14
   

Girls and the "Friend Zone"

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 04:13 pm
My kid is what she calls a "tomgirl." She looks (somewhat) girly but she acts like one of the guys. (Somewhat = long hair, earrings, the occasional dress, etc., but mostly wants to wear things that she could play football in if the occasion arose. Wears Converse sneakers 95% of the time, and usually shorts or jeans.)

She has a lot of male friends. Today she was hanging out with two of them at the pool, and had a great time.

As I was watching (and was watching a very girly friend of hers look on with some confusion -- girly friend was flirting with the boys but they weren't paying any attention to her, yet they seemed to be happily hanging out with sozlet who wasn't flirting at all, what was up?) I thought of the "friend zone" discussions we've had on A2K. Does that exist in the same way for girls/ women as for boys/ men?

Important caveat -- this is not an advice thing, I'm not seeking input on how to deal with this with sozlet (who's not yet 10 anyway). I'm happy that she tends to choose companions based on how much fun they are to hang out with rather than stuff like gender and appearance.

It just got me thinking about the more general question. My impression is that the friend zone doesn't exist in the same way for females as for males. What do you think?

Definition of "friend zone": being categorized as a friend and therefore excluded from romantic consideration. Difficult to emerge from once so categorized. (I welcome corrections to that definition, too.)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 14 • Views: 7,328 • Replies: 65
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 04:56 pm
@sozobe,
Well, it's a definite thing for guys. And definitely hard to extract onesself from, once you're in it. To be avoided, by letting a girl know up front that they are romantic material.

I would note that flirty girls at that age were the most annoying thing on the planet, by far.... I'm not surprised the boys didn't want anything to do with that girl!

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 06:46 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
It just got me thinking about the more general question. My impression is that the friend zone doesn't exist in the same way for females as for males. What do you think?


I think you might be right about that, to an extent, soz.
(As someone who has worked in secondary school for yonks ..) I've noticed that friendship groups tend to be much less "gender exclusive " (for want of a better term). However, these things definitely appear to undergo a trickier phase around puberty. Smile
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 06:58 pm
@sozobe,
So guys mature socially more slowly than girls. It doesn't surprise me that there is a flirty ten year old girl although that sounds a little early. That ten year old guys would be completely oblivious to that sounds completely right to me. (All of this is based on my sons and the interactions I see between them and their friends, boys and girls. My memory of my own experiences is limited and probably lacking perspective.) My guess is that around 13, the boys are going to wise up to the fact that good buddy sozlet is pretty cute and a lot of fun and a heck of a lot more approachable than those other girls with their mysterious ways and confusing behaviors. That said, my fifteen year old has plenty of girls for friends although I can always hear an undertone in flirting in their conversations. I think that a girl in the guys' "friend zone" is always a potential romance waiting to happen even if it doesn't always work the other way around.
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mismi
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 07:08 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
Definition of "friend zone": being categorized as a friend and therefore excluded from romantic consideration. Difficult to emerge from once so categorized. (I welcome corrections to that definition, too.)


Hey Soz...

This is interesting. My husband and I have been friends for a really long time. I placed him in the friend category right off the bat. Pissed him off really badly. But I kept him there until 8 years after we went to college. Then in meeting again something had changed. He went from friend to love interest in a twinkle of an eye. But I will say - what I like best about us is the fact that we were friends first. There are no surprises with me - he saw me at my worst - because I was not trying to impress him when we were "just friends".

But there is a possibility of moving from one zone to the other. At least there was for me. I have always had more "boy" friends than "girl" friends. I didn't always get girls. I grew up with boy cousins and neighbors. I was girly enough...but understood guys enough to hang with them pretty easily. I don't have patience with girly girls. The drama puts me over the edge - still.

Sozlet sounds like the kind of kid I was growing up.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 07:20 pm
@mismi,
Yeah, the whole "friend zone" idea is definitely up for debate in general.

Guys on A2K have (almost!) convinced me that it's a phenomenon in at least one direction, though. That, often if not always, if a girl decides a guy is a friend and only a friend, that guy won't have much chance with her romantically (you're obviously an exception there).

