It occurs to me that the obsession with "Friendzoning" is a manifestation…

It occurs to me that the obsession with "Friendzoning" is a manifestation of the natural resentment that men have over the fact that women hold the 'keys' to the relationship.  

Assuming for a moment that we're speaking in a hetero-normative cisgendered terms here (and modify them to fit your own parameters as need be), in our society, men are expected to be the assertive ones who are supposed to 'seek' potential mates out.  The standard women's equivalent to this is to willingly put yourself in the line of fire (bars, dating sites, etc) and wait for a guy to hit on you/ask you out so that you can evaluate them.

Now, I'm sure that women look at men, think about men, would like to date at least some of them – but in my experience, and in the cultural frame I've grown up in, the onus to be the one to 'ask' and then make a fool of yourself is firmly placed on the shoulders of the men.  

In all the people I've dated, I have never ever had one woman ask me out.  I've had two "ask me to ask them out" – I think the phrasing on the last one was "Are you ever going to get around to asking me out?"  I asked her if her asking me that didn't constitute her asking me out, and she denied it.  Vehemently.  

That said, it's no wonder that guys, who aren't sure if it's friendship or more that you're seeking and don't want to run the risk of being mistaken and losing out on an opportunity and a potentially successful matchup, resent being put in a position where the reality is more like than not they're going to be told that they've read the signals wrong.

How would YOU feel, women-folk, if the roles were reversed?  Imagine you went to a foreign land where the role of asking potential partners out falls on the women, not the men?  Where no matter how much a person might like you, chances are they're never going to make the first move?  And where even if you do ask, lay it all out on the line, and bear your feelings and emotions to them, chances are they're going to "friendzone" you?

I'm curious – a question for the female-types – how many times have you been the aggressor in the asking, and how many times have you been friendzoned?

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33 Responses to “It occurs to me that the obsession with "Friendzoning" is a manifestation…”

  1. Laura Gallier February 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    I don't like this 'friendzoned' thing and the implications of it, but that's for another discussion.

    I see what I want and I make moves to get it. That applies to pretty much everything in my life. How I go about achieving that goal depends on what it is. If it's a confident man who clearly enjoys the chase, then I act coy and play the role which draws him in. If it's a more quiet woman, then I approach her and take control. 

  2. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    You, +Laura Gallier, I am almost 100% sure this does not apply to.  I don't see you to be the sort to wait for a bloke to make a move.  I think my complaint is all those who floof around the edges and sigh and pine that nobody ever asks them out – or at least the "right one" never asks them out, but don't actually take the initiative to ask themselves.

  3. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    FYI, I also dislike the idea of "friendzoning" even being a thing, because it implies that women's friendship is essentially meaningless and a booby-prize for those who don't get the actual booby.  (sorry, couldn't resist the joke there).  I'm just attempting to rationalize and understand why it has suddenly become "a thing" in our society.

  4. Valkyrie Page February 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    First, I'm 50 and that will have some effect on my answer. I was brought up to not ask men out because that was regarded as "loose behavior" by men. By that, I understood that men were in control of the relationship and that they would ask or not and women could only hope that maybe someday a man might ask them out. If men didn't want it that way, they were free to change the rules at any time. So, boo hoo, poor men.
    On the other hand, in my school days I developed a crush on a young man whom I knew was not interested in me. I explained to him that I had a crush on him and apologized for that and let him know that I would get over it as fast as I could and do my best not to embarrass him or bother him in any way. He thanked me, and that was that.

  5. Laura Gallier February 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Yea whining and foofing around annoys me. There's no excuse for sitting around and huffing that the world hasn't handed everything to you on a plate. You want that gorgeous little red-head at the bar? Walk up and start a conversation. 

    I know that way back when, the Victorian era then it was the norm for women to sit and await to be approached (or sold off to someone). We're supposed to be past that. 

    On the other hand, women are supposed to be demure and allow men to protect them. A woman approaching a guy could be seen as a threat to some weaker minded men with small egos, it's a scary thing, much like a woman who can kick their ass. 

    It all comes down to stereotypes and societal expectations. Men are supposed to be confident, strong, protectors who take what they want. Women are demure little creatures who wait for Mr. Right and don't dare look at another man. 

