How to make the best of the friendzone

Personally, I am a proponent of the friendzone. This isn’t because (as one rant in my inbox once claimed) the friendzone is a place girls never find themselves. I’ve written an entire post about its delights. But first, we need to give it a more dignified name. Because calling it the “friendzone” denigrates friendship. It implies that person you want to be in a relationship with isn’t worth being friends with. In that case, what you’re looking for is more like a craigslist casual sex encounter.

I prefer to call it unrequited love. So, preliminaries complete, how do we make the most of it?

Ask Dante. Renowned Florentine poet Dante Alighieri credits his life’s work to being inspired by the one great unrequited love of his life: Beatrice Portinari. He passed her in the street when he was 8. Then several years later, it happened again, and that time she greeted him. That was it. That was the sum total of their interaction. Sure, if she loved you back you might get to have sex and post pics of your shared Sunday brunch to Instagram, but would you have time (and the emotional angst) to be one of history’s greatest poets? I think not.

Friendships last longer. Perhaps the object of your affection claims it would never work out romantically between you. But is he interesting? Isn’t it so terribly hard to find interesting people in your life? If you remain friends with him, you will have an interesting friend for (let’s face it) longer than your relationship would’ve lasted anyway.

See it from the other point of view. Maybe she doesn’t love you back. Maybe she can’t love because the past damage was too much. She’ll find your feelings exhausting, so spare her. Remember what Oscar Wilde said: “There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.” It’s that much worse if they never loved you in the first place. Confess one time, if you must. After, assume your words would be abhorrent.

Do not try to push it. Please don’t read stories about people who made it out of the friend zone by being flirty. This is obnoxious, desperate behavior that tells the other person “I don’t care what you’ve told me about your own (lack of) feelings, I’m pushing my agenda anyway because it’s what I want.” Doing this will probably make them a little ill. It’s offensive. Where will you be then? Down one interesting friend, and requiring that craigslist casual encounters section to satisfy your other needs anyway.

Don’t think of it as a transaction. This is a common refrain from those who complain about the friendzone. They say it’s a place of “wasted energies, unmet expectation and disappointment.” Feelings like these are a result of transactional thinking. “I listened to him go on about his bad day, now he owes me sex.” No! If he’s not interesting enough that you would gladly listen to him go on about lying on the floor and listening to The Smiths “Unloveable” because he had such a rough day, then just don’t talk to him. Problem solved. If it is transactional in your mind, then be clear about your terms. You don’t go into a business transaction giving the other side what they want and hoping that they reciprocate by giving you what you want, do you? You negotiate. You draw up a contract. The terms are clear to both sides. If you don’t want to negotiate, then only do those things that you would do with pleasure either way, with no promise of anything in return.

There. I hope that helps. Feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer.

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