“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love… but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.”
~ Mandy Hale
Before you even think about escaping the friend zone, be clear you want to enter the romantic relationship zone, with the friend.
Often friends become so close that they begin sharing so many different intimate parts of themselves (especially women) that before they realize it little feelings start to creep up.
Of course you may try to ignore them or push them aside wondering how could this be, or thinking something must be wrong with you.
But the best thing you can do for yourself is to pay attention; be honest with what’s happening; and if you’re that close, friendship wise, you should be able to at least bring the subject up and discuss it.
It’s possible he could be feeling the same way; or not.
You owe it to yourself and him to be open and honest.
After all, that’s what true friendship is all about, isn’t it? I think best friends make the best romantic relationships; but be mindful, he might not be into you the same way.
Before you invest too much emotionally in any relationship, initially you know if there’s some physical attraction. If there is this is the time to check things out (up front); it may lessen the blow later.
Here are some ways you can be authentic and express your feelings and possibly have a good chance to make that transition from friends to lovers:
- Don’t ignore the first sign of feeling like there might more to the relationship than just friendship—be aware
- Come out of denial and be honest with yourself and be willing to address it
- Take care of your own personal needs that may be going unmet without infringing on the friendship for a romantic relationship, which can be a turn off for some
- Be clear on the difference between having a good friendship and a romantic relationship, and what your needs are for each, and how he will fulfill the role
- Have clear boundaries for the friendship and a romantic relationship, without getting the two mixed up; which can become an entangled weave
- Remember healthy self-care first, in and/or out of any relationship
Barbara Ann Williams, LPC, MS – www.barbaraannwilliams.com
One of the most frustrating situations to experience is the desire to be more than “friends” with a guy you really like.
It’s not good to feel this way because it keeps you from finding the real partner who can give you all that you need in a relationship. But, on the other hand, you don’t want to lose him because he’s really a nice guy.
So, what can you do?
Here are some effective strategies to either change the situation in your favor or help you make a clean break:
1. Stop being available at his beckoned call.
You have a life and you need to live it on your terms. So, step out of your comfort zone and do things with your girlfriends. This would open your options to meeting a great guy and also create a new pattern between you two. You are broadening your social network.
If he sees you are willing to “get out there” again, he may get more interested in you or at least understand that you appreciate the friendship, but a true partnership is what you are looking for.
2. You may have to have “the talk.”
Let him know that your friendship is taking too much physical and emotional time and that you are ready for a change. You’re not getting any younger and have to focus on your future goals, namely a steady boyfriend and committed relationship.
Will he miss what you had? Will he notice you’re not around as much? Both are yet to be seen.
3. Then set boundaries with him.
Limit the amount of time you see him. Stop having those intimate talks or sharing your personal life with him. Avoid doing things for him, but instead, ask him for favors. See if that changes the impact of the relationship. See if he realizes what he is losing. You want to break off the enmeshed relationship you’ve had so far and establish new guidelines – rules that would benefit your needs, wants and desires.
The feeling of unreturned affection is frustrating and makes your situation feel hopeless.
Unless you decide to change what you are experiencing, things will stay the same and you don’t want that, nor do you deserve that.
Realize, you may lose him completely, but if that’s what it takes to move you along, maybe it’s for the best.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
There is nothing you can do about somebody else’s feelings.
Sometimes you can influence people’s thinking by presenting new and compelling facts. It’s difficult enough to control your own emotions let alone somebody else’s. You may want to transition to a different kind of relationship but you can’t make him feel the same way.
This is to say that whether or not you talk about how you feel about him is not going to influence how he feels about you.
It is true that bringing romantic feelings into a platonic friendship could cause some discomfort. I think whether or not it spells the end of the friendship would depend more on you than on him.
Can you be friends for long with somebody for whom you have romantic feelings?
It would require a lot of self-management to keep those feelings in check! The question arises as to why you would even want to stay in a relationship where your affections aren’t returned. That could be a pretty painful scenario.