  6. Bronwyn McGuckin February 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    We wouldn't friendzone if y'all didn't automatically put us in the f**kzone first.

  7. Bronwyn McGuckin February 6, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    As to answer your question, what do you mean by aggressor?

    In my current relationship, I told Jon that I wanted to take things slow. We had a difference in opinion in what that meant, and I ended up kissing him first.

    I have been friendzoned, but have had to friendzone others more often.

  8. Nicola Smith February 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    being very shy, it's highly unlikely I'd have made the first move whatever the case may be – and since I'm an 'equal opportunist' like Laura there, I mean that regardless of who I'm interested in. Took years before I had the courage to even show interest. I have never asked anyone out on a date explicitly, but there are ways to ease around that – groups of friends to dinner or movies – kinda feeling the situation out that I've done. Never could handle bars or clubs for looking for a hook-up, way too impersonal. So yeah, if someone hadn't have stepped up and risked it, I'd probably still be single.  

  9. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    +Bronwyn McGuckin I think that's an unfair assumption and kind of a jerk thing to say, really.  Yeah, the "f*kzone is probably where guys entering into a relationship are hoping to go, being that it's usually the first place that relationships go, and it's a bit less of a commitment than buying a house with a 30-year mortgage with someone you've just met.

  10. Brooke Johnson February 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    heh, i was the instigator in my relationship with my now-husband. i was pretty much like "i think you're cool, love me". thankfully, he didn't think i was too crazy, and we're married now.

    i got friendzoned to a guy in high school. i pretty much loved him, idolized him even, for like ten years, but he was never interested in me romantically. it was heart-breaking to say the least. even though i'm happily married now, i wish i would have had the guts to ask him out back then, just so we could have given it a go. in hindsight, it wouldn't have worked out, but it would have been fun while it lasted. probably better we remained friends. i'd hate to have ended our relationship as badly as it would have ended.

  11. Valkyrie Page February 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    +Jim Hanson Seriously? That's usually the first place relationships go? Perhaps that's a personal or cultural difference. 

  12. Nicola Smith February 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    oh yeah, had that happen to me in high school too +Brooke Johnson lol. I even asked him to dance once, which he turned down, so yeah that was a pretty good indication. Still amazed I did that. I was so painfully introverted at the time.

  13. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    +Valkyrie Page The first place relationships go that is an exclusive-to-a-relationship place.  And I am counting making out, groping, etc in the "f**kzone" bundle.

  14. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    +Brooke Johnson +Nicola Smith So now imagine that pain of rejection – and imagine it being the expected social norm for you.  That's what being a sensitive single guy is like.  Probably over and over again.  We shouldn't guilt them for feeling resentment over having trouble finding people to love and accept them for who they are.

  15. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    The thing that triggered this was one of those comics which are shaming men for complaining about being stuck in the "friendzone".  There seem to be a whole lot of them, and to me it seems like it's entitled selfish bullshit being spouted by people who are too wrapped up in their own selves to even think about the feelings of the other people involved.

  16. Mike Dellheim February 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    I've come to the conclusion that women don't put men into The Friend Zone, men put themselves there. It's mainly due to a man's attempts to be "not a douchebag" and actually acting, ya know, like you just want to get to know a woman. They then start thinking of your in those terms… but then when you attempt to start steering towards potential dating, it doesn't match up to the established patterns of behavior. Thus you are "friend-zoned".

    How do you avoid the Friend Zone? By making your interest pretty obvious… you can flirt without being a sleeze, and you can be friendly without being just a pal. And if she's not interested in dating you? Accept it. Then decide if you'd want to actually be just friends, or if you being friendly just to get in her good graces. But don't expect a woman to suddenly realize that you're the perfect man for her out of nowhere, it's pretty much never going to happen.

    By the by, every relationship I've ever had was actually initiated by her and not me.

