That “Friend Zone” Bullshit

Facebook can be pretty awesome but as I’ve noted in the past it can also be a hive of scum and villainy and, moreso than Twitter, you can really find out which ones of your fake-and-or-real friends are racist or sexist or shitclumps of some other shape. And recently I saw one person kind of go on and on about the “friend zone,” that most toxic and passive-aggressive of male memes that begins in high school and often enough doesn’t get disproven — and this person was trying to prove that it was real, as if this were some kind of scientific study into the idea, as if he were on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, hiding in the weeds while watching the “friend zone” phenomenon manifest itself, provably. It was, of course, an argument positively choking on its own horseshit. I didn’t engage, I just clicked “unfriend.” Because, really, ew.

I thought, well, I’ll write a post about the friend zone, but I realized that my favorite most-wonderfully-horrible anti-hero, Miriam Black, already said it (albeit in a way more venomous than I would normally convey, as that’s how she rolls). Further, I am not averse to a tiny bit of self-promotion when the time comes (my shame sensors were destroyed in the war), and so I thought I’d quote a little bit from Miriam’s most recent adventure, The Cormorant, where she deals with this, erm, “friend zone issue” in that Very Miriam Way.

So, here’s a snippet from the book.

* * *

“I got you a job!” Jace blurts.

Miriam turns. Makes a poopy face. “Me and jobs don’t play well together. My last real job kind of ended with a shooting. And a stabbing, come to think of it.”

“I don’t mean that kind of job–” He fishes in the pockets of his flannel surrender-pants, pulls out a folded up piece of paper: the world’s most boring origami. He begins to unfold it. “I ran a Craigslist ad–”

“I definitely do not want whatever this job is. Particularly if it has the word ‘hand’ or ‘rim’ preceding it–”

“No, wait, shut up for a second. A couple months back I put up an ad for your… particular talents, the psychic death thing, and for a while I mostly just got a bunch of trolls who thought I was a pimp–”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

“But last week I got this email.”

He thrusts the unfolded paper at her. Like a beaming toddler proud of his dirty diaper.

She grabs it. Scowls. Reads.

Her gaze suctions onto a very big number in the middle of the email.


“Five grand,” she says, looking up. “This guy wants to pay me five fucking grand to tell him how he’s going to die?”

Jace nods, grinning ear to ear.

“Are you sure he doesn’t think this is code for sex?”

“I… I called him.”

“You called him.”

“I thought he might think it was about sex, so.”

“And it’s not about sex.”

“No, he’s some rich guy in Florida. A little obsessed with his own…” Jace flutters his fingers in the air, a gesture he makes when he’s trying to think of a word. “Demise.”

“Five grand.”


“Rich nutball.”


“In Florida.”


“That means I need to get to Florida.”

He shrugs. “Well. Yeah.”

“Call him.” She snaps her fingers. “Set it up.”

“OK,” he says. But he just stands there. Staring at her.



“You’re looking at me,” she says.

“I think it’s OK to look at you. You can look at me, too.”

“I am looking at you looking at me, and at this point I’m starting to wonder what’s going on.”

He shifts nervously from foot to foot. “I just thought you could say, you know… thank you?”

“Oh. Well.” Miriam clears her throat, loosens some of that tobacco mucus that nests in her vocal cords. “Thank you, Jace. By the way, I hate that name. Jace. Jason – Jason is a good name. Or Jay. I like Jay. It’s like a bird. I like birds. Mostly.”

“Do you like me?”


“I like you.”

“Oh, sweet Christ on a crumbcake, really?”

“Really what? We’ve known each other for a year now and we’ve kind of skirted around each other and flirted–”

“I did not flirt.”

“We were flirting,” he says, nodding, smirking. “Sometimes people flirt and they don’t even know it.”

She narrows her eyes. “Nnnyeah, I think I’d know.”

“You’re leaving soon.”

“Pretty much now-ish.”

He reaches out. Takes her hand. “That bed looks pretty comfortable.”

She shoves him backward. Not hard enough to crack his skull against the doorframe, but enough to get the message across.

“Hey,” he says, genuinely stung. “Ow.”

“Thank your stars and garters I didn’t perform dentistry using your asshole as the entry point.”

He sighs. “Friend-zoned again. Nice guys finish last.”

The temperature in her mental thermometer pops the glass. “What did you just say? Are you seriously pulling that nice-guy friend-zone crap? You little turd, how’s that supposed to make somebody feel? That my friendship is just a way station to my pussy? Is that what my companionship is worth to you, Jace?”

“It’s not like that. I just thought–”

“You thought what? That because you’re a nice guy, my panties will just drop because you deserve to have my thighs around your ears? Fuck you, dude. Being a nice person is a thing you just do, not a price you pay for poonani. I’m not a tollbooth. A kind word and a favor don’t mean I owe you naked fun time.”

Now he’s mad. Brow stitched. Lip curled. “Oh, like you’re a nice person? Please.”

“I’m not! I’m not nice. And this is not news, dude. I’d rather be a cranky bitch who lets you know what she’s thinking than some passive-aggressive dick-weasel who thinks friendship with a girl is secondary to her putting out. You wanted to fuck me? You shoulda just said so. I would’ve at least respected that, and we wouldn’t have to do this boo-hoo woe-is-me pissy-pants guilt-fest.”

She throws on her jacket and snatches the email out of his hand and slings the bag over her shoulder. A hard elbow to the gut leaves him bent over and oof-ing.

Miriam heads to the door.

He trails after like a bad smell.

Taevon and Cherie watch, goggle-eyed.

“I’m sorry,” Jace says, rubbing his stomach.

“You are sorry,” she says, throwing open the door to the hallway.

“I’m a dick.”

“A tiny dick. An insignificant dick. Positively microbial.”

“Can I call you?”

“Can you… No, you can’t call me.”

“But you have the same phone if I wanted to?”

“I’m going to throw it in a bag and burn it.”

* * *

Indiebound / Amazon / B&N / Robot Trading Company / Add on Goodreads

Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die.

All it takes is a touch — a little skin-to-skin action.

