To the uninitiated, the friend zone sounds like an urban myth: an unknown place shrouded in mist and mystery.
Unfortunately, the friend zone is very real, and getting out of it can be one of the most difficult experiences you might ever have in a relationship.
In this article, we explore everything you need to know about the friend zone: what it really is, why it happens, and how to avoid it and get out of it if you ever find yourself in the friend zone situation.
A Healthy Way Of Looking At The Friend Zone
To get out of the friend zone, it’s important to understand that the friend zone isn’t a threshold connecting a friendship and a relationship; people don’t put you there because you’re “on hold”.
You are not queuing up for a chance at a relationship.
Those who successfully get out of the friend zone do so with time, luck, or sheer passion, but it is in no way a precursor to entering a romantic relationship.
You can’t strong arm your way out of the friend zone – sometimes no amount of wooing can win the other person over, and that’s just something you have to move on from.
Realistically, the friend zone is a form of rejection. People do it because:
- They don’t want to hurt your feelings and want to let you down in the subtlest way possible
- They aren’t comfortable dealing with rejection
- You are part of the same friendship group and don’t want to make things awkward
- They want to have you in their life, but not as a romantic partner
This rejection is either permanent or flexible, and the odds of your status changing depend on your personality and the other person’s temperament; sometimes it just boils down to better timing.
The good news is that this rejection is not completely irreversible: some people can still be successful in their romantic pursuits even after being placed in the dreaded zone.
So, how do you know you’re in the friend zone? Ever heard the following lines?
- I wish I could meet a guy like you, you’re such a great friend.
Translation: The person wants someone like you… but not you, exactly.
- Sure, we can hang out! Let’s invite the others, what do you think?
Translation: The person doesn’t see you in that way or only sees you within the context of a group.
- Of course you’re a great person! Why do you think I made you my friend?
Translation: Whenever you try to dig deep into their thoughts about you, they circle back into something more casual and platonic.
The friend zone also manifests itself in different ways. You could also be experiencing:
- Calls and texts that never or rarely get returned, and without the same level of eagerness
- One-sided conversations that always end up with you asking questions and keeping the conversation going
- Explicit conversations about their exes and other people in their lives
- Allusion to their “type” of person and concentrating on details that are clearly not apparent in yourself
- Regular references to other people and how attractive they are
- Continued reference to you as their friend or closest friend from the same sex
Is It Me? Ways You’re Putting Yourself In The Friendzone
The friend zone ultimately happens for one reason: non-attraction. There might be qualities in you that the other person might not find attractive.
On the other hand, there are people who get into the dreaded zone, not because they are unattractive, but because they have unknowingly placed themselves in a situation where their romantic interest doesn’t see them as anything else but a friend.
Here are some ways you could be unknowingly putting yourself in the friend zone:
1) You listen to his/her girl/guy problems
Becoming everyone’s go-to person for love advice can make you feel special, up until someone you’re interested in is telling you about their most recent date.
Opening about one’s romantic pursuits is a form of intimacy but unfortunately it’s the kind that can cement your identity as “that friend” forever.
When you listen to their guy or girl problems, you’re perpetuating your role as the listener and the comforter.
You want to be the person they talk about not to.
There are other ways to earn their trust and become a good friend, but willingly becoming their venting machine when it comes to other people will only make you look more like a willing friend and less like a possible partner.
2) You willingly do errands for them
Do you answer their every beck and call? Your eagerness to be available for them could be what’s ruining your chances in the first place.
If the other person sees you as their go-to shopping buddy, the designated driver, or the one they rant all their problems to, your attempts at getting close to them romantically might only be doing favors for your friendship, not your relationship.
When you’re around them all the time (minus the romantic context), you risk letting them see you in a familiar light.
Instead of looking attractive, you become familiar and accessible. In other words, you become unexciting.
You show them that your role in their life already benefits them one way or another, and that there is no need to “level up” to get more out of the arrangement.
3) You agree with everything they say
You just want to get on their good side – we get it – but never challenging them puts you into the dreaded familiar zone.