  17. Nicola Smith February 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Well, +Jim Hanson, my experience probably hasn't been the best to draw on. I have been asked out – as in explicitly asked out – three times. One of them I'm married to. That probably about accurately reflects the number of times I've actively made my interest known, so the break was pretty even for me. I totally get the fear of friendzoning, been forced into that position a couple of times myself because circumstances weren't conducive to anything more. Not a comfortable place to be, and on those occasions I usually just got the heck out of Dodge because it was too damned awkward.

  18. Bronwyn McGuckin February 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Maybe it came off as harsh, but for the guys who were bitter about being "Friendzoned", their kneejerk reactions were along the lines of sexual relations, not actual relationships. I could have said "girlfriendzone", as that seems to be more common for the general public, but in my case, not so much. 

    I've been told that because of certain physical attributes of mine, guys take things way too far in their heads, and think my conservative dress/prudish behavior is an act. Nope, sorry. I'm really not going to sleep with you, I'm not acting that I won't just to turn and around and do so. 

  19. Valkyrie Page February 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    +Jim Hanson Ah. I don't "bundle" those. One does not always lead to the other. Perhaps that is a cultural difference.
    As for being rejected, girls and women are regularly rejected without having to ask. Boys and men often make it very clear that they don't even want to be approached by a particular girl/woman, so we don't have to imagine that. We know how it feels.

  20. Lin Chambers February 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I can see how men, in the situation you described, can perceive women being the key-holders.  There's not much of a risk being asked – if we desire the asking, we can celebrate when it happens, and if we don't, we can laugh about it (hopefully later).  However, having a key is meaningless if one has trouble finding a lock that it can fit into.

    Overall, I'm about 50/50 in terms of being aggressive/receptive, and as I've gotten older I've become less aggressive.  Of all the people I've dated or been interested in and I chose to make the first move, only one has lasted beyond the first date, most friend-zoning me or distancing themselves even further from me.  Further, once in those relationships that last more than one date, with the exception of the one where I was the one to make the first move, being aggressive with the "big asks" has had little reward as well.  From what I've heard from many other women, that is a common experience.  So, in some ways, guys "teach" gals to not be aggressive, instead creating a link between going for what she wants with less than successful results, and that "wisdom" is passed on to generations, not giving guys much of a chance to turn that around.

    (Sorry if any of this seems jumbled or non-sensical – I'm uber tired and I have two boys who refuse to nap so I can nap.)

  21. Katje van Loon February 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I have always been the one to ask all of my partners out. I have ALWAYS been the "aggressor", whether I'm interested in a man or a woman or someone non-binary gendered.

    The only times I have been asked out have been in catcalling, jeering, "let's mess with the fat chick" ways. No one has ever seriously asked me to go out with them. Yes, I can tell the difference — say yes to the joke ones often enough and you learn to read the signs.

    (For the record: I don't ID as female — I'm genderqueer — but I live my life socially classed as a woman, and I often present in a way that people assume to be female. So I am qualified to speak from a female perspective.)

    Rejection sucks, and it sucks that our society expects men to shoulder the brunt of it. That's a problem with patriarchy, though; not women. (Just as men are expected to bear the brunt of rejection, women are expected to always be available to men, to put their lives aside for men, to never reject men — and this is a safety thing as much as anything else, because you never know when a dude is going to flip out at you about being friendzoned or how far he'll go in his anger.)

    After I was rejected (numerous times), I didn't go off on a tirade about how all men are pricks and frigid and how dare they not screw me, or how all women are liars and lead me on when they're straight, or whatever. I didn't get violent with the people who rejected me. I just went "Ok" and then hid in a hole for months, feeling sorry for myself and too embarrassed to face the person again. (Hole meaning my bed.)

    No, I don't deal with rejection well, but at least I didn't view people as machines that I put kindness coins into until sex fell out.

    That's the real problem with the dudes who complain about the friendzone. It's not that they're hurt by rejection and not dealing with it well; it's that they feel entitled to never suffer it.

