‘Friend zone’ doesn’t have to destroy relationships

On college campuses the phrase “friend zone” is thrown out there a lot. You are bound to hear a story about a guy who has inevitably been banished to the friend zone by a girl he had been talking to for a while for being “too nice” or “too much like her brother.” Perhaps you have been the guy in this situation, or maybe even the girl.

But do you really know the meaning or implication behind these two words? If you do, maybe you understand that they shouldn’t be taken so lightly.

In the movie “Just Friends,” Ryan Reynolds’ character said, “The ‘friend zone’ is like the penalty box of dating, only you can never get out. Once a girl decides you’re her ‘friend,’ it’s game over. You’ve become a complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp.”

Is it not problematic to assume that after one individual in a relationship has indicated a romantic interest in the other that the other is therefore obligated, in some way, to return this interest with either a relationship or sex? Well, if you were wondering, yes, it is definitely an issue.

There should never be an obligation to have to return the interest by either party. Every individual has the right to say, “Yes” or “No,” and only a real friend would understand and respect this decision.

“Friend zoning” is inherently sexist. Women are in no way obligated to reciprocate sexual or romantic feelings. Obligating a woman to return the interest completely undermines the notion that women are equal. Men and women have the right to make their own decisions. There is nothing wrong with a woman rejecting a man and just wanting to be friends with him, and there should be no penalty for feeling this way.

The problem is that these so called “nice guys” feel as if they are owed sex or some sort of romantic relationship by their female friends who just see their male friend as, well, their friend. These men feel as if they are unfairly being sent to live a life of agony in the “friend zone” when, in reality, they aren’t “owed” anything. There is nothing sinister about a woman just wanting to have some guy friends without getting romantic feelings or sex involved.

And a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a friendship. It’s just something both parties have to work through together. Feelings need to be sorted out in order to come to an understanding.

There are some conflicting views on the friend zone on UK’s campus when it comes to this question of whether men and women can be just friends.

“The ‘friend zone’ is harmless,” said computer engineering freshman Ruth Dankwah. “It is perfectly acceptable for females and males to be friends even though someone is attracted to one person, but the other person does not feel the same.”

On the other hand, Siera Arena, an accounting freshman, said “the ‘friend zone’ is a way for girls and even guys to keep a relationship from going further without hurting the feelings of the other person.” Arena also said that the “friend zone” could potentially be demeaning in that “it’s basically turning someone down, but it’s what a lot of people do to spare feelings.”

Can men and women be just friends? Or do feelings always find a way of causing friction?

You’d like to hope it’s possible for men and women to have a platonic relationship with one another without the realization of feelings by either party leading to a fizzled out friendship, but somehow the “friend zone” still exists and continues to tear friendships apart.

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