Now someone — some rich asshole from Florida — wants to pay her so he can find out how he’s going to die. But when she touches him, she receives a message sent back through time and written in blood: HELLO, MIRIAM. It’s a taunt, a warning, and the start of a dangerous and deadly game for everybody’s favorite carcinogenic psychic, Miriam Black.


  • Well said, Miriam. I mean Chuck. I mean… I agree fully. “Fuck you, dude. Being a nice person is a thing you just do, not a price you pay for poonani.” should be the go-to response when someone starts whining about the friend zone.

  • Yup.

    I don’t mind that guys think of what it’d be like to screw a girl most of the time. Seriously, I don’t. I have those moments with people I like too. Sexy people are sexy, it’s part of the human condition. But expecting payment for being nice is like being nice coz you’re afraid of going to hell if you’re not. If that’s the only reason you’re being nice, you’re not nice.

  • I know a guy who does this All. The. Time. Next time he trots out the friend-zone/nice guys finish last crap-spiel I’m going to quote Miriam Black! Thanks for your ever-wise words, Chuck :)

  • February 26, 2014 at 10:54 AM // Reply

    I’d never heard of this “friend zone” thing (maybe because I’m old?). Looks like another version of “men and women can’t be friends” (because all men every really want is sex). I’m pretty sure that’s only true for extremely sexy women.

    • Actually it’s only true if your male ‘friends’ have some secret narcissistic fantasy that all women are dying to sleep with them and that if they fake being nice and friendly long enough ALL women will bang them. If you haven’t come across this that says GREAT things about your friends.
      Avoid fake nice guys at all costs.

  • That’s one of those passages that was so damned good and perfect I shoved it in the face of every person in my house and demanded “read this! read this! you’ll love it!” …and of course they all did.

  • It took me until my mid-twenties to learn this, but I realized a girl-friend can be the best bud you can have. A girl bud who gave me the best, yet most ear burning lecture. “She’s just a person, and being a person she makes her own choices. She didn’t choose you, and this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. She’s not a bitch, whore or a bad person for not choosing you. It’s her body and time and she holds full access rights. Now do you want to waste your time whimpering about this or do you want to hook up with that girl over there who’s been checking you out all night?”

    I wish someone said that to me at 16 or to all sixteen year olds.

  • Miriam and Chuck – the voice of sanity in this crazy world. :)

    I’m still trying to get my head around this whole ‘Friend Zone’ thing. For Those Type of Guys, this is a BAD place to be, right? There’s nothing *good* about a girl ONLY wanting friendship when you’ve been a ‘nice guy’ to her all this time, ’cause dammit, after all that effort you’re OWED some cockfoolery?


    They had that kind of thing when I was younger and not so married, but they called it something else then – I forget what (loonnngg time ago now ;) ) I’m glad there are guys like you around, Chuck – and hoping deeply that you will someday outnumber the dipsticks.

  • I loved, loved, loved that scene. It was not only my favourite part of The Cormorant, but possibly my favourite part of the entire Miriam Black series thus far. I wanted to jump up and down and cheer when I read it. Except that that would have gotten me some weird looks, since I was on the subway at the time.

  • Y’know, for a long time I always kind of sympathized with the Friend Zone guys.

    I’m a woman, but pretty much the story of my life throughout high school and college was that I’d have a thing for a dude, dude would not be interested at all (and frequently ask me for help with a more attractive conquest, who was often my friend), and I’d be left with a small gang of male friends, none of whom found me even remotely fuckable. And, yeah, that sucked, and it was baffling when *I* was raised into the “men and women can’t be friends” bullshit, because I was sitting there thinking “What the hell, why do none of these guys want to fuck me with their insatiable man-desires?!”

    It took me a long time to sort all of that out. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that “I’m not interested in dating right now” actually means “I’m not interested in dating YOU.” It took me a long time to realize that deep, broody, tragic, unrequited love makes for good fiction but pathetic and terrible reality. And most of all, it took me a long time to realize that while I was busy brooding about all the people who didn’t want me, I was categorically dismissing a whole slew of people who *did* want me, and honestly, all my loneliness was totally self-inflicted.

    But, the important thing is, I *did* figure that out.

    So while I still kind of sympathize with those guys caught up in the “friendzone” bullshit (dude, I know, your feelings are real, your hurt is real, you deserve to have that be acknowledged), I’m also glad that we’re talking about this, educating people about this, maybe helping these guys realize it’s BS so they can learn and grow and get on with it.

  • That friend-zone bullshit makes me hurt and homicidal at the same time.


    When I was 15, a friend introduced a friend of his to the rest of our collective group. There was about three or four of us who hung out on a regular basis, usually at my parents house. We would play Dungeons and Dragons (3.5 edition all the way, baby) all weekend and hang out. So this dude, we’ll call him Jace since his name also started with a J, started hanging out with us. He was your stereotypical lonely nerd. He was 21 or so, living with his mom, without a job, and had been homeschooled by his intensely religious mom. He wasn’t ugly, but he was very overweight. People called him Bob because he looked like Silent Bob, only flabbier. So he was lonely and used to rejection.

    The first night we all met him, we were out on my parent’s carport, and he asked me out. I hadn’t known him for three hours, and he asked me out. I let him down gently. I didn’t date people I didn’t know very well (which was true). A month later, he asks me out again, figuring I had gotten to know him better. These were his exact words. I tell him I didn’t feel that way about him. He let it drop, and for years we were friends. He was there for me through a lot of bullshit, through bad break ups and horrible times with my parents. He became part of my core group of friends.

    But, knowing that he’d asked me out twice, I didn’t hug him like I did my other guy friends. I didn’t hug my guy friends on a regular basis, for fear of sending the “wrong” message, but it happened on rare occasion, but never with him. One day we get into a horrible fight. We were friends, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t still a manipulative asshole many times. We all got used to dealing with his wheedling bullshit.

