Sitting in the friend zone can feel like being stuck in purgatory. There’s certainly a friendship but seemingly no way of turning it into something more. If you need some guidance on how to get out of the friend zone, you’re in the right place.
What Does It Mean to Be Friendzoned?
The term “friend zone” is usually reserved for situations in which two people are friends, but one person wants to be more. It applies regardless of if you’ve been friends for years or have been friendzoned after the first date.
If you’ve been put in the dreaded friend zone, your romantic feelings are going unreciprocated and you’re probably wondering what to do about this tricky situation.
Signs That You’re Being Friendzoned
Before we talk about how to get out of the friend zone, let’s first cover the signs that you’re being friendzoned in the first place. Many of these signs can be signs of truly platonic friendships; but in this case, where you’re interested in a friend who doesn’t share your feelings, they’re also signs of friendzoning.
1. You’re Each Other’s Go-Tos for Hanging Out, Just Not Romantically
Maybe you’ve been best buds with this person for a while now, and you hang out frequently. You’re each other’s first text when there’s something fun going on or even when there’s nothing better to do than sit around and watch TV. But none of your one-on-one hangouts are remotely romantic, even though you want them to be.
2. They Always Invite Other Friends
Despite your best efforts to hang out with them alone, your wannabe lover always invites other friends along to any social plans or they suggest group outings anytime plans are being made.
3. They Play Matchmaker for You
You know you’re in the friend zone when your friend insists on finding you romantic interests or setting you up with people they know. Maybe they act as your wingman or wingwoman when you’re out and about, even though you’d rather just catch their attention instead.
4. You Might Connect Emotionally but Not Physically
Being friends with someone means that you share some sort of connection, whether that’s similar perspectives or certain interests. This can often lead to emotional connections, especially the more that you see each other. But one aspect of being friendzoned involves connecting emotionally but not physically—the other person shows no signs of wanting to be physically intimate.
5. They Avoid Getting Vulnerable
On the other hand, if you’re still getting to know this person and they outwardly avoid getting vulnerable with you, it could be a sign that you’re being friendzoned. Keeping the relationship at a surface level might be a sign of being friendzoned after the first date, for example.
6. You’re Their Confidant
They confide in you about all things romance—their exes, people they’re dating, who they have their eye on, and so on. They might be doing this subconsciously, not being aware of your feelings for them, or they could be using this as a tactic to subtly (or not so subtly) show you that they aren’t into you.
7. They Continually Use the Word “Friend”
The surefire sign that you’re in the friend zone is if the other person literally uses the word “friend” when talking to you or about you. Maybe they introduce you to new people as “my friend, so and so,” or they tell you how glad they are for your friendship, with an emphasis on the “friend.”
Even worse, they might say, “you’re like a brother/sister to me.” Cue the groans and broken heart.
8. You Might Feel Used
Do you find that you’re constantly changing plans or dropping everything to help your friend, but they’re not doing the same for you? If you’re in the friend zone, you might feel like you’re being taken for granted, especially when your romantic desires lead to wanting to show up for them in any and every way possible.
How to Get Out of the Friend Zone
If the first step is understanding the signs, the next step is knowing what to do when you get friendzoned. But before we discuss getting out of the friend zone, let’s touch on some of the complexities surrounding this difficult situation.
There are clear differences between having been friends with someone for years and just meeting someone for the first time who puts you in the friend zone. So, before learning how to get out of the friend zone, it’s important to consider the context of your specific situation—because your approach might differ depending on how long you’ve been friends or the nature of your friendship.
For example, if you’ve been friends for years, and you have developed feelings for this person, you might want to tread carefully so that a solid friendship isn’t disrupted, whereas you might feel more inclined to go full steam ahead with Operation Get Out of the Friend Zone if you’ve just met. Remember: No matter how useful these tips are, always trust your gut.
And now, here are some great strategies for how to get out of the friend zone.
