The Art of Escaping the Friend-Zone



Once upon a time, I met a boy who was cute, smart, and made me laugh—what more could a girl ask for? We got along famously; I wanted to be his friend and he wanted to be mine. We didn’t have to work for comfort, it just happened. Slowly, but surely, we became the best of friends. We joked about everything. We could be completely ourselves—even weird around each other. And then suddenly, I found myself enamored with this boy. But we were good friends, and as we continued to joke around I found that I had ended up moving our relationship to the friend-zone without even realizing, but more importantly, without even wanting to. I paused for a minute while talking with one of my best friends, and thought, “How did this even happen? I didn’t ask for this!”

Ever since a young age, I have noticed a few things about myself: I love to love people, I love to make friends, and I have an uncanny ability to put myself in the friend-zone. What even is the friend-zone? Who created this weird term that sounds closely related to football or the army? I have yet to discover the historic origins of this word, but I have come to realize that I have experienced it frequently.

Before I go on, I want to be clear, I think being friends with men is an experience that every woman should have. Not because you have the intention of a romantic relationship, but purely because having a brotherly relationship with a man is something that is healthy, natural, and good for the soul. Yet this is where the flaw in most of these situations lie. Do we want a brother? Or do we want a husband? And when we start to have romantic feelings for someone we have a brotherly relationship? How do we let him know?

I’ve been in this situation many times. I want a brotherly sort of relationship, or a guy friend so I immediately friend-zone them: this can be any action from punching them in the arm and calling them “pal” and then proceeding to joke about how ridiculous it would be if we ever dated.

We start spending a lot of time together so it almost feels like we’re dating. People continue to ask me “What’s going on there? Are you dating? He’s cute…” because you’ve posted a lot of couple­y pictures together on Facebook and you show up to places together. Then slowly, but surely something starts to shift in my mind….

But then, when I actually realize I want to date them, I’m at a loss. Why do I do this?

As I’ve pondered this situation, I’ve come to realize, my tendency to friend-zone is directly linked to the confidence I have in myself.

I don’t have the confidence that he will take me seriously or even be remotely interested in starting a relationship of the romantic nature. Because I fear rejection and sometimes I don’t actually believe that he could possibly want to date me, I’m afraid to take the risk and let him know how I feel.

This is where I sell myself short. Relationships with the opposite sex can be beneficial for a variety of reasons—having a friendly relationship with a guy is good, and there is nothing wrong with that. But it becomes a problem when you or I friend-zone ourselves because we don’t have the confidence don’t take ourselves and our desires for love seriously. It is when you consider yourself to be unworthy and use self-incriminating jokes to avoid intimacy when your feelings are moving a different way.

So, maybe, just maybe, next time you find yourself in the treacherous friend-zone, you can be intentional with your actions. If you care, don’t be afraid to show it, even if it’s so scary you feel like you’re going to faint. Ask this special someone to hang out, get dinner, see a movie—not by chance, but on purpose. But ultimately, be honest. If you have feelings for someone, don’t hide behind your self-image; tell them how you really feel. If they are your true friend, they will love you and accept you for who you are, regardless of their romantic feelings for you. What have you got to lose?

Set your standards high, but also don’t be afraid to let loose, laugh a little, forget to floss, and date someone who really likes you for who you are, or maybe someone who you’ve been friends with all along. Let’s walk out of the chaotic and confusing friend-zone together.


Photography: Flickr/ Ricky Thakrar

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1 Comment

  • This was great. Like martial arts, many put *themselves* into the particular “zone” they want to avoid, but men I think more so will blame their “sparing partner”, as it were, instead of owning that they placed themselves there, even though yes, there are strikes going on. Society is partly to blame in this, which has them assuming they’re only marginally responsible, where they are often primarily so as individuals. But the last bit was wrong. Floss. Always floss. Never forget to floss – AND rinse. Never identify food bits between your teeth with “who you are”.

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