• Thu, Jan 3 2013

Women Get Put In The Friendzone Too

friendzone

You think women don’t end up in a friendzone? Women end up being friendzoned all the time.

There’s an interesting piece on TheFrisky today explaining the friendzone, which states:

So, the dreaded “friendzone” is a situation in which someone — almost always a dude — finds himself in a non-romantic, non-sexual friendship with someone he has romantic and/or sexual interest in…Guys (mostly self-described “nice guys”) are usually really pissed about it. Ladies who talk about it tend to respond with assertions to the effect that if you’re going to resent their friendship, then you’re not really that nice of a guy, which is pretty reasonable. It’s kind of a gross word.

 

It’s easy to understand why guys are frustrated when they find themselves in the situation that “friendzone” describes, though. Nothing about watching while someone you’d like to be dating goes out with other people is pleasant, and it’s even harder when you share enough emotional intimacy with that person for them to talk about their other relationships with you. Lots of people have been there — I certainly have — and it sucks. It’s really no way to live.

I don’t disagree with any of that – it is indeed a tough position to be in – but I do disagree with the notion that the person in a one sided relationship with someone who “doesn’t see them that way” is almost always a dude. Because this happens to women all the time.

Think about every girl you knew who took notes for some guy in high school or college. Or proofread their dumb – but hot – male friend’s papers. Or, as an adult, is helping men who are never going to be into them organize their lives, land jobs, and pursue other successful relationships. I guarantee you, you know at least one woman who is doing that to some extent.

You know why everyone’s favorite character in Les Miserables is Eponine? Eponine, who is clearly in love with a guy who likes her as a friend, and who responds by doing outlandish, crazy favors for him in the hopes that it will maybe make him like her and then ends up dead? It’s not just because she takes less than 700 years to die, which is more than you can say for most of the characters in the musical. It’s because nearly every woman relates to that on some level.

But you never hear women walking around muttering “I’m such a nice girl, why doesn’t he like me? Men only like bitches.”

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  • Cait

    Betty from the Archie comics. Case. In. Point.

    • kj

      I would say Betty is more of a Bang Buddy type of situation, but… yeah. Agreed. Veronica is considered the official girlfriend.

  • katie richardson

    I find that men look at being “friend-zoned” much more tactically than women as well. When women establish relationships with men who aren’t interested in them romantically, we consider it an act of fate. We’re more likely to say, “I’m not his type” or “He wants x,y, z.” Men sort of view it as “I didn’t make a move fast enough or whatever so now I’ve been friend-zoned.” As a woman, I’ll say it’s not something tactical. If you’re into a guy and he waits a year to do anything about it, and when he does you jump at it, he was never “friend zoned” to begin with. If as a man, you’re in the friend zone, it’s probably because she just doesn’t like you. It has little to do with anything you’ve done or not done, unless you’re some kind of raging ass, of course.

    • katie richardson

      Also, something that’s a little more superficial but I’ve noticed is that women seem to all too readily accept the most simple fact: He’s not physically attracted to you. Like, when I’ve been “friend-zoned” the first thing I think is something along the lines of “He likes brunettes and I’m a blond or whatever”. But guys just don’t seem to think it’s possible for a woman not to be into them sexually. Especially the men I know who are very average to below average looking but are constantly hitting on the hottest girl in the room. Really? You don’t think she’s a little out of your league? Like really?

    • Lamont Cranston

      Oh – you ALWAYS start at the top of the room. You have nothing to lose, and you might have that one quirk she’s into. I once knew a guy who was uglier than David Crosby, but was a poet, and just had this almost supernatural ability to find really hot girls who thought Poets Were So Romantic. He regularly got laid like tile. But again, different topic.

      From this point of view, young men friend zone themselves. I woman decides that she’s attracted to a man within about the first 90 seconds of contact. And she lets him know. If you continue to hang out with a woman you are attracted to who’s not into you, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

    • …her?

      …Or you could just ask her out and see where that gets you, and if you didn’t want to just be her friend just because she’s cool, then you don’t have to waste your time hoping she’ll turn around and decide she likes you. Being the “nice guy” is pretty cowardly, imo.

