Friday, February 28, 2014

Fears of the Friendzone are Overblown


Photo credit: kornrolla from morguefile.com

Anyone who has been reading this blog awhile knows that I'm not impressed with speed. There seems to be no end to advice that boils down to "you snooze, you loose. This post, from the Urban Dater, is no exception.

Many guys think that they’ve been friend-zoned because they did something (wrong), but often times, it’s because they didn’t do something. They failed to take action soon enough. Does it takes balls to take action? Absolutely, but this is something that is within our power. Just keep in mind that guys who get friend-zoned are the ones who “played it safe.” You must strike when the iron is hot.

Ah, the "friendzone." I felt like I spent much of high school there. I can recall multiple women in college with whom it seemed I was lost in the long tunnel of maybe, but not quite. Even in grad school there was one woman. But since then, well, the term doesn't really apply to anything I have experienced. Furthermore, both in college and grad school, there were people who were attracted to me in my friend circle that I had little or no romantic interest in. Perhaps they felt trapped in the friendzone as well. I honestly don't know.

Here's what I think. The friendzone is a concept that is not only over-applied, but also is yet another excuse for folks to rush things, instead of act naturally. The fear of being labeled not interested or simply lumped in with someone's friends feels no different than the commonplace advice to "lock in" whomever your dating online because there's "so much competition." It's all about fear, and not about reading reality.

In reality, a lot of the time you "land in the friendzone" is because the other person just isn't that into you. When I look back at my school days crushes, I honestly don't think most of them would have dated me. They liked me well enough, but my lack of making a move wasn't the issue. The reverse is also true. I wouldn't have dated most of the people I knew had crushes on me. I just wasn't that interested.

Which brings me to my next point. How much of this is rom-com fantasy? I have a hard time taking the concept too seriously, even though it does happen sometimes, even between middle aged adults.

They say timing is everything, right? Well, we've all heard of those long term friendships that eventually become romantic partnerships. They aren't the norm, but they do happen. And the thing is, there's not much you can do to speed something like that up. Nor would it be wise to bank your life on something like that, no matter how great someone is. However, it strikes me that to whatever extent the friendzone is real, it's also not something that's fixed.

That's the problem with life: it doesn't conform to human ideas.

Which doesn't mean you shouldn't make a quicker move sometimes. Sometimes, that might be right thing. Does it make sense given what's present, or is it forced? The answer will be different every time.

Fears of the friendzone are overblown. Even if you are really shy about dating, like I used to be, odds are the ones you think "got away" never would have been yours anyway.


11 comments:

  1. I agree with your post completely. Even though I did in fact have a longtime friend that I, for a brief period of time, dated. It took him a while to get me to warm up to the idea, though. Like you said, initially, I was not interested. Had he made his move too quickly, I probably would've ended the friendship AND not dated him.


    That said, I admit I have a hard time believing in friendzone as a concept. Here's my favorite post on the subject: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-your-online-dating-profile-isnt-working_p2/#ixzz2ufr5T3c4

    "Let's not beat around the bush: If you have ever cried "friend zone!" unironically, then I'm afraid you're not ready to participate in society. Oh, we'd love to have you, but with the lineup we've got, we can't see you making it off the bench. For those blissfully ignorant of the concept, the friend zone is that unbearable set of circumstances in which a person of the opposite sex is ... friends with you! As if life wasn't hard enough already, now you have ALL THESE GODDAMN FRIENDS.

    So how could this potentially be a problem? Because -- and this is the optimistic interpretation -- some people can only conceive of a relationship with the opposite sex in terms of the differences between those two sexes: men/women are electrical plugs/outlets, and if the two aren't experiencing a brief, sparkless insertion, then the whole thing is clearly just pointless." and so on.

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    1. You're right: some folks simply don't believe in opposite sex friendships. Moxie's blog is filled with that kind of thinking.

      But it also seems to me that, as you point out, the label itself isn't really accurate a lot of the time. It's not that a person gain a bunch of friends; it's that no romantic relationship develops. And the person "friendzoned" moves on. Usually fairly quickly (a few months max), although in a smaller percentage of cases, someone does stick around for months or years on end, hoping and waiting.

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    2. Not long ago I wrote here that I have found myself in relationships where I wasn't initially very attracted to the guy. I became attracted the more time I spent with him, the more I got to know him. So in my personal experience "friend-zoning" may not necessarily be permanent. :) The folks who say they want to be "friends first" may have had success in relationships building that way. Where as in many blog comments we see people who assume "friends first" means the person isn't serious about finding someone for a relationship.

      When I was 25 I was interested in a co-worker at one time. I didn't think he was interested in me though. In fact, I thought he had something going with another co-worker. After a few months he decided to move to another state. Two days before he left I mentioned the other co-worker. He said he was never involved with her, that it was me he liked.

      Wha???? Wish he told me that months ago. Nothing I could do about it now that he was moving. So I wonder...perhaps sometimes we think we've been friend-zoned just because neither party has said/did anything obvious to indicate romantic interest. A stand-off of cautiousness.

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    3. "The folks who say they want to be "friends first" may have had success in relationships building that way. Where as in many blog comments we see people who assume "friends first" means the person isn't serious about finding someone for a relationship."

      Years ago, I often skipped over profiles that said something like "let's be friends first." Then I had a handful of crash and burn dating situations that caused me to reassess how fast to move, and what mattered most. Which basically made the friends first phrase rather a moot point. Because I wasn't assuming anymore that things had to develop into an exclusive, intimate relationship after a couple of dates.

      What I find interesting is that many of the folks who say they don't want to "waste time" with people who

      a) don't write back right away b) want to be friends first or c) want to wait to have sex for whatever reason

      seem to have no problem with all the time spent cycling through short term flings that go nowhere. And/or they can't see how much they waste on these experiences, even if they get some benefit from them (like sex or basic companionship for a short time).

      Lots of selective awareness going on.

      "perhaps sometimes we think we've been friend-zoned just because neither party has said/did anything obvious to indicate romantic interest. A stand-off of cautiousness." Yes, I think this does happen sometimes. I have had a couple of experiences that probably fall under this category.

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    4. "What I find interesting is that many of the folks who say they don't want to "waste time" with people who

      a) don't write back right away b) want to be friends first or c) want to wait to have sex for whatever reason

      seem to have no problem with all the time spent cycling through short term flings that go nowhere."

      Oh I totally agree. One thing that got on my nerves during my last round of dating was the pressure to be a couple after 3-4 dates. The one guy that I pulled the plug on, made out with me ONCE and texted me the next day saying "we need to take a romanic staycation"... yikes, too soon!

      Way I see it, ending up in a good relationship is a lot like winning the lottery. The odds are roughly the same. Sure you can still buy tickets every week (i.e. message and date people), but don't get attached to every ticket you buy, and for the love of god don't get on the poor ticket's case and give it crap for not being a winning ticket... and don't carry it around for months pretending it's a winning ticket when it's not.

      Then again, many many people, especially men, seem to believe that if they feel initial chemistry on the first date, then it's all good and they're well on their way to being a couple. When it reality initial chemistry, or lack of it, means very little.

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    5. "When it reality initial chemistry, or lack of it, means very little." If more people realized just this one point, there'd be much less misery all around. Lots of bs seems attached to this idea. The pushing too quickly for sex based upon false assumptions. The rejection of numerous possible partners because the "hot meter" wasn't hot enough on the first date or two. The rushing into couple land. Plain physical attraction to others really isn't that rare or special, but people act like it is somehow.

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