Tag Archives: friendship

Welcome to the friend zone…

here is your season pass. Enjoy your stay, make yourself comfortable. You won’t be leaving any time soon.

Last year I wrote Friend Zoning… and as I had shared it a couple of times with friends, it popped up on my FB memories. Now, I have to be honest. I like a good discussion on many topics and am more than willing to concede ground when I am wrong or given new information to process. This is one of the things I refuse to change my stance on. The a fore mentioned blog was written with the radio show in mind and was followed up by Nice guys finish last.

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I found at the time that I wrote them both, many people didn’t really understand what the term implied, which often led to miscommunication as to why I hate/d the term so much. I really am not as unreasonable as some of my output would suggest. 

Fundamentally it comes down to trust. I have always had more male than female friends and it never (past and present) occurred to me that there is anything on the table other than friendship. I don’t assume men only talk to me because of my gender. If we are talking because of a mutual interest then I assume it is nothing more than that. But apparently I am the strange one of this thought process.

This issue of trust is multifaceted – it can me from the partner of the man or worse her friends. Whispering about what sort of woman hangs out with men. Is that woman some sort of slut, being passed around. Surely there is no other reason that the men would be spending time with her. And this comes down to insecurity that there is a part of his life the S.O is not part of will fully or otherwise. Then you have the man himself – he only entered into any sort of relationship with you because he was pursuing you. Whether you realised it or not. And this makes things somewhat uncomfortable. Especially when you genuinely are oblivious that there is some sort of transaction in place – that in fact, no good deed going unpunished. This isn’t a friend offering you a lift. This is just another transaction that puts good credit in, which can be used to pay for a reward later. 

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Now to go with the last point, I completely understand that everything is based on a work/reward basis. You do things for the reward, whether that is tangible (go to work, get paid) or by being kind to someone (good feeling is its own reward etc). And this is of course the same in any human interaction. No one does something completely altruistic. There is always a payoff. And just because it makes you feel good to make others feel good is still a reward. So yes, I can see how the confusion can come about. And I am risking repeating myself with this avenue of discussion.

Now, I am not blind to the fact that the idea of friend zoning, or what it means at its very core, is gender less. What friend zoning, or rather the habits that cause contention tend to be at the feet of women. Men will invest time and or money in a woman in the hope that she appreciates him and takes a chance, or as an excuse to spend time with her he will buy or give him time, or because he thinks he can buy her, or simply you get to know someone with no real ulterior motive and fall for them and it is not reciprocated. So I guess in this paragraph I just sound a little pissed on behalf of my gender. And of course, we have plenty of pop culture references to show us how women use their wiles to capture a man, even if it is just to pay some bills. How to Marry a Millionaire anyone? 

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I get it, some women will abuse a man and take what she can get, hell there are even sugar daddy websites now that allow these sorts of financial transactions to take place. I would still suggest that you wouldn’t offer what you can’t afford to lose. My argument against the term is not that it doesn’t exist. That there aren’t people who won’t try and get their pound of flesh. No, they will. But it isn’t simply to with sex – friends, family, co workers? There will be people in your life that will try and squeeze what they can from you and will be offended if you suggest that there should be some balance in the relationship.

Friend zoning, or the many ideas behind it, nuances, mean that it is indeed very difficult to pin point as almost everyone has their own idea behind it. But for me, it is simple, Friend zone is a term used by a man to suggest that having a woman as a friend is a runner up prize. To suggest that because all that was invested, was no enough, that having a friend is not enough. Nothing will ever be enough. And this, I hate to say it, comes down to male privilege. It is Broke Turner and all those that came before him, and those who will come after him. That believe that if they invest in a woman, she should be grateful for the attention and become supplicant. That any woman who turns down the advances is then to be shamed and the blame placed at her feet, SHE friend zoned. It was an act that she deliberately and with premeditation, chose to do. Just because you masturbated to her FB profile picture, did not mean that she was similarly attracted or even aware that this was the cost of being in your friend circle.

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Am I angry that women are made to feel like shit because of something that they can’t control? Because male privilege suggests that women should be conditioned to react favourably to any attention levied on them? Damned right I am. That a few women, who are used to knowing that most men (and a bunch of women) that they meet will want to fuck them, use it to their advantage? That this nullifies my upset of the term and everything that it represents? That there are guys shooting up entire dorms on university campus’ because they got turned down by someone? Oh baby, please. It isn’t even a question. The actions of the few does not speak for the many. 

