Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Friend Zone #1: What Is The Friend Zone ?

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This series of articles will be the MOST IMPORTANT articles you will ever read and because of that, I have A LOT to preamble before we begin the article proper. This article will address concept of The Friend Zone, How it relates to men and women, and how to escape or deal with it. I have been called a misogynist and a sexist (which is hilarious, I'll tell my wife about that as she's read my previous blog and she agrees with I guess she's a misogynist too eh?) THEREFORE, I AM NOT writing these articles gender exclusive. These articles are written for BOTH MEN AND WOMEN!! NEITHER SIDE WILL BE VICTIMIZED OR DEMONIZED. In these articles The Friend Zone will be examined from BOTH SIDES of the room so that we can FINALLY lay this discussion to rest. In order to do this, I'll need you all to agree to a few truths about The Friend Zone;
  2. THE FRIEND ZONE IS NOT GENDER SPECIFIC! BOTH MEN & WOMEN HAVE BEEN AND ARE IN THE FRIEND ZONE! However there are differences between men and women in The Friend Zone and how they end up in there, that will be explained later. But Men and Women have both experienced The Friend Zone. Taylor Swift has an entire song devoted to her Friend Zone status "Teardrops On My Guitar" and Eric Clapton's "Layla" is devoted to his status in The Friend Zone. So don't feed me this bullcrap that ONLY MEN can be in The Friend Zone.
  3. THOSE IN THE FRIEND ZONE DON'T JUST SEEK TO ACQUIRE SEX! Men and Women in The Friend Zone are NOT just seeking sexual intercourse, they are seeking a solid, long lasting relationship which would eventually lead to a potential marriage. No ONE puts THIS MUCH effort into acquiring sex (especially in this day and age where a few drinks will get you laid). Those in The Friend Zone DO NOT prove themselves as upstanding people for the sole purpose of sexual conquest. Granted, sex is the apex of human relationships, so in one aspect they are in fact seeking to have sex with the person they desire BUT SEX IS NOT THE ABSOLUTE GOAL!
  4. THE FRIEND ZONE CAN BE ESCAPED but the vast majority of people CHOOSE to remain in The Friend Zone (which will be explained in a later article)!
If you disagree with those truths about The Friend Zone then please STOP WASTING your time and don't read this article. Also if you tl;dr me, I will NOT entertain your comments so please if you have a short attention span, don't bother reading or commenting. Also I'll ask you to save your comments for when you finish the article as I have a feeling this is going to be a LONG ONE but I'll try to be snappy. But for something as HOTLY debated, discussed and subject to much discourse, a FULL ON DECONSTRUCTION is at hand. I will preamble this by saying that A LOT of this is anecdotal, personal experience and psychological/biological fact. Also I will be speaking in generalities, SO if you do not fit into the category I am discussing feel free to exclude yourself BUT understand that you are in the minority. So some can be taken with a grain of salt but I have much of what I believe on good authority. I'll try to make this humorous and break up the large blocks of texts with pretty pictures to keep your attention. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you're still with me this far then strap yourselves in; it's time to get educated.

 First thing's first, What IS The Friend Zone? Wikipedia defines "The Friend Zone" as;

"the "friend zone" refers to a platonic relationship wherein one person wishes to enter into a romantic relationship, while the other does not. It is generally considered to be an undesirable situation by the lovelorn person. Once the friend zone is established, it is said to be difficult to move beyond that point in a relationship. The idea of a "friend zone" is often criticized as simply being a platonic relationship in which one party never informs the other of their affection, then resents the other party for not sensing it, or feels entitled to the other party's affections despite the wishes of the other party."

And that's a load of crap. This is more unrequited Love as opposed to "The Friend Zone", as it buys into the idea that people in The Friend Zone feel "entitled" to affection, as I stated above that couldn't be further from the truth. "The Friend Zone" as I define it is;

The Friend Zone is when Person A expresses more than platonic feelings for Person B and Person B neither affirms nor denies reciprocal feelings, instead providing Person A with ambiguous statements in regards to their relationship, and outright ignores or overlooks any attempt Person A makes for Person B's affections as an act of friendship rather than an attempt at romantic engagement. (Layman's terms, Person B remains (either knowingly or unknowingly) oblivious to obvious attempts by Person A to ask them out on a date)

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Perfect example.

Basically, if someone told you they only like you as a friend, sorry player but you're NOT in The Friend Zone, you suffer from unrequited love, as that person has already stated their position with you. If you continue to go after this person then you're keeping yourself in The Friend Zone and leaving yourself open for that person to take advantage of you. Glad we cleared that up. In order to understand The Friend Zone we must first understand The Death Of A Salesman. No, not the play, I'm talking about the perfect analogy for The Friend Zone.

