Man sees getting "friend-zoned" by "hot women" as a positive experience


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

One of my best guy friends is someone I dated once. Seriously, it was only one date, and neither of us felt a spark, but we remained friends.

Since then, we’ve both been in and out of relationships over the years, but our friendship endured.

He recently told me about the many times he’s been friend-zoned by hot women. I was surprised by his nonchalant attitude about something that is often perceived as a curse. That’s when he said something that blew my mind.

“Being friend-zoned is not an insult. It’s a win,” he said. “It means you’re close enough to someone that they feel comfortable enough to be completely themselves around you. No games, no pretense. And that’s a rare thing.”

I never thought of it that way before.

“Take me and you, for example; friend-zoning is how we became such good friends. Would that have happened if we had gone on a second date and started dating?” he said. “Who knows. But, we might not have ever wanted to see each other again after that date. And then we would have missed out on one of the best relationships either of us has ever had.”

He had a point. If we had started dating, who knows what would have happened. We might not be friends now.

That conversation got me thinking about how friendships give our lives meaning, but how we are conditioned to treat friendship as a consolation prize for losers who can’t get laid.

My friend, a hot guy who just didn’t do it for me, had just taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life.

What does it mean to be friend-zoned, someone?

The friend zone is when one person, most often a guy, is romantically interested in someone who doesn’t feel the same way. The friend zone is often seen as a significant hit for the ego because it’s pretty much rejection.

Many women see the friend zone as misogynistic because it perpetuates the idea that women are generally not attracted to “nice guys” and that the only way to get a woman to like you is to be a noxious womanizer (a.k.a. bad boy).

The friend zone can also be seen as a sexist double standard because the consensus is that it only happens to guys, which is not true. Women get friend-zoned, and I can rattle off several 80’s rom-coms to prove it.

Now that my friend has opened my eyes, I see the friend zone differently. I see it as a good thing. Here are five reasons why:

1. Friendship is a safe space.

One thing that friendship offers that many other types of relationships don’t is a sense of safety. In a friend relationship, you can be yourself without the fear of judgment or rejection. Friends are less likely to shame you for making a mistake or saying the wrong thing.

Then, of course, there is the bonus of not worrying about sexual tension or performance pressure. Friends are free to be goofy, awkward, and ultimately themselves without feeling the need to put up a front.

Having additional emotional support that friendship provides is also beneficial when working through difficult life transitions such as a break-up, job loss, or death of a loved one.

“Having solid friendships is important for two main reasons. First, they make life more enjoyable. We get to share the beautiful aspects of life with people who we love, which can enrich our everyday experiences. Second, our friends help us through the difficult times. Having friends to support us through hard times can make unimaginably difficult situations seem more tolerable.” — Robert Puff Ph.D.

2. Friendship offers a reflection of your true self.

All relationships reflect ourselves, but friendships often offer the most accurate mirror. In friendship, we are seen for who we are, not who we pretend to be. We can’t put up a false persona and expect it to last because we are more likely to let our guard down with friends.

If you become friends with someone you were once interested in romantically, you will likely share intimate details about your romantic life. This means you may hear about their conquests and get a front-row seat to their dating disasters and vice versa.

The benefit of sharing your unfiltered self with a friend is that you have an opportunity to see more of yourself than ever before. In these moments of brutal honesty, we can learn the most about who we are. This presents an opportunity to improve the areas of ourselves that could use a bit more polishing.

“Supportive friends can help you feel more confident by offering praise and reassurance when you’re feeling unsure.” — By Arlin Cuncic, MA

3. Friendship is a two-way street.

While the origin story of the friend zone may have included the potential for romance, the friend zone itself is not a one-way street. In other words, just because you friend-zoned someone doesn’t mean they can’t friend-zone you back.

The friend zone is not a prison that someone can trap you in. It’s simply a mutual decision to remain friends. And if someone is friend-zoning you, it’s likely because they see the friendship as more valuable than a potential romantic relationship — which can be a good thing.

“Friendships are characterized by intimacy. True friends know about each other’s values, struggles, goals, and interests.” — Lawrence Robinson, Anne Artley, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., for

4. Friendship is the foundation of all relationships.

If you want a successful romantic relationship, friendship is the foundation you need to build on. According to the Gottman Institutes’ research on marriages, the number one predictor of divorce is contempt, while the number one predictor of a lasting relationship is fondness and admiration.

Fondness and admiration are traits often found in solid friendships, but they can be challenging to maintain in a romantic relationship. The early stages of love are often filled with infatuation and lust, making it difficult to see our partner clearly.

But as the infatuation fades and we settle into the day-to-day reality of being with someone, we often realize that we don’t admire or even like our partner as much as we thought we did. This is where friendship can provide a solid foundation to build on.

Even if romance is not in the cards after being in the friend zone, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you have a strong foundation of friendship to stand on.

“My message is that it is not necessarily indulgent because having good, strong friendships is as important for yourself as diet and exercise, and so it’s something you need to prioritize.” — Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond

5. Friendship can be one of the purest forms of love.

At its core, love is about connection, respect, and appreciation. These are also the foundations of a strong friendship. In many ways, friendship can be seen as a more pure form of love because it is not tainted by the physical or emotional baggage that can come with a romantic relationship.

While friends may have their history and baggage, they are not usually coming into the friendship with the expectation that the other person should be healing, fixing, or helping them overcome their issues. Instead, friends are more likely to offer support and understanding without ulterior motives.

So should you find yourself in the friend zone, don’t despair. Instead, take comfort in knowing that this may be an opportunity to experience support, love, and growth in its purest form.

“…research suggests that friendships can help us find purpose and meaning, stay healthy, and live longer. The intimacy, support, equality, and emotional bonds we have in our friendships are unique.” — Kira M. Newman, Greater Good/U.C. Berkeley

Perhaps we should all consider the possibility that romantic relationships should not supersede all other connections but instead be one type of relationship among many. And that maybe the friend zone is not a consolation prize for losers but an opportunity for genuine connection.

What do you think? Is the friend zone a bad thing? Or is it misunderstood? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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