February 5, 2015

The Gray Area: What’s up with the ‘friend zone?’

By Eiman Zuberi–
PEACC is known for their advocacy of preventing domestic violence and harassment, but last night, they approached a new matter that some people are all too familiar with: the dreaded friend zone.

The Gray Area event consisted of ten panelists leading a discussion. Among them were Ben Davis and Kelly K., of the self-titled talk show on 99.7 DjX, Miss Kentucky and U of L volleyball player Katie George, an aspiring musician and U of L football player Kyle Bolin.

The discussion began with a simple question: Does the friend zone exist?

Ben Davis was the first to answer with a firm yes, and soon everyone else agreed.

Let’s talk about the basic definition of a friendzone. What is the friendzone?

“It’s what girls do to mooch food from guys they don’t actually want to go out with,” an anonymous person posited.

To put things in a simpler term, a friendzone is a situation in which someone has feelings for someone who only considers him or her a friend.

The Gray Area panelists discussed this idea.

Why does the other person have an obligation to like the other person? Why is it that if they don’t, they’ll be accused of putting someone in the friendzone? People should be nice to people because it’s a friendly thing to do, especially if those people have a bond, some of the panelists argued. People shouldn’t be nice to people because they want something back, presumably a relationship or sex.

“My guy friends are my brothers–I wouldn’t even think of dating them,” George said.

“It’s something people created because they don’t want to let their actual intentions be revealed or what they say they’ve been put in if their romantic feelings are not reciprocated,” sophomore Trey Broaddus said. Although Broaddus was not on the panel, he had a strong opinion about the friend zone: he didn’t believe in it either.

Thalia Silab, one of the panelists, admitted to friendzoning a male friend.

“So I sort of got myself into a situation with a guy,” Silab said. “He is very sweet, athletic and attractive, but there was one thing that bothered me about him: he wasn’t the most intelligent one.”

She went on to say how he was just a friend of hers, a friend she would go out to dinner with.

“I thought I was clear, but in this guys mind I wasn’t,” Silab added.

Fortunately for Silab, the friend’s feelings fizzled out, and they still remain friendly to this day, but similar situations don’t always work out so well.

There are definitely negative aspects when someone thinks a friend is friendzoning them, and sometimes the feelings are too much to handle. A friendship can be lost.

“You don’t feel as comfortable around someone,” George said. “It could be awkward.”

“It definitely changes a friendship,” Kyle Bolin agreed.

Knowing someone has feelings for you when you don’t feel the same way can definitely be an awkward situation.

“How do I respectfully treat them as a friend without being flirty?” Kyle said.

“It may not be their faults; some people just have flirty personalities,” Silab argued.

The panelists described a friendzoned relationship as “walking on eggshells.”

With everything appearing on social media now, a small gesture on Instagram or Twitter can result in hard feelings.

“Double tapping on Instagram does not mean you have feelings for someone,” one of the panelists declared.

From something as simple as favoriting a tweet on Twitter, to a more extreme action of sexting, the line between friendship and flirting isn’t always clear. So does this mean you can’t like people’s pictures without looking like you want to sleep with them? Not necessarily.

“People take social media too seriously,” Bolin said, and everyone else seemed to agree.

“It’s your instagram. Do what you want. People can’t judge you for that,” George said.

All this talk about friendzoning led to another topic, one that people don’t usually talk about: the “sex zone.”

For those who may not know (I sure didn’t), the sex zone is when people will enter a relationship solely for sex, meaning they don’t necessarily like the other person.

“It’s not healthy,” panelist Davis said.

The panelists argued that students may find themselves in these sort of situations more often. It’s like being “friends with benefits” without one of the partner’s consent, who wants a romantic relationship with the significant other.

Another topic of discussion was the idea that it’s easier for girls to escape the friendzone. But one of the attendees, who wished to remain anonymous, didn’t agree, arguing that women are just as likely to get stuck in the friendzone.

“I thought they were being sexist because it was an almost all women panel and they seemed to be lecturing guys on the fact that being in the friendzone was okay,” he said. “I think we need to focus on guys’ side of things, and their needs as well.”

There’s a little saying going around that “nice guys finish last,” but that’s not always the case. In fact, some may argue that thats not true at all.

“I married a nice guy,” Kelly K. told the audience. “I approached him first and now we’re married.”

“Be a likeable a******,” Bolin joked.

“You need indications to set boundaries,” Kelly said.

“Delaying telling people is worse than just getting it over with,” an audience member called out, and everyone unanimously agreed.

The final advice from the event: Don’t keep your platonic feelings a secret, just so the other person can take you out to dinner and so on, because that’s definitely leading that person on. And remember: no friendship is the same. There are no exact rules for everyone. So if you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, try to get out of it as simply as you can.

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