In Defense Of The Friend Zone
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re at a party and find yourself talking to a friend’s friend. He seems really cool and makes you laugh, but honestly, you don’t find him all that attractive. Later, he asks if you want to hang out sometime. You agree… hesitantly. Then you make an excuse to leave before he can ask for your number.
Been there, done that? Then, like me, you’ve suffered from a type of romantic tunnel vision, where you lose all interest in hanging out with someone you don’t immediately see as romantic potential.
The problem with this behavior is that we need friends of the opposite sex. They help us see life from another perspective. That guy asking to hang out may be looking for something more, but he could just as well end up becoming a friend.
I go to my guy friends for their unbiased (or sometimes totally biased) opinions on everything from dating to whether I’m too fat to wear a bikini. Unlike the girls who will undoubtedly answer, “no you look great, really,” the guys will give me their honest opinions and often offer a fresh point of view.
It’s hard to explain the differences between relationships with your girl friends and relationships with your guy friends without getting into stereotypes. But it is a unique relationship I’ve learned to value as I’ve gotten older.
The most obvious example? When I need to know all the stats on the new Padres’ pitcher or an update of the Charger’s season, I get my guy friends to give me the Cliff notes version.
But more than just for sports, guy friends can be like cultural translators. Thanks to my brother’s friends for example, I can totally speak “geek.” I’ve never owned a comic book in my life, but thanks to the guys, I can compare Stan Lee characters, critique a Kevin Smith movie, recognize Vulcan references, and make quips about World of Warcraft. Don’t even get me started on Star Wars! This comes in fantastically handy, not just working in a preschool, but carrying on conversations with men of all ages.
If I want to enjoy a nice, quiet evening, sipping wine while chatting on a pristine white sofa, I can hang out with my girls. But it’s my guy friends who organize beer pong and flip cup games, where it’s perfectly acceptable to belch as loud as I can. Plus, with all the tall, muscular or beer-guzzling guys around, I can get away with being completely unfeminine and still feel cute and girly.
Also, for whatever reason, there’s a difference between your guy friend telling you how cute you are and one of your girls saying the same thing. There’s also a difference between hearing it from a boyfriend and hearing it from a platonic guy friend. Platonic love lets us know we are loved for who we are, completely separate from any sexual or romantic motivations. There’s just something more sincere about the compliment when it comes from a platonic guy friend.
Especially when you are dating and the romantic relationships in your life come and go, relationships with the opposite sex are comforting. It’s placating to know that I can still get my testosterone fix even without the boyfriend. I enjoy having someone who will “drag” me to UFC, so I can have an excuse to watch it and, admittedly, check out the other guys at the sports bar.
Guy friends can be your designated date when the occasion calls for it, preventing all those happy couples from patronizing you. Best of all, guys have other guy friends. Sometimes cute guy friends… the kind you just might want to date.
So try this: Before you blow another guy off at a party or a bar, let him know you’re not really looking to date him, but he’s really fun and interesting to talk to, and you’d love if he came to hang out with you and your friends sometime. Or just friend him on Facebook—whatever approach works for you.
You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have when you switch out of dating-and-mating mode and enjoy the friend zone.
But do the guy a favor and make sure he’s clear that he’s in the friend zone… especially if his eyes seem to linger a bit too long when he tells you how cute you are.