The Four Steps of Getting Out of the Friend Zone : As Presented By an Expert

College of Charleston
United States

    Oh Taylor, same. We’ve all been there, me especially: that moment when you start to catch the feelings for another human being. At first, you don’t want to. You like being a strong independent individual and you don’t need a relationship right now because you’re figuring your own thing out. Or maybe you do want a relationship and this person is the ideal candidate for the job. Either way, overtime these relationships are going to boil over like a science fair volcano on steroids and, right when you decide to face your fears and go for it, they shut you down. They want to be… “friends.” Maybe they outright tell you, maybe they are already in a committed relationship, or maybe they just let you know through body language and subtle signs. No matter how they do it, you’re here now: the friend zone. Welcome to it, the deadzone in a relationship that will never be the anything more you want it to be. I know this place well. I vacation here in my spare time and I can say with certainty that I’ve mastered an escape plan.

1. Tell the other person how you feel

    Okay, first things first, have you told this person how you feel? Like have you really faced the music and sat them down to tell them that you have romantic feelings for them and that you would like the relationship to develop in a different direction than the friendly one? No? Then do that and come back to me. I can’t do anything to help if the other person doesn’t know how you feel. Why? Because if the other person doesn’t know, then they don’t know. They may have their suspicions, but people aren’t mind readers and, just like you, they may have feelings but are not sure if taking it to the next level is the right thing to do. Deep breath, you got this.

2) Acknowledge that there is no thing as the friend zone

    Okay, so that didn’t go well, hence you still being here instead of a shotgun wedding in a Vegas chapel drive through. It’s fine, we’ll get through this together. Step two is one that is acceptable to go through after your mourning period, the one filled with ice cream, Adele, and the end of the Titanic on a loop. It’s the actualization of the situation. Like Daniel Radcliffe, who, as shown in the previous gif, is obviously woke, you’ll see through the tears to the logic: There is no such thing as the Friend Zone. No one automatically puts people into a mental category of a friend zone upon the first meeting, and if you know someone who does, then hey, they're bad people and they’re not for you. It’s hard for me to admit this as well because, trust me, I’ve been in this wet wool sweater of an emotional state too many times to count. But the reality of it is, there are many reasons as to why other people wouldn’t like you romantically and nearly none of them have to do with you. They might like someone else, they might be with someone else, they might not want a relationship right now, and also they might just not see you that way. Either way, you are probably not the problem, you don’t need to change for anyone, and the person you are right for is still out there waiting for you.

The worst thing you can do once your heart’s been run over by a tractor trailer driving over ice is to get mad or resentful or blame the other person. Feelings are weird bits of human emotion that even science has a hard time explaining. Just like you couldn’t help falling for the other person, the other person can’t help it if they didn’t fall for you. Using the “friend zone” as an excuse to get mad rather than just feeling hurt and moving on or, as a means of rebuilding your ego after a pretty harsh blow is easy, but it isn’t fair to the other person. It’s the “treat others the way you want to be treated” rule at work here guys, and, trust me, you’ll walk away better for it.

3) Accept that being a friend is a gift, not a punishment

    I know this feels like you’ve been pushed off a cliff or you’re the last kid to be picked up at the elementary school pick up line, but there’s a light at the end of this tunnel: the knowledge that you’re not walking away with nothing. The key to this step of getting over the friend zone is in the name, you have a friend. You put yourself out there and sure maybe it was awkward, or embarrassing or you’re still a little hurt, but the fact that you did it is a pretty brave thing and anyone worth having in your life would see and respect that. And unless they're, like I said earlier, bad people, they weren’t lying when they said they “see you as a friend.” Someone you have feelings for turning you down is rough on everyone involved, but if you play your cards right, you’ll walk away with a friend and something to laugh about down the line when you both are in happy relationships with other people. Also, when you’re in college, relationships are hard to maintain, and after a break up two exes often rarely talk to each other, but the friendships we make last lifetimes. I’m one of those sappy people who subscribe to the idea of everything happening for a reason and I personally would rather have a really good friend forever than one relationship for maybe a couple of months. So, don’t look at this as losing someone you never even had, but as gaining a friend and a memory to keep.

4) Get over it

    In most ways, this is the hardest part because it’s one that, for the most part, has to happen on it’s own. This goes back to the feelings not being an exact science thing, you being hung up on this person is something that’s just going to have to run it’s own course. But that being said, it does have to happen sooner rather than later. You can pull the stunt from the movies and boldly wait for them forever, or put on some grand romantic gesture to show how dedicated you really are in the hopes that they’ll change their minds. However,  in the end, option one is not healthy and option two borders on harassment, so maybe the best is to move on. There are so many other people in the world, the person you’ll have the time of your life with may not be in this school, this town, this state, or even this country. You have you’re whole life to settle down, don’t get emotionally torn up over someone who isn’t even here now. This step can be aided with the help of friends, comedies, and, oh yeah, food. Food always helps.

Godspeed, friends. I’ll see you both in and, hopefully, out of the friendzone!

-Abby L. Stahl