By CHRIS CHAE
You’ve probably heard it before. You ask your friend how progress with his or her crush has been going and they answer “Not good, I’m stuck in the friendzone.” If you ask them what the friendzone is, they describe it as something they are confined to, trapped even. It seems as if once they are in it, they cannot get out besides some miracle bestowed upon God. Cemented within a life of suffering, all hope seems lost. But what really is the friend zone? How do you get yourself in it – and more importantly – out?
As explained by the internet’s most credible source, Urban Dictionary, the friendzone is, “a particularly aggravating metaphorical place, that people end up in when someone they are interested in only wants to be friends.” The friend zone is not a physical area, it is not a jail for scared lovers. The friend zone is the mental state of being friends with someone while desiring to be more. A state of not rejected, yet rejected at the same time, in which it seems like you cannot escape your “friend” label. More often than not (as seen in my life), it is a girl that friend-zones a guy.
If this friend zone is so awful, then how do so many optimists find themselves getting trapped in it? It’s simple. They trap themselves. When faced with a crush, a “crusher” may approach in one of two ways.
First, to get closer to the crush, the crusher will first attempt to become friends. This method of bonding is very casual and may take some time to create a meaningful connection. But by being that nice, reliable, and funny friend, the crush is likely to open up and you two will become close. Soon you two may be texting every now and then and having inside jokes; however, this path should be taken with caution. By treating her as a friend, you may be cementing yourself into that position. Despite how you feel inside, if you only act as a friend, she may only see you as a friend. Even if she did have feelings at the start, because you were so casual and not forward about your true feelings, that spark may have died down, causing you to be stuck in that seemingly inescapable place: the friend zone.
The second option is to flirt. The crusher teases the crush, maybe causing some “accidental” touching of the arms or shoulders. Timing their walk out of classes to talk to them for a few more minutes, or finding amusing memes to direct message them. By showing a clear concern not given to other people, the crusher shows the crush they are interested. But even after all that, the crush could still see you as just a friend. The crush may simply be unaware of your flirting, or may be aware of your flirting but actively ignore it and treat you like a friend.
At this point, many would say that they are stuck in the friend zone, either by becoming good friends with the crush and not knowing how to move further, or having tried flirting with the crush only to get no response. At this point, many complain and lose hope, succumbing to the friend zone. But they’re wrong to do so. There’s a solution to the friendzone. To escape it or to overcome it, many need to gain the courage to stick to a resolution.
In any threatening situation, the human body has a fight or flight response. The same principle applies to this situation.
Flight: admit defeat and move on. Once in this situation, the crusher should understand that they will constantly be in pain if they continue the friendship. By just being good friends, the crusher will constantly have to face the reality that nothing more will happen. If the crush happens to find a significant other, the crusher will be subject to the pain of “what could have been”. To escape from this heartbreaking feeling, the crusher has the option to shed their feelings for the other person. But this is easier said than done. To do this, the crusher may have to cut many or all ties to the crush, distancing them for a period of time to get over them. Only after feelings have been lost can the friendship go back to normal, without any lingering pain.
Fight: all in or nothing. At this point, the crusher has the option to go full send, to confess and ask the crush out. If they reciprocate feelings, it’s a happily ever after and the two can deal with all the wonderful joys and problems that come with being in a relationship. But if the crush declines or wants to stay as friends, then that friendship may not be the same. The awkward tension, the slight distance, the pain in having to face the crush day after day knowing that you were not good enough could be an emotional burden for anyone.
But there is a possible solution. Instead of confessing immediately, the crusher can first “promote” themselves to be the crush’s closest friend. In being their close friend, the crusher will be the one closest to the crush. By sharing deep thoughts and providing solace, comfort, and laughter, the crush and crusher can become inseparable. This is when the crusher can begin to lay romantic tension. Help the crush with relationship problems but always leave yourself open in your advice. Take the crush out on friend dates and flirt a little too. In the best case scenario, the crush will slowly begin to realize the perfect person was so close all along. This is when one can talk about other romantic interests to make the crush jealous. At this point, the stage is set and the crusher can ask the crush out. Although the outcome is favorable, the crusher should always respect the crush’s decision.
The problem with the friend zone is that for the people “stuck” in it, they do not attempt to get out. They do not want the risk of either fleeing or fighting their situation. They accept their outcome, surrendering to the myth that is being stuck as a friend. If this happens, the crusher will continue to suffer, settling for that painful friendship that will never be more.
Don’t get crushed. Overcome that mental barrier and commit. If your crush really is worth it, it won’t even be a question.