I'm just not sure if it goes the other way, though. I think girls have a better chance of breaking out of the friend zone. (I know there were guys who I started out as mutual friends -- neither of us had a romantic interest in each other -- and then down the line the guy became interested in me.)
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 07:24 pm
@sozobe,
I'm certain it only goes one way. All friendly girls are potential romantic interests to unattached guys whether it is explicit up front or just a lurking thing in the background. One of those guys is going to surprise Sozlet in a few years with an invite to the 8th grade formal.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 07:27 pm
During my 18 years at my present job, I have become friends with many women, with no thought of romance intertwined. It helps to have a wife to whom one is loyal, of course, but the job places me next to these people often enough for friendships to form. I have had only three instances in this time of women mistaking my intentions. I love my present boss, but in a platonic way. If we both were single, we would not date, I am certain.
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:02 pm
I think women experience the "friend zone" too, but behaviors manifest different for both parties.

For instance, I've been put in the friend zone, and then the girl has taken advantage of this when she needed help lifting heavy boxes/moving. I'm just dumb enough to think that this is an opportunity to advance.

I don't think that men who romantically reject women tend to keep them around. I could be wrong. I've never seen it though, and I have some real d-bag friends. If any were to do it, it would be them.

I went to a school that was 75% male, and the friend zone was pretty much what was expected. Women had a majority share of the social capital on campus. Girls often had what were referred to as their "nerd herds" of men who would wait on their beck and call. I know many universities have gone the other way now (where they are majority female), and I've never seen women be herded around by otherwise mediocre guys.

Perhaps women have ore dignity than men and aren't willing to be lead around (or simply have less tolerance for it).

It's hard to know this issue from all angles. I've been rejected and put in the friend zone, but I've also rejected romantic advances and formed platonic relationships. It's hard for me to know if those women friends of mine stayed around hoping to gain my romantic interest. I don't believe they have.

A
R
T
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:06 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
I'm certain it only goes one way. All friendly girls are potential romantic interests to unattached guys whether it is explicit up front or just a lurking thing in the background.


I don't believe so, E, unless you mean at pre-puberty ages. I had lots of friendly girl friends and I always knew, inside, that there was no chance for romance with any of them.

A friend told me once that he started to hang around with me and my crew 'cause there was always so many girls around. Luckily, he actually had some endearing qualities.

What actually triggered the urge to romance, I'll never know, but it didn't simply happen because of girls' friendliness.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:10 pm
@failures art,
Our experience is so different. I have had male friends as friends with clarity of non romantic interest, and vice versa, and still do. They don't just disappear. I take your zones as reflective of your age.
Maybe we have lived in different worlds.

On the other hand, I missed the whole "friend zone" thing - was that a thread?

This is all about dating or being just friends? Sounds very tween.
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:18 pm
@ossobuco,
In short, the notion of the friend zone would be that some portion of your male friends might secretly want to shag, or at least hold hands in a movie theater.

I think zone of the most common settings for a friend zone relationship is non-starter first and second dates (but that might be just my generation).

A
R
T
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:21 pm
@failures art,
Like, yes, and so.... some people are more shy.

Do people really put people in zones?

I know people dismiss others out of hand, for whatever perceived failings, but what of the rest, zones?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:46 pm
@sozobe,
It sure works for me...the friend zone... I believe. Don't lots of guys complain about that, being stuck in the friend zone I mean, with a woman they would like to have a sexual relationship with?

I had mainly male friends for a long time when I was a kid....and have had LOTS of men in the friend zone...usually because they were house-mates, or because they were/had going/gone out with a friend, or because they were friends of a fella I was involved with or just because they were friends, there wasn't a spark.

I've had to PUT 2 male friends firmly in the friend zone! They were workmates to whom I became desperately attracted. They were both happily married as well as work-mates, so iron control had to be used until the passions passed. Now they are both firmly in the friend zone! It was hard work, but I did it.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 08:47 pm
Speaking as a lifelong tomboy I can say that the early years are great but puberty changes everything.

