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Is the 'friend zone' a bad thing?
While men tend to be more attracted to their female friends, the research found, women often categorize their male counterparts as friends because they don’t think the males have any romantic interest in them. - photo by ©

Just friends.

You asked someone out, and they said they would rather be friends than anything else. OK. So how should you handle it?

There's more to the idea of the “friend zone” than many might think. When opposite genders elect to stay friends and not move their friendship to higher levels — like a relationship — even though they may supremely close, some might see it as the end of the road.

Friends have limitations, after all. There’s no romance involved.

But is it something to be upset about?

Why don't people like the 'friend zone'?

Rejection is tough.

But why don't people like rejection when they get a friendship out of it?

Well, part of it may be because men overall are having a tough time establishing friendships. Christianity Today reported this week that men and women continue to live lonely lives, even though they could easily strike up friendships with each other. But that’s just the problem, according to Christianity Today. Men don’t want to start up those opposite-sex friendships.

It’s also about doubt. People don’t think they can maintain relationships that don’t have some sort of romantic connection to it, according to Christianity Today.

“We wonder how much we can expect from it, how solid and durable it is, when we compare it to other bonds,” Welsey Hill wrote for Christianity Today. “Is friendship a weaker tie than marriage or family? Further, many of us doubt that we can attain intimacy without there being deep down some sexual element to the friendship."

Scientists have said that it’s actually not possible for men and women to just be friends.

According to Scientific American, a study from the University of Wisconsin found that women and men both are capable of being romantic with the people they identify as “just friends.”

While men tend to be more attracted to their female friends, the research found, women often categorize their male counterparts as friends because they don’t think the males have any romantic interest in them.

But there are risks to the 'friend zone'

Saying someone is just a friend might seem like a good idea for now, but there are some problems with it.

As Chelsea Cristene of Role Reboot noted in her 2013 article, the “friend zone” can harm opposite sex relationships for a couple of reasons. Mainly, it puts a label on your friend and makes it seem as though they have done something wrong to only be worthy of the friend title.

It can also be dangerous for women. BuzzFeed published a discussion between a couple of writers, in which they discussed the ins and outs of the “friend zone” and what that means for relationships.

Specifically, the writers highlighted that it’s a term mostly used by men as a way of saying that a woman isn’t romantically interested in them, rather than just accepting that someone is a friend. Men, the writer said, give the experience a name that puts blame on the women.

“The concept of the friend zone is dangerous for both men and women. It undermines the importance of a woman’s consent, of taking her at her word when she says ‘no’ or ‘no, thank you’ or ‘I’m not interested,’” said Tracy Clayton on BuzzFeed.

Still, there are benefits to the 'friend zone'

Having a friend of the opposite gender can help you in a number of ways.

According to Man Helper, an information resource for men, being just friends with someone can inspire confidence. By being friends with more people of the opposite sex, you can get more comfortable around them and have more successful dates.

And a writer for First Things explained that having a friend of the opposite sex gives people a look into the mind of their spouse, allowing them to see what faults they may have or what they could be doing better in their own relationships.

And the friend you have could build a friendship with your spouse, too. But it’s important to make sure the boundaries established by you and your spouse are made clear and aren’t crossed, First Things reported.

“I think it is OK to have friendships with the opposite sex, but I don’t share with other women what I haven’t shared with my wife,” said Will Honeycutt to First Things. “I think sometimes it is healthy to get input from another female, but on a regular basis, I should not be sharing intimate issues with a woman who is not my wife."

Overall, having a friend of the opposite sex can make you more human. Kimberly Lo of the Elephant Journal, a health and wellness website, wrote that it’s important to recognize people as individuals. Also, searching for romance in each relationship people have is only going to hurt people’s growth.

“By viewing every person of the opposite sex as potential lover or partner, we are ultimately doing ourselves a disservice,” Lo wrote. “Part of being a mature adult means making conscious choices. It also means seeing people as individuals.”

Email: Twitter: @herbscribner
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