Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

On Kinda, Sorta, Maybe Finally Getting Why Women Hate The Term “The Friend Zone”

it starts early

It starts early

From sharing an experience with it to giving men a few tips on staying out of it, there are few subjects I’ve touched on as often as the concept of the friend zone. Although I did “invent” a term to describe what happens when women are caught in it, most of this discussion has been, if not male-centric, told from a decidedly male perspective. And, when you talk about the friend zone from a decidedly male perspective, it makes women out to be manipulative, conniving, cock-teasing assholes. (Which some are. But, that’s another topic for another day.)

Considering that I am, in fact, a man, this is somewhat understandable. Since women are generally considered to be the ones deciding to damn someone to the friend zone—and since this seems to happen much more often to men than it does with women—they (women) have the “power,” and it made no sense for the powerless (men) to even consider empathizing with them. Whenever I’d hear a woman lament the loss of a friendship she “thought she had” with a guy who turned out to be crushing on her, I’d offer her a candlelight solo with the world’s smallest violin. (The name of the song? Boo f*cking hoo, Bitch Pt. 2)

This all changed yesterday, and I can thank MTV for that.

I was upstairs eating watermelon when the Gay Reindeer called me to watch this show she just turned to. I pretend not to hear her, hoping she’d lose interest and make some eggs or something, but she called my name again. This time, too loud for me to pretend.

As I walked into the living room, she explained the premise. It was a reality show about people with secret crushes on close friends. Naturally, it’s called Friendzone. The segment I watched featured a guy (“Jake”) who had fallen in love with his homegirl (“Jane”). He never shared any of this with her, though. Instead, he told her about this girl (“Kim”) he met over the internet and developed strong feelings for. He was soon going to meet Kim in person for the first time, but since he was so nervous, he wanted Jane to come with him. She agreed.

Fast-forward a couple days. As Jake and Jane wait at the date spot for Kim, Jake drops the bomb. Kim doesn’t really exist. All those feelings he expressed for Kim a few days ago were actually his feelings for Jane.

After hearing this news, Jane made a face I have never seen a human person actually make. She looked like she wanted to crawl inside of her own mouth. And, after seeing that face, I kinda, sorta, maybe finally got it.

Now, I don’t know how close Jack and Jane really are. But, let’s assume they were sincerely BFFs. And, if they’re sincerely BFFs, I kinda, sorta, maybe get how Jane—and any other woman—could be pissed about the love bomb.

First, it is a stealth form of emotional terrorism. Sweet? Possibly. But, definitely stealth. You’re basically forcing someone to immediately acknowledge, access, and respond to a feeling you’ve been stewing for years. It’s like getting a 9th grader out of bed at 3:30am and telling him he’s taking the SATs right now. 

Most importantly, while we (men) might think “I like you so much that I want to add f*cking to our friendship” would be flattering, I kinda, sorta, maybe finally get how it could be deflating. Why? Well, she’s likely hearing “I thought you were my friend. Now you’re telling me you were just waiting for an opportunity to f*ck me? I thought you actually liked me.” Now, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, the guy legitimately values the friendship, and just happened to catch feelings. But, more often than not, while he may “like” her, the like is somewhat based on the condition that she’ll eventually fall for (or f*ck) him.

Also, the term “the friend zone” does kinda, sorta imply that there’s something fundamentally wrong with just being a woman’s friend. Obviously, it may not be the type of relationship a man wants. But, something as rare and valuable as a friend probably shouldn’t be thought of with a negative connotation.

Jack eventually learned his feelings were unrequited. Which, as any man who’s ever made that type of confession knows, sucks. We all know this already, though. Movies have been produced, books have been written, and songs have been created because of it.

Most of that content tends to leave out one tiny detail, though:

It sucks for her, too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Tia_Sunny

    Maybe men should not put themselves in a position to get friend zoned.

