When do six words sound like a four-letter one?
Maybe you made a move and they made it clear where the relationship was really going.
Or every subtle way you tried to get alone time got shut down.
The result is the same, right?
Hold up though.
Maybe, just maybe, and follow me here:
The existence of the friend zone, where romance goes to drown in a sea of platonic disappointment, is one of the worst lies we’ve created in dating.The existence of the friend zone is one of the worst lies we've created in dating. Click To Tweet
It’s definitely become a part of speech, though. I define it this way:
1. placed in the category of non-threatening opposite sex relationships
2. spoken of as “really great” guy or girl who will “definitely make someone ELSE so happy one day.”
If we’re being honest, I’ve never heard another guy say anything like:
“Rachel friendzoned me yesterday, I’m stoked, so glad we know exactly where we stand and won’t be anything more.”
It’s not always a bitter sentiment, but fundamentally disappointing. I.e.: I hoped we’d be more than friends, but there goes that.
The issue I take with the idea of the “zone” lies exactly there.
The friend zone means “we’re just going to be friends.” Which, as I understand, is actually just something we already call friendship.
I get it, rejection is rough. I’ve been there. The friend zone, though, takes the defining of a relationship to a self-serving place. It lets us sit in our disappointment, and overly validates the struggle at hand.
In the end, what’s that desire for a relationship about? Hopefully, for the good of that person, helping them grow in their capacity to give and receive love.
Men and women have a hard enough time with opposite-sex friendships as it is in our culture. Sometimes the line between friend and love interest isn’t so clear, and other times it is to one person and not the other.
So instead of frustration, the feelings which arise from the “friend zone” concept should instead force us to answer that tough question.
What did I want from and for them in the first place?
It’s one thing to be disappointed.
It’s another to allow bitterness to sink in.
As we can’t force love to grow, we can’t force anyone to feel for us the way we feel for them.
So in the times when we’re the one who desires more than friendship, but the feeling isn’t reciprocated, we’re left with a choice. Either this is someone I can see myself continuing on in friendship with, or from whom I may just have to move on.
It’s one of the strangest life experiences I’ve had to be speaking with a woman every day in a relationship for months, then have that sudden halt in communication when we realize it’s time to end.
It’s a relational form of whiplash, but also a freedom.
Unfortunately, we too often equate the end of a friendship with failure.Too often, we equate the end of a friendship with failure. Click To Tweet
I think this is why we’ve allowed the friend zone to become such a fixture, it points to how difficult it is to let go of someone or an idea we’ve invested in.
Simplicity is where this particular freedom lies.
Feelings and desires offer such a challenge to our thought process, but more than they need to when we’ve overcomplicated our connections to other hearts.
If she’s/he’s just not that into you, it’s fine to make a choice. Can I find peace in being a friend and nothing more to this man or woman, or will that thought linger too strongly? Will I end up resenting them by no fault of their own?
It’s okay to take a step back from the relationship if you need some time to clear your head and re-enter once you’re again able to love them freely as brother or sister.
I’ve been there, too.
When an old friend and I had a moment of connection over a weekend in New York City but she realized after those feelings weren’t growing further, I asked for some time to collect myself.
We didn’t lose the friendship, and allowed for the freedom to return naturally once hearts felt safe again.
To trust in God’s Love for us requires risk.
It means developing the ability to let go by creating a habit of never clinging too tightly.
Letting them or the idea of romance with them die might feel the same as losing hope for Love in general.
They were going to be “it,” how could it have gone so off-script?
It does us no good to dwell in sadness over a romance that mostly, or entirely, existed in our own head. If we know a Loving Father, we must believe in His ability AND desire to grant us fulfillment in our good desires.
They might not be the one, but out there in this big world another heart is preparing and being prepared for you.
Put it this way:
Parking lots have zones, but relationships are meant to be lived out on the road.Parking lots have zones, but friendships are meant to be lived out on the road. #destroythefriendzoneClick To Tweet
Rejoice in each other’s joys, suffer with each other’s challenges with no room for bitterness, or repressed truths.
And if we’re called to that particular friendship which means marriage, a vocation, so many of those other relationships with the opposite sex will have to change anyway.
Really, the “friend zone” is more like the Twilight Zone, it looks believable enough at first but under the surface you know the story’s not altogether based in reality.
So let’s keep it simple and live in authentic friendships with the freedom to serve each as we’re willing to give and receive.
Knowing our Father gives us each what we need.
And keep Love the only four letter word on our heart.