Originally published in the San Diego Jewish Journal
You unlock this door with the key of insecurity. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of listening to all your crush’s romantic problems and offering advice, a dimension of longing looks at the object of your unrequited affection, a dimension of imagining what life would be like if only you were together. You’re moving into a land of friendly conversations and platonic almost-dates; of “I’m so glad we’re friends,” and “Why can’t my significant other be more like you?” You’ve just crossed over into THE FRIEND ZONE.
The Friend Zone: that dreaded state of romantic limbo so easy to stumble into, yet so difficult to escape. It’s the subject of sitcoms, pop-culture magazine articles, and an MTV reality series. Many theories have been suggested as to why one falls into this dreaded state, resulting in myriad misconceptions. And so, as a public service to singles everywhere, I will address a few of the most prevalent misconceptions about the Friend Zone.
Misconception #1: My crush doesn’t see me in a romantic light because he or she thinks of me as a friend.
In fact, the situation is usually the exact opposite: You are in the Friend Zone because your crush does not see you in a romantic light. Perhaps they don’t feel chemistry, maybe they are not Jewish and prefer to date someone of their own religion, or there may be something else about you that doesn’t match what they’re looking for. For instance, I (sorry to admit) once sent a guy to the Friend Zone despite the fact that he was sweet, easy to talk to, and fun to hang out with. The problem was, while he was by no means stupid, he was not interested in intellectual conversations, which is a big deal for me when choosing a romantic partner.
That said, there was nothing “wrong” with him. I really enjoyed having him as a friend, and genuinely cared about him. We just weren’t a good fit romantically.
Misconception #2: He or she just doesn’t know how I feel
I’m surprised that so few people have called bubkes on this one. I have sent a few guys to the Friend Zone in my time, and guess what? I knew all along that they wanted to be more than friends.
When you have a crush on someone, and you spend a lot of time with that person, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll successfully hide how you feel. You are almost certainly exuding pheromones, and your mannerisms are giving off a strong “I want to be more than friends” vibe. The object of your affections may pretend not to notice. They may even convince themselves that they don’t know your feelings. But if they don’t make a move, it’s almost certainly not because they have no inkling of your desires.
Misconception #3: I’m in the Friend Zone because I’m just too nice.
I guarantee that you are not stuck in this zone because you’re “too nice.” There is some other reason, so stop going on and on about how women just go for the “bad boy” and men just go for the “skanky shiksa.” Seriously. I will probably write an article soon about the “Nice Guy”/“Sweet Girl” syndrome, but for now, suffice it to say: the whole concept is bogus, and by clinging to that explanation you will put yourself through a whole bunch of needless and unproductive suffering that gets you no closer to a happy fulfilling dating life.
Misconception #4: There is no way out of the Friend Zone
There is one way to get out of the Friend Zone that works almost every time: come clean about it, and ask your crush on an actual date (not a hang-out!). The answer could surprise you. There is a chance that your crush reciprocates your feelings, and has been feeling “Friend-Zoned” by you! But no matter what happens, make sure that both you and your crush know that it won’t destroy you if you don’t get the answer you want. It’s not easy, and it can be downright terrifying, especially if they have to take some time to think about it. But by giving your crush a genuine chance to say “yes” or “no,” you can get out of limbo and either move forward, or move on.