I’m about to tell you something that’s worth every penny you pay for it: the friendzone is exactly where you want to be.
(Side note: the heavy research behind these posts will have to move to a back-burner because of upcoming school projects. Degrees don’t earn themselves, otherwise I’d be in the library hunting for commentaries and/or reading The Second Sex instead of hunting for literary criticism on The Christmas Carol. Hence why this post is a rabbit trail.)
If you don’t know what “the friendzone” is–well, you probably do, just not by that name. “The Friendzone” is not a literal place but a state of being. The Friendzone is the state of the girl (or boy) you love…not loving you back.
Both men and women have experienced the Friendzone, but (at least in my experience) men tend to be more vocal about it. In context, a boy whose female friend has said no to his third request for a date will usually turn to his friends, sigh, and say something to the effect of,
“Man, I got Friendzoned,” (the verbified version of “Friendzone”). “This is so dumb. Nice guys always finish last.”
I’m sympathetic, I really am. I’ve been in the Friendzone. Several times. It’s annoying. In my mind, I was so perfect for the person I liked, but he kept going after all my friends. My pride was hurt.
But there are underlying problems with bemoaning the Friendzone. Serious problems. There’s an equally serious problem festering at the root of the idea that “nice guys finish last” because “girls only go for jerks.”
Problem One: The Idea that You’re Entitled to be Loved by the Object of Your Affection
Yes, I understand. Unrequited love is tough. Very tough. But a person is a person, not a thing. A person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). A person is made with a specific purpose in mind (Philippians 2:13, Psalm 138:8), a purpose that may or may not include you. People are not potential possessions.
By believing that somehow a person owes you love, you are ignoring their personhood. You may think you know what’s good for him or her (you) but might very well be wrong. If you’re a friend, keep being a friend. Respect the person’s free will and desires. After all, that’s what friends do.
Problem Two: The Idea that You Deserve a Reward for Being a Decent Person
I know that many of us grew up being handed trophies just for participating. Arguably, that worked in elementary school. But, at least from what I’ve seen, that doesn’t work in relationships. Any kind of relationship. Just because you are a nice person, or even just because you went out of your way to be nice to the person you like, doesn’t mean the girl (guy) owes you a date. Or anything else.
Of course you should be nice. Sometimes guys and girls both put up a front of jerkiness or flirtatiousness because they want to atrract someone, anyone. Still others alter their personalities to adapt to specific people they like, hoping the masks will be good enough. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER put on a front for the sake of being “attractive.” Please, please be who you are; please strive to be kind.
But don’t strive to be kind in the hopes of getting a date. Remember, we are to be kind for kindness’s sake. We are made in the image of God and God is love, therefore we as His children are to love even our enemies, to “do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” (Luke 6:35). If we are to love our enemies without expecting any favors in return, then how much more should we love our friends and consider their wishes more important than our own (Philippians 2:3)?
It’s unwise to expect a cookie for being a nice person.
And even if you could, people aren’t cookies.
Problem Three: What’s so Bad about Being Someone’s Friend?
Full disclaimer: I’m 23 and only newly married. I don’t have a very deep well of wisdom to draw from just yet. Like I said, you’re getting what you paid for. But I will say I have had a few relationships, and I took careful notes as they faded away. And a lot of what I’m about to say has been passed down to me from my parents and grandparents and many other wise and experienced people in my life who know what’s up.
Healthy relationships are founded on healthy friendships.
My husband was in the Friendzone. I put him there. I did not want a relationship. With anyone. Ever. As far as I was concerned, Sam was in the Friendzone for good.
He knew that. And he was okay with that. We kept being friends. Then things happened. Then we got married.
We’re still friends. Married, but friends first.
Love is so much more than romance. Yes, romance is beautiful and fun, but it’s the friendship that fuels the flame.
The trouble with wanting the grand, breathtaking romance is that the romance comes with absurd expectations. You’ll be tempted to hold your significant other to a fanciful and impossible high standard. And you’ll be disappointed every time they tumble from the pedestal constructed from rom coms and Disney movies. Again, people are people. People are sinners. People make mistakes. People aren’t perfect, and the last thing any of us wants is a relationship where we’re expected to be perfect.
But friendship sees the imperfections and loves wholeheartedly anyway.
I don’t have a verse that will say all that for me. The Bible is not a book of dating advice. There aren’t many romance pointers outside of The Song of Solomon.
But take Christ’s relationship with His disciples. Jesus called them His friends (John 15:15). In fact, there are several places in Scripture where God calls His people His friends. He also compares His relationship with His people as that between a bridegroom and a bride (Isaiah 62:5). Friendship and love are not mutually exclusive ideas. We need to erase from our minds that being someone’s friend is somehow a demotion. God doesn’t seem to think so.
If you are in the Friendzone, you’re sitting on prime real estate. If nothing else, you have a wonderful person as a friend, and that is something to be thankful for. And please, oh please, keep being nice. Keep being kind.
I hope I haven’t come off as patronizing. That’s the last thing I want, but sometimes tone is hard to communicate through a keyboard and a screen. I want to look you in the eyes and tell you it will all turn out alright. I, too, know what it’s like to hurt and wait and wonder. I know what it’s like to desire someone and to be disappointed. But please believe me when I say “He makes all things beautiful in His time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).