Thursday, April 25, 2013

This Is the Friend Zone

My Dear Reader,

Lately, I've been hearing the idea of the friend zone and how that term can be misunderstood and used for unfair purposes.

The argument is that the term is manipulative. If you say that you have unrequited love, for example, the implication is that you've had some bad luck. They don't love you back, and that it a sad story, my friend. That's just life, you know? Let me give you a hug and some hot chocolate.

But if you tell me that you've been friend zoned, you're not just saying that your feelings are not returned. There is an accusation hidden in your words, asserting that you have somehow been abused. The object of your affection has inexplicably become the bad guy. How dare they! Don't they know who you are? Something must be seriously wrong with them. Let's sit here and say mean things about them while they don't have the opportunity to respond.

I personally don't often use the term to describe my own relationships. I generally feel like it only applies when the guy is really laying it on thick long after I've gotten the message. If I say you've friend zoned me, I mean that I complimented your tie and you replied by telling me how you reeeeeeally looooove your girlfriend, nudge nudge wink wink slap in the face. Then I usually laugh about it and move on, because really, I don't care. If I was attracted to you, I certainly am not any more.

Not that guys don't reject me on a daily/hourly basis. They apparently find me repulsive or something. It's just that I don't feel that I have a right to demonize someone based on whether they like me or not. When it comes to dating, I have two rules:*

Rule #1
  • No one is obligated to be attracted to me.

Rule #2
  • No one should have to explain why they're not attracted to me, because they don't need a reason to find me unattractive.
This is crucial, because a misunderstanding of this basic principle is, in my opinion, the foundation of a lot of unfair and cruel behaviors. These behaviors can range from harmless grumbling to backbiting to destruction of personal property. Not good.

In extreme cases, it can even lead to rape. Don't you roll your eyes at me. Most women are raped by men that they know.** A man who respects a woman's right to refusal would just leave her alone instead of taking what he wants by force through scarring physical and psychological violence. 

Because it all boils down to this: when any person believes that they have the right to tell another person how to feel or act towards them, they have denied that person their God-given agency. That's extremely objectifying, and objectifying anyone is wrong. People deserve better than that. They have a right to lead their own lives, even if you don't like their choices.

And yeah, it sucks to have unrequited feelings. It really, really sucks. But, you know, try not to take it personally. Attraction is hard to explain and even harder to control. It's possible that they don't have a conscious reason, and that is allowed. Just think of all of the people that you've found unattractive for a reason you can't name. It happens.

It's also possible that they do have a reason, and that it's a valid one. But that's a post for another day.

Either way, it's really important to be respectful of others' feelings, whether you like them or not.

And let me be clear: if you don't respect other people's feelings, you are not allowed to label yourself as a nice guy or a nice girl. If you think people are obligated to be attracted to you, you are at best a gigantic jerk.

Actually, I have stronger words for you, but I choose not to use them at this time.

Do you know what nice guys/girls do when they discover that their feelings are unrequited? They often feel sad. They might even go home and treat themselves to some ice cream and a comforting movie. But what they most certainly do is back off. They will either move on or try to present themselves in a different way. But they will undoubtedly respect the right of refusal.

Because if you really care about someone, their happiness is more important than what you want.

And, you know, if you really are a catch, then someone else will realize it. Don't waste your time grumbling! Go out and find that person!

All in all, I really hope that you can find the one who's right for you. Someone who will requite your love and treat you well. Just remember that genuine respect for others is a super attractive quality, wink wink.

Regards, best wishes, and lots of love,

-Cecily Jane

*Those aren't my only dating rules; they're just the only ones that happen to be relevant.

** Source: U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.***

***I would say that this applies to both men and women, but men are exclusively raped by strangers. But I'm not singling out men as evil here; women can be extremely cruel when rejected.

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