All-consuming anxiety waiting for her to text back.
"What is she thinking?"
"Did I say something wrong?"
"Is she seeing someone else?"
"Does she not like me anymore? Did she ever?"
Enter the Zone
Ah, the friendzone. A place I’ve been to so many times that I now have enough content to write a blog entry about it! sobs
This is a reflection on what’s happened in the past, how I ‘put myself in the friendzone’, and I suppose a theory of success (or failure, depending on how you look at it or want to use it).
somehow the girls that like me, I don’t really like them back. I can entertain them for abit, have some fun, but the desire for them on my part just isn’t there.
The girls I do like, at least like to a large extent, they don’t like me back. Feelsbadman.
Actually, interestingly, its not that they didn’t like me back from the start. They probably did, but its more that they lost interest in me once I started proper chasing.
When they distance themselves away from you, the panic starts. We feel it. Intuitively. Gut instinct. Thousands of years of evolution. We know that there is a drop in the engagement, in the energy being reflected back, being emanated from the other person. We know.
And it sucks. Because the first thing that comes into your mind is: ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘How can I win her back?’
Its a trap.
You chase harder, and she runs further away.
Is the Friendzone a good or bad place?
When I say ‘friendzone’, what I picture in my mind is this: I want to be speeding down the highway, but I’m stuck on the sidewalk.
The key idea being that it is a place I do not want to be at. I want to be somewhere else.
If I was totally comfortable with being ‘just friends’, then I wouldn’t be in a ‘zone’ or a ‘box’ per se - it would just naturally... be.
You would fall into a natural Equilibrium.
I am proud to take credit for coming up with Equilibrium Theory, which basically states that:
Any and all connections you have with other people have an equilibrium that they settle into.
With some people, no matter how much time you spend with them, you will simply be ‘okay-friends’: somehow you operate on a different frequency or wavelength, the conversations just can’t resonate on a deeper level, or the emotional connection isn’t there.
With others, you can meet them for 10 minutes and feel super comfortable pouring out your whole life with them.
The same extends to romantic connections too.
With some people, you will feel that spark, that chemistry, that primal attraction, that sexual tension. You can’t stop it, no matter how hard you try. I mean, you can’t stop the feeling, but you CAN stop yourself from acting on it. It just consumes some of your willpower or discipline reserves each time you do.
With this group, you might also be able to build an intellectual and/or emotional connection with them. If you do, fantastic. This is the kind of person you should probably marry or call your ‘soulmate’. The caveat here is to ask yourself: ‘do we naturally have that connection? or is the physical intimacy warping our sense of reality? would I engage in an intellectual conversation or heart-to-heart-talk with this person if we weren’t sleeping together?’ Get brutally honest with yourself, because you may not like the answer you find.
I certainly didn’t.
Why is this important? Because if what you two have is a physical attraction and nothing more, the equilibrium that emerges would be friends with benefits. Trying to force it to be something different would just cause problems for all parties. Its like that cliché of asking a fish to climb a tree.
Now, on the flipside, we have equilibriums where the two of you are good friends, but try to turn it into a relationship. Usually its the guy who wants to turn it into a relationship, and the girl who resists (at least for me, idk about you, fellow kings).
Whenever you try to change the dynamic, it just doesn’t work. Nobody is happy. It falls back to its equilibrium.
This is the Friendzone.
So the question you have to ask is: is this equilibrium one that I am okay with?
Coming to the realization that the connection between the two of you will naturally settle to this comes with a kind of ‘Tao Te Ching’-esque acceptance. you can’t fight nature, so either accept it, or leave it.
Yes, you can employ the tactics above, and in a way, become a different person by swapping out the mental software installed in your head, and potentially change the equilibrium. But you have to be careful that you aren’t making those changes just for one person, or just to appear as a non-beta simp. If those changes are inauthentic, people can smell it from a mile away.
Deep, genuine, internal change takes time.
Speaking of time, the next thing to accept with Equilibrium Theory is that equilibriums can change over time.
2012 Eugene and 2022 Eugene are quite different people, with different defining experiences, different mental software, and other external differences like style, fitness, money, status, etc.
So a connection with both Eugenes would look quite different too. Naturally.
Add in the next dimension of the other person growing and changing, and you have a pretty crazy concoction of possibilities. A multiverse of infinite realities, if you’d indulge me 😄
The chance that the versions of yourselves 5 years from now will still end up settling in the same equilibrium is honestly pretty rare - and if it does change, it might signal an important decision point in both your lives to adjust accordingly.
Of course, I don’t discount that relationships take work, and the obstacles in the way can be misinterpreted as ‘this isn’t meant to be, because if it was, it would be easy and natural and comfortable.’ This is an important dichotomy to tread, discerning how much to commit and when to let go and stop fighting nature.
How to Stay in the Friendzone?
