It’s the plotline of so many movies and tv shows, seemingly dreaded by all who date: the friend zone.
When someone says they’re in the friend zone, they usually mean that they want to have a more intimate, romantic, and/or sexual relationship with a person who considers them to be “just friends.”
But we’re here to tell you something that might blow your mind: the friend zone is a myth!
Crazy, right? We’ll give you a few minutes to let that sink in.
We know it definitely sucks to have feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you. It’s okay to feel disappointed or hurt by that. But the reason we call the friend zone a myth is because there really is no “zone” that you can be “put into” by someone else. Everyone has the right to decide who they do and do not want to date or be intimate with.
If someone says they’re in the friend zone, they’re usually implying that they feel entitled to another person’s affection as “payback” for the emotional investment and time spent being their “friend.” They might be thinking: I’ve been such a good friend to you, so you should be my girl/boyfriend! Or maybe: If I’m really nice to them, they’ll eventually WANT to be my girl/boyfriend!
The truth is, no one is obligated to be interested in anyone else, for any reason. Just because you have feelings for someone, you are not OWED their affections, and vice versa.
If you’ve expressed your interest in dating someone and they’ve made it clear that they don’t wish to date you, the healthy response is to respect their decision. Attempting to manipulate them into changing their mind or their feelings by acting like a friend isn’t healthy. Being a true friend to someone means loving and respecting who they are and what they do and don’t want, even if that means you don’t get everything you want from them.
Again, it’s understandable if you feel hurt by this situation. While you’re working through your feelings, you might want to take the opportunity to step back from this person for a little while. If you feel comfortable doing so, you might tell the other person something like, “I understand that you don’t feel the same way about me, but I just need a little time to myself right now.” Focus on the stuff you like to do – fun activities, hobbies, or just being around different people. In time, you might discover that you’re happy being friends with that person and can continue to grow a healthy friendship with them, or maybe you’ll decide that it feels better to move on. That’s definitely your choice.
If you have questions about relationships, we are here to listen and help! Call, chat, or text with one of our peer advocates today.