We all know what guys commonly refer to as the “Friend Zone”. And who hasn’t driven around after a breakup belting Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend”? (No one? You mean I’m the only… No. No. Never mind. Forget I said it!). I know I’ve “Friend Zoned” guys many times in the past (sorry dudes) but the last few years I’ve found myself thrust into the friend zone as well. Bet you didn’t know that could happen….
This friend zone… In my experience it’s manifested itself as a possible romantic relationship. Sometimes with the best, most romantic excursions: touring Seattle’s street fairs, dancing to random musicians, and eating the oddest of oddities. From the outside, we looked like a couple. But inside, I’d been friend zoned.
Eventually, he would break it to me that I was “just his friend”. I’d done all the “proper” relationship things, yet not a single one got me anywhere. I was temporary character in this chapter of his life. We would part ways somewhat friendly but like most “just friends” eventually we’d stop talking all together and I’d never hear from him again. But this is ok.
I’ve found there are a few things that happen when you’re suddenly friend zoned. It’s kind of like having to grieve, there are steps that you’re stuck going through. Sadly though, these don’t always come in the same order.
Step One – Heartbreak Chances are you invested in this soiree believing it would result in a “real” relationship, and when it doesn’t, it’s heartbreaking. Like full body sobbing heartbreaking. Lay in bed for a week, watching sappy chick flicks and surviving on ice cream and chocolate heartbreaking. Ok ok. That might be an exaggeration, but it really really frickin hurts. We haven’t even gotten to the worst part of this….
Step Two – Dealing with seeing them regularly More than likely, this person has been your best friend for some time. Maybe it was just two weeks, maybe two months, maybe a year. But however long it’s been, they know your secrets. Maybe the deepest parts of you that have been hidden. They’ve seen your breakdowns (well, except the one mentioned above) and still came back. Now you have to see them, knowing they don’t feel the same. Knowing they think you’ll never be “relationship material” and knowing that you can’t go back.
Step Three – The fall back. This is the part where you start to trust them again and things go back to a version of normal. There’s always this little voice in the back of your mind reminding you that they don’t love you, at least not the way you love them. You’re just their friend. But they might make advances towards you. You might give into those advances. You might not. But my guess is you most definitely will. Because why not? It makes you feel good right?
Step Four – Overanalyzing everything. At some point you’re going to sit there and wonder why you get treated like the “girlfriend” when you’re “just a friend” (insert thrilling rendition of Biz Markie’s singing again….). You’ll wonder why he brings over your favorite wine for Wine Wednesday, or why he insists on staying the entire weekend when you know he’s paying for his room at the barracks. Why does he play with your kids? Why does he snuggle the baby when he thinks you’re not looking? Why does he watch you intently when you’re doing nothing but preparing meals? Why? Why? Why? But better yet, why the hell isn’t he admitting that this is a relationship?
Step Five – Letting go. By this point you’ve exhausted your thinking cap (and probably traded it in at least 17 times). You give up. He obviously isn’t going to change his mind. So you start trying to date again. A friend who’s shown interest in you, or someone you haven’t talked to in years. These are safe bets for getting back out there. Since he’s your friend, you tell him about these dates… but wait… is that jealousy you see? No? He’s just getting huffy for no reason…. Right? So you keep going. You find more dates. You subscribe to online dating sites. You find his dating profile. You proceed straight back to Step Four and the big question: Why not me???
If you’re like me, you’ll cycle through steps Three through Five several times before you give up and allow yourself to see a future elsewhere. Everyone will tell you that you’ll find the “man of your dreams” when you stop looking. I call bullshit. How can you see someone wonderful if you have your eyes closed? That’s right, you can’t.
Once again, I find myself at Step Five in my Friend Zone Recovery steps. And tonight, I’m off on another date. Who knows, this could be it. Or I could be back next month with “The Friend Zone – Revisited”.