  22. Nicola Smith February 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Part of the difficulty with being 'friendzoned' is that it can stem from someone who does like you – just doesn't want to shag you. Of course, it's not like you can switch that desire off at will. So for someone who's been friendzoned, it's no different from a flat-out rejection in terms of how it feels . I don't think the complaint would be any different than if it was a flat-out rejection is what I'm getting at. Guys would still feel angry that they're supposed to disproportionately risk rejection whatever form it took. 'Friendzoning' tends to make it linger, though – you still go to the same parties and see the same people, and people tend to expect you to bounce back from it quicker and not get as bent out of shape about it because it wasn't outwardly acrimonious. In my experience, you can get just as bent out of shape about someone you know you'll never be with. And socializing with them is not a whole bunch of fun. 

  23. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    +Katje van Loon The question is – are all guys who are complaining about being "friendzoned" guilty of those things?  Or is there a good chance that we're shaming people who are already full of shame and frustration with their rejection and their lot in life?

  24. Valkyrie Page February 6, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    My impression is that comics generally make fun of everyone in some way. If you want it to stop, I suppose you could go see comics and let them know you don't appreciate them "shaming" guys who complain about being "friend-zoned".

  25. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    I'm talking more about things like this - http://mamamantis.tumblr.com/post/37818539849/please-do-not-remove-artists-comments-or-repost – which I've seen cropping up more and more and more.

  26. Marsha Barnes February 6, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    I agree with a lot of +Katje von Loon's post – having been the recipient of many "I dare you to ask out the fat chick!" scenarios – I pretty much learned early that if the person asking wasn't interested enough to actually remember my name two minutes after being introduced and suddenly asking me out, nothing was going to come of it but pain and probable humiliation.

    The term "Friendzone" is also misleading – it is used as a classification for "someone that will never be considered as a potential one-night-stand/sex-buddy."

    There is nothing "friendly" about this definition. There doesn't even seem to be anything involving an actual relationship involved with the term. Any guy I have ever heard complaining about being "friendzoned" was angry they weren't going to get to fuck the person in question someday. They were angry at being written off by someone they were objectifying to begin with. Go figure.

    Due to all of my experiences with males in my peer group throughout high school and college, anyone that I will even consider a relationship with must become a friend first.

    As a direct result of this policy, I haven't been on a date in over 10 years. The last guy I tried getting to know better decided after a week of talking on the phone to wax poetical for over 20 minutes about a variety of "intimacy" I had already stated I had absolutely no interest in.

    I blocked his number a few days later. I gave him several opportunities to prove that he wasn't as creepy as he had sounded, of which he epically failed every time.

    I didn't "friendzone" him – I added him to the "no way in hell" list. For good reason.

    I don't expect to be pursued. If I am interested in someone, I talk to them and get to know them better. If they prove to be someone worth knowing, I'll ask them to meet up for coffee, and build a relationship that I hope might move past friendship.

    But even if it never does, at least I gained a friend, which, in my experience, is a very valuable thing.

    Other female friends of mine seem to approach the subject of men in similar ways. If they show signs of being people worth knowing – similar interests, fun to talk to, etc.. – they continue to build up a potential relationship. If they aren't, they "cut them loose". No one I know is of the type I hear about in conjunction with the term "friendzone". But then, "friendzone" seems to be used more in reference to sex than relationships.

    I don't remember if I even had a specific point when I started this reply, other than the term "friendzone" is a stupid pop-culture term, and that if men want to be considered as a long-term relationship prospect, they should do the same in return.

    /endrant

  27. Valkyrie Page February 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I just read as much of that as I could without going blind. It seems as though the point being made there is about guys who claim to be "nice guys" but are not really nice guys.

  28. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    The thing that bugs me is that there are nice guys – lots of nice guys – who get passed over by women in favor of shitty guys that treat them horribly.  It is a thing.  That happens.  A lot, apparently.  As a comfortably married man (even though I am polyamorous and I guess still technically part of the dating scene) I am witness to both ends of the spectrum.

    Also, I have to say something here – it's not always about sex.  And that seems to be something that the women of this discussion keep bringing up.  I wanted to talk about love and relationships – I know, typical guy stuff, right – and you all can't stop thinking with your lady bits.  It's very frustrating.

  29. Marsha Barnes February 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    And the phrase

    "I don't view people as machines I put kindness coins into until sex is dispensed."

    deserves to be made into t-shirts, coffee mugs, or what have you. That is the best summary of modern relationships and dating I have ever read.
    I didn't exactly quote – as the tense was not suited to a stand-alone statement – but that is brilliant and I want it on a t-shirt.