You get a knock on your door, it's a Salesman. Like any good Salesman, he begins to explain what he's selling and why it's better than the product you currently have. Shock of all shocks, The Salesman isn't lying, His product is indeed superior to the one you currently have. In fact, his product is everything you were looking for. You inform The Salesman of this and naturally he's overjoyed. And then something strange happens, you decide NOT to buy the superior product.Naturally The Salesman is confused. If you can understand why The Salesman is confused, then you can understand The Friend Zone.

The Product is of course yourself and the potential buyer is The Person Of Your Affection. Before any romantic relationship can begin a sales pitch is required. Men and Women both attempt to showcase themselves to The Person Of Their Affection as The Superior Product.

Anecdotal Story: Before Kim was my wife, I was dating a woman named Amanda. The entire time I was dating Amanda, I was wishing she was Kim. Kim had unrequited feelings for me, however her care and support made me realize that I was not getting the same from Amanda. So rather than stay with the inferior product, I chose the superior product...and now she's my wife. Yay.

The anecdotal story is a positive reference for The Sales Pitch, Kim had what Amanda did not. Kim had what I was looking for and made that clear to me through her actions and language she used talking to me. She showed me that she was able to do what Amanda could not. However, when The Sales Pitch goes the way described above, in the negative, what happens then? Well first we have to establish the common sales pitches of those in The Friend Zone.

Men and Women have different but similar behaviors in The Friend Zone. Men in The Friend Zone often take up the role of THE WHITE KNIGHT. The mythological figure in fairy tales that'd ride up on a white steed and save the day. This is because men are bred with a natural instinct "to do" or to perform rather. Women on the other hand are not bred with the instinct to perform as historically women have never had to perform to gain the attention of a man, so what behavior do women exhibit in The Friend Zone...well that would be THE GREAT COMFORTER. A figure who is safe and caring, kind and always attentive to the needs of the person they adore.

Society tells us many different ways on how to attract the people we desire, what behaviors we should exhibit, and how we should treat them ect. ect. The White Knight is built on the bases of those social norms; if you want to get a woman to like you, show her respect, listen to her, compliment her and show her you care about her; these are things that all young men are taught at a young age if they seek to ever have a girlfriend, so these are in NO WAY foreign. The White Knight exhibits all of these qualities and then some, offering to help her with her homework, carry her books, stay up late with her watching a very sad episode of "Buffy", or offering his shoulder to cry on when her Jerk of a Boyfriend cheats on her. The White Knight goes above and beyond the call of duty to show this girl respect, to listen to her, compliment her when she's feeling low and has proven numerous times that he cares for her...however all of these actions ultimately leads to nothing. And The White Knight feels frustrated because he followed the blue print he's been raised with only to come up empty handed.

The Great Comforter is a role my girlfriend played with me before she became my wife. Around the time we met I was not in the best position in my life and I wouldn't have gotten through it all if it wasn't for her friendship. Women in the Friend Zone ultimately seek to become BETTER friends to the guy they're after. While men perform for attention, women GIVE extra attention, they take an interest in what the guy is doing, will ask him questions about it and hang on his every word. Because the object for women is to get that guy to be interested in asking her out by making him as comfortable as possible around her. However when this extra attention goes unnoticed The Great Comforter feels unappreciated and this leads to frustration.

The White Knight & The Great Comforter showcase these traits to communicate to The Person Of Their Affection that should they choose to be with them, that is the kind of treatment they'll receive if they were to enter into a relationship with them. It's sort of a "trial" run of "The Services" they provide. The White Knight seeks to offer The Person Of His Affection support, protection, loyalty, and adoration. The Great Comforter seeks to offer The Person Of Her Affection support, comfort, loyalty, and adoration. But both parties understand that these traits can only be exhibited so far in the bounds of friendship.

Can we really blame The Salesman for being confused as to why after putting forth the effort, having that acknowledged, and yet yielding no results? Can we really blame someone for being frustrated after attempting a romantic engagement only to be left with platonic friendship? Of course we can't. Of course some would argue that they should be happy to recieve friendship, but I pose the question to you, could you REALLY be friends with someone you REALLY wish to be in a romantic relationship with? No doubt the answer to that is of course you can, BUT not without some difficulty, which leads me too...

"What's he/she got that I don't?" Oh yeah, we've ALL been here before. As human beings it's in our nature to be competitive and comparative. To size up the competition and get an edge over on those who lack in areas we excel at. This is true in the romantic realm as well, MANY guys have taken up playing guitar because "Chicks dig guys who play guitar.". I always tell guys to learn how to cook because "Chicks dig guys who can cook.". Another adage, "Chicks love a man in uniform." (more on that later) Everyone on the face of the planet does something to make themselves more appealing to people they desire. A guy finds out a girl likes a particular TV show, he'll watch that TV show JUST SO he'll have a reason to talk to her and vice versa. It works both ways.

