If you are reading this article, it must be that you are already familiar with the somewhat curious and beguiling (‘beguiling’, yes, but we will get to that soon) expression ‘Friend Zone.’ And you know exactly what that refers to. But do you now, really?
This whole phenomenon of getting ‘friendzoned’ and suffering or experiencing painful emotions as a result of it is a complex societal issue. Of course, for a good part, we can trace the origin of this phenomenon to the fact that today’s society offers far more opportunities than ever before for boys and girls to mix freely together. But also, according to relationship experts, it is as much a result of our subscribing to a particular brand of individualism that is gaining firm ground in our modern society.
The scope of this article, however, does not allow us to delve too deep into the roots of this phenomenon. All the same, during the rest of our discussion, we do hope to equip our readers with some important clues as to the nature of this issue of ‘friend zoning’, ‘getting friend zoned’, etc. This is since we believe that a better and broader understanding of the different issues related to friend zoning may help us get rid of a number false notions, expectations, and subsequent confusions and disappointments.
So, What Is Friend Zone, After All?
- Of course, the commonplace definition is that you are friendzoned when you are stuck in a purely friendship, platonic-type relationship with the object (read person) of your romantic interest but are unable to take the relationship to the next level. The other person appears to be oblivious to all the subtle, and even the not-too-subtle hints (this, to a large extent, depends on how you stand in relation to each other—for example, the nature of the hints will vary between students or classmates, between working adults, and so on) that you make in order to make him/her know that you want the relationship to progress beyond mere friendship.
- However, a number of relationship counselors and therapists inform that a good number of their clients who bring up the issue of ‘friendzoning’ actually mention this as a ‘feeling’ rather than as a fact. That is to say, they suspect that the person they have a crush on is only interested in being friends with them and is reluctant to go any further. That is to say, they have a ‘feeling’ that this is so, but as of yet, they are not certain.
This takes us to our main discussion for this article. How do you know whether or not you are being friend zoned? How do you know for certain that the feeling you have for the other person is not reciprocal? In short, what are some of the signs that you need pay heed to?
12 Telltale Signs That You’re Fast Heading to the Rut of Friend Zone (Or That You’re Already There!)
- Now, although we put the word ‘telltale’ there, please note that not all of these signs are that obvious. A majority of them are, but there are others which are somewhat ambiguous. So, in case of the latter, we suggest that you be on your guard and don’t come to a decision too fast. In such cases, you may try to interpret them in conjunction with a set of other signs/indications.
[NOTE + DISCLAIMER: The situations we relate in the next section assume that it is a guy, and not a girl, who is being friend zoned. This is not due to any gender bias on our part. If we do this, it is chiefly for convenience’ sake (so as to spare ourselves from having to use repeatedly that annoyingly troublesome expression: “his/her”).
But partly it is also due to the (not so negligible) fact that according to therapists, more than 90 percent of their clients who bring up the issue of being friend zoned happen to be MALE. ]
So, without further ado, let us jump right into a good many of those nagging, troublesome and often painful signs. Why dawdle, after all? Some of these may come as nasty surprises to you, but brace up and well, FACE IT!
1. You Hardly Ever Go Out Together
- Maybe you’ve been friends for a long time (since middle school, let’s say) and you spend hours together at each other’s homes (talking, joking, preparing for exams together), but curiously enough, you hardly ever go out together. Every time you propose a visit to the multiplex to catch that new movie or to the mall to try that new coffee shop, she is forever busy! Yet, the next day at class, she is again her usual candid and chatty self with you.
Meaning: she doesn’t want to be seen with you in the public just in case people got the ‘wrong idea‘.
2. She Is Far Too Comfortable Around You
- Nothing, literally nothing, of her life is secret to you. She shares with you everything about her, including some of her most embarrassing moments. Now, this is far from an encouraging sign. Girls share their secrets with their girl friends, and not with guys. If she does that, there is little chance that she sees you as a potential love interest.
3. She Talks to You About Her Crushes
- That is okay if she has a crush on Justin Timberlake. It is not if the crush is a neighborhood guy. However, please not that this actually happens to be one of those ambiguous signs we mentioned before. Girls may sometime bring up guys as their crushes in a teasing manner—that is, in order to see how you react (which will mean there is hope for you!).
However, more often than not, you can actually tell what is what from the nature of your relationship and the nature of the interaction itself. However, if you still feel uncertain, try to read her other behaviors in conjunction with this.
4. She Talks to You About Her Female Friends
- Or even introduces you with them. Again, like the former one, this is somewhat of an ambiguous clue. It may be that she is trying to gauge your level of sincerity. However, it could as well be a subtle clue on her part that she is not romantically and/or sexually interested in you. And if she in earnest tries to hook you up with one of her friends, well, that is pretty much game over for you!
5. How she Introduces You to Other People
- If she is too effusive when introducing you to her friends or family members and uses terms like ‘my bestie’, ‘main friend,’ ‘soul brother’ etc., this is another huge red flag for you. Since, if the woman in question was really romantically inclined towards you, she would have introduced you in a more restrained and guarded manner.
