You get a text: It is from your crush. Your heart leaps, but then sinks as you read the message. Whatever it said, the first thing you think is, “I’ve been friendzoned.” Still, what is known as the “friendzone” is not simply unrequited love. Rather, the “friendzone” occurs when someone—Bob, for instance—feels that because they have been a good friend to Mary, so Mary has an obligation to further the relationship romantically or sexually. Mary does not feel the same way for Bob, so Bob feels like he has been unsuccessful in his pursuit of Mary and complains of being “friendzoned.”
The “friendzone” carries troubling implications. It differs from unrequited love because it contains a power dynamic that positions the “friendzoned person” as a victim: They portray themselves as a wronged party, an unjustly resentful and aggressive reaction.
While the term “friendzone” is used by both guys and girls, typically the dynamic described occurs more with guys. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Daniel Radcliffe criticizes friendzoning as a terrible concept for men to use, saying “I definitely think the idea of the friend zone is just men going, ‘This woman won’t have sex with me.’” Historical gender dynamics place men in the role of pursuer who must persuade women to love them and have sex with them, whereas women are reduced to objects of sexual desires.
The “friendzone” implies that one’s crush was the antagonizer who hurt one’s feelings by “friendzoning” them. This is a terribly toxic mentality, exposing the entitlement that has led one to feel like a victim in the first place. Being a nice, decent person does not entitle one to rewards like a romantic relationship or sex, nor any obligations at all from others. Being nice should be behavior expected of all, and it should be especially alarming if one is being nice to others for the sole purpose of hooking up with them.
Sometimes, the “friendzoned” person even proceeds to cut themselves out of the life of their crush, indirectly punishing their crush and further casting them as an offender. A sense of entitlement and toxic masculinity often prompts men to take such a petty action of revenge on women, rather than the other way round. This concept of men failing at performing masculinity if they do not succeed in hooking up with women perpetuates the sexist idea that women are trophies to be attained to soothe men’s fragile masculinities and objectifies women.
The friendzone is an unhealthy concept that we should not allow to influence our relationships; feeling hurt at not successfully dating a crush does not justify holding on to such a harmful idea. A culture that blames women when men do not get their way should be shut down by our refusal to partake in it, through both our words and actions.