    One day we get into a horrible fight and he tells me how awful he feels, how sometimes he just wants a damn hug and how unfair it is that I will hug some other guy friend but not him (unless he practically forced me to hug him, which he had on occasion). I told him this was the exact reason why, that my other guy friends didn’t read into or make a big deal about and he did. It meant more to him that it needed to. We resolved the fight but a few months later he tells me he’s in love with me. Again, I tell him I don’t have those feelings for him and he lets it go, says he just needed to get it off his chest.

    A year or so after that he actively tries to break me up with my current boyfriend, his friend. They worked at the same place together, and he told everyone at work that said friend was only going out with me because he wanted to have sex. My boyfriend hears from coworkers that Jace has been saying nasty things about us, and tells me about it after he gets off of work. My little brother ALSO works at this place, and tells me the exact same thing. So I call Jace and ask him what’s going on. First he denies it, saying my little brother is making things up. Then I tell him my boyfriend said the same thing. Realizing he’s caught, he tries to weasel his way out of it. He says he’s worried about me, that my boyfriend really is just trying to get into my pants. I chew him out, telling him if he was so worried, he should have talk to me about it, not with his coworkers behind my back.

    He stops being a jerk after that, I break up with the boyfriend over unrelated things, and another year passed. The final straw was New Year’s Eve. I was sick as a dog and I just wanted to lay in bed and watch House until my cold meds kicked him. But Jace and my brother and other friends wanted me to hang out with them, so I agree to move into the living room where I could curl up and watch House there. They’re drinking and having fun. Jace starts to make sexual innuendos at me. Like, the stereotypical “I’m drunk and making lecherous passes at you”. I ignore him and tell him to shut up, but he persists. He knew I didn’t trust people when they were drunk, a family of alcoholics will do that to a person, and considering how he’s asked me out before, I didn’t trust him to not try something and blame it on the booze later.

    And here he was, doing exactly as my worst fears. I finally left the room, because he wouldn’t stop hitting on me. The next day he wanted to know why I was mad, and I told him, and he indeed claimed that he just had too much to drink. That it really was my problem. Because that’s how he worked. If you were ever upset with him, he was “sorry you feel that way” but he never took blame for his own actions.

    I was done after that. He started working more, and we stopped hanging out, and I realized how much happier I was without him as a friend. Seeing all of it laid out like that, it looks like I was stupid for being friends with him for so long. But he was one of my best friends, for almost seven years, and I tried to take a lot of it in stride. I know that my friends are going to do things that piss me off or upset, and it doesn’t mean I instantly cut them off. But I couldn’t take what kept feeling like a betrayal, even though he constantly made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I was the one rejecting him, I was leading him on by being friends with him.

    A few months of not hanging out, he emails me. Tells me how we’ve grown apart and how sad he was, and how much he misses me. I told him I didn’t feel the same way, and after him emailing me a few more times I finally told him I didn’t want to hang out with him. He’d betrayed my trust, over and over, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

    The next email was mean and angry. He called me names. He said I was spoiled, and everyone thinks this and everyone was too afraid to tell me. Because again, he was a manipulative bastard. He didn’t have opinions, no. According to him, this was what everyone thought and he was the only brave one to say it out loud. I called him on his bullshit, asked my friends and family to confirm or deny his accusations, and shut him down.

    I haven’t talked to him since. I’m happier without people like that in my life. It’s not the worse thing emotionally to ever happen to me, but it’s up there. I’m not angry anymore, but there’s still the hurt and sting of betrayal. We didn’t say “Friendzone” ten years ago, but that’s exactly how he acted. I see people talk about it, like it’s just this annoying thing that sometimes happens. And sometimes, that’s all it is.

    But sometimes it’s not just something so-called nice guys say when they’re rejected. Sometimes it’s close to sexual harassment and betrayal. And that’s why I went into detail about my “friendzone” experiences. I know that was probably way beyond TMI, but I hope it adds meaningful insight.

    Chuck, you hit the nail perfectly on the head. Just because you like someone, and you’re friends with them, does not mean they have to sleep with you. Thank you for being a beacon of reason amidst the insanity.

    • Lady, I’m not trying to be rude, but- as the southern beetles of or world say – ain’t nobody got time for that long ass story.

      For crap’s sake, I just had to scroll for am eternity on my phone just to get to the next comment.

      Sorry you had to deal with a douche (if that’s what it was about. I spotted reading halfway through, I won’t lie. ), but dang! Summaries are or friend in the comment section.

  • Hello there Chuck, my name’s Teresa and I’m from Australia. (“Hi Teresa!” – I hear you chime, but no Chuck this is not a 12-step program). I’m a subscriber to your blog and, as such your updates regularly hit my inbox. I’m a busy gal and so don’t always get time to read them and I was on the brink of unsubscribing (as those updates of yours come thick and fast, as it were and good-on-you for being so damn prolific!). Anyway, I was on the brink, until I read this gem of a story. And now I’m hooked. That was a beautiful piece of work. Thank you.

  • Every explanation I’ve heard for the “Friendzone” makes the person giving it look like the most self-interested jackass in the world. And they don’t even KNOW it.

    I’ve had multiple guys say to me “Well, why would I be doing nice things for you if I didn’t want to date/fuck you?”

    Um, I do nice things for people who are my friends *all the time*. You don’t? Wow. You must be a really shitty friend.

  • The thing I hate most about the ‘friend-zone’ is how it (like most douche-bro parlance) shoves the blame on the WOMAN. “I was such a nice guy, I did SO MUCH for her, and then she wouldn’t even make out with me.”
    Yes, because all women who say they want to be friends… who tell you up front they don’t want to date you… who think you might value their minds above their bodies… All those women are lying sluts just leading on men so they can make them into ‘friend slaves’.
    How much you want to bet if a woman did the same thing to THEM and they did NOT want to ‘hit that’ they’d call her a ‘stalker bitch’ tell all their friends, and get a restraining order?

    Okay. Trying to calm the rage. Basically, anyone who uses this phrase is asking for me to lecture their face, and or slap them upside the head.

    • The Nice Guys are responding to the massive recent backlash by changing the definition of “friend-zone” to “Oh, it’s not if she refuses, it’s if she just strings you along to get you to do stuff for her! The friend-zone is just for manipulative whores, not Nice Girls!”