  • Tya

    Hi. Totally know this is not the point, but Eponine was fucking awesome because though she loved this person, she was totally tough and badass. One of the few truly moving moments in the book is her standing up to her father, saying he bet she won’t scream because she’s a girl and wouldn’t have the balls, then assuring him that she did. I’m just predicting some future claims that she was pathetic for following around Marius, which, ok, fair enough, but she kinda just rolled with what she was feeling, and was pro active about it. She didn’t really sit around pining for Marius all day and crying over him. She knew where she wanted to be, which, consequently, got her killed. If she was a dude, that would probably be seen as pretty noble.

  • Tania

    I had this conversation with a man who had friendzoned me (after sleeping with me, of course). I said that having a friend was more important to me than having a boyfriend, and that there wasn’t resentment for him not wanting to date me, just sadness, and not enough to ruin a good friendship.

    Of course, he later ruined it by calling me mean even though I can’t figure out where I was ever mean, which, as you said, was pretty much the most hurtful thing he could have ever said, so… I have no idea where I was going with this. Except that I agree.

    • Rina

      I think you misunderstood the word “friendzoned”. He was never your platonic friend because he had sex with you. Your situation is not what we have been discussing.

    • Tania

      Haha, what? He was my platonic friend for years before we slept together. Then we slept together, and he didn’t want to date me, we weren’t friends, then we were friends again. I know what the friendzone is, and I was put in it pretty hardcore. Sleeping together once does not mean I wasn’t in the friendzone.

    • ktree

      I’ve been in a similar situation. It kind of sucks when someone decides your friendship isn’t worth the effort, whether it’s because you don’t want to sleep with them (again,) or they don’t want to sleep with you.

      And for the record, no on else really knows what happens between to people except those two people. The hurt you can suffer from this sort of thing doesn’t only happen when your friendship (or lack thereof) falls into some stranger’s perfect definition of some slang term.

    • kj

      I don’t know if I would call that the “friend zone.” I would call that the lame convenient bang buddy zone. Even if he didn’t want to date you, the reciprocated sexual tension moves it into a different (possibly more awkward) zone altogether.

    • Tania

      In five years, we slept together once. For most of that, it was a real friendship, and then he apparently had a sex dream about me which changed everything, after which he wanted me as a convenient bang. And it definitely ruined everything, unfortunately.

  • http://helloalle.com/ Alle

    I once wrote a column about this subject because I have a lot of feelings about it. NOTHING I’ve ever written got me as many abusive messages as that one column about men and women and friendship. Paraphrasing time!

    Not everyone wants to date everyone all the time, is the first thing. Sometimes the person you’re into isn’t into you, and unless you’re a wizard you can’t MAKE someone like you because you can’t change someone’s feelings. That only happens in Taylor Swift songs (‘You belong with me’ being the prime example, and also I love her, don’t judge).

    Second, some dudes–because it’s always dudes–labour under the false assumption that decent human behaviour should be rewarded with sex and undying love. Being nice and respectful to women doesn’t obligate said women to play with your penis. It’s called being a decent person, and you don’t get a cookie for it.

    The third thing is that using friendship as a tool of manipulation is a shitty, shitty thing to do. Friendship is an awesome, wonderful, rare thing–not something you fake to get something in the future. If you’re only helping your friend through a breakup because you think they might someday rub their genitals with yours, that’s bad. It’s not being a friend. It’s being a dickhead.

    Sometimes friendships turn into romantic relationships. We all know this. But they have to be REAL FRIENDSHIPS FIRST. They have to be the Velveteen Rabbit of friendships, not garbage one-sided manipulation jamborees. I have never in my life realised that a guy was pretending to be my friend because he was in love with me/wanted to bang me and thought “Well, I should probably date him for the next five years.” Nor have any of my female friends. Or any of THEIR female friends. EVER.

    What we have said is “Man, I can’t believe that guy was just pretending to be my friend so he could sleep with me. What a jerk.”

