The Friend Zone—Different for Guys & Girls
Originally Published: November 12, 2015
Revised: November 12, 2015
Has this ever happened to you?
Carla: I just found out Jose likes me, and I don’t know what to do.
Brian: Well, do you like him?
Carla: Not really. I don’t think so, but I can’t just reject him. I don’t want him to hate me. I only like him as a friend.
Brian: But everyone thinks you’re into him. Come on, just give him a chance.
Alex: Dude, I just heard Jessie is into you.
Reggie: Wait, what?
Alex: Yeah, Roxie just told me that Jessie is into you. You should totally make the first move.
Reggie: But I don’t want to be with anyone. Jessie is cool and all, but I just don’t feel the same way.
Alex: Come on, be a man. Go make the first move.
Rejection can really sting, but what many people don’t realize is rejecting someone can be really hard and usually awkward. Like when your friend likes you and you don’t feel the same way, or when all your friends are pushing you into being with someone you’re just not into. What do you do? Well, to answer that we need to understand how guys and girls experience this kind of thing differently.
No one, regardless of gender, should ever feel guilty for not liking someone
Guys—Pressured to Date
Thanks to gender roles, guys are usually expected to make the first move when it comes to dating girls. Now it becomes awkward when the guy in question isn’t attracted to the person who may be attracted to him. This sometimes happens to guys, such as Sam Ullery, 18 from Scotch Plains, NJ.
“Friends have come up to me and said, ‘So-and-so thinks you’re cute, you should date her,’ and it’s the most uncomfortable feeling ever,” explains Sam. “I hate to be pressured by my peers.”
Guys aren’t attracted to every person who is attracted to them, and that’s totally OK. No one, regardless of gender, should ever feel guilty for not liking someone. Gender stereotypes depict guys as always wanting sex. According to these stereotypes, guys have to constantly prove and assert their masculinity by frequently dating and having sex with different people. This is harmful because not everyone feels this way and they shouldn’t feel pressured to constantly date other people just because they feel like they need to to prove their masculinity by doing so. When a guy plays into this stereotype, it’s not only harmful to him, but his partner as well. This stereotype makes any sort of relationship between a man and another person all about the guy’s ego and not about connecting with the other person, which is what a relationship should be. In other words, this stereotype makes it so guys feels like they have to date other people for their own self esteem, and not because they genuinely care about the other person. If you want to date someone it should be because you like him or her. It shouldn’t be because you feel like you need to “prove you’re a man”
Girls—Afraid to Reject
As most girls can attest, rejecting someone can be scary, especially when the person you reject is a guy. Miranda Meriwether,19, of Greenville, NC, says she’s “always scared to reject guys because I never know what they might do…. [and] because [of] the news stories of guys going crazy. Not that there aren’t girl equivalents to some of those stories. Also, personal experience. Guys get very mean when they’re rejected. I’ve only had two guys actually be civil when rejected by me.” It is understandable how girls can feel afraid to reject a guy, especially when you hear about incidents like the Isla Vista shootings where a violent misogynistic man killed multiple people and blamed it on women.
Now obviously not every guy turns violent when he is rejected, but sometimes guys say and do hurtful things out of spite. If a girl rejects a guy who she may be friendly with, she might be called a prude. Now the status of being a prude exists only as a consequence of not giving into the whims of a spiteful guy. It really doesn’t make sense for someone to call a girl a prude other than because of a sense of entitlement. Being rejected may be hurtful, but that is no excuse to throw empty labels–like prude and slut–at someone.
The Danger & Myth of the Friend Zone
But what happens, when you legitimately like the person, but just not in that kind of way? Well, then we have entered “the Friend Zone.”
What exactly is the friend zone and does it exist? Well, according to Marcy Alvarez, 19, of Red Bank, NJ, “The Friend Zone is when you reject someone [and thus] keep the ship in friendship and not relationship.”
Now there are different opinions on what the friend zone is and whether or not it exists. Miranda disagrees with Marcy and says it doesn’t exist because she believes friendship should be an inherent part of any relationship, so to believe that just being friends with someone isn’t good enough is dumb.
Now one of the problems with the friend zone is that it is used disproportionately to describe a situation in which a guy is rejected, than in which a girl is rejected. So I asked if it was the same thing when a guy gets friend-zoned as when a girl gets friend-zoned.
Sam says, “When a guy friend-zones a girl it’s because he doesn’t want a relationship with her, but when a girl friend-zones a guy it’s because she doesn’t want to have sex with him.”
So it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing, across genders, so what does it actually say about the friend zone?
The takeaway, I believe, is that if someone is mad you friend-zoned them, then they really weren’t your friend to begin with. A real friendship is intimate in itself, just in a different way than a romantic relationship. Sure, one person might initially be disappointed, but if they truly value the other person, then they will be satisfied with the friendship the way it is. Just because someone sees you as a friend doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like you, it just means they like you in a different way.
So What Do I Do?
So rejection isn’t the most glamorous thing, but sometimes you have to do it. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and your friend. Communication is important in any relationship, whether it be platonic or romantic. You want to make it clear how you feel and remember you never have to apologize for the way you feel. If you have to force feelings for someone, then it’s not good and it’s not going to work. And if people try to make you feel guilty over how you feel about it, then it especially won’t work. The only person who knows how you feel is you, and no one should try to convince you otherwise. You shouldn’t ever feel guilty about being honest with someone about the kind of relationship you want to have.
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