DEAR KELLY: What do you do when you like someone but you know that person only thinks of you as a friend? I don’t think the person likes anyone else, but I don’t that person likes me either. I know the person thinks of me as a good friend but when I asked if that person thought of me as more than a friend, the person said no. How do I persuade the person? How do you get out of the friend zone and into the romantic zone? We are so close and I know if we took a chance it could be really great, but I don’t think the person wants to “risk it” because we are such good friends. It’s honestly way more than just a crush. I chickened out on saying my true feelings because I don’t want to scare the person, but its definitely more than a crush. I’ve waited for the right person to come along for a long time so.
Please help me. I really want to move from friends to more, even its just a thing to start. I’m OK starting casual, but I don’t know how to get the other person to take that step as well.
DEAR R.O.: Nothing’s more frustrating than being stuck in the dreaded friend zone when you want to be more than just friends. Liking someone and wishing they would feel the same is difficult. As much as we might try, we can’t control other people’s feelings or, most importantly, their hearts. Getting out of the friend zone takes courage, honesty and the timing has to be right. Hooking up or having “a thing” isn’t necessarily getting out of the friend zone and could make things more awkward and uncomfortable (can you see me waving the big red caution flags about that idea?). Moving from friends to more can be tricky, but there are plenty of success stories to show that it can happen.
Before you devise a plan to attempt to shift the other person’s feelings about you, stop to reflect on any risks involved and ask yourself if the risk is worth it. Basically, does the friendship matter so much that if you lost it, would it devastate you? If this is the case, the idea of pushing the relationship into a more romantic direction might need to be rethought. Anytime we disclose how we feel about someone, there is a gamble things will get weird. Are you OK if the friendship takes a left turn and suddenly feels different or no longer as comfortable as before? Perhaps this is what your friend fears, and addressing it in an open conversation will help ease the worry.
As much as we all plan to stay friends “no matter what happens,” when the time actually comes, it is difficult to do. Hurt feelings do not bond relationships, they break them. When relationships end, hurt feelings are inevitable. Thus the fear of risking the friendship is a valid one. And unfortunately, while you may think the risk is worth the potential reward, the other person may not.
Another possibility (and this one stings a bit) is that you may not have the chemistry you think you do. Chemistry has to be mutual. There is no negotiating on this one and no one is to blame. You may be the nicest, funniest, most thoughtful person who is easy to talk to and considered attractive by many people but if the chemistry isn’t right, the other person may not be into you. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or you should settle for just anyone because you are not desirable, it just means that this is not the right person for you.
Let the other person know you want more than friendship and pause long enough to hear their answer, all of it. Decide from there which way to go – moving forward or moving on. The only way the relationship will turn romantic is if the other person is open to the idea. If that’s the case, go slow and don’t rush the process. If the person closes the door, be willing to let it go.
If you have expressed your feelings and shared what you wanted only to be met with “I don’t feel the same,” it may be time to move on. Don’t beg or plead with the person to give you a chance. Remember to focus on your worth and be OK if your crush will have to stay a crush and nothing more. Take a few steps back if this happens and give your friend some space. Don’t smother the person or try to force something that won’t happen. Respect that person’s right to say no.
Wait for a true connection – a mutual one that comes naturally. Don’t settle for anything less. Keep your self-integrity by not lowering the bar just because one person isn’t the right person. Don’t wait for the right person to come into your life. Be the best person you can be and you will be the right person to come into someone’s life.