    Also, my best friend in the entire world is a dude. We’ve been best friends since we were 14 and there have never been any romantic/sexy feelings between us. He’s my rock and I’m his. So far all the people who say it’s impossible, I have proof that it is not.

    • ktree

      DUDE, I wrote a column about this once, too, and people went nuts on me!

      It bugs the shit out of me when I hear guys complain that girls don’t want nice guys. Because it’s always the same guys who are only nice to a girl for as long as he believes she’s going to have sex with him. Then, at the very least, the guy stops being friends with her, and stops even being NICE to her, which is a dick move to begin with. Sometimes it escalates into name-calling and shit-talking, either way, I don’t understand how a guy thinks of himself as a “nice guy” when he’s being anything but.

    • http://helloalle.com/ Alle

      “Nice” isn’t NICE when it’s being done to get something. Then it’s a manipulation jamboree.

    • Lamont Cranston

      “I have never in my life realised that a guy was pretending to be my
      friend because he was in love with me/wanted to bang me and thought
      “Well, I should probably date him for the next five years.” Nor have any
      of my female friends. Or any of THEIR female friends. EVER. What we have said is “Man, I can’t believe that guy was just pretending to be my friend so he could sleep with me. What a jerk.”

      He wasn’t “pretending to be your friend.” He was “being nice” so he could sleep with you because that’s what he’s told we’re supposed to do.

      “Also, my best friend in the entire world is a dude. We’ve been best
      friends since we were 14 and there have never been any romantic/sexy
      feelings between us. He’s my rock and I’m his. So far all the people who
      say it’s impossible, I have proof that it is not.”

      Invite him over to your place for dinner, alone. Serve a single bottle of wine, not enough to get drunk on. Wear a short skirt, expose some cleavage, wear perfume, and kiss him once.

      He will have sex with you. It’s the way the world is.

    • http://helloalle.com/ Alle

      First: Being nice (ie: kind, decent, compassionate) is how you SHOULD treat everyone, all the time, whether you want to bang them or not.

      Second: Being kind, decent and compassionate is its own reward. Being a friend is its own reward, too. Being nice solely so that you can get something is NOT actually being nice, it’s being manipulative. So if you’re only being nice to a woman because you want to have sex with her, whether or not that’s what you’re told you’re supposed to do, I would posit that you are not, in fact, being nice.

      Third: Women don’t often have sex with dudes solely because they are nice. If you think they do, you are mistaken. It is always better to be kind and respectful to the people you want to have sex with than be a total dickhead, but still, sexual decision-making is complex and involves a lot of factors. Sometimes we want to have sex. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re just not attracted to you. It happens, and you gotta get over it.

      Finally: I have gotten almost-drunk and regular drunk (one on on)e with my BFF many, many times over the course of our 14-year friendship. Sometimes I wear sweatpants. Sometimes I wear a bathing suit. Once I think we were both in bathrobes lying on an air mattress. It makes no difference. We actually used to sleep in the same bed when we were kids, Dawson and Joey style. And do you know what? We have still never had sex, and we never will, because we don’t feel that way about each other. Some relationships, despite what you seem to think, are not just covers for bonery desires. That’s the way the world works, too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

      “Being nice (ie: kind, decent, compassionate) is how you SHOULD treat everyone, all the time, whether you want to bang them or not.”

      I’m not so sure about that. Granted we should not be jerks to people who don’t deserve it due to already showing similar jerkishness, but that doesn’t mean we should specifically “be nice” to everyone, all the time. There is actually a large range in between, and we cannot feel the same way about everyone we meet, especially in highly populated modern life. We have to have a certain distance, reserve, selectivity about who we invest greater than usual concern in.

      So when a chap “is nice” to a woman it may very well be because he has sexual interest and that’s his way of trying to make it happen, as Lamont says. It is not about abusing or pretending friendship because the desire to be a friend was not really there. On the contrary, if he complains about being friendzoned the whole point is he was aware his association could lead to him being put there rather than sex, he tried to avoid that and get the sex and it didn’t work.

