Featured News Opinion OPINION | There are worse places than the Friend Zone; it's called...

OPINION | There are worse places than the Friend Zone; it’s called the Parasite Zone

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"Whilst parasites are initially fun to hang around with, they end up draining you and the sooner you remove them, the better it will be for your sanity." — Tang Li, OPINION

I actually stumbled upon the profile of the first woman that I was actually “in love” with on Linkedin. I have stupidly sent a “friend request” and I’m curious about where things will lead. A part of me thinks it will be good to have a “blast from the past” but the more cautious part tells me that I must be a masochist.

I met this girl back in my second year of university. We seemed to click. She’s Malaysian and I’m Singaporean and since we were the only people from our part of the world, I guess you could say that this gave us a common bond. We hung out and things seemed to flow so naturally that when she mentioned that she needed a place to stay – I invited her in. I was, as they say, a helpless romantic. But once she moved into the flat, I got “friend-zoned.”

However, I kept telling myself that if I helped her through her troubles, she would see that I was the one for her. I had this vision of living that scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts kisses Richard Gere on the lips after saying that this is one thing she never does with clients.

You could say that I was young and helplessly in love. The time that we had spent had become such an invaluable part of my existence that whenever she left my flat, I felt unbearable loneliness. I was in my early twenties and I had a flat in party central of the most prominent cities on the planet, I dreaded being away from her. We partied regularly and once in a while there were wonderful scenes of domestic bliss. The girl was a magician in the kitchen, especially when it came to French food.

However, she was troubled and while she did honour her two promises to me (This was back in the Asian Financial crisis and I lent her 2,000 GBP for her school fees and got her to promise that she would do well in her career. In fairness, she paid back what she owed and if the profile I saw was really her – she seems to have done well), she had some funny ideas of what friendship meant.

It took me a while to get over her. Friends and family urged me to resist calling her and to make her call me. Had a confrontation with her in her school library and luckily I met a nicer, more mature Malaysian girl when I served an internship at Citibank Singapore (also didn’t work out but at least this girl is a pleasant human being and we still speak over WhatsApp on occasion).

I’ve not seen this particular girl for 24 years. As a reference, I adopted my Evil Young Adult, who was born around the same time I was in London with this girl. My love life hasn’t been wildly successful since then. However, the experience of being with this young lady has gotten me thinking.

I guess the first thing to talk about is the dreaded “friend zone” that many “nice” guys find themselves in when it comes to the girl of their dreams. There is an entire industry devoted to telling guys how not to get placed in the “friend zone.”

While the truth is, there are worse places to be than in the friend zone. While it may not be the relationship that you want to be in, a good friendship can add value to your life. I remember telling when I had my other interesting relationships that “friendship implies that there’s two-way traffic.”

Having a friendship with a girl, especially a good-looking one, can help you. She can introduce you to her other friends and you may meet the girl of your dreams. Your guy friends will value you more for being friends with a hot, likeable chick.

The key to surviving the friend zone is to ensure that there is “two-way traffic.” Friends can become lovers. One of my best friends is now married to a girl he was friends with for the longest of times. Even if it never goes beyond friendship, one can never have too few people caring about you. A good girlfriend can even assist you in being a better lover to women (in my case, there’s Flesh-Ball).

However, if there’s no two-way traffic, then you are not in the friend zone. You’re somewhere worse. You are in the feeding parasite zone. Whilst parasites are initially fun to hang around, they end up draining you and the sooner you remove them, the better it will be for your sanity.

The second point about my experiences in the “friend zone” with this girl, was the fact that I discovered family, or specifically my sister, who got very protective of me and did her best to keep me away from unhealthy influences.

My sister was supported by friends and I’m glad to report that I developed a healthy relationship with some of my best friends to this very day.

So, while my personal history would probably disqualify me from giving advice on “love,” I would say to guys who are being placed in the “friend zone,” that it’s not the end of the world. Friendships have value but you got to ensure that these are friendships and not an excuse to tolerate parasites. There is hope of happiness in the friend zone.

A version of this article first appeared at beautifullyincoherent.blogspot.com


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