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What to Do When You’re in the Friendzone

June 18, 2014

I feel like I should’ve put “friendzone” in quotation marks in the title as well, because the word is fascinating to me as both a linguist and a feminist. For being a recently made-up word, it sure has taken on a bitter life all its own! I’m scratching my head to think of any other recent additions to the English language which take the concept of friendship–a word connoting happiness, warmth, and, yes, intimacy–and turning it into something to be said with an automatic sneer.

But all right. Unrequited lust stinks, and it’s made all the more malodorous when the object of your affections is someone you still see everyday, someone who wants, even, to see you too…but only with your pants on.

So here is the Not Taken, Not Available guide to the next steps after you say, “I want to take you to the Bone Zone,” and your crush responds with, “I want to take you to the Friend Zone.”*

*Note before we proceed any further: no one anywhere in the history of our species has ever actually said this. See above explanation heavily hinting that friendship is regarded by many as something to be cherished, not tossed off as some sort of participation trophy.

1. Take a break.

You can grab a Kit-Kat if you want to, but the main idea here, as outlined by good friend and childfree ally who has been through this himself, is to give yourself space to let your hormones subside. They’re only going to return with a vengeance each time you see your unloving beloved, and that way is the path to the dark side of the Force in which you convince yourself that your crush can themself be convinced if you just try harder. You need distance and as much time as it takes to disabuse yourself of this delusion.

2. Figure out whether you’re capable of being “just” friends.

If you were attracted to this person based on looks alone, this might be a great time to cut your losses. But if you actually spent enough time to find shared interests or an appreciation for their sense of humor, it may be well worth your time to get to know them better without suffering from the pressure of trying to impress them romantically. And hey, this can have greater long-term benefits–when your next relationship does shatter, you’ll have a shoulder to cry on, a place to crash, and a sympathetic ear to agree that whatever gender you’re attracted to really sucks!

3. Don’t push it.

Maybe you thought you were ready for a purely platonic relationship but found that your once and future dream lover has only become hotter in your absence. In that case, go back to Step 1 and repeat as necessary. Don’t assume that their position has changed–believe me, your feelings, whether resolved or not, are the elephant in the room that’s releasing a stream of silent but violent farts, and if your crush’s feelings have changed, they’ll let you know. There’s no need to make things awkward by restating what they’re already painfully aware of.

4. Relish your friendship.

Once you’ve gotten to the point where you can appreciate your onetime crush for the nonsexual joys they bring to your life, rejoice! You now have a deeper and likely longer-lasting connection than at least 40-50% of married couples, at least to go by varying divorce estimates in the United States. Those are, of course, not counting marriages which stick together only for the sake of the children or religious family members or pure lethargy.

Put another way, I’ve had arguments and fallouts with friends that have gone on as long as years, but those I count among my true friends have always come back into my life, and I’ll always be happy to share food, drink, and laughter with them. I frequently share more with my friends than I ever did when my exes were currents. As to those exes? I do not talk to them at all.

Sure, the sex may have been spectacular, but my understanding is that even if you’re into it, the luster fades after a while. In such a case, there’s nothing left to the relationship if the qualities that make up a good friendship are lacking. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right away, turn that sneer into a smile, romantically rejected dudes and dudettes. Perhaps getting the news that you’ve been sent to the friendzone is cause for a victory dance.


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  1. onomatopoeicbliss permalink

    Good points, many of these are. Next to impossible to do, but hey, good points these are nonetheless.😁

    • Thank you! Believe me, I get how badly it sucks wanting something more with someone who likes the status quo, but again, that’s what Step 1 is for. Sometimes no contact is better than not enough.

  2. electronicvictorian permalink

    Finally catching up with this blog! So, sorry for the delayed reply. First, thank you for writing this. When I was seeking romantic relationships in the past, I was “frienzoned” more often than requited, so I can relate. I do want to point out one thing, though. Not all crushes are about lust and sexual attraction. Some people want a romantic, but not sexual, relationship with the object of their affection. Some are already aware of the “nonsexual joys” of relationships. And believe me, getting friendzoned doesn’t hurt less just because you’re missing out on the sex you never really wanted (or cared little about). Romantic attraction by itself is very powerful.

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