An Essay About The Witch Craft Known As Friend Zones

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At Slay Culture, we let Black women be. She’s allowed to and celebrated for her quintessential slay in style, success and sensuality, because we can have it all. In addition to creating a safe space for her to revel and find support, we also have a space for her to heal, let her hair down, and scream when she needs to. This is me screaming.

For the past three years, a fellow and I had a “thing”. Wading the tricky waters of avoiding labels, yet checking in with each other almost every day, feelings got involved and I, being the pseudo-Alpha woman that I am, needed to know what was happening now and what we’d do with it next. I’d broken a personal rule of mine to get this coveted information: pulled up to his home so that we could speak eye-to-eye. When I hear your truth, it is important that I see it match your eyes, so on I went in the late hours of the night looking for answers. How deep is his care for me? Does he want a relationship with me? Is he ready for everything I have to offer or is he playing with me?

Keep your judgements at bay — I asked myself if I wanted him, too. Thing is, the guess-work became too much for me; while I was wondering what was happening in his head, I was s l o w l y developing feelings for him that I’m not sure were even real at this point. He tells me how I’m the total package, even with my eccentricities, and that one day he can see himself marrying me and having babies. Cute…but I left out the part about him not being ready for any commitment of any kind in his life, then or within the next few years. Also the [very important] part when he said that in addition to me, there were at least 2-3 other women in his life that he could see himself marrying, too. This was the first time he’d ever mentioned them, a small group of women that he now claims no longer exists. We’re also pushing 30, mind you.

The words couldn’t escape me because I was flabbergasted. But in my mind, I repeated a hot button phrase spoken by women everywhere, at least twice in their lives: He got me f*cked up!

I thanked him for his time, removed myself from his presence and let his words marinate for 2-3 weeks. Because I have to process this in my own way in order to move on. 2015 goes smoothly; we keep in contact and remain friends because I like his company, but I implement firm boundaries. No, you can’t call me baby. No, I’m no longer your “bae”. No, your feelings about what I do with my time and who’s involved don’t matter anymore. You are an after thought in that regard and I am living my life like it’s golden, because slay. Towards the end of 2015, though, that night is dredged up again in casual conversation. I very honestly explain to him how his words were translated to me and how they made me feel — that I was optioned and back burnered until he decided he was ready to be with me. I quipped Shark Tank’s classic line, “and for that reason, I’m out,” at the end. I’d won.

Very respectfully, he apologized. I asked him not to because he deserved to feel those feelings. He had every right to play the field and ensure he wouldn’t “marry a sucker!” The problem arose when he recognized his level of asshole + how it made me feel and continued using pet names and relationship speak after I’d asked him not to. The kind of talk that created what we know as “the grey area”. The language that badgers the black hole known as “the friend zone”. Essentially, you’re telling me how bomb I am, how unreliable you are and that I must wait and deal until the two are aligned….which would mean we’d both be settling. Because I’m Anna Mae and I’m going to eat the damn cake or else.

He got me f*cked up! Ten times.

I explain the level of f*cked up he had me, only to be met with more apologies. More lines about how he didn’t mean it that way. More interjections about how perfect I am and that the real issues lie with him, not me. More, more, more. And I am tired. Because I realize that as iron clad as I credit myself for being towards foolish men, I let him in. I cared about him. I cared. And as pretty as he tried to make it, I’ve suffered a rejection that I wasn’t looking or asked for. I have to feel.

I ended whatever that thing was with, “just let me be great!” Your issues with commitment are not mine and I refuse to ride and die and deal until you straighten it out. Though you had the gall to verbalize this, you don’t get to tell me how much it would hurt you when I move on and am succumbed by that forever love that populates the #BlackLove hashtag. You don’t choose, I do. So, in understanding this nothingness for what it was, I choose to call the shots without troubling myself to care for the male ego. I choose to feel again so when unwarranted circumstances [like this] arise, the urge to go from 0 to 100 won’t be so strong and feel so right. I choose me.

Read an early episode from our what-is-this-zone in the epilogue of The Girl Talk Chronicles: Advice on How to Manage Love, Lust & Situations on Amazon. Read next month’s #HGMFU entry in our newsletter — sign up.

Ariel C. Williams is the Editor-in-Chief of Slay Culture and author of The Girl Talk Chronicles (Amazon). Sound parenting, storytelling without bounds, and providing a space where Black women and Black boys (like she and her son) are celebrated for their greatness are things that keep her going. Tweet her @ArielSaysNow.

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Slay Culture curates content and experiences for smart and lit Black millennials. Follow us online everywhere at @SlayCulture.

  1. WOW! I was shocked to read that he was talking to 2-3 women that he could see himself marrying! huh?!?! Maybe I’m old school, but that is a huge deal breaker and he needs to set some standards if he could honestly see himself marrying that many different women.


  2. Some men just take forever to make up their minds thinking that they’re gonna miss out on the next best thing. If he wouldve opened his eyes he would’ve known what he’d be missing out on. A lot of women are cool with this mentality and thats where it gets all jacked up. Kudos for standing your ground


  4. Kudos to you for taking his words for exactly what they Were, and moving on. Many Women try to interject things between or underneath the lines to make themselves feel better about that man saying he is not trying to commit to you. Becasue the greY area doesnt hurt, but eveNtually it does. He can plan in th friend zone by himself!