Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Friend Zone

I've engaged in some funny conversations lately about 'The Friend Zone'.

You know...the area you enter into with someone of the opposite gender that ensures that you two will most likely never be more than just friends... at least right now. 

There's a lot of stuff to consider with this friend zone business. Sometimes we friend zone people temporarily, sometimes we friend zone them forever, sometimes we've only friend zoned them in our heads and they never know they're in the friend zone until you have awkward conversations because of miscommunications and misunderstandings. 

Temporary arrangements of the friend zone include, but are not limited to: 
  • Talking to them about your current crush/romantic interest. This sends a very clear message that you are into someone else and therefore not considering them a romantic option. 
  • Making statements like, 'If we're both 40 and still single, we should get married!' This back-up plan sends the message that you think that they are cool enough to possibly consider marrying, but you're not counting on/interested in/wanting anything currently. 
  • Implying that you're only capable of being best friends with the opposite gender over anything romantic. This may potentially reinforce the friend zone idea in their minds as they may consider you a safe person to befriend since you're 'used' to the male-female friendship. 
  • Referring to them constantly as friends, best friends, etc. Not the most damaging, but it can certainly insinuate that that's all you think of them as... While lots of great relationships stem from friendships, if you tend to focus on and emphasize the fact that you're friends, they may feel very much as though you're putting them in the friend zone. 
But, I'm not really here to talk about how to successfully friend zone someone (at least not in this post). I mostly want to focus on the fact that sometimes I think we friend zone people out of our own fears and insecurities... and sometimes we aren't even aware that we are doing it. 

I think there have been times in my life where I thought that if a guy was 'too cool' for me, that it was safer for me to somehow establish a friend zone because it freed me from getting my hopes that the 'impossible' might come true. It was safer to say things or do things that made it clear that I was only in this for friendship because I didn't want to (or didn't know how to) handle the feelings of rejection that might accompany his lack of interest in anything more. 

There were also times that surrounding circumstances made relationships with guys more complicated, and so setting up a friend zone early on seemed the best route to take. If we could establish that this relationship would only be a friendship, we wouldn't have to worry about who might get hurt by our intimacy or be responsible for our growing interest in each other beyond anything on a friend-level. The friend zone allowed for our friendship to excel without the confines of commitment. These, of course, are the friendships where all outsiders ask, 'So Debbie... is anything going on with you two?'...and, of course, the appropriate response is always, 'No way- we're just friends!' And you can say it with confidence because you've talked about it...but somewhere within you you still wonder, and maybe a part of you still hopes... 

Sometimes, on our crazier days, we may just friend zone people to see what kind of response we'll get. Do they friend zone us back? Or do they resist the friend zone? Do they even care or notice? 

How much can we over-analyze all of this?
Too much. 

I guess I just wonder how much we're all still playing games. Games that are birthed from a place of longing for connection. Games that surface because we're so terrified that we won't be accepted, wanted, desired for who we are. Games because we're unwilling to make commitments or call things what they actually are (essentially being honest about it). 

Do you friend zone people?
What's your motive?
Do you even realize you're doing it in the moment? 

Sometimes I think the friend zone can be a clear communicator that you're simply not interested in someone...and, if it's done well, I think that's okay. But, too often I think we friend zone because it's safer for us. It's easier for us. It means less risk and less rejection. Sometimes we use it as a safe way of flirting, of feeling connected, of forming bonds with someone without actually committing to anything--you may even call it using someone for intimacy/fun (because you've established that you're just friends, so now anything is okay, right?) 

I believe you can be friends with guys and leave the door open for the possibility of 'what could be'. And maybe that actually allows us to have healthier relationships with them. I just don't think we can friend zone all the guys in our lives and then be upset about the fact that we're still single.  Not to mention that it's super confusing for guys if we friend zone them and then change our minds down the road. Not to mention the fact that friend zoning someone and then still 'needing' them to fulfill your emotional voids can be damaging beyond what you may realize... 

And maybe we don't need to stress out or over-analyze whether or not we've been friend-zoned by someone, either. 

It is what it is. 
Be friends. But don't feel like you always need to attach labels and expectations and boundaries for what it can or can't be. 

Don't try to control the possibilities because you're scared and insecure. And don't use someone just because you're not getting what you think need in the way you think you need it. 

Let it be. 

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1 comment:

  1. this is really true. i've been there. I friend zoned a guy and ended up realizing that I had this special feelings for him. too late.. I heard he already was into someone new.. :(
    it was one of my biggest mistakes in my entire life.
    we became awkward friends, then became just friends again... it's kinda hard because we never really talked about what we had.. ouch.