F R I E N D S – Don’t Let The “Friend Zone Anthem” Be Your Song

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 videowarning, 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

Get Out Of The Friend Zone

Avoid The Friend Zone

Why It Doesn’t Matter If You Treat Her Better

Don’t be Friends First

You Can’t Serve Your Way To Attraction

Quit Being Nice

Avoid The Nice Guy Trap

** 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.

Don’t Tell Her How You Feel

Back when I was in college the show ER became a sensation. One of the best parts about it was that the characters were believable. One of the intriguing relationships that developed on the show was between Doctor Mark Green (played by Anthony Edwards) and Doctor Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield).  They were both sort of the “good guys” in the ER.  They also developed a sort of friendship/relationship.

In the third season Susan decided to move away.  In her final episode, Mark had to decide if he should (or could) tell her how he feels.  They were great friends and had chemistry and it’s been obvious for years.  Dr Ross (George Clooney) tells him, “Tell her what you’ve wanted to for years.  Tell her how you feel. . . ”

Then comes the scene I’ll always remember.  Mark leaves work and goes to her house but he’s too late.  Then he goes to the train station.  I mean it’s an epic deal.  He goes to the wrong place as the train’s leaving point changes.  But he makes it just in time.  He calls out to her.  The train is about to leave.

He tells her that he loves her and should have told her long ago, and he wants her to stay.  I’ll never forget her response to that.  She says that she knew, he is her best friend, and that she is leaving.  Then she gets on the train, waves good by and says, “I do love you.”

I remember watching that scene and just being smacked upside the head.  For years I thought about that scene because it pretty much defined me.  Always the friend of the girl who I liked. Always carrying some sort of hope that at the right time, if I just shared it in the right way, everything would change.  That scene was a picture of how I felt.

The mistake I made though is that I saw my identity in that and thought that it was just the way it was – I was just “that” guy. Whoa is me. I failed to realize that I didn’t have to be that guy.

There are some very important things here that single men need to get a hold of.  And we in the Church need to quit essentially lying to guys about how to go about this.

First we need to establish two simple truths.

1. Being the nice guy is not attractive.  I’ve written an entire post on this and I plan to write more later.  But, bottom line, for the most part, being the nice guy as an approach doesn’t work.

2. Being friends to get the girl is not a good plan.  Once you are in the friendzone you are done.

You can ignore these truths, complain about how they aren’t fair, talk about how it shouldn’t be that way, tell me that the only other option is to be a “player” and so on.  No amount of denial or over spiritualization will make them not true.  They are true period.  They will lead you to the Dr. Green moment over and over again.

But what I want to tackle today is this idea that you should “tell her how you feel”.  Should you express how you feel about her and if so when?  Or in “Christian Courtship” language when should you “tell her your intentions”?  Ugh I hate Christianese.

Do not tell her how you feel if you are not dating.  Ask her out.  Asking her out is telling her how you feel, or at least all she needs to know about it.  If she says no, do not tell her more.  This will not help you.  It would be better to ask her again later than to tell her how you feel.

What a lot of nice guys think (remember this was me so I’m not attacking anyone) is that somehow if the girl really knew how much they liked her, that would change her mind.  Um no.

“Will you go out with me?”

“No” (usually some form of “I like you as a friend” “I’m busy” or “I’m dating Jesus right now”).

“But wait, I really, really like you.  I think your are so awesome.  I see us together . . .” Barf

“Oh Ok then I’ll go out with you” – yeah that never happens.

Look gentlemen. This is for real, brother to brother. Stop doing this to yourself!  Don’t lead with telling her how you feel.  Just ask her out. Don’t friend her.  Ask her out.  If she likes you she will say yes.  If she says no, walk away.  You can maybe ask her again later.  But don’t try to talk her into it – ever.

From the “Christian” side of things, one of the things I’ve heard a lot lately is how you need to tell her your “intentions” right away.  I think this is sort of counterproductive on several levels not the least of which is it throws pressure on the situation right away.

You don’t need to say some version of, “I want you to know that my intention is to only go on first dates with people who I can marry.  That’s what this is all about.  To find out if I can marry you.”  Nothing says fun like a first date to find out marriage-ability.

Now look, you can take this too far the other way.  I don’t think you should get into long term relationships without purpose and without being intentional. In fact I’m not suggesting you don’t be intentional.  I’m saying be intentional in a way that might actually be effective.

The time to tell her how much you like her is after you are dating her . . . for a while. . . not when you ask her out.

Here’s the video – the epic chase starts at 4:03.  If you just want the final scene it’s at 7:30.