So when The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman comes face to face with The Competition, they examine them, their behavior in comparison to their own, their body type, their interests, ect. ect. All for the sole purpose of studying the type of The Person Of Their Affection is interested in and how they compare to that person. Basically they're looking for "The Edge", that intangible things that made The Person Of Their Affection go for that person and not them. Often times they don't find "The Edge" but convince themselves that their must be one because otherwise the playing field would be equal.

In truth, there is no "Edge" and that's what's so frustrating about The Friend Zone. Because there are MANY variables in regards to The Person Of Their Affection's decision in picking them. But since The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman can't see those variables, they come up with every excuse they can think of "She's got a big ass, that's why he's with her.", "She's got big boobs, that's why he's with her.", "She puts out.", "He got money, that's why she's with him.", "He's stronger than me, that's why she's with him."...the list goes on and on...

The reason why The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman looks for "The Edge" is because once again society has trained both men and women on the traits a man and woman find attractive. We can run through a thousand variations and ultimately find the same common theme in all relationships: Men want a woman who will support them and Women want a man they feel safe with.  So The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman look for these traits in the competition. "Can she support him like I will?", "Does she feel safe with him?". Beyonce has a song about The Friend Zone called "I Care". I wonder why her song would be titled that? Maybe it's because her ability to care for The Person Of Her Affection is her "Edge".

The most common "Edge" people seek in hoping to build a romantic relationship with someone is finding something they have in common with that person. Basically something to get their foot in the door.

Anecdotal story: When I was being interviewed for a job, I noticed that my future boss had a miniature replica of The Deep Space 9 station on his desk. "Deep Space 9" happened to be my 2nd favorite "Star Trek" series and I made note of the miniature and asked him if he was indeed a trekkie. I told him that I too enjoyed "Deep Space 9". He immediately shook my hand and told me I had good taste. After that I got the job and he and I are good friends despite various disagreements.

Finding a commonality in order to acquire a job or the attention of The Person Of Your Affection is nothing short of an obvious tactic to achieve an edge over the competition. There is nothing insidious or wrong with this tactic. Both I and my wife have used this tactic on each other.

Anecdotal Story: My wife, when she was my girlfriend GREATLY enjoyed "Death Note". So I decided to watch "Death Note" so we could discuss it together. Which worked out perfectly for me. I enjoyed "L O S T" and my girlfriend watched it so we could discuss it together. We both became fans of our mutually exchanged commonality. Now we have more in common than we previously did. All because we both gained an "Edge" on each other.

Anecdotal Story: When I was with Amanda, she told me that she'd like if I watched "Bleach" as she was a fan of "Bleach". Seeing as how she was my girlfriend at the time, I agreed and watched "Bleach". EVERY attempt I made to talk to her about it FAILED MISERABLY. Furthermore she didn't take an interest in ANYTHING I was interested in. Therefore we couldn't exchange any mutual commonality, because it was a 1 way dead end exchange.

Both men and women WILL attempt to find something they have in common with The Person Of Their Affection and The Friend Zone'd Men/Women look for that commonality or something they can engage in with more zeal than ANYONE ELSE, simply because they are seeking to gain the attention of The Person Of Their Affection. But when you find your "Edge" and still fail at getting that attention, what happens next?

Anecdotal Addendum: "The Edge" Factor is also seen in commercials, mostly advertised to men. Specifically Axe Body Spray which features Men instantly gaining the attraction of women by using their product. However, most deodorant or bath products advertised to women don't feature women gaining instant attraction of men by using their product. Most of the commercials for female bath products boast about providing confidence and a better look for women. While male products boast about it's ability to attract women.

So you're in The Friend Zone now, every attempt you've made to get The Person Of Your Affection to take you as a serious potential suitor has gone unnoticed, unrecognized, ignored and misinterpreted, worst of all The Person Of Your Affection is now dating someone else. Now is the time to hang it up and admit defeat, at least you and her/him can still be friends. You can at least be happy that they're happy, after all that is what you wanted right? You put forth a good effort but in the end The Better Man/Woman won...or did they?

Because you're in The Friend Zone you simply can't let go of The Person Of Your Affection that easily. So you keep tabs on the situation from a distance. People in The Friend Zone have a vested interest in how the relationship of The Person Of Their Affection is doing and how their boy/girlfriends are treating them. If all is good, then The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman can admit defeat, gracefully bow out of the picture and get over him/her as best they can...but if all is NOT GOOD, this is a PRIME moment to prove just how good of a boy/girlfriend they'll be!

