Back in my late teens I was hired to accompany a singer on piano for private auditions. She was beautiful, talented and roughly my age. I was magnetized. And it seemed to me that she felt the same way. She paid lots of attention to me and we stole time from our rehearsal schedule to talk about other things. I did everything I could to accommodate her schedule and desires and spend more time with her. But as time went on she started talking about us as “a team”. She remarked how “nice” I was. Uh, oh.
I found myself kicked into the friend zone.
Perhaps you have experienced the same thing and wondered why it happened. You thought things were going well with him or her and then all of a sudden you became the observer of a romantic relationship rather than a participant when someone new entered the picture.
What do we do that gets us sidelined?
The relationship that never was.
Sometimes the relationship starts out and remains one-sided. We misjudge it from the beginning. We are romantically interested, but the feelings are not mutual. We may be mismatched, “out of our league” and in denial. Couples that go the distance are usually pretty well matched physically, socio-economically, intellectually and spiritually. Have a realistic assessment of yourself. Face it – you were always in the friend zone.
What if you pass that first round? What are things that can get you kicked into the friend zone?
- Too nice or too sweet. I’m sorry to say but overly nice or sweet screams “good friend”. There is no intrigue, no mystery, no edginess and as a result no interest in the romance department. I am not advocating disagreeable or abrasive, just balanced.
- Too available or accommodating. Like the above, this one comes across as desperate. When you make the other person’s feelings and desires more important than yours you may be perceived as needy. A sure romance buster.
- Asexual. Do you try to hide or downplay your attractiveness? Do you come off like someone’s kid brother or sister? How you dress and present yourself is important. Look in the mirror. Do you look like you could be someone’s object of desire? I’m not talking trashy or inappropriate – just prepped to attract. Sexuality should be subtle, but if it’s totally missing, so will a romantic relationship.
- Don’t take on the roles of his or her same sex friends. The conversations that same sex friends have and the topics discussed are different from the ones that occur between dating couples. The activities are usually different, too. Don’t shoot hoops with him and his friends in place of a date. Don’t go shopping for clothes and beauty products with her. If you do you might just find yourself helping her pick out an outfit for a date – with someone else.
- Indiscriminate physical touch. There is a difference in the kind of affection that is shared between friends and the kind that is reserved for romantic relationships. Think “high-fives” and pats on the back versus a gentle touch on the arm or cheek. Use physical touch with intentionality. It is a powerful tool.
Although I have heard this complaint more often from guys, it is by no means one-sided. Women can just as easily be relabeled as a friend. If this happens to you, don’t waste your emotional energy on trying to make something happen. Grieve the loss and move on. Make any needed strategic changes and then make yourself available to new possibilities.