Not sure how to get out of the friend zone? Or perhaps you’re unclear about what the friend zone’s meaning is exactly? We’ve compiled these handy top tips to help you leave the friend zone and head for relationship central with that special someone instead.

So You’re in the Friend Zone – Meaning What Exactly?

If you’ve been put in the friend zone, you are interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with someone, while they are treating you (and perhaps seeing you) solely as a friend.

Maybe while you’re envisioning future dates and long-term commitment, they’re seeing you as their closest mate but nothing more than that. It’s not necessarily a deliberate thing – it’s unlikely they’re spending their nights googling “how to friendzone a guy”. It can just be that if the tone of your relationship has always been exclusively platonic, it’s hard to envision something different.

Sometimes, a strong friendship can be the ideal first step towards something more. You’ll probably have a shared sense of humour, favourite in-jokes and maybe the same social group and mutual hobbies. This can be a great foundation to base something more on – think Monica and Chandler in Friends for an iconic example of the friends-to-partners transition.

The problem is, sometimes if someone has seen you for years as a friend only, then they may not stop to consider you as a possible romantic partner, even if you’d be perfect together.

Generally, people use the friend zone to refer to women preventing men from becoming their partner, i.e. “she totally friendzoned you!”, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

It is also important to bear in mind that sometimes the term “friend zone” can be used in quite sexist ways, implying that women and men can’t ever just be friends or that the friendship itself isn’t valuable unless it leads to something more. Some people even use it to suggest that women are punishing men by refusing to be in a relationship with them and that women owe a male friend a romantic relationship.

That’s not to say that the phrase “friend zone” or the concept behind it is automatically sexist. Many people will discuss the friend zone without meaning to suggest any of that, but it’s worth considering that many women may find it offensive and misogynistic to be accused of friendzoning, so tread carefully and be sure to keep things respectful.

How to Tell If You’ve Been Friendzoned

Thinking you might be sitting squarely in the dreaded friend zone with that special someone but not entirely sure? Here are some questions to ask yourself to tell if you’ve been friendzoned:

  • How do they refer to you? Are they affectionate in the way they speak to you (think cutesy nicknames for example)? Or do they stick solely to your name, “mate”, etc.? Their choice of language here might just clue you in to how they’re really feeling.
  • How do they talk about you? Maybe you’ve overheard them mention you or they’ve introduced you to someone new – how do they choose to do this? Are you their friend? Their best friend? If you hear “he’s like a brother to me” or something along those lines, unfortunately, you’re solidly in friend zone territory.
  • Is there physical contact? Do they take the opportunity to be “touchy-feely” with you? Maybe this is the classic stretching their arm over your shoulder move from the films or them gently touching you. Physical affection can be a great way to tell whether someone is into you as more than a friend, and if you’re not seeing any, that may suggest that you’ve been friendzoned.
  • What kinds of events do they arrange? Pay attention to how they suggest meeting up with you. If it seems like a lot of the things they propose involve just the two of you, they might well see you as more than a friend. Alternatively, if every recommendation just happens to involve a wider group of friends, that’s probably how they see you, too.

How to Avoid Friend Zone Status

If you’re wondering how to avoid friend zone territory, the most crucial thing is to set the tone of your relationship as being more than just friends – ideally as early into you getting to know one another as possible. Don’t treat them just as one of the group – show them that you see them as something special. This includes how you speak to them and about them. Being a little flirty can be a good way to show that you find them attractive, as can your body language. Being physically affectionate, as long as the other person is comfortable with this, is a really great way to let them know how you feel.

Also, be sure to arrange events that give you one-on-one time. If you only suggest group meetups, they may get the impression that you aren’t interested in time spent as just the two of you, and you’ll be reinforcing the idea that they are just one of your mates. Suggesting quality time spent doing something you both enjoy (bonus points if it’s something romantic) will clue them in as to where you see this going.

How to Get Out of the Friend Zone

We’ll explain how to get out of the friend zone, but it may require a little bravery on your end. If you’re pretty sure that you’ve found yourself in the friend zone, it may be time to bite the bullet and tell them exactly how you feel. It may well be, after all, that they’ve been feeling the same way but were nervous about making a move in case you weren’t interested. Making it clear that you’d like to be more than friends can be intimidating, but you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take, so now’s the time to be straightforward and tell them what you have in mind.

If you’re ready to have this talk upfront, compliment them and be physically affectionate as long as they’re comfortable with this, but do also take the time to reassure them that you value the friendship too. Often, people may worry that if they enter into a relationship with a close friend, it could end up destroying the friendship they already share.

If you’re not feeling quite ready to be that explicit, an alternative option is to organise a date without putting that label on it. If you usually hang out as part of a larger group, inviting them to dinner as just the two of you will be a strong hint that you’re interested in something more without having to put that into words before you’re ready.