What’s the friend zone? Why do feminists have such a big issue with that word?

In common parlance, the friend zone is what happens when you have a really deep romantic or sexual interest in someone and that person doesn’t return your interest. They think of you as a friend.

Oftentimes, you spend time hanging out with them as a friend or doing friend type activities with them. Sometimes people will do big favors for the person that they feel has “friend zoned” them in an attempt to earn their favor or prove their worthiness for dating.

So why do so many people feel like this is a problematic term? Here are the reasons:

Three reasons why “the friend zone” is a problem

First, it tends to be men who apply this label to women. When a woman is interested in a man and that man doesn’t return her interest, we don’t usually think that that’s a problem with the man. And often the terms that are applied to that woman would be “creepy” or “stalker” or “crazy ex-girlfriend” – or that she’s just obsessed or pathetic.

When the roles are switched however, there’s a man who’s really interested in a woman, who has told him she just wants to be friends. He’s really nice to her and tries to earn her favor and she still doesn’t want to date him. Oftentimes that man feels wronged and rejected, and saying that he has been “friend zoned” can be a way to kind of assuage some of that pain – make it sting a little bit less.

So it’s something that tends to be highly gendered. Generally only men get to be on the friend zone. Sometimes women do, but it’s more rare.

Second, it assumes that if you like someone, they should return your interest. Here’s the thing. I’m pretty awesome. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be interested in me. Just because I’m a good person or I do the right things or I say the right things or I wear the right clothes or I’m fun to date, none of those are reasons that someone has to date me.

There are plenty of people who aren’t interested in me (and not for any specific reason). Sometimes when you meet someone, it just doesn’t click for you. It doesn’t feel quite right. That doesn’t mean that you put them in the friend zone. It means that you’re just not interested in dating them.

If someone offers you friendship and you accept that friendship, but in a way that it’s full of resentment and hope that it’s going to change, that’s not you being honest with your yes and your no. You said yes to something when what you really meant was yes, as long as it will change or yes, as long as this isn’t going to stay this way. That’s a big part of resentment as I talked about in one of my other videos.

Third, it can show a sense of entitlement that you’re owed someone’s attention or attraction as long as you’re nice to them. The thing is, I’m a really nice person. I can be super nice to someone and they’re still not interested in dating me and yeah, that can hurt and that can feel really bad. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve done something wrong. It doesn’t mean that they have somehow wronged me. It means that for whatever reason, we’re not a fit in that way. The more energy and time that I spend trying to convince them otherwise or trying to plead my case or earn their favor, the more time I’m not spending finding someone who’s a genuine yes to me.

Be honest with yourself and find your “yes”.

I think that a lot of folks who think of themselves in the friend zone would do much better for themselves by finding someone who is as much of a yes to them as they are to that person. So go find your yes.