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FAQ: How do I get out of the Friend Zone?

Q: Hi there! What’s the Friend Zone? I’ve heard different things from different sources, but I’m not super sure what it is. I think I’ve been Friend Zoned, and I wanna know how to get out of it. Help?

Being in the Friend Zone means being in situation where one friend wants a romantic or sexual relationship and the other friend does not. And yeah, this dynamic between friends can be hard on both people involved. But more than the situation being the problem, it’s maybe the term that’s really ruining friendships.

People only use the Friend Zone when they a) want something from the relationship that they’re not getting, but b) are also unwilling to let go of or adapt to the new status of the relationship. (Otherwise we’d just keep calling it “being friends.”) Friend Zone is a category we impose on ourselves, not something that the other person does to us when they say “No.”

One way to get out of the Friend Zone is to stop believing in it. Here are some suggestions on how to retrain your brain away from using and believing in the Friend Zone: 

Hear “No”

“Let’s just be friends,” means “I don’t want to date you.” Even if the person does legitimately want to be friends, it’s still a “No.” Knowing that they don’t want to date, what kind of relationship are you wanting to have with them now, if any?

Understand Your Intentions

If you want to work on building a friendship with them, that’s totally cool! But a friendship is different than a romantic or sexual relationship. If you become their friend only because you’re secretly hoping they’ll change their mind, that’s not a true friendship. That’s being dishonest.

Create Boundaries

It can be hard to switch gears from feeling like someone’s a crush to feeling like they’re a friend. You may have to change how you interact with this person in order to make that change (like not having alone time together or not texting late at night). Creating boundaries is healthy and normal.

Hot Tip:
Tell the other person that you’re setting these boundaries, so they don’t think you’re mad at them for no reason. While it can be hard to talk about it, it can be helpful to share that the dynamic of your friendship might change for a bit.

Build Appreciation for your Friendships

Sometimes romantic or sexual relationships feel like the most important kind of relationship. In these moments we can forget how important and validating our friendships can be. Being mindful about our friendships and thinking about the ways they make our lives better can help us see the positive side when someone says they want to be friends.

Seek Out New Romantic Relationships

A classic way to get over an old crush is to get a new one. Finding someone who reciprocates your romantic or sexual interest can help you approach your old crush with less complicated feelings.

And remember: Just because someone says “I think we should just be friends,” doesn’t mean that you have to be. You can say “No thanks.” If you are only interested in pursuing romantic or sexual relationships, you can totally decline their offer of friendship and move on. Some relationships can change from crush to friend, but lots of relationships just stay at an acquaintance level or end (for example). Just because you tried dating someone once doesn’t mean that you have to keep them regularly in your life.

There’s nothing that you can say or do to make another person see you as anything other than a friend if that’s how they feel about you. We as individuals cannot control how other people react to us. All we can control is our own behaviour towards them.

Resources

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

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