BY SHRUTI RAM – STAFF WRITER
Being rejected sucks. But the worst kind of rejection is when it comes from your own friends. Our generation came up with a term for this particular kind of rejection in a romantic setting – the ‘friendzone.’
It is commonly known that people that complain about being in the friendzone more often, for some reason, seem to be men, and it is more often women that are annoyed and frustrated by the concept, with many even refusing to believe it exists. Even this writer would have said that there is no difference between the friendzone and straight up rejection, except for it being a kinder term. But, after getting a variety of perspectives through interviews, it seems that for many people it is in fact a reality. However, it does often seem that the term friendzone may just be a way to keep a person’s ego from being hurt too badly by the rejection. It turns the rejection onto the other person instead of the person being rejected so they don’t feel unconfident or dwell on their shortcomings.
Senior Claire Phillips has her own views on the friendzone. She believes that the concept of the friendzone is ridiculous. “Just being nice to someone doesn’t mean they’re going to fall in love with you or want to bang you,” Phillips said. “I think it’s silly.”
She also shares that she thinks it is “dangerous” for a man to expect a women not to reject his advances simply because he is nice to her. It is true that people that are ‘friendzoned’ usually have very strong reactions and feel like they wasted their time. This is the reason many women are against the term. When men express outrage at being friendzoned, it sounds entitled. It sounds as if women are obliged to melt in their arms simply because they were nice and friendly to them. This is obviously not a good premise, and people that think this way will probably have to deal with a lot of rejection if they go in with this expectation. This kind of entitled thinking creates a culture of blind reciprocity and does not take into consideration the other person’s thoughts or feelings. Worse still, when people have the expectation of being rewarded for their friendliness, they are choosing to be nice for the wrong reasons.
There is another deep problem with the concept of the friendzone. Many women, like Phillips and I, think that this sense of entitlement can be harmful. More so, it is “often linked to the idea that ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’ because ‘Women Only Date Assholes.’ That’s ridiculous. Please. Kindness is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have,” Phillips said.
The friendzone implies that being nice is not a desirable quality to women as they will take advantage of it, which could not be farther from the truth. It is unreasonable to assume that niceties alone warrant acceptance of one’s advances, or that it is better to be an awful person because at least there is less chance of being ‘just friends’ with someone. Though some men and women were hurt before and this then hardened them, some men want to appear to be assholes because they think that women are interested in that more than they are in someone who is friendly. Though everyone has their own preferences, people shouldn’t feel like they have to go too far in order to avoid the friendzone.
One question is why it was so often a male phenomenon. Sophomore Matt Kinkaid, has his own explanation for this phenomenon.
“It’s usually guys that are expected to ask a girl out,” Kinkaid said. He adds that “usually it takes a guy a lot of time to build up the courage to ask a girl out” so while a girl may think her friend’s advances are out of the blue, he may actually be thinking about it for a long time, and once all that courage that was built up has been crushed by a rejection, it can be hard to justify it to yourself.
The logic is not completely flawed, after all. If a person likes and cares about you as a friend it may seem natural to think that this can translate to a relationship as well. However, you can be the most attractive person in the world, but if the other person does not feel any chemistry between you two or is personally not attracted to you, you cannot force them or expect them to feel the same simply because you are there for them as a friend.
The reason the friendzone is so painful is because it is not like just any other rejection. It is not as easy to move on. You may see the person every day and there is no way of taking the words back when you say them. Either the person returns your feelings, or it’s into the prison of the friendzone. This shouldn’t dissuade people from revealing their feelings however, if they think that the other person may return them, though of course this should be understood to be the gamble that it really is. Kinkaid also shared an important take-away from the friendzone, which is that you should not give up being nice to or friends with someone because they rejected you, though it may be awkward at first.
“It depends on the circumstance but ultimately if you legitimately care about the person, it’s important to maintain a friendship with that person,” Kinkaid said. “Usually the relationship was based on friendship and I think it would be selfish and shallow to throw that friendship away just for that reason. However, you shouldn’t have the expectation, if you stay friends, that they will change their mind because we can’t change how people feel.”
It is better to “accept the truth” because we can’t change how people think or feel about us.
Though everyone has their own feelings about the friendzone, we cannot let it keep us from maintaining the relationships that are important to us, nor make people think they have to behave in a negative way to attract people. In general, people shouldn’t feel that doing certain things obliges other people to return them any kind of favors, sexual or otherwise. At the end of the day, we always win some or lose some, and it’s better to lose a chance of a romantic relationship if it means keeping an important friend close.