You find someone you really like. You’re not just physically attracted, although that’s certainly a factor. Your personalities just click. You’ve never known anyone who gets you as well as this person.
Maybe, you think, this is the one. Maybe…
Then you hear the dreaded words: “I think of you as a friend.”
You are now in the friend zone, the area where romance gets no signal.
Now what? Is there any chance you can turn this friendship into romance? Or are you stuck in the friend zone forever?
The good news is, it’s sometimes possible to get your relationship with that special person back on the track you want it on. Before talking about how to do that, let’s look at how you got in this situation in the first place.ÿ
If you’re in the friend zone, you probably made one or more of the following mistakes:
-You acted like a counselor, not a suitor. You have different conversations with your friends than you do with people you’re considering dating. Friend conversations involve venting about work, gossip about people you know (or read about in tabloids), or an in-depth analysis of the game last weekend. The focus is not on you and your conversational partner, it’s on the situation, game, celebrity, etc. If the conversation does revolve around you, it’s usually in the context of counseling or encouraging. A suitor will spend more time on “get to know you” topics and flirting.
-Your body language didn’t speak romantically. When someone is interested in another person romantically, they’ll use flirty body language. They’ll use grooming movements like adjusting their collar, straightening their hair, or brushing it away from their face. They’ll find reasons to touch the other person’s arm or shoulder. They’ll spend more time looking at the person they’re interested in. If you were keeping your distance and acting casual, your potential love interest is going to view you as a friend.
-You waited too long to ask the other person out. When you first get to know someone, there’s a period where you’re sorting out what kind of relationship you’re going to have. If you go long enough without expressing any kind of romantic interest, the other person will assume you’re not interested. Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule about when your romantic window closes. It depends on how often you see the other person, how you know them, and how often you interact. The more you see them, the shorter a window you have.
It’s easier to avoid the friend zone than it is to get out of it. Once a person views you as a friend, it’s going to take some extra effort to get them to see you as dating material.
The biggest mistake you can make is to ask them out on a date out of the blue. If they haven’t considered you as a possible romantic interest, they’ll immediately reject the idea because it’s too far outside of their mental map of the world.
Instead, you need to show them that there’s a romantic side to you. Start by sitting them down and telling them honestly how you feel. Say something along the lines of, “Look, I want you to know there’s no pressure here. I like being friends with you. We have a great time. But the truth is, it’s not enough for me anymore. I feel too much for you to just be friends. I want more.”
If you’re lucky, they’ve secretly been feeling the same way and will leap into your arms. But just in case that doesn’t happen, here’s what you need to do next. Tell them you understand how they feel, and you hope they’ll understand that you need some time to deal with the situation. Then don’t see them for a while. Absence, as they say, makes the heart go fonder. You’re going to put that little truth to work for you.
If you work at the same place, this could be awkward. In that case, simply avoid them as much as possible and be friendly but distant when you do see them.
As time goes on and they don’t see you, they’ll think more and more about what you said. If they have any interest in you at all, it will start to grow as they wonder what you’re up to and if you’re still feeling the same attraction.
During your time away from your friend, you want to be as intriguing as possible. In other words, don’t sit around moping in the dark, hugging your cat. Go out and have a life. Do fun things, Get a new haircut, new clothes, a whole new look.
When your friend sees you again, they’ll be curious about the new you. The more interested they are in what’s going on with you, the better.
After at least a few weeks, connect with them again. From the start, act like you would when meeting someone new that you’re attracted to. Be flirty – not obnoxiously flirty, but give them signs that you’re interested. Watching them with a smile, “casual” touches, and compliments all signal that you like what you see.
If they start to respond, you know you have a chance. If not, you have to decide if it’s worth pushing the romance and possibly losing the friendship.
If you do decide to stick to friendship and move on to other people, remember what you learned from this experience. Show the new person you like them from the start, and most importantly, don’t wait to long to ask them out. Avoiding those traps will keep you from falling into the friend zone once more.