If you think that it is impossible to get yourself out of the friend zone once you’re in there, I’d have to disagree. First, let’s understand what it is.
One definition that I came across for the friend zone is that of Dr. Darcy Sterling, a therapist who works with couples in New York and is Tinder’s relationship expert. In an interview with Men’s Health magazine, she defines the friend zone as: “when you have a romantic interest in your friend and are you’re unsure if they feel the same way”
In many cases, the friend zone is a feeling -- the guy might think that the girl is not interested in him (or vice versa), but there is no certainty or actual confirmation of being friend-zoned. In such cases, avoiding the friend zone can simply be a matter of confirming how the other party feels.
But what happens when you’ve confirmed that you are in the friend zone. When she tells you straight up that she sees you as a friend. Is it still possible to get yourself out of this dreaded situation?
I speak from experience when I say that getting out of the friend zone can be done. My husband and I used to be “just friends” -- we’re celebrating 15 years together as a couple this month (5 years when we exclusively dated and 10 years married). So how did we manage that transition from friends to lovers?
Here are some tips you can try to get yourself out of that relationship purgatory called the friend zone:
1. Understand your position and why you’re there. Do a quick sanity check. Are you just assuming that you are in the friend zone? Find out how he or she really feels about your relationship. Why were you friend-zoned in the first place? Is it just a nice way to reject you without wanting to hurt your feelings? Maybe you’re part of the same friend group and moving on from that can lead to an awkward situation. Is he/she involved romantically with someone else? There’s usually a specific reason why a person would put you in the friend zone; the first step to possibly get out of it is to find out how you got there.
2. Start with blatant honesty. Be forward with your intentions. Ask her out on a date and let her know that you intend on asking her out again if the first one works out. Tiptoeing around how you feel about someone will not move the relationship forward.
3. Gauge early on if you should pursue this or not. Step one is done and you’re pretty sure you’re in the friend zone. Step two is done, you’ve already said your piece and have even gone out on an official date. If she’s still on the fence about how she feels about you, then you have a chance at making this work. If she says it’s a flat out no, then it’s time to give up.
Let me be clear, a rejection is a personal preference. Anyone and everyone has the right to reject someone. It’s not because you’re too nice and she only likes jerks. It’s not because you’re not handsome or you don’t dress well. It’s not because your car is not nice or you don’t have a lot of money. If you think women or men are putting you in the friend zone because of this, then there’s an even bigger problem here. Maybe there’s just no chemistry between you. It would be disrespectful to keep pushing it at this point. Knowing when to stop will save you both from potential heartache and prevent permanent damage to an otherwise good friendship.
4. Focus on your own worth. Getting stuck in the friend zone usually means there’s an imbalance in the relationship. You may feel more for her than she does for you. This often leads to one of you feeling less “worthy” to be in the relationship. Before you even start thinking about the next step to dig yourself out of that friend zone, realize your own worth first. Don’t be desperate and if it doesn’t work out, be willing to let go.
5. Prepare for the big reveal - Now it’s time to tell him or her how you feel. This is the most important part of transitioning from friends to being more than that. Assuming that your relationship is now more than friendship is just as bad as assuming you’re in the friend zone! The words need to be said (yes, I mean out loud and to the other person). Tell him or her how you feel and how you want to move forward with the relationship. You need to make sure it is not one-sided. You need to find out how he/she feels about all this.
How you frame the question matters! The “I want more. What do you want?” approach may make her feel like she’s being boxed in a corner with no way out. Try a more gentle approach such as “Would you be interested in being more than friends?” See the difference there? You’re asking her opinion versus forcing her to make a decision.
6. Do things differently - Attraction can develop when you start acting more like a potential partner than a friend. You don’t have to pretend that you’re somebody you’re not or to change who you are just to attract another person. However, you can change the context of your relationship by changing how you do things together. Are you always meeting in the library to study together? Why not ask her out for dinner instead? Are you always going out with other people? Check if she’d like to go out with just you.
7. Don’t rush into it - Developing feelings other than familiar friendship takes time. Pushing the relationship into something else too early may surprise you both and you end up reverting back to the old habit of just seeing each other as friends. Take it one step at a time and start small. Try holding hands in public first. See if that’s something you can both be comfortable with.
Getting out of the friend zone means opening up about how you feel and being vulnerable. This isn’t always easy -- for either of you. Just remember, it is always more difficult to have those “what if” questions than to know the truth and to move on from it. If your big reveal results in a rejection, that’s fine. If it ends up with you both wanting the same thing, even better. The point is to not put yourself in a position of having to guess what the other is feeling and missing out on a chance to let that relationship flourish in whatever form it should really be-- just friendship or more.