Have you ever seen the film, ‘Just Friends?, where Ryan Reynolds explains the ‘friend zone’,

“The ‘friend zone’ is like the penalty box of dating, only you can never get out. Once a girl decides you’re her ‘friend,’ it’s game over. You’ve become a complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp.” 

Not for the first time in my life – I have found myself relegated to the friend zone. I have become like a lamp.

You see, it is a common misconception that only men that wind up in the friend zone and while it seems more common for men than their female counterparts to be friend zoned, it isn’t an exclusive club reserved only for them. Anyone can be a victim. Unreciprocated  feelings take no prisoners in the purgatory of the friend zone, regardless of wether you’re male, female, straight, gay or bi.

Ages ago, a friend once said to me,

“I really envy the way you can just talk to guys.”

I genuinely had no idea what she was implying, and of course I told her so.

“You can just chat to them, normally. You don’t become all high pitched and girly, or get all tongue tied and make an arse of yourself.”

“…That’s because they are just normal. They are h…u…m…a…n…s.”

I have always been relaxed when surrounded by male company, and when I first moved to Dubai, the initial abundance of girl company and lack of guy friends felt really unnerving to me. My closest and longest friend circles compromises quite a few guys, and they are some of my closest confidantes. I find my guy friends to be uncomplicated, straight to the point and mostly non judgemental with a rational mindset. The advice they offer is unparalleled with some of my female friends; mainly due to their natural affinity for problem solving, and lack of hormonal emotions in their thinking. From primary school, where I was one of eight little girls in a class of thirty kids, til my last job, where I managed fourteen guys, and freelanced in an office with three women and forty men, I have never felt out of place despite being in the minority. I might not be able to converse much about rugby or football, but there is ALWAYS a common ground for discussion if you care to find one, and it’s maybe here, in where I think lies my strength, also lies my downfall.

Now I am not saying that I was in love with the guy in question here, (the friend zoner)* because I most certainly was not, nor am I claiming to be devastated and distraught in the tangles of unrequited love in the friend zoning aftermath, but I think it was the most hope I’d held out for anyone in a pretty long time without even so much as a kiss. It was probably more on a par with a crush. I felt like he was the male version of me, and that in him, I could have met my match, particularly because I am a Virgo and our star signs are compatible according to those shitty quizzes you complete in magazines, and also because Virgos are big personalities. He liked a lot of the same things as I did, making the conversation flow easily, but then conversation always does with friends, otherwise, why would you be friends in the first place? Sitting in silence does not a friendship make!

As a means to give me some hope probably, (like throwing a lifeline to a drowning person in a ferocious sea) a girl at work was telling me how she and her fiancé initially met. “We were friends for around a year before we actually got together, because I was too busy dating idiots to notice him.” and a longtime friend of mine only confided that her now husband, was a friend of hers for years before they got together too.

“But does he know you like him?” She asked me. It was a basic question which I assumed yes, because quite frankly, how could he not know?

But then, I couldn’t be one hundred per cent sure? Shouldn’t everyone have some sort of internal radar alerting them of who does and who doesn’t fancy them? I am not being funny, but you know when someone likes you, don’t you? You just get the vibe. The same way your heart lurches with disappointment when you know that someone doesn’t like you, or when something feels off, because it just is. In both instances, you can’t put your finger on how you know, but you just do. So, surely he must have realised? Picked up a signal and nipped it in the bud by friend zoning me.

“But, were you flirting with each other?”

“I don’t know. I think so? Maybe not though…”

Or does flirting only count these days if you send nudes – and I’m not talking manicure pics here by the way.

“For God’s sake, Pam!!! He probably doesn’t know!!! Did you never just out right tell him?”

TELL HIM? DEAR GOD. Was she deluded??? He should have just KNOWN at the time, and if he didn’t reciprocate, it’s because he obviously didn’t like me back. ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ says that if a guy likes you, he will chase you. If he isn’t chasing you, you’re not his type (don’t quote me word for word, but you get the gist). Maybe I’m not his type because I am like the male equivalent of him… I am sure he does know. I mean, he told me what a good friend I am and I know that I am a good friend to my friends, and sure, that’s a lovely title to have… but it’s not my first choice from the titles that I could have. Obviously, being Queen would be my first choice, but that is a pretty tough title to nail since you usually need to be born into royalty, and both the princes are married off now. No-one ever tells anyone what a great friend they are unless they are ensuring that you stay within the confines of the friend zone after you’ve stepped an inch too far over the friendship threshold. That phrase is basically the verbal equivalent of the barbed wire that sits atop the fence of a gated community ensuring you don’t gain access to the circle without a key card, (the circle being the friend zoner’s heart here).

I just simply cannot utter the words, “I like you” now. It’s too late. That ship has sailed – ages ago. Put myself out there; wear my heart on my sleeve and open myself up to rejection? Dent my pride a little more? If I wanted to feel that bad about myself, I’d watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on a loop for ten days straight, while eating copious amounts of chocolate thank you very much.

“You left it too long and now he’s already moved on. That’s what happens. You missed the slot and now you’re only ever gonna be a friend.” Helpful (not to mention, blunt) advice from my other friend. Pretty sure he got that straight from an episode of Friends.

“Why do I always get friend zoned?” I asked my mum.

“I don’t know pet. Maybe you’re too nice or just come across really friendly.”

But I am just friendly wether it’s a guy or girl. Maybe I should start being less nice.

I thought about the guy who ages ago, kissed me 60 floors high in front of a twinkly Singapore skyline after taking me to a string of cool cafes and bars. Fast forward six months, and he was telling me about his ex who shattered his heart and thanking me for being a great friend and hearing him out. Ouch. Clearly missing the memo, I should have left the table then; but instead, I acted the mate and had ordered a large gin.

So, as I write this post, it’s now been a while and it’s fine. I have graciously accepted my recent title of ‘friend’, and I am genuinely okay with it. I’d rather have the guy around as a long term friend than not at all because I respect him and admire him as a person first and foremost, but from here on in, my friend circle is wide enough now; it’s reached maximum capacity. I am no longer recruiting any more guy friends and girls only need apply. Until the next male version of me comes along, I will be working on how to tell the next guy I like that they’re ok, because surely one of these days, I am going to find a male version of me who thinks I am ‘ok’ too, and this time I’ll tell him before it’s too late.

*I know it’s unfair to call him a friend zoner since he may not actually know, but for the sake of writing, and for giving him a name, this what I am calling him.


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