When the Friend Zone Fails

“At that point it’s a chaperoned date. You know it, they know it and the vet de-nutting your cat knows it.”

By Olivia W. McCoy, University of Georgia


When you have friends of the opposite sex (or even same sex, really), there’s a fine line you have to be aware of.

The moment that you even think that they might have caught feelings for you, you have to make it abundantly clear which side of the line you want your relationship to be on. If you’re interested in this friend, then by all means, please go right ahead.

But, if you hadn’t been hoping that your platonic friendship would take a romantic detour, you need to immediately turn to the one friend you can always trust for advice: the internet. Your tabs fill up with articles like “How to Friend Zone” and “How to let them know you don’t Feel the Same Way.” Before long a plan goes into action.

The pit is dug, the gate is closed and locked around it; you set your defenses high and alert for suspicious activity. When the time is right you make the final blow. Without leaving any room for misinterpretation, you laugh at one of their jokes and say, “I’m so happy we’re friends.” With that you throw them into the pit of Friend Zone and let out a sigh of relief—you’re off the hook.

Little did you know, though, that being friend zoned is not an irreversible incarceration. The Friend Zone is not ironclad and it does have its means of escape. Here are some ways to tell if they’ve already exploited these loopholes and have broken out of the Friend Zone.

You have to force yourself to avoid them…

Rule one of friend zoning is that you must not be in a hurry to respond to their messages and that their calls should go straight to voicemail.

This is totally doable, but when you let yourself read their texts/listen to their voicemails right away, but then set a timer to make yourself wait four minutes and thirty-two seconds (because exactly five minutes is too suspicious, right??) before responding, you’re no longer doing it for their sake, honey.

…especially over social media

Liking anything on their Instagram or any other social media platforms is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.

No matter how you word it, there are no acceptable explanations as to why you’re Facebook stalking their posts, pictures, friends, activities—especially not the picture that he posted a picture with that girl in 2009 etc. etc.

It’s not because you’re concerned as a friend. No matter how clueless you make yourself out to be, even you know you’re lying to yourself.

The extra friend you invited feels like a third wheel

For people who find themselves in the awkward position of rejecting a friend’s romantic advances, a common piece of advice is to avoid anything that could even REMOTELY be considered a date.

When they ask you to lunch, you’re babysitting your little brother. When they ask you to a movie, you’re washing your neighbor’s dog. When they ask you to come over to “hang out,” your little brother accidentally just killed the neighbor’s freshly washed dog (“Bubble’s death was just so unexpected,” you might add with a perfectly round tear. “I just really need to be there for them right now.”)

The offers that you do accept must be accompanied by an immediate forwarding of the invitation to one or more of your communal friends, i.e., “Oh my God! Going with you to get your cat neutered sounds like SO much fun! Let’s drag Stephanie along with us.”

Side not: If you ever feel even slightly inclined to do something with this person that’s as unenjoyable as abetting animal castration, then you’re definitely into them.

This is a perfectly foolproof form of friend zoning if done properly, but if the invitee begins to feel like a spare tire, then you know something’s wrong. At that point it’s a chaperoned date. You know it, they know it and the vet de-nutting your cat knows it.

When you start checking you cleavage for more instead of less

This is directed mostly to our female readers.

You know that strategized look and act you had for whenever he/she was around? I know, you’re thinking I don’t know what you’re talking about, I always look flawless, but we both know that the I-don’t-give-a-fuck thing you had going on was staged.

You would wear raccoon eyeliner from the night before and anything from the bottom of your middle school dresser, then you would drop your voice an octave below average and eat whatever you wanted to around them (something we girls should feel free to do anyway but alas).

Guys wouldn’t bother to wear deodorant or comb their hair, and would be dropping “Dudes” and “Bros” with a frequency that would impress the president of FIJI (regardless of your guest’s gender, might I add).

But when your friend escapes the Friend Zone, all of a sudden you notice that you want to appear presentable in front of them. In fact, just the other day you were messing with your hair in conversation with them, weren’t you?

I get it, the whole point of FRIEND zoning is to be able to keep them as a FRIEND, so you don’t want to scare them off.

That explains the lip-gloss and arm flexing and—WRONG.

This is a cleverly disguised excuse by your subconscious to get their attention. Learn to recognize the signs and stop the unconscious flirting today, AKA if you’re going to go for it, then go for it!

So let’s wrap up here. You don’t have to friend-zone that person, especially if they’re cute. Honestly, if even one of those things listed above applies to you, then you probably shouldn’t even try.

You’ll like who you like, so why does it even matter how it came to be? Go with your poor little confused heart and unshackle those young men and women from the shackles of Friend Zone despair. Then help spread the word: Don’t friend-zone, fornicate (too much??)!

Life is too short to be limiting yourself to all those weirdos you don’t know. You’re friends with these people for a reason, and if you like them then you should take advantage of the fact that y’all can talk about periods and B.O. Who else can you can do that with?

And hey, if it works out, forward this to your other oblivious friends to help them figure it out as well.