Quick Hit: Why do men keep putting me in the girlfriend-zone?

I love this brilliant reversal of all the Nice Guy whining about the how terrible the friend-zone is. It really gets to the heart of why I think complaints about the friend-zone are just so obnoxious. Even more than the sense of entitlement–that men are owed sex or a relationship for being “good guys”–it’s the idea that a real friendship with a woman couldn’t possibly be valuable in and of itself. Obviously, unreciprocated feelings always suck, but that is just straight-up sexist.

You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.

But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.

I tell him how much I enjoy his company, how much I value his friendship. I tell him that I really want to be his friend and to continue hanging out with him and talking about our favorite books or exploring new restaurants or making fun of avant-garde theatre productions. But he rejects me. He doesn’t answer my calls or e-mails; if we’d been making plans to do something before this fateful incident, these plans mysteriously fail to materialize. (This is why I never did get around to seeing the Hunger Gamesmovie. Not to name any names, but thanks a lot, Tom.) Later, when I run into him at social events, our conversations are awkward and lukewarm. This is because the moment we met, he put me in the girlfriend-zone, and now he can’t see me as friend material.

Read the rest here. And, of course, note the many commenters who do not catch the satire.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/garzonr/ RG

    this friend-zone stuff has always seemed forced to me. to me there seems to be a meaningful distinction between somebody “believing a relationship with a woman can’t be valuable in and of itself” and a person who really liked another person, got rejected and feels embarrassed about the whole thing and is sad that person only wants to be friends. one is obviously sexist, the other seems like a normal human reaction.

    i’m not sure what this author wants. does she want people to just “get over it” quicker in order to be able to stay friends? that doesn’t seem to be a problem with sexists, that just seems to be a problem she has with people who have feelings. and if that latter category necessarily involves sexism somehow, that needs an argument.

  • http://feministing.com/members/melanne/ Melissa Anne

    Sure this is pretty clever. And I understand how issues of “the friend zone” can translate to entitlement in terms of sex. However, overall, I don’t think that is the real issue of such a term. The friend zone is another stereotype that tells men that treating women as equals means they won’t be able to find a romantic relationship. Men are taught from media and peers early on in their lives that to objectify women is the way to form their status or the only way to get a date. Movies like Just Friends and the like further perpetuates this, telling both men and women that women like an aloof bad boy, that women should tolerate whatever treatment they receive from a hot, good-on-paper guy. Both sexes fall into this trap, because they are both taught these ideals. Of course most mature, confident, smart people of either sex realize that dating and sex are not about labels and status, but rather commitment, trust, and communication; however, it usually takes some trial and error to get there. And sure at the end of these types of movies, the girl typically falls for the good guy, but it sure does take a lot for her to realize how he can be a suitable mate. She usually has to go through a bad relationship with an asshole of a guy to see that. In other situations, the girl liked the guy the whole time, but he never would have thought so because of the “good guy” stereotype. Thus, even within these movies, we see how men and boys often believe that to get a relationship (not just sex, since these “good guys” want more than sex), a man should not respect or listen to their love interests. We need to combat these ideas through language and example, to teach future generations that these labels are unjust for both sexes, and completely untrue.

  • honeybee

    Women can be put into the friend zone by men too. Feministing (maybe community?) even had an article on this recently that really resonated with me.

    I don’t like over entitled guys but I don’t feel like laughing in the face of people who have been hurt either. It doesn’t feel very nice when someone you want to be with sees you as nothing worth even considering going out with it. Been there it sucks.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rael/ Rob

    “I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.”

    … I realize this is satire, but still this statement reveals a very sex-and-relationship negative viewpoint that I consider pretty unliberated.

    To spell it right out: the underlying attitude is that if someone is interested in a sexual or romantic relationship they cannot also “care about you as a person” because those two things are somehow mutually exclusive.

    The interest in sex/romance somehow overrides any other possible “caring” that might exist. I’ve heard people say things of this nature in all seriousness. When I hear things like that, it tends to make me reconsider any thoughts I’d had about pursuing either a sexual/romantic relationship OR a serious friendship.