The response to my guest blog over at Simply Solo (In Defense of the Beta Man) along with some things I read on a couple blogs recently got me thinking about “The Friend Zone.” You know, that place men talk about hating being put by the women in their lives, like it’s some dread purgatory from which there is no escape.
I don’t think it’s always like that, or that simple. Let’s talk about The Friend Zone. [NOTE: Much of what I'm writing here is assuming that the male/female friends in question aren't married to or significantly involved with other people. That changes the dynamics!]
Sure, for some (alpha) men and their relationships with women, there’s no worse fate than to be put into the FZ. For them, women aren’t friends, they’re prizes to be won and the prize should include some sort of sexual contact. If you’ve been put in the FZ, then there’s no chance of sexual contact and so there is no prize. The Friend Zone is the polar opposite of the end zone, game over man!
For beta men, as I talked about in my blog post, spending time with a woman he cares about is the prize. Sure, would he like to end the night with a roll in the hay? Of course, he’s still a man! A woman’s body holds endless fascination for a man and we’d like nothing better than to be given the chance to explore it. But a beta man is often interested in a woman for a lot more reasons than just sex, so being in the FZ means still getting to spend time with the woman. 90% of what you want is still a very good deal, right?
I think The Friend Zone gets a bad rap starting in High School, when boys and girls are first starting to figure out the whole dating, boyfriend/girlfriend thing. Those first sexual encounters are a Big Deal, confusing, scary, thrilling and wild. Hormones are running rampant, and I think girls use The Friend Zone to help them sort through the confusing time. Of course, on the other side of the equation, hormones have turned boys into a throbbing bundle of need. Sex is all they can think about, so naturally getting put in the FZ is a fate worse than death.
But eventually boys and girls become men and women, and most of us get a little less driven by hormones and physical needs. We become open to more complex relationships, and I think that makes the Friend Zone a place that shouldn’t be considered in a negative light. For one thing, friendship is a pretty big deal, and true friends are invaluable for navigating the stormy waters of life. A friend of the opposite sex can give you valuable perspective on life, on love, on family.
For another, as time goes on, friendship and companionship is something we crave in a partner as much as chemistry. Someone you saw as only a friend at one point in your life might become something more as both of you grow and change over the years. It obviously isn’t going to happen with everyone in the FZ, but you never know what life brings. It may never happen, but you still have got a great friend out of the deal.
In the comments for my blog over on Simply Solo, Claudia wrote a really long and interesting response. One thing she said: “Dear beta men, please start asking us out. With a clear intent of dating.” It was an interesting juxtaposition with a recent blogpost I read by my friend Lee over at Life in the Dash Lane, where she expressed concern that one of her friends, clearly in her FZ, expressed his attraction to her, and whether they could remain friends with her knowing this now.
I hope this doesn’t creep some women out, but let’s be honest here: for men who value friendships with women, most of them would jump at the chance to take that friendship to a more intimate level — assuming there aren’t complicating factors, significant others, etc. There is already a connection that the friendship has been built on, they enjoy spending time with you. You’re also of the opposite sex, and there are human biological needs that both of you have. For these men, getting to be more intimate isn’t about flipping a switch, changing from friends to lovers– it’s about adding another layer, building something deeper on the foundation, being friends and lovers. For a beta man, being in the Friend Zone and the end zone is Nirvana!
Let’s be clear. Your guy friends (those who aren’t alpha males) dig you. They know you, the good and the bad. They think you’re awesome.
And… they’re attracted to you.
For those who are now totally creeped out, let me toss you a life line. These same guys you have in The Friend Zone, these guys who I assure you would be perfectly fine with being more than friends… these guys are also perfectly fine with staying in the FZ and just being friends. They aren’t biding their time, putting in the niceness points with the expectation of eventually getting sex out of you (unless they’re alphas masquerading as betas). If the attraction isn’t there, if you can’t see yourself being intimate with them, they’re cool with that. They can be your friend, your confidant; they can be happy for your successes and thrilled for you when you find romance. They can be all that without having ulterior motives, believe it or not.
Of course, what Claudia was referring to were the men who don’t have the courage to just step up and make their intentions known right away when they meet someone they really like.
For the most part, I agree. There are few things as frustrating for both the man and the woman than a man trying to weasel his way into a woman’s pants by pretending to be friends first. However, I’d suggest that things aren’t always so simple. Oftentimes you meet a cool woman, and she has a boyfriend (of course!). Or maybe she’s just been through a messy breakup. Maybe she’s working full time and going to school full time, and just doesn’t have time for dating. Sure, maybe your first intention, your first impression is I want to date this woman. But you can’t, the circumstances won’t allow it. Does that mean you should just walk away?
If there’s a connection there, sometimes friendship is the appropriate way to build a relationship at that time. A beta man will value and cherish that friendship for what it is, not what it might become in the future. In time, circumstances can change. People can change. But sometimes they don’t, and that’s fine too.
The other day I was talking with my roommate and telling him about my plans to expand my social circles starting this month (Climbing Out of the Social Void). He laughed at me and said “Dude, you just want to get laid!” Well, sure– of course I do! But I also want to just get out there and mingle, get to know people, make new friends. If I run across an awesome woman, and get put in her Friend Zone, that’s cool with me! Whats wrong with adding to your circle of friends?
So here’s what I think: Men, don’t be afraid to be put in The Friend Zone. Dude, you’re getting a friendship with a cool woman who can offer you fun times, great conversations, and perspectives on life and love you might otherwise miss out on. It’s something to be cherished. You will find another woman who will be willing to jump in the sack with you. Heck, your friend might introduce you one day!
Women, don’t be weirded out if you think your friend in The Friend Zone might be attracted to you. Of course he is. You’re awesome! He’s perfectly capable of keeping his hands off you and being the friend you want and need… and you never know, one day down the road you might realize you find him attractive too.