When you’re a young adult, there are certain phrases you hate hearing, like when your grandma begins a story with “When I was your age…” or when you’re complaining to your dad and he replies with “Sorry but life’s just not fair sometimes” or after describing a situation you had with the opposite sex your best friend says “You’ve been friend-zoned.”
We’ve all heard these phrases at least once in our lives, and each time was an agonizing experience, especially that last one. Whether you want to admit it or not, you’ve spent time in the friend zone. It’s nothing to feel bad about; everyone has experienced it, and many people are still stuck in this danger zone.
But despite what you may have heard — or might currently be feeling — there is a way out. So sit back, get comfortable, and read on as we tell you the ins and outs of the friend zone: why people like it, the problems with it, why people fall into it, and how to get out of it.
Why People Like The Friend Zone
While most want to avoid the friend zone like the plague, many enjoy it. Why? Because there are certain aspects of it that aren’t so bad. Being friends with the opposite sex boosts your confidence. It’s also a way for you to become more comfortable and learn to just relax and be yourself around the other gender. When you’re just friends and only hanging out, you’re also able to see and learn what faults you might have or what you need to improve to have better relationships with the opposite sex. And last but not least, being friends with the opposite gender simply makes you more human. You’re able to recognize people as individuals, not as objects you can use or control.
Problems With The Friend Zone
While there is nothing wrong with just being friends and there are even some perks you gain from opposite sex friendships, being stuck in the friend zone is nothing to aim for. There are more problems and bad instead of good that comes from these situations.
First of all, nothing is clear in the friend zone. There aren’t any clearly defined roles of what you or the opposite gender is responsible for doing. Being friends who just hang out isn’t fulfilling to you or the other half of this relationship. You’re lost in a cloudy haze where there’s tons of overthinking, confusion, and lacking confidence with both parties.
The friend zone can also be harmful to your opposite sex relationships for two reasons. When you friend-zone someone, you put a label on him or her, and it makes him or her feel and others think that that person did something wrong that’s making them only be worthy to have the title of being your friend. This problematic phrase is sometimes used when you don’t want to accept the fact that someone isn’t romantically interested in you, so you tell your buddies that you friend-zoned that person, which puts the blame on that person instead of you being mature and accepting the fact that you’re only meant to be friends.
Why People Fall Into The Friend Zone
Like the problems that accompany it, there are several reasons why people fall into the friend zone. You may even have experience with one or a few of these.
Don’t want to ruin your friendship.
Whether you and this other person have been friends for six months, two years, or your whole lives, it’s completely understandable to not want to ruin your friendship. You’ve put in the time to become good friends, and you’re not going to be the one to make it uncomfortable by bringing up taking your friendship to a dating relationship. You tell yourself that if it doesn’t work out it’s going to be awkward for the two of you, ultimately ending your friendship, and if you have mutual friends it’s going to make it hard and weird for them when they’re trying to plan friend outings.
It’s more comfortable just hanging out.
More and more young LDS adults are hanging out these days. Hanging out is comfortable, it’s safe, and it’s what you got so used to doing when you were a teenager. Growing up in the Mormon culture, your parents and church leaders told you to hang out and go on group dates in high school. It’s what you’re used to doing — and what you’re good at doing — since you did it for so many years.
This is probably the biggest reason people stay in the friend zone for way longer than they should. You’re afraid of being rejected. You’re afraid of making yourself the vulnerable one. You’re afraid of how to bring it up. Basically, you’re afraid to face the challenge and make that first move. So instead you play it safe, which leads to neither of you making the first move and both of you staying in the friend zone when one or both of you want out.
Holding out for your perfect match.
If you think your perfect Captain Moroni or Esther is out there, come back down to reality. There’s no such thing as a perfect person. You know that; we all know that. But still you look at your brother’s wife, your cousin’s husband, your parents, or someone else you know and think, “Wow. They found the perfect person and now they’re the perfect
couple that’s going to have the perfect life.” Newsflash again — a perfect couple, family, and life don’t exist either. We can put some partial blame on the media for making us think perfect exists. People see gorgeous movie stars or fall in love with TV show characters and then decide that’s what they want and are holding out for. But it’s not going to happen. These celebrities are acting, portraying a role. They also have personal trainers, chefs, stylists, makeup artists, and millions of dollars to make themselves and their lives seem like a fairytale. Come back to reality, folks. You won’t find your perfect soul mate in this life; everyone, including yourself, has flaws.
Dating is hard work.
