This piece started, like most of my essays as a much angrier piece. I was going to tear into some ideas I hated with fury and passion. But I’m a bit angered out. So why not take the opposite approach to prove the same point?
We used to have an idea in the west known as unrequited love. It was a lovely, poetic, mournful concept. Unrequited love was love felt for one who did not respond. It was never an attack on them for doing so. In fact to confess it was to concede feelings of sadness and loss within oneself, to know they were expending wasted energy and to acknowledge the futility.
Today, that concept has evolved into the friend zone. The friend zone is when you love someone but they only see you as a “friend”. It changes the nature of the emotion by putting the blame on the other person. It’s their mistake. They are terrible for only viewing us as a mere friend. Aren’t we good enough!?! They should love us! We are awesome.
Yes I hate that idea so much.
I hate it for several reasons. I hate the arrogance of it. It suggests the “friend” is the best possible option. Maybe not. I’ve known the significant others of many of my friends. They were without fail fine souls and usually became very close friends themselves. I also hate the lack of introspection. Many of us are deeply flawed. There are reasons we aren’t in romances. But these reasons pale next to the big one.
I hate the friend zone because it diminishes the incredible connection that is friendship. Friendship, the ability to connect with another person and share highs and lows, is not something I take lightly. How can I? Making friends has long been a challenge of mine. I didn’t have a “normal” social life until senior year of high school. Friendship has intense value to me because I had to fight to find it.
I also hate it because it furthers a ridiculous myth: that men and women cannot be friends without sexual feelings coming into play. Please. One of my oldest friends is Laura Harvey of My Little Goldfish Bowl. Laura has been a friend for as long as I have lived in Arkansas. We’ve never had the slightest movement in that direction but our connection is the one you would expect from friends for two decades. Laura’s not alone in that number. I have many friends of both genders. I don’t differentiate. It makes no sense.
With those two things in mind, I really have to hate this idea. You’re devaluing two beautiful things to create a terrible version of a poetic idea. Friendship isn’t a stepping stone to “something more.” It is a truly glorious thing to itself. We should celebrate it. And we should know that limiting it to one gender is truly pointless.
Friendship is indeed magic.
ADDENDUM: Before anybody points out the [premise to my current script, which yes, deals with a platonic connection turning romantic at the end, be aware that it took me 15 years to get the plot hammered out to the point where I’m satisfied with it. I am VERY MUCH tackling that idea in my script. This entry is a snippet next to my script!