      Which is just as bad, if not worse, than the previous so-called definition, as it once again slimes HER with the blame (not to mention encourages the men-are-slaves-to-their-testicles bullshit).

      Alright, that was my rant.

  • Well now…that was THE BEST self-promotion I’ve ever seen. I was hooked from the start (because there are a lot of unworthy ‘friends’ out there) and then Miriam made a poopy face and then…I was pulled under in a tidal wave of intense proportions. Next thing I know, I’ve logged on Amazon and Viola! — another book has been added to my library. Damn “FRIENDS” (note the all CAPS and double “quotes”)!!! You are awesome Mr. Wendig. Looking forward to meeting you in Colorado Springs in April. Best wishes.

  • This issue has been digging like a shard of glass in my shoe for days. You actually sparked my own post, though I have to admit I really, REALLY enjoyed the catharsis of Miriam’s response.

    Respect. Why is it such a hard notion to grasp for some people?

  • Okay, I know I am going to get torn to shreds for this because you all are very eloquent and this post is genius, and I’ve read about what happens to people who disagree with Miriam Black, but I’m going to say it anyway:

    First, I agree with the post. Guys who expect sex or romance in return for being friendly or ‘nice’ to a woman… that is passive-aggressive bullshit. Miriam handled that situation perfectly.


    There are plenty of people (notice I say people, not women, because men do this too) who know full and goddamned well that someone of the opposite sex is interested in them in a sexual or romantic way, and cynically use that person to their own advantage.


    1) I had a friend in college who kept hanging out with a girl because it kept his ego up and going out to the bars with her made it easier to approach other girls. This girl was clearly into the guy, and he knew it, but kept her on a hook for his own reasons.

    2) I work with a girl who has a guy bring her stuff at work, buy her things, takes her places (guy is fairly well-connected in town here). I have heard her talk about it on multiple occasions, how he wants to fuck her, so why not let him keep doing it, and also how he “won’t be getting any of this” but it’s awesome how he tries.

    Both the guy in example one and girl in example two had bragged about “friend-zoning” the other person.

    So, is the friend-zone a misogynistic concept made up by passive-aggressive guys who believe being nice earns them some sex?

    Possibly, but let’s not automatically assume every single person who uses the term is a “douche-bro” as one of the earlier commenters so eloquently wrote.

    Thanks for reading, please be gentle when ripping me a new one.

    • Except…. Except we live in the real world over here, where unicorns don’t exist and people don’t shit rainbows.

      Over here, people are responsible for how much they fawn over others. If the girl is going to bars with the guy and she’s still not getting any from him, she KNOWS he’s not interested. Trust me. I’ve been that girl. I knew. And when said guy took home other girls, know what I thought? “Well. Shit. Saw that one coming. ”

      So, here it is: free advice Thursday. If you want to know how someone feels, ask. If you want someone to know how you feel, tell. This isn’t the military circa 1995. Social convention had no laws against being candid.

      • I suppose that partially addresses my first example. My point is that just because someone uses this term or defines it in a way that isn’t as derisive as it is presented here, does not make them sexist or misogynist. For those who claim that it’s made up to put blame on women for their inadequacy, I submit to you that the term covers a wider range of scenarios than the one in Cormorant or the examples I listed above. How about if a man and a woman are friends and THEN one develops feelings for the other? What if a woman doesn’t feel anything romantic or sexual for a man, but he STILL WANTS TO BE FRIENDS? All of these have been covered by the term “friend zone”. Are these guys all misogynistic assholes if they describe their situation that way?

        All I’m trying to say is that using this term or describing a situation this way does not necessarily make someone a jackass. And if me explaining this makes me sound like a self-interested jackass, as a previous comment says, that really sucks, because I am happily married and have no self-interest in this topic.

        • The problem is, “friend zone” is invoked as a punishment. The, “I want to be more but I can’t so now I’m trapped in this FRIEND ZONE.” Which really reduces the value of friendship and also suggests a kind of dismissal of the other person (usually a woman). That’s where the problem comes in.

          • Maybe I’m reading this in the wrong tone, or maybe it’s because I’m desensitized to the term, but I am not getting a dismissal of the other person in there?

            “I want to drive a Ferrari but I can’t so now I’m trapped in this DODGE-CHARGER ZONE.”

            In this situation, I suppose the value of the Dodge Charger (friendship) is reduced, but only compared to Ferrari (Romantic/Sexual relationship). And I definitely don’t think it’s a dismissal of driving all together. Sure I’d prefer a Ferrari, doesn’t mean I don’t seriously value my Dodge Charger. Without it I could not get to Taco Bell to try their new Breakfast Menu! Also, other destinations.

          • Yep. It suggests that the Charger is the lesser. It suggests you weren’t friends with someone because you wanna be friends with them. It suggests you wanted to be “more,” and their friendship is “less.”

            It’s one thing when your friendship evolves to something else — even if only on the part of one person. But to call it “friend zone” remains a dismissal of what you had and were. So: either the friendship was:

            a) artifice


            b) considered lesser than what’s desired.

            – c.

          • I maybe kinda get what KVeldman is saying? Because before I ever heard the term “friendzone” invoked the way it seems to be in common usage, the way it’s being described here, I understood the word to be value-neutral. A literal description of a situation in which one person in a pair is not romantically/sexually attracted to the other. Full stop, no judgment of either party.

            I have since been (sadly) made aware of the common use of the term, and the entitlement and passive-aggressive bullshit that comes with it. But if there are enough people in the world like I was, who use the term “wrongly” to just mean “someone is not attracted to me,” maybe the term itself isn’t enough to judge someone by?

          • “But to call it “friend zone” remains a dismissal of what you had and were. So: either the friendship was:

            a) artifice


            b) considered lesser than what’s desired.”

            But that’s implied, isn’t it? If you want it to be more, then obviously you would consider friendship the “lesser,” even if it’s still good.

            If “Cormorant” was the #2 book on Amazon, and you promoted it trying to get it to #1, would that be a dismissal of the achievement of hitting #2?

