Purely platonic; what is the ‘friend zone’, and how to avoid it!
What is the friend zone?
With a name that sounds more like a feature you’d find on a social media site, it’s worth picking apart what’s meant when the ‘friend zone’ is being batted about. Essentially, it’s a fairly uncomplicated concept to get your head around; it describes the all-too-familiar situation encountered by two friends where there’s a distinct mismatch in romantic feelings.
Taking inspiration from Jeremy Nicholson, Psychology Today’s resident ‘attraction doctor’, the friend zone is all about disparity1. The stateside psychologist reckons that there are a few scenarios where friendships can be put under duress by unmet desires.
More often than not, the most common expression of the friend zone is when one half of a platonic partnership longs to be ‘more than just friends’ – and these urges aren’t reciprocated. Less frequently, ‘friends with benefits’ who’re already engaged in a sexual relationship can be frustrated too when one half wants to form an emotional bond.
Breaking out of the friend zone...
If you find yourself in the friend zone (or think that your buddy might harbour feelings you can’t return), how do you go about broaching the topic? Like anything that involves emotions, it’s not an easy matter to bring up. Nonetheless, there are a few ways to make amends.
Valuing what you’ve got
This point may seem counterintuitive if you want your friend to take it to the next level. However, it’s a really crucial thought to reconcile before pushing for anything else. Essentially, could you run the risk of destroying a brilliant friendship by pushing for something your friend doesn’t want? Weigh this up before you start placing demands on them (asking yourself whether it's the right choice won't hurt either). If you feel your friend might be angling for romance, make your position clear so they know where you stand.
Create some space
There’s nothing more damaging to relationship building that stifling the person you want to be with. And when you’re in the friend zone, it’s very easy to overlook the fact you could be spending too much time in each other’s company. Turn it down a notch or two. Not only will cooling things off give you a chance to assess your feelings, it could also make your friend revaluate what you mean to them. It could be that you’re filling a void for your friend that they’re not yet attuned to.