All About the Friend Zone

Relationships are fun and exciting, but they can also be somewhat weird and complex. One of the awkward situations that can occur between people when they’re not on the same page is the friend zone.
Today we’d like to explore the idea of a friend zone, understand what it means, and share some tips on getting out of it gracefully, but also how to friend zone someone without crushing their soul.

What is the friend zone?

We’ve all seen countless memes, TikToks, and other cultural references about this term, but what does friend zone mean for real? The common definition of a friend zone is that it’s a relational concept where one person likes the other romantically, but the other person only sees them as a friend.
Most of the time, the person who’s interested in a romantic relationship would make it known one way or the other, and they would get a rejection but are asked to stay friends.

Signs of being friend-zoned by someone

How do you know if you’ve been friend-zoned? In the movies, it’s usually painfully obvious and makes us sad for the character going through it. In real life, however, things often get more complicated, but there are signs that indicate that this happened to you.
  1. There’s no flirty response from their end when you try to flirt.
  2. They call you a friend repeatedly. Emphasizing what good of a friend you are, calling you a friend in private conversations and in public, is a clear signal. Similarly, if you’re referred to as a brother or a sister – that’s your cue too.
  3. They talk to you about their romantic partners, sexual experiences, relationship troubles and goals.
  4. They’re not afraid to have conversations about pooping, periods, buggers, etc with you. Basically, they’re not worrying that you’ll find them unsexy.
  5. You only meet in a group setting, never 1-on-1. Moreover, you notice them actively avoiding tet-a-tet or any other situations that can be perceived as romantic. For example, they may bring along friends to a hangout that you’ve perceived as a date.
  6. They’re never dressing up for you, and are not afraid to show their less put-together side, but they always look good when seeing other people.
Pro tip: Take these signs with a grain of salt. We all know those people who will flirt with anyone and everyone, but it doesn’t mean a thing. Equally, there are shy and tender souls who will never approach you or suggest anything romantic, but who’ll have the biggest crush on you. We’re all different, so look at each individual situation. If you’re really not sure, you can ask for a second opinion or straight up talk to your love interest and find out.

What to do if you got friend-zoned

Even the best of us get friend-zoned sometimes, so if it happens to you, don’t get upset. Depending on how you feel about the person who’s allocated you to the friend’s department, there are several things you can do to move forward.
  1. Accept it and move on as friends
  2. Stop communication
  3. Try to change their mind
Whatever route you take, be mindful of the person you’ve been rejected by. Them treating you as a friend is very valuable because friendships are some of the most intimate relationships we can have. Don’t feel like they’re letting you down. We’re not really in control of who we like.

How to get out of the friend zone

If you’re really dying to go out with your crush, but they only see you as a friend – there are things you can do to turn the situation around.

Give them space

Probably not the advice you want to hear, but trust us on this one. If you’ve made a move and got friend-zoned, your crush is probably still thinking about it. They might be shocked that you’ve approached them, feel bad for telling you No, or have completely different thoughts. Let them process everything without being in their eyes. They might realize that you are, in fact, someone they can consider romantically, but they won’t be able to do it with you around all the time.

Try chatting and going on dates with someone else

Don’t do this to spike jealousy and be toxic but for your own sake. When we get rejected, we can get stuck in this mindset that the person we want is the only one for us, and talking to other people can help us see the bigger picture. Another thing it can do is understand what we can change about ourselves to have better chances with our crush or see what we might have done wrong in the past. Just remember that the people you’re casually going out with have feelings too, so don’t mislead them if you’re just in it for a short while and a good time.
And who knows! You might fall in love with someone new, so there won’t be a need to prove you’re worthy to someone else.

Know when to strike again

Context matters a lot when it comes to digging yourself out of the friend zone. Don’t do anything drastic in public or ambush the other person with kisses, hugs, and whatnot. They’ll only resent you for it. Instead, choose a quiet place where you can talk without being interrupted by loud noises and other people. Also, make sure you’re both sober when this conversation happens.

What to say

Only you know what to say, but here are a few tips from the Flure team who've been on both ends of the friend zone game.
  • Be raw and honest about how you feel. Avoid banalities and speak from the heart.
  • Emphasize that there is no pressure on the other person, and you’ll take any answer from them.
  • Share how you’d like to progress if they say No again (but only do it after you’ve heard them out).

Know when to stop

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to get out of the friend zone. You’ve tried all the tricks, you’ve waited, but the person still only considers you as a friend.
If you continue to persist, you’ll likely cause them discomfort and create unnecessary tension between the two of you. Very often, when people see you as a friend, they don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they won’t give you a harsh No, even if they mean it.
Continuing to pursue them would only make them resent you and possibly result in them being less polite and friendly to other people in their lives. Because frankly, if we don’t like someone and they’re actively trying to turn it around, we just get annoyed at some point. It can also feel like harassment. In order to avoid similar situations in the future, both men and women can resort to a more hostile communication style that would prevent ambiguity in the first place.
And after all, would you really want to be in a relationship knowing that you’ve pressured the other person into it? Probably not!

How to avoid getting friend-zoned

Don’t shoot the messenger, but there is pretty much nothing you can do to avoid being seen as only a friend. We like who we like, don’t we? And while yes, you can try and avoid certain topics (pooping, for instance) and dress up every time you meet people, but ultimately they’ll either fancy you or they won’t.
Authenticity is very important these days, and we see it with Flure users too. Be yourself and you will attract the love you deserve. Trying to be someone you’re not or using manipulative tactics to be perceived as a potential boyfriend or girlfriend is really not cool.
Focus on your life, pursue hobbies, and work on your career. Become interesting and exciting for yourself, and others will spot this too. People who live lives to the fullest tend to attract more attention to themselves, and that includes romantic attention too. It’s an ultimate win-win!

How to friend-zone someone nicely

Finally, let’s talk about being on the other side. You have this friend that you enjoy hanging out with. Everything’s great, you two have so much fun. And then Boom! They make the move, and the world will never be the same again.
So how do you navigate this situation?
First of all, you want to be firm and specific. So many of us (especially women when friendzoning men) are not communicating our feelings and position clearly enough, because we’re afraid to offend our friend. That’s fair, why would anyone want to see their close person hurt? However, there is a need for a bit of tough love, otherwise your point might not reach its destination.
Here are a few more recommendations:
  1. Don’t be overly apologetic, it’s not your fault you don’t fancy them.
  2. Avoid cliches, like “You’ll find someone great one day”.
  3. Say that you appreciate their honesty and thank them for straightening things up.
  4. Set boundaries for future interactions, like no alone time for the two of you.
  5. Listen to them and validate their feelings. This will help maintain respect on both ends.