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    1. #1
      Member Photolysis's Avatar
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      The Friend Zone: A possible evolutionary perspective.

      I was discussing recently about the idea of the 'friend-zone', and whether it actually exists or not.

      To get to the point, while I suggested that most cases of being 'friend-zoned' are simply a euphemism for lack of attractiveness/interest (which the male recipient doesn't recognise and instead takes literally, leading to much confusion), it did get me thinking over whether friendship could actually be a barrier to romance, and if so, could it affect one gender more than the other?

      Obviously in the real world the matter is far more complicated because by the time friendship develops between two parties there's the initial impressions which are then further modified. For the purposes of this discussion however, I'm ignoring all that and focusing exclusively on the idea of friendship being a possible barrier. I'm also considering this mostly from an evolutionary perspective in the ancestral environment, even if such instincts do not correspond to the realities of a modern society.


      So let's start with friendship: is it a potential barrier to romance? I would suggest that yes, it is something to consider, especially if one actually highly values a particular friendship and pursuing a romance could place that friendship at risk if it doesn't work out. I'd also suggest that if this were true, you'd expect stronger friendships to pose a bigger barrier, though it's also possible that the increased interpersonal bond strength and knowledge of the other party could significantly help predict compatibility, countering this.


      A brief interlude on reproduction and evolution. Recent culture notwithstanding (i.e. the ability of a woman to force costly child support on a man), reproduction has always been much riskier for women than for men. If you pick a bad partner, that's a lot of resources you've got to spend, not to mention the dangers of complications from childbirth. For men, a bad choice costs him very little other than a bit of his time as he can walk away.

      Because reproduction costs differ between the genders, this also has a significant impact on rejection. A woman rejecting a man is essentially stating "you're not worth a huge amount of time and effort on my part raising a child". A man rejecting a women is stating "you're not worth a small amount of my time". Thus the latter is far more devastating for a woman as a social signal to others, than a woman rejecting a man.


      So let's assume for the sake of argument that friendship is indeed a barrier. Would it affect one gender more than the other, and if so, what reason might this be?

      If two parties are friends, then it doesn't seem much of a stretch to assume that within our ancient environment of small tribes that they'd be very likely to be directly involved in the same social circle (though admittedly the tribal one is also one in of itself).

      If Alice and Bob, two friends, are involved then being rejected becomes more costly since the ability to control the information and/or give a preferred spin on it within that circle is eliminated. Because of this, that Bob rejecting Alice would quickly pass around the circle, and because Bob rejecting Alice is inherently more costly to Alice, it would do much greater harm to her perceived attractiveness and status -- even if only unconsciously -- than the inverse.

      Thus if two friends date, the costs of rejection to the woman significantly increase even more over that of a man, and so a woman would be less likely to date a friend. Other factors notwithstanding.

      Admittedly this is also making a bunch of assumptions about the nature of relationships in the human ancestral environment. And as I said, the real truth of the matter is doubtless complicated by many additional factors.



      Hypothesis: Friendship is a potential barrier to a romantic relationship (the "friend-zone"), and women are less likely to date a friend than it than a man due to the differing costs of reproduction and the different penalties rejection imposes upon social status.

      Any thoughts anyone has to offer would be appreciated.
      Last edited by Photolysis; 03-29-2013 at 06:56 AM.

    2. #2
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      I have certainly had a friend that I wanted to get things going with, but couldn't, because of us being friends, I think. While he seemed into it, I think it was too much of a barrier for him.

      Oh yeah, your hypothesis doesn't take gay relationships into consideration.

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    3. #3
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
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      Sorry, don't have any data on this.
      like a boss

    4. #4
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      I think that there are plenty of very successful marriages and long term relationships that combine romantic love and friendship, so the two do not have to interfere with each other, at least not for all people, but no rule fits all relationships, so for some people this may be correct.

    5. #5
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      I don't think it makes much sense from an evolutionary perspective. Having children with someone you have known for a long time is a lot safer than having children with a guy you met five seconds ago. In fact you are kind of implying that it is better to have sex outside of your social group with strangers, than having sex within your social group. Clearly having sex inside your social group is far better and safer, and that is why historically people get together with people in their groups.

      Everything points to the idea that you would want to have sex with your friends and people with closer connections to you, and outsiders should be considered far more dangerous.

      I think the friend zone is more a situation of humans naturally ability to notice patterns and group things. Humans are extremely good at this and group everything, some times even arbitrarily because we like to. We stick everything into groups, and we judge a lot of people based on those groups. So in this situation a person is classified as a friend. Now because you labeled the person it is difficult to relabel them and even though the label is in reality totally meaningless, it means a lot to the person.

      So people have difficulty changing labels. It is kind of like picking up racist patterns, and even if you don't agree with racist stuff and you are the type of person that makes an active attempt to not be racist, you might subconsciously group someone in a racist way just because you been exposed to those thinking patterns by society.

      You can't even help what you think subconsciously, so it isn't even your fault but it happens. So a person labels another as a friend, and then it is hard to see them in a sexual way.

    6. #6
      Member Photolysis's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Alric View Post
      I don't think it makes much sense from an evolutionary perspective. Having children with someone you have known for a long time is a lot safer than having children with a guy you met five seconds ago. In fact you are kind of implying that it is better to have sex outside of your social group with strangers, than having sex within your social group. Clearly having sex inside your social group is far better and safer, and that is why historically people get together with people in their groups.
      Would it? Consider that many species (including several apes, I believe) drive off their males to reduce inbreeding and increase gene flow by taking on males from outside the group.

      Something to think about anyway.

      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      Oh yeah, your hypothesis doesn't take gay relationships into consideration.
      It wasn't designed to!

    7. #7
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      If you drive off the males and let new ones come in, then that is a lot different. Often it is the new male that drive off the younger males as well. Though I don't know any animal that has adult males of breeding age hang around the females and just be friends, while the woman goes off on their own to find mates else where. I mean it might happen but I am not aware of it.

      Usually if adult males are around, they will want to mate not just hang out.

    8. #8
      Half Vulcan DreiHundert's Avatar
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      I think this is just a case of looking too deeply into a girl who isn't attracted to you.
      I've known girls to start dating a guy they just met because there is an advantage to not knowing them in advance. And it's true that a prior friendship can put a barrier between a guy and a girl. For the typical reasons of (a) She values your friendship and doesnt want to ruin it and (b) She knows you as a person and is simply not interested in you as a potential date.

      But it's important to remember that plenty of relationships began as friendships. In fact, in the old days boys and girls didn't become "just friends". if it didn't work out, it didn't work out. These days people linger like onion breath.

      The simple answer is that girls don't put guys in the friend zone. Guys put guys in the friend zone. The friend zone is nothing more than something that a guy complains about after pursuing a hopeless relationship for months longer than he should have. I think us guys need to learn that sometimes it just wasn't meant to be -- and that we need to move on and try another girl.

      ^ Mhm, heard 'dat.

    9. #9
      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      It is AWESOME when a long time friendship turns into a romance. After years of not wanting to screw things up by having sex, there can come that point when you both know and communicate that there is more going on between you than friendship and you should have a romantic relationship. It's beautiful.
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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