We all know that person. You may even struggle with being that person currently. A sweeter-than-honey guy or gal who’s always available and willing to hang out. A human-sized spider invaded your house again? They drop everything and come running. You’re celebrating a significant milestone in life? They shower you with lavish gifts and thoughtful words. At the end of your marathon they’re standing with open arms, championing you like no one else. But we all know the story here. Behind all the good vibes, a friendzoning is in the works. Someone is being led on, oblivious or not.
Whoever you identify with in the scenario, there’s a strong chance this has happened to you. If it hasn’t happened yet, buckle up. Either way, what are the steps to navigate these tricky waters?
- Own Your Actions – The only person you have control over is yourself, start by taking responsibility for your actions. Take an inventory of your relationship health. Ask yourself if you’re truly being nice, or just flirting. If it’s questionable, you’re probably flirting. This goes for the person who’s lovestruck too. Are you putting way too much effort into the relationship? If it’s feeling one-sided, you may be headed for the rocks.
- DTR – Define the relationship. It can be scary to profess your love for someone when you’re not sure if they feel the same about you. But the longer you avoid talking about your intentions, the higher the risk of getting hurt. If you can sense that your friend might have feelings for you and already know you don’t have feelings for them, gracefully pump the breaks. If they’re not taking your cues, initiate a conversation to make sure you’re both on the same page. (Of course, your friend may share the exact same interest in you, and if that’s the case, congrats! May the force be with you.)
- Be Kind – If a friend tells you they are interested in you, but you love them like a brother/sister, make that clear. Honesty always wins, even if it’s painful. That said, wrap whatever you say in kindness. Thank your friend for their honesty, acknowledge how scary it must feel to say something so vulnerable, apologize if you led them on, and let them know that, while you do not see them as a potential partner, you will do whatever you can to maintain the friendship. If you’re the one receiving the bad news, imagine how conflicting it must feel to have to tell someone you care about something that may hurt them. Try to empathize. You can also thank your friend for being honest with you about where they stand. It’s brave to be honest, and it’s excellent practice for the rest of your life?
- Ask For Space – If you’ve been led on by someone only to find out that they’re not sharing the same sentiment, you’re likely feeling used, confused, or hurt. It’s ok to take some time away from your friend to process things. Ask them for time apart. During this time, refocus on what is life-giving to you. It’s easy to let rejection translate into negative self-talk and unhealthy thoughts. You may not date someone tomorrow, but you can find love. Surround yourself with friends and family who bring you joy and already love you for who you are.
It takes courage to communicate honestly and work toward healthy relationships, be brave today!