Trapped in the Friend Zone: The Point of No Return

By Danielle Cramberg 

Every teenager, at one point or another, has experienced a crush on someone else. Generally, crushes just end up as potential heartbreaks waiting to happen, thus causing most crushes to remain secret crushes. If you find out your crush doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, it’ll crush you. And you’ll spend the next few weeks avoiding eye contact and taking different routes during passing periods.

That sounds pretty terrible. But imagine if that situation occurred with your best friend. What if the person you trust more than anyone in the world, the person you go to for everything also happens to be the person you’re secretly in love with? When this terribly awkward thing occurs, who would you give all the painful details to?

Prom heightens the fear in the potential devastation. Someone would build up the courage to ask the person they’re crazy about to prom without being able to consult their best friend on how they should do it or whether or not they should do it in the first place. Then, they ask their best friend to go with them to prom, and receive the only answer more painful than outright rejection:

“Oh, like, as friends?”

Friend zoning occurs increasingly often amongst the current generation. Of 130 Madison students polled, 109 said they’ve friend zoned someone.

Friend zoning to some means an attempt to prevent ruining the friendship, but often results in exactly that.

Most people can’t bear the concept of being around the person who hurt them with their rejection, or both people just feel too awkward around each other. The friend zoner would feel guilty to talk about anyone else they’re interested in, which would cause them to confide in someone else and create distance between them and the victim of friend zoning.

41 Madison students feel like a friendship can definitely recover, while 81 Madison students feel like it can only recover under the right circumstances. Only 8 students asked said that a friendship could never recover. The survey shows that most people think friendships can occur “sometimes”. Several major factors play a part in whether or not friendships can recover, most importantly: time. As the saying goes, it heals everything. People need time to get over the fact that their best friend isn’t secretly in love with them back. Patience can also play an important role to recovery. Both people need to push past the first few awkward encounters afterwards and focus on still being friends, if that’s still possible.

Family zone is another romantic epidemic sweeping the adolescent life, though much less frequently. Though friend zoning occurs nowhere near as often, the brutal nature of it makes it an irrefutably worse response to someone pouring their heart out. It occurs when one person decides to admit their feelings for their best friend and their friend replies, “Oh, but you’re like a sibling to me!” The person spilling their emotions undergoes a comparison to that of an annoying sibling, resulting in hurt feelings.

Overall, friend zoning and family zoning both result in the same general response: it sucks. Friend zoning hurts more than a crush, because it isn’t some stranger that doesn’t know you deciding they don’t like you. It’s someone who knows you better than anyone else saying they still don’t want to date you. And though that does seem hard to swallow, the fact of the matter comes down to the attempt to keep you in their life because you fill an important space for them. Friend zoning occurs so frequently that no one can be the only one suffering from a friend zoning. Maybe you can meet someone who has also been friend zoned and befriend them in the similarity of the two unfortunate situations. And maybe you can meet a friend who also secretly gets butterflies in their stomach when they see you.

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