Making someone feel guilty for not reciprocating is not fair, or justified. 

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Friend Zoning…

So … Friend Zoning… it is one of those phrases that just refuses to go away. It is a horribly sexist and patriarchal suggestion and one that I really wish would die off. It is a strictly male gaze situation. I assume that you have all come accross this phrase? If not, it means that the girl you have your eye on, is not romantically interested in you, but likes you as a friend. Because the worst thing that could happen is you have a friend of the opposite sex.

Now the term allegedly was first coined by Joey in Friends (ironically) :The term “friend-zone” was first popularized by a 1994 episode of the American sitcom Friends entitled “The One with the Blackout” (S01E07). Ross, who is head over heels in love with Rachel, is called “the mayor of the friend-zone” by Joey. The idea of a guy escaping the friend zone and dating his female friend made the “geek dream couple” of the Ross and Rachel storyline dramatically compelling. The “friend-zone” concept can be found in many tv shows and films made ever since.

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But why does this annoy me so much, don’t we all like a happy ending, shouldn’t everyone get to end up with their true love, to live happily every after, even then the camera’s stop rolling? To go back to my first paragraph, why is being friends so bad? Friendships are and can be long lasting, sustaining, they can be meaningful, you can be as close as siblings. So why is it so important for the relationship to become sexual or romantic. Why does it have to evolve.

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Women struggle, going from having a mix of friends at a young age, maybe being a tom boy, having a mix of siblings, or just playing with the locals kids. When you hit puberty, things change, and there is the idea that different sexes cannot ‘just be friends’ without some under current. There is even some suggestion as to why a woman might want the company of men and not women. That is not to say that the same isn’t true of men, men who spend more time in the company of women can have their masculinity questioned.

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But is it the idea of coupling people up, so they will get married, have children, carry on the family name, make sure there is another generation, still such a strong desire and need that this colours interactions between the sexes. That you are taught, albeit subtly, that you need to find a mate as soon as possible to make sure you are settled and starting the next generation. These days, the population is not something we need to be concerned about, there are certainly enough humans on earth to ensure its survival. Women don’t need to find a mate, generally speaking we have similar opportunities and wages, we are able to live independently of a mate, we don’t need anyone to pay our bills, and are we all still so conceited that we honestly believe that our genes are so important that we need to make sure they stay in circulation?

If it sounds like I am going on a tangent, I am trying to work out why ‘friend zoning’ is a thing, why friendship alone is such a bad thing. And honestly it does feel like a male enterprise, men feeling entitled, that they can pick a woman as a mate and feel offended when she isn’t interested? It is this sense of entitlement that worries me, how many stories have come out, of young men shooting up dorms because the object of their desire turned them down? What makes them think that they have the right to expect a woman will fall that their feet? It can’t just be about sex, i mean surely that is a pretty easy commodity to come by – as long as you are careful. So it feels like it is a sense of ownership. Not only having the latest gadget, nicest place to live, new car, you want to ‘own’ the prettiest mate?

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You may feel that I am sounding like a militant feminist, ‘we don’t need a man’ – not at all. It is the sense of why you are in the relationship, and why oh why is being friends seen as such a bad thing? Women genuinely are not taught this, if you look back at films, there is a whole catalogue of movies based on women being rejected by men but they have a make over – the film that stands out for this is She’s All That –on the surface a fun teen comedy about the school jock getting ‘played’ when he falls for the girl he had previously dismissed as an ugly nerd, and not worthy of him and his status in the school. However when she gets a makeover as part of a challenge, he suddenly sees her inner beauty…. sorry, he suddenly sees that she scrubs up pretty well and will look good on his arm. 

Oh sorry, I am sounding like an angry feminist aren’t I ? I mean guys, it doesn’t matter what you look like, you just pick someone you fancy, if she doesn’t feel the same way you can feel crappy, whine on line about how we are all bitches, refuse to change anything about yourself, or make compromises, maybe look somewhere new for a mate, appreciate friendship for what it is and in extreme cases, get your gun and show people what a man you are. Women? Well we are called whores for spending time with men, for having male friends, we should appreciate any male attention and not suggest for a moment we are not interested or risk being called frigid. We either settle for a man who likes us for who we are, or we can change to suit a man who doesn’t want to look at the standard packaging. Damn right I am angry! Friend zoning is not a thing. It is a ridiculous sentiment and statement that is enabling men to have a sense of entitlement.

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Is this real life, or just pixel fantasy … ?