            Manning has lost two Super Bowls. I’m sure he REALLY wanted to win those games. Is that a dismissal of his two AFC Championships? Maybe a bit, but I’m sure it’s infinitely preferable to not even making the playoffs.

          • The problem is, you’re comparing these things to people and relationships, thus diminishing human beings and our connections to them as “wins” or “sales rankings.” Or, in the earlier example, cars. Which is where this problem comes full circle.

          • That’s a straw man argument. The statement wasn’t that people are on par with sales rankings, cars or wins. The statement was that preferring one thing over what you already have does not diminish that which you have. It’s human nature to want more. I don’t think giving it a name i.e. friend zone is NECESSARILY diminishing.

            In the example you provided, it is a tactic used by Jace to put blame on Miriam. And in a dozen other instances you’ll find if you do a Facebook or Twitter or Google search, it’s just as bad or worse.

            My only point is that context should be taken into consideration before some of the hatred (see above comments) is blasted full on at someone for using the term.

          • For my mileage, it is necessarily diminishing. Someone who says, “I’m stuck in the friend zone” is diminishing that friendship, suggesting it’s a waiting room to love or sex. People can want something different out of a relationship or friendship, and that’s fine. And they can ask for it or make efforts to change that relationship. But when it doesn’t happen, saying “friend zone” is dismissive and diminishing. It’s mopey and bullshitty and nearly always suggests some kind of blame — it’s toxic from whichever side is using it. It’s a shitty meme, and I’d like to see it go bye-bye. Full stop.

            Your mileage obviously varies on this. So it goes.

    • It is true that not everybody who uses the term is a douchebro. Some people who whine about being friendzoned are merely misguided but good people who are suffering a temporary douche-inflammation of the feels, which causes them to act like douchebros.

      If A knows that B is attracted to A, and A uses those emotions to manipulate B – to get B to do A favors, to feed A’s ego, to make C (who A really wants to fuck) jealous, whatever – then A is not “friendzoning” B. A is being a manipulative asshole towards B.

  • Good to see the Black family ladies are representing equality in fiction too. (I’m adopting Miriam as a Cousin, can I do that? I’m doing that. We’re related now). The ‘Nice Guys’ are a special breed of Jerk that can’t or won’t take ownership of their jerk-ness. I’d expand on it, but frankly I don’t believe in giving them the attention they desperately crave, even if it’s negative. I am, after all, a bitch who only dates ‘assholes’. Happily so.

  • Ladies, just one thought: if that nerdish passive-aggressive dude you’re bragging about was still passive-aggressive but, say, rich, would you still friend-zone him? I bet the answer’s no. I bet he would suddenly turn into a sensitive, complicated man with an interesting soul (note: ‘soul’ is the hypocrite name women give to a dude’s wallet). Let’s e fair. I, as a lady, have been friendzoned for years and you know why? Because I like reading and, worse of all, I liked reading the classics, the worse sins of all! True, sometimes I got snappy and was an absolute bitch still, I wasn’t worse than those brainless bimbos with big tits my friends dated, so that they could show them off to the other dudes as a status symbol who would never challenge them. Yes, at the time I was a teen and had hormones like anyone else still, nearly ten years later, I can say for sure I genuinely care for at least one of the guys who would never EVER date me, not even in a million years. He is now badly married to, guess whom? A super passive-aggressive woman! Well, he got what he deserved … ;)

    • Relationships are transactional. Some more overtly than others. There are people who are willing to put up with a lot of ridiculous behavior in exchange for financial security. There are people who will put up with a lot of BS to have a physically beautiful partner. Most of us settle somewhere in the middle, exchanging affection for listening, drudgery for entertainment, and so on… It’s seamless and flows naturally in a working relationship.

      What you can’t overlook is that the transaction must be mutually consensual. If I make it clear that in exchange for your loyal friendship, I’m offering my loyal friendship, no more, and you repeatedly push for more after my refusal, that’s not a transaction, that’s bullying.

    • Wow that might be one of the more hateful things I’ve read on this site. Friend zoned because you like reading, huh? Oh my, and the classics. Well I suppose that automatically disqualifies you from romantic relationships. And it’s good the guy you “genuinely care for” “got what he deserved ;) ” being in a bad marriage.

      Nope. I call bullshit.

    • Oh yeah, absolutely. All women, or I guess you prefer “ladies” are gold-digging whores. Is that what your reading of the classics has taught you? Bullshit.

  • One thing is a transaction, another exploitation. People who are in friendzone usually are ready to do almost anything to get validation from the man/woman they like and the counterpart usually uses them as doormats and takes advantage of their feelings. And according to my experience and my friends’, there’s no problem to be bullied by your date. Actually, many girls/women find ‘romantic being in an abusive relationship ‘. On the other hand, if it’s the nerdish, lonely exaperated friend to ask for more, well, that’s being passive aggressive and stuff. When you have a genuine interest for someone and do your best to be helpful and get only breadcrumbs of attention in return, maybe you’re allowed to get snappy, from time to time. Especially when your ‘friend’ is ignoring you to date a jerk/bitch who treats her/him like crap and has no idea of whom he/she is.

    • “And according to my experience and my friends’, there’s no problem to be bullied by your date. Actually, many girls/women find ‘romantic being in an abusive relationship.”

      This is the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever seen. Take it from someone who actually works with abused women.

      You sure hold your fellow women in low esteem. Seriously, I was going to take the time to rebut all the misogynistic claims you just made both above (“women like abusive men,” “‘soul’ is the hypocrite name women give to a dude’s wallet”, etc), but why bother? It’s clear you just want a chance to brag about how superior you are to the “those women” – the ones with the men you think you’re entitled to.

      Check yourself before you wreck yourself, love. Because all the things you’re saying about women here? The men in your life are saying about YOU.

    • I’ve read both your comments, and they make me feel very sad. Sad for you, that you’ve come to feel the way you do – what on earth happened to you in your life to make you build such huge, scary walls around your heart?

