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Stuck in the Friend Zone? Here’s what you need to know

In the 1994 Friends episode, “The One with the Blackout,” Ross contemplates asking out Rachel. However, when he shares his plan, Joey says, “it’s never going to happen.” He explains to Ross that he’s simply waited too long and now he’s in the dreaded “friends zone.” Since that point on, the term has become a ubiquitous part of modern dating vocabulary.

Urban Dictionary defines the Friend Zone as, “A particularly aggravating metaphorical place, that people end up in when someone they are interested in only wants to be friends. It is impossible to get over someone while in the friendzone, because, as friends, you still see them too often for them to be erased from your memory, and yet, you cannot be with them the way you want.”

However, as much as an unrequited crush may feel well, crushing, is being friend-zoned really as bad as we make it out to be? In honor of New Friends Day (July 19), HUD, a dating app with 3 M global users, thought it’d be fun to survey 1,000 people on the act of getting friend-zoned. Here’s what they found out:

  • Being friend-zoned is extremely common. “Over three-quarters of people have been put in the friend zone and the same amount have also used that excuse to stop dating someone,” shares HUD. In other words, it happens to the best of us.
  • Stop trying to date your friends. Just stop. As the researchers at HUD point out, you’re more likely to be friend-zoned by someone you were friends with in the first place. Two thirds of people that have put someone in the friend-zone said that their suitor was someone they were friends with first.” It makes sense — once you’ve spent time with someone just as friends, they can start to feel almost like they’re part of your family. Once this happens, it can be hard to envision the other person as a potential romantic partner. If you find that you’re continually hitting a wall when it comes to trying to date your friends, it’s a sign that you should leave things be and instead, go outside of your friend group to date.
  • “I like you better as a friend” According to the folks at HUD, this phrase is the top way for letting someone know you just want to be friends. It’s followed by “I’m not ready for a serious relationship” and “I only want to date casually right now.” While it may be disappointing to hear these things from someone you want to have a romantic relationship with, keep in mind that they’re letting you down in a respectful and mature way. They may not see a romantic future with you but they like you enough to still want to be your friend — and that’s pretty awesome.
  • The Friend Zone isn’t the end of the world. The survey found 83 percent of people believe that women and men can just be friends, which is great news!

While it sucks to have romantic feelings for someone and not have them be returned, it’s time for all of us to stop demonizing the Friend Zone. There’s so much nuance that goes into human attraction. Not everyone can be physically attracted to everyone else. It’s important that we stop thinking of the words “I like you better as a friend,” as a rejection — same goes for the Friend Zone as a whole. Remember: anyone who doesn’t value being in the Friend Zone, doesn’t value being friends with the opposite sex — and that’s the real tragedy here.

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