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I followed several Twitter accounts aimed at high-school-age audiences last year, to keep a pulse on the voice, attitudes, issues of today’s teens–a socially acceptable form of Friends1creative eavesdropping.

The exercise paid off better than expected. I found the snarky male voice for my current YA project, and got a glimpse of a teenage guy’s point of view on topics. Topics guys typically didn’t discuss in front girls when I was in high school, but don’t hesitate to tweet about now. Thank you, social media.

One thing I was particularly surprised by, was how easily (it seemed) guys (in the tweets I was reading) believed they’d been friendzoned. That place no one wants to end up when it comes to their crush.

Friend Zone:
When one person wants a romantic relationship with another person
and the person of their affection isn’t interested.

When “Friends” Doesn’t Mean “Friendzoned”

As I develop the relationship between the main characters in my current YA project, this topic came up again. Like so many teens, they have to navigate the pitfalls leading to a romantic relationship. Their personal issues intertwine with their character arcs to deepen the plot. How they relate to others shows who they are, and what they’re made of.

teenage relationshipWhat worried me so much about the “friendzoned” tweets was the innocence of the (girl’s) remarks that made the guy think he’d been kicked into the friend zone.

I realize a lot of tweets are meant for pure entertainment, especially those for a teenage audience. Still, over time I saw a definite trend across the accounts I was following.

In one repeated scenario, the girl referred to the guy as a “friend” after they’d just started talking and the guy assumed he’d been friendzoned. Maybe…but probably not. Healthy long-term relationships start with friendship. At least that’s been my experience. I’d worry if a guy didn’t want to develop a friendship, because that attitude smacks of a casual hook up.

Another scenario involved the girl who remarked “That is so sweet!” after the guy did something super nice for her. In his mind, that one short sentence sent him to the Friend Zone. Um… No. She was probably surprised by his gallant gesture, and at a loss for originality.

Friend Zone Fact and Fiction

My characters stress over being sucked into the Friend Zone mire too. They face the same relationship anxieties as normal teens, all while working to stay alive and outsmart the CIA. Which is the reason for these (hopefully) helpful guidelines:

  1. When you and your crush first start talking, if they refer to you as a “friend” it means they like you teenage relationships(read: romantically). It’s why they’re talking to you.
  2. The Friend Zone isn’t a virus you catch. You usually get there through misinterpreted signals and lack of action.
  3. Not all Friend Zones are created equal.
  4. The Friend Zone does not discriminate. Girls can get stuck in the Friend Zone too.
  5. You can put yourself in the Friend Zone. Don’t.
  6. The Friend Zone is not the Dead Zone.
  7. Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, so anyone can escape the Friend Zone. It takes planning, positive attitude, and action.
  8. Starting off as friends is a good thing. Happy, long-lasting relationships begin with friendship.

[Photo Credits: morguefile.com]