Don’t listen to people who whine about the whole friend zone problem. Plenty of romantic relationships start out as friendships, and relationships are essentially two best friends who are sleeping together with a strong, emotional bond. The whole friend zone concept is misleading; it gives off the impression that if you’re friends first, you’re doomed. The fact of the matter is friends are friends. If they like each other, they’ll move forward. If they don’t, they won’t. And no amount of effort or manipulation will change that.
So if the chemistry is there, here’s how you can nudge your friendship into a highly-anticipated romance.
Nurture your Friendship
Don’t be one of those people who gives your friend an ultimatum. A romantic relationship and a strong friendship are not mutually exclusive. If you hope for this to turn into a relationship, make sure you give your ongoing friendship the proper attention it deserves. Ensure the bond is still strong by always being there for your friend and casually recall situations from time to time where you two laughed together, cried together or otherwise shared the same emotional moment.
Create a Balance of “Like” & “Want”
Liking is attraction, wanting is lust. While a good friendship is strong in the like department (otherwise you wouldn’t be friends), you want to start balancing it out with some additions to the want department. Create this balance by adding, not subtracting from the bond you two already have. Don’t suddenly play hard to get or pretend you’re (emotionally) unavailable just to confuse your friend, but do occasionally initiate a sense of anticipation. For instance, instead of always hanging out at the last minute, begin to suggest going to a movie (or another activity you two already enjoy) in the near future. Send a couple of texts the days prior such as, “Looking forward to it!” and “Can’t wait!” Such gestures create a feeling of anticipation in your friend, which in turn may enhance a feeling of want in regards to you.
Share in an Adrenaline Activity
Begin to introduce more activities with your friend that are known to produce adrenaline, such as going on roller coasters, watching a scary movie or engaging in an exercise such as hiking or running. As we all know, adrenaline revs up the body and can cause feelings of elation, which are sometimes what a person feels when they look at someone they’re attracted to. If your friend begins to experience adrenaline feelings with you during an activity, it may help them recognize any feelings of romantic attraction they have for you.
Avoid Being Friends with Benefits
No no, this isn’t some sort of “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” lecture. Friends with benefits are quite nice! But in this situation, it risks causing a bunch of confusion down the line. Sex tends to be the indicator of whether or not two people are in a relationship, and if you’re trying to segue into a relationship with your friend, having sex with them ahead of time may lead them to believe you will never be anything more than friends with benefits. It may also confuse yourself as to whether or not you’re romantically attracted to this person. Instead of beginning a benefits scenario, instead back off and keep your friendship sex-free.
If you’ve implemented the above and feel like things are going in a good direction, it’s time to finally speak up about your feelings. Given your strong, emotionally intimate bond already, it’s best to be upfront and direct about your intentions. Instead of beating around the bush or not really saying what you feel, instead make such bold statements such as, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and realize I like you more than a friend. Could I take you on a date sometime and see if it’s something we both like?” Such an approach will tell your friend exactly what is going on so they can then respond accordingly. Of course, never pressure or push your friend to do what you want. That’s not how healthy relationships are made. And if they decline you, take it with grace. Bitterness isn’t how healthy friendships persevere, either.
So what successes have you had in turning a friendship into a relationship? Tell us what worked for you in the comments!