The Friend Zone

friend-zone

Friend-Zoned? Probably.

The Friend Zone describes a relationship dynamic in which one person hopes for a friendship to grow into a romantic relationship. The other person, however, has a different idea — they see the other person as just a close friend, or worse, a brother or sister.

Who is Friend-Zoned?

The typical candidate for the Friend Zone is unassuming and generally good-natured. Instead of rushing into a relationship with someone they are attracted to they decide to get to know the person. They spend time with the other person, enjoying “friendly” activities such as playing video games, chatting in spare time, and watching TV. As a result they begin to know the other person well and become a close confidante.

Friend-Zoners are often men, but it’s not rare for a woman to be friend-zoned. Male Friend-Zoners can often be described by themselves and others as Nice Guys. Another common Friend-Zoner is the Shy Guy, whose hesitance to first approach, and later move a relationship from platonic to romantic proves to be his downfall.

Why the Friend Zone?

There are several reasons why a person can find themselves in the Friend Zone.  These include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • stuck-in-friend-zoneToo much time as friends — This may seem obvious, but a common way to be friend-zoned is to be friends for too long. After a certain point, one person may begin to see the other as simply a good friend.
  • Unclear signals — Sometimes the person with romantic interest is unsure of how to display their interest, or if they should show their interest at all. Other times they send mixed signals or the other person doesn’t know how to interpret their signals. The inevitable result is the Friend Zone.
  • Lack of attraction — Occurs when one person is not romantically attracted to the other person, but enjoys their friendship. The result is that they unknowingly friend zone the person who is attracted to them.
  • A really good friendship — At times the other person does have a spark of interest for the current friend-zoner. However, they value their friendship so much that they don’t want to ruin it by pursuing a romantic relationship.

Signs of the Friend Zone

Wonder if you’re in the Friend Zone or have been friend-zoned in the past? Here are some signs of the Friend Zone that you might want to look out for.

  • They discuss other people they are interested in. With you.
  • They remark that you’re just like a “brother” or “sister” to them.
  • They suggest your activities together include other people.
  • They are too comfortable around you; they do things with you that they don’t do in the company of other people.

Getting Out of the Friend Zone

Once you’re in the Friend Zone, it is difficult to escape. The best way to not be in the Friend Zone is to avoid entering it in the first place. And the second best way is to give up. Some battles are not worth fighting.

But in the case you still would like to move from friend to romantic partner, you must make your interest clear and make yourself desirable. Flirt (harder), dress up on occasion, or show them a side of you they haven’t seen before. You can even tell them of your interest. Just don’t continue to do what you’ve always done; that has proven to be the door to the Friend Zone.

Have you ever been in the Friend Zone? Have you ever friend-zoned someone else? Share your experiences.

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20 thoughts on “The Friend Zone

  1. This is an interesting concept. I’m pretty sure I was never in the Friend Zone (or friend-zoned anybody). And yes, it does seem that men are often the victims here, women can be friend-zoned just as well.

    I guess the advice IS pretty simple: do not become a good friend with somebody you like romantically. While I do think romantic partners should be good friends, let the friendship build along with others thing you built through your romantic relationship (intimacy, sex, etc.)

    Of course, you should get to know somebody before starting a romantic relationship, but don’t make it into a beginning of a true, deep friendship. Make your motives known right from the start.

    It’s difficult, if not impossible, to escape a friend zone once you’re in it.

  2. Mira,

    I agree but sometimes it’s hard to know when you’re becoming friends. You can start getting to know someone and before you know it you’re great friends. Even if in the beginning you (both) were attracted and flirted, etc, if you become to “homey” then it might remain that way.

  3. Well, if both people are ok with being friends, great! Sometimes, a new good friend is better than yet another guy you date.

    But I believe people always know if they’re interested in someone as friends or as romantic partners, so I’m just saying that they should adjust their behaviour accordingly.

    However, it does happen fairly often to men. They don’t want to be pushy and before they know it, a girl considers them a great friend. It does happen to girls, too, but it’s usually more obvious if a guy you like is interested in you or not. Then again, there’s that problem I talked about: many men are not interested in being friends with women they’re not attracted to, so the fact he wants you as your friend could mean that he’s actually attracted to you.

  4. Mira,

    “I believe people always know if they’re interested in someone as friends or as romantic partners, so I’m just saying that they should adjust their behaviour accordingly.”

    I agree, but what about the pace? People usually have different ideas of how quickly a relationship should begin. So if you begin to make your connection into something that is romantic right away, that may also turn off the other person if they want to ease into things.

    Just covering all my bases here. :)

    “Then again, there’s that problem I talked about: many men are not interested in being friends with women they’re not attracted to, so the fact he wants you as your friend could mean that he’s actually attracted to you.”

    …This is quite complicated. :P

  5. Guys should think a long time before they throw away a friendship with a woman. For one thing it is good practice for when they are back in a romantic relationship. Also, women change what they are interested in, quickly. Plus she has friends, and if nothing else, you look a lot more desirable if you are out with a female friend than your bowling buddies. If the friendship is painful, move on otherwise just continue to date other women and be glad you have a friend. It’s all good.
    For women some things might be a bit different. I think women should also stay friends and date other guys but don’t talk about those dates.
    I think guys are less likely to start liking a woman who is in the friend zone but later in life he will probably regret the missed opportunity.

