PURGATORY FOR PERFECT MEN?
The friend zone. We hear about it all the time. It’s a mythical place where absent-minded women leave the great guys, a purgatory for perfect men. …or so we’re told. That assessment most often comes from men that feel slighted or have felt that way at some point. In my opinion, the concept of the “friend zone” is a result of cognitive dissonance, a coping mechanism designed to comfort a passive man’s bruised ego. Being “friend zoned” challenges the pathology of patriarchal entitlement through a very flawed value system. Let me expound a bit with an example…
Start with a guy named Lewis. Lewis is a good guy with redeeming qualities. Very honest, genuine, and understanding. He’s pursing a young lady named Nicole. Nicole is a sensible young lady with a lot going for her. She’s intelligent, passionate, and determined. Lewis came into contact with her through social media. He’s observed that she’s been hurt before and that she really wants someone different from what she’s used to. Lewis feels like he brings the right set of qualities to the table, so he approaches her expecting her to value him for that reason (entitlement). In his pursuit, he doesn’t mention that he wants to be serious with her; instead, he simply is a perfect gentleman. He almost seems too nice to Nicole, given the fact that he has not stated any intentions. Lewis knows he wants Nicole, but he’s handling it “differently” since that’s what she’s looking for; he expects being “different” to be enough to endear her (flawed value system). Lewis goes to parties with Nicole and always is there to be her savior if she gets too drunk. He also sits on the phone with her to be her listening ear. While these are all friendly practices, he is performing them with the expectation that she falls for him because the other men wouldn’t do those things (more flawed values). Meanwhile, Nicole thinks she’s found a great friend because FRIENDS DO THOSE TYPES OF THINGS WITH NO INTENTIONS.
Once Lewis thinks he’s done enough nice things without making any progress, he bears his feelings for Nicole, finally telling her that he’s liked her the entire time and has been desiring to be her boyfriend. Nicole naturally tells him that she sees him as a friend, since he’s been such an exemplary one. It is at this point that the cognitive dissonance takes place. Lewis becomes irate. He uses all of the friendly things he’s done for her against her, claiming that she doesn’t appreciate it. In actuality, she does; she just didn’t see it as courtship because he didn’t state his intentions. Lewis then tells her that she’s passing up a good man just to go mess around with all of the wrong types. What he’s really saying: you should’ve dated me just because I’m different. As sad as it is, many men feel as though not being a chauvinistic, patriarchal womanizer should be more than enough to be perfect in the eyes of a woman and that it entitles them to the woman of their choice. In reality? BEING AN UPSTANDING HUMAN BEING GETS YOU NO BROWNIE POINTS.
Male privilege is embedded in our culture, and the friend zone is a sure sign of that. Men who feel as though they should have certain privileges for acting a particular way get upset about it and use the friend zone to do what many aspects of patriarchy do: deftly deflect responsibility and accountability onto women. To say “I got friend zoned” makes it look like the woman made a terrible, irresponsible decision in not dating you. It’s akin to saying that she’d rather be hurt by other, “lesser” men than dating you. That thought process is alarming in itself, using the perceived (or contrived) poor quality of her dating pool to one’s advantage. It also says that she doesn’t know what she wants, that she fits the trope of the woman that makes poor decisions because she’s a woman (which inherently affronts her intelligence and emotional stability). It even speaks on her sexuality in a condescending way. Most “nice guys” try to be “nice” by not broaching the subject of sex at all and by never being sexual with woman. In saying “I got friend zoned,” most guys also imply that the woman would rather go be promiscuous with womanizers than be with a man that didn’t have overt sexual intentions, even though we all know the double standard that comes with that particular subject.
In the end, men “friend zone” themselves. A man that doesn’t state his intentions is a man that will never get what he wants. Period. Beating around the bush and getting mad when the woman doesn’t get the picture? Inane. Instead of using ruses and flawed, comparative behavior to guilt a woman into a relationship, we men should simply be ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less. Be honest, be open, state intentions, court her, be her friend ALONG with being more, and see if love doesn’t form itself on such a stable foundation.
- A. Lewis