After a one-month relationship, I was recently put in the friend zone and yes, it sucked.

It felt unfair and like I was given a consolation prize.

But I came across an article by Melissa Phabello, PhD that put my experience into perspective.

I’ll try to summarize.

First, when someone “friends” us, we go through a phenomenon called “love rejection”.

Our neurobiology changes and we feel frustrated, angry, even depressed when it occurs.

Our cortisol levels go up and our serotonin (mood stabilizer) levels go down.

Interestingly enough, it’s similar to the process we go through when we fall in love, but without the reward.

And that’s the part that makes us, well, a little nuts.

What comes next is a form of “abandonment rage” where we lash out at the person who friended us.

Phabello makes an important distinction about this.

While it’s ok to acknowledge you’re going through something hard and it feels shitty, it’s not ok to suggest it’s unfair.

To do so implies something unjust was “done” to you, which isn’t true.

Men react negatively to the friend zone based on 3 myths:

  • Friendship is less valuable than romantic/sexual relationships – friendship is central, not supplemental
  • People owe us sex or romance for being nice – if you’re being nice with the expectation that you’ll get laid, you’re not being nice.  You’re being manipulative.
  • We’re entitled to relationships we want – in our society, men, particularly white men, hold a lot of social power and as a result, we believe we should receive what we want because we’re deserving of it.  But if someone wants to be friends with us, instead of sexual or romantic partners, they should be allowed to set that boundary. 

What if we looked at all relationship structures as equal?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with an offer of friendship, so long as the other person means it.

Besides, isn’t it pretty great that someone thought enough of you to make an offer of friendship?

It’s only when we look at the gesture through the lens of being a victim that we feel dishonored.

And who really wants to take that posture?

It’s our responsibility as dudes to model better behavior than that.

What an impressive showing of self-esteem – to be in the friend zone and see it for what it is – an offer of friendship from someone who thought enough of you to keep you in her life.

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