The Friend Zone.
It’s a place we’ve all been at one point or another in our lives. Some of us (*cough ME *cough) have been there so long, we might as well take up a sublet and get a parking permit. If you’re one of the lucky few who don’t know what it is, the Friend Zone is a kind of relationship purgatory where one party is in deep like/love with the other party, but the other is only putting off friendly vibes. Basically, it’s the saddest party on the block. Or at least it feels like it at the time.
Let me preface this by saying that I am ALL about being somebody’s BFF. I place a lot of value on friendships and am always up for the opportunity to add another pal to my posse. But when you start to develop feelings for said other person, real feelings, and not have those feelings reciprocated, it can definitely be a blow to the heart. In fact, it sucks. Because no matter what you say or do, this other person will only ever see you as their friend.
The Friend Zone is a place I know all too well. I’m the Norm of the Friend Zone, the Mayor
McCheese of the Friend Zone, that “one pesky zit on your face that will never leave” of the Friend Zone. Most of my relationships have started and ended the same way: I meet a great guy, stomach is filled with butterfliespterodactyls, sparks are a flyin’ (at least in my mind), texts are exchanged, amazing dates are had and I begin to think, “Damnit. I really like Bob/Joe/Jim/Moe.”
Annnnd then it happens.
The dreaded “I think you’re a really cool girl, but…”, “You’re really great, but…”, “You’resosweetandIovedhangingoutwithyou, but…”
But…I just don’t like you like that.
Ugh. Friend Zoned.
I’m not sure why I’ve had the pleasure of frequenting this place so often. I mean, on the one hand, I’m flattered that guys think so highly of my mad friendship skills, but on the other hand, sometimes a girl just wants to be looked at as more than that. Be it the optimistic romantic in me, I like to think that this will happen. And I know it will. One day. And it will for you too. But that doesn’t mean that in the moment, it doesn’t suck like a vacuum any less.
While being given the “Friend card” isn’t exactly the most ideal of situations, it’s also not the end of the world. Take it from me, your [self-proclaimed] Friend-Zoned love guru, it can actually present itself as a somewhat positive thing, albeit a somewhat positive thing dressed in some pretty impressive camouflage. But a positive thing nonetheless.
Here are just some things to remember in order to help you get off of that dating bench and back into the game.
- It’s not you; it’s them.
Yes, it’s the cliché to beat all clichés. But it’s a cliché for a reason. The toughest thing you will face when put into the Friend Zone is the how and why’s. You will more often than not spend an embarrassingly amount of time wracking your brain wondering what you did, what you didn’t do. At what point did I go from this person’s potential SO to just their “pal”? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! The truth is, you may never know. As much as you would like to change how someone sees and feels about you, you can’t. The only thing you can change is how you see and feel about yourself. If the other person in question doesn’t look at you the way you look at a burrito, then it’s time to walk away and find someone who does. Because burritos are delicious.
- Take this opportunity to actually be just friends.
Just because the opportunity for any kind of romantic relationship is out the car window doesn’t mean that you can’t get a pretty amazing friend out of the deal. After all, you liked this person for a reason, and them you. You began as friends and if you’re lucky, you can still retain that after all of the awkward dust settles. Some of my most meaningful friendships stemmed from the dreaded (but really not-so dreaded) Friend Zone.
- Recognize how much of a kick-ass friend you really are.
When the other person tells you how “great” and “cool” and “awesome” you are, listen to them! In the moment, of course these compliments of true authenticity go in one ear and out the next. And understandably so; you just had your heart broken. All you can think of are the things that you aren’t. But when the dust settles a bit, realize that these things that this person is saying are true. You are funny and caring and smart and funny and witty and one heck of a great person! Never, ever forget that!
- Use this experience as a learning opportunity.
I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Like just this morning for example, I woke up late and didn’t have time to eat breakfast so I stopped by Starbucks for a quick bite. Turns out they were giving away free bagels with any purchase of a coffee. Being given free food is the ultimate reason to believe in serendipity in my opinion. The same rules apply to relationships. Use this opportunity to learn from your experience. With each relationship you have, you grow. You find out what it is in another person you like and what you don’t. You become more confident and self-assured. Ironically, you’ll on occasion, if lucky, be given free food. Full circle.
- Get back on the horse!
It’s natural and completely normal to be sad, to wallow a bit, drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and an endless loop of Nicholas Sparks movies. Let it out, have a good cry, contemplate becoming a crazy cat lady/man. But then put your big girl/boy panties on and get back out there! This particular relationship may not have worked out, but that just means that there is one even better out there that will! Don’t lose hope. Focus on having the best life possible, spend some quality you-doing-you time, and just at the exact moment when you’re not looking for it, it’ll happen. Another cliché, but it really works. Or so I’m told; I’m still busy not looking for love in order to prove this point.