Most people talking about the “friend zone” take one of two potential stances. The first is that they’re lamenting its existence in a “I really wanted to go out with that person, but they rejected me and said they just wanted to be friends, this sucks” sort of way. The second is typically taken by women accusing men of feeling entitled to sex with any woman they treat respectfully, as though it’s a “Get Into Vaginas Free Card” to be nice to someone. The latter is not exactly a reasonable viewpoint, and here’s why.
First, it’s worth pointing out that guys aren’t always looking for a “Get Into Vaginas Free Card”, and that most of the time they are simply looking for a more intimate relationship with the girl. When a guy says they were “friendzoned” it generally just means that he wanted to be “more than friends.” If the guy only wanted sex they most likely wouldn’t say they had been “friendzoned” but rather that the girl was “frigid” or a “prude”. Of course, since society has taught us that guys are only allowed to feel emotional intimacy in the context of sex it’s obvious why someone would think this way. However, men are not all evil disgusting pigs who only think about sex. Second, people often seem to only be considering one side of the argument. There’s a flip side to every coin, and this case is no exception. Men are not the only ones at fault here. Let’s consider some scenarios.
In one scenario let’s say a guy is romantically interested in a girl. The girl likes all the attention the boy is giving her and tries to befriend him. Now you have to remember that just because the guy wants a romantic relationship with the girl doesn’t mean that he wants a friendship with her, and that just because the girl wants a friendship with the guy doesn’t mean she wants a romantic relationship with him. In this case the guy does not want a friendship at all and wants a more intimate relationship while the girl does not. In order to get the guy to stay friends with her she’s most likely leading him on, however subtly. I’m sure we can both agree that a girl emotionally manipulating a guy into a friendship he doesn’t want is just as bad as a guy trying to force a girl into a romantic relationship she doesn’t want. Right? (We know some of you won’t, and we’ve written plenty on why these are equally problematic so go find it.) In fact, most of the time the guy isn’t actively doing anything at all to try and force her into a more intimate relationship. All he’s doing is staying friends with her in hopes that one day she’ll have deeper feelings for him and then most likely getting his heart broken when that doesn’t happen.
Let’s consider a similar scenario. This one is almost the same as above except the girl is ACTIVELY taking advantage of his feelings for her own personal gain. In the previous scenario the girl may have only unknowingly been leading the man on, but here the girl is doing anything she can to make the guy think he’s got a chance with her, when he really doesn’t.
Now, why would a girl do this? Well, it’s an easy way to get a man to fulfill the traditional male role in a relationship where he provides emotional support, attention, and possibly even gifts or financial support. She, on the other hand, doesn’t have to fulfill any aspects of the traditional romantic female role in a relationship. Basically she’s getting all the benefits without any drawbacks.
So where does she get her romance from? While she’s leading this guy on she’ll generally at the same time be going out with a, for lack of a better term, “douchebag”. You know the type. Marginally attractive, muscular, aggressive, competitive. HOWEVER, (douchebag, remember) they’re terrible at providing emotional support. This is where the other guy comes in. She uses one guy for romantic purposes while she uses the other for emotional support. You’ve seen it all the time on television, and like it or not there’s a grain of truth there. The girl has a giant fight with her boyfriend (who is usually hot and muscular), and then she runs to her guy friend who is romantically interested in her (who is usually not so good looking and weak) for emotional support. The guy supports her while she cries on his shoulder and tells him how much of a douchebag her boyfriend is (which again lets the other guy think he has a shot with her) until she makes up with her boyfriend. In other words, she uses her friend as a tissue — she blows her nose into him, and then throws him away when she makes up with her boyfriend until she needs her friend again. There really is truth in the phrase “girls only go out with douchebags”. The “nice guys” that all the girls are looking for are generally right under their noses, being friends with them while hoping for something more. Sure no girl’s obligated to take them up on that, but the least they deserve is a clear and straight answer rather than being strung along.
Now you could argue that the guy has absolutely no obligation to stay with her. Let’s say he realizes that he’s being led on. Can he really simply leave her? Cutting someone out of your life that you’re romantically interested in is easier said than done. You see this all the time on television too. The guy realizes he has no chance and he says, “I’m done.” But then, as soon as he sees the girl again, his feelings are re-kindled and he showers her with attention once more. Many times the guy will choose “friendship” even though it kills him inside that it won’t go anywhere simply because he can’t imagine life without her.
Let’s consider one more scenario. A guy is romantically interested in a girl and the girl finds out and flat out says, “No, I don’t want a romantic relationship with you, however, I would like to stay friends with you.” And then the guy complains inside his head, “Dammit, I just got friendzoned.” While the girl gets props for being honest and not being (as) emotionally manipulative, there are still a few things to point out.
This does not represent feeling any kind of entitlement to a relationship. He understands the girl has a right to say no but is simply annoyed that he wanted a relationship and the girl didn’t. This would be the equivalent of a girl calling a guy a jerk because he didn’t want to date her. Would you think someone felt entitled to win the lottery if they complained their numbers didn’t come up simply because they bought a ticket? In fact, the only reason the term “friendzone” exists is because men have the social expectation of asking, which results in them getting rejected more often. Unlike women, rejection is a simple (and regular) fact of life for the vast majority of men. It’s hardly a surprise that they have a more in-depth vocabulary for rejection than women do.
(Note that girls can get “friendzoned” as well, but most of the time it’s the men. Sexual economy is a pesky thing, really.)
As you can see, this is a much more complex topic than most feminists present it as. Most of their examples are simply strawmen that are not related and cannot be compared to friendzoning. They have only considered the female side of the story while not considering that women might also be at fault here. When it comes to friendzoning, everyone involved is at fault.