Have you ever noticed that the love triangle trope in movies differs depending on the gender of the protagonist? In both situations, there’s usually the good friend who’s been there forever, and has comforted the protagonist through all their trials and tribulations. And then there’s the new person. The new person is exciting, adventurous, and considerably sexier than the tried and true friend. But who does our hero or heroine choose?
The formula requires our protagonist to take the new person for a spin, usually breaking the heart of the other person, but something happens that separates the two, allowing the tried and true friend (who almost always has been harboring a crush) a chance to get in there and take care of his/her friend, per usual.
And that’s where the similarities end.
Think about it. If the protagonist is a woman, who does she pick? She almost always picks the new person, the adventurous person. But a male protagonist usually picks the friend.
I think we’ve found the cause of this idea of “friendzoned…”
It’s a difference in how society has presented the idea of friendship.
The effect of this is that men think they have to do whatever is necessary to not be in the friendzone. In a lot of cases, a man would rather be a jerk than be seen as just a friend. They want to be this unknowable force. Guys who have active romantic intentions will refuse to do things that a woman might want to do with just a friend, even if the woman wants to do those things specifically because she’s interested in the guy for romantic purposes!
See, women are confident (and with good reason) that being friends with a guy is not a problem. For women, getting to know a person, truly know him, is important. We don’t fear being friends because, according to the movies, being friends with a guy is the way to get him.
While movies teach men that the friend never gets the girl! Think about the recent upswing in YA books, turned movies. Bella doesn’t choose Jacob, she chooses the sexy vampire (we’ll forgive the fact that Taylor Lautner got sexier as the movies continued… mostly because that very sentence makes me feel like a pedophile). Katniss chooses Peeta instead of her best friend (sorry if that was a spoiler, and until I saw the movies, I didn’t think it was the right choice). In the Mortal Instruments movie (I haven’t read the books yet, so please correct me if I’m wrong), she chose the hot new guy over her friend Simon, even though it turned out the hot guy was her brother!
It’s kind of a thing… and it puts us, men and women, at odds with our dating methods. As we’ve discussed before, if women have equal responsibility in the dating decision-making, well… Houston, we have a problem!
And it is so very ironic! In the movies (admittedly not often romantic comedies… there are very few of those with male protagonists), the man dates the exciting new woman, only to find out that maybe she’s a little too ditzy, or she’s a gold-digger, or she’s a spy of some sort, and so he goes back to the woman who knows him, the one who’s always been supportive and actually cares about him.
The importance is on that one person who truly gets him!
Iron Man, Tony Stark always goes back to Pepper. In the second Transformer movie, the first time the main character flirts with some female other than his original love interest, she turns out to be a Decepticon. In the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion, it is when his real wife comes back that Tom Cruise’s character is able to recognize that he’s been living in a lie.
Even in “kids’ movies,” the guy always goes back to who knows him! In the movie Sky High, when our main character gets his powers, he suddenly becomes popular and is able to get with the most popular girl in the school, but he dumps her because he realizes that he should be with the person he’s been friends with since the first grade (I think that’s right… watched that movie with my roommate and her kids during Tropical Storm Bill earlier this week). The fact that she’s the main villain isn’t found out until later, but it definitely proves that he made the right choice!
Yet in real life, because of the fear of the friendzone, men seem to believe that when a woman wants to spend time with them and get to know them, that it is a bad thing.
It may very well be that I just pick bad men. The Artist, Superman, the Boy, they all see spending time together as a bad thing. Sharing information to get to know one another? That’s even worse.
Mr. West Coast seemed actually interested in getting to know me, but there seemed to be the proviso that he got to fix me, when he didn’t know me well enough to do that.
With the Boy, it’s been particularly difficult. There’s been a lot of mixed signals throughout the full near 2 year span of our relationship. While now, we’re not working on a romantic relationship, he still does this weird thing where if I get too close, he pulls back hard.
For a while there, it was really wonderful because we were leaning on one another through our separate trials. He’s been a big help while I’ve struggled with some of my emotional crap and struggled with making some big decisions about next school year. And, for a while, he was letting me help him deal with his problems, like friends do.
And then, it just stopped. Something happened that I haven’t quite figured out what it was, that he decided that we had gotten too close, spending too much time together. Suddenly, we were back to me putting forth effort to see him, and him blowing me off for whatever reason. There’s been a lot of finger pointing and chat-yelling lately…
And now we’re back beyond me being friendzoned, but I’m just out… I don’t understand it. He says it’s not a thing I did. Well, he’s said that before. He’s also said that he still thinks we’re friends, even though every attempt to see him has been met with a refusal for a myriad of reasons… Either way, it’s become a repeat of before, and now I have to decide if I’m going to put up with it…or walk away again.
I’m already home for the Summer. Maybe he and I just have to constantly be new for one another in order for there to even be a friendship there.
Maybe he and I can’t do the lover or the friend thing. I don’t know.
Well, we got off topic there, but hopefully I made the point before I got terribly sidetracked by my own situation. Next time you see a movie with a love triangle, see if I’m right.
It’s not 100%; there are a few exceptions, and if you think of one, definitely leave it in the comments below.
The first that comes to my mind is My Best Friend’s Wedding. I have commented to people before that I hate that movie specifically because the guy chooses the wrong girl! It breaks the steadfast rule of the guy going back to his friend… and, in my opinion, it ruined that movie.
Subsequently, it also made me hate Cameron Diaz as an actress for a very, very long time. She has since redeemed herself… Just don’t watch Sex Tape. I almost had to revisit my anti-Diaz stance after that one. Yikes!