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Lucky Dube discusses the nobility of the ‘friendzone’ ahead of  Valentine’s Day. 

The feast of St Valentine of Terni, which has been commemorated since the Middle Ages on the 14th of February, associates itself with the tradition of courtly love. A tradition, having had its creation in the literature of medieval Europe, that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Although little is known about the exact origins of the term, it garnered popularity through its use by the writer Gaston Paris, who wrote of amour courtois being an idolisation and ennobling discipline.

The lover, he wrote, accepts the independence of his mistress and tries to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honourably and by doing whatever deeds she might desire, subjecting himself to a series of tests to prove his love and commitment.

The one that is friendzoned exists in a state of flux in which his attraction to the other inhibits platonic love

This description of the lover is far removed from the hoards of ‘ladies men’ that run rampant in our clubs, houses and halls of residence. This man is less an embodiment of amour courtois than he is the unending optimism and greed of the sort of men that flooded California in the gold rushes of the 19th century. The term ‘gold rush’ has made its way into common parlance amongst students of the university as it describes a phenomenon in which the social sphere, towards the end of term, resembles a meat market in which participants seek to gratify themselves as much as possible before returning to their respective homes. There is, however, hope as there exists a category of student that having rejected the laws of the meat market aspires to ideals that Paris so eloquently wrote of.

To be friendzoned,or to be in the friendzone, describes a relationship in which – it is thought by many – one participant harbours intense feelings for the other, who, conversely, merely considers her suitor a friend. Paris offers some insight in this respect as he writes for courtly love: sexual satisfaction may not have been a goal or the end result, but the love was not platonic as it was based in sexual attraction.

 

The one that is friendzoned exists in a state of flux in which his attraction to the other inhibits platonic love, but his noble sentiments prevent him from acquiescing to the dishonourable laws of the meat market. What results is a partnership that resembles an ideal relationship but one where its existence is neither acknowledged, nor consummated.

So pervasive are the laws of the gold rush, possibly due to the excitement at the freedom that the university experience grants one, that the friendzoned exist as an insurance of sorts. Acting as a medicinal salve to a cut, he lessens the inevitable emotional pain that comes with being an, as it were, consumer in the meat market.

He exists as a kind of consolation – an assurance that not all men are disrespectful and predatory. On the feast of St Valentine, while the couples blithely enjoy themselves, the singletons eat alone and waste away watching Netflix, and the scorned agonise over loves lost, we must take some time to think of our men that have been friendzoned.

They exist as a totem of courteous and respectful relations between men and women: the ideal they embody is one to which we should all aspire. An ideal that will become sought after in the future after the excitement of the meat market has long worn off.

To the friendzoned: don’t worry, your time will come.


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