Keeping it Friendly
It’s the understatement of the year to say that dating is hard. There’s always a tangled web of social norms and expectations that you have to wade through to get to your desired relationship goals. Before you even get to the point of worrying over silly things like when to text back or who should pay for the first date, you have to find someone who likes you as much as you like them, which is deceptively tricky. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been in a situation where we like someone who doesn’t feel the same way or, on the other side of it, there’s someone who has strong feelings for us that we just can’t return. From this conundrum arises the ambiguous entity known as the Friend Zone.
People get “friend zoned” when the person they have romantic feelings for prefers to keep the relationship platonic, opting to stay “just friends.” There are several reasons why people end up here. Maybe one person doesn’t realize the other’s romantic intentions, or maybe they simply don’t feel the same way. Whatever the reason may be, there’s something that everyone should understand: whatever side of the friend zone you are on, it’s not something you should feel bad about.
I have been in situations where guys have asked me out but I opted to keep it friendly. In some of these scenarios, my friends or even some of the guy’s friends called me out for being “rude” or “arrogant” for turning down a “really nice guy.” My first reaction was to wonder if they were right. There wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with the people who asked me out, I just didn’t think we would be a good fit. I have learned something: you don’t need a reason to say no, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of reasons why someone wouldn’t want a relationship, and all of them are valid. In the end, it’s your choice, and it’s best to be honest with your feelings immediately instead of ignoring your intuition and regretting it later. Remember that you don’t owe anyone romance or sex just because they are nice to you. Anyone who treats you well just because they expect something in return probably isn’t the type of person you want to be involved with anyway. As long as you remain respectful, a truly nice person wouldn’t harass you about your decision. Beyond that, if they really respected you for who you are, they wouldn’t decline your offer to just be friends. Friendships are strong, meaningful bonds, and they tend to be more significant than romantic relationships in the long run. Some of the closest friendships may even end up producing long-lasting romances, but that’s definitely not an obligation.
Sometimes people would rather sever a relationship than keep it platonic, and that’s okay too, as long as they are courteous and honest about it. It takes a lot of courage to admit romantic intentions, so it’s important to understand that it’s hard to ignore hurt feelings or bruised egos. Whatever happens, remember that you shouldn’t feel bad about saying no, and you shouldn’t let anyone treat you badly because of it.
Conversely, I have had crushes on guys who preferred to remain friends. So believe me, I understand what it’s like to be on the other side. It hurts, but the best advice I can give is to follow the golden rule and treat that person the way you would want to be treated in that situation. Do your best to be graceful in the face of rejection, and remember that you didn’t fail in any way as a person. Don’t become spiteful because they said no, and don’t hold it against them if they decide to date other people. If keeping it platonic fills you with agony, then feel free to distance yourself from the friendship. Be true to yourself, and remember that you deserve to do whatever it takes to feel happy and loved.
If there’s any parting wisdom that I can give, it’s to remind you how awesome friendship can be. Absolutely everyone has something valuable to offer in a friendship, and there’s an infinite amount of happiness and positivity that you can receive from all potential friends. Simply put, friendship is a form of love, and even if it might not be the type of love that you both initially wanted, it’s better than no love at all.