“Unrequited love” is a phrase and theme run rampant in centuries’ worth of literature, and the updated terminology for this scenario of affections unreturned is the friend zone.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the friend zone is “a friendship between two people in which one person has an unreciprocated romantic or sexual interest in the other.” This is reality- I’ve experienced it. Being friend zoned happens to both men and women. It’s a very painful position to be in, and it can make being “just friends” difficult.

But I believe that is part of the problem- that society is discounting the validity and importance of friendship. A friend can highlight the good times and dilute the bad times in life. Additionally, friends can be there for you when significant others simply cannot by being trustworthy and caring confidants and listeners.

The other main issue associated with the friend zone is the connotation that it is the responsibility of the beloved in the relationship to realize the feelings of the lover and then, of course, reciprocate. This is ludicrous. It is simply a fact of life that people do not feel romantic attraction to everybody who, according to the common argument, is “exactly what she/he wants.” There are a lot of misconceptions here.

Acting the part of what is desired just to “break out of the friend zone” is not the solution to unreturned affections. Unless the personal changes would be wise to make regardless of the potential relationship, sculpting a façade around one’s true identity to fit the bill for someone else is a self-trapping course of action. Additionally, only seeking friendship with the expectation of a romantic, sexual relationship in response to “kindness” is an objectification of a human being, which is just wrong. Affection should be based on respect. Dehumanization of a person into nothing more than a sexual object is not love. It is despicable.

The friend zone exists, yes, for so many reasons. Romantic attraction is not an on/off switch or a button that, pressed hard and long enough, dispenses reciprocation. There are countless factors, few of which are quantifiable. If honest respect is had for the pined-for individual, then the friend zone, while not without its pangs of aching, is not so wholly unpleasant.

At the end of the day, having a wonderful person in your life is more important than sex or romance. Some day, not guaranteed, but someday that person may discover compatible feelings. But, really, the friend zone is not so bad, because it comes with a friend. And those are pretty great to have.