“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
So, you took a chance and told your friend you want to date him, only to hear, “Hey, I really enjoy our time together and I love our friendship as it is.”
Ouch! Now what?
After you swallow your embarrassment and try to reel in the line you just cast to an empty romance pond, you have to ask yourself one question; can you really just be friends with someone you have feelings for?
Friendship with a romantic interest is complicated. Miriam Webster defines friendship as a favored companion, and boyfriend/girlfriend as a frequent or regular companion in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Note the difference in the type of companionship.
If you move forward with this friendship, can you keep those romantic and sexual feelings at bay?
If the answer to that is yes, then our work is done here. I suspect for most; however, it is not quite that simple.
Here are a few things to ponder to determine if you can thrive in the “just friends” zone.
- What are your motives and are you being honest with yourself? If you are secretly hoping your friend will eventually fall madly in love with you if you just keep being your irresistible self, stop. You are irresistible, no doubt, but he is still not interested. When someone says they are not into you, it is NOT an invitation for you to try harder.
- Do you really have time or need for another friend? With all that friendship requires, are you willing to be available when he needs you, knowing you may be left feeling a longing for romance instead of friendship? Yes, you may have another friend, but you may also have a greater depth of loneliness.
- When your friend tells you he has started dating some amazing woman, how will you feel? Remember, friends celebrate each other’s happiness, not secretly hope their new relationship will crash and burn. Can you really be comfortable with this constant reminder of your unrequited love?
Friendship is a vital part of a fulfilling life. Do not diminish its importance by exploiting it for an unlikely romance.
You are worth more than that. Know your value. Keep and seek your vision for your relationship’s future. Look for what you deserve and welcome that love that makes you an easy choice, because you are fabulous!
When I met my husband I knew that there was something special about him, the deep level we could connect on was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
So imagine my shock when 4 months into dating he friend zoned me! I wanted to feel like I had at least been clear about my feelings, so I let him know. I could tell he was still confident that for him, it was not the right time for a serious relationship.
So I followed the old adage, if you love something let it go.
Holding on or clinging to a chance with him would have only made me more miserable, and I had to trust that he was communicating how he was feeling.
I really had healed after we broke up, I went on with my life and truly wished him well.
It took 6 years for our paths to reconnect. In that time we both had been in other relationships, experienced career stress, loss, and were forced to grow and to change.
When we reconnected, it felt more like getting to catch up with an old friend, hoping that the past 6 years had been kind to them.
It didn’t take long for us to fall back in love and the rest is history. This time was different, we had learned and grown so much in our time apart and we were both ready to really commit.
I don’t share this story because I think it is in the cards for everyone, I share it because I had to give myself the gift of closure when we were young and he broke up with me, wanting to just be friends.
I created distance, moved on, and believed him when he told me he wasn’t ready for a relationship and wanted to just be friends.
I don’t regret it!
I don’t regret the heartbreak, that I took the path towards moving on reluctantly, that I found new love, I don’t regret that we lost contact for most of that time, or that in those 6 years I had to navigate getting out of a toxic relationship.
We both learned lessons that we needed to have in order to reconnect as healthier individuals.
When I view each hardship, each heartbreak as a lesson propelling me to a better version of myself, it gives new meaning and purpose to the bumps in the road, it helps me move on and search for the lessons along the way.
Clinging to the idea of a relationship that someone else isn’t ready for or doesn’t want is a recipe for misery.
Love yourself and go forward knowing that someday someone will see you and all that you have to offer.
Keilani Perisian-Mason, MA, LMHC – www.keilanimason.wixsite.com/evolve
Relationships can evolve and change over time. They can grow from friendships, to lovers, to partners. However, they can also change by “taking a step back” and moving from lovers or potential lovers to friendship. This can be potentially devastating for all involved, as you have as much to lose as you do to gain.
Hearing that the man you fancy isn’t ready for a relationship and wants to be friends instead can feel like all your hopes and dreams have just been dashed.
The following tips can be helpful in working through your feelings and coming out the other side.
Tip 1: Respect his decision.
Relationships are built on the enthusiastic consent of both partners and mutual respect. Yes, you may be hurt, but the relationship can only thrive if you are both into it.
To pursue a romantic relationship when he doesn’t want one removes that consent and tells him that his feelings don’t matter.
It might help to reverse the roles.
How would you feel if you just wanted to be friends with someone and they didn’t respect your decision? Would you feel angry? Ignored? Belittled?
Whatever it is you might feel, it likely isn’t good. Don’t do that to another human being. Do what you can to respect his choice.
Tip 2: State your feelings.
You can respect his decision and still feel sad. You can change the relationship dynamic to one of friendship and still share your feelings of disappointment.
Communicate effectively by being honest, wearing your heart on your sleeve, and taking a non-blaming approach.
You may need to state your needs, such as spending less time together in order to respect his choice and work on your feelings. You can negotiate the boundaries of your friendship in a way that works for both of you.
Tip 3: Find the Good.
I know it may be hard to find the good in a situation in which heartbreak might be present. However, I’m a firm believer it can be done.
What the situation tells you is that he is not ready for the kind of relationship you want.
Since he stated his feelings, you can make a choice and pursue other potential partners and find someone who is in the same place and desires the same things you do.
You know this relationship will not meet your needs and can move on. You deserve the kind of love you want and need, and have been set free to find it.
Heather Gillam, MS, NCC, LMFTA – www.sisulumicounseling.com
Women are really good at hearing what they want to hear and ignoring what they don’t want to hear.
Men are really good at saying what they want and don’t want in the simplest of terms, and although the message is clear, they get blamed for sending mixed messages, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Women have a talent for creating stories and pictures in their head of what they would like things to be or look like, and that can be extremely helpful when decorating a space, planning a large event, or even building a new business, but when this skill is used in relationships, it can result in heartache.
So how do you handle this situation when you want more than is being offered? Three words: Accept what is.
Hear the words at face value.
Understandably, this can be a challenge for women because we are often taught as children not to hurt anyone’s feelings, even if it means not telling the truth.
So when our own communication style is at best “cryptic”, how can we be expected to hear the actual words that are being said to us?
When we speak in hazy, so as not to “rock the boat” terms, it isn’t surprising that we search for the hidden or desired meaning in the words of others.
Don’t say yes to being friends with the expectation that it will be more. You will be disappointed for sure.
If you are looking for a relationship and you hear the words, “I’d love to be your friend”, move on.
Keep it simple. Know what you want. Then go out there and find the one whose words match your desires.
Barbara L Bourgeois, MBA, MS, LPC, NCC – www.bbtherapyct.com
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