Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Friend Zone

Hans Feine, writing at The Federalist, sees a very serious social problem looming on the near horizon and his solution is going to strike some readers as odd, though he nevertheless makes an interesting point. It's a point also made by the famous writer C.S. Lewis.

First, the problem:
The latest numbers on American birth rates are in, and they yield only one reasonable conclusion: All of us need to start having more babies or else the upcoming demographic tsunami will consume our nation, cripple our social programs, and leave us with a future so bleak that our only source of joy will be the moment we’re chosen to receive the sweet, fatal kiss of the Obamacare Death Panels, the Trumpcare Firing Squads, or the OprahCare Hemlock Squadrons.

Perhaps I’m overstating the danger a bit, but the point remains: Americans need to raise our sagging birth rates. One of the best ways we can do so is by reversing the trend of Americans waiting longer to get married. So, apart from tearing down America’s institutions of higher education, which tend to slow down the recitation of wedding vows, how do we do that? It’s quite simple. We tear down the Friend Zone.
So, what does Feine mean by the "Friend Zone"?
Every year, countless young men find themselves trapped in the Friend Zone, a prison where women place any man they deem worthy of their time but not their hearts, men they’d love to have dinner with but, for whatever reason, don’t want to kiss goodnight.

Being caught in the Friend Zone is an inarguable drag on fertility rates, as a man who spends several years pledging his heart to a woman who will never have his children is also a man who most likely won’t procreate with anyone else during that time of incarceration. Free him to find a woman who actually wants to marry him, however, and he’ll have several more years to sire children who will laugh, create, sing, fill the world with love and, most importantly, pay into Social Security.
Feine then delivers himself of a claim that's going to strike many female readers as absurd although I think a lot of male readers will secretly agree with his defense of it:
Quite simply, for the sake of our future, the Friend Zone must be destroyed. For the Friend Zone to be destroyed, women must accept the following truths: you don’t have any guy friends and, in fact, you can’t have any guy friends.
Here's what he means by a "friend":
By “friends,” I don’t mean acquaintances or chummy colleagues you only see at work, or friends of friends that you don’t get together with outside of a group setting, or what I call buffer-zone friends—people of the opposite sex you can be friends with because there is a significant other in between to take the romantic element out of the equation. Rather, by “friend” I mean someone you deliberately choose to spend one-on-one time with.
His argument is that guys who spend time with girls really, deep down inside, don't want to be "just friends." They want to date. Read the rest and see if you agree or disagree with Feine. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves that men and women can't be friends without the relationship devolving (or evolving) into something more. He asserts that,
When the two people who thus discover that they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass - may pass in the first half hour - into erotic love. Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other, or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later.
If you're interested in reading more about what Lewis says about friendship, some of which might sound painfully archaic to modern ears, see the series of VP posts from the archive dated 2/22/10, 2/23/10, and 2/25/10.