      Also, judging by his other comment Lamont is very aware that women tend not to go for men on account of their being ‘nice’. This realisation is getting ever more widespread among men these days. But when you say “sexual decision-making is complex and involves a lot of factors… It happens, and you gotta get over it.”, you need to understand that as long as men are still expected to take the leading role in making sex/a relationship happen (and they are, however much women may have changed in other areas of life), we are going to want to know how, what, why. We may have to get over each individual rejection, but if we get repeated lack of success we get frustrated and want to understand what is wrong, whether we’re doing something wrong, what women are thinking etc. That is enough motivation for complaint, change of feelings about a female acquaintance etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

      “some dudes–because it’s always dudes–labour under the false assumption that decent human behaviour should be rewarded with sex and undying love. Being nice and respectful to women doesn’t obligate said women to play with your penis. It’s called being a decent person, and you don’t get a cookie for it.”

      It’s not an assumption, it’s a hope.

      “using friendship as a tool of manipulation is a shitty, shitty thing to do. Friendship is an awesome, wonderful, rare thing–not something you fake to get something in the future. If you’re only helping your friend through a breakup because you think they might someday rub their genitals with yours, that’s bad. It’s not being a friend. It’s being a dickhead.”

      Can’t it be that the friendship is genuine but the person – happens as much the other way from what I read in these comments – just fancies the friend *as well*? Certainly happened to me plenty of times. I get to know a woman socially, we become ever closer friends, at some point I start fancying her in a way I didn’t when we first met. Friendship is genuine, desire for relationship is genuine, desire for sex is genuine – no manipulation, faking or anything else required. Maybe you’re helping your friend thru a break-up with genuine concern *and* thinking/wanting/hoping they might some day get intimate?

  • Anonymous

    This is embarrassing, but here goes. I think of myself as pretty smart. I also take a certain amount of pride in the fact that my aesthetic is pretty understated–I don’t think of it as “anti-’slutty’” so much as “anti-cartoonish.” (See why I’m anonymous? Women can’t say these things.) I have been “friend-zoned” a few times, and every time, without fail, I’ve thought something to the effect of, “She [other girl] is so dead behind the eyes and wears so many tacky colors. I’ll bet she hasn’t even read [author] or heard of [purveyor of earth-toned goods]. God, do you have to be an airhead or a manic pixie dream girl to get laid around here? Does subtlety count for nothing? No good deed goes unpunished.”

    I understand that this is irrational and petty. To my credit, this is the most I have ever publicized my feelings on the subject.

    • Lo

      I *love* [purveyor of earth-toned goods]. If I were the handsome male protagonist, I’d totally ask you to the prom.

    • Anonymous

      If this is sincere, I find it oddly touching.

    • http://twitter.com/JenAshleyWright Jennifer Wright

      I am also a fan of [author] and I would probably take you out to coffee and discuss how tacky colors are if we knew one another.

    • Lo

      Yes, it’s sincere. We would rock up in tasteful colours and insist that all the songs be from [interesting band]. Everyone else would get annoyed and leave, and then the buffet would be ours.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

      So great to see someone else into [interesting band]! This is not the place but I never get the opportunity to talk about them, so I feel I have to mention it.

    • kj

      it’s not irrational and petty! I know exactly what you mean by, “anti-cartoonish.” I have seen some of these cartoonish ladies, and DAMN do they get attention. And it’s like… why?! Fortunately I consider it an asset to have the opportunity to weed out dudes who are attracted to cartoon ladies, as I certainly am not one and now know whom to long after in earnest.

    • http://helloalle.com/ Alle

      As a cartoonish, somewhat dead-behind-the-eyes girl who likes to wear all the colours, I say: Do not judge us, my understated sister. For do we not have more similarities than differences? Are we not both total bookworms who love [author] and [title]? Did we not both hate [blockbuster movie adaptation of said title]? And are we both not judged unfairly by our looks alone?