Its important that I start this entry with the more philosophical, ‘acceptance’ and ‘equilibrium’ mental model stuff, because they are ultimately the more important things.
That being said, I’ve also seen some patterns of behavior emerge in my own self-assessment looking back on my romantic life thus far.
And I’d say there are 2 things I do which either lead to be being in the friendzone, or seal the deal and keep me there if things were uncertain before.
Fair warning: this section is probably not going to be an easy read. It will sound controversial, and should be so. Because if it were in-line with your current worldview, it wouldn’t change a thing.
Keep an open mind, feel free to disagree.
I diminish the value of my attention and time.
If I only give my attention and time to people who have earned it, who are themselves committing their time, attention or resources to me, that makes sense.
The moment you start giving it away disproportionately, not only does it seem weird to the other party: ‘why is Eugene suddenly so available for me? does he want something? am i really that good? it doesn’t make sense to give so much so early into knowing someone.’
it also devalues your attention. Things are valuable because they are rare, they are scarce. Gold, NFTs, Bitcoin, Mystic Axies, Rats to Riches Beta sets (selling for $388 each JUST SAYIN)
So the remedy for this is: guard your attention, time, energy and resources.
I know how this sounds, trust me. I wrote this quite some time ago, and now, re-reading it, editing it before publishing, I see a fair amount of distance between my old and current worldview on this topic.
I see the thread running through, from my past mindspace and experiences, to the present.
So let’s try reframing this:
Your time, your energy, your attention, your resources, are valuable. Before you start channeling all of it for some person who doesn’t appreciate it, doesn’t see its value, make sure you take a step back and see where else it can be of better service. Its a noble thing to give, to serve, to be generous without any expectation of anything in return. But unless you are Gandhi with a lifetime of meditating on and practicing compassion and service, we, normal humans, probably don’t have that big a wellspring of stuff to give. You can’t give if your own cup is empty.
So its a matter of prioritization.
Put yourself first. Take care of your health, make sure you are in a good state of mind. Nobody is worth compromising your mental health for.
Second in the priority ladder is your mission, your passions, your projects, your hustles. Particularly important for men.
Then comes relationships. Perhaps this is a controversial way of ordering things, but this is how I see it. People come and go, and you should for sure put in effort to maintain relationships, but if you don’t have your health, if you don’t have a life outside of your partner, it won’t work either.
I lose Frame.
The second phenomena I notice before getting put in the friendzone is when I lose Frame.
In every situation, we are operating within someone’s frame.
In a professional setting, most of the time we are following the boss’ frame.
In a romantic relationship, it could be yours or the other party’s.
So what I realize is when we are operating within my frame, meaning the conversations flow generally in a way of my preference, and conclude with her assimilating to my worldview, and I am leading the actions, the dates, planning stuff, things go well.
But when i start to think of how great her life is, and how i want to be a part of her life, if I am not careful, that’s where things go downhill.
If I simply ‘latch/leech’ on to her life, becoming a passenger while she leads, learn the things she learns, attend the same events, etc.
That shit is weak af.
It may seem nice for awhile - spending more time with the person, having more things in common, showing you are interested in her life and putting in the effort to learn, etc.
But if you want to avoid the Friendzone, if you want her to be attracted to you, don’t do this.
Ideally she will want to enter into your life. You have loads of interesting things going on already, and she joins you for the ride, and adds value on the journey.
Maintaining Frame means you begin and primarily do the things that interest you, the things that you are passionate about. If there happens to be overlaps, common interests, then sure, you can attend stuff, but ask yourself whether you would be attending/learning these things even if she wasn’t there.
Where do we go from here?
Set high standards for yourself. Set clear boundaries.
If anyone does not show up the way you would like them to, either accept that they will be like this, or move on. The last thing you want to do is to beg them to change. Which effectively you would be doing by apologizing, giving the other person unearned attention, chasing them harder. You would only repel them further.
You can try to communicate that they haven’t been showing up for you the way you want, but let’s be real. They already know it. Saying it might earn you some comforting ‘okay I will do better’, but the simple fact is: you cannot negotiate genuine desire.
Color me pessimistic, but if someone wants to be a part of your life, you will know it. There will be no doubt.
If you are confused, then they don’t.
It is an uncomfortable truth to accept, and one that I have found very hard to swallow, many times.
It is uncomfortable because it strikes at the very core of our being: Are we wanted? Are we desired? Are we valuable? Are we significant?
Or are we worthless? Unwanted?
And the answer is - no. You are inherently valuable and desirable, just not by this singular person. And that’s fine. There is more to life - more experiences, more places and projects to channel your energy, time and attention to, and most importantly, more people.
Let go, look ahead, and move on.
Speed down the highway of your own choosing. Forge your own awesome path.
And who knows? maybe someone else will want to join you for the ride.