Falling in love with a friend can be tricky, and many people fear that making a move on a friend could risk ruining their friendship.
In case you need a refresher, the ‘friend zone’ refers to a situation when someone begins developing romantic feelings towards a friend and wants to develop something beyond a friendship with them. Being stuck in the friend zone usually means that the other person is either unaware of those feelings or, more brutally, doesn’t feel the same way.
This phenomenon can affect people who physically spend time together but also people who meet and chat on online dating websites. It’s not unusual for people who talk online to end up stuck in the friend zone, with factors like long distance or emotional unavailability coming into play.
In any case, the situation can be awkward, painful and heart-wrenching – if you’ve ever been put in the friend zone by someone you liked, you’ll recognise the feeling.
But what happens when you can’t deny your feelings anymore and you’re ready to get out of limbo and pursue a romantic relationship?
Here are our top tips on how to get out of the friend zone, but bear in mind they usually involve taking emotional risks and big decisions…
Is it really worth it?
When you want to turn your relationship with a friend into a romantic one, there’s always a risk of making things awkward or losing the original connection you have with them as friends. That’s why, before you try, you should put your excitement on hold for a minute and think carefully and logically to understand if it’s really what you want to pursue.
Think about your feelings and trust your heart: if what you’re feeling is genuine, then the outcome is definitely worth the risk, but if it’s just excitement or curiosity for what it would feel like to hook up with your friend, then we suggest you choose your next steps wisely.
Start flirting with them
If you do decide it’s worth the effort, but you don’t feel like confessing your feelings out of the blue is the best approach, then you should start making gradual changes in your behaviour that will make your friend start seeing you as more than just that – a friend!
The most obvious thing you can do is to start flirting! This might feel awkward at first but using small gestures to make your attitude more flirty will help spark a different type of interest into their eyes. For example, holding eye contact for a little longer than usual, finding ways to compliment or make them laugh, and even touching them more (hugging them, touching their hand while you talk, or placing a cheeky hand on their knee) can help create a different atmosphere between you.
If you’re chatting on a dating website, then get your flirty messaging game on. Be clever, or even slightly suggestive, when using emojis. Just don’t go all out and start bombarding them with aubergine emojis! Ask flirty questions or reference times when you were or will be together to entice their imagination. Don’t be too over the top or aggressive though – that will make you seem unlike your usual self and it could make your friend feel uncomfortable around you.
Find some alone time
In line with being more flirty, the next step towards getting out of the friend zone is creating opportunities for you to spend time one-on-one. Try to avoid always meeting with loads of other people around and make each activity less friend-focused and more like a date. Suggest watching a movie together, or going for a walk and slowly try to expand the way in which the two of you spend time together so that they can begin thinking about you in a different way too.
Tell them how you feel
This is the big one! Even though it might seem scary, you’ll eventually have to be honest and let them know about your feelings. After a while of trying to gradually change your relationship with your friend, you might feel like you’re stuck or that the situation isn’t moving in the direction you want.
Being open about how you feel will help you get a definite answer about their feelings towards you. If they’re in the same place as you are then you can successfully get out of the friend zone and enjoy the change in your relationship. If they can’t return your feelings however, you have to be prepared to move on, get some closure and try to find love somewhere else.
Ideally, you’ll still be able to keep your friendship. If not, you’ll know that you tried for it and ‘what if’ thoughts won’t torment you. Remember, we always regret the things we didn’t do more than the ones we did do.