The friendzone…so terrible a thing and so easily entered. I am sure that many have seen the countless memes made by bemoaning their fate as friendzoned men. Let me assure you; the friendzone is a terrible thing. However, one common trait of all protestations against the friendzone is its animus against the female aspect. Yet I declare that everyone in the friendzone, has placed himself there.
To be sure, it is almost always the girl who actively places the guy into the friendzone with those terrible words “you’re like a brother to me.” However, I would posit that no girl does this randomly. It arises from a fallacy of dating culture which has infected the Catholic community in particular at Catholic colleges such as Christendom and Franciscan University. This fallacy has been appropriately named as “headshot dating.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the practice of seeking to marry the first person dated. Don’t get me wrong…if you marry the first person you date, that amazing. Yet the fact is, most people don’t marry their first date. I say that this idea rises from an overly strict interpretation of the adage “you only date to find a spouse.” Many people take this to mean that one should not date someone unless he wants to marry the same. This is not false; however, it is false that one must be ready to marry that person. Dating is the process by which one discerns marriage. No one would discern about discerning the priesthood, so why should he discern about discerning marriage?
This fallacy of dating has a particular danger for men. I have often heard it said that one ought to “become friends before dating.” While I do not deny that being friends is essential to dating, I do deny that one must become friends before dating. I think here the difficulty arises in a determination of what dating itself entails. Dating is, at base, a practice of doing certain things with a certain person towards whom marriage is not a distasteful prospect; this may be done in group or alone. Therefore, one need not be ready to “put a ring on it” before he asks a girl on a date; he and she must merely consider marriage a possibility. Thus, it is possible to date anyone at least once. Now, if this man has went on a date with a certain girl, and he finds that he quite enjoys her company as a woman with whom marriage is possible, he will ask for another date, and if the girl also enjoys his company as a man with whom marriage is possible , she will accept. After several dates, it is customary to declare that the couple is dating.
Here is where many say that friendship is necessary for dating, for they believe that a date means physical expressions of affection. Yet I declare this false. It is the height of foolishness to engage in physical affection, even in a steady dating relationship, before a solid friendship is developed. Far too often do a couple go on one date, decide to go on other based on raw physical attraction, decide they’re dating, and then engage in all sorts of physical affection. After this it is quite possible to develop a genuine relationship, but more common is a relationship based on physical attraction and an addiction to the various chemicals released by such physical shows of affection. Therefore, neither man nor woman can determine whether one genuinely likes the other as a person or as a body.
It is much more prudent to form a friendship–perhaps acquaintance would be a better term–in which a marital relationship is a distinct possibility without any physical expressions of affection until marriage is an actual possibility as a result of this relationship. Men mostly err–and place themselves in the friendzone–when they attempt to a form a friendship in which marriage is never mentioned as a possibility. The man tries to become “just friends” first; however, when by trying to become “just friends” he succeeds, the object of his affections view him as just that, friends. Since she always saw him as “just a friend” and he had always shown his objective as being “just friends,” that’s what he happens.
Now, formulae for leaving the friendzone have often been given. They all have on conclusion; someone must act to leave. One party must declare his affection. Men will often say, “If I tell her, then I’ll lose her forever.” Well, you may…but how would that be different from your current status? Right now you’re only using the girl, only acting with the hope that she will eventually realize that your true feelings for her. But how will she ever know? She thinks, and you’ve said many a time, we’re only friends; every single thing you do, everything by which you try to imply your true feelings, seems to her as expressions of deep friendship. Unless this girl is incredibly perceptive, she’ll take your actions at face value.
On the other hand, if you declare your feelings for her you may lose her company. But you’ll be out of the friendzone; if–wonder of wonders–she does not refuse your company, then she’ll at least take your actions for what they are, attempts to win her heart. Or even better, you may have placed her in the friendzone too, and it will be the best day ever. Yet if she does not, then you’ve lost her company, but you never really wanted just her company, so you’ve haven’t lost anything. Finally, the explicit denial of a possible relationship will go far for your own recovery, and open you mentally to the many other available women.
As you can well see, friendzoning is a natural result of the great fallacy of Catholic dating culture. The only way to prevent it is an honesty in men and women when they begin any sort of relationship with a romantic intent. Of course, romance can develop from friendship, but never when romance is the unstated intention of the formative efforts.