Friend-zones are perhaps one of the most devilish devices invented by humans to torture other humans. Let us define a friend-zone first, to avoid confusion. You like bae. Bae knows fully well that you like bae. Bae however doesn’t reciprocate. You and bae are good friends. That’s a friend-zone for you, right there. They are deceptively friendly and welcoming places. A second best abode for all those poor rejected souls. At least we’re friends! Bae is fine with talking nicely to me! Right? Wrong! Friend-zones are sad places. A diabolical breeding ground for hopelessness and despair and a variety of miserable feelings. Do they have even a single redeeming feature then? Well yes, they serve as a rite of passage, if one is sensible. It all depends on how much common sense one really has.

The beginning of a friend-zone is fairly typical. The object of your admiration starts appearing too endearing or awesome to ignore. Danger sign. You are forced to acknowledge to yourself, that you are falling hard for dear honey muffin (Honey is gooey and icky, but whatever). Then there are two courses of action available. The first course of action is to realise in time that bae will refuse outright and therefore desist from making a fool of yourself by even asking. The second course of action is to realise in time that bae will refuse outright, but go ahead and ask anyway because you are feeling a bit euphoric and dare-devilish. In the first case, you have entered the friend-zone of your own accord, and are a silly twit. In the second case, bae gets to be dramatic. Bae first acts all shocked, like bae didn’t know (Ha. As if. Gah.) . Then bae will make a mournful and sad expression about how sorry they are that they can’t be with you. Because time/bae’s bae/ its December/Gryffindor/King Lear/gobbledy gook/whatever, you know. And then, if you are sensible, you chuck the matter and try to find another bae. Plenty around. Odds are they might not be interested either, but no harm trying. WIMWIANS are so sensible that way. All practical and stuff. I’ve heard some brutally rational pearls of related wisdom from multiple sources in my time here, but there’s no way I’m typing them down. You get the drift.

But then there are the unfortunate elfin souls, those horribly sentimental types. Those boys and girls who believe in the greatness and purity of Bollywood tragedies. Friend-zones affect them rather badly. They enter gladly, like it’s a penance of some sort. Thankful for the fact that bae has not dismissed them from his/her deep and divine presence. They wistfully slog away at becoming the perfect Agony Aunt/ Shoulder to bae. In the hope that, one day, their status will be elevated to that of bae’s bae. Not happening, bub. Even if bae is basically a good sort, there’s something about the process of setting up and maintaining a friend-zone that brings out the exploitative demon hibernating inside bae. Without realizing it, bae starts to take advantage of them with a bright, carefree, joyous blitheness that should be seen and be experienced, to be believed. And after all the turbulence they go through (bae blew hot! bae blew cold! peas porridge in the pot, nine days old!) they finally begin to wonder if they really want bae. The power shifts, the decision isn’t bae’s anymore, and the friend-zone is discarded, sometimes even a decade too late. Of course, another pathetic saga might start if one is excessively stupid. But one hopes against that possibility.

The best course of action therefore, is to eschew all forms of friend-zones. Don’t be bae and maintain them, and don’t be idiotic and stay in them. I don’t mean one should burn bridges, of course. Aiyyo rama, networking matters, no? A friend-zone is a state of mind you see. You can still be friends with bae. Try not to be pathetic, and ensure that you aren’t in worship mode in your head. That’s all it takes, easy peasy. Have a safe friend-zone free life, and all will be well!

Deepika is a PGP2 at IIMA. She wrote this piece in a fit of annoyance after reading a mushy pseudo-lyrical piece on Facebook that glorified friend-zones as being ‘beautiful’.