It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the Friend Zone!

Jim and Pam
The Office’s Jim Halpert, the so dubbed King of the Friend Zone

So you’ve been hanging out for a while. You’re getting to know her. You’re spending time with him. Things are going pretty great. And you’re starting to wonder, hey, maybe there’s a bit more to this.

And then it happens

“We’re just friends”

Or for some in a more difficult circumstance – you’ve been dating for a while, you’ve gone public with it, your family and friends all know. And now all of a sudden one of you has made the decision to hit the breaks and return to “normal”.

Or you’re just hanging out, and you don’t feel like things are ever going to progress the way you want them to.

What do you do when the Friend Zone hits?

The Friend Zone is one of the most talked about subjects in recent history, and with good reason. Perhaps not really getting a lot of publicity until a lot of movies and TV shows started talking about it, the Friend Zone is the term given to the place where a relationship is dubbed to go no further than it has. I heard someone refer to it recently as “The Point Of No Return”. Some other terms I’ve heard include “Where Dreams Go To Die” or “Ewww No”. Not usually the most positive descriptors I think.

Being a guy I guess I hear more of the experiences that guys have when it comes to the world of relationships. The land of the Friend Zone is one that no man ever wants to find himself in when he finds himself keen on a girl. And yet often this is the very place they do indeed find themselves.

So here’s some musing on the ever topical Friend Zone – from a single guy, just trying to work it all out like you are.

If Jim Halpert is the Friend Zone's King, then Eponine from Les Miserables is its Queen
If Jim Halpert is the Friend Zone’s King, then Eponine from Les Miserables is its Queen

Girls get Friend Zoned too!

I thought I would just throw that one in early so I didn’t lose all the girls who were reading this. While it’s typically attributed to guys, women are no strangers to the Friend Zone either.

What I’m trying to say here is we’re looking at a pretty universal experience. It’s not unique to a particular gender, it’s unique to people. And whether you’re male or female, the experience can be somewhat the same. You were or are looking for a relationship to go further, but the other party is either unwilling, ambivalent or unaware. Unrequitted love, or uncommunicated love. Or hey, maybe not even that far ahead, just the feeling that maybe things got boxed in a bit too early.

And you know, maybe you yourself are guilty of putting some people in the “Just Friends” basket yourself. Just something to think about.

Have you done something about it?

I kind of touched on this thought in one of the last posts I wrote on Why He Hasn’t Asked You Out Yet, but for me, if a friend, male or female, is telling me about how keen they are on someone or see potential in someone, but haven’t done a lot to get in their world and at least make their presence/intentions known, then I don’t know if you’ve earned your licence to complain yet. It’s like complaining about having no money when you don’t have a job.

If there’s still something you could do, you should do it.

And hey, being friends is one of the best ways to actually get to know someone, without the pressure of dating or romance or the expectation of yourselves or others. You can be pretty intentional in your friendship. And if you’re wanting something more, the ball is in your court.

You need to be honest with the other person

Often feelings and/or questions and thoughts can develop when a friendship starts to look like more than a friendship. Two people have been spending a lot of time together. Two people have been talking about deeper subjects. Two people have maybe done a few things one on one. In a relationship that has gone this way, being relegated to being “just friends” can be quite difficult and confronting.

Tom Hansen and Summer Finn in their 500 Days
Tom Hansen and Summer Finn in their 500 Days

If it looks like a date, smells like a date, has the same characteristics as a date, if you are doing the same things people would do on a date, but you’re not calling it a date, it might look like a date to at least one of you.

But on the other side, the “Friend Zoner” may not be aware they are sending this message your way. In these scenarios, you’ve just gotta be honest.

What if it damages the friendship?! It might

What if we can’t hang out as much together anymore?! You probably can’t

The moniker of “companion” is quite a reserved title. It means you have a special person you are giving that deeper sort of attention to. If you feel like in your relationship/s that this is being stretched for you, you have to let them know. If you don’t, you can be living in what one of my good friends affectionately refers to as “Lala Land“, where you’re kind of friends, but kind of more in your head, or maybe potentially more in your head, but you’re really not sure at all where you stand. And sometimes popping the bubble of what you want with reality can be quite scary. It may go really well and you may actually progress, but a lot of times you may end up pulling back on the relationship and going back to treating that person like you treat all your other friends of the opposite gender.

Be upfront with your intentions.

And if you’re on the other side of the fence, be honest in your response. I’ve always appreciated when girls have been open with me about their feelings and what they’re thinking. From talking to a few people, although the truth is sometimes hard, honesty always wins the day.

You need to be honest with yourself

The most important person to be honest with is yourself.

“Nah it’s ok, we can hang out like this, it’s fine”

Is it?

“I’m all good with talking so much on the phone still, don’t worry about it, it’s not hurting me”


Are you the one who is stringing yourself along? If the pressure or disappointment of the Friend Zone is getting you, are you really okay with continuing the way you are? If there’s a communicated lack of interest and you keep pushing yourself there, then you’re the one who is hurting you now.

And maybe you’re struggling to be honest with the other person because you’re not being honest with you.

Guard your heart, for from it flow all the issues of life.

When to pursue and when to let go


Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson
Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson

They could. There are lots of stories of people changing their mind. There’s this fairly famous line used by a lot of couples later on:

The love of my life was disguised as my best friend the entire time

And that’s great. The person you end up with is someone you want to be very close friends with. This is why its so important to develop a deep friendship with a potential suitor, and this is also why it’s so devastating in some cases when the friendship progresses no further.

So how do you know when to pursue and when to let it go?

I’m not entirely sure. And I think a lot of people aren’t. I guess that’s why a lot of couples will say they “got lucky in love”. There was a moment where both of them recognized they had found what they were looking for, and it happened at the same time.

But not all love stories are the same. And instead of living our own story, we cling on to someone else’s. We wish for the fantasy of the chick flick to be the story of our romance. We want the struggle that those pastors went through to be our story. We want the blissful fairytale of things working out with the childhood sweetheart.

But everyone’s story is different. And yours is being written right now.

And yeah, there are heaps of examples of when the guy, or the girl, held on longer and wouldn’t give up. But there are also heaps of examples of when holding on resulted in further heartbreak when the other person had well and truly moved in into the arms of someone else.

And so there’s a lot of advice (often conflicting advice mind you) on the subject, like don’t accept her first answer, stay in his world, do something elaborately romantic, not doing too much to try to impress them in the early days… you’ve probably heard a lot of it.

I’d say that if you’ve given it your best shot and things still haven’t changed after a period of time, then on the advice of friends and mentors and prayer, it might be time to let it go and move on.

And yeah, sometimes it’s a pretty difficult thing to get your head around why someone doesn’t want to proceed. For me, I’m always confused as to why the offers of some of the great guys I know are relegated to the Friend Zone. They love people, are committed to their faith, are diligent with money, know where they’re going in life, are heading in similar directions, would make great fathers, get along with the girls they pursue very well, are consistent and gracious and true – and all qualities I’ve heard women mention they’re looking for in a man – and yet they are relegated to this place. And unfortunately I then hear it turn to regret years later for some who feel like they missed out. I’m sure there are a lot of girls who feel the same way about themselves or about their female friends too. Or their male friends.

I guess what it is is that we’re all on a journey of love. It’s a mix of fate with willingness. It’s a mix of pursuit and attraction. It’s a blend of honesty and reality.

And you know what – the Friend Zone is not the end of the world. You’ll either progress and be promoted to something more, or you’ll move on to something greater. You can’t lose.

What are your thoughts on the Friend Zone? What do you do when you’re faced with it, and what’s some advice you’ve found has helped you?

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