In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to talk about one of the more frustrating aspects of romance, the friendzone.
If you have been fortunate enough to never experience the friendzone, let me explain it to you. The friendzone is a situation when a person finds them self deeply infatuated with someone who does not reciprocate the other’s feelings, but still wants a friendship. The friendzone can occur between people of all genders and sexual orientations, but more often than not you hear about “nice guys” who are upset because they have been “friendzoned” by a girl who they like.
Being interested in someone who does not feel the same way is a common feeling for all of us. It is pretty hard to deny that unrequited love really sucks. You know what else sucks? Treating somebody poorly just because they do not share the same feelings you have.
According to Wikipedia, the term “friendzone” was popularized by the “Friends” episode “The One with the Blackout,” when the character Ross is described as being the mayor of the friendzone. Even if this was not the first use of the term, I think it sums up the phenomenon really well because Ross is probably the quintessential “nice guy” in popular culture.
If you are curious enough to see some hyperbolic examples of “nice guys,” you can head over to reddit.com/r/niceguys to see for yourself. If you are still unsure about what kind of guy I am talking about, allow me to give you some personality traits and see if they jog your memory: The sort of guy that equates a girl being nice to him as a sign of romantic or sexual interest. The sort of guy that claims that all women just want to date douchebags. The sort of guy that claims chivalry is an important part of why romance is dead. Most importantly, the sort of guy that willingly calls himself a “nice guy” on his dating profile.
If I had to guess, the perpetuation of the friendzone in pop culture is probably due to a lot of writers being guys who have identified with the trope at some point in their lives, but I still blame Ross from “Friends” for being the most annoying character who still managed to get the girl.
If at this point you are wondering “Chapman, why are you so upset about this?” the answer is pretty straightforward: I have put many girls into the “girlfriendzone.”
The biggest issue with the friendzone is not the unrequited feelings. Pretty much everyone has a right to be upset about feeling unwanted, no matter how douchey they are. The problem is the inability to see the person you are interested in as anything except that. By saying that someone has friendzoned you, you are essentially saying that their friendship is not enough for you, which is a much worse feeling than being friendzoned. I promise.
When talking about the friendzone, there is really just one simple fact that it comes down to. Nobody owes anyone anything just for being nice. Not sex, not a relationship, not even niceness in response.
Relationships are rough, and for the guys claiming to be trapped in the friendzone, Valentine’s Day is probably full of reminders of just how terrible their life is. But, hey, maybe this is the day that they finally have their romantic comedy moment and the girl they like brings them a box of chocolates and pronounces her love.
Or maybe it is a box of angry bees. That is always an option.
Chapman W. Croskell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org