The boys were all interested in the girly-girls who spent time figuring out how to attract boys. It was for me a kind of sad and lonely time and I think it works that way for real tomboys.

By my early/mid 20s I could pick and choose any boy I wanted but I didn't really want some idiot hanging out taking up space in my house.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 09:07 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
It just got me thinking about the more general question. My impression is that the friend zone doesn't exist in the same way for females as for males. What do you think?

I think this is a topic where differences between individuals are much greater than differences between men as a group and women as a group.

Speaking strictly for myself about my own life: I see friendship and sex as complements to each other, not as substitutes for each other. Thinking back over the last 30 years, I couldn't think of even one woman whom I was romantically interested in and whom I wouldn't also have been interested in winning as a friend. (The reverse is not true: There have been women (and men of course), whom I've been friendshiply but not romantically interested in.)

My only serious girlfriend so far was a fellow student whom I became friends with, then boyfriend to, then friends with again. At no point in the relationship was there any drama or hand-wringing about the nature of the relationship. We were friends, and the sexual and romantic parts happened during one year and didn't during the other twenty. No need to erect a taboo around the romantic part just because we were friends.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 09:16 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:

I don't believe so, E, unless you mean at pre-puberty ages. I had lots of friendly girl friends and I always knew, inside, that there was no chance for romance with any of them.

But just because you knew there was no chance, did that stop you from thinking about it? (My guess is that since you'd evaluated the situation as no chance means that you must have thought about it if only to discard the thought.) I'm not saying boys/men can't control themselves, it's more that if you are an unattached male and you already have a relationship with a woman, I think you do not consign her to an "unavailable" bin just because she is a friend. As I read Soz's post, women can consign a guy to a "friend" position that takes him completely of out consideration as a romantic interest. I just don't see guys doing that.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 09:29 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
But just because you knew there was no chance, did that stop you from thinking about it?


Yes, I can honestly say it did. I suppose that there was the odd one where I considered it, but that doesn't at all spring to mind or come even with a bit of mental exertion.
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  2  
Reply Sat 24 Jul, 2010 12:33 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

Do people really put people in zones?

Forgive me if I've made this sound more sinister than it actually is. I don't think people put others in some sort of zone, but rather the phrase is a way someone self identifies their relationship as platonic and yet wishing for more. It's not about taking the people you have and sorting them, it's about the feeling that you missed out on romantic eligibility.

I think what more important is how people choose to behave after rejection. I think this is where a person is in the friend zone versus being a friend. Being a friend is more genuine, and your relationship is not built on some sort of agenda for something greater (read as: "pleasurable genital collisions"). Thinking of yourself as being in the friend zone is an exercise in denial. It isn't polite. If I befriend a women who has rejected me because I think I can win her affection later (you know, when she finally comes around...), I'm in essence objectifying her and forcing an expectation of romantic return. In other words, If I hang around and show her what a darling guy I am, I'll eventually win her heart (like I'm entitled). I am NOT saying this is good, and for what times I've let myself fall mental trap to this bad behavior, I'm not proud. I'm just sharing what it's felt like, and what I think about it now in retrospect. Pop media teen movies do not help this mentality...

I can't speak from women, but I think that they are less likely to put a man on a pedestal in this way.

On the other side of this, I think some women enjoy the knowledge that some of their male friends romantically desire them. They enjoy this in spite of no desire to return any of these feelings, and don't take any action to liberate the man or dispel him from the idea that one day they might be together. In these cases, I see many women objectifying the men that adore them. These men become a pillow to the ego.

Given the two terrible examples of men and women behaving badly, I'd say that often both happen at the same time. You'll have a guy objectifying the woman by putting her on some absurd pedestal, and the woman objectifying the man back by using him as a psychological accessory.

I don't know how this plays out in other generations and genders (I can only guess), but I think that other men my age would mostly agree with my summary.

A
R
T
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jul, 2010 12:40 am
I'm thinking about it now. I wonder if any of my female friends are my friends because they wanted to date me and they felt rejected. To Soz, I don't think this kind of thing is symmetrical for men and women.

A
R
T
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