      As someone who knows, trust me – there is NOTHING ‘romantic’ about being in an abusive relationship. And no, most women would NOT go with an unattractive, nerdy man just because he’s rich; that’s a myth created by bad Hollywood movies. You’ve probably decided I’m sappy and pathetic now, because I don’t choose to wave my lady-balls around to show everyone who’s boss. That’s fine, you think that if you want. But I don’t think I could roll your way for very long anyway – sounds bloody exhausting and a bit lonely, if you ask me.

  • What? Wait, What?

    I’m seriously hoping this is a joke.

    You think that guys passed you by because you read the classics? Seriously?

    Let me say this again, because I can’t seem to say it enough: Only you choose how much attention to give to a person. If someone gives you ‘breadcrumbs’ for sobbing like a little girl while reading Jane Eyre, why would you WANT him? Move on Already. Go find one of those sensitive, complicated men that everyone else thinks is passive aggressive. You guys could go do all sorts of fun stuff together like poetry readings and watching The Breakfast Club.

    Oh, and the whole “They’d be willing to date him if he were rich?” Ugh. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Sure, those people are out there. It’s interesting, though, that the “bimbo with big tits” and the gold diggers just happen to be the women that were dating your love interest.

    You’ve got a serious case of the sour grapes. I think I’ve read a teaspoon of sugar helps.

  • Well then.

    You’re right Chuck. That explained the friend zone really well.I didn’t really know what you were getting at prior to reading that scene.

    I’m a little disturbed by Miriam too. :)

  • OK, so I speak bullshit, eh? Is any of you ladies dating someone who earns LESS than you? And guys, I’m sure you had plenty of well-read girlfriends who knew Latin and had a master degree. I’m sure there’s nothing sexier for a man, than a girl who speaks Latin. Latin and classic books so give a hard-on to anyone, they’re actually the new viagra. And ladies, money is not important, eh? Let’s have a look at literature, just to prove your point, shall we? Our dear beloved Jane Austen only tells stories about poor girls landing super-rich husbands. Mr Darcy might be full of prejudice and a jerk, but he’s a super-rich jerk so, after all, he’s not really that bad, is he? Just an interesting, tormented soul who, by accident, also had TONS of money. I bet that, if he had been a simple working class dude, he would have just labelled as a jerk and that would have been it.
    Moving to nowadays books, if you have a look at the Amazon romance chart, you’ll find best sellers such as ‘Flirting with the ceo’ or ‘in bed with the tycoon’ strangely no one writes ‘In bed with the janitor’ or ‘Flirting with the School Teacher’. I wonder why. The infamous Mr Gray was also a rich and handsome guy. I wonder if our Anastasia would have let a simple bank clerk or a janitor do all those naughty things to her. I bet her best friend was a bank clerk. Freinzoned for ever. Actually, if you pay attention, in most books and films usually the male working in an office and earning a low salary turns out to be a serial killer.
    I know lots of women in their thirthies who are, to some extent, in abusive relationships, mening their husbands constntly cheat on them/ignore them, even going on holiday on their own. But said women are OK with it, because they find their relationship however finanially and socially rewarding (better to be with a cheating husband who pays your bills, than be a hopeless single).
    I’m not saying that all women are money-oriented and all men are into idiotic bimbos who make them feel intelligent and important, there are exceptions. But they are, again, EXCEPTIONS, the rule is the above.
    In the video of her popular song ‘You Belong with me’ Taylor Swift plays the role of a nerdy girl friendzoned by the popular, handsome boy she loves since they were children. He’s a quaterback, dating a bitchy cheerleader. At the end of the video, he finally opens his eyes, dumps the cheerleader and kiss the nerdy girl. If you read comments under the video, you’ll see how many people (mostly men), keep repeating that such a thing would never happen in real life. Girls like that are friendzoned forever. And it turns out it’s not even the worse part. According to you all, we friendsoned people are also passive-aggressive, horrible people, only because, sometime in our lives, we were so stupid to think someone would finally care for us after so many months/years keepin him/her company, supporting him/her during tough times a and whenever he/she needed a shoulder to cry on. Accidentally, the dates of our ‘friends’ didnt need to raise a fingers for them and in many cases even traed them badly, but those weren’t shy geeks, therefore allowed to behave the way they wanted.

    • Okay. I think I get it now.

      Life’s punched you in the face a good few times, hasn’t it? Ripped you off and been downright unfair to you. And that’s happened a lot – so many times that you’ve experienced way more of all that bad mojo you’ve been commenting about than any of the good – you know, those things you called the ‘EXCEPTIONS.’ So now you’ve come to believe the whole world must be like that, because that’s what you’ve seen in your life – and anyone who doesn’t see it the same way is just deluding themselves. It can be hard to see the positives in anything or anyone when you’ve experienced so much of the negative.

      I wish all I had to do was tell you that most of life – and most people – really aren’t as cold and nasty as you think they are. It’d be great if that’s all it took to make you think a little better of your fellow humans. But it’s not that simple, I know that. Heck, you’re probably hating every word I’m saying right now. Feel free to rip me a new one if it makes you feel better. But know this:

      There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you, and you’re not a bad person – you’ve just been unlucky, that’s all. Bad stuff happens to good people as well as the not-so-good; it’s a lottery like that. And yeah, it’s not fair and it totally sucks. But if you let it get you down and turn you against the whole world, you let it win. Don’t let it win. Look for the good in people and you’ll find it. Maybe not in the people you expect to find it… but it’s there, I promise.

      *I am probably SO gonna get my ass kicked for this – I am officially Ned Flanders, aren’t I? ;) *

    • Lemmee see:

      1. Men and women are generally shallow people who choose partners based on traits like breast size or wealth, respectively. This is proven by literature that contains characters who do this, and also a sampling of people you know. One wouldn’t be able to disprove this, say, by quoting anecdotes that contradict this worldview (for example, myself and everyone in my family) because we are obviously a small set of exceptions from the rule.

