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Although the term is apparently gender-neutral, friend zone is often used to describe a situation in a male-female relationship in which the male is in the friend zone and the female is the object of his unrequited desire.
The term "friend zone" is sometimes used in pick up artist (PUA) literature, where it forms part of PUA theories about female sexual attraction to males.
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The sense of zone is one of being stuck in an unwanted and distant relationship.
Overall then, the friend zone occurs in relationships where both individuals' emotional needs are not getting met. Because all good relationships are built from a mutually-satisfying social exchange (see here), friend zone situations ultimately don't feel very good.
Therefore, when someone gets stuck in the friend zone, they have entered into an exchange that is not fair or equal.
They can also learn to develop social skills like approaching others with confidence (here), creating sexually stimulating conversations (here, and here), and being a bit coy, non-needy, and elusive (here).
By working on "sex appeal", individuals can be more likely to be put in the category of "lover" than "friend".
friends-with-benefits), but there is a commitment mismatch, where only one person wants a "relationship" as a committed girlfriend or boyfriend.
Each episode is based around "crushers" who are friends with the "crushees", but want to begin relationships with them.
The Cartoon Network series Regular Show brings up and shows the friend zone on a regular basis, as one of the show's main characters, Mordecai, and his friend Margaret experience shifts in their relationship.
By understanding the uneven exchange and mismatch above, you can often stop a friend zone situation from even happening in the first place. For any number of reasons then, the "friend zoned" individual just doesn't spark the chemistry to make the other person desire them, lust after them, and want them in return.
There are various ways to prevent such mismatching goals and make sure everyone is satisfied. Therefore, the attraction is one-sided, with them receiving nothing in return.