You stop standing out and you just look like one of the other friends they hang out with.
If you really want to be seen as a potential partner, you need to step up and include playful banter in your interactions.
Don’t give in to everything they say or do. Challenge them and make them curious about you.
This shows them that: a) you’re not like everyone in their friendship circle; b) you actually have a brain of your own; c) you’re not going to be a “yes” man just to get close to someone – all of which are attractive qualities in a new partner.
4) You never show romantic interest
At the end of the day, maybe the reason you’re a friend and not a partner is because you have never communicated any interest.
Maybe they’re interested and are just waiting for you to make the first move.
Before the friendship becomes too familiar, engage in some flirting and playfulness to let them know you’re interested in something more.
5) You show too much romantic interest
At the same time, you could be showing too much affection to the point of turning them off. People don’t enjoy neediness, especially in new partners.
Everyone enjoys being mystified by this possible new romantic partner, and you can’t do that if you’re around 24/7.
Skip some meetings, reply to some texts late or not at all, and don’t let your motives be 100% clear. It’s good to let them know you’re interested, but not to the point of desperation.
Why Am I In The Friendzone?
1) They’re Just Not Into You
Sometimes no amount of charisma, luck and pixie dust could change your fate. Sometimes the answer is as simple as “they just aren’t attracted to you”.
You can argue that you and your friend have some sort of emotional attraction because you are friends after all, but you can’t deny that a defining aspect of romantic relationships is physical attraction.
No amount of mental or emotional synergy could make up for the lack of physical luster.
All the fondness you have for each other won’t translate into romantic sparks if there is no chemistry to begin with.
How To Fix It: You can’t. Pursuing this dead end will only result in awkwardness. Don’t dwell on it and make yourself feel bad. The chemistry just isn’t there and it’s better if you just move on.
2) You Don’t Have Enough Confidence
Maybe you have heard them talking about their ideal partner and realized that you are exactly the person they’re describing – so how come you’re in the friend zone and other people aren’t?
Ask yourself why they don’t see you in that light.
If you’re funny, athletic, smart, and exactly what your prospective lover wants, then there’s something about you that isn’t striking them right. Nine times out of ten it’s because you lack confidence.
Confidence is just about the sexiest thing about a man or a woman, and not having that could really hurt your chances of attracting a potential mate.
Confidence makes you look fun, secure, and happy; it’s a way of saying, “this is who I am, and I like myself.”
If you’re not communicating this vibe, chances are the other person won’t be gazing in your direction any time soon.
How To Fix It: Understand your insecurities and don’t try to overcompensate to seem confident. Feigning confidence might work in the short-term, but it could easily explode into relationship problems and come off as a form of manipulation if left unsolved.
3) You’re Not Relationship Material
In some cases circumstance gets in the way, in which case there is nothing you can do about it. In other cases, the blame could be entirely on you.
It’s easier to tell someone “I’m not ready to be in a relationship” than to let them know they’re too immature to be in one.
A tell-tale sign people don’t think you’re not relationship-worthy? If you get friend zoned continuously by people who don’t have problems getting into relationships.
Maybe you’re known for casual flings and quick relationships, maybe you’re known for being unstable and insecure, or maybe people just know you as “the single one”.
Whatever it is, you have a reputation that’s making you repel romantic interest.
How To Fix It: Find the underlying reason why people keep putting you in the friend zone. Ask past flames or be courageous enough to ask your current romantic interest.
If things go well, you could convince them to give you a shot and communicate how willing you are to make things work and prove to them that you are relationship material.
4) You’re Too Familiar
Don’t let the Hollywood movies fool you: not all best friends turn into romantic partners. More often than not, best friend relationships evolve into even deeper friendships, to the point of familial love.
If you’re in the friend zone through no fault of your own, chances are you are there because he or she is completely incapable of seeing you in a different light.
It might take more than a nudge to encourage them to see you in a new way, but it’s always worth a shot.
How To Fix It: It’s actually easier to find your footing because you know them and have an idea of what they are looking for in relationships.
