Fellas, why are we quick to try and avoid the “friend zone” like the plague? We convince ourselves that the “friend zone” is the worst possible thing. We decipher it as a stamp of how lame the girl must think we are. It’s a major blow to our ego. But what is the “friend zone” anyway? Honestly, I believe it’s an illusion made up through the pain that comes from not getting what we want (but we’ll save the petty version of this for another day).
For now, let’s entertain the idea that the “friend zone” is an actual thing. With that said, I have one question--who doesn't want a best friend for a partner?
I’d love to have my best friend as my life partner, and I feel as though many people would claim they feel the same, but refuse to actually build that foundation first.
Why is it so difficult to build a true friendship before diving into the complex world of truly intimate relationships? Do we even desire that as a foundation for our relationships? Is it a bonus or an imperative factor? Is there even a need for such a foundation or is our intimate relationship that foundation?
As you can already tell I have many questions, because I’m attempting to learn about what causes us to form these ways of thinking. I don't know that we carry the same application of friendship into our pursuit of a romantic partner. It's almost like our friendships and romantic aspirations fall into these categories where we assume they are mutually exclusive, when in actuality, our friendships are our life partners. This should be the standard by which any relationship is established. Friendship is level one. It is the floor of any relationship.
We miss that almost immediately because when we do pursue romantic relationships, we usually do so by actively skipping level one. We want intimacy before there's even a foundation of friendship as ground. So in turn the term friend zone definitely brings about some level of anxiety, especially with my fellow men. We've come under this arbitrary conclusion that it essentially means dead zone.
To me, this is sad, since we essentially assume our world into existence because what we believe comes to fruition. So in this case, we call something dead when this is actually where the life of any relationship begins. This is the area where the combination of watering and nurturing will translate into the growth of the relationship, which can lead to amazing romantic ones if it is meant to happen. We unfortunately miss that mark before it even begins.
When it comes to relationships, many of us lead with a selfish motive, instead of simply enjoying the journey of building intimate friendships with great people around us. I often wonder why that is, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it revolves around our perceptions of love and fear, as opposed to the truth. Fear, in my opinion, is darkness, and love is light. True intimacy is birthed through clarity, and clarity is found when we clear the darkness (fear) and uncover more light (love). This is where security, safety, wisdom, knowledge and understanding exist. This is where our friendships and relationships should aim to be--a true connection in the truth of love that's almost as one as ourselves.
But here’s the thing--this takes time.
Time we don't want to waste, as though our lives are aligned with this ticking time bomb of marriage, kids, and happily ever after. Illusions that can have real adverse effects on our current relationships, current lives and the rest of our lives with decision-making that's rooted in darkness (fear). So why is the friend zone so scary to us? Part of it is that fear that we can't have something we want, or in other terms, that our selfish desires aren’t met. More specifically, the fear that we can’t have something we want right now! We don’t want what we “can’t have” flaunted in our faces. We value instant gratification over the sacrifice it takes for true intimacy.
There’s also this fear that exists, in my mind at least, that all of these incredible friendships, where there’s potential for more, could lead to many broken hearts--including my own. This is a real fear, especially when the depth of intimacy grows to a place where we may want more, usually physically, in multiple relationships. Where the fear of choosing heightens (this is where the lie that there might be “better” options creeps into our minds), and where we believe there are seemingly only two options--inaction through subtraction or acceleration. I’m oftentimes paralyzed in inaction or subtraction. I remove myself from said relationships, ironically living out my fear, ultimately hurting myself and everyone else involved.
We let our pride, our assumed ownership and control of people and our desired narrative, come in the way of something that could actually be great. If it doesn’t reflect the picture we’ve created in our mind, we reject it. That’s where we struggle. We want to control every narrative in our lives, especially when we find something we want. Whereas in truth, sometimes what we want may be the worst thing for us, and thank God we don’t always get what we want.
We are also afraid to make a choice because doing so means we are missing out on something else--our frame of mind tends to be from a point of loss. We so naturally, and oftentimes actively, fail to see what’s in front of us, because we’re so infatuated with what’s next. You see how backwards fear is? Sometimes human nature is our own worst enemy.
Inaction through subtraction is essentially death to any relationship and this has taken place in my life on countless occasions, because of fear. Whereas in true relationships, established on a solid ground of friendship, inaction is always going to be challenged, with honesty and communication in love, with the intent of dissipating that fear for a healthy outcome for everyone involved. Healthy doesn’t always mean happy or pleasant either, especially in the immediate, but it always leads to long-term peace.
On the other hand, acceleration can lead to a place where even intimate friendships become physical because fleshly desires overcome us. In this place, we have a decision to make, and whether or not this decision is made through fear or love stems from our desires being selfish or selfless. I've had intimate relationships with friends that led to a physical place later on, and we had to make a decision whether or not to date or to remain true friends. Those decisions rooted in love can lead to incredible relationships, even outside of romance, but in fear, can lead to pain, brokenness and even the loss of a friend. This happens all the time.
People come into our lives for a reason, regardless of the time spent with us. We can never predict what or who should be in our lives, but we do have to make tough choices on how to navigate all of those relationships. Not everybody is meant to be your life partner! Nor is everyone you find attractive meant to be a romantic relationship. It's perfectly alright to have the most beautiful people as friends without there being more to the relationship.
Think about this--what if our dismissal of the friend zone was actually us being stuck in the fear of having multiple great people in our lives? A fear that’s rooted in the depths of our lack of love for ourselves, where we don’t believe we deserve great things in our lives. Where our ego creates this selfish desire for people, that leads to “getting them” and then despising what we get?
Embracing the friend zone is actually selfless because your selfish desires are tabled for a greater desire of having more love (light) shed on you and those around you, romantic or not. Instead of letting our ego overcome us when it is bruised, resulting in casting out our pain by cutting great things (that may have been meant to actually help us heal) out of our lives, leaving us stuck in the same cycles, we honestly have to make a long term investment in learning more about ourselves and the people around us -- the friend zone is this investment. This will only result in us gaining more clarity, security, wisdom and understanding, so any choice of romance becomes more clear through your heart not just your head.
We’re always eager to find that person who balances us, but in order to do that, we need to search ourselves first to know who we’re meant to be, so our pursuit of our counter isn’t coming from a place of deficit, but one of being completely whole. We must come from a place where we don’t have a need for others, but take others as incredible and valuable bonuses who add more completeness and value to our already fulfilling lives.
I would rather release my selfish desires and motives and work towards building true, intimate friendships and leave the door open for more, even though my ego might tell me otherwise (especially when there’s a strong physical attraction). I still struggle immensely with this and it's shown through past situationships and even friendships, which is why I started writing this (for self accountability). To me our pursuit of any relationship should always be from a selfless place. I’d rather lead with my heart, even if my ego is bruised and heart is dropped in the process. The reward of finding truly incredible souls, romantic or not, who selflessly pick up my heart and help me clean it up, even if it takes longer to do so, is far greater than remaining the same person who is stuck in the vicious cycle of broken relationships because of fear. These are the people I want going through this crazy life with me--my very best friends.