Side Note: As I stated earlier above Kim proved to me that she'd be a MUCH better girlfriend than Amanda and THANKFULLY I wasn't too blind to miss that. Kim didn't come onto me or make passes at me, all she did was be a good friend, which is more than what Amanda did. Kim took an interest in me, Amanda did not, Kim listened to me, Amanda did not, all the things Kim did, Amanda did not do. Hence Kim was perfect for me (and she is, LOVE YOU KIMMY) (Hey you reading, shut up! I'm earning brownie points here!)

 So The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman takes it upon themselves to scrutinize every aspect of the relationship The Person Of Their Affection is in, how does he/she treat him/her? How does he/she act around him/her? What does he/she say to him/her ect. ect. People in The Friend Zone don't do so obsessively, more often than not they're told about these things by The Person Of Their Affection. Because of what I stated above, our comparative and competitive natures drive us to constantly seek an opportunity to prove ourselves superior to one another. So if The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman discovers that The Person Of Their Affection's boy/girlfriend is lacking in a particularly important area, they'll do everything they can to capitalize on that. Again, this is NOT a bad thing!

Also, The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman feels it's their duty to make sure that The Person Of Their Affection is treated right, and they take it as a personal offense if The Person Of Their Affection is mistreated. As Taylor Swift sang;

"She better hold him tight, give him all her love. Look in those beautiful eyes and know she's lucky 'cause" - Taylor Swift "Teardrops On My Guitar"

Why is Taylor Swift saying that? Because what she's saying is, "That girl better appreciated what she has because if she doesn't, I will!". EVERYONE has felt this way about someone or something! EVERYONE HATES to see something we desire go unappreciated. Whether it's money, a job, a car, because we're of the mind set that if given the opportunity to have what they have, we wouldn't waste it. Kim has told me numerous times that she HATED the way Amanda didn't appreciate me. I see nothing wrong with that, nor do I feel objectified (as some would argue that this sentiment is REALLY a form of objectification and possessiveness, foolishly so, because if it we're the sentiment would be "If I can't have you, no one else will." as opposed to "Whoever has you better appreciate what they have because if they don't, I will.")

Anecdotal Story: In high school I had a MAJOR crush on a girl named...let's call her "Linda". "Linda" had expressed to me that every boyfriend she's ever had, had cheated on her. Missing the fatal point of that comment, I expressed outrage at this revelation and revealed (in not so many words) that were she with me, I would NEVER cheat on her. Of course, nothing happened between me and "Linda" and THANK GOD (really dodged a bullet).

You ever heard or said "You deserve better."? Why do people say that? Because in their minds the effort you put forth is not equal to the earnings you receive. This is the same with those in The Friend Zone, however the "better" is equal to themselves. The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman will often note to The Person Of Their Affection that they deserve "better", but what they're really saying is "you deserve me". Not to make themselves out to be some sort of prize or reward, what's being said is that the effort The Person Of Their Affection puts forth in a relationship WILL BE reciprocated equally by The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman. Laymans Terms; "They'll get back what they put in." Is this really a bad thing? Is this REALLY something SO HORRIBLE, so selfish that people FAIL to understand how and why this can be frustrating for both men and women?

In conclusion, The Friend Zone is INDEED a real place and a real set of feelings shared by both men and women with various psychological, sociological and biological causes. Denial of these feelings is an outward denial of reality as all human beings experience frustrated at the prospect of being denied who or what they want. And while many will argue that all of this is objectification and negative, I dare you to find me ONE person who hasn't felt frustrated that the girl/guy they were after didn't go for them! It's impossible to do because whether or not they got over it, they STILL HAD THOSE FEELINGS!

Society wants you to believe that you're selfish for not caring about what he/she wants and only caring about yourself, as if The Friend Zone is some sort of Entitlement to romantic feelings, which is a lie. EVERYONE puts forth an effort to EARN reciprocal romantic feelings, EVERYONE and when that effort is met with something (in our minds not equal to our effort) they WILL feel upset, and that's a natural reaction. The Friend Zone would ONLY be selfish IF The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman FORCED The Person Of Their Affection into a corner where they'd HAVE to display reciprocal romantic feelings, however for The Friend Zone'd Man/Woman, they don't want to FORCE The Person Of Their Affection into having feelings for them. They want the genuine article, and what's wrong with that? You Dear Reader, can't tell me that you haven't felt, said or thought any of the things I've mentioned in this article. You KNOW what The Friend Zone is like. Anyway this concludes the FIRST OF THREE articles I'll be writing on this topic. Share your comments below! Thank you!

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