Let’s be honest. We have a tendency to be a somewhat lazy generation. If something is going to take a lot of time, energy, and money, we do our best to avoid it for as long as we can. Moving from the friend zone to the dating relationship is a process, a process that takes everything just mentioned. It may even involve you changing or improving some of your habits, and who wants to put in the effort doing that?
Dwelling on a negative experience.
Maybe you tried getting out of the friend zone once, and it blew up in your face. It was going great for a short while, and then it just blew up in your face. Now you two are no longer friends, so you repeatedly tell yourself you can’t go through that again nor do you want to put yourself and your heart out there like that ever again.
You’re “the nice one.”
You’ve been labeled “the nice one.” You do all the work in this relationship. You make the decisions, the sacrifices, etc., making it extremely easy for the other person to be with you, just hanging out being friends. When you do all the work, you also do all the investing and develop the more-than-friends feelings. The other person, however, does not. You’re stuck in a situation where the attraction has become one-sided.
You’re trying too hard for the wrong person.
You and this person may be stuck in the friend zone because you’re just meant to be friends. You can’t be a good match for every guy or girl out there nor can every girl or guy be a good match for you. You may not see that you’re going for the wrong person or you may be choosing to ignore the fact that you two aren’t meant to date.
You enjoy being with all your friends.
The last thing you want to do at this point in your life is start ditching your friends. You all get along, you enjoy doing the same things, and it’s always a good time when your group is together. Why would you want to sacrifice good times with your friends to try dating one of them that could end badly?
Why settle for one when there’s a sea of singles in the LDS world?
You’ve been told there are plenty of fish in the sea, and it’s true, especially in the LDS community. Depending on where you live, you may be surrounded by tons of good-looking young LDS singles every day. There are so many you can just be good friends with and hang out with, so you tell yourself there’s no rush to date any of them. Being friends with all these guys or girls is good enough.
How To Get Out Of The Friend Zone
Whatever has caused you to fall into the trap that is the friend zone, it’s time to get yourself out. And don’t believe what you hear — it really is possible for you to do. And here’s how you do it.
Don’t be afraid.
You want to leave the friend zone? Then take a deep breath and do it! Don’t get caught in the hangout trap. Make the first move. Don’t tell yourself before you do that it’s not going to work out. Don’t dwell on the “what ifs.” If you want something, you have to put in the effort to make it happen, and the only way you’re going to take that step is if you get rid of your fear of failure or something going wrong.
Learn to flirt.
You need to learn to flirt and flirt right with the opposite sex. Appropriate flirting is a great way to get that special guy or girl’s attention. This might involve some casually teasing or breaking the touch barrier. Touching someone, like brushing their hair off their face or gentling holding onto their arm when you’re walking through a haunted house, is a small risk that communicates to this person you’re attracted to them. After doing so, pay close attention to how they react. Complimenting is also a good choice. But be careful with your compliments. Don’t be weird about it. Make them small but sincere, and use in moderation.
Make yourself less available.
If you’re always around and always free when he or she calls, or are always inviting this person to things, there’s no challenge involved for that person. It’s human nature, especially for men, to want to conquer a challenge in life, which rings true in the dating world. People value you what they have to work to obtain and invest in. So make that other person do a little work! Be nice, but don’t be so nice that you get taken advantage of.
Don’t hold out for the perfect person.
The perfect person doesn’t exist. When you wait for that perfect someone, you miss out on so many opportunities to date within your group of friends, classmates, etc. That one friend in your group that makes you laugh and you have a good time with could be a great match for you, but you don’t even try to take it from friends to dating because they have one little flaw you’ve built up in your head to be a bigger deal than it really is. So erase that list on your phone of all these qualities that are going to make your perfect spouse. Don’t settle by any means, but remember that you aren’t going to have every quality that makes up a perfect spouse so neither are the people you date.
Be open and honest with your communication.
Communication is key in every relationship. Unless you are open and honest when talking with this person you’re stuck in the friend zone with, you’re never going to get out. It most likely won’t be easy to bring up the subject of dating, but you can do it. And in some cases, the person you bring it up to is thinking exactly what you’re thinking so it could turn into a very easy and great conversation. Either talk about it or always wonder what could have happened but didn’t because you kept quiet.
Be diligent, persevering, and patient.
When you want something, something that’s good, do what you can to get it. In this case, that means being diligent, persevering, and above all patient. This transition takes time; so don’t give up on yourself, the other person, or the possibilities too soon.
People end up in the friend zone for numerous reasons. But luckily, with a little bit of work, those situations don’t have to be permanent. You can avoid the friend zone. You deserve better than the friend zone, so don’t settle for a friend-zone situation that’s going to make you miserable. Good luck, and remember — you’ve got this!