In my line of work, I hear about the ‘friend zone’ a lot, especially in the dating industry.
I get it – a lot of men are frustrated about not being able to break the barrier of romantic/sexual involvement.
Especially when you really get to know a girl and like her – a lot.
There’s frustration there, I understand.
I’ve seen it with the single guys when I worked in dating education.
And I’ve seen it with my many male friends over the years.
Yes, the jokes and memes around the ‘friend zone’ are funny.
And they speak to the core of a lot of sexual frustration for a lot of guys.
So I hope I’m not diminishing their feelings when I say that if I’m being completely honest, I feel hurt that a male/female friendship is joked about in this way.
Not because it shouldn’t be happening (because again, I get it) but because It makes me feel like my friendship doesn’t have much worth in this dynamic.
I remember an ex boyfriend (when I was 16yo) said something to me that has stuck with me to this day.
He said,”You know all your male friends, the ones you really care about and would do anything for – have all masturbated to the thought of you”.
This single statement has always stick with me.
From that moment on, I started seeing all my male friends differently.
I understood that my feelings for them were most likely different to their feelings for me.
I took great care to not lead anyone on and failed many times.
Regardless, from them on, I always felt like my friendship wasn’t enough.
And whilst this is somewhat irrational – after all, many of these friendships have lasted for many years without any indication of awkwardness.
And many would argue – so what if your friend secretly wants to f%#k you? Does it mean he can’t still be a good friend for many years, if not forever?
No, I suppose it doesn’t.
But what it does do is it hurts my sense of stability.
I get a special sense of stability out of my male friends that I don’t out of my female friendships.
- I enjoy that with the boys, everything is relaxed and easy.
- Men will tell me if something is wrong most of time – I don’t have to read body language or read between the lines.
- Men will often lead so I can focus on relaxing most of the time where i only need to make decisions or change plans only if I’m uncomfortable.
- Men often focus much more on extroverted fun – drinking, partying – something I love from time to time.
- Men are a lot less worried about PC conversations. Once they test the boundaries of what they can say, it’s great to be a part of outrageous conversations that are often hilarious.
These things create a sense of stability for me, like a cocoon of safety and relaxation.
But the idea that all my male friends want to f#%k me creates instability – a sense of worry.
An awareness suddenly of body language and not hurting anyone’s feelings.
What might I do that will hurt them in such a way that they cannot discuss it with me?
None of this worry I want.
Ok, so some might say that this is just how it is with any attractive girl.
This brings me to my next point then.
That the ‘Friend Zone’ could actually be the best place to be.
Hear me out.
So let’s say I meet a new potential male friend and he thinks I’m great.
And why wouldn’t he? I’m fun, the banter is great, I can have intelligent conversations, I’m always willing to learn and most importantly, I allow them to be completely themselves.
- You wanna tell me dead baby jokes? Cool.
- You wanna tell me about the awesome Vegas prostitutes and strippers? Cool.
- You wanna tell me your unpopular political views? Cool.
Whatever they wanna talk about, I hear without judgement. And I can joke about it to make you feel comfortable if you’re unsure.
So this guy thinks, ‘Wow! I love this girl. I want someone like her to date..’
I can see how you got there.
But hold on.
You know why I can ALLOW so easily with friendships?
Because I’m not emotionally involved.
You can tell me about your sexcapades because I don’t need to compare these stories to our sex life.
I also don’t need us to be super compatible in intelligence, world views or banter.
All of these things change once sex is involved.
But then with someone like me who loves to push boundaries and question everything in my life is the main reason I can ALLOW so easily.
But it creates problems for a boyfriend.
- Can he handle it if I want an open relationship?
- Can he love me when I’m open about all parts of who I am?
- Can he handle serious honesty?
- Is he willing to change and grow with me?
- Can he handle rapid change as I learn and grow?
Most people can’t.
And that’s ok.
This is the other side of the coin.
I’d say a lot of my long term male friends understand this, which I think is healthy.
I believe that because many have made comments such as ‘You’re wild’, ‘You’d be so hard to pin down’, or my favourite – ‘You’re too much for me’.
I’m ok with the journey getting to there.
I’m ok if this is what was necessary to change the dynamic.
I’m even okay if they see me as an troubled person with issues – I can agree with that.
But in the meantime, if they need a reminder of what value a good female friend provides, let me remind you:
- Perspective – We allow guys to learn to appreciate what they have. It’s easy for men to idolise a type of woman that’s not their girlfriend. Men in my experience have a hard time understanding what the downsides of every great quality are – until it’s pointed out to them.
- Communication – Men often struggle to communicate with one another in deep, open ways. A good female friend can create a safe environment for a guy to start talking about his feelings, especially the type of feelings he struggles to understand himself.
- Connection – Men struggle to create deep friendships with one another organically. It’s often only when they’re put in the same environment many times that great friendships develop. It’s weird for men to admit they need more male friends, yet crave it deeply. A good female friend can bridge this gap very easily, putting guys in a place together and allowing friendships to grow faster.
- Social Proof – A good female friend is like a testimonial to other females about how awesome the guy is. My male friends tell me all the time about how they get smiles & looks from other women when I’m around. This makes me happy to hear.
- Comfort – Men learn from an early age that there’s things you don’t say in front of a woman. They learn to hide who they are and focus on manners and filtering. Them being able to say whatever they want and behave however they want around a woman is incredibly healing. It’s from this place that I have ever seen quick permanent changes happen in men. And I suppose it’s partly because a woman wasn’t actually trying to change them.
Yes of course I understand that not all female/male relationships are like this.
That I am pretty unique in this regard.
But for my perspective, I needed to write this down.
To remind myself that in my male friendships, I provide a lot of value.
That sex is not the answer, and will most likely kill what is already a pretty great relationship.
That the ‘friend zone’ might not actually be a bad place after all.