By Amanda Fox
Guys, are you stuck in the friend zone? You know what the friend zone is – that relationship you have that you know is never going anywhere no matter how much you want it to because - wait for it – you’re friends. You might even be her best friend that she spills every deep dark secret too. You know what she likes and even who she likes – and it isn’t you! At least not the way you want it to be. Since our column “How Nice Guys Can Get The Girl” ran, a lot of you guys have complained that nice guys are terminally stuck in the friend zone and never get out of it. Today, we’re going to tour the friend zone and give you some tips on how to get out of it – and ladies – some of this applies to you. Girls can be friend zoned too.
The first circle of friend zone, not unlike the rings of hell, is that relationship where you spend a ton of time together. You keep thinking that somehow, some bit of serendipity will put all the pieces in place and you’ll be together romantically. A real couple. The problem is, she sees you no different than she might her sassy gay guy friend (Even though you aren’t gay) and as a result you wind up holding her purse and shopping bags on a regular basis. You might see her pick out the lingerie, but you’ll never see her in it.
The second circle is the first kicked up a notch. In this one there is a lot of playful touching. Toss in some meaningless yet wistful glances that keep you more bound up than eating 50 eggs and you’re getting close. What really sucks here is that you think you have a shot. Just as soon as she breaks up with that loser or settles a few personal issues, she is going to be all over you! (In your mind).
Next, we move on to the circle where you are her combination dumping ground / handyman – and you don’t even know it. Of course you’ll help her cover rent. It was you after all that told her to dump that lousy roommate and the economy is tough on everyone. Sure you’ll give her all kinds of advice on who she is dating and wants to date – neither of which includes you. And you’ll give genuinely good advice. Then you’ll watch it blow up and be there to pick up the pieces like only a great friend could. Or it works and you die a slow painful death inside. Yes, it does suck.
Then we have an all-time favorite soul crusher – “If only things were a little different . . .”. This encompasses everything above and has the kicker that you really believe there is a glimmer of hope. You wonder what you could do different to make her see you’re right for her in the here and now. You curse time and circumstances, holding on because one day . . . things might be a little different. The only problem is they never are. You’re taste testing wedding cakes with her two years later when she marries the car dealership guy “Beamer Bob”. And what is worse is you still think there is some weird storybook/Hollywood ending that brings you together at the last minute as red velvet cake passes over your tongue.
Now that we’ve taken a tour of what is effectively, hell, let’s see what you can do about staying out of there.
1. Be clear about your intentions. Don’t play this ridiculous game where you ask someone out with a group friends and start thinking in your head it’s a date. It’s not a date! It’s friends hanging out. You have to buck up and say would you like to go out with me on a date. Sure you might get turned down, but better that than sitting around wondering what if.
2. Never sell yourself short. It’s good to be friends and I’ll never say it isn’t. Being friends can be phenomenally satisfying, but you are worth having someone love you as more than a friend. Unless you’re a complete tool. You don’t have to cling to something that isn’t going to happen.
3. Don’t allow yourself to be inundated with anything you can’t handle hearing. If it is ripping you apart inside to hear about who she likes or what kind of sex they had on the hood of a Chevy behind Chili’s – say so! All it takes is saying “we need to draw some lines concerning what you tell me about your relationships.” This may be a coffin nail too, but seriously – if you can’t handle it, you can’t handle it! See #2 to back this up.
4. Have a hard, but necessary, talk with yourself about whether or not you can actually be friends even if it is tearing your soul apart. If you can’t find happiness in her happiness with someone else that says two things:
- A. You don’t really love her and need to let it go! You’re overly infatuated and that is nothing but bad juju for everyone.
- B. You need to start loving yourself. Work on positive affirmations daily (I don’t care how cheesy that sounds, it works) and refer back to #2 yet again. You are worthy of love.
5. Finally, don’t invent things that aren’t there and never will be. Just because she texts you to ask for help with a flat tire does not mean she wants to bear your children. You need to be able to tell the difference between a friend telling you that they love you and someone with a real, romantic, I want to grow old with you intention saying I love you. There is a difference so don’t pretend there isn’t.
There you go! A tour of the friend zone and how to get, or preferably, stay out of it. You may wonder what I actually know about this and I can tell you – years upon years of experience. I’ve been on both sides. I know how it happens. I know why it happens and how it feels. I also know the value of believing I am worthy of love – and it’s not always easy. I know how to maintain a friendship on steroids in the fourth circle of friend zone hell because I’ve done it!
The biggest thing in all of this is you have to be open with your feelings and you have to decide whether you can handle things not going the way you want. Here’s a little secret – I’ve friend zoned more people than I can count because they were never open with their feelings and in a few cases . . . something might have happened if they were. I’ve been friend zoned because I did the same exact thing only to find when it’s too late . . . something might have happened.
Love yourself and don’t live with regret. To someone, you are the hand they are waiting to hold in theirs.
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