5 Reasons Why The Friend Zone Is Not The Reason Guys Get Rejected

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5 Reasons Why "The Friend Zone" Is Sexist & Attacks Women

The “friend zone” is a misogynistic and problematic term, largely used by men to describe a failed romantic pursuit towards someone they are friends with. It’s like the island of misfit toys for unrequited lovers, it’s a fictional place full of self-loathing individuals and it’s unfortunately become mainstream.

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Unrequited love sucks and can be a very painful and upsetting experience for those involved, especially if the object of your affection is someone you share a close friendship with. It can be even harder to move past your feelings when you see and interact with that person often. You can't help who you catch feelings for but you can control the way you handle the situation when faced with rejection.

First and foremost, do not sum up your experience by saying you were “friend zoned.” Unfortunately, this made up "zone" has become so mainstream that it is frequently used without thinking about the messed up social implications.


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For example, MTV dedicated an entire show to it from 2011-2014, there are a ton of “friend-zone” references in pop culture and just recently the New York Times published an article entitled "36 Years Later, He’s Out of the Friend Zone" about two high school friends reconnecting after several years and marrying one another. Though the story is heartwarming and inoffensive the use of the term “friend zone” in the headline has received some backlash online and not for nothing; the term is completely sexist.

Although both men and women can equally feel the sting of unrequited love, 9 out of 10 times it’s men who complain about the “friend zone”. Generally, when a guy isn’t interested in a woman we can rationalize it to, “ok he's just not interested” and we move on but if a woman is not interested in a man then she’s seen as “crazy”, "ungrateful", or a "tease".

Michael Kimmel, one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities and a distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, did an interview for Mic in which he stated that the "friend zone" is an extension of constrained gender norms and the need to constantly perform masculinity in front of other men. Kimmel condenses the “friend zone” to a “face-saving” tactic used by men who don't know how to deal with rejection so they project the responsibility onto women.

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The “friend zone” is a term and a concept that needs to be abolished because all it does is put the unnecessary blame on women and devalues their feelings and wants as human beings. 

Check out the top reasons why the term "friend zone" needs to be edited out of the mainstream vocabulary.

1. Because the blame and shame rhetoric perpetuated by the “friend zone” is the same mentality that keeps rape culture alive. 

Objectifying a woman’s affections is very problematic for it perpetuates the notion that men are entitled to women, and their bodies, whenever they want. As long as women are continuously blamed for the sexual wants and desires of men based on their appearance and/or behavior, then victim blaming will persist in society.

It undermines the importance of a woman's consent, of taking her at her word when she says "no" or "I'm not interested." It reinforces the idea that "no" doesn't actually mean "no", it means "try harder" (which just feels rapey) and that a man can use a woman for what he wants because he has some socially assumed "right" to. It encourages men to be manipulative and to dupe a woman into feeling comfortable enough to take advantage of her later.

Women are people with the right to govern themselves, and If this was better understood and accepted, then neither the "friend zone" nor rape culture would exist.

2. Because being nice to a woman doesn't mean you "deserve sex". 


The “friend zone” implies that one's "right" to sex and a romantic relationship has been unjustly denied to them. But guess what? Human interactions don’t work that way!

You can’t make someone reciprocate the feelings you have for them and it’s certainly not your "right", so stop acting like it is. If you think it’s painful to be “friend zoned” imagine the hurt the other person feels when they realize someone they really cared about was just biding their time until they got what they wanted from you.

It’s a deceiving and belittling feeling to find out you weren't really friends at all, you were the endgame. Women are people, not objects to be conquered. Respect women as people — and equals. Recognize that sex isn't a battle to win or lose nor is it a reward for being a "standup" guy. 

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3. Because if you were really her friend you would respect the way she feels and support the choices she makes for herself.

Friendships are a special relationship and deserve to be cherished and valued like you would a romantic one. The “friend zone” disrespects friendship all together and suggests that platonic friendship is a waste of time and effort for the person with unrequited feelings. The fact that someone cares about you enough to get to know you, spend time with you, and be there for you is something that should be celebrated. You should appreciate the authentic connection you share and honor one another's company.

4. Because it reinforces the notion that men and women can't be friends because they're assumed to be sexually attracted to each other.

Just because one friend has feelings for the other does not mean they should end up together or that the other person should "give them a shot" simply because they really like them and are good to them.The “friend zone” assumes that women should be attracted to or want to date any men they value as friends, because if they're good enough to be friends then why aren't they good enough to be romantic partners?

It makes it seem like the one who doesn't return the feelings is a bad person because they won't give the other person a chance, but in reality, that person doesn't owe the other person anything, not even an explanation. Why is it so unfathomable that a woman doesn't want to date you but still values you as a friend?  It's not because you're in the "friend zone", it's because she said no.

The “friend zone” also leaves out people in the LGBTQ community and perpetuates ideas and stereotypes around heteronormativity. When two women or two men engage in platonic friendships, you never hear people talk about being "friend zoned."

You don't see it in mainstream media: it’s left out of movies, TV shows, music or even in real-life conversations. The "friend zone" is just another example of how the promotion of heteronormative culture and relationships dominate the mainstream world.

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5. Because it reinforces how society doesn't only scrutinize women based on who they sleep with, but it also judges women based on who they DON'T sleep with.



For women, it’s an ongoing losing battle that will only persist until we change the culture and rhetoric surrounding women and their autonomy. The "friend zone" is about ownership and feeling wronged because you didn't get what you wanted; it's time to grow up and realize a woman doesn't owe you anything.  


Katana Dumont is a writer and storyteller with an interest in the eccentric and phenomenal. She enjoys watching horror films and playing pranks on her unsuspecting roommates, is obsessed with Frank Ocean and hopes to one day have a conversation with her favorite novelist, Toni Morrison. When she isn't writing she’s out frolicking with her friends, eating her way through Portland, and enjoying her local music scene.


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