    • Jay

      EXACTLY. There has never ever never been a single “friend-zone” situation that was the female’s fault. As a man it’s on you to express your interest. If she doesn’t feel the same way and you guys choose to maintain a friendship… cool. But trying to LOL, IKR, and smiley face your way into a woman’s drawers heart is not the move. That’s high school $hit homie. Live and learn.

      • Sahel

        In other words,dont let a cat climb a tree and expect to bring it down with food. Get a bulldozer and tear the tree down

        • Jay

          Umm… yeah… sure? =/

        • TheOtherJerome

          Totally don’t see what you’re getting at?

          • Sahel

            You have to approach a woman with your intentions in play. Do not hide the attraction with a mask of friendship then when she moves to another guy before your mission is complete and your stuck hoping.

            • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

              who hides attraction ? what kind of person is this ?

              • Sahel

                Rejection changes a man

                • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                  weaaak. and i say this as a woman who loves to chase ~*~ i been rejected but good. it did wonders for my soul when i fully processed it ~*~

                • h.h.h.

                  You be knowing man.

                • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

                  *cues “The Pain” by Murs*

            • BreezyX2

              Sahel: I had to re read this comment a few times to make sure this was actually you. This is the most sensible non chextual thing you have said in a long time. For that you have received a “get out the corner” card for this week only.

              • Sahel

                Am not all about the big O sweet Breezy. I just don’t like getting all serious on VSB,i do that during work hours

                • BreezyX2

                  Oh so you are NOT about the big O?! Is blue your favorite color too? :)

                  • Sahel

                    I prefer black. I painted my house a a nice shade of coal and my mum hasnt gotten over it

                    • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

                      Lol.

        • http://daratmathis.wordpress.com/ dtafakari

          blank stare. lol.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      some play oblivious and dont ask questions they know the answer to, others think they can change her mind after a few heartbreaks and gaining inside info, if youve been her friend for a while, its not exactly cold calling, you know what time it is, you can either run from it or learn from it. word to rafiki.

      • Tia_Sunny

        There still is a chance for him to be disappointed.

    • h.h.h.

      Sounds simple! Thanks for the advice :)

      • Tia_Sunny

        Welcome :)

  • Cali

    this show is a disaster – not only do you not want to hurt the persons feelings, you really don’t wanna do it ON AIR :( takes a huge ego to drag someone on this show. as a former victim of emotional terrorism, I feel for all involved!

  • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

    I think friend zones are stupid because you leave at any time. Outside of that, I think unless it’s some type of friendship that a woman has had for years with dude there is a lot of exaggeration about how disappointing losing that friendship really is. I mean cumulatively over years and years with various guys yes. How many women really got more than half a dozen guys that they’ve been friends with for a really long time with suddenly come out and tell them they have a deep unrequited love for them though?

    • Yoles

      even when it’s a short time it’s disappointing… getting a dude to wanna get up in the guts is nothing… but, having a dude want to talk/hang out/share opinions/laugh/joke/party/watch football with you just because he genuinely enjoys your company with no agenda… thats priceless… and heart warming…

      since i have started reading blogs i have found out that in general men:
      don’t think women are funny/interesting/entertaining
      do not value women’s opinions
      feel that women truly have nothing to offer socially
      etc, etc
      to have that reinforced by someone that developed a “friendship” with you is just disheartening… truly

      • Todd

        Well, on an individual level, most women (and men) have nothing to offer a person. Cold world but true.

        • LMNOP

          WOW Todd. This is so far from true. Love, companionship, support, all of those are very substantive things that almost anyone can offer another person. Or think of what you give your child, another person, love, protection,you meet all her physical needs, you literally gave her life.

          Libertarians, smdh.

          • Todd

            That sounds colder than I meant. What I meant was that not everyone has any real connection to another, and that by sheer chance, the average person just isn’t connect to another person at random. That’s a bit hard, but it’s the truth.

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          I think everyone has something to offer a person. Knowing what you can offer is the issue. It’s ok if you don’t know yet.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

        and vice versa, its like you not getting chose so you out…guess that people watching and froyo was all a lie, ol donnie brasco azz lol

      • Sahel

        You say developed a friendship like its a bad thing lol

        • http://daratmathis.wordpress.com/ dtafakari

          lol. that is funny. developed like it turned into the ebola virus.

          • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

            IT BURNS!!!! GET THE OINTMENT!!!

          • Yoles

            because it was a virus… a virus that tries to sneak into my drawers… it wasn’t real it didn’t bloom, prosper and grow in the light of honesty and shared experiences… it festered in the mind of a phallic holder that wanted me to meet his little friend

        • Yoles

          that friendship was in quotes because it wasn’t true…hmpf

      • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

        totally with you on this, Yoles.
        It is not hard AT ALL to find a man willing to fvck you. To keep it real, all a woman has to say is “yes” and she can find some boxer sausage to slay her.

        But its no cakewalk finding a dude who is satisfied with just your companionship. Thats not to say he wouldnt fvck you if given a chance (he prob would), but he’s not checking for that, and hes just fine being the homie. In that regard, 2 weeks or 20yrs, losing that kinda stings.

        • kidvideo

          “but he’s not checking for that, and hes just fine being the homie.”
          You need to be friends with Rupaul…im sure he doesnt want any vagina.

          • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

            listen, i KNOW that if i gave the green light, a few of my homies would try to get into my love box….but theyre not pressed to do that, and if we never fvck it wouldnt feel like a loss on their part. I dont need a gay man to find friendship lol….just call a spade a spade “i WOULD fvck you if given the chance, but nah, im good with just hittin these booty clubs witcha”

            • Kema

              This! I know most if not all my guy friends would do me but they dont seem pressed. Maybe its because I mostly befriend dudes that dont have a problem getting their d*ck wet. (even if they have to pay for it. lol!)

              • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

                yeahhh, my boys are not in short supply of box offerings, they dont have the time to worry about lil ol me lol

              • Yoles

                good point @disqus_UtAHUy5O0a:disqus… this on the wings of love friendship thing doesn’t seem to happen with dudes that get box on the regular… i will think further about this

                • http://wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

                  ZACKLY

        • h.h.h.

          I guess the reverse is true lol

  • SoSncere

    When you have a guy friend & he says he likes you, honestly I did find it flattering but at the same time the awkward feeling stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t attracted to him & I didn’t want to hurt his feelings because I genuinely enjoyed his friendship.

    On the other hand I have seen some women put guys in the friend zone & tell the dude “we’re just friends” and then when he becomes interested in someone else or he starts dating, all of sudden the girl is offended because she really liked him all along but was just trying to act like she didn’t (which is ridiculous) or was waiting to see if she could pull something better…….which is just wrong…..I’ve seen guys do this too though……which is still wrong……I’ve done this once before….and I was wrong…..this has been done to me before and he know he was wrong…..smh & lol

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

      “On the other hand I have seen some women put guys in the friend zone & tell the dude “we’re just friends” and then when he becomes interested in someone else or he starts dating, all of sudden the girl is offended because she really liked him all along but was just trying to act like she didn’t (which is ridiculous) or was waiting to see if she could pull something better…….”

      I had this happen back in 2008. By the time the girl who friendzoned me saw me again, she was very vocal about the kind of women I was dating…

      • SoSncere

        Hey PA! Did she ever admit to being interested in you for real?

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

          Yes she did…just not to my face. She told a mutual friend of ours that the reason she kept me there was because she wanted something serious…in the future.

          WTF?

          • Sahel

            hehehe

          • SoSncere

            That’s awful…..as if you had nothing else to do but wait for her to make her mind up about what she wanted to do…. smh

            • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

              Being that she wanted me to be her friend, she could have easily found out two things about me:

              One: I only wait for job interviews and mailmen- not future relationships. If she wanted one with me, she could have easily stopped dating the kind of men she was chasing after. She could have said something from the start…but that didn’t happen…

              Two: I don’t run behind grown folks. The minute someone wants me to run behind them is the minute that I change my mind.

