Before I begin, I’d like to thank Soban Zafar (@thearsenalox) for the title of this post. I informed him I’ll be writing about the friend zone and he replied saying
The ultimate trap
To which I replied that the friend zone is a self made trap. Now you know the origins of the title – wahay!
The ‘friend zone’ – a term that makes the nice guys whimper at their rotten luck, girls frown upon potentially losing – if not lost already – a good friend, and the friends of those men/women shake their head at either the blindness of the chased or the irrationality of the chaser.
Can’t you see he loves you so much? He would do anything to make you happy? You’re being unbelievably stupid!
Dude she just doesn’t like you back, MOVE onnnnnn!
This post will look at why us men fall into the ‘friend zone’ – no, it’s not merely because a girl says ‘I see you as a friend’. This post will primarily look at
- Why we’re seen as only a friend [hint: it’s not because nice guys finish last]
- Why we are unable to accept that we’re seen as a friend
I’m no expert, this will be purely opinion based on personal experience, hours of listening to and observing female friends about their relationship issues; and, being in a long-term relationship really places perspective on the whole idea of the ‘friend zone’.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
I’ll start with an interesting comment I saw on the discussion thread I mentioned earlier; the comment asked whether the basis of friendship is liking someone i.e. I like you, so I want to be friends with you. Mind you, this is claimed to be the thought process, not what’s actually said! Although, in some cases, it is actually said and the two parties agree that being friends first is the proper path for better understanding etc.
Anyway, do we really become friends with a member of the opposite sex because we’re attracted to him/her? I can only refer to personal examples in this case because I’ve never actually asked
‘Dude, why did you become friends with her?’
So, in my case, I can categorize the bases on which I made my female friends into the following:
- Liked Her First
- She was friends with the girl I liked
- Part of a group
- She took the initiative to be friendly with me
- Friend of a friend
Yup, I don’t think I became friends with any girl through any initiative of my own. It could have been me being shallow but the truth was I didn’t feel the need and I just wasn’t that social; I sucked at making conversation and was okay with having 2-3 good friends, even if they were guys.
However, some friends I made through these circumstances, I’m glad I did. That’s not the point right now. Point number one is the point.
I would try to become friends, in some cases I did, in other cases I failed, with the girls I crushed on. I had to get to know them and, of course, they would have to get to know me and accept me. Before I move on, I’d like to add that even some of the sub-points to point number two led to me falling for a friend; but, most of those friendships have remained platonic.
It’s quite a selfish approach to friendship, a very shallow one as well, of course this is easy to say in retrospect. Crushes are usually based on looks more than anything else. Beauty attracts us. The hot girl as a girlfriend or even a friend will be an ego boost and can make you the envy of others; good feeling!
However, there is also the possibility that the crush/infatuation phase fizzles out as the friendship develops because she actually may not be your type at all.
Notice how I’ve said that she may not be your type and not vice-versa? Messed up eh? I’ll get to that later as well.
So, apparently, we, or at least I, became friends with some girls for not-so-friendly reasons with hope for more-than-friendly relations.
There in itself was me setting my self up for the supposed trap that is the friend zone – I was going in with expectations that were probably quite different to what the girl had in mind when developing, in the few cases, a relationship with me.
The Self Made Trap
IF you’re in the friendship with an end goal of asking the girl out then there is a high likelihood that you will communicate and act towards the girl accordingly – be extra sweet to her always, be helpful whenever possible; basically falling short of being her superman, pay close attention to her material likes and dislikes so you can use them at some point as an idea of romance. Ummm…what else is usually done? Oh, of course, lending a shoulder to cry on and answering every call/message.
The ultimate nice guy stuff.
So here are the downsides of all this which pretty much lead you to the ‘trap’:
A. Nice Guy vs. Normal Guy
You haven’t been normal with her – yes, you’ve been yourself but how much does she know of the real you? Your negative side, your intelligent/witty [if applicable] side? The side which shows there are other things in your life except her? The side which shows you have issues in your life and how you’re dealing with them? The side which shows what sort of humour you really enjoy?
This nice guy stuff will not last forever, we love to chase. Once the chase is over, we relax. Different guys will relax to different extents but it happens. I’m not sure if girls know this [about men changing once the chase is over]; but, I do know that girls have a ton of questions about what it would be like to be with someone. You have not given any answers my friend because you’ve only been one sort of guy with her.
