Ah, yes. The "Friend Zone". That term folks use to insult the people who are friends with them and don't see fit to give them access to their squidgy bits.
I get it. You spend a lot of time with someone as a friend, you develop a strong bond with them, and then you want to take the relationship "to the next level". Or maybe you started out with an attraction to them and with the intention of eventually dating them.
You're cool. You're suave. You listen to them and make them feel valued and heard and loved. Then, you finally build up the confidence to ask them out and BLAMMO - rejection.
I'm not gonna lie, it sucks when you have feelings for someone and they don't reciprocate them. It's not a pleasant experience and you're bound to have some feels about it. That's ok. Feel bad for a bit, talk to other friends about it and vent, write poetry, etc, to help you deal with those feelings.
But don't go into the "Friend Zoning" bullshit. That's gross and doesn't help you or them and, guaranteed, won't change their mind and make them realize you're a "catch".
What it boils down to is this: you are allowed to be honest about your feelings with the people you're close to. If you are romantically interested in someone, you are allowed to tell them. There's a risk, sure, there's also a risk if you don't. If they don't reciprocate those feelings, you're allowed to be disappointed. You're even allowed to decide that you don't want to be friends with them if you can't be in a romantic relationship with them. Heck, maybe they are purposely stringing you along and toying with your emotions. That happens, and you're allowed to not like it or put up with it.
Now, here's where I think a lot of people (not just guys, even though that entitlement does come up a lot when discussing guys putting gals into The Girlfriend Zone) get confuzzled: you can harbour these disappointments. The line gets crossed when you cannot get past that. When you cannot fathom that someone you put so much time and attention and energy into dared not return those feelings. When you start to get angry with them for having standards that you apparently haven't met. When you use "Friend Zone" as a term to disparage them for not "giving you a chance."
And this is the most important point of this whole post - no one has to give anyone else "a chance" to date them. The only thing we have control over is our bodies, and each person has 100% say as to who is going to have access to their body. In a dating context, it's fair to say that most partners want to date someone in order to be physically intimate with them (asexuals definitely exist, but I've never seen anyone who identifies as asexual accuse the object of their affections of putting them in "The Friend Zone" - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). No one owes you that or "a chance" at that, no matter if you're just looking to hold hands, looking for a kiss, or looking for some naked Jello wrestling.
To bring it home, let's talk about your rights and obligations to the people who are interested in you. You can turn someone down for any reason at all. They have bad breath, they don't like the bands you like, they're allergic to cats, they're left-handed, you don't get squishy feelings when you're around them - literally any reason at all. Your reasons for not wanting to be romantically involved with someone don't have to "make sense". I promise you, they don't. You don't have to be able to verbalize your reasons for not wanting to be with them. Not wanting to be with them is 100% enough. "No" is absolutely a complete sentence.
Understanding that you have these rights to who you let close to you, apply that now to everyone else in the world. If they say they're not interested in dating you, that's all the reason they need. Maybe that will someday change but, it's been my experience, if you continue the friendship with the sole intention of changing their mind then you will lose them as a friend as well. They'll get sick of your pestering, passive-aggressive Fall Out Boy bullshit and they'll stop returning your messages and work on prying you out of their lives. If you still want to be friends, you've gotta reign that shit in. Maybe after you tell them your romantic feelings they'll decide they don't feel comfortable being friends with you, either. That's a risk. That happens.
What can you do to avoid being that asshole that complains about The Friend Zone? Find some hobbies. Listen to a Jagged Little Pill on repeat while throwing paint at a canvas. Make new friends. If you're surrounded by people who push you to keep trying and who use the term The Friend Zone unironically and frequently, maybe tell them to stop listening to Taylor Swift for a couple days and hide their copies of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I'm looking at you, Xander).
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