Nice Guys™ and criss-cut fries Part 2: Electric “Friendzone” Bogaloo

Part 1 of this thought train can be found here.

One of my favorite internet past-times is to browse relationship advice and dating app forums, particularly the Tinder subreddit. Occasionally I’ll see what I ranted about in practice on these sites and it’s baffling yet interesting all at the same time. Previously I mentioned the assumption that one is entitled to another’s attention due to initiative was unrealistic. It still is, but after reading enough sentiments complaining about how unfair it is that women (and men) don’t reply back to starter messages in general, I find it hard to understand how it is “unfair.” It’s certainly annoying and borderline rude in some scenarios, I can empathize with that. Especially when I’ve been keen on someone and I get the cricket choir. It definitely sucks. But in no way did I feel the exchange was unfair. There weren’t any valuable resources spent on the engagement. Literally just “Hey <name> then <insert witty, non-descript opener and/or quick poem>” At most five to ten minutes of my time. No response? Okay, on to the next. The wheels of fate keep turning.

Which brings me to the addendum to Part 1… the infamous and dreaded *gasp* “Friendzone.” Now I’m not going to go super deep into this (half-way lying) as it’s a topic all its own, but it is relevant to the theme of selfishness and entitlement that is core to the Nice Guy™ Syndrome. But what, pray tell, is the friendzone? What constitutes such a place and what are the planar rules within? I think most everyone has a general idea of what the friendzone is: not being able to convert a friendship into a romantic one due to one party’s reluctance to do so. Basically the “you’re like a brother ( or sister) to me and I don’t want to ruin our friendship by taking it to the next level.” Or as I like to say, “cool enough to be around, but not good enough lock it down.”

The perceived impetus for the construction of the friendzone is on the reluctant person. It’s assumed they’ve been the sole one to shutdown any and all advances beyond friendship. They’re the ones to blame for the other party being stuck in romantic limbo. But I contend it’s quite the opposite because in reality, get ready for it, the friendzone doesn’t exist. Ah yes, I know, I’m quite the contrarian. I’m just getting my rocks off being edgy and anti-meta right now, you don’t even know! Seriously though, it doesn’t exist in the way that some envision it. It’s purely a psychological construct that someone voluntarily places themselves in and chooses to struggle with. But of course I can’t just talk out of my ass without a succinct reason as to why I believe it’s a self generated mental prison. Allow me to get my E-40 on. I’m gonna go head and Sprinkle Y’all right quick.

So Super Sad Sam is salty because Vanessa (the worst) vehemently opposes exploring a committed LTR (Long Term Relationship) because reasons. This flies in the face of their amazing chemistry, long nights on the phone, and hanging out three to four times a week for hours on end. Basically everyone thinks they’re together even though they’re not. Sam claims Vanessa has friendzoned him because he’s doing everything he would do in a relationship for Vanessa, but she won’t agree to making things official. Meanwhile Vanessa willing indulges in the attention and pseudo-boyfriend situations she finds herself in while keeping Sam at arm’s length. She values his friendship and tells him so on multiple occasions. She doesn’t want to complicate their relationship with real romantic feelings. Her boundaries have been set and they won’t budge.

Now here’s the kicker. Sam is choosing to be overly available and basically mold his life around Vanessa for the hope that she “comes around” to the idea of dating him. Again, this is his choice. Vanessa isn’t holding a gun to his head or holding his family hostage. There’s no consequence if he doesn’t engage in pseudo-couple activities and friend related things. The worst case scenario would be a lost friendship, which technically is already the case. He knows damn well she’s dating other dudes and relaying these experiences to him. So what’s there to lose? His only reason for sticking around is the fact that he wants something from Vanessa that she won’t give him: her romantic interest and affection. He is willingly torturing himself with feelings that will never be reciprocated beyond “Oh you’re so sweet!” This “friend” of his is taking advantage of his softness for her because he is allowing it to happen. And therein lies the solution to “getting out of the friendzone.” Knowing your worth.

Once Sam lays down the terms of his relationship with Vanessa and explicitly states what he would like, he begins to demonstrate value. Sam is now willing to respect himself as much as he cares for Vanessa. If she isn’t willing to date despite her actions saying otherwise, it’s time to move on. Sam has to let her make her own decision because he made his. He chose to put their friendship on the line for his own sake; fronting was killing him inside. There’s no true friendship if only one party catches feelings. And that’s not to say Vanessa should just “deal with it.” No, there should be mutual respect for the both Sam and Vanessa’s desires. Some possible scenarios:

  • Vanessa stops bullshitting and decides to give the LTR a try.
  • Sam moves on while Vanessa remains bitter about the ended friendship.
  • Sam respects his feelings and Vanessa’s wishes then reverts to neutral to save the friendship.
  • Both parties stick to their guns and agree amicably to part ways.

I’m sure there’s more permutations, but suffice to say, Sam is showing that he values himself and his feelings regardless of the decision here. And Vanessa has to respect that. If she doesn’t then she wasn’t a true friend in that regard and was most likely playing off his desire to date. Which isn’t completely malicious, but it’s the situation that Sam allowed. No relationship is wholly parasitic, even if it might seem so on the surface.

In my mind, that is the true key to defeating that type of mental prison. True valuation can only be imparted from the inside out. Though, using our example, Sam must ask himself “am I willing to lose Vanessa as a friend for my own well-being if it comes to that?” Which is the question everyone in this situation must answer for themselves because not every person on the receiving end of this scenario will be willing to end the friendship and the dynamics that come with that. Some people want to have their cake and eat it too as the baker is dying a slow death for each pastry. And for someone like Sam, he was giving away his meal to a glutton.

I’d say the majority of people aren’t users in this sense. They genuinely want to preserve whatever relationship they have with that person. But I find it hard to ignore the pain in the eyes of unrequited love. It’s pretty palpable and anyone who finds themselves being that love needs to address it. No need in being ignorant to suffering. Nobody wants to be the “bad guy (or girl)” by making things clear, but actively benefiting gets that person a free upgrade to shithead in my book. But if Sam continues to hangout in the friendzone despite explicit knowledge that he has zero chance then that’s on him. Vanessa can’t be blamed; the stakes were clearly spelled out.

At the risk of this getting just as long as part 1, I’m going to cut it here, but I do a few more things to harp on. What people say and what people do will never be 100% congruent all the time. That’s the flaw of being human. We’re condemned to a life of balancing logic with emotion. So in the case of Sam and Vanessa, while things may feel right and happen that would indicate the opposite of what either party has said, it’s not going to be consistent. Vanessa could ask to make out with Sam or there could be hanky panky going on, but there’s a core (unrevealed) reason as to why she won’t agree to take things further. But again, Sam has to be secure and resolved to demonstrate what his worth means to him in this situation. Is a random handjob and a palm full of titty worth carrying on this charade? Probably. But if doing that is going to fuck Sam up even more so emotionally, probably not. Logically he knows it doesn’t mean they’re together, but animal brain begs to differ. And if Sam is trying to distance himself from a relationship that’s not conducive to what he wants, giving himself reasons to reconsider won’t help.

I pretty much failed in trying to make this more of an addendum than another post, but oh well. I know my worth so I’m about to show up to support bae-in-training two hours after her product event thing starts because sleep is life. Gotta let em know.