      2. These shallow people then proceed to prey on those less shallow, by inciting romantic affections in people they don’t care very much about. Those preyed-upon people then must spend their lives trying and failing to win the affection of a person who doesn’t care about them. This makes them angry, and rightly so, at the people they love, because being forced to be nice to someone while they date other people is very bad. Especially when they date jerks. Because these people aren’t REALLY shallow, and don’t actually WANT those shallow traits, and if they weren’t so cruel, they would see that they’d be much happier dating someone who totally loves, and also resents, them. Resentment is a GREAT way to start a relationship.

      i. Also, somewhere in there is the claim that bad behavior is okay if you like someone because then it’s romantic. Because of this, people are also hypocrites when they call out bad behavior in someone they don’t like. I’m not sure where, exactly, this fits into the general argument.

      3. The act by which shallow people inflict romantic affections in people they don’t care about, and then proceed to make those people do favors for them, is called “friendzoning.”

      ii. Ladies, AMIRITE?

    • Dude, I don’t know what parallel universe you live in, but it seems like a pretty shitty place. I’d start looking for a portal out, stat, if I were you.

  • February 28, 2014 at 3:17 PM // Reply

    Sometimes the friend zone is the other person’s choice. And it doesn’t have to be a tragic Byronic thing, filled with regrets and resentments. I think it depends on the nature and depth not of romance — which, after all, seems to mostly consist of gestures without requiring substance — but of love, which is something else entirely. I don’t think I have ever loved someone who was not first my friend, and my standard of friendship is not light or casual. Of those I count my friends, I would say feelings of love have developed at one time or another. Some have been pursued; others not. Sometimes friendship does not survive the pursuit of love; real relationships are hard work, and a lot of people prefer the quick fires of passion. Sometimes, it is found that once past the New Relationship Energy, there really isn’t a relationship at all. If the foundation of friendship is solid, it will hold past that; if not, it can break. Not pursuing when one feels love but is fairly sure that is not welcomed by a friend, well, that can be hard at times. But to me, if you love someone, you want them to be happy. If they think they will be happy with someone else, then it’s necessary to let them do so. They may be right. Perhaps they are wrong. Either way, they will need a friend. And well, it goes both ways. What the heart wants is not always what will make you happy. Take time to find out what is needed, not just wanted.

    Some people make the pursuit of sex the challenge. I don’t see it. Sex is easy. Sex is mechanics. Tab A-Slot B — or whatever your hookup configuration is. It can be meaningful, it can carry weight behind it, or it can mean as much as blowing your nose. It rather depends on what else is involved. Some people do have sex with friends without furthering the emotional relationship. Others can’t or won’t. Generally not a bad idea to talk out and determine these boundaries, despite the awkwardness that may arise in the conversation.

    Trust and honesty are important in any of it, and I get the impression the fault of the friendzone is the abuse of both. A false friend who uses someone purely for their own gratification is no friend at all. They’ll also make a false lover, because upping the relationship doesn’t decrease their desire to use people for their own desires. You get hurt either way. If it’s all take and no give — it’s not a relationship, or friendship, or any ‘ship worth hanging onto, much less pursuing.

    I’m reading these examples of people kept in the friendzone by others, and with all due respect, I do not see friendship in any of them.

  • Ok, I’m having that inbox fill situation happening again. Anyway I can turn off all the notifications of the many comments being made on this piece? Ah, just saw the box down there…Ticked that last time, didn’t I? Can it be unticked from a previously made comment?

  • Alice positively leaned over Bob as he read the blog post. “Well, well, well?” She asked, as he looked up. “Did you finish it?”

    He ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah…”

    She beamed at her brother. “Isn’t it awesome? How he tore apart those ‘friend zone’ dorks?”

    “Yeah, he really smoked that straw man, all right…”

    Alice’s face fell. “What? You aren’t going to tell me that you agree with those ‘friend zone’ assholes, are you?”

    “No, but I disagree with them because they’re assholes.”

    “I don’t get the difference.”

    “Well, look, Jace is clearly an asshole.”


    “He’s an asshole spouting the ‘friend zone’ thing. But pointing that out doesn’t necessarily imply anything about ‘friend zones,’ it just points out how he’s being an asshole on this one occasion.”

    “He’s hardly the only asshole who thinks getting laid is a reward for friendship, like getting a gold watch after 25 years at a job. That’s what Wendig is writing about.”

    “Well, okay. But that just establishes that at least some people who talk about ‘friend zone’ are assholes, not that the two categories are congruent. Look, it’s not like you can say that just because Stalin killed millions of people, all Communists are… OK, bad example, I actually do think communism is inherently evil. OK, ‘The Great Gatsby.’ Nick Carraway is an asshole, yes?”


    “In fact, he represents a large category of Ivy League assholes who are a lot like him.”

    “Yes, both of our graduating classes were full of them.”

    “Well, yours more than mine, Harvard.”

    “Bite me, Columbia weenie.”

    “But that doesn’t mean all of us are like that. You have to address the underlying assholeness itself, and figure out if it’s like communism and always evil, or like Ivy Leaguers and only intermittently evil. Seeing Wendig’s character demolish this one asshole teaches us nothing.”

    “It does if Jace actually is typical of the ‘friend zone’ guys,” Alice pointed out.

    “True, but that’s the problem– he’s a straw man, not the better quality of ‘friend zone’ whiners.”

    “There’s a sliding scale of whiners?”

    “Sure. Look, the ‘friend zone’ first entered popular vernacular as a result of Chris Rock’s seminal philosophical treatise, ‘Bring the Pain.’ The idea there was that the guy was interested in the woman from the outset and somehow missed. Being friends with the woman while still carrying a torch for her isn’t inherently evil.”

    “It can be manipulative. The guy can just be biding his time, waiting to try to take a relationship in a direction the woman clearly didn’t want. He’s like a sleeper agent.”

    “Can be. Doesn’t have to be. The classic example is Xander from the first season of ‘Buffy.’”

    “No fair!” Alice objected. “You know I love Xander with all my soul.”

    “So clearly not an asshole. But that gut-punch in the witch episode? Where Buffy tells Xander she loves him because he’s just like one of the girls? That’s the ‘friend zone’ nightmare.”


    “And the other category of good ‘friend zones…’”

    “There’s more?”

