The “friend zone.” No one likes hearing those two words together when they are pursuing someone they like a great deal.
When the person they like says “I see you as more of a friend,” “you’re like a brother/sister to me” and “I wish I could find another person like you,” the hard work the pursuer has been putting in to make sure that does NOT happen seems to have been for nothing.
“‘The friend zone’ refers to a situation where one individual in a friendship develops more intense feelings and wants to become ‘more than friends’ with the other person,” said doctor of social/personality psychology Jeremy Nicholson in a Psychology Today blog. “More often than not, the other person is unaware of the friend's desires and quite happy in the friendship-only arrangement. As a result, the person is ‘stuck’ in the friend zone, unable to transition from just friend to girlfriend or boyfriend.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean the friend zone is permanent. It is possible to get out of, and many romantic relationships start with a friendship. So, how much can one test the boundaries of the zone?
Some BGSU students discussed what they felt were signs of the friend zone. Many said the friend-zoned person usually hears terms like “buddy” or “pal” from their crush. It is also common for the crush to consider the friend-zoned person as a brother- or sister-like companion.
Other notable characteristics of the friend zone include when one tries to compliment their crush in a flirty way, but they get a response like, “Thanks, buddy,” without the other returning the compliment. Even in the texting and messaging area, there are ways of showing whether someone is interested or not, depending on the responses.
“When they leave you on open on Snapchat or leave you on read on iMessage, then you know for sure that they probably don’t want to talk to you,” junior business major Jeff Manchester said. “Especially if it hits an hour, even a day.”
Of course, not all hope is lost, as there is always a chance to step out of the friend zone. Again, it’s common for relationships to start in the friend zone, as some friendships tend to blossom into a romance. The first step to set a relationship in motion — or find out if it’s better to remain just friends — would be to put any romantic feelings out in the open.
“You’ve just got to make it clear to whoever you are with that you want to be more than a friend,” sophomore exercise science major Stephen Helly said.
Then the big question is when should one stop trying to get out of the friend zone?
For some students at BGSU, it’s based on how the crush on reacts to the advances of their friend trying to escape the zone. If the crush truly doesn’t feel the same way about the other person, no matter the number of advances, the crush could start to feel uncomfortable and continued advances could make the situation worse.
“If the other person is pretty insistent on ‘we just need to be friends and nothing more than that,’ you should stop,” freshman psychology major Sarah Williams said. “Usually someone can tell if someone is uncomfortable with stuff like that.”
Students believe the best way to handle situations with the friend zone is with honesty. They believe the best way would be to be up front with their feelings as well and be gentle and kind about letting them go. One could also just decline being interested, and both the person and their crush could go their separate ways and find love elsewhere.
“If there is someone that I like as a person, but I can’t see it as being a romantic relationship, then I might just say, ‘Why don’t we not see each other anymore,’ that way I’m more open and available for other people and same for him,” senior medical education science major Megan O’Connel said. “I just think that’s more fair than putting someone in the friend zone.”
Overall, according to students at BGSU, it is best to respect people’s wishes if they don’t want to date someone they consider their friend. Sometimes testing the waters of changing the friend zone works, but other times it doesn’t.
“It may feel personal, but trust me, it isn’t. If he/she doesn’t like you in that way, all it means is he/she isn’t the right person for you and that’s really OK,” said Thought Catalog writer, Sabrina Alexis.
According to Alexis, it is alright to stay friends if it doesn’t negatively affect another’s life. If it’s going to be painful and make one feel bad about trying to test the zone and unworthy, then cut it off and spend more time with platonic friends that makes everyone feel comfortable.