Friend zone – (n/v): When two people enter into a relationship as friends, but somewhere down the line, one of them begins to develop feelings for the other. The friend-zone occurs when the object of affection politely dismisses the idea of a romantic relationship, thus creating a strictly platonic relationship and therefore “friend-zoning” the other. Example: “She just wanted to just be friends, so I guess now we are in the friend zone.” “He friend-zoned me the other day, so I guess now we are just friends.” ————- The friend zone makes me laugh, for one reason. This reason incurs a story of a young Rachel. Long story short, in the 7th grade I had a crush on this boy in my class. He was tall and super cute, and I saw no imperfection in him. Looking back I shake my head at everything that I did to try and get him to notice me: try to beat him at basketball (failed), try to beat him at math homework (succeeded, but he didn’t really care), dropped books in front of his desk (classic), asked him questions about homework (spoiler: I actually knew the answers), and basically everything short of waving a neon light sign in front of his face saying “Hey, I like you a lot!”
But one day, I did something better than that. I went up to him and told him that I liked him. His response was priceless, though at the time it was mortifying: “You’re nice and everything, but I think we should just be friends.” Heartbroken for days. This guy is also the reason why I don’t make the first move anymore, but oh well. Fast-forward to the present and I know now that what I experienced back then was a classic example of being friend-zoned. Growing up I have seen this happen many times. But let’s face it, there really are two outcomes when you straight up tell someone you like them: a) They like you back, and you begin this pseudo-dating, puppy love thing before you make it exclusive and serious; or b) They friend-zone you, and you either 1) continue being friends or 2) stop being friends and you stop liking this person. (and of course, the ever unfortunate option c) in which the object your affection doesn’t like you back at all.) It’s a fine line to walk on, but now as a somewhat mature adult, I realize now the importance of being friend-zoned. That’s right, I said it. It is actually good to be friend-zoned. So flashing back to my Grade 7 days and getting friend-zoned, as awkward as that was (because it was November, super early in the school year), it taught me lessons without even knowing it. In the heat of the moment, everything is blown 100 times out of proportion and it feels like the world is about to end. But I know now that the “love” I felt was just infatuation. Let’s break down a scenario:
A 16 year old girl has had a crush on this guy in her biology class. All her friends now, and they always tease her about it when he walks by. The gods were smiling on her, and to her pleasant surprise she became his lab partner for the rest of the year. After a lot of pestering and joking and many pep talks, the 16 year old girl goes to tell her lab partner, this hunk in a lab coat, that she has liked him for a long time. Ever since Grade 8, to be precise, when he hit her in the head with a basketball. Hunk-in-lab coat is surprised, blinks a few times, and remembers that his mother told him that it is rude not to answer when someone is speaking to him. So he panics, and says, “Hey, you’re pretty cool and nice and smart but… I’m not really looking for a relationship right now.”
Cue the awkward emptiness. “But I’d still like to be friends, if that’s okay.”
Sound familiar? The rhetoric at the end of hunk-in-lab coat’s monologue can really break a relationship, or lack of. This girl just got friend-zoned, and the reality is that she’ll either forget him and move on, or brush aside the hurt that comes with the friend zone and continue to subtly have feelings for him.
However, looking at the bigger picture, there is an underlying reason as to why we as teenagers fear the friend-zone. It’s all infatuation. It’s just a crush.
I am willing to bet that most people want to marry someone who they are comfortable with, who loves and respects them and their family for who they are, and ultimately, someone that they actually know. If you don’t truly know someone, it’s hard to trust them. And if it’s hard to trust them, then making big decisions together might be a challenge.
In a discussion that I had with a friend last night, the fear of the friend-zone came up. In fact, I was trying my best to console someone who just got friend-zoned. And it sparked a lot of thoughts inside of me. 9/10, these crushes we have are just what they are called : crushes. Going back to my Grade 7 dreamboat, all I liked him for was his physical features. I called him “cute” and “adorable” and other gross words like that. But did I really know him? Did I really take the time to get to know him – his likes and dislikes, what it was like for him growing up, what he wanted to be when he grew up? Did I even like him for who he was?
In retrospect, I can confidently answer “no” to all of those questions. And when he friend-zoned me, I packed up all my feelings in a feelings suitcase and threw it into the river. I took his friend-zone to be a dead end, game over, no way no how type of end. But really, it was an open door, rather than a closed door. Whether or not he was serious about becoming friends and getting to know each other better is only for him to know, but I feel that we as young ones take the friend-zone to be a point of no return and the end of a friendship, even before it can begin.
Take the friend-zone as an opportunity. Yes, it will be difficult to swallow your pride and try to put a handle on your feelings. Yes, your friends might tease you from time to time (“remember how he friend-zoned you?”), and yes, it might be weird (and a little unsettling) to see them crush on someone else that isn’t you. But remember that the purpose of a relationship, the purpose of love, is to grow with someone and help to make one another better.
You can’t base a relationship off of terms of endearment and physical attributes. Get to know someone and embrace the friend-zone. That way, you can get to know someone and make more of an informed decision. You will also realize how fast you were taking things. Finally, you will also learn more about yourself and what you want in a potential partner.
At the end of the day, there is no contest to get married first. When the time is right and the person is right, you will know. This isn’t to say that you need to stay at home and be a hobbit; no. Go out with people and meet new people, but be friends before you go Facebook official.
True, no one wants to be in the awkward in-between stage that is the friend-zone, but at the same time, take it as an opportunity to build character and get to know this person that you supposedly fell in love with. And if that person really is the one, no one will be in your way. The last thing you want is to be crushed by a crush, with no opportunity to become friends.
Embrace the friend-zone, my friends.
———- Check out this past post related to the friend-zone here. I recently began contributing to this awesome blog based out of Toronto called Speak Out! Thanks to all the lovely authors over there for welcoming me in with open arms. My debut piece, “Crush(ed)“, is up now. Similar ideas and threads to this post!