Lee* – Customer Service Advisor

This story isn’t so much about a romantic interest; well not on my part anyway. I went out for dinner with a friend of mine. I’ve known him for about 7 years and we’ve been those kinds of friends who don’t see each other very often but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. We have a good laugh together and just generally get on like the proverbial house on fire. On this fateful night at dinner our friendship would change however.

Dinner was as normal, we laughed and caught up on whatever we’d both been up to since our last encounter. Everything was as it always was. Just as desserts had been ordered, Lee* asks me about my blog (this one obviously) and jokes about whether he’ll make it on as a new story.  At this I laughed and said honestly “Well I only write about dates. I don’t write about my friends” (although here we are). Lee looked like his mood dampened at this. His reply was “Oh. So is this not a date then?” Well this is awkward. The silence between us both makes it feel even more awkward. I’m pretty sure the couple on the table next to us have heard the conversation and are now trying to cut the awkward tension with their bloody knives it’s that bad. We’ve been friends for 7 years! 7 years and Lee has never ever once mentioned about us being more than friends or going on a date. There’s never been so much as a hint of romance between us but suddenly on this night, he reckons a spark might just summon itself up. I feel so embarrassed for both of us.

“Umm, Lee I’m really sorry but I just thought we were friends. It’s been 7 years so I think we’re past the point of it being romantic.” At least I’m being honest about it. Lee’s next rhetorical question really wound me up though! You all know me well enough to know that I’ll explain why. “Oh, so you’ve friend zoned me?” God I hate that! He spat the words out like they tasted of sour milk. Why has the term ‘friend zone’ been coined as an insult? It also seems to mainly apply to women friend zoning men. You don’t hear so much of men friend zoning women. The amount of times over the years I’ve told a guy I like them and he’s said he just wants to be friends is ridiculously high. Did I get all insulted and sulky and accuse him of friend zoning me? No; not once. Instead I carried on being friends with them because that was better than nothing in my eyes. I enjoyed maintaining the friendships I had with the guys and still do with some of them.

I explained to Lee that I couldn’t understand why he was so insulted but I did want to carry on being friends with him. He, not so politely, declined the offer with the reasoning that he “has been nothing but nice” to me for all that time and yet he gets nothing. 7 years of friendship down the drain just because I had apparently done the unthinkable for a man and dun dun dun….. friend zoned him!! Apparently a punishment worse than death for the male species. I can only apologise. It also frustrates me that Lee had it in his head somewhere that him being nice to me and treating me with respect should be rewarded with sex or a relationship!! Where is this rule written somewhere? I really must have missed something growing up. What right does a man have to tell me that just because he was a decent human being to me and gave me friendship, he deserves to be rewarded with sex or something romantic. Again, I will happily exercise my right to say no on this account. Any man that believes this, deserves to be worse than friend zoned. I’m pretty sure that way of thinking is how men end up forcing themselves upon a woman (I’m not accusing or suggesting anything of Lee, but it is slightly worrying).

So, my friendship with Lee is no more. Ladies, be careful not to punish a man with the friend zone because apparently some just can’t accept it. Others, I can account for and say they are wonderful friends: some of the best friends I will ever have! Men, the friend zone isn’t the worse place in the world. Embrace it gents.

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