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The friend zone describes a relationship space where there are different levels of affection between the two parties involved. One party is romantically and sexually interested; the other is only after a platonic friendship. The term first became popular in the 1990s sitcom Friends. The geeky character Ross Geller was teased as being 'mayor of the friend zone' when it came to his relationship with Rachel Green.
The concept of 'friend zone' has been critiqued as misogynistic, particularly when it involves a heterosexual couple. It presumes an agenda in a man's kindness; and pushes the idea that this kindness deserves to be repaid with romantic and sexual affection. Feminist Rivu Dasgupta opined that the 'friend zone' sprung from male narcissism. A woman who does not repay a man's kindness and friendship may be seen in a negative light by society.