“Dear Honeys on the Hill,
I have been friends with this guy for a while and recently he confessed his feelings for me. He’s incredibly nice and I love being around him but I don’t feel “that way” about him. I expressed that I do not share those same feelings and now he’s complaining to everyone that I put him in the friend zone. What should I do?
First of all, this is never easy and we applaud you for being honest with your friend. It was likely hard for him to express his feelings and he is probably embarrassed. It is great that there is honesty between you two, but because of the mismatched feelings, there is frustration on both sides, and this is something that happens to people of all genders and orientations!
However, just because he is nice does not mean you owe him anything. If he is really your friend, he would not be in a “zone” at all. He was your friend to begin with and should stay your friend if he really has your best interests and desires in mind. This being said, it might take him a little bit to get past his pride. Having some space right after this might be important for both of you.
Second of all, the term friend zone is some major BS. It is often used to shame women when they reject men. You are not expected to return the feelings of everyone that is attracted to you. You should never feel guilty for not liking someone back. Women are fed the idea that there are so few good men out there, that they must accept the treatment of the nice ones. And guys are taught the same thing – if they are nice and pass the lowest standard possible, then they should somehow get all women. The existence of the friend zone is not great for male-identifying people either. It reinforces the idea that if men invest emotionally in relationships, they should be rewarded physically as well.
We asked a fellow Ole about their experiences with the friend zone.
“From my experience, it is really awkward because I liked the person as a friend but I did not see them how they saw me, and having that conversation made it awkward between us. I felt they went into the conversation not expecting anything but they were still hurt by me not reciprocating their feelings. You don’t want to hurt them, but you need to be honest with them and yourself in efforts to maintain a friendship. However, the friendship has never lasted once I’ve ‘friendzoned’ them.”
The friend zone works in no one’s favor. The friendzoner often ends up feeling bad and wishing the friendship could go back to normal. The friendzoned struggles with feelings of rejection and the unmet expectation of reward for being “nice.”
All relationships have their ebbs and flows. If this friendship is meant to be, it will flow back into normalcy soon. During this time of slight awkwardness stay out of the drama and the gossip. Make sure to keep communicating with him directly and take a deep breath. Perhaps you need to have another conversation with him about how his response is making you feel. Him telling everyone about being in the friend zone is not cool. Keep being honest, and trust your gut.
Honeys on the Hill
Having trouble navigating the St. Olaf dating scene? Need help finding a date? Got more dates than you can handle? Or have a response to this week’s column? E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe one of our love columnists will answer them in next week’s issue. All submitted questions will remain anonymous.