A brief history of the worst relationship status ever: The friendzone

Guys, we’re just friends


‘Friendzone’ is a term used by sad boys who are usually best mates with the girl they fancy, maybe love, and want to shag but the feeling isn’t reciprocated. Being in the friendzone is universally known as a bad thing, met with sighs of “oh unlucky mate” and sensitive pats on the back. It’s a difficult place to get out of, near impossible, as it runs the risk of potentially ruining a friendship for the sake of a relationship.

But where did it come from? Which shitty cult rom-com created this term, leaving nice boys who’ll make nice boyfriends in permanent misery with their penis firmly in their trousers?

The term ‘friendzone’ was first officially coined in Friends. In season one episode seven, Joey tells Ross he will soon be the “mayor of the friendzone” if he doesn’t ask Rachel out on a date soon. And thus, like other everyday terms and phrases like “breezy” and “I wish I could but I don’t want to” we’ve adopted from Friends, the friendzone was officially born.

Friendzone was first entered on Urban Dictionary in 2003, under: “What you attain after you fail to impress a woman you’re attracted to. Usually initiated by the woman saying, “You’re such a good friend”.”

It eventually made it into the Oxford Dictionary Online in February 2013, with the definition: “A situation in which a platonic relationship exists between two people, one of whom has an undeclared romantic or sexual interest in the other.”

Even though the term ‘friendzone’ was first created by Friends, the concept was surely around before them, albeit with no official name? Cue rom-coms. Cult classic Pretty in Pink made eight years before the Friends episode shows main character Andie parring off her best friend Duckie, who is madly in love with her, for jock Blane, keeping Duckie well and truly friendzoned.

Since then there has been Pam and Jim’s struggle in The Office US where they end up getting married (woop), Nick and Jess’ turbulent relationship in New Girl (pleeeeease just make it work), and Summer and Tom in 500 Days of Summer where everyone thinks Zoe Deschanel is a bitch for not wanting to be with the nice guy who listens to The Smiths and can draw.

Google trends, as exemplified by the fun looking graph below, shows ‘friend zone’ peaked worldwide interest in January 2012 possibly thanks to the eruption of some slightly unfunny 9gag style memes called Friend zone Jonny, Friend zoned Phil and Friend zone Fiona, which started trending on Reddit and Quickmeme at the time.

Since its revelation, people have spent their precious time conducting actual scientific studies researching the friendzone, such as which gender it affects the most and whether it actually exists.

One study pleasantly found men start mixed-sex friendships due of sexual attraction, with the desire to eventually sleep with the woman. The research also found most men would dissolve the friendship if there was a lack of sex.

In another study, researchers found most friends who had the potential to be a relationship saw the possibility of being an item as more of a cost than a benefit, and subsequently running the risk of ruining the friendship post break-up wasn’t worth it.

Research by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found women often think their friendliness is coming across as sexual interest, and men think their sexual interest is coming across as friendliness, concluding that when it comes to the friendzone everyone’s fucked either way.