How to Escape the Friend Zone

Three Parts:Weighing the ConsequencesAdvancing the RelationshipDealing with Disappointment

We’ve all been there—you find yourself developing feelings for a friend, but you’re not sure how to proceed. Worst of all, your love interest is none the wiser, or they’re content to continue thinking of you as just a friend. You’ve entered the dreaded “friend zone.” But before you despair, you should know that there’s a way out. Remember that your relationship with your friend is like any other, and that it can grow and undergo changes. As long as you assess the risks, begin showing your interest gradually and remain respectful of unspoken boundaries, you have a shot at evolving your friendship into something deeper.

Part 1
Weighing the Consequences

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    Decide whether it’s worth it. Attempting to transform your friendship into a dating relationship could have unintended repercussions. If things don’t work out, the friendship might suffer or come to an end as a result. If you truly care about the person you’ve fallen for, think about whether you’re willing to take that chance. It may be that you decide that you’re better off as friends and adjust your expectations accordingly.[1]
    • Think about your history with the other person and how they act towards you. Do you detect any interest or affection? How have things between the two of you progressed since you became friends?[2]
    • If the person you like tends to emphasize what a good friend you are, or compares you to a brother or sister, it may be their way of telling you that they’re satisfied with your established roles.
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    Ask yourself what you want. Analyze the nature of your desires. Do you have real feelings for your friend, or is it simply a physical attraction? It’s normal to be physically drawn to people of the opposite sex that you get along well with, and this can sometimes extend to your own friends. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the two of you would be be able to fulfill each other’s needs in a dating relationship.[3]
    • Be certain about what you’re after before you make a move. An unsuccessful attempt at courting could mean the end of the friendship.[4]
    • Hooking up does not necessarily mean leaving the friend zone. If anything, it could just make things more confusing for both of you.
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    Talk to your mutual friends. Find out how the person you’re interested in feels by talking to the friends you have in common. They can usually provide valuable insight into the mind state of your interest. They’ll also be able to tell you whether trying to pursue a romantic relationship is a good idea, or whether you’re putting your friendship in jeopardy.[5]
    • If your mutual friends think there’s a chance of the two of you getting together, have them put in a good word for you or drop subtle clues to your interest.
    • While you should do what’s right for you, it’s also worth considering how you and your friend becoming romantically involved could impact the rest of your friends.
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    Make sure your timing is right. Even if you decide to take the direct approach, don’t spill your guts out of the blue. Wait until the two of you are alone and can talk openly without distraction or embarrassment. Consider other situational details, as well—if your friend is going through a stressful time in their life or just got out of a longterm relationship, it may not be the right time to share your feelings with them.[6]
    • The best time to work your way out of the friend zone is when you and your interest get along well, spend a lot of time with each other and express your desires and frustrations about dating. You’ll already be armed with the resources and information you need to be able to meet their needs.[7]

Part 2
Advancing the Relationship

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    1
    Spend more time with your friend. Offer to do things with your friend more often and change the nature of your time together. Rather than interacting like casual friends the way you always have, show more of an interest in them, mentally and physically. Getting out of the friend zone is often as simple as shifting the way your friend views you and your dynamic together. The more time you spend one-on-one, the more of your true feelings you’ll be able to show them.[8]
    • A good way to get more face time with the person you’re interested in is to single them out. The next time you’re hanging out with your friends, engage him or her in a private one-on-one conversation, or diverge from the group so that just the two of you can do some activity together.
    • Invite your friend to do things you know they enjoy, like attending a concert, going on a hike or playing a sport together.
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    Start small and work your way up. Don’t expect a lengthy friendship to turn into a passionate romance overnight. Give the other person time to relax and update their perspective. Go on a few casual non-dates at first, then ask for a more formal date when the time is right. Let your gestures gradually become more flirty and playful, and escalate to more obvious affection later on. If you push too much right away, you might just end up scaring them off.[9]
    • It can be hard to find a good way to start flirting that isn’t awkward. Try paying the friend you’re interested in genuine compliments from time to time, dropping hints about the things you like about their appearance and personality. Eventually, they’ll begin to see your comments in a new light.
    • Learn to interpret your friend’s behavior. If they respond well to lighthearted flirting, it could be a good sign. If they tend to shut down or change the subject when you show affection, they probably aren’t interested in you in that way.
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    Show that you’re desirable. If your friend isn’t showing much interest in return, they may need to be reminded that you’re attractive to somebody. Start spending more time with other members of the opposite sex and give them some of the attention you’ve been reserving for your friend. Be obvious, if you have to. As petty as it sounds, seeing you being fawned over by other girls or guys can spark enough jealousy in your friend to motivate them to win back your attention for themselves.[10][11]
    • Don’t flaunt your other interests and relationships in front of your friend. If you overdo it, they might mistakenly assume that you don’t like them, or be hurt by your boastful display.
    • Hanging out guys or girls other than your interest can create a feeling of competition that they might not have even known was there before.
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    Be aloof. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Sometimes, it will take you backing off to make your interest realize how much they regret your absence. Take some time away from your friend and limit your communication for a while. This will effectively give them time to miss you. Without you there to fulfill their emotional needs, they’ll start wishing to have you around more.[12][13]
    • Rather than simply refusing to talk or do things with your friend, just arrange to be busy when they try to make plans, or tell them that you’ve been too busy to chat regularly.
    • Be careful about seeming too detached. If you make yourself completely unavailable, your plan may backfire and your friend could lose interest in making an effort to do things with you.
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    Break the touch barrier. Small, physical gestures are a building block of deeper intimacy. Try being more hands-on with your interest. Grab his arm suddenly while telling an exciting story, or place your hand on the small of her back when she’s walking through the door ahead of you. This kind of subtle contact can awaken arousing feelings in your interest and may create a desire for more.[14]
    • Increase physical contact with your friend slowly, and be respectful. Not everyone likes being touched, and you may end up sending the wrong message if you act presumptuously or put your hands somewhere they shouldn’t be.
    • One of the major differences between friends and lovers is that friends don’t often touch each other much, or in meaningful ways. When you introduce a more intimate level of contact with your friend, it will naturally influence the way they view you and your relationship.[15]
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    Be upfront about your feelings. Whether you’ve grown tired of biding your time or you’re just not one to beat around the bush, you may prefer to announce your feelings directly to your friend. This isn’t always a bad idea. Find a time when you can sit down with your friend one-on-one and talk things out. Be heartfelt as you explain yourself, but try not to make them feel uncomfortable. Let them know that you don't expect them to change the nature of your friendship, but that you had to get your feelings off your chest. Getting it out in the open will put to rest any doubt in their mind, and give you a clear answer about whether or not there’s a chance of being together as something more than friends.[16]
    • Your friend might be experiencing a similar dilemma but be hesitant to act on it because they don’t sense that you’re interested.
    • If you can work up the nerve to be honest, you have a better chance of receiving a straightforward answer, which can save you from having to agonize about the situation for weeks and weeks.

