy or man flirts with us, and we are not interested in him, we’ve learned to soften our rejection by trotting out white-lies and gentle “no’s” such as, “Let’s be friends.”
There is a blog online that collects news stories of women who have been murdered for rebuffing men’s advances for dates or for sex. I think it’s called, “Women Who Refuse,” or, “When Women Refuse.”
We women cannot predict if a man will react in a violent nature or not when we turn them down for flirting, dating, or whatever, hence, we try to soften the rejection as much as possible by giving these comments such as, “Let’s be friends.”
For our own safety, we ladies have learned to communicate indirectly when turning men down.
Okay, I found that web site I mentioned above.
It’s a site, hosted on Tumblr, that collects reader-submitted anecdotes as well as news stories of women who were harassed or murdered by men for turning them down for relationships, sex, or for dates:
(Link): When Women Refuse
Women actually have to deal with violence and harassment when men approach them to flirt. It’s a very real danger – which is why some women use the “let’s be friends” line, or they use white lies such as, “Oh sorry, I can’t date you this Friday, because I have to wash my hair that night.”