Friend Zone

In popular culture, the ‘friend zone‘ refers to a platonic relationship where one person wishes to enter into a romantic relationship while the other does not. The most typical friend zone situation involves a man that is romantically interested in a woman who does not reciprocate or is unaware of his interest. It is generally considered to be an undesirable situation by the lovelorn person.

Once the friend zone is established, it is said to be difficult to move beyond that point in a relationship. There are differing explanations about what causes a person to be placed in the friend zone by another. One report suggests that some women don’t see their male friends as potential love interests because they fear that deepening their relationship might cause a loss of the romance and mystery or lead to rejection later.

There several cases in which a man might become relegated to the friend zone: 1) the woman is not sufficiently attracted to the man; 2) the woman misinterprets nonverbal cues from the man signaling his interest in deepening the relationship; 3) there is sexual repulsion (but not enough to block a friendship). ‘When a guy agrees to be friends, he’s forced to stifle his attraction while regularly seeing and talking to the woman he’s attracted to. She discusses her love life and has the audacity to ask his advice on it. He performs occasional ‘manly’ household and automotive favors for the women. Essentially, he does everything a boyfriend would do – without the benefits.’ The friend zone is ‘like the penalty box of dating, when your only crime is not being buff and unobtainable.’

On the other hand, a study suggested that a friend-only relation could change into a sexual one, and based this finding on a 2001 Match.com survey in which 71% of respondents hoped that they would fall in love with a friend. It has also been suggested that women may also become victims of the ‘friend zone,’ in which a man treats them as only a friend, while the woman prefers a more intimate relationship. There is general agreement that once a man is in the friend zone, it is difficult to get out. A platonic relationship has formed without sex and can continue indefinitely.

Accordingly, dating advisers and coaches have suggested that one should never get in the friend zone to begin with. Several advisers urged men, during the initial dates, to touch women physically in appropriate places such as elbows or shoulders as a means of increasing the sexual tension. Authors of the book ‘How to Succeed with Women’ explained the logic: ‘Touching a woman casually and non-intrusively establishes a precedent that will help you touch her more intimately later. It gets her used to accepting your touch, and even shows her that it can feel good. These touches are quick, gentle, and over with before she has a chance to get uncomfortable.’ Adviser Ali Binazir agrees, and suggested for the man to be a ‘little bit dangerous,’ not in a violent sense, but ‘with a bit of an edge to them,’ and be unpredictable and feel ‘comfortable in their skin as sexual beings.’ A woman speaking about a previous date confirmed that she relegated her date to the friend zone because he lacked an ‘edge’; she needed ‘excitement.’ Binazir suggested that a man, ensnared in the friend zone, is free to experiment and try new things, since there’s nothing to lose.

Despite the pitfalls of friend zones, some have argued that a man can benefit from actively cultivating a friend zone once an interaction or relationship with a potential partner has entered one. The theory here is that the friend zone may evolve into something more, particularly if the man establishes an air of trustworthiness and intimacy that his partner finds attractive and has never shared with previous romantic partners. This is more than, as one commentator put it, ‘the lingering possibility of becoming more than a friend’; as some have argued, it is the most sustainable way of building relationships with long-lasting intimacy and trust.

There is an important difference between friend zones and ‘conflicted zones.’ The latter may arise when one person in the zone is married and the other isn’t. The constraints and complications of the existing marriage add an additional dimension to what otherwise may appear to be a friend zone. Some have offered different advice for conflicted zone situations, centering on explicit and deliberate conversation between the two parties to the zone or even counseling or mediation for the married couple.

The term ‘friend zone’ was popularized by a 1994 episode of the television sitcom ‘Friends,’ where the character Ross, who was lovesick for Rachel, was labeled ‘mayor of the Friend Zone.’ The question of whether a man can ever ‘escape the friend zone and begin dating one of his female friends’ was a prime ingredient in making the Ross and Rachel pairing interesting to watch.

2 Responses to “Friend Zone”

  1. Really Liked this!!! Great Job!!!
    Sooz

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