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The ‘girlfriendzone’ flips the ‘friendzone’ myth on its head

When you like a girl but she doesn’t like you back, she’s “put you in the friendzone.” You can tell why this is dumb.


Cooper Fleishman


Posted on Jan 23, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 8:26 pm CDT

Teenage boys have been whining about girls since way before the Internet gave them an anonymous space to be sexist little turds about it. But the “friendzone” is a relatively new idea, and like vomit on carpet, it’s a stain that’s hard to scrub clean.

What’s the friendzone? When you like a girl but she doesn’t like you back, she’s “put you in the friendzone.”

You can already see what’s dumb about this. She didn’t put you anywhere. Humans are complicated; so is human attraction. 

But the friendzone poses an alternate theory: She stuck you there because you’re a nice guy and girls only like assholes. It’s not your fault she’s so shallow; that’s just the way girls are. And you’ll never “get a girlfriend” because you’re not a brick-jawed 6-foot-2 Channing Tatum clone.

To take the theory to its inevitable conclusion, the friendzone is a place where girls put boys because they’re evil, heartless little tarts who like playing cat-and-string with boys’ emotions.

The theory of the friendzone is especially popular on male-dominated social media hubs like Reddit (there’s even a small-but-active r/friendzone subreddit) and 4chan. Communities like pick-up artists discuss various methods of “breaking out of the friendzone.”


Other users post image macros like this, calling out girls for not responding in the right way to lovelorn male attention:


It should be no surprise that a lot of women find this whole thing really silly.

So here’s something new: a reaction to the friendzone, called the “girlfriendzone.” It comes from Reddit, whose feminist communities are becoming an increasingly large presence in the culture there, calling out bullshit and misogyny and forming a safe space for women to converse openly and honestly. Or to give advice to male redditors.

“She’s not friendzoned you, OP,” ObscenePenguin writes. “You’ve girlfriendzoned her. … Seeing a female friend only as a girlfriend is girlfriendzoning.”

It’s flipping the script: identifying the friendzone as an entirely male creation, and putting the onus on dudes not to be entitled pricks about it when girls don’t throw themselves at them. 

First time I’ve seen the word ‘girlfriendzoned’ as a response to ‘friendzoned’. Excellent.

— Captain Tracy King (@tkingdoll) January 23, 2014

Urge to high five computer screen via @DakGlobe @tkingdoll: Perfect response to “friendzone”? “Girlfriendzone”.

— Susan Krashinsky (@susinsky) January 23, 2014

She’s still your friend. She’s just turned you down for a date. She’s probably sitting at home thinking wtf, have I been girlfriendzoned here? Has this dude only been nice to me for the last 5 months so he could get into my knickers?

You need to remove this girl from your girlfriendzone. … Every time you catch yourself thinking of her, imagine her scratching her arse and sniffing her fingers.

Now’s the time for a little self improvement. Stop using the term ‘friendzone,’ when women hear it we translate as ‘immature neck beard with misplaced sense of entitlement’—it’s not attractive.

The phrase has picked up a tiny bit of steam on Twitter:

There’s a difference between being friendzoned and girlfriendzoning someone.

— Devina Heriyanto (@DevinaYo) January 23, 2014

Maybe the era of the friendzone is finally starting to end. Elsewhere on Reddit, pick-up artists in r/seduction have caught on. One redditor admits, in a post titled “The Friend Zone Myth,” that he has a “strange feeling”: 

“The friend zone is a place that you put yourself, not where the girl puts you.”

Photo via Telache/Flickr

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*First Published: Jan 23, 2014, 7:16 pm CST