He called me, as he often did, to complain about the sh*t date he had the night before.
He had been looking forward to it for over a week.
He was completely disheartened that the girl from his psychology class turned out to be “shallow,” his words not mine.
I inwardly smiled that this girl didn’t make the cut. I felt bad to be excited over his misery. I was his friend. I was supposed to be sad when he was sad, right?
But the thing about us was, I had been madly in love with him from the beginning. And he never felt that way about me.
I had the pleasure of witnessing every failed relationship. I had to endure every one of his happy moments. I watched him fall in and out of love like it was some kind of soap opera. And it literally killed me each and every time.
My mind kept telling me to hold on. I loved our friendship. He knew me better than I knew myself. I didn’t want to lose him. My heart kept telling me to haul ass out of there. My heart didn’t want to keep hurting.
On other days, my mind would tell me to run as fast as I could. I knew he would never love me the way I loved him. My heart would tell me to wait a little bit longer because he would realize we were perfect for each other, one day.
I wouldn’t even date anyone during this time because I didn’t want to find anyone else. I wanted him.
When we first met, I was instantly attracted to him. There was some cute flirting going on but he never tried to date me. We just became friends. And I wanted a reason to be around him, so I accepted the friendship.
We became the best of friends. We did everything together. We made each other laugh. He held me when I cried. We called each other for every moment in our lives. There was nothing we didn’t know about each other. I could be myself around him without shame or fear.
Some of my friends told me I was in the friend zone. I didn’t know what that was.
The friend zone is a situation when a friendship exists between two people, and one of them has romantic interest in the other that is not reciprocated.
Okay, so maybe I was in the friend zone. But was it a real thing?
According to Wikipedia, the term was originally popularized in the television series, “Friends.” Ross is lovesick for Rachel, but according to Joey, when two people meet, there is a short period in which there is a potential for a romantic relationship that Ross has gone beyond. After this time, if they continue to see each other, they are in the “friend zone,” and so a romantic relationship is effectively impossible, even if one of the parties wishes for it to be possible.
Anything from a television show doesn’t seem legit. Friends fall in love, sometimes. Right? And well after the allowed time period. I’m sure of that.
The friend zone did not sound like it had any merit.
The truth of the matter is, we all encounter people we are not attracted to. No one is obligated to be attracted to us, just because we are attracted to them. That is just the way it is.
But try telling that to the person in the friend zone. That sh*t feels pretty real to them.
Regardless, it still stings and hurts our ego. And it feels like rejection, nevertheless.
But we have this person who is offering us their friendship, which is pretty rare and special. Most of my friendships have been better than any relationship I’ve ever had.
Whether we believe the friend zone is real or not, the fact is that the friendship is tainted once someone develops feelings for the other person.
The friend with feelings has an alternative motive. They don’t want just a friendship; they want more. The friend who doesn’t return their feelings is unintentionally hurting the other. Something needs to be done about it. It can’t be ignored.
We can’t live in this unbalanced relationship. It’s not healthy for our soul. We need to get the f*ck out.
We have two options for getting out of the friend zone.
Option one: walk away
If we find ourselves having feelings for someone who doesn’t want us in return, it may be time to walk away. And even though it’s hard to walk away from someone we developed a friendship with, staying around hurts even worse.
Instead, we must try to focus on ourselves. We must remember that we were brave enough to have our heart open to finding love, even if the person we fell for didn’t have the same feelings. We can take a step back to regroup and concentrate on ourselves.
We can keep ourselves busy. We can do things that make us feel alive, set our hearts on fire, own our lives. We are responsible for our own happiness.
We can get back out into the dating world. Clearly, we were in a mismatch type of situation. We can open our hearts to find someone who is actually the right fit for us. That is important.
With time, those feelings we felt will disappear. And maybe one day, we can have that friendship again.
Option two: accept the friendship
If we decide to stay and keep the friendship, there’s nothing wrong with that.
After analyzing our feelings, we can ask ourselves if we can let go of the feelings we have and really give this friendship a go with no underlying hope of it ever being more. But we have to work on letting our feelings go. Not just cover it up but really let them go.
That way, we can spend time together just being friends. We can enjoy the true gift that this is.
We can learn to give ourselves a little space by remembering that it’s just friendship. We don’t need to give it all of our free time. And since we’ll be busy in our own dating life, we might not have a lot of free time to spend with them any longer.
We can accept the friendship as it is with no expectations. We can be there for each other when it counts for no other reason than because this person is important.
Bottom line, the moment the dynamics change in a friendship and become one-sided, honesty is the best solution. Being honest to ourselves about how we really feel. And being honest to the other person who might not even realize that our feelings have changed. Regardless of what the outcome is.
There are many ways to find a healthy romantic relationship with someone who feels the same way. And that is what makes a relationship special: two people who fell in love with each other.
It’s never supposed to be one-sided.