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The friend zone: myth or fact?

Getty+Images+photo+by+JGI%2F+Jaime+Grill
Getty Images photo by JGI/ Jaime Grill

Getty Images photo by JGI/ Jaime Grill

Getty Images photo by JGI/ Jaime Grill

Rayanne Painter

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We’ve all been there.

We think somebody might have a romantic interest until something doesn’t feel right, we get bored or simply find somebody else. It’s awkward, feelings get hurt, but maybe we can stay friends?

Talk to anybody who has been on the other side of this conversation and they’ll likely tell you that they’ve been friend-zoned. Or, “hell on earth” and “quite possibly one of the worst places a guy could ever be in,” according to Urban Dictionary.

What is it about this term or “zone” that makes life so inherently miserable for those who experience it? It sounds great to me, I love new friends and enjoy respecting the decisions and choices of the people I value. It may sting a little to be rejected, but I know I wouldn’t want to be in a sexual or romantic relationship with somebody who didn’t feel the same about me.

The bottom line is that this “friend zone” doesn’t exist. It wasn’t written into theory, and there’s no scholarly articles or references to suggest that it’s something that exists as a real “zone” that people can be sorted into. It’s instead used as a sexist tool to remove a woman’s agency and use her body as a source of commodity.

To unpack this further, we must understand where the origin of this idea came from. In 1994, the term was introduced through the American sitcom “Friends”, when the character Joey coined it, by telling Ross he had waited too long to make a move on their friend, Rachel. This threw the blame onto Rachel when she eventually rejected Ross after months of him being nice, but also awkward with not much in common.

This is the alleged friend-zone. The idea of men being nice to women, a friend to women, then being cast away as “just friends” without a sexual favor in sight.

No matter what any popular sitcom says, there is no excuse for putting women in this “zone” and possibly humiliating them within their social circle. It is an act of dehumanizing women and seeing them only for their bodies, not as a real human who doesn’t owe anybody sexual favors for accepting and wanting male friendship.

That’s not to say that this doesn’t happen with the roles reversed, but men are not as publicly ostracized through media and society when they decide that a woman doesn’t fit their standards, or have to pick between their partners. And to be blunt, men aren’t as worried about being physically harmed when rejecting women.

Life will go on if somebody isn’t attracted to you. Treat people with kindness and respect, and love (and sex) will come organically. If not, then take the opportunity to make a lifelong friend out of an uncomfortable situation.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.

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1 Comment

One Response to “The friend zone: myth or fact?”

  1. Leron on September 12th, 2018 5:33 pm

    If Joey was saying that Ross waited too long, isn’t he putting the blame on him rather than Rachel? Also, why does everything have to be reduced to “guys just want sex”? There are plenty of people who have feelings for someone that are based on a strong connection they feel with that person, not strictly sexual desires.

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The friend zone: myth or fact?