The Friend Zone: Misogyny for Nice Guys

Though the term “unrequited love” already exists, a more popular phrase floating around these days for the phenomena of one member of a relationship wishing for a romantic connection while the other prefers to remain platonic is “the friend zone”/”being friendzoned.” At first blush, the change in terminology doesn’t seem all that problematic. It is a common human experience to be rejected or disappointed by romantic pursuits – and it is, of course, acceptable to express that angst and hurt when this happens.

It’s important to clarify that the problem here lies not in the term “friend zone” itself, but in the gendered expectations and poorly veiled misogyny that have developed surrounding it. To best illustrate what I am describing, I will point you to this image, one of the first that came up when I did an internet search on “the friend zone.”

problems-with-the-friend-zone._1

There are many men who have the attitude seen above, that a male/female relationship only exists because the man finds her sexually or romantically attractive, and therefore a woman should act accordingly, i.e. behave as if she is being courted. This not only implies that men should only take interest in or provide kindness to a woman if she will provide sexual favors in return, but also vilifies women who exercise their right to reject a sexual advance or to maintain a personal relationship with a man in which they feel safe. Almost any man who complains about the friend zone will describe himself as a “nice guy” in the same breath as his vitriolic diatribe about about how stupid the women in his life are for not appreciating him in the way he would like, which says to me that simply being nice to women is something, in his mind, that should be rewarded and applauded.

Instead of advocating for “nice guys” who offer their friendship in return for sex and spew hate at the “friends” who don’t oblige, let’s encourage a shift in communication – one that is rooted in honesty, listening, and valuing one another. I shudder to think of the truly amazing and beneficial friendships that have been destroyed by this sense of entitlement – because, yes, as amazing as women’s bodies are, there is in fact more to them. As long as there is this stringent belief that men and women can only interact positively while one is pursuing the other, women will continue to be reduced to vending machines that deliver sex in exchange for compliments and support while men are wolves in sheep’s clothing whose motives must always be questioned. I think we can all do much better than that.

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3 thoughts on “The Friend Zone: Misogyny for Nice Guys

  1. It’s an intriguing thing, this ‘friendzone’ and not quite as simple as you’ve made it sound. A bit of a strawman fallacy this! But another prospective argument for those in the dreaded friendzone could be the following:

    I’m a great guy, she loves hanging out with me but she goes with one lame guy after another without ever giving me a chance.

    It’s sad you think a relationship is basically the start of a coital relationship. Surely, there’s the added comfort of just being with the person, having coffee with her and cherishing her smile and other such romantic concepts.

    Often, given a girl’s strong sixth sense, she sort of guesses that the guy she’s best friends with actually has fallen for her. It’s not just the hanging out with her, but the way he looks at her and always treats her like a princess. A ‘friend’, and nothing more, may not be the same. The guy is actually emotionally and romantically invested in the girl, rather than just being a nice guy and a friend.

    All this isn’t her fault at all. But it’s when some girls use this situation to their advantage that it gets a little unfair. They’re happy that someone’s hanging on. The obvious elephant in the room is never spoken about and, therefore, never removed. They enjoy the attention of a beneath-the-surface one-sided relationship.

    And while these jokes online may not delineate all that, it seems somewhere that may well be the basis for all that.

    So the strong tirade you launch at these guys who complain about the friendzone is nothing but you building a straw-man argument and beating that down. But well written, nonetheless!

  2. Johann Sebastian-Wilson says:

    If a Fella honestly feels a Female is taking advantage of how he feels to manipulate the friendship, and I’d suggest very few Females actually do that, then it’s in his best interests to tell her no, friendship over and walk away. Nobody forces a Guy to stay and hang around. That’s a total red herring. Sorry to break it to you buddy, but if you’re a grown Man……..start behaving like one

  3. Heather says:

    When a guy like this dubs himself a “nice” guy, he does not mean it in the sense that he’s “nice” to women. He is indicating that he thinks he’s better than other guys, or “jerks” and he’s frustrated that women don’t agree with his self-assessment vis a vie other men. Counseling a nice guy on how to communicate better with women is a fools errand, because the “nice” guy has very little interest in women, other than as some kind of trophy, an antidote to the “nice” guy’s feelings of deep inadequacy when he compares himself to other men. Running around and telling women how nice he is compared to other guys (all jerks, because he has no close male friends either) is all just a way to make him feel he is winning some imaginary competition between himself and other guys. The whole nice guy complex doesn’t have a thing to do with women. They may as we’ll be mannequins to a guy stuck in this period of development.

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