    “Stop interrupting. This post is too long as it is.”

    “Sorry. Wait, what?”

    “Is Holden in ‘Chasing Amy.’ Guy accepts that the girl isn’t interested in him– almost can’t be, lesbian, you know– but still falls for her precisely for all the reasons that they became close friends. But he’s honest and upfront about his feelings, not making a ham-fisted play like Jace here. Again, it’s because Holden isn’t an asshole, not because he wants to break out of the ‘friend zone.’”

    “OK, I give up. You’re throwing all my ’90s crushes against me, aren’t you?”

    “That’s what family is for.”

  • I am with Kerry and partly with David. It’s not that the friendzoned doesn’t want to be upront. It’s just that
    1) not everyone is capable of saying his or her feelings that easily, People can be shy, insecure/both. Some peoe can be smart, but lack in social skills, and therefore unable to read between the lines.

    2) when you really care for the other person. The main fear is that, if you say your feelings out loud, your friendship might be ruined AND YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BE RUINED, BECAUSE YOU REALLY LIKE AND CARE FOR THAT GUY/GIRL You like to hang with your friend, feel comfortable with him/her, that’s why you have feelings for him/her.

    When A is in love or, anyway, romantically interested in B but B doesn’t want to hear it, the only honest thing that B can do is walking away from A. Because the relationship between A and B is completely unbalanced, B being in a position of power. So, if B’s decent, he/she should just cut it off and not take advantage of A’s feelings.

    Also,I personally believe than any healthy romantic relationship is based on friendship, on sharing the same values and having many interests in common. So, if A nd B are real friends, B likes to hang with A, talk to him/her, doing things with him/her, BUT STILL HAS NO INTENTION WHATSOEVER TO EVER DATE A, well, in that case, B might have a problem.

    I conclude, pointing out that I was encouraged by one of you to ‘think the best of people’ well, most of you actually are thinking the worse of an entire category of people you havent even met. Saying that ALL those naive nerds who care for their friends are actually manipulative bastards/bitches is simply mean and superficial. And I agree with David: Xander is a brilliant example of a friendzoned dude who’s also a decent, loyal guy.

    • If you are being a friend just to get laid and behaving atypical or feeling used then its time to get out of the “relationship”. We have to be responsible for our own actions. To blame the person taking advantage of us (in our opinion or in known fact) while insisting on staying in hopes they will eventually fall for us is losing out on meeting someone that could be interested in us. It should be a red flag, if this is a repeated pattern, to look at who you are hanging out with and if you need to make a change to people who might share more interest and be looking for someone like you.

      I was a reader and a loner/loser in school. I spent high school and some of college as friends with a lot of guys/jocks/nerds/artist (some I even had crushes on) but I rarely dated and had one boyfriend for a few weeks in senior year HS. I didn’t feel used by the guys I had crushes on because they were fun friends in their own right, if it had turned to more maybe it would have been great, maybe it would have destroyed our friendship, I’ll never know. It was my responsibility to not be hurt by my crushes dating other girls and not me or to drop our friendship if I was just hanging around hoping “they’d see I was the one”. After I was on my own I dated nerds and even married a nerd who was socially challenged. I had friends who introduced me to groups and activities where I’d meet guys I’d be interested in & would be interested in me. I also worked in an industry full of nerds and worked for companies that hired interesting people who became friends.

      No one has said naive nerds are manipulative. People have said that pretending to be a friend just to get laid & turning nasty when you finally realize it’s not going to happen is manipulative. Totally different things. If you really care for someone as a friend you are around for the friendship not just the possibility of a romantic/sexual relationship. You can’t hold someone else responsible for being the one to put a halt to things. Socially naive nerds manage to navigate traffic laws, workplace social norms, shopping, etc. They know to leave a job if they can’t work with a boss or certain co-workers. So I’m sorry but they are capable of deciding not to feel/be used in a friendship & there are lots of places to meet other nerds who they can connect with and likely find respectful and stimulating partners. Yes it can be extremely difficult to walk away from your comfort circle but if everyone in your circle is about being in unrequited love situations, feeling used, and blaming it on their love interest you need new friends who have a more positive outlook on life. You’ll meet better possibilities through positive & happy people.

  • Being nice is literally the least you can do. It’s just what makes you a decent human being. You don’t get extra credit for being something that you should be already.

    Someone can be your friend and be attracted to you, but you aren’t obligated to return the attraction. And if they act like your friendship is some kind of fucking PUNISHMENT, like the friendzone is a subbasement of Hades or some other melodramatic bullshit, then fuck them. You don’t need them in your life, not if they think being your friend is bad. People who talk about “the friendzone” don’t understand what friendship means. Friendship is built on respect and trust.

  • No one in this thread has said that a person who has unrequited feelings for a friend is a bad person. The author has answered that question already:

    “People can want something different out of a relationship or friendship, and that’s fine. And they can ask for it or make efforts to change that relationship. But when it doesn’t happen, saying “friend zone” is dismissive and diminishing. ”

    I think that everyone here has, at one point or another, had an attraction or romantic affection, or love, for a person who did not return that feeling. Many important friendships in my life have been with people who I also had romantic feelings for, but who did not have them for me. I would take offense if someone told me that this means I was a bad friend.

    So pointing out examples of people who have been in that situation, and handled it with grace and respect, isn’t addressing the issue, because no one is saying that it can’t be done.

    The argument I see being made here is that the term, “friend zone’” for this state is not value-neutral. Someone who accepts responsibility for their feelings, who doesn’t feel entitled to sexytimes because of their “nice” behavior, who doesn’t see the state of their relationship as something that is being done *to* them, who doesn’t blame anyone (themself or their friend), wouldn’t use the term “friend zone.”

    The term defines a relationship by what it is not-otherwise there would be no need for a word besides, “friend.” After all, no one ever refers to themselves as “stuck in the friend zone,” with a married friend, regardless of how the friend feels, because a married friend is absolved of any expectation to date someone else (assuming monogamous, etc.) That’s because the term requires an *expectation* of the other person. And it’s that expectation that is being criticized.

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