  30. Jim Hanson February 6, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    If that is how you view relationships, you're doing it wrong.  

  31. Marsha Barnes February 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    The reverse is also true – there are a lot of nice girls who get passed over or outright ignored in favor of the model-perfect bitchy ones.

  32. Valkyrie Page February 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    +Jim Hanson Just as there are plenty of nice gals who are passed up by men for bitchy women who treat them like dirt. It happens both ways. I wasn't particularly talking about sex. You were the one who said that was the first place relationships go.

  33. Katje van Loon February 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Ok. So.

    The "Nice Guy" phenomenon is a well known thing, talked about in a lot of feminist circles. It consists of guys who basically spout this: "I'm a nice guy! You should go out with me! ::gets rejected:: WOMEN ARE BITCHES, SCREW THEM."  Ie, the second the lady they're into rejects them, or really the second any woman pisses them off at all, they're no longer nice — they show what privileged, sexist dudebros they were all along.

    That's why Nice Guy has initial caps. We're not talking about actual nice people; we're talking about these douches who constantly whine about how nice they are why won't we give them any cookies sex? People who want a reward for meeting the bare minimum requirements of being a decent human being, and then throw a temper tantrum the second they don't get their reward.

    Sometimes, that temper tantrum involves violence against the woman they're mad at.

    I have known many men who constantly proclaim they're such nice guys but were some of the most sexist, unpredictable, abusive, dangerous jerks I've ever met. I have spent my life calculating ways to avoid making men angry, just in case one of them is a Violent Nice Guy and I can't get away in time.

    Nice Guys are Tone Arguments in living, breathing, human form. (For more about Tone Arguments: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Tone_argument)

    Yes, it does happen that women will date actual asshole jerks instead of the actual nice dudes right in front of them, and then complain they can't find a nice guy. This happens.

    What also happens is I hear guys talking about how they really care about personality and then go out with women with the ugliest personalities I have ever seen, but — oh. They meet standards for conventional attractiveness. They're "hot".

    People do this, for a lot of reasons that I'm not going to get into because this isn't a psychology final, but I will say: these reasons are often not conscious; often they are stuff that's been programmed into us by the very society we are raised in.

    We are products of our culture, and our culture is supremely messed up. There is a lot of programming in all of us that we have to consciously work hard at to undo. Not all of us are successful in even small amounts, and those of us who manage to rewrite one string of code will often get snarled by hundreds more.

    So. What if we're shaming actual nice guys by taking apart the Nice Guy/Friendzone trope and showing what bullshit it is?

    Well, it sucks that they might feel shame, but the thing is if they'd been listening to what we've been saying for ages, they would realize our evisceration of the Nice Guy and the Friendzone has nothing to do with them — they would realize that a rejection is not a friendzone, and if it is, they would realize it's not that bad a deal, because they still have a friend. Because rejection did not actually lose them that friend.

    (It is really, really telling that the "friendzone" is seen as a negative: women are only valuable as sex objects, not as people who will be your friends.)

    If someone is an actual nice guy, he'll realize that Nice Guy doesn't apply to him. He'll read up on it, understand it and the friendzone, and support his women friends when they say "No, this is bullshit". He'll be able to separate his emotional reaction from the logical truth and realize — "I'm having an emotional reaction to this, which is fine, but that doesn't mean that my feminist friend's argument against the friendzone is incorrect. I should step back and cool down for a while before I respond." 

    Which is hard. I know it is. It's hard for me too. And we're human and we mess up.

    But you know what's harder? Not being sure if I've actually made a new friend, or if I've just met a guy who wants to get into my pants and will turn into a complete asshole — maybe even a violent one! — when I reject him. It's harder living with the knowledge that that cool new dude I met at the bookshop who's so up on feminism and gender equality and stuff could very well turn into a raging shit volcano when I gently call him on his use of a racist slur.

    I'm really tired of losing friends. It would be nice if those ones who harbor sexual or romantic feelings for me could not with the being raging assholes I have to cut out of my life when I reject them.

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