You can use that knowledge to ease yourself into a brand new beginning, or just tell them outright you have always liked them and see what happens.
Friendzone Or Flirting? Signs and Non-Signs To Tell the Difference
If you’re one of the lucky ones, the friend zone isn’t actually a form of rejection but a way of flirting. Maybe the other person is unsure of how to proceed; maybe they are shy and don’t know how to initiate romantic contact.
In situations where you’re not sure which is which, you can keep an eye out for subtle but clear signs that can communicate their interest. Here’s how you distinguish the two:
|You notice they touch you more than the other friends and always seem to try to get physically closer to you||You don’t see differences in touch; it’s their main way of expressing affection and they do it to everyone you know|
|In group situations, they are always nearby or at least within your vicinity. They gravitate towards you, no matter where you are||In group situations, they don’t bother to move closer to you and don’t seem to notice you outside the group|
|They vaguely talk to you about crushes and try to divert the conversation into something romantic / playful||They talk about romantic interests and are clear that they want someone else|
|They find ways to spend some time alone with you||Your alone time is always circumstantial, or is orchestrated by you|
|Your banter is reciprocated with the same eagerness||Your banter is reciprocated but without attempts to further the flirting or conversation|
|Their compliments might come sparingly and loaded with playful energy||They openly give you compliments and don’t seem embarrassed by it|
|You can feel that the other person feels the tension and tries to ease into the possibility slowly||You can feel that the other person genuinely doesn’t care and is oblivious to your advances|
|They don’t characterize you as a “friend” and often refer to you fondly as a “great guy or girl” or something similar||You have been labeled friend so many times and are even introduced as “the friend”|
Avoiding the Friendzone: Never Get Out By Never Going In
We’ll be brutally honest: it is a thousand times easier to avoid the friend zone than it is to get out of the friend zone.
This has to do with basic psychology – once a person has met you and categorized you, it can be difficult to break out of that category.
The longer you let yourself stay in that category, the more it becomes a part of who you are in the mind of the person you want to be with.
So how do you avoid the “friend” category when you meet a new potential partner?
1) Establish the Possibility
Common Mistake: You meet a new person, and you find yourself wildly attracted to them. You start giving them all your attention and doing everything they ask.
You are at their beck and call, 24/7. Why? Because you think that if you smother them with yourself, you will end up endearing yourself to them.
As we said above, confidence makes everything. And many people try to make up for their self-perceived lack of confidence by giving too much.
We give too much time, too much attention, and too much love, simply because we want to make up for not being as smart or good-looking or rich as we want to be.
We try to win our crush over with our personality, but instead push them away by doing exactly that.
What To Do Instead: Think of them as a person, because that’s all they are.
They might just be as interested as you are in finding a partner, but romance is as much a dance as it is anything else. If you go all in, all you will end up doing is tripping over your own feet.
Establish the possibility that you are a potential romantic partner by being more than what everyone else is.
Don’t throw yourself at them, but don’t be completely absent either. Touch their hand, give them subtle but charming smiles, and maybe even joke about taking them places.
Establish the possibility by establishing interest – make them question, “Would I go out with him/her?”
2) Offer Something New
Common Mistake: In your intense attraction towards this new person in your life, you want to show interest and pursue them in the most obvious and straightforward ways you can.
But you end up doing the same thing everyone else does – so why should they value your advances above anyone else’s?
What To Do Instead: Be different, be new. Ask yourself: what kind of person are you? Are you a sporty jock? Are you a smart introvert? Are you a reclusive yet charming musician? Play to your strengths, and don’t give them what you think they will want; give them the best part of yourself you can share.
Remember: it’s up to them if they want to date you or not, and you will never be able to force anyone to love you. So instead of pretending to be something you’re not, be as interesting as possible and show them something they might never have seen before.
Before every date or interaction, ask yourself: Why would this person be interested in someone like me? What are their expectations?
3) Take Care of Yourself
Common Mistake: All too often, both men and women find themselves bitter and confused when they experience rejection after rejection, even if they are giving their all into their advances.
