A woman sits at a restaurant with a group of friends, next to the man of her dreams, or at least she thinks so. The problem is, they are “just friends.” As she sits there, smiling, laughing at his jokes, she thinks, “He’s so great. Why can’t he see me as more than just a friend?” She watches him flirt with Bob’s sister who just moved to town. When he turns to her and asks, “Should I ask her out?” all she can think is: “Seriously?” She wants to shout back: “ASK ME OUT!”
A man has a delightful single neighbor and boy does he like her. They chat as they water their flowerbeds. He helps her fix her sink, stack wood, shovel the driveway. And on Saturday nights he watches her go out on dates with other guys. She calls him on Sunday morning and invites him over for coffee, at which point she spills all the details he does not want to hear about last night’s date. Why on earth, he wonders, does she not get how hard that is for him? Why doesn’t she see him as date material?
Somehow these relationships went down the path of “friend.” A path that seems to have no exits. Has this happened to you? You do not have to stay stuck in the Friend Zone!
Being in the Friend Zone is a frustrating place to be. You want to have a romantic relationship with someone who sees you as a “good friend” and nothing more. You wonder, “How on earth did I get here?” You want to get out of the Friend Zone and have the relationship you want! And who can blame you?
So is it possible to get out of the Friend Zone and avoid it in the future?
Let’s look at a few possibilities. How did you get there in the first place?
- You did not make your needs, feelings, and intentions a priority. (Instead maybe you made the other person’s comfort a priority.)
- You did not make your needs, feelings, and intentions known to the other person.
- Right from the start you gave more than you got out of the relationship –doing everything for the other person and asking for nothing in return.
- You do 99.9% of the work to maintain the relationship, which includes being too available.
This can all happen very innocently. You are a nice person. You want to be helpful and kind. You have a lot to offer. But what about you?
To get out of the Friend Zone and possibly have the relationship you want there is one thing you have to do. No substitutions, sorry. It involves total honesty. With yourself, and then with your friend. What does that mean exactly?
A direct approach is best. Have the conversation – explain how you feel and what you want. Then wait to see how it lands for them. Be prepared for any answer. It will go one of two ways, either you will get a real date or you won’t.
Tough as this sounds, it is the only winning proposition for you because you valued yourself enough to find the courage to speak your truth.
So what if your friend wants things to go on as before, in the Friend Zone? Well, you can decide if you want to continue the relationship as is or move on. Remember that rejection is a myth – no one can make you feel rejected without your permission. This is not rejection, it is clarification. Now you both know where you stand and can act accordingly.
So how do you avoid the Friend Zone in the future? Take an assertive approach. Here are some tips:
- Know what you want and need in a relationship and settle for nothing less.
- Look for someone who has compatible core values, interests and life goals.
- Recognize when the spark of chemistry is mutual and go for it.
- Don’t wait for someone else to take the lead.
To get the relationship you want, it’s best to be assertive, not passive. If you find you are just along for the ride, chances are you are heading down a road you would not have chosen. On the other hand, if you are doing all the work, is the other person really all that invested? Both options can lead to the Friend Zone if you aren’t careful.
Two people cannot both be in the driver’s seat, so think of the navigation away from the Friend Zone as a collaboration—two of you paddling the canoe, or pitching a tent, or cooking a meal together.