By Taylor Weik
He asks you for relationship advice. She confesses that she loves you … but “like a brother.” He only texts or calls you when he’s lonely or he needs something from you. And, when you’ve finally mustered up the courage to tell her that you’ve been in love with her since the fifth grade, she pats you on the back and replies, “But we’re just friends.”
If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, then I’d like to warmly welcome you to the inner city limits of the friend zone, population: you.
If you’ve never heard of the friend zone before, you’ve either been living under a rock or you’re so attractive that it has never happened to you. It has been around since the existence of man and woman, but it’s only now that society has named this unfortunate experience “the friend zone.” Now it’s even used in everyday vocabulary as a verb (“I leaned in to kiss him but he friend-zoned me and gave me a hug instead”).
But what exactly is the friend zone? According to Ryan Reynold’s character in the movie “Just Friends,” the friend zone is the realm your crush places you in when they decide you’re no longer a dating option, and “you become this complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp.”
“When you have feelings for someone, but they feel no sexual attraction towards you and they do little things that ‘just friends’ would do, then that’s when you know you’re in the friend zone,” said John Lee*, a freshman at UC Irvine who knows the friend zone all too well..
“A week after we moved into the dorms, I began to like this one girl in my hall,” John shared. “She was nice and cute, and I thought I was a pretty nice guy, too. But I guess I was too nice, because she began telling me guy stories and confessed that she liked another guy in my hall. It was like I was one of her best girl friends. She left me in the friend zone and began dating my hall-mate.”
Natalie Gedeon, also a first-year, has a similar story: “I became close friends with this guy in band, and the more I got to hang out with him, the more I got to really know him. It’s like what most people say: closeness is what helps feelings grow. I started to like him but was completely scared, frustrated and above all else, unsure about my feelings. But then he started asking me for advice to ask another girl out. Without him knowing it, he friend-zoned me, and hard.”
Based on the stories of John, Natalie and the countless others who have tried in vain to take their crush to the next level, it’s clear that you’re doing something wrong when your would-be significant other starts to treat you more like a brother and less like a lover; watch out for phrases like “I feel so comfortable around you,” and “He’s cute! What do you think?” And you should especially be worried if they start asking you for relationship advice; if they were interested in you, they wouldn’t bring it up.
But there are ways you can avoid falling into the platonic trap and hitting rock bottom; Natalie suggests directness. “Just talk to him or her maturely about the possibility of you two going out. Clear the air. Even though the two of you aren’t in that kind of relationship, communication is still key between friends.”
The friend zone may be awful and give you a good cause to throw on your sweats and gorge yourself on chocolate ice cream from the tub, but if you’re being yourself, it’s not your fault you were placed there. Maybe he doesn’t appreciate that you have a 4.0 GPA and you can name the 151 original Pokémon. Maybe she doesn’t understand your great sense of humor and love for “The Office.” Or maybe, your crush was never interested in you in the first place. Whatever the case, your fates weren’t meant to be aligned in the night sky. Accept it, pick yourself up and move on.
“The only thing I did wrong was that I was being a nice guy,” John said. “It’s true that nice guys finish last, but I wouldn’t change my personality for any girl because when I do find someone, the relationship will be more genuine and it will last longer. And I’m willing to wait for that.”
*name has been changed