Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Friend Zone

Back to the well. What can I say, it's a deep well.

A friend's recent Facebook status:

Friend zone- a term people use when they have a 'crush', but know that she/he isn't interested..yet will let themselves be in that situation and give it a name so people will feel sorry for them..if it comes to that, grow a pair and move on.

Easier said than done.

I can say this with some authority, having been in the fabled Friend Zone for a very long time, back in the day. The term didn't exist then, but we had an equivalent, if less succinct, term, to wit: "I love you, but not in that way".

Translated from Friendzonish, that means "You're a good friend, but you're ugly as homemade fuck." (It's also expressed as "I love you like a brother", which should be extraordinarily comforting to an only child, but which usually made him think long and hard about incest taboos.)

That status, that zone, was the source of most of my teenage depression and melodrama. It hurt in that way that only teenage rejection does. High school is full of couples coupling. It's not an atmosphere conducive to the self-esteem of people who are ugly as homemade fuck.

I never lost hope that eventually some Object Of My Undying Affection would drop the qualifier and just say she loved me. But I did eventually accept the qualified love -- more properly called like, but whatever--for the comfort that was in it. Better some kind of companionship than none at all.

The funny thing was, once I resigned myself to the situation--to always hearing about that way, and how I wasn't fit for it--things started to change for me.

I concentrated on being the best friend I could be. And I began to see beauty everywhere. I'd always prided myself on being deep enough to look beyond the tarted and dolled up beauty that saturated high school hallways, but it was only after I started to grow up and stop lusting that I really learned what love is.

Love is, as Robert Heinlein wrote, that condition in which the happiness of another is essential to your own.

I'm still learning about love all these years later. It's a lifelong vocation. I've learned that sex has very little, in and of itself, to do with it. That took a long time to internalize, for two reasons. One, I have never been able to have sex for the sake of sex. I've tried the one night stand and couldn't hack it; deprived of emotion, sex is a biological function like defecation, about as enjoyable. Two, sex is often called "making love", which has always perplexed me. How exactly does sex make love? It's the noblest expression of love already made that I can think of, but it doesn't make love at all.

But all that said, it is possible to love people, "but not in that way". How do I know this? Because I'm married to the only woman I do love "in that way",...and it hasn't changed my love for my friends.

Welcome to the Friend Zone. It need not be a prison. And if you find yourself here, you need not move on. It can be a nice place to be.

No comments: