The friend zone — Just the sight of those words is enough to send a shiver down my spine.

It is a place I never truly thought I would be. After all, society had it permanently embedded in my brain that this imaginary place was one that only men were cast down to. I, a woman had absolutely nothing to worry about. Every boy I ever liked would have to like me back. The friend zone did not exist for women.

However, such an assumption has never been more painful when proved wrong to me in my entire life.

I fell for a boy who literally was nothing more than a friend. Realistically, he didn’t really have the option of being much more. Our entire relationship consisted of platonic jokes and a mutual understanding that we were allowed to poke fun at one another. I said wild things and he laughed at the wild things I said. He was quiet for the most part but laughed the loudest around me. The more I type it the more romantic it sounds, however it was absolutely nothing of the sort and I think I knew that too.

He would spend his time telling me about the girls he liked or even the sexual encounters he had for me, which, even though I am absolutely for sexual freedom and the ability to express it, there were times these recounts shocked me. I have never been one for casual sex and as a bisexual woman I can say that regardless the gender you’re dating, it can be hard not to catch feelings.

Again, I understand people choose otherwise, but it has never quite been for me.

I had a dream about him that was rather erotic and woke up practically in love with him. I spent the next few months trying to ward off my feelings but was unsuccessful.

As I listened to him speak about the girls he liked and the girls he had liked in the past. The people he had “talked to” and the romances that had come and gone, I was moderately astonished. I was astonished at where I was and how exactly I had gotten there. I was in a land that I thought did not exist for me. I was in a place that many a man before me had complained of being thrust. I was locked in the friend zone and facing all the wild obstacles that had been thrown my way as I sat there.

The more he spoke on it, the lonelier I felt here. As if I was the first person to ever venture down the lonely aisles of the friend zone. I felt isolated, kind of beyond sad. I knew that this was not a movie. I was not going to confess my feelings for him and our friendship blossom into a beautiful, loving relationship as it so often seemed to do in every single one of the movies I watched when I was younger. No such thing would occur if I were to lay it all out on the line. I realized that I truly was a friend. I was nothing more to him nor did I really have much potential to be anything else. I was simply a friend.

By refusing to accept this, I was really going against everything I believed in. I hated the logic that men and women can’t be friends, that some sort of sexual tension or gender gap would get in the way. It was something I saw repeated time and time again when I was in high school. Walls were built between genders as we isolated ourselves in order to figure ourselves and our hormones out. This narrative that has been pushed ever since the When Harry Met Sally days. I also think this narrative leaves little room for people like myself who are bisexual seeing as if this were truly the case if romantic/sexual attraction gets in the way of a friendship: how is it possible I have any friends at all?

However, as I push away this false idea of the battle of the sexes, I found myself unable to accept his friendship.

Every time he laughed at my jokes, I found myself wanting to the reason he smiled for a long time. He looked so beautiful when he smiled. My heart skipped a little when we locked eyes. However, in his mind it was no different than when he laughed along with his bros. I would often listen in on his conversation when he was speaking with “the guys” and see if it was anything similar to what we discussed. I wanted to know if I was really nothing more to him.

The conversations were often identical. He sometimes shied away from sexual things when speaking with me and did not hold as much restraint with the men, however, he even discussed those things with me which truly made me feel like I had no difference to him. I don’t think I was even really all that upset that he was just as open with me as them, seeing as I don’t like to keep artificial people in my life, however, I did want more. I wanted more of what I could not have and perhaps of what I should not have too. We would have most likely been destructive together. I will never know now.

The time has passed and if I were to ever say anything, the moment to do so was long ago. However, I know now the things that I didn't know before.

The friend zone is a place where many budding relationships that once held the hope of being something go to die. It is also a place that holds no prejudice, no discrimination. Men, women, and everywhere in between are flung there and held at arm’s length by the very people they desire the most.

I truly believe it’s my first time here, among the land of the dead; sitting amongst those who have had their heart tattered to bits.

I do not think the friend zone is a patriarchal system that men have made up to guilt women into loving them. I think it’s a lot more real and a lot more simple than that. It is a place that I do believe every man, woman, and everywhere in between will be cast some day. Heartbreak is inevitable for the most part and a disease in which I truly believed I was immune. I never thought I would see a day where I had to face the brutal facts that I was in a position that I thought I was too strong to be in.

Vulnerability and falling for your best friend was something I wrote about in my novels, but not something I had truly experienced for myself. The friend zone exists. It is not necessarily, a bad thing, but a thing nonetheless. It is alive and well... and damn does it suck.