You’ve probably heard of it, you may know people who have involuntarily ventured there and, if you’re exceptionally unlucky, you might have even been trapped there yourself: The friendzone – a deep, dark and thorny abyss of unrequited attraction with no apparent, or dignified, way out.
But don’t give up so quickly. You may be stuck down there with neither hope nor happiness, but allow Gentleman’s Journal to throw you a rope and help haul you back to the world of reciprocal relationships. Brace yourself gents, we’re escaping the friendzone.
Like any good escape, planning is key. One slip up and you’ll fall back into the friendzone so hard that there’ll be no further chance of escape – so think things through.
You likely ended up being sidelined because of your own actions. Women will not one day wake up and decide that they’re in love with you, and they’re even less likely to make the first move. If you stood by her platonically like a lemon for years, you’ve only got yourself to blame that any spark has fizzled out completely.
Then again, if you have built a solid friendship – albeit one grounded on a foundation of deeper emotions – do you really want to jeopardise that for a shot at something more? If she rebuffs you now, you’ll never get back to where you are, and it may not be a change for the better.
Like an actual escape, if you panic and rush, you’ll likely be caught out, tripped up and ultimately thrown back into your platonic prison. The key to escaping the friendzone is pacing. So, begin simply, by talking to your mutual friends and dropping subtle hints that you want something more from the relationship.
This gossip will likely get back to her, and it will start informing how she views you. Next, start changing the way you act around her – small steps, remember – such as being more overtly complimentary, or spending more time together.
A potential pitfall here is that you can sink deeper into the friendzone. If she doesn’t twig that you’re trying to progress the relationship, the comfort factor may be ramped up and you’ll seem even more like just a ‘friend’ than before. Stop carrying her bags, refuse to talk about other guys she likes and if you find yourself doing face masks or watching rom-coms together, take a long hard look at yourself.
Breaking the touch barrier
Slowly, and respectfully, you need to break the touch barrier with your ‘friend’ as intimacy has been proven, even at a very minor level, to arouse feelings and create a desire for more.
Be this putting your arm around her, or touching her arm when telling a story, or even placing your hand on the small of her back as you’re walking along, introducing more flirtatious contact will naturally influence how she views your relationship.
As either a natural progression of your plan, or a Hail Mary when you realise she’s not going to realise your feelings without having them paraded in front of her, coming out with it and telling her straight up how you feel is the best way to get everything on the table.
Try to be as sincere and serious as possible – turning it into a joke is something a friend would do. Be heartfelt, but avoid making them feel uncomfortable. Tell them face to face, and go for a public place in case it becomes awkward and you need a quick getaway.
Whatever terrible scenarios you’ve cooked up in your head, however, are unlikely to unfold. You’re friends, so if she doesn’t want anything more than what you’ve currently got, she won’t want to hurt you either.
Deal with the fallout
In a perfect world, she’ll reveal that there have been similar feelings at her end, and you will live happily ever after.
More likely is that you both decide to give it a shot, and it shakily blossoms into a brilliant relationship made all the better for your platonic beginnings. And, if she flat out shoots you down, try taking some time for yourself, turn to your friends for comfort and don’t blame yourself if it ruins the friendship – better to be free than stuck in that dark and lonely friendzone forever.