Part 3
Dealing with Disappointment

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    Accept rejection gracefully. Be prepared to be turned down once you invite your friend to go on a date or make your feelings known. They may not feel the same way about you, and that’s okay. Smile and go back to acting in a way that you know they’re comfortable with to reassure them that you still want to be their friend. It’s not the end of the world, and you’ll feel better knowing once and for all that you gave it the shot it deserved.[17]
    • Be able to take “no” for an answer. There’s something to be said for determination, but when a guy or girl makes up their mind, you should be able to accept it.[18]
    • Chances are, your friend will feel just as bad about turning you down as you do. Keep your spirits high so that they won’t worry about damaging your friendship. The better you’re able to handle it, the more confident they’ll feel in your desire to remain friends.
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    Find support from your loved ones. Soothe the discouragement of unrequited love by spending time with your friends and family. The more you’re able to laugh and distract yourself, the better and more in control of your circumstance you’ll feel. It will serve as a reminder that you still have people who care about you, even when things don’t go as you hoped.[19]
    • Talking over your problems with someone close to you can often help put things in perspective.
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    Take some time for yourself. Rejection can sting, and kind words don’t always help. Occasionally, it’s just easier to be alone. Put your social obligations on hold for a while to reconnect with yourself and take inventory of the good things in your life. Devote time to developing a skill or enjoying your hobbies. Having the ability to comfort yourself in difficult times means that you’ll never have to worry about trying and failing.[20]
    • Don’t make it seem like you’re pouting or trying to punish your friend for not feeling the same way. Explain the time you take for yourself as a form of emotional healing and refinement.
    • Your nagging need to be in a relationship will disappear once you’re able to find happiness in being alone.[21]
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    Focus on your friendship. In the best case scenario, you share your feelings with the guy or girl you’re interested in and they suggest that you work better as friends. Consider this a stroke of good fortune. It may not be exactly what you wanted, but it’s a clear-cut answer and will let you know exactly where you stand and what aspects of your friendship to work on. Think of it as an opportunity to get a fresh start in your relationship and become closer friends than ever.[22]
    • There’s no guarantee that you friend won’t change their mind in the future. Let yourself be content with simply being friends for the time being, but don’t feel like all is lost if you’re sure of your feelings for them.
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    Don't blame yourself if the friendship ends. Your interest may not feel like they can remain friends with you after finding out how you truly feel about them. If this happens, understand that you've done nothing wrong. It's important that you be honest with yourself and your friend, as ignoring your desires can cause the relationship to become frustrating for both of you. Sometimes, however, things just may not work out in your favor. Move on and take comfort in the fact that you gave it the chance it deserved.[23]
    • Find productive ways of easing the pain, like writing out your thoughts in a journal or turning to your other friends for emotional support.[24]
    • If someone is willing to stop being your friend because they've been put in a difficult position, chances are they didn't value your friendship that much to begin with.

Tips

  • Hiding your feelings can be painful, and may put a strain on your friendship. If you really think you've fallen for a friend, be honest with them.
  • Don't flirt with other guys or girls while trying to transform your relationship with a friend, unless it's to strategically make them a little jealous.
  • Making time for your friend and always being there for them when they need you can demonstrate how much you care.
  • If you sense that your friend has been sending you mixed signals, they may like you too but not know how to act on their feelings while keeping the friendship intact.
  • Even if you do everything right, there's no guarantee that the other person will ever desire anything more than friendship. If you're just not making any progress, have the presence of mind to accept it and focus on being the best friend you can be.

Warnings

  • Don't try to interfere with your friend's existing relationships. This can make you appear selfish and desperate, and it only hurts them, which isn't what you want.
  • Keep in mind that even if things work out in your favor, it will likely change the nature of your friendship forever.
  • Cut off your attempts at physical affection if it makes your friend uncomfortable. They may be too polite to say anything at first, but the last thing you want is to alienate someone close to you.
  • Try not to let your feelings turn into an infatuation. Approach the situation realistically, keep things in perspective and stay busy to keep your mind off nagging worries and desires.

Sources and Citations

  1. http://shamelessmag.com/blog/entry/advice-column-should-you-tell-your-friend-you-hav
  2. http://www.mochimag.com/article/should-you-date-your-best-friend-pros-cons-advice-tips
  3. http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/crushing-on-your-bff
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Categories: Crushes