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How to Survive the Friend Zone

Updated on September 3, 2013

We’ve all been here at least once. We meet someone amazing. We hang out, have fun, laugh and display little to no physical affection while we secretly harbor our desire for more. Then, moments before we profess our undying feelings, we hear the words, “You’re such a good friend.”

Suddenly we find ourselves surrounded by the walls of that little ‘dreadful’ room in someone’s life called: The Friend Zone.

If you’re a child of the 90’s, you were probably around for the conception of the term “Friend Zone”; which many of us would know (not really, we’re just finding out now) was coined from a 1994 episode of Friends in which Joey explains to Ross that Rachel had put him in the ‘Friend Zone’. We all know (yes we do) that Ross eventually gets out of the friend zone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that persistence gets you out (think Philip “Duckie” Dale in Pretty in Pink).

Although you probably already have an idea that you’re in the Friend Zone (you’re reading this article – a huge red flag). But just to confirm your suspicions, here are 5 signs that you’ve been Friend Zoned:

1. You’re always called/texted for advice

You may think this means they’re just calling you because they needed an excuse to hear your voice. No, it’s probably because you’re their bestie and therefore, the one most likely to listen. A bigger warning sign is if you’re always being texted for advice… but not much else.

2. You hang out in groups. Hardly ever alone.

You’re probably just a buddy if every time you’re invited out it’s with the rest of the group OR, every time you invite them out, they mention a bunch of people who would love to join the two of you.

3. They don’t make a move on you

There may be some playful arm punching or hair ruffling (in just about the same way your siblings punch you or ruffle your hair, so don’t get too excited here) but no flirting or leaning in for a kiss… even after a few “dates”.

4. They refer to you as their “friend” and every other friend-related label

Buddy, mate, bestie, brother/sister from another mother….

5. They talk about other people that they’re interested in to/in front of you.

Deep down you know that they’re not even trying to make you jealous because they even go so far as to ask you for relationship advice.

So what should you do then when you find yourself stuck in the Friend Zone?

When you truly desire to be with someone, being stuck in a relationship where being more than friends only means you’re considered ‘family’, being Friend-Zoned can certainly feel like the a very raw deal.

Let’s explore why you’re in the Friend Zone in the first place:

You know that you’re nice, caring, available and will go to any lengths to please them right? So why won’t they love you?

Well the first thing could be that you set the tone by offering friendship.

You may have come into your crush’s life and given them the impression that you just want to hang, ‘no strings attached’. You were okay with getting to know them, finding out everything you could about them, encouraging them to tell you all their dreams and desires… and then never making a move. They could have interpreted you not vocalizing your warm and fuzzy feelings for them as disinterest, proceeding to associate your connection with everything less than romantic. So they move on, meet someone great and then tell you, buddy, all about it. Suddenly you’re in the quicksand of friendship.

Another way you may get yourself into the Friend Zone is by settling. Let’s say you do profess your undying love. But they confess they don’t see you as anything more than a friend and would like things to remain that way. So, things remain that way.

Either way you’re in the Friend Zone and want to get out. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Stop being so Freakishly Friend-ish

If it looks like a friend, walks like a friend and quacks like a friend… it’s probably just a friend. So if you want to get out of the zone, stop making friend noises. Your ‘friend’ is probably comfortable with the arrangement because that is what you offered up. You offered your availability, your shoulder and your brilliant skills at being overly nice without offering your desire to be anything more than that.

2. Remember the Scarcity Principle

It’s sad, but true – people desire more what they are at risk of not having. The issue here is that you are too available and too willing. You may have a ‘friend’ who knows that they could probably ask you to do anything they want you to do without any effort on their part and without any risk of losing you. You’re so afraid of losing them that you would put your life on hold to attend to their needs, knowing that they probably won’t do the same for you.

Perhaps you should start by not making them such a priority. Don’t answer every call. Don’t entertain their comments about how ‘hot’ other people are. Perhaps take time out to hang out with other people for a week or few days. Try not to try so hard.

3. Re-evaluate your motives

Remember, you’re not entitled to any person’s feelings. You can’t expect someone to give you a return on investment just because you put feeling and effort into them and should therefore get feeling and effort out of their love bank.

Ask yourself: Would you be their friend if there was no possibility of ever getting together? The answer will let you know whether you value the friendship or not. It would be considered manipulative if you’re just playing the nice guy/girl because you think it is an effective method to get with someone. It’s possible that your ‘friend’ sees right through your intentions.

It’s no use complaining about how much longer you were ‘there’ than someone your friend just started dating. You can’t simply just step into someone’s life and assume you’ve joined the line. The truth is you chose to enter and stay in their lives. They don’t owe you anything.

4. Explore whether your friend has feelings for you too.

Say you did start out as friends, and feelings developed over time. Now you’re wondering if making a move would ruin the friendship.

It’s possible that your friend does have feelings for you (hooray!)

All you have to do is look out for the signs:

How to tell if your friend is in love with you

5. If you can’t get out of the friend zone, get out of the zone

It’s no use being in a one-sided friendship and a one-sided war of feelings. It’s hard enough being in love with someone who does not reciprocate your feelings, it is even worse if the person uses this to their advantage. Essentially, if you want to know how to escape the Friend Zone, just don’t put yourself there.

Go out with other people, meet someone new, let them know that you don’t want to be just friends and be on your way to the dating zone.

Just Friends: Chris & Jamie

13 Going on 30: Matt & Jenna

Love Actually: Mark & Juliet

500 Days of Summer: Summer & Tom

My Best Friend’s Wedding: Michael & Julianne

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    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      A W E S O M E ! Great hub. I love the pics and videos!