The notorious Friend Zone is a place often mentioned in locker rooms, popular culture, and online. It is discussed with contempt, as a place where romantic pursuers are unfairly exiled, or as an inconsiderate excuse.
But what if I told you that The Friend Zone is not the desolate wasteland that it’s so often described as? What if I told you that The Friend Zone was not filled with an endless unromantic desert, but with the lush, green hills of a healthy relationship and can sometimes actually result in a deep romantic relationship?
Here are top reasons why starting from The Friend Zone (or TFZ) is not as bad as it seems.
1. You might get surprised
A relationship is like a piñata. While it sometimes feels like you’re being strung along and swinging blindly, you don’t know what’s going to happen once the other opens up. Even though from the outside, a piñata might seem like it contains a bunch of gross hard-boiled eggs, it may actually contain gummy worms, or Snickers, whatever your favorite candy is. You don’t know everything that’s going on in someone else’s head, so it’s possible that the person you’re interested in will change their mind, or realize they have feelings for you. So in the meantime that both of you are figuring this out, why not just be friends and avoid the awkwardness? This isn’t to say that you should treat your romantic interest like they are an actual piñata (you could wind up with an assault charge if you come at them with a bat. You got warned), but prepared for something unexpected and enjoy the ride in the meantime.
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2. You’re less likely to get hurt
While it might feel painful being in TFZ, the ending of a romantic relationship is often much more painful. Imagine jumping off a 5-foot wall. Your feet might hurt after the initial impact from hitting the ground, but you’d be fine. Now imagine jumping off a 10-foot wall. You could twist an ankle, or even break something, and we all know what happened to Humpty Dumpty. The walls, in this case, are not a Game of Thrones or Donald Trump reference, but symbolic of a relationship. The more intense the relationship, the higher the wall, but that also means the farther you fall if that relationship doesn’t work out. Evaluating the chemistry and finding out if you’re not meant to be with someone while you’re just friends is a lot easier than finding out when you’re involved romantically. While being stuck in TFZ might hurt in the moment, it’s a lot easier for All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men to put you back together again in TFZ.
3. If nothing else, you will have a new friend
Staying friends with someone is a lot easier when you’re already in TFZ. However, leaving TFZ and entering the uncharted Romantic Territory makes it much more difficult to return. I once ended a two-year relationship with someone, and while I had every intention to remain friends with that person, every time I talked to them, or even thought of them, I could not help but remember the romantic relationship we once shared. This made being friends much more difficult, despite how much I wanted to maintain our relationship. Though this is certainly not the same for everyone, there’s no denying that remaining friends is a lot easier when you’re already friends to begin with. Think about out this way: test the water in a less intimidating settings. If you feel there is connection, you can always ask them out for a date. If not, just accept it like adults, and don’t be awkward about it.
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4. You can get insider information
Being in TFZ allows you access to crucial information that most non-TFZ citizens wouldn’t have access to. Yes, being romantically involved with someone helps you learn interesting things about them, like the fact that they have the tattoo of a bacon cheeseburger on their lower back. But being friends with them, and removing any romantic pressure, can give you insight into why they have that tattoo of a bacon cheeseburger on their back. Perhaps you learn that they have it because they are a proud carnivore, or because they were born in a Wendy’s parking lot. Either way, it’s information that you can get that might not be shared in a romantic relationship. Being in TFZ takes off a lot of pressure, so it can often get you closer to more intimate information. This, in turn, could get you closer to a romantic relationship.
5. You can enjoy the comfort zone
While TFZ is often talked about negatively, it can actually bring you a lot of comfort. Matt S. agrees, saying that in TFZ,
“you’ll be able to improve your confidence and comfort level.”
Having friends from opposite sex always enables you to practice your social skills and improve your game. Besides, it’s not just your comfort that improves in TFZ, but the other person’s as well. Relationships are hard enough, and adding a romantic element into the mix can make things even more difficult. Would you be more comfortable sinking into a fluffy couch, or sitting in a chair made of Legos? I know I would feel much more relaxed in something comfortable, just like I do in most of my relationships. Sometimes it’s easier to get close to someone when the pressure of becoming romantic doesn’t hang over you. Though all bets are off if the person you’re interested in is made of Legos.
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6. Your relationship might end up getting serious
Even though it often feels like it, being in TFZ doesn’t necessarily preclude you from eventually having a more serious relationship. While we often use the phrase “serious relationship” to refer to a romantic one, there is no reason it couldn’t refer to a friendship as well. We focus so much on romantic relationships, which is good, but we often forget about the importance of friendships. Friendships are, after all, often the foundation of a romantic relationship. When you buy a house, you don’t just look at the top floors and ignore the basement. The top floors might be exquisite, but if the basement has a rotting foundation, mold, or ghosts of the previous residents, you would likely reconsider buying it. TFZ is like this basement: if you build a solid foundation, your chances of getting to something more serious will be much better.
7. Being “Just Friends” can move things more
Driving a car that you’ve never driven before is always awkward. You don’t know how hard you need to press the gas, or where the button for the windshield wipers is, or if you can fit your Hello Kitty water bottle in the cup holder. Driving a car that you’re familiar with, however, makes it a lot easier to get somewhere quickly, and TFZ is a lot like that car. As John Haskins states:
“Friendship gives the two of you the perfect opportunity to really get to know each other.”
Even if the other person in the friendship does not have the intention of making things romantic, having a close bond with them can make any eventual transition much easier. While TFZ often seems like a waste of time, it can often be used to move a romantic relationship faster. Just be careful that things don’t move too fast, or you could end up with a speeding ticket.
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8. A Friendship can turn romantic
When it really comes down to it, there is no perfect, exact border between TFZ and Romantic Territory. Relationships are complicated. Feelings and emotions are complicated. Therefore, while you’re in TFZ, there is still a chance that the relationship will move on to something more. That’s not a guarantee, of course, as the only guarantees in life are death and Tic-Tacs, but there is still hope if you want your relationship to progress into something romantic. It may happen quickly, or take a few years, or not happen at all, but there’s no point in complaining while you’re in TFZ. There are a lot of things that happen to us that we can’t control, and that’s especially true for relationships. So instead of being upset about TFZ, or ending a relationship because of it, you might as well enjoy it.
Bonus: Use it to your advantage
Ok, life is not perfect. You might actually start from friendship, develop feelings for them, and for one reason or another realize that is it is a no go. Relax! It’s not that you got dumped, and it is not the end of the word. If you did really end up in TFZ, I urge you to just accept it, move on, and instead get the most out of the friendship. Here are some pro tips to do so:
- Use them as your wingman: Yes, you heard me. There is nothing better than a wingman from the opposite sex. Go out with them and ask them to help you pick up other people. After all, friends do this for each other.
- Network with their friends: If it doesn’t work between you guys, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work between you and their friends. Chances are they have hot friends that they can connect you with.
- Get their feedback: Your game doesn’t work? Always end up in TFZ? Keep getting feedback from your friends from the opposite sex. They will often be happy to give you tips. May be you come off to pushy, or shy, or have a bad breath, or never wear a cologne? Also, don’t forget to review your online dating profile with them. They will see things that you never see.
Popular culture would like to tell you that TFZ is a place set up by an inconsiderate friend, or that it is a lame excuse given to avoid telling someone the truth. But if someone truly cares about you, and there is a chance that things will work out romantically, TFZ is a great place to start. If you find yourself in a situation that is not what you originally wanted, your best bet is not to complain about having to be there, but make the most out of it. Enjoy the perks of having a solid friendship, and you just might end up becoming significant others. Besides, there are worse zones to be in than The Friend Zone.
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