  • Pierre

    Why is that every time I hear the term “Friend-zone” that “Oops!… I Did It Again” song starts playing instantly? O_o

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      you should have that looked at

      • Pierre

        I think I am

  • Sahel

    I don’t think that whole friend zone stuff is real. I say people are just biding their time and if the dude gets rich or the girl who was not so hot in high school suddenly has become the gift that keeps on giving in her twenties the zone becomes as difficult to locate as the Bermuda triangle and all access passes to the concert are available.

  • MistahG

    No, just no. Women aren’t robots. Jane is not stupid. She knows full well that platonic friendships with men are impossible because of a certain something called sexual tension between genders. It’s biological. And if she didn’t get that, she missed all his other signs that the love bomb was gonna drop? In 2013 I refuse to believe women are naive enough to men and women could be “BFFs”. Don’t feel sorry for her. There’s a misconception that men friendzone themselves by being sneaky with their false promises of friendship, but what’s really happening, the real friendzone, is a woman maliciously taking advantage of Jack’s thirstiness and generosity while she throws up the friendship shield that he’s using as his way in.

    • helga_g

      I think you’re right sort of.but if a man chooses to remain friends once he realizes he is interested in dating he should say so, not pussyfoot around the…..nvm.

      • Jay

        I can’t remember exactly who, but a VSS once said “scared d*ck is dry d*ck”. It’s just the law of the jungle.

        • TheOtherJerome

          The term i’m familiar with is “No courage, no coochie”. A woman told me that when she overheard me BSing around until i let one get away. :-)

        • keisha brown

          can i get this on a tshirt?

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          *pats self on the back for that one*

          • Jay

            Twas you…

  • Mr. SD

    Watching that show is like watching a car accident in slow motion…its a epic fail you just cant turn away from….except i usually end up changing the channel before they profess their love..lol

    • Jay

      “I watch gangsta flicks and root for the bad guy, and turn it off before it end because the bad guy die” -50 Cent

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      i tend to root for the curve…

  • TheOtherJerome

    “I thought you were my friend. Now you’re telling me you were just waiting for an opportunity to f*ck me? I thought you actually liked me.”

    Not sure if most woman would feel that way. Usually it’s just that she gets along well with you, but there’s just no “Magic” there. Her frustration comes from the realization that she’s going to lose her emotional pillow/ designated time waster.

    Also she’ll get frustrated because she (or he) will usually let the “friend zoned” person know the deal beforehand. Anyone who professes their undying love after the “Friend-zoning” judgement, is a fool.

    Solution: If you’re with someone who only wants to be your friend, but you want more, remove yourself from their “friends list” and let someone else take over the emotional pillow chores. She/He will lose a “friend” but you’ll gain some dignity…… and thus make room for someone who actually appreciates you to come in.

    Plus, life is long. If you cut them loose, people do sometimes find their way back. But only after you’ve grown to the point that you no longer see them in the same light…… and kind of don’t want them any more. Thats a little trick God likes to play on us……..

    • Jay

      “I thought you were my friend. Now you’re telling me you were just waiting for an opportunity to f*ck me? I thought you actually liked me.”

      http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/268242/slide_268242_1850805_free.gif?1354828672676

    • Todd

      Word. I get that women feel put on the spot. At the same time, don’t act brand new like you didn’t know a) that this was a possibility and b) that you didn’t take advantage to your own personal benefit. Women remember being put on the spot, but semester to forget all those times homeboy was there for them emotionally. Chick please…

      • Kema

        But who else will I smoke with a few times a week without ever making a purchase?

        • kidvideo

          This made me chuckle…friend wit benefits.

          • Kema

            Yup! However the benefit is that I smoke for free. :-)

            • kidvideo

              this type of friend is called a weed scavenger…some dudes have girls like this around for “smoke & poke” sessions.

      • http://wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

        A guy who holds on to an invoice because he was “being there emotionally” for someone he pretends to be a friend to, hoping to one day collect, gets what he deserves.