If you’re lucky, she’s one of those girls who are SO attention deprived that she enjoys the attention and may consider you as a partner just because of that – that just may be selfish on her part and it may hit you one fine day that you’re not really getting much out of the relationship if your needs ever evolve beyond I want her because I want her.
Anyway, the point is, by not being your normal self with her, you have not really given her a role in your life – from her perspective that is. So, she feels important to an extent that there’s this guy that is always so sweet to her and will do anything for her; but, what can she do for him? It doesn’t feel like much of a partnership. Sure, some girls don’t care about that, but the ones classifying you as a ‘friend’ may want that at a subconscious level.
By being the nice guy, you’ve already created and defined a boundary. Within that boundary, in several cases, a relationship does not lie.
B. Misguided Focus
This is an extension to the point above (A). Our focus, as the nice guy, is simply being the nice guy.
The flaw with that is that it gives no reason for the girl to actually want you as a partner.
What?! What more can a girl want than someone who will take care of her and love her like no one will?
A lot more.
It can take a very specific combination of traits/attributes to attract or turn a girl on. We just never discover those because we’re so focused on the cliches and executing them right. To actually discover those, we need to listen a lot more.
Be normal a lot more.
Treat her normally rather than a queen a lot more – not to say don’t treat her like a queen, but she needs to earn it and she needs to feel it’s justified.
I’ll repeat a personal story that I’ve cited before.
I became friends with a girl as a result of a circumstance, about a year-and-a-half after making her acquaintance I started falling for her. I found her smart, witty, incredibly sweet, and she was pretty as well. That was it.
I spent the next two years being that nice guy – always sweet/kind, being there for her whenever needed; I was always on the lookout for those opportunities. However, I never received any sort of indication from her end that she just might feel the same way i.e. more than just a good friend, no matter how much I tried. Eventually, when I finally told her I like her and asked her if she could see a future of us together, she said no.
Since we had mutual friends we would still see each other every now and then; and, I saw sides to her which made me realize it was all for the best because we had several different values and priorities in life.
There’s a lot more that has to be considered when picking a partner and women just might be more particular than men. My one-direction focus did not allow me to see that side of hers at all. The focus also guides the kind of conversations you have with someone and the nice-guy approach does the same.
Earlier I mentioned how a girl may turn out to be not our type and purposely said that I did not say vice-versa. Our misguided focus never actually lets us try to even wonder if we’re her type or not. The focus is all me, me, me!
C. Got Spark?
First and foremost, spark engages both parties. You feel this connection, while interacting, which says
Yes! S/he gets me!
Damn, we think so alike!
It’s this feeling that makes you want more of the other person, not physically – that’s a whole different spark – but mentally or even emotionally.
It can take an engaging battle of wits which borders on flirtation or actually is flirtation bordering on seduction.
It can be this feeling that says to each other I got you because you’re special to me.
Sometimes sparks fly immediately, sometimes it takes time because the couple takes time to get to know each other.
A lot of girls want the spark and I don’t blame them. Men want it to, they may not say it as much but they certainly feel it. Can sparks be misguided? Sure. This isn’t about poor relationship decisions though 😉
The nice guy isn’t as engaging. She won’t feel a spark with you because you just have not been normal with her. You have not been normal with her because of your misguided focus.
Once again, you have not given her any reason to want you.
I hope I have made my point that it is not a girl who ‘friend zones’ you. You only have yourself to blame. If you want to consider it as a trap, then you made it yourself for yourself.
Another tip, if a girl says sorry I see you as a friend but comes back later for some lovin’ , I’d be very wary of her intentions. No need to see it as a success for love and pure intentions etc.
Nevertheless, since most men like to believe that the friend zone is a trap and feel hard done by when a girl breaks their heart; they tend to go berserk about the whole matter. Why?
Not sure if there is any proof for this; but, it seems like men, generally, have a feeling of entitlement. Their efforts must be rewarded no matter what. They can rarely be wrong. They can stamp over people they believe are lesser than them. They can exert double standards.
Or perhaps this notion varies from culture to culture and society to society? I can’t say.
Have I seen sons pampered a bit more than daughters? Yes. Sons can be treated like kings sometimes, especially in my culture. The stronger the pampering, the stronger the sense of entitlement. A sense of entitlement that does not necessarily value the idea of earning the entitlement at times.
If one is denied the entitled, they will get angry. How dare I be denied?
