Updated: Mar 8
noun - informal
a situation in which a friendship exists between two people, one of whom has an unreciprocated romantic or sexual interest in the other.
“I always wind up in the friend zone, watching them pursue other people”
Unrequited feelings from a friend may be one of the most annoying situations to be in, if not painful. You have feelings for your friend, you don’t know if they feel the same, and you don’t want to say anything because you don’t want to ruin the friendship. It’s such a trip!
If feelings are getting in the way of your ability to be a friend, you need to decipher if it’s worth pursing or not before driving yourself crazy for longer than necessary.
Before saying anything, it’s best to do some research and look for clues. Now, I will say this… Some people just don’t even realize what they are doing, saying, or how they act and they could be giving off the biggest mixed signals in all the land. Or, they do realize what they are doing, but aren’t able to move past the games.
In order to see if we can get the answers for ourselves, we have to look for certain clues…
1 // they talk about other people of interest to you
This should be a no brainer, but our minds like to trick us into thinking what we want to believe. If they are talking to you about their online dating adventures, people they are interested in, or who they’re hooking up with, it’s unlikely that they are just doing it to make you jealous.
It’s probable that they don’t see you as more than a friend and they see you as a true confidant.
Anyone who is interested in you and worthy of your time and attention won’t sabotage with games.
2 // they seldom prioritize you and your time together
If they are constantly choosing a better option than spending time with you, it’s likely that you are just a friend. Or, if they choose to spend time with you but then leave for other plans, it’s likely that you are just a good friend.
3 // they don’t get vulnerable or open up with you
If they keep you in a comfort zone, you are just that…A comfort zone for them. Most times if they don’t open up to you and you feel like you are being more vulnerable in the connection, than they don’t see you as someone they want to get vulnerable with. Maybe they want to but can’t, but if the relationship was deeper than a friendship, they probably would faster.
4 // there’s a lack of reciprocity
Maybe they flirt, maybe they make jokes about being FWB, but at the end of the day, if you feel like you are putting in more effort than you probably are for a reason. Look for where you are giving more than you are receiving and see why?
Are you hoping to win over their affections? Are you trying to imply you like them? Figure out what the relationship scales look like and balance them out, even if that means putting your feelings aside.
5 // you’re confused
If someone is interested in you and wants to be with you, you won’t be confused. It’ll be clear and obvious. If you have to ask if they like you, the answer is probably “no”.
There are exceptions of course, this is just generally speaking. At the end of the day listen to your gut. If your gut doesn’t know, then consider it a great friendship and leave it at that.
Now, this isn’t to say the friendship couldn’t grow into more, it very well could, but that requires someone to put their heart on their sleeve and be open to a friendship breaking. If you are OK with the risk of releasing the emotional ties, then do it. Sometimes it’s necessary and worth it to just cut your losses.
At the end of the day, I always take mixed signals as “no”, but do what you need to do to protect your heart.
How to Express Your Feelings…
If you choose to want to express your feelings and see where they are at, then be sure to set the tone of the conversation as casual. Let them know there is no pressure for them to answer or feel a certain type of way and just be open and honest. You may end up not hearing what you want and you need to prepare for that.
If finding out the feelings aren’t reciprocated will hurt you deeply, be prepared for that as well. If the friendship is strong it’ll bounce back eventually.
Have you been in this situation before? Let us know and share your story!
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