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.”

I think, on some level, the relationship with being needed in just more complicated for women. 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.

I don’t know that women necessarily have that mentality. We’re trained so much to be nurturing and kind – telling a woman that she’s mean or unhelpful is much more damning that it is with a man – that just doing those things may be enough to make us feel like we’re being the right kind of woman. We are being the kind of woman who society thinks are good wives and mothers! People need us to help them! We are supporting our men! Like good women do!

I remember once reading about a woman who routinely cooked one of her male friends dinner in the hopes that it would make him like her. It didn’t. Gambits like that never work. She despaired, later, when the man started seeing a woman seriously, in part because it meant she would never have the romance she envisioned with him, but, also, in part because now she had no one to cook for. I think sometimes those acts of niceness performed on behalf of other people are things that allow us to tell ourselves that we are okay as women.

True, those men do not want to sleep with you or ultimately give you what you want in terms of a relationship. However, there are still a lot of stereotypes out there to tell you that you are being exactly what a woman should be. A gentle, self-sacrificing mother figure, who puts her own desires aside because of a pure and noble love.

Do you know what we call men who do that? Chumps. Or suckers. I don’t know. I guess we call them chumps if you live in a black and white Humphrey Bogart movie, the way I do.

humphrey bogart

Calling everyone chumps, all the time.

Women might be willing to stay in the friendzone longer than men – and with less objection – because it makes us feel good to be needed. And besides, Eponine is the heroine of Les Mis, right? Her and Fantine, who both sacrifice all their own needs and desires for the sake of their loved ones? We’re told that is what it means to be a good woman.

That doesn’t mean that women aren’t be friend-zoned just as often as men. It just means that we feel better about the fact that we’re suffering away in that situation.

Pictures via Les Miserables and Wikipedia