Here's commenter AAC:

"['Friend Zone'] is a terrible way to start out this article, since it's a PERFECT way to describe the way that many women make (and self-report!) instantaneous, gut-level decisions about whether they would have sex with a particular person and — this is the key part — never change their mind about it. Most men I know don't do that, and don't relate to it at all."

But "Friend Zone" can't be a description of an instantaneous reaction, because most colloquial use of "Friend Zone" implies a relationship, over time, taking a different course than one party expected, and if friendship is determined immediately, the assumption of something else wouldn't exist. Entire pickup-artist manuals are written about how to avoid going into the Friend Zone, after you meet someone.

Moreover, who are these women "self-reporting" every one of their sexual decisions? I would go so far as to say that not one of my female friends determines who they will sleep with based on thirty seconds of interaction. Yes, sexual attraction can be instantaneous, but it can also grow over time. The last two people I've had sex with for an extended period of time, I'd known platonically for at least three years (!) before boning them. This could just be a weird thing that I do, but relationships do change. I'm much more likely to sleep with someone if they're sincerely hilarious and not also completely awful. But finding out if someone is sincerely hilarious (and not completely awful) necessitates spending some time together first, often in the relationship format commonly known as "friendship."

But the existence of the term does show some difference in the way men and women react to sexual defeat. The reason "Friend Zone" is not synonymous with friendship is because it suggests failure. It's as if the Friend Zone is the consolation prize when romance doesn't happen. Here's what commenter oklund had to say on that topic:

"I honestly, truly, have not observed a difference in the way two genders feel attraction; at least, not more than there is difference between any two people of either gender. I *have* observed a vast difference in inner monologue pending success/failure, leading to very different reaction patterns."

Maybe it's because our society still, for the most part, views men as the "pursuers" and women as the "pursued," but when a relationship doesn't turn sexual, men often need a defense strategy. "Friend Zone" is inherently defensive, because it places responsibility on the second party. But no one has sex with everyone they want to have sex with, and expecting otherwise (and complaining when it doesn't happen) is pointless and immature.

In the end, my problem is with what the term says about your power dynamic with the person you're applying it to. There is no ratio governing relationship input and sexual output, and platonic friendship is not a worldly evil designed to give you blue balls. And yeah, everyone — male and female — occasionally tries to parlay kindness and witty jokes into something sexual. That's how dating works, right? But when it doesn't work out, it's not because women have lured you into some crafty vortex of sexlessness, thwarting what could've been a beautiful relationship, or at least a brief, vigorous fucking.


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