      Honestly, I do get what your saying about “manic pixie dream girls”-looking ladies getting attention. But we don’t get attention for ourselves; dudes will literally shoehorn us into that archetype and then expect us to fulfill it. I personally have better shit to do than be a wacky free spirit who is only around to help some dude with his dumb life problems. Having bangs and wearing a pink coat does not make me a one-dimensional movie character, but some people really do believe that it does.

      So please, do not write us all off. We are not so different, you and I.

  • Eileen

    I totally agree with this article and all – I think most people old enough to drink have been on both sides of the age-old “platonic friendship” that isn’t – but can I say: After seeing the musical for the first time when I was a sophomore in college, I REALLY didn’t get why everyone liked Eponine (or Fantine for that matter) so much. I assumed they all must have read the book and thus knew more about the characters than the musical presented. Nor did I get why people disliked Cosette or thought Marius was wrong for liking her, other than the fact that Eponine is usually a better singer. You know who I liked most in Les Mis? The priest/monk at the beginning who keeps being nice to Jean Valjean even though Jean Valjean repays his niceness by stealing his stuff, since he knows Jean Valjean is poor and desperate (and not because he expects Jean Valjean to sleep with him afterward).

    • Alan W

      As to liking the characters of Fantine and Eponine more, it is largely a matter of them being better, more three dimensional roles, where Cosette’s role (especially in the musical) is very one dimensional. I think Amanda Seyfrid did an excellent job, in the movie, of bringing more to the role of Cosette than is easy to do on stage.

    • Eileen

      Yeah, she does just walk through, doesn’t she? I guess what I meant was that I found all the characters pretty flat, except maybe for Valjean. Which is about what you’d expect for a musical, especially one with so many characters and the time skips. I just found it odd when I realized how many friends I had who were crazy about Eponine, who doesn’t have much personality in the musical (brown hair, shitty parents, a crush on a boy who likes her as a friend).

    • Catherine

      It’s because we can relate to her. We’ve all been that girl who did everything for a guy, and he STILL went after the girl who was pretty and got everything she wanted. We love Eponine because we think of ourselves as an Eponine.

  • Lo

    The friendzone knows no sex (obviously), and I honestly couldn’t sort friendzone reactions by gender. I’ve seen men martyring themselves and women lashing out at whoever got what they ‘deserved’. And the other way round. Equal quantities, in my experience.

  • MR

    Yeah, I thought I had platonic friendships with two divorced women. One was and is still fine, minus us sleeping together once – yeah, ever since I graduated from high school (before her) I hadn’t sleep with any of my women friends. The other dumped on me when I told her I wasn’t courting her. She was helpful too me in many ways, so I don’t really feel any negative reaction to her action, but I was very confused at the time. She made me feel – or maybe I should say tricked me into believeing – that we were actually friends. But I did things for her, more than she did for me, so maybe I did cause the confusion.

  • Porkchop

    Once in college I made it all the way down the road from “friendzone” to “baby sister zone,” where the guy I was friends with couldn’t even stomach the idea of -other- guys being attracted to me. Good times!

  • Jonny

    Eponine was my favorite character because she was played by easily the best actor and the best singer in this unsatisfactory movie. A few false tones or motions or expressions would have made the character unbearable, unrequited love notwithstanding, but she came across as one of the few bright spots in the film because she played and sang the role perfectly. First time I’ve seen her, but I’m sure Samantha Barks would win my heart playing a witch, a bitch, a femme fatale, or Cinderella.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sven.erlandson Sven Erlandson

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  • anon

    That waist.

  • Lamont Cranston

    “The men who complain about being friendzoned seem to be under the
    impression that behaving well necessarily results in getting the things
    you want. If you are nice and helpful, for instance, they think someone
    should decide to date you.”

    No shit. Probably because they were TOLD that by their Mom’s, their big sisters, teachers, and just about any female they asked for the last fifty years.

    I learned FAR to late in life, that while women might “like” “nice and helpful,” they are attracted to “strong,” decisive,” and “exciting.”

    I wasted a lot of my life believing what women said instead of watching what they did. A woman will put up with an unemployed dope-smoking cheater as long as he makes her tingle.

