Ah, the friend zone. A cultural phenomenon so pervasive it has it's very own lengthy Wikipedia entry. Although the exact origin of the phrase is murky, the designation for a dude whose romantic inclinations go unheeded was first popularized in the early '90s by (ironically) a Friends episode. In the years following, the friend zone would continue to garner visibility and criticism in the media, and today, feminists often regard it as way misogynistic.
To many folks, the term can be read to imply that men are owed sex by the women they desire, and when they don't receive said sex, they feel slighted and need a way to complain about this sad state of affairs. However, friend zoning doesn't have to be gendered as such, and there are plenty of women and gender non-conforming folks who have also felt they were friend-zoned, too. Nevertheless, the most common way the phenomenon is depicted is between hetero men in response to their rejection by women.
Recently BuzzFeed took on the subject to succinctly sum up just what the friend zone is, and how you can survive being on either side of it. Here are three things to know about the friend zone: