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How to Stay in the Friend Zone

Updated on May 20, 2013
Sometimes a broken heart is inevitable when you stay in the friend zone.
Sometimes a broken heart is inevitable when you stay in the friend zone. | Source

Staying in the Friend Zone

Do you think it's better to try to stay in the friend zone or cut contact with your admirer?

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The Friend Zone

The basic definition of the friend zone is a situation in which one person wishes to enter into a sexual or romantic relationship with another who does not. Once the friend zone is established, it can be difficult to move past it and into a relationship, which can be heartbreaking to the one who desires a relationship, and a relief to the other who would rather just be friends.

The friend zone basically occurs when one person is not attracted to the other or when the person being admired misinterprets signals from the other, not realizing that their friend is actually an admirer until it is too late. For many, being in the friend zone is an ongoing issue that keeps them from finding romance as they always end up being just friends with those that they want to enter into a romantic relationship with.

Being friends with someone who is attracted to you can be difficult, especially when you genuinely enjoy their company despite not sharing the same kind of attraction. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get into the friend zone without breaking the other person's heart. I know from experience as one of my close friends used to be in love with me for years and continued to be friends despite it being clear we would never be anything more. It didn't take too long for him to find mutual attraction elsewhere and so, lucky for me, our friendship survived.

I also have experienced the same situation that resulted in the loss of a friend. It is unfortunate but does prove that the friend zone can be the end to a relationship as well as a beginning. Based on my experience, I have provided some tips on how to get into the friendship zone and stay there, for those who enjoy the company of their admirers but don't want to take the relationship any further.

You can only do so much to keep the friendship alive in the friend zone.
You can only do so much to keep the friendship alive in the friend zone. | Source

Let's Just be Friends

The worst thing that can be done to an admirer is to get their hopes up about a potential romantic or sexual relationship, only to turn them down after a good deal of time spent together with the classic "let's just be friends" or "I like you but I don't like you like that." Ouch. The very first thing you should do at the earliest signs of being friends with someone who would like to get out of the friend zone is to address the situation immediately and make your feelings crystal clear.

As I already mentioned, the admired doesn't always initially recognize their friend has any other feelings for them until it is too late. Pay attention to signs such as:

  • How much they pay attention to the small details: at least with guys, they don't seem to care about the little details unless they like you a little more than as a friend
  • How much effort they put into their appearance: have they suddenly started dressing up a little more lately? Do they take your opinion on their fashion sense very seriously?
  • How much time they want to spend alone with you: Sounds creepy when I put it that way but if they try and spend time as possible with just you rather than a bunch of other friends, they may be looking to get out of the friend zone. Being obviously disappointed when you mention inviting someone else to something is a definite red flag.

Unfortunately, there is no set in stone phrase that will neither break your admirer's heart or even completely dash their hopes. If the person continues to try to win you over rather than remain in the friend zone, it is best to end the friendship as gently as possible. From my experience, this stubbornness can lead to frustration and eventually hatred and things may not end so well. Better to avoid becoming enemies over unrequited love.

Gifts are lovely but not always appropriate when trying to stay in the friend zone.
Gifts are lovely but not always appropriate when trying to stay in the friend zone. | Source

The Friend Zone

Have you ever been stuck in the friend zone?

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Stay in the Friend Zone

Your admirer may try to do extra things for you such as favors or give gifts to try and win you over, whether they admit to it or not. Whenever possible, do not accept gifts. Furthermore, asking for favors, although common practice in regular friendships, can be seen as taking advantage of your admirer if things go sour. They want to do these extra things for you because they like you more than a friend, so encouraging this behavior makes them feel like they can edge their way out of the friend zone.

A common feeling for those who are admired by someone who wants to get out of the friend zone is guilt. It's difficult to watch someone you care about suffer for caring about you in a different way than you care about them. Don't let this be the reason why you let them do special things for you or buy you gifts. This will only make things worse in the long run.

As much as you may enjoy their company, limiting time together, especially if it is time spent alone together, can also keep you in the friend zone. If he/she asks you out to lunch, ask if another mutual friend can come along too. Also making sure to drive yourself and split the bill can make it feel less like a date.

The best way to make sure that staying in the friend zone doesn't mean that your friendship ends on a bad note is to keep everything going on in this situation between you and him/her. Don't go telling other friends that you are pretty sure that this person likes you. It can make them feel awkward around mutual friends or even be angry with you. Let it be your own little secret that you can joke about later one once he/she has found someone else who feels the same way about them.

Drinking and spending time with someone who has feelings you don't share can be dangerous.
Drinking and spending time with someone who has feelings you don't share can be dangerous. | Source

The Friend Zone

Dreaded Friend Zone

Another additional tip I considered not including but decided it's too important to let go is to always be sober around the person who admires you. It's their choice if they want to get ridiculously drunk at a party with you but the best way to keep control is to always keep a clear head so that you make the best decisions.

The aforementioned guy whose friendship I lost after trying to stay in the friend zone is one clear example of this. He had gotten drunk at a party and came up to hug me (at the time I was oblivious of his affections), which I allowed, believing it to be harmless....until he didn't let go for an awkwardly long time. That's when I knew. Oh no.

To sum it all up and reiterate, there are five basic tips for how to stay in the friend zone (not guaranteed to keep the friendship alive)

  1. Make your intentions clear
  2. Try and pay attention to early signs of admiration
  3. Don't accept gifts or favors
  4. Avoid "date-like" situations
  5. Keep the situation to yourself

and the additional tip of the day: keep a clear head!

© 2013 Lisa

Share your thoughts about the good and the bad of the friend zone here:

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    • sprickita profile image

      sprickita 4 years ago from Reno

      very good insight for a few hard questions recently asked by a friend, I will pass this hub along to em ty. 8-)

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great advice Lisa. This is a slippery slope to experience. You are very wise and level-headed about his type of situation. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      Hahahaha. Right now I experience something like that, having a friend who's attracted to me... and I think he's still persistent. Thanks for sharing, I will apply your tips right away. Up, useful and shared. :)

    • Marie Gail profile image

      Marie Gail Stratford 4 years ago from Olathe, KS

      A good Hub, Lisa. Voted up. Very useful and interesting.

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Clarifying, edifying. Nice, Lisa. Can we be friends? best, Ken