6. YOU Are Ever Present for HER, But Never the Other Way Round
- She is upset, stressed or is having to handle a difficult situation, and YOU are always there to console her, cheer her up, etc. But as soon as that passes, you’re as good as forgotten and weeks may pass before you receive the next call from her!
Similarly, it could be that it is you who is always doing her favors—helping her with her preparations when it is exam time or filling up her shifts when she needs to take a leave. And yet, these favors are seldom returned and all you get are some facile expressions of gratitude and the like.
7. She Doesn’t Encourage Physical Contact
- Well, casual hugs don’t count. But if she (gently) draws back when you try to reach for her hands or when you try to put your arm round her shoulder (if you’re the bolder type), these are signs enough that she wants the relationship to rest purely on a platonic level. If a romantic relationship is to develop between you, there has to have some physical clues such as mild reciprocal flirting, sustained eye contact and the like. If these are altogether absent even after a few meetings, possibilities are you are fated to the Friend Zone!
Even a more obvious clue in this regard is if she resists meaningful physical contacts even after, let us say, a few drinks that you shared together at a bar after work or college.
8. She Bothers Little About Her Appearance When in Your Presence
- You head out together to grab some coffee and chips at the nearby Mac’s and she’s in her sweat pants or old pajamas—no makeup, no earrings or nothing? Looks anything but promising. She may consider you as a good friend, maybe her best friend even, but almost surely not as ‘her man’!
9. She is Least Bothered to Act the Weirdo
- Again, if your crush opens up completely in your presence and is not the least embarrassed to act crazy when she is with you, this may very well be a sign that she considers you as one of her best friends. Unfortunately, though, this often means that she does not at all look at you as a potential partner.
10. You Are Seldom Alone
- This mostly applies to people who have come to know each other as adults. You suggest meeting up, but one way or other she always makes it a sort of group thing. It is okay if she brings along her female friend during the first one or two dates (if we can call them that). However, if this continues for too long and you only meet in groups or at parties, no matter how ‘nice’ she is to you during those occasions, it is a clear enough hint on her part that she is not interested in a romantic relationship.
11. She Acts Oblivious to Her Compliments
- Exchanging compliments on personality, looks, attires, and other ego points act as social clues that both parties are interested in developing a romantic and/or sexual relationship. However, if your compliments are accepted in a matter-of-fact manner, for example with a perfunctory ‘thank you’, this again is a strong hint that the other person wants the relationship to go no more beyond simple friendship.
12. She Seeks Your ‘Man’s’ Viewpoint
- What do guys look in a woman? She wants tips from you! At first, this may appear as a somewhat ambiguous clue. But, on this point we can assure you that it is NOT. On the contrary. This is actually her way of gently letting you know that she is not at all keen on an intimate relationship with you. If you are desperate, you may want to believe that it is her way of wooing you. But again, let’s assure you, that’s not it and you had better make a move on.
How to Deal with Being Friend-zoned?
- As we mentioned right at the start that friendzoning is a much more complex issue than it may appear at first. First of all, one needs to realize and acknowledge that if someone really ‘friendzones’ you, that does not necessarily mean that the person in question is taking undue advantage of you (that may be the case at times, but NEVER always). Often as not, WE OURSELVES actually lay the ground for being friend zoned. Sometimes, we act on the belief that once we get to be good friends with our crush, we give ourselves a better chance at success. Of course, we are not altogether awry in thinking in such manner. (Movies are especially notorious in exploiting this manner of thinking. Try to remember, for example, all those [often icky and saccharine] films where long-time best friends eventually end up, after countless trials and tribulations [read a string of relationships gone awfully wrong], as Happily Ever After couples!)
- The reality, unfortunately, is somewhat harsher for our taste. The thing is that for a meaningful relationship to develop, there has to be a connection between two people. Of course, in avoid to being friendzoned (and thus spare yourself the hurt), you may be direct and frank right at the beginning. And this may work, too (just as it may not), and you may develop a relationship just as you had desired. However, if the connection is not there, the relationship is bound to fall apart sooner or later. And once it does, you’ll have to deal with pain, too.
- As for being friend zoned, we often subconsciously push ourselves to that territory even when we are fully aware of the consequences that are to follow. The reasons for this are manifold and the scope of this article does not allow us to go into all of that. But one chief reason is that ‘that other person’ is someone who is REALLY precious to us.
Which means that the mere possibility of absolute separation comes off as such a painful one that we would rather be friends than part altogether.
That said, once we really and fully enter that harrowingly painful reality of being friendzoned, the pain may sometime become too much to handle. In such a scenario, we simply have two choices: to keep things as they are (no matter how painful) or make a clean and absolute break.
Simple as they may sound, it almost goes without saying that it is extremely difficult to settle for either of those choices. But here is where we need to stay determined. As someone said, all decisions, and especially the important ones, ought to be made fast. So, make sure that whatever decision you make, you do it fast and that you stick to it—No Matter What. This way, regardless of the outcome, there will be little room for regret afterwards. And you’ll be able to draw strength from the fact that at least, you were determined and you didn’t hesitate.