Nice Guys vs. “Nice” Guys (& the Friend Zone)

Image via Buzzfeed

 

The Friend Zone.

A lot of people seem to think that such a thing doesn’t exist.

“You either like a person, or you don’t! There is no friend zone!”

But yes, yes there is.

Let me first address the issue presented in the title: nice guys, or “nice” guys.

A nice guy is a man who helps you when you need it, supports you in times of trouble or emotional distress, is a listening ear and occasionally a shoulder to cry on. He helps out in different ways in your life and acts selflessly because he loves you. This love can either be platonic or romantic, and in some cases, it is unrequited. Maybe the nice guy in your life is a man you see every week, who smiles at you or tells you you’re beautiful even when you’re a hot mess. Maybe he offers to help resolve problems in your life.

Nice guys DO exist. They exist everywhere in every way, even beyond the ways I’ve mentioned.

The problem isn’t NICE guys. It’s “nice” guys.

Most women know the “nice” guy. He touts that he is one. He does things for you that are totally unexpected and then wants a romantic (or sexual) reward for the deed. He knows that you’re either a) not interested in him, or b) assumes that because he’s nice, you should love him. Maybe he gets angry when you don’t reciprocate his unusually aggressive feelings. Perhaps one day, he crosses the line and tries to touch you inappropriately, or suggests that you OWE him for all the times he’s been there for you. He claims that your response to his behavior isn’t just that you don’t want to be with him romantically or physically, it’s that you’ve put him in…

THE FRIEND ZONE

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Now, this particular situation may sound out of whack, but the truth is, it happens. Replies to affection can be misinterpreted. People can read something into nothing. Men can mistake a woman treating them like a friend as her being interested in them (because a woman showing vulnerability to them means she TRUSTS him, and trust=love), and they suppose that the only reason a woman isn’t with them because she’s just a bitch and he’s been “friend zoned.”

Now let’s back up a minute and talk about what the “friend zone” really is, compared to what some people think it is. The friend zone is a real place—and a poorly named one, because there is nothing “friendly” about it.

We’ve all had that one friend. Hell, we might have even been that one friend. The one who loves someone from afar and tries to make their love shine through their actions, hoping that the other person will somehow understand and suddenly declare their love. This person might even believe they’re in the friend zone. (They’re not.)

They may even know that their love interest knows how they feel and hasn’t done anything to change the relationship they currently have.

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This makes you wince so hard for him.

What this person doesn’t understand is that there is platonic love as well as romantic love. When you have someone that you’re not romantically interested in, but you still love and care for (i.e. a friend), you do things for them. You might sacrifice a weekend to help them move. You might let them cry on your shoulder. You might listen to them bitch for hours about how their boss is an evil troll. You may have heard their stories about how shitty their boyfriend/girlfriend is, and given advice. You spend time together, do things together, and fight to protect them when something happens. That’s the basis of a friendship, “nice” guys. If there is no declaration of interest or even a physical attempt to start a relationship (or your attempt to advance past “GO” was denied), then what you are is a “friend,” not a potential lover.

The bottom line is that if you expect sexual or romantic favors in exchange for doing something, you’re not a nice guy. You are a “nice” guy, and you might even own a fedora or two. When you do something in the hopes of getting something in return, you’re not being selfless. You’re being an ass.

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“I had a good friend once upon a time and I stopped being friends with him… He said the least I could do [was] sleep with him after I told him about this guy that hurt my feelings.

He listened to her sob story! He let her cry! He very tastefully kept all thoughts of her genitals to himself until she was finished! Doesn’t she owe him something?

No. The answer is a resounding no.

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty: What the Friend Zone ACTUALLY is.

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This isn’t so much “friend” zone as “actual abuse” zone. 

The friend zone is what happens when you have an unbalanced relationship with someone. One or both of you are manipulating each other to get things from the other one. Those things can be material: cash, clothes, games, movies, jewelry, cars, etc… Or immaterial: love, time, affection, complements, self-esteem boosts.

When someone is purposely manipulating you or dragging you along with the promise of reciprocated affection that never comes, you are in the “friend zone.”

The friend zone is what happens when a guy will drive hours to pick up a girl he likes (that she knows likes her), to bring her over to her boyfriend’s house because they had a fight and he won’t pick her up. That male friend will do all of this for a single kiss on the cheek while he listens to her cry in the car the whole time about what a douche her boyfriend is. (She’s probably led him on many times by this point.)

The friend zone is when a girl bends over backwards to do something for a guy that’s been stringing her along for years (may even sleep with her on occasion when it suits him). Maybe he demands she give him her “hot” friend’s number at her own birthday party. Maybe he even “pays” for it with a hug and an admission of ‘loving’ her. (Newsflash, he doesn’t.)

The friend zone is watching two people constantly fight, then make up, maybe have sex on the occasion, all while one of them is probably constantly engaged with an actual relationship that the other one is aware of but doesn’t care about because “they love each other.” (Nope, try again!)

The friend zone is someone constantly getting manipulated by another person that they care for, putting that person’s needs above their own, or even receiving emotional or physical pain in exchange for the chance to love that person and be “loved” in return.

The friend zone isn’t some mythical, ethereal place where “nice” guys get shoved. It’s emotional and sometimes physical abuse. It’s an unhealthy relationship that causes you pain because you’re the one putting out all the effort and constantly being punished for it because, “Aww, you’re such a good friend!”

If you have someone like that in your life, cut them out. Find out how quickly they move on when they can no longer manipulate you. Find out what happens to the next person they drag into their drama. Watch how much better your life becomes when you can stop doing “favors” for them in exchange for their “love.”

Men and women don’t owe each other anything. If you do something nice for someone else, do it because it’s the right thing to do. Not because s/he might sleep with you.

If you like someone and they don’t like you back, that’s fine. If someone likes you and you don’t like them back, that’s fine too. Make sure there’s a line drawn that both parties know cannot be crossed. You can still be friends, but don’t expect things to suddenly change. Either love that person as they are, as a friend, or let them go. There is no in between.

Love—real love—doesn’t have expectations. It doesn’t demand things, and it doesn’t punish people.

…And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t assume you owe it sex because it did something “nice” for you.

 

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