Are You Stuck in the Friend Zone?

In Love With a Friend Who Doesn't Love You Back

You don't have to be stuck in the friend zone.
You don't have to be stuck in the friend zone. Franek Strzeszewski/Getty Images

Have you ever found yourself in "the friend zone" when you didn't want to be? This term applies to friends of the opposite sex, where one person wants to be more than friends and the other doesn't. Rather than end their friendship, the person who wants a relationship usually just has to accept that their friend isn't interested.

Sometimes this is a spoken agreement after one friend brings up their interest to the other. The other friend is usually flattered, but turns down the offer, preferring instead to remain just friends. The friend zone means that while there might be romantic feelings on the part of one person, there are no such feelings from the other person.

Being stuck in the friend zone can be an uncomfortable place, and unless both friends deal with it properly it can also end the friendship. 

Dangers of the Friend Zone

The friend zone is often part of the plot of romantic comedies, where one friend is secretly in love with the other friend and then miraculously that person has a change of heart and the two fall in love. But this is fiction, and a dangerous thing to believe in real life. At Love Is Respect, the point is underscored. They make it plain, that no one there really in a zone because there "is no “zone” that you can be “put into” by someone else."

In other words, you can feel disappointed that you like someone who doesn't like you back, but you can make a choice to then move on from this person, accept that the relationship will not change, and set healthy boundaries.

If you're the one who doesn't have romantic feelings for your friend, you really need to make it clear that there will never be:

  • A change of heart.
  • Flirting.
  • Kissing.
  • Sex.

In short, don't lead your friend on. It can be flattering to have a friend around that you know has feelings for you, but if you don't feel the same way, you should not encourage any behavior that would give them false hope of getting together romantically. There might also be times when you feel lonely and hooking up with a friend may seem like an easy answer, but think twice to make sure this is a good choice for your friendship now and in years to come.

If you're the one that has a romantic interest in a friend, never put your life on hold in any way in the hopes that one day your friend may change his or her feelings. Accept the fact that your friend does not want a relationship with you, and move on to someone that does. You might need to take some time away from your friend in order to get over your feelings.

How Do You Know That You're in the Friend Zone?

If you have feelings for a friend and haven't had the courage to bring up the subject with them (because after all, even admitting you have romantic feelings can change your friendship), pay attention to how your friend acts and what they say. If your friend is not interested in you romantically, you might hear:

  • "You're so easy to talk to."
  • "I really like hanging out with you."
  • "Do you know anyone you could set me up with?"
  • "I think of you as a brother."
  • "I should set you up with my friend, you guys would really hit it off."

Healthy friendships have boundaries and are comfortable to be in. You should never feel like you have to act a certain way or hold out hope for something that isn't to happen. Unlike in the movies, there is such a thing as a platonic friendship that works without sexual tension or inappropriate behavior. The friend zone is something you can control, so don't allow yourself to be "stuck" in one.

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