The dreaded friend zone. All too often, we hear people our age whining about it, about how they like someone who doesn’t like them back. So what exactly is this “friend zone”? Wikipedia defines it as “a platonic relationship wherein one person wishes to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship, while the other does not”. The term arose in the 1990s, following an early episode of Friends, in which Joey describes Ross’ longing for Rachel. She sees him as a friend, a brother perhaps, putting him directly into the friend zone. Since then, it has appeared on numerous occasions within popular culture, to the point where anyone can find advice to escape this living hell anywhere on the Internet: “Be less interested” “Break the touch barrier” “Be confident”.
What I want to discuss is whether or not the friend zone actually exists.
There’s always someone who says something along the lines of “I can’t get any girls because I’m too nice a guy and girls only date bad guys”. The Internet has labelled this “Nice Guy Syndrome” because it sounds a lot like a failure to accept valid reasons for not being dated, rather than the fault of the entire female population. In this way, men demonise women, even within the adolescent generation, for exercising their ability to say no. Being nice to a girl for a long time doesn’t entitle you to a relationship. Besides, what is so wrong with simply being friends with a person? Women aren’t there solely to be dated. In fact, the strongest relationships are often built upon a good friendship. (It’s important to note that this happens equally with women, you only have to listen to one Taylor Swift song to realise that “Nice Girl Syndrome” is a very real problem. However, I’m inclined to believe that women tend to blame themselves, rather than the guy they like, when he doesn’t reciprocate feelings. Perhaps this is the fault of the media, although that is an argument for another day.)
On the other hand, it’s true that women take advantage of guys who they know to be interested in them, solely for their own benefit. They string them along, give them false hope and then are surprised when the guy makes a move. When I asked Callum, a close friend of mine, about his experiences, he said "I fell into the friend zone last year. It's one of the darkest places a man can be." Taking into account his tongue in cheek humour, it’s clear that manipulating emotions is never a nice thing to do and that it can put people in the friend zone through no fault of their own.