My daughter came home from school one day after some leadership positions had been decided upon in an extracurricular group, infuriated that one girl in particular had gotten one of them. It came down, apparently, to the way she treated others. As an example, my daughter complained that she had “totally friend zoned” one boy in particular. I found it curious, since my daughter hardly even tolerated the boy in question. At the time, I thought it was just another phrase being used by the generations after mine for deliberately taking advantage of someone who has a crush on you. It’s been called a lot of different things over the years, but it’s never been condoned.
Apparently, I was mistaken. According to this article in Nerve it actually applies to ...well ... every single relationship in which the young woman just wants to be friends. It assumes 1) that two people of different genders can’t be friends, 2) that the female of the pair is denying the male something he deserves as compensation for the friendship, and 3) that it’s ok if the gender positions are reversed.
When I was my daughter’s age, I was into a lot of non-girl things — Dungeons and Dragons, comic books, and other geeky pursuits — so I was often the only girl in the group. I came to view platonic friendships as the norm, only occasionally hearing years later, “I never told you how much I loved you ... *heartfelt sigh*” Most of us, though, thought that When Harry Met Sally was full of it, because we all had friends like that. Not so much in the real world, apparently.
It seems that a big part of the problem is attitude. Men have a much harder time recognizing and accepting a lack of mutual attraction than their female friends do. Thus, they have more trouble dealing with the relationship not “progressing” and might become resentful at the lack of return on investment. But assuming the relationship is supposed to become romantic can lead to some behavior that will pretty much kill it completely. (NSFW!)
By characterizing the lack of romantic interest as “being friend zoned,” a guy is spared the embarrassment of failure. Girls, on the other hand, have always dealt with rejection differently. Take a look at this advice to girls from a guy and compare it to the advice for guys in the previous paragraph. Wow.
Using your attractiveness for personal gain, taking advantage of the gullibility of those who find you attractive, and then discarding them when they’ve outlived their usefulness is always reprehensible. But when a girl doesn’t want a romance with you, you haven’t necessarily been “friend zoned.” You’ve been “friended.” IRL. And that can be a very good thing to go with.