But the truth is: maybe you just aren’t as attractive and put-together as you think you are.
What To Do Instead: Clean up – that’s all you need to do. Everyone can make themselves look decent with a little bit of effort. Get a nice haircut, wear sharper clothing that fits your body, and carry yourself with confidence.
If you want to go further, then work on your body, your attitude, your mental state. Make yourself great enough until eventually, you won’t be the one doing the pursuing.
Getting Out of the Friendzone: Difficult, But Not Impossible
So what do you do if the person you like has already placed you in the friend zone? While our first advice would be to try again with someone new, we understand that you can’t always choose what your heart desires.
Which leads us to the age-old question: how do you get out of the friend zone, and is it even possible?
In short, yes, it’s totally possible to get out of the friend zone, but it will take a lot of time and a lot of effort.
Step 1: Ask Yourself If They Would Be Interested
No matter how much you might love someone, you can’t force them to love you back with pure will.
So ask yourself: would they ever be interested in you, even at the best version of yourself?
– Ask your mutual friends what they think
– Think about your bond with them – how close is it, really?
– Examine previous relationships they’ve had, and if you are similar to them
Step 2: Redefine Your Category In Their Head
Perhaps the most difficult part is changing the way they think of you. And this change has to be and feel organic.
Pull away from the ways that make you a simple friend, and start changing your attitude and approach in all your interactions. Become a different person; someone they won’t friend zone.
– Look at the people they are attracted to; what is it that they like, and is that who you are?
– Look at the ways you interact with them that are unnatural and avoid those behaviors
– Examine their interactions with other people, and how other people attract them
Step 3: Focus On Yourself
There is a reason why you fell into the friend zone in the first place.
There’s something about the way you are that needs work – whether it’s your confidence, your attitude, or just your social smarts.
Step away from pleasing your crush and just try to focus on yourself for a while. It might take some time, but it will be well worth the wait.
– Ask yourself: why did you act differently to the person you like, and how can you change it?
– Focus on fixing the parts about yourself that you are least confident in. Create change in yourself
– Give yourself the space and time to truly enact long-lasting change that is bigger than your romantic pursuit
Step 4: Wait – Patience and Time
Now it’s time to wait. Be patient – let the changes from steps 2 and 3 start to sink in.
Because these changes must occur in both your mind and the mind of the person you like.
As much as you want them to see you as a potential partner, you must also learn to truly value yourself as someone worthy to be loved without begging.
– Don’t get ahead of yourself – small, positive interactions are great, but they are not definitive. Just play it cool
– This is as much about loving yourself as it is about convincing them to give you a chance
– Ask yourself again: why do you like this person so much? Do you still like them, after your changes?
Step 5: Take Your Shot
It can be hard to say when it’s time to enact Step 5, and only you will truly know when the chance is there, if ever.
Remember – you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but the biggest mistake is doing it before you and your potential partner are ready.
– Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the previous friend zone nature of the relationship. In fact, it’s more awkward if you pretend it never existed. It’s your job to ease them into the possibility that perhaps this can be something more.
– Don’t rush into it. If you do it too early, before you have stopped being “just a friend” in their eyes, it might surprise them completely, pushing the process back to square one
– Be ready for anything. If they don’t reciprocate, then it might be time to move on. Just take it as a learning experience, and appreciate the fact that you still have some kind of relationship with them
Embracing Love, Happiness, and Kindness, With or Without the Friendzone
Being in the friend zone can be a frustrating experience.
You might think that someone is your soulmate, and they just don’t realize how happy you could make them if they would just give you the chance.
But countless relationships are broken every year because of men and women refusing to accept the status of their platonic friendship, leaving many more people brokenhearted from losing a relationship that is, in many ways, more important than a lover or a partner – a best friend.
With or without the friend zone, your first responsibility as someone’s friend is to be there for them.
Pursue them and try to change their mind if you wish, but at the end of the day, another person’s love and attraction is not something you can control.
If nothing else, learn to embrace the love and happiness you two already have, and let it thrive for as long as it can.
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