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I don’t know why anyone is still talking about the friendzone. I thought we’d established that it’s a whiny, childish idea, that some people feel entitled to a friend’s romantic attraction by rights of … I don’t know, having been their friend? Or that they feel that pretending to be a friend in hopes of getting some is an OK way to relate to other people and not at all dishonest. Or that being friends with someone they think is great is a bad thing, or that they see sex as the end-all be-all of all human relationships. Yeah, definitely childish and entitled.

Of all the sort of casual, social concepts that go hand-in-hand with misogyny (you know,not rape, abuse, disenfranchisement, slavery, or genital mutilation), I think the “friendzone” is the most offensive to me. I get that it sucks to be attracted to someone and not have that attraction reciprocated. The first song I ever recorded was about my grade school crush and how he didn’t like me back. I spent years in a weird situation with another person where we both really liked each other but for one reason or another kept each other at friend-distance, which I think ultimately ruined what was a good friendship. I’ve dated a few guys who I liked better than they liked me, and vice versa. It feels insulting and off-balance, and it feels like you aren’t on the same page when you so, so thought you were.

That being said — oh well?

There’s something farcical to me about complaining about someone wanting to be your friend. It’s so easy to get caught up on one person who you idealize and upon whom you hang your hopes, and it’s easy to feel like if they don’t reciprocate that intensity of feeling, they’re doing you some kind of wrong. But they’re not. Friendship isn’t a way of earning love or attraction, friendship is an end in itself. It should be rewarding on its own, and if it’s not, then it’s not really a friendship. That’s why the “friendzone” idea is so offensive to me: If someone complains about being “friendzoned” it means that they approached another person under the premise that friendship was their expectation, but their expectation was actually romantic attraction. That’s a lie, and it’s a lie that takes advantage of the trust inherent in friendships, and that’s gross.

Here’s my alternative to the friendzone: The Enemyzone. Here’s an example — I had an experience in which my bike mechanic friended me on Facebook. He wanted to get to know me, and he seemed pretty cool in the shop, so that seemed all right to me at first. The first inclination I got that he was interested in me was when he asked me if I was in a relationship. My response was no, but that my ex and I were still hanging out all the time and having complicated feelings for each other, so I was not at all looking anywhere else at that particular moment. He proceeded to completely disregard what I said, hound me to “hang out,” text me multiple times a day, and when I finally cancelled on him out of discomfort with his behavior, he sent me a guilt-trip picture of a bouquet of roses he’d bought for me. Yeeeeeuuuuuchhh. I told him he was out of line and inappropriate and asked him to delete my contact info and never talk to me again. This might seem like an overreaction, but with the world as big as it is, I don’t really need to be nice and reasoned to everyone, particularly not people who cross boundaries that I communicate clearly.

And that’s the thing: If you’ve been “friendzoned” and you dislike the fact that someone would rather be friends with you than romantic partners, it’s not as if that person doesn’t have other social categories in which to place you. It’s not as if friendship is the absolute bottom of the social scale, although that’s how this “friendzone” BS makes it seem. Friendship is a gift and a privilege, it’s a two-way street that comes with an awful lot of emotional benefits, like trust, support, and respect. The other option you have is to lose that entirely, burn a bridge, and become even more bitter about that person. How does that serve you better than being that person’s friend?

Here’s my feeling on the issue: If you have romantic feelings for a person, it’s going to be nigh impossible to ignore them, and nigh impossible to cram them into a box fit for platonic friendship. I’ve backed away from people I’ve fallen a little bit in love with because I knew I couldn’t be a good friend to them if my expectations of the relationship were different than their own. Conversely, I’ve taken a scorched-earth policy with people who betrayed my trust by feeling entitled to me, as if I owed them my body or love for their decent behavior or existence in my social life. If you don’t like the friendzone, you could get to the enemyzone, or you could save yourself the trouble and walk away — it’s totally your choice.

Rebecca Vipond Brink is a writer, photographer, and traveler. You can follow her at @rebeccavbrink or on her blog, Flare and Fade.

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.


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