So, how does this link to not-taking-the-friend-zone-so-nicely?
Well, if a guy is putting in the effort to land a girl, he will most likely feel that he deserves reciprocation because…well…he put in the effort. He deserves it.
There was a girl once whom I got to know better, again, through circumstances. Due to circumstances, most of the get-to-know-each-other phase was developed through MSN Messenger. I sorta started liking her but to be in a better position to make a judgement on that, I wanted to hang out in person a lot more. Till then, she had always referred to me as a really good friend of hers.
I would then try to make a plan with her weekend after weekend. Weekend after weekend she had an excuse. Eventually I barely met up with her, it was very very frustrating. Partly because I wanted to see if she is the one or not, partly because it didn’t make sense to me that if I’m considered such a good friend then why would she continuously make excuses?
After a year or so of this, I had had enough. Wrote a hate mail of sorts – not much of hate but more of I can’t be friends with you because of this this this. She replied saying she had an inkling that I liked her and she didn’t want to lead me on, hence all the excuses; but, she would still consider me a friend because she doesn’t let go of friends just like that. That wasn’t good enough for me, I couldn’t accept that she gave it no chance especially since I was considered a really good friend. I cut off ties with her.
The girl I chased for two years, it ended with a ‘sorry, I can’t be friends with you because I want more than that’ line to the girl as well. However, by that time I could accept she didn’t like me back, I just thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it anymore at the time.
Were my actions a result of a feeling of entitlement? That I deserve more because I’ve put in so much? To some extent, yes; perhaps more in the first example than the second. In the second example i.e. the girl chased for two years, my focus was a lot on ensuring there’s reciprocation; of course I did very little, in retrospect, to even get close to understanding if there would be any reciprocation.
By the way, I wonder if men have ever wondered how many women they have ‘friend zoned’? Probably haven’t thought about it once unless a girl, in the most unlikeliest of circumstances, actually told a guy she likes him. He would probably say the same thing to her – I just don’t see you like that, you’re a good friend – and not see what the whole fuss is about. Yet, if the same happens to him, it will be injustice of the highest order. Double standards, anyone?
But It’s Love! Or is it?
Men go crazy because they believe they love the girl. How can she not love back?
This whole post has been about why she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings so I won’t repeat all of that!
The other question I want to ask, based on what I’ve written above:
Why do you love her? Do you actually love her or do you love an idea of her?
I have seen men, who, somehow managed to avoid the friend zone despite ticking A, B, and C above i.e. nice guy, misguided focus, and no spark; and managed to convince the girl that this is love. Those same men have beaten their partner, berated their partner for what they deemed as faults in their character which they probably didn’t know of before because, well, their pursuit never got them to that point. Then there are also the insecurities and lack of trust.
What sort of love is that?
I sometimes think this may be more specific to my culture because there is serious character and/or emotional underdevelopment. Everything is so simplified and so is love – what it is and the reasons for it.
I’m not saying other cultures are perfect; they very obviously have issues too but my exposure is greater with my own culture.
Anyway, no matter how simplified it is though, it HAS to be reciprocated because I, the man, am entitled to reciprocation.
Wrapping Up with the Truth
This turned out longer than I initially thought it would *surprise surprise*.
The truth of the matter is NO, your love or infatuation or chase does NOT deserve reciprocation. Dude, if a girl just cannot develop the same feeling for you, she just can’t! You may be the nicest guy in the world to her but she wants a lot more than that.
Trust me, you don’t want to force a girl to say yes – this also happens unfortunately – because she’ll never be truly happy.
The chances are, you’re after her for the wrong reasons as well; or, at least, very simple reasons which meant that you never dug deep enough to know who the girl truly is.
The notion of ‘friend zoned’ is flawed, if you feel you’ve been ‘friend zoned’ then believe me, you have insulted a person’s wants and desires by simplifying it into something very simple and cliched – is there a term for that?
Yes, it takes a lot of courage to tell a girl you like her. Yes, it sucks to get rejected. Don’t hold it against the girl. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll get over it.
I realize there are a lot of things I may have missed out, especially a girl’s point of view. However, you can only imagine the length of this post if I included that as well! Seriously, though, I don’t know too much of a girl’s point of view on this whole matter – as in, when they get friend zoned.
I’m sure this could have been written better, it was quite a challenge to put my thoughts on this matter in some sort of structural way!