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We should tear down the term “friend zone” as it only serves to provide refuge to the bitterly naive and destructive.
Friendship. On a fundamental level, the term exemplifies peace, but once emotion creeps in, the meaning can be reinterpreted and come to engender a mindset that is decidedly un-peaceful. Such a broad statement could, of course, lead into many discussions, but today we’re talking about the intangible, almost mythic source of human anxiety: the “friend zone.”
The term is so prevalent in our contemporary lingo that to define it would perhaps insult readers’ intelligence. But as interpretations of the term are bound to differ, a definition is necessary to build an argument.
The argument being that its complete bullshit.
So, to provide a definition, the “friend zone” refers to a situation wherein one party in a platonic relationship harbours an unrequited love/lust for the other. Fine. This happens. There is no argument that it doesn’t, so as a simple definition of this phenomenon, the term “friend zone” could technically suffice. What the term “friend zone” really represents, however, is a state of mind that merely stems from the feeling of unrequited love; a state of mind that can be unhealthy, insidious and seemingly contradictory to the fundamental idea of friendship.
Looking at how the term is used, it is clear that for something that represents only the individual perspective of the unloved party, the responsibility (and subsequently, blame) is placed on the other party, who is loved: the unloved is actively “friend zoned” by the other; the decision to put the suffering party into this purgatory being made by the one who does not suffer. Almost always, the one doing the friendzoning is unaware of the other’s true feelings, so to place an invisible decision in the hands of that person, then holding them responsible for the emotional repercussions, is completely unfair.
By extension, this means that the decision to become/remain friends was not a mutual one; that where one side is under the impression that there is a friendship, the other is unsatisfied with this status. Not vocalising this dissatisfaction is the responsibility of the unloved, but out of fear or knowledge of rejection they remain silent and with the term “friend zone” (as a verb), they repeatedly make themselves the victim. Identifying an individual as the source and active participant in one’s anxiety is a clear breeding ground for resentment so it’s obvious to see how, in identifying the “friend zone,” the concept of “friend” can become perverted and perceived as inferior, especially when it is forced onto a spectrum that “always” ends in sex.
It doesn’t help that external social factors help to exacerbate and poison an already dejected and fragile mindset in the unloved. Media and a self-indulgent reward-focused culture help to promote a sense of expectation and entitlement even when it comes to relationships. It is mostly the emotionally naive who unfortunately fall into these psychological traps and are led to believe that the journey to a sexual relationship is just about ticking certain boxes. So when the boxes are ticked and no prize is received the instinct is to blame not the system or one’s self, but the party that failed to come through with the goods.
As gender-neutral as this discourse has been so far, I will not pretend that the term isn’t mostly thrown about by males, who heap negativity onto it by further using it as a topic of mockery and derision. A man with an attractive, platonic female friend is assumed to have been friendzoned and consequently, is an inferior male specimen for having been deemed an undesirable sexual partner. It is also then that the friendzoned can be acquainted with the term and its negative perception; not even through his own reactions but through those of his peers.
We live in the age of information; we inhabit a world of words, and in creating a word that describes a phenomenon incorrectly, we have fostered a mentality that victimises one party and condemns the other. It’s time we rezoned the friend zone and stopped making excuses for ourselves to wallow in our anxiety instead of expressing it.