While it’s difficult to accept that you can’t change anyone else, you may gain something by putting your real feelings out there.
You will have opened the door. If he is also harboring some romantic feelings towards you, it will make it easier for him to talk about them. If he doesn’t, you won’t be wasting time and energy trying to make something happen that wasn’t meant to be.
If you want it and he doesn’t it will probably be too awkward to continue as before.
It’s sad to lose a good friendship but the truth is sometimes feelings change. Hiding them won’t preserve the current relationship. The truth is that as soon as your feelings for him changed your old friendship was over.
It’s scary to be brave enough to declare romantic feelings when you’re not at all sure they will be reciprocated.
That’s a level of vulnerability that requires a lot of emotional maturity. But love isn’t for the faint of heart. Anything you really want in life requires the courage to try and the courage to sometimes fail. The real losers in life are those who are too scared to even try.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
A man won’t play if he doesn’t think he has a shot at winning.
What if he IS interested in her romantically and he IS attracted to her, but he thinks he’s stuck in Friend Zone with her because she’s never given him any signals that he might have a chance at love and romance with her?
The tragedy is that this happens all too often. Women are such a puzzle and a mystery to men, not easy at all to figure out.
It’s our responsibility as women to give him the green light, to signal him with our eyes, our smile, a hint – sometimes a bonk on the head, to make sure he knows that we would be open to him romantically.
One of my dating coaching clients did it this way. She’d been stuck in Friend Zone with a work colleague for years, and she always wondered if there might be a chance for more.
Over drinks one night, she mustered up the courage to say to him,
“The kind of comfortable, natural friendship that you and I have — I want that in my future partnership. If a guy like you could have ‘the hots’ for a girl like me, then that would be so perfect.”
And he said, “A guy like me TOTALLY has the hots for you, but never thought he had a shot.” They’re married today, with two kids….All she had to do was drop a hint, drop the hankie and he stepped right up to the plate.
Julie Ferman, B.A. – www.julieferman.com
I grew up thinking my romantic feelings were, somehow, noxious.
Not just because sex was taboo in my family, but because crushes made me vulnerable to rejection. And rejection meant I was undesirable, stupid, worthless, alone, and destined to be an old maid.
Now I know none of those things are true.
Being attracted to someone means a lot of good things. Attraction signals admiration for the person. It means you find them physically desirable (and who doesn’t want to feel physically desirable?).
It means you can picture yourself spending a lot of time with them – maybe even co-mingling your DNA with them!
Everybody, deep down, craves the knowledge that they are loved or desired. It makes us feel worthwhile and it gives us energy and zest.
Hold this in mind when you’re with your special person. This knowledge will make it easier to send signals like these……
- Make more eye contact.
- Silence can be sexy. Linger there. Watch. Listen. Take deep breaths.
- Suggest activities that allow for intimate conversation.
- Ask about childhood experiences, memorable moments.
- Show real interest in their feelings.
- Did I mention eye contact? Linger there when you can.
- Allow for natural opportunities to touch.
- Involve sensory experience (i.e., scent, texture, taste) in your time together.
- Tell your person what you like about them.
- Let your person know that you think about them when they’re not around (e.g., “So this morning I was thinking about your story…..”).
Know that all of these signals create positive emotions for the receiver.
Nothing harmful or bad results from being yourself and showing your tender, romantic feelings. It’s okay to put them out there. Even if your someone doesn’t immediately reciprocate, you offer them a gift by signaling, “I’d like more of you.”
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
There are two things I would suggest in this process – deal with your fear and manage your expectations. It’s easy to hold back on expressing your feelings out of fear.
The “what ifs” start to fuel your silence –
- What if I look stupid?
- What if he doesn’t feel the same way?
- What if he doesn’t ever speak to me again?
- What if I totally misread his feelings?