If you feel like you’re putting in a lot of effort for little reward, it might be time to create some boundaries for your friendship. Try not to cancel or adjust your own plans to accommodate your friend if they’re not doing the same for you, and don’t make yourself available all the time.
If they can’t rely on you for every last-minute request or hangout, your friend will quickly realize that they miss your presence. This might prompt thought-provoking questions on their part regarding potential feelings they might or might not have.
An added bonus here is that healthy boundaries build respect, as your friend will not only need to adjust their expectations, but they will also likely see that your first priority is caring for yourself, not catering to their every whim.
Put Yourself First
Along that line, if you find yourself in the friend zone, try not to get stuck focusing on all the what-ifs and why-nots. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you have feelings for someone, but it’s important to refocus your energy on something else every so often.
If you’re wondering what to do when you get friendzoned and just can’t stop thinking about it, put yourself first. Keep doing the things that make you happy and that boost your spirits. Participate in grounding activities, like meditation, journaling, or walks in nature. When you continue to do activities that bring you joy, you’re reminding yourself that you are okay on your own. This can lead to more self-confidence, and confidence is attractive.
Think of Fun New “Date” Ideas
Okay, okay, we know that you’re not technically going on dates yet, but see if your friend would be willing to try new things with you. If they usually suggest hanging out in groups, this is a great way to get them alone. Pose ideas that seem exciting to them or that involve their interests (hint: this is one way to build friendship into a relationship of any kind). You never know—friend dates might turn into romantic dates.
Introduce Some Physical Touch
Another useful tip for how to get out of the friend zone is introducing some physical touch. Maybe don’t go for hand-holding right away, as this might scare them off, but try to create small moments of physical touch, like a side hug or a high five.
Not sure how to involve these movements in everyday hangouts? Doing a physical activity together, like working out, bowling, or hiking, can be a natural segue to physical touch.
There are some simple ways to show your interest in your friend that don’t require telling them outright (more on that next). Drop hints that you care about them and are interested in more. Here are some ideas:
- Initiate sustained eye contact. Before you start making your friend uncomfortable, remember that any type of sustained eye contact, whether it’s for a couple of seconds or half a minute, can create attraction and intimacy. It’s also one of the signs of flirting.
- Suggest hanging out alone. Try asking them to participate in activities with you that only require two people (like tennis, two-person kayaking, and so on), or simply ask them to hang out with you alone.
- Compliment them. Compliments can make them feel like you care.
If these tactics for how to get out of the friend zone don’t go anywhere, don’t play games (aka don’t play hard to get or love bomb them). If you feel that it’s worth it for your own heart to tell them how you feel, go for it. This is where considering the context of your friendship and the specific situation are key.
If you are getting some positive responses to your strategies, maybe it’s time to make your move—whether that’s telling them how you feel or leaning in for a kiss after a night out together. Instead of an intense true-love confession, you could consider making it lighthearted, letting them know that saying no is okay or simply asking if they’d be interested in going on a date with you. Here’s how to ask someone out.
How to Deal with Unreciprocated Feelings
Sometimes friendzoning and unrequited feelings are unavoidable. After all, love is a two-way street. If you’ve done your best to protect your emotional and mental health while looking for ways to subtly (or outwardly) show them you care about them as more than a friend, and they don’t return your feelings, here’s what you should do.
Respect Their Answer
Whether they have told you or shown you that they just want to be friends, the healthiest thing to do is respect their answer. As hard as it is, don’t keep trying to change their mind because doing so could harm your relationship.
Deal with Rejection
The realization that you aren’t able to get out of the friend zone can weigh heavy on you, but it’s so important to deal with this loss in healthy ways. Learn how to deal with rejection so that you can continue along your romantic journey.
Now it’s time to move on emotionally. If your friend is part of your larger social group, it might be a good idea to put some space between yourselves for a little while as you heal. Then, start dating again. Meeting new people can remind you that there are others out there who can fit you to a tee. When you’re ready to find your person, consider giving Tawkify a call.