    • Mattomatic

      Absolutely right. And it’s much more common with guys who aren’t physically attractive. Even when young, their mothers and teachers don’t say “what a good looking young man — you’ll be a devil with the ladies!”. Instead, out of kindness or whatever, they say, “oh, what a nice, smart boy, you’ll make a great catch for some nice girl.”. So, even though the guys know they’re not good-looking, they figure that as long as they are nice to women, some woman will find that attractive and will want them. And contrary to a lot of comments here, most “nice guys” don’t assume that being nice automatically entitles them to affection from every woman they’re nice to — but they don’t understand why, despite their niceness, no woman is attracted to them. That leads to bitterness and anger, and that builds up to the point where they’re no longer nice. It sucks to be unattractive, but life’s not fair.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

      Damn right! That’s what I’ve learnt too.

  • Ikea

    The way I see it is that if a guy and a gal were really truly amazing friends, they would be in a committed relationship unless one or both think the other is not physically attractive enough. Simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

    This is interesting – I will try and ask some of my female friends if they feel they’ve ever been friendzoned by men, and if they think it happens as much as men claim it does to them. I can certainly think of a few women who seemed to show interest in me (I say seemed because I can never really tell unless they come out with it) but who I wasn’t interested in enough to seek something intimate. As well as the other way round, which has happened in spades in my life.

    Couple of points – just because certain men become frustrated when they don’t attract women when they are nice or friendly or whatever does not mean they assume that “behaving well necessarily results in getting the things you want”. To quote Mattomatic down the comments, “most “nice guys” don’t assume that being nice automatically entitles them to affection from every woman they’re nice to — but they don’t understand why, despite their niceness, no woman is attracted to them. That leads to bitterness and anger, and that builds up to the point where they’re no longer nice.”

    Secondly, I personally prefer women who have self-respect and self-direction – I find them more attractive in personality than women who are self-sacrificial, the type you describe. However I would not claim to be representative of men, and I know there is a tendency for some men to seek a girlfriend who mothers them. I wonder how much what you say “society thinks” is not so much what men-as-potential-partners think as what people of both sexes have created as a stereotype in the past. The question (or a question, for me) is to what extent this expectation is actually maintained by men now.

  • Catherine

    I have to defend guys here for a second. While the vast majority fall into what you’re describing…there ARE some genuinely decent guys out there who still get friendzoned. They’re nice to everyone, so naturally they’re friends with the girl that they’re interested in. I’ve even seen girls cuddle with this guy, teasing and flirting him, confusing the hell out of him. It’s cruel, but some girls out there LOVE to drag guys along like this.

    My point is, don’t assume that just because a guy is in the “friendzone,” he’s a jerk-pretending-to-be-a-nice-guy. If genuinely nice girls can get friendzoned, then so can genuinely nice guys. Is this usually the case? No. But it happens.

    I’ve been friendzoned a lot, and seen it happen to a lot of my friends. It’s no picnic. It hurts. I venture to think it hurts even more as a girl, because we tend to take it far more personally. We think “What’s wrong with me?” as opposed to guys saying, “She just wants to date douchebags.”

    • Jay

      These girls that you claim cuddle/tease/flirt with him and ‘confuse the hell out of him’- has he ever asked any of them out? If not, then the friendzone and confusion are entirely of his own making. These girls aren’t “dragging him along”, since unless he tells them straight, they have no reason to think he likes them enough to date them. A lot of friendships are flirty, teasing and involve cuddling.

      If he’s asked them out and they’ve turned him down, that isn’t the friendzone. That’s FRIENDSHIP. If you’re a real nice guy, when a lady turns you down and offers you friendship, you take the friendship or you say “Sorry, I can’t do this”. You don’t take the friendship with the hope that she’ll one day start dating you, and consider yourself friendzoned until that point. That ISN’T a real friendship, and she’s already been honest enough to tell you that she won’t date you.

      Basically, whoever is in the “friendzone” is there by choice, including your “nice” friend. People need to quit bitching about how they’re in the friendzone, because if you’re a nice person or honest about your feelings, it isn’t a friendzone at all, it’s a “friendship”.