When we allow ourselves to be driven by fear prevents us from being authentic and open in relationships.
It’s a little counter intuitive, but instead of focusing on him I suggest you take a closer look at yourself.
- What is driving your fear and preventing authenticity?
- Is the core issue a fear of abandonment?
- Is it fear of rejection?
- Is it feeling a lack of worthiness?
If you can understand why you are afraid, then you can start to identify what you need to address before expressing your feelings.
If you are able to deal with your own fears first then when you bridge your feelings it will be more about your message and less about an emotional reaction.
When you start to share how you feel it’s very important to manage your expectations – you have been thinking about this for a while, but he might need some time to process.
The tendency is to put a lot of pressure on the moment of sharing your feelings, but try to view it more as a process that might extend over days, weeks, or even months.
Remember that not getting an immediate yes, is not the same thing as a no.
He might need some time to think about transitioning the relationship. Giving him the space to grow in to a new stage is really important. If you expect that the conversation will be an evolving one, then you can offer things like “take your time” or “I’m not in a rush” and really mean it.
The most damaging thing you can do in a moment of vulnerability is to push someone to respond before they are ready.
You have to be prepared to sit in the discomfort of the in-between until he makes a decision. I think few of us would say that the in-between is our favorite place, but in light of the potentially positive outcome – it is worth the risk.
Dr. Wendy L Dickinson – www.growcounseling.com
Most good intimate relationships start as friendships! It is very important to see your potential partner through clear (non-crush, non-infatuation) eyes to assess who they really are. It is also important to genuinely like anyone you may develop a deeper relationship with.
In order to stand the test of time you have to like all their quirks, faults, and idiosyncrasies without the lens rose colored glasses.
Therefore, it is very good to begin as friends however; making the transition can be tricky.
One thing you can do is look for clues that indicate he may want to go forward too.
- Is he flirting with you?
- How does it feel when you to flirt with him?
- Have you tried lightly touching his arm, hand, leg, etc.…?
Touching is a great way to transition a relationship. It plants a seed in his mind what it feels like to be touched by you.
How well do you communicate with each other?
You should have excellent communication skills to go forward in an intimate relationship.
Can you say to him, “Have you ever thought about us dating”?
If you get a foreign, freaked out look in return say, “It was just a thought” and back out.
No damage done to the friendship. If he flees the friendship from that kind of comment he wasn’t a keeper anyway.
If you are worried about abandonment and rejection by him then that is your own healing work to do.
Without healing your own issues you will be too needy and codependent which is a turnoff for most men. You have to heal the hurts from the past to make yourself a more solid partner in the future.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.cynthiapickett.com
Transitioning from friendship to relationship can be tricky.
It is important to maintain your authenticity and be honest about your feelings. It takes courage to be honest and tell a friend that you are interested in more than friendship.
Honesty is the best policy and it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say.
If you put yourself out there and express these feelings, remember that if he values you as a friend and respects you, he will be honest with you too. Sometimes these relationships that were friendships do not work out and the hope is that if it doesn’t, you can both part ways amicably and stay friends.
What you say is as important as how you say it.
Tell him that you value his friendship and that you would like to explore if there can be more to the relationship. Keep your boundaries in place and do not accommodate or let things slide because you don’t want to lose him.
Stay authentic and express what you need in the relationship and ask that he do the same.
Remember that the transition from friendship to relationship may be a bit awkward as the relationship moves forward and grows. Do not bring up his past and what you know about his exes and use this against him. Be mindful that you would not want him to do the same.
Give yourself some time to work into intimacy.
Just because you are good friends does not mean that you will make good lovers. Go slow and take your time. Communicate clearly and ask for what you need as a friend and partner.
If he terminates the friendship and distances himself from you, do not take this personally.
Someone who is mature will be able to handle that you were honest and took the risk to put yourself out there. If he cannot handle this with respect and grace, then he was not a good friend to begin with.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
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