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”)