        • http://esotericexistentialist.blogspot.com/ MPM

          This is exactly right. A friendship is not about a balance sheet. If someone is your friend then you’re there for them when they need you and they’re there for you when you need them. If someone is not there for you when you need them, then maybe they are not a very good friend, but not being interested in reciprocating intimate feelings does not make them a bad friend.

        • Yoles

          thank you WC… i was shocked to read that… shocked…

      • Yoles

        so being there for a person emotionally makes for i wanna lose myself in your gushy?!?!

        i am experiencing a disconnect with this… so a man is friendly and talks and is there emotionally and acts like a true friend… so hence i should be prepared that he wanna get up in me?? wasn’t he there for me emotionally as a friend? my girls.. even the gay ones don’t say hey i gave you tissue when you cried girl… what dat pussC do????

        • Todd

          Not necessarily true. What I have more of an issue with is when dude is there for someone, but when the deal goes down, $ex OR no $ex, homegirl acts dead, dumb and blind. There are some truly selfish women in this world, just like Some ninjas really ain’t ish. The exploitation game is real out here, and some women have pledged to Moo Psi Moo.

      • PivotTable

        Aren’t friends there for emotional support… I’m confused.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      Preach!

      I did this to a young lady back in the day and found me a tender Roni. Within three months, the girl I un-friended called telling me how much she like me and wanted to take it further. On impulse I dropped my girl like TO drops passes; one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

      “Solution: If you’re with someone who only wants to be your friend, but you want more, remove yourself from their “friends list” and let someone else take over the emotional pillow chores. She/He will lose a “friend” but you’ll gain some dignity…… and thus make room for someone who actually appreciates you to come in.”

      You stole my reply! I wanted to say that, but it’s wise words to follow.

      Jerome’s in the house! Watch your mouth!

  • Tx10inch

    Wish I could friend zone my Texans the way they playin tonight….I dont like them very much right now.

    • Sahel

      This year am betting San Fran and Saints.

      • Tx10inch

        U talkin Super Bowl? Cause that’s same conference.

        • Sahel

          No to come out of the NFC. The AFC is too hard to read

      • http://www.WordsDontDoItJustice.com/ Ruthless Wonder

        You mean in the NFC Championship Game? Because they can’t meet in the Superbowl. I hate saying this as a KC native but San Fran and Denver.

        • Sahel

          Am not predicting the Superbowl,the AFC is too jumbled up and Denver is not a lock in my opinion.

    • http://TripSixes.com/ Trip

      Friend zone? Just let my Chargers give this game up and I’ll show you some cold ish.

      • Tx10inch

        One cold ish on tha rocks….comin up!!! Lol

        • http://TripSixes.com/ Trip

          First off, congrats to the Texans, that’s how you get it done. Respect. Now remember how I said “my Chargers” ? They’re dead to me. Been a fan since Seau was big (RIP). For real, the Chargers are like that woman who just wants to be friends. You spend good time getting emotionally invested in her and her life- the hopes, dreams, the whole package- and just when you think things are looking up, it all comes crashing down ’cause she doesn’t want to finish the game. Not just once, but multiple times. Her tales of woe start to become a habit. She wants you to stick around, but only to prop her up. You think I won’t drop you like a brick after I try to do my best for you and you stay fvcking up? Whether its sports or dating, when I get on the field, I’m about winning. I WANT you to share in the victory. I’ll treat you with respect, I’ll listen when you speak, but when I come to play I’m not trying to be the water boy or the hot towel ninja. The rules of the game are stated and acknowledged before the coin flips, but more importantly, If I get 3 scores up in the game, best believe I WILL CLOSE.

    • c renae

      Hello!!!! LOL

    • keisha brown

      i tapped out after my eagles win…and then twitter told me they came back and won.
      WAIT WHAT???
      man. the chargers… LMFAOOOOO

    • Keisha

      I halfway like them…only because I have their defense in both of my fantasy leagues.
      Real life though…GO COWBOYS!!! :-)