Forget the ‘benefits’: a defence of the friend zone

Who decided that having ‘friends with benefits’ was a good idea? Giacomo Casanova’s ghost is probably vomiting somewhere in Venice at the very thought that sex and platonic friendship have […]

Who decided that having ‘friends with benefits’ was a good idea? Giacomo Casanova’s ghost is probably vomiting somewhere in Venice at the very thought that sex and platonic friendship have been combined in our generation. Friendship is sacred, a sanctuary where you can eat your weight in ice cream without judgement. And it should remain so. Taking friendship into the bedroom is fatal, and the only benefit you reap will be confusion.

This is a defence of the peaceful and strictly uncomplicated land known as the Friend Zone.

At a university considered a haven for match-making, where coffee is often a date but sometimes not, and where a romantic walk on the beach for you might just be a practical utilization of the landscape to them, it is refreshing to know that, with a friend-zoned friend, there need be no interpretation.

With my friend-zoned friend, I can comment ‘cute haircut’ without seeming keen, and he can remark ‘nice dress’, aware that I know he genuinely appreciates my dress, and doesn’t just want to throw it over his shoulder later.

Of course there can be pitfalls in such an arrangement and one must approach the Friend Zone with confidence and finesse, as ‘friending’ someone can be just as intimidating as bedding them.

For instance, having recently decided to friend-zone an acquaintance, I intended on politely and with awe-inspiring efficiency informing the man in question that we were standing on soil from which only friendship grows, and onto which no wild oats were to be sown (you can see first hand the obvious trouble I have with these conversations….) But in my brash attempt to avoid the ‘I really like you as a friend’ or the ‘I’m just not ready for a relationship’ cliches, the Sancho Panza in question was left with no indication of where our state of un-relationshiped bliss was heading. I was too coy, a schoolgirl error we both regret.

But here lies the beauty of the Friend Zone, its practicality, once this conversation happens, its done and done. No more cries to ‘define the relationship,’ no more worrying that your not-so-significant other is about to startconfusing lust for love, and no more awkward conversations when you’ve had enough benefits andwant to return to a more normal friendship.

The ultimate pro of the Friend Zone, for one as overly affectionate as myself, is that saying ‘I love you’ is not a deal-breaker. ‘I love you’ was not designed to be said on the Boulevard Saint Michel with rain running down your face, or on a long-distance phone call. Instead, the habitually friend-zoned can choose to say the dreaded three words in passing, over laundry or dinner, which you eat like nobody’s watching because no paramour is in sight. ‘I love you’ with tomato sauce on your chin and a mouthful of spaghetti is acceptable in the Friend Zone. ‘I love you’ was designed for pepple who genuinely love each other: it was not meant to be a game-changing gambit.

There will always be those who doubt the legitimacy of the Friend Zone, especially in a gossip-ridden town like St Andrews. They will insist that your mutual fondness for Gavin and Stacey and your sharing of tiramisu indicates ‘deeper’ feelings. Their problem is that they don’t understand how deep a friendship can go. I know I would happily let a male friend (but not a boyfriend) see my dirty dishes. Friends don’t expect to see your underwear later.

I urge you to see the Friend Zone as the sanctuary it is meant to be: its benefits are often greater than those found in a confusing night between the sheets.

image ©  Alexandra Williams