A gentleman’s guide to the ‘friend zone’

The 'friend zone' is a term we've all heard (and most likely used) in the past. But we've never been a fan of the phrase, and here's why...

Run from the ‘friend zone’! Fear the ‘friend zone’! Escape the ‘friend zone’! That’s what we’ve been told all our lives; the rhetoric reinforced to us through decades of rom-coms and social interactions. That the ‘friend zone’ is awful, terrible — and a place to be avoided at all romantic costs.  

Well, gents, it’s time to rethink things. The ‘friend zone’ has been around forever, and frequently rears its head when groups of friends come together to chat about love, sex and romance. But, rather than asking how you can remove yourself from the friend zone, it’s time to explore how you can eliminate the friend zone as a concept altogether.

Oh, you were hoping for a step-by-step guide on getting out of the friend zone and into her good books? Unfortunately, so such tips, tricks or techniques exist. But read on, because this guide will serve you much better…

It's all in your mind!

Stay with us. The ‘friend zone’ has done a good job of convincing us all that it’s a genuine phenomenon, placing poor, undeserving would-be lovers in an unwanted zone of friendship, when what they really wanted was a romantic relationship (or — we may as well be honest — sex). 

In truth, though, the ‘friend zone’ is imaginary. It was created by people who simply didn’t want to accept or acknowledge that the object of their affection had given them a resounding ‘no’. The ‘friend zone’ implies that it’s just one step on a journey to the end goal, be that a relationship or one night of blissful pleasure. It suggests that it’s possible to transcend to the next ‘zone’ (which, presumably, is the ‘romantic-and-or-sexual zone’). 

This simply isn’t the case. If someone has said ‘let’s be friends’, they really do mean ‘let’s be friends’. They don’t mean: ‘let’s be friends — but if you can convince me otherwise through unwanted flirtation, advances or pressure then I’m yours’. They mean they don’t see you in a romantic way, but they’d like to have a friendship with you. That’s the takeaway — the only takeaway.

The ‘friend zone’ implies a sense of entitlement

No one likes a sense of entitlement; and there are few things less gentlemanly than someone who genuinely believes they’re owed something they’re not getting just because they want it. No one ever owes anyone anything, when it comes to sex and romance. That’s something we can’t repeat enough. If you’re a ‘nice guy’, that’s wonderful: but it doesn’t mean the object of your affection is thereby obligated to date you. 

If you genuinely like someone and fear that she only sees you as a friend, it’s best to be honest and upfront with her. Make sure you express your feelings in a courteous, respectful way — giving her ample opportunity to say no, if that’s how she feels. 

Being honest about how you really feel is a far better move than making unwanted advances, or sending confusing messages. Don’t try to flirt with someone if you’re not sure they’ve got feelings for you; steer clear of asking someone for a drink and hoping they’ll somehow telepathically understand that it’s actually a date (if they don’t know it’s a date, it’s not, in fact, a date). State your feelings honestly, without any thinly veiled messages — it can be scary, but it’s a far better move in the long run than trying to subtly spin things your way. If she says she just wants to be friends, it’s time to accept that wholeheartedly and move on. Because…

What’s wrong with being friends, anyway?

Firstly, it’s totally understandable to struggle to be friends with someone for whom you have strong romantic feelings. If you’re suffering from genuine heartbreak, you have our greatest sympathies — and it can definitely be tough to be friends with someone you’ve fallen in love with. So if you need to take a bit of time and space away from the object of your affection to work through those feelings, you absolutely should.

But if it’s a case of a bruised ego (we’ve all been there), after someone you fancy or wanted to sleep with told you she just doesn’t see you as more than a friend: it’s time to accept both the fact, and her offer of friendship.

Because if you’ve made a new friend: that’s something to be celebrated, not commiserated. Friends are great. We love friends. Friends make us laugh; they help us out in times of need; they’ve always got our backs. True friends are for life, whereas relationships and flings frequently come and go. If you’ve got a new friend, that’s a joyful new addition to your life, not a reason to complain.

Because — and this is the great humdinger, gents — women offer more than just sex or romance. They really, truly do. And that’s the main thing to remember when it comes to the ‘friend zone’. Friendship is a gift: if you’ve been offered it, take it and run with it. Don’t try to change it, manipulate it or twist it so that you get your preferred outcome in the end. Celebrate your new friendship, and all it can offer. You’ll both be happier in the end: we give you our word.

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