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«Friendzone» – the imagined area

«Oh no! You've been friendzoned!» This appalling phrase refers to someone seeking a platonic, rather than a romantic, relationship, while their counterpart desires the opposite. However, pop culture has assigned this imaginary space a dehumanizing, dreadful connotation. Why we need to rethink (or forget) the «friendzone» altogether.

Von Sina Schmid

Many might know the feeling of being romantically interested in someone, only to be served a cold dish of reality: our counterpart doesn’t feel the same way. However, they would gladly stay friends and explore the possibility of a platonic relationship! Many more would define this as being «friendzoned» or, if you’re the one without romantic interest, «putting someone in the friendzone».

In pop culture, it’s a way of simplifying the following sentiment: I see you as a friend and nothing more. Which obviously for the person with unreciprocated feelings might hurt. However, to countless people, being «friendzoned», indicates the end of said friendship, or platonic relationship. If it doesn’t, some might get the sudden urge to fight hell or high water to make it «out of the friendzone». And if both outcomes don’t apply: you’re in luck.

Now, as the introduction of this piece mentions: there is no such thing as a «friendzone». Let’s explore why. A) Geographically and territorially, it makes no sense (except for the three restaurants and companies I found on Google Maps). B) It is common to experience shifts in relationship dynamics that do not necessarily correlate with a certain «friendzone», but more with trust and attraction. C) A person shouldn’t only hold value or relevance if that relies on them reciprocating the feelings of their counterpart. And D), not accepting someone’s feelings, especially if clearly communicated, is just shitty. Sorry for my french.

So, let’s talk about it. B: Making it «out of the friendzone» so to speak, refers to a change in dynamic, where someone might have initially lacked a romantic pull towards another, but with time and acquaintance, attraction deepens and romantic feelings develop. If the companion that initially had those sentiments still feels the same: great! However: it should have been great before said transformation, which we’ll get to in a second.

This abyss we collectively dub the «friendzone» just seems to be on everyone’s list of places to avoid, the connotation it has been given is unpleasant, which leads me to C)! Liking someone plenty, wanting to share time and space is enough in itself. How wonderful it is to find a person you like as a human and not a prize, completely disregarding what they could give you (romance and stuff) therefore just enjoying them as a human being (Great Gatsby could never).

The «friendzone» should not mark the end of knowing or getting-to-know-someone-process, necessarily. Because if that were the case, the so called «friendzone» would implicate that someone might only hold value, if they can give you a romantic relationship, or the prospect thereof. See, when put into context, the term and idea of «the friendzone» with its connotation suddenly sound more icky than it initially seems.

Last but not least D) points out that feelings and clear communication must be respected. I shouldn’t feel the need to emphasize this, but I do. This common quest to «make it out of the friendzone» basically implies: «Alright, I hear you, but let me try to change your mind and win you over like a prize regardless». YUCK! Yes, feelings might change (see C) however, that possibility should not be the deciding factor when it comes to continuing and deepening human connection.

In recent years, relationship dynamics in our society have changed, for example when we look at open relationships and polyamory. As a result of these changes, it has been determined that our romantic relationships should not be our sole universe, but that we can and should revise how we assign significance to platonic relationships.

There has been a shift towards acknowledging the importance of platonic bonds in our lives, which has historically been placed in romantic relationships. This means seeing others as individuals, valuing them for who they are rather than just in their relation to us. This shift is promising, but we’re not there yet. The term «friendzone» and our constant fear and disdain of it shouldn’t exist. We should focus on enjoying the company of others, regardless of their intent to provide us with romance.

25. November 2023

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