When one of my coworkers sent me this video, I was a little stunned. We often hear men bemoan the much-stigmatized “friend zone” that theoretically lies somewhere between “buddy” and “lover.” It’s a ridiculous notion because, in reality, all it really means is, “You want to be more than friends but aren’t, so you’re just friends.” While disappointing, it’s absurd to get annoyed over something as simple and wonderful as actively participating in somebody’s life as a trusted confidant, a companion, an advisor, a discourse partner — all because there’s not sex or romance involved.
We have all experienced being “just friends” with somebody; I, in fact, am “just friends” with just about all of my friends! So what could be so awful about being “just friends”? That’s exactly the dilemma poet Dylan Garity ponders in this piece read at a Button Poetry event. The poem, which has been making its rounds on the Internet today though it was filmed earlier this year, questions what it means to be a friend to a woman.
He not only discusses why this magical, mystical land of the “friend zone” is not actually a negative thing, he also touches on something incredibly important regarding sex: nobody owes it to anybody else. Garity recounts how his first girlfriend broke up with him, then slept with somebody for the first time in her next relationship, and he “thought of this as a betrayal, not her choice, as if she owed me something.” That’s when the poem gets f’ing brilliant.
“A newspaper column once defined the “friend zone” as follows: ‘She discusses her love life with him and has the audacity to ask his advice on it. He performs favors for her, he does everything a boyfriend would do, but gets no benefits,’ as if the only reason to be a good friend or a decent fucking human is if you get something in exchange.
The problem is, when I start thinking of myself as a savior, I start thinking of myself as a savior with a salary.”
Just watch the whole thing; it is fantastic. Garity, a College National Poetry Slam Champion, is clearly destined to go places and, obviously, be an amazing fellow while doing so. Personally, I hope every person — regardless of gender — should have a friend just like this guy.