    Actually isn’t the real problem that when you get romantically involved with a woman she cuts off her male friends and your female friends?
    That isn’t what the guy wants!

  6. Tim,

    “Also, women change what they are interested in, quickly. “

    Because men don’t? :)

    “Actually isn’t the real problem that when you get romantically involved with a woman she cuts off her male friends and your female friends?”

    That’s also problematic. And some people, as soon as they get into a relationship, forget all about everything else and their other friends. It’s just themselves and their partner, holed up in romantic bliss. This is unrealistic and for the most part, unsustainable. However, that’s a whole other issue. The Friend Zone comes with it’s own peculiar problems, the first one being that you’re not actually in a romantic relationship.

  7. >>“Also, women change what they are interested in, quickly. “
    >Because men don’t?

    Sure they do but women are on a different schedule. They are both more likely to respond favorably to “niceness” if they are starting to consider marriage but that process usually takes longer for a guy. A guy is either in to a woman or not. There are exceptions like when a guy just thinks a girl is too young and then he notices she’s grown, or if she was unavailable and becomes available.

    It’s a good post and I agree with most of it but why is it in america the recommended option is usually “move on”. Are we an avoidant society? If you stay friends with a guy who puts you in the friend zone and later you get romantic with someone else, I think you both have learned valuable lessons. For one thing, he is going to start appreciating niceness a lot more.

  8. Tim,

    A guy is either in to a woman or not.

    In risking to sound like Alee, but… You think women are different?

  9. I mean that at any given time a person A is either into person B or not. But the rate of change of what type that person is into is faster for the woman than the man.
    Maybe more guys are in the friend zone than women because women are subconsciously aware that they are going through rapid changes, and they are keeping a pot simmering on the back burner.

  10. I’m only speaking from my own personal experience but another way that guys can avoid the friend zone is by not falling into “the gay best friend” trap. If you go shopping, please don’t help her match her outfits to figure out what goes together (big no no). If you would like to give an opinion, then it better be coming from the perspective of a red-blooded, heterosexual male. Please don’t paint her toenails or do too many “girly things”. Any guy that would let me run him over like that is likely to be overlooked as a potential mate. Wait until you become her boyfriend before doing all the mushy stuff.

    Friendship is the most important foundation to a romantic relationship in my humble opinion. It’s easier for me to fall in love with a friend than a total stranger and the dude I will eventually be with needs to have a very strong pair (totally different story altogether).

  11. In high school, I tried to befriend the guys I had crushes on, but that backfired on me. They didn’t see me as a romantic interest, and they surely weren’t going to see me as a friend. Being on two different social strata didn’t help either. I learned from that to not force friendships onto guys I only saw in a romantic sense.

    When I got older, I met a lot of great guys who I had a lot in common with. I liked being friends with them. Things got awkward when they admitted to having crushes on me. It’s really hard to go back to being just friends after that.

    People have told me to give these guys a chance as romantic interests, but it’s impossible to see something that’s not there. I have never been physically attracted to male friends and only see them as my brothers.

    Another thing that would make me uncomfortable is when male friends ask about my dating status. Why do you care if I’m still single? I could not care less about someone’s dating status, and feel they only ask me because they want to date me and think if I’m single that they will. Not happening.

    The only guys I can be friends with without the worry of it turning into an attraction on either end are those who are older (not the sugar daddy types), in a relationship (in those scenarios, I’m actually closer as a friend to the woman in that relationship as opposed to the guy), gay, or where there’s no physical attraction on either end.

  12. I’ve had men who I thought just were my friends try stuff when they got their chance. I honestly thought they were just my friends intill those events. Not sure if it’s the same.

    Btw bwlivingwell have started blogging a little bit :)

  13. Tim, it’s not about avoidance as much as it is about you realizing it’ s probably futile to continue to yearn after someone who isn’t on the same page.

    Maybe guys are in The Friend Zone more because women don’t change their minds so easily. Thus they remain as “friend” for eternity. ;-)

  14. Udara, I agree about the “best friend” situation.

    But it’s interesting that you would fall in love with a friend. I don’t think I could, for various reasons.

    Sherry, you’re the queen meaning you frequently put guys in the friend zone or you’re always in it?

  15. Having been off the scene in a while, my “dating advice” should be prefaced with the words “back in the day” but that said, some of my best romantic relationships (ie. great sex) were with women friends I yearned for. I highly recommend it!

    So from a biologist point of view, what are the reasons women have these male friends? It is an investment of resources, mostly time but also in other ways. I think both men and women primarily have friendships with people they are attracted to, but men admit it more easily.

    >>fall in love with a friend. I don’t think I could
    have you tried sleeping with him? Be honest with yourself about why you want him as your friend. OK forget it, just stay safe. avoid avoid avoid. :)

  16. Nkosazana,

    “I’ve had men who I thought just were my friends try stuff when they got their chance.”

    I would just consider those guys insincere opportunists…

    Thanks to BWLW for finally starting to blog when I’m going to be away. Thanks very much. ;)

  17. Tim,

    Some women just think of their male friends as friends like any other; as they would female friends. I don’t think they necessarily have to be attracted to them (although those cases probably aren’t rare…).

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