On this week’s show (link below if I remember) we discussed friendship, and the difference between real life and facebook/social media friends. There is some pretty strong opinion that there is no real replacement for real life friends, the type you can go out and have a coffee with and not just message on FB or trade likes on pictures.

Now, I guess I am looking at this from a slightly different angle to most people, whose main contact with the idea of an online friend, is through social media platforms like Facebook. But I have been playing MMORPG’s games a lot longer than I have had a facebook account (Yes, I am THAT old, and yes, I was THAT late to the party). I have known many people for over a decade and that is a strong bond. And I guess, the other thing that binds this sort of relationship is that when playing a computer game, more so MMORPG than say an FPS is that you are having to work as part of a team, it is using the same skills that you would use in your daily life.

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Now, I do spend a fair amount of time on FB, and in various groups, one of which is a World of Warcraft group. This morning one of the members posted something which really tugged at the heart strings, and for me, cements my opinion on whether pixel friends can be real friends, here is her post :

Kelly Mathews

I got in game tonight only to get a whisper from my oldest friend in the game. I met him when I started playing years ago, in a Ghostlands guild called Jester’s Court. He was the nicest person I had met in the game and showed my boyfriend at the time and myself so much kindness. He’s a big part of the reason I do so many nice things in game. After talking to him and adding him on real ID, I found out he was in his 60s and played after a stroke left him unable to work. His wife liked to watch him play and spend time with him that way, even though she didn’t play herself. When I logged on today he informed me that he had buried her today after weeks of struggle with her health. I never met her nor talked to her, but I cried. I wish I could do something for him so badly to help because it hurts me to know he’s in pain. They were married over 34 years.

This kind of thing is the reason I get a bit upset when people try to say online friendships aren’t “real” friendships. When all of the emotions involved are as genuine as any friendship, whose job is it to judge that it isn’t real?

(I just want to thank Kelly again for allowing me to use her post in my blog – to stay on topic, we aren’t friends on FB but we have managed to connect)

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So really, I think that gaming, and the friends you make there, are not exactly the same as the friends you make on FB, or other social media. I mean really you are not basing any of your opion of that person on first impressions. You don’t know what they look like, often you will not hear them, most of the conversation will be related to the game. Any of the other information shared is going to be edited heavily. And you are, again, working as a team. Be it because you are in a guild together, because you group to do quests together, of because you run dungeons together. It still comes back to having to work together, to some extent. Its like having a really, really long blind date. You are basing your opinions on someone purely on your in game interactions.

Sure, that female elf character you are chatting to, could be a middle aged man, could be a teenager, could be an actual girl. But unlike your social interactions when face to face, or when you have real ‘proof’ – you are going to treat them differently to your other social interactions. Although you may eventually end up adding them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, and drool over their pictures of food loaded onto I.G – your friendship has already been cemented without a lot of the window dressing normal relationships have.

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Last week I also instigated a discussion on my facebook page, following people proclaiming social media as evil and that they would be seeing who their ‘real friends are’ by who would keep in contact them outside a social media platform.

One friend said that she feels she can be the person she wants to be online, and more herself.

Another, that she has more friends online, and that she goes to those friends (myself included) before her ‘real’ friends. That she feels that she is ‘cooler’ online.

Another suggested ‘Its not how you meet someone its how you interact with em in my view.’ Which i really liked.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend :For me it’s been a lifeline too. Especially as an adult, it’s been helpful for friendships. I have to spend so much time at work, I don’t know how I’d make friends otherwise. Too, I’ve always wanted my work life separate from my non-work life. And I’m in a weird position also where I’m stuck between too different generations at work: Baby Boomers and Millennials. I connect and relate to way more people now than I did previously to being on social media and even having a smart phone. Also, too, I think back to when the lovely wife was on hard-core anti-viral meds, then immunosuppressants to combat the uveitis that is taking her sight. She was sick constantly. We couldn’t go anywhere. When I wasn’t at home, I was at work. We saw virtually no one we knew in real life. If it wasn’t for social media, I think we both would have broken under the weight of that loneliness.

While another friend offered this : There are different categories of online friends, I think. People you’ve never met, people you’ve met once or twice, people you meet irregularly, people you used to see regularly, but don’t anymore (what with all that growing up shiz people do), ad people you see regularly. Friendships tend to get stronger / the people tend to mean more to you as you move through those categories, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

I will continue to look at friendships in another blog post, so keep your eyes out. It is interesting to think about how or why relationships work and I hope you have enjoyed my blog x

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