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The Friend Zone and the Christian Male

Fake crying over fake friendship
The friend zone refers to a person's unintended relationship status. It usually begins with a man who pursues a romantic relationship with a woman by building a friendship. His failure to do so is referred to as being friend-zoned. 

Being friend-zoned implies the girl consciously chooses to plant her male girlfriend in a platonic hypostasis. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you're a guy, you chose it. If you're a Christian guy, you doubly chose it. Unintentionally or unconsciously, you made the decision to get locked up in friend prison. Here's why and some ways to break out: 

1) You're a man and that means you're not a girlfriend: Feminism minimizes the difference between men and women. Therefore, men can be friends with women the way women are friends with each other. And women can be friends with men the way men are friends with each other. Unfortunately, reality doesn't work that way. One or the other fails at some point. 

Men and women think, communicate, and behave differently but we've come under the mythology that somehow, as men, we can be a shoulder to cry on for women - the way a good girlfriend should act. And the worst mythology is that a guy thinks being a good girlfriend will make a woman want him as a boyfriend. 

Women aren't completely innocent here since they can emasculate men through friend zoning. But since I'm talking to guys, my point is as follows: If you build emotional intimacy with a woman without any expressed romantic intent, you're playing with fire - either to be friend-zoned or to emotionally prostitute yourself or both.

Being a man means not being casual, flippant, or covert about building emotional intimacy with a woman. You keep a certain emotional distance unless you decide there might be something more to pursue. In high school, I found out how easy it is for attraction to develop between a guy and girl who share a lot with each other. The experience helped me to be wary about who I was vulnerable with. 

2) You're a Christian and therefore friendship has high value:  Tucker Max unintentionally describes this beautifully in his friend zone podcast transcript:

Tucker:
So, you actually liked her as a person, is what you’re saying?


Geoff:
I liked her as a person.


Tucker:
So, women can be something besides a vagina, right?


Geoff:
Yeah!


Tucker:
And that can benefit you.


Geoff:
Guys, if you have a sister, does your sister add value to you even though you’re not—


Tucker:
No. She put me in the [brother] zone! It was total bullshit! 

Tucker Max is far more prophetic than he realizes. Our primary identity is as brothers and sisters in Christ. The relationship we have with each other as members of the body of Christ is the only enduring human relationship we will have. But being friend zoned means we rate our sexual relationships as having far greater significance than our family bond.

How can being friend zoned be a tragedy if it doesn't threaten the primary relationship you have with this person? It means you have screwed up expectations to begin with and/or you find nothing beneficial about being friends with a particular woman. She adds nothing to your life. As Tucker Max so bluntly puts it, she's just a vagina to you. Once we understand our corporate identity in Christ, it is impossible to view another person as a penis receptacle. We can learn to enjoy friendships with women because God gave us the gift of sisters.

3) You're a Christian male so make your intentions clear: Being a man means being goal-oriented and risk-averse. In Christ, we have the capacity to manifest courage, initiative, and honesty. We are not called to be disingenuous about our desires. So if you like a girl and decide to pursue her, let her know in no uncertain terms. If in the course of friendship with a woman, you develop feelings of attraction, you need to decide whether you want to risk the friendship and the possibility of rejection. If expressing romantic interest isn't worth the jeopardizing the friendship, then learn contentment and self-control (by not escalating the emotional intimacy). If it is worth it, put your interest out there and trust God for what happens. If you get rejected then deal with it, move on, or stop being friends. I received a soft rejection in college - it was a "I don't know you well enough to say yes". In that instance, I valued the friendship and knew I might have an outside chance over time so we kept in touch. Give her a chance to validate that you're the kind of person you claim to be. You never know what might happen if she gets to know you better. But it can't happen until you stop cowering behind your hidden agenda and make your intentions clear.

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