There are moments where attempting to date a certain person can feel like a game of snakes and ladders; at seemingly random intervals you feel like you’re getting a lucky break and other times you feel like you’re getting your ass kicked back to the curb. You may wonder at what point you should throw in the towel. We’ve all felt like we’ve been stuck in the friend zone. In many ways it can and should be seen as a positive place to be, true friends can be hard to find. But it is also frustrating when you see the potential for romance but the other person does not. So what do you do? Sometimes these relationships can transition towards an intimate relationship, sometimes it’s just better to move on and appreciate that you have a good friend. However, knowing what types of friend zones exist, understanding the pitfalls, and being able to identify whether your current situation resembles one of those dynamics could help make the difference between heartache and romance.
Sometimes it’s just not going to work, like when only one person is infatuated or feels the potential for romance. This is the No Chemistry Zone: either no physical or romantic chemistry, or it’s all just one-sided. The chances that this will break apart whatever friendship exists is high because the person in the friend zone will always feel left wanting more. The other person will end up feeling too awkward because they know they’ll never be able to give the other person what they want.
The Bro Zone is a well known subtype of the No Chemistry Zone, where a brother/sister dynamic rules out the possibility of romance. This can happen when people have grown up together or known each other too long… at least that’s how the disinterested party sees it. This situation is basically a hopeless one – at least for romance. If the person wanting romance is willing to be content remaining just friends, it could be a very fulfilling, though platonic, relationship. The disinterested person would probably happily act as wing-man or wing-woman, too.
For guys: Well-intentioned guys who don’t get what they want often remark that nice guys finish last. But it’s not because he’s nice that he finished last, it’s because he was passive and never directly asked for what he wanted, he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity when it was available, or the chemistry was simply not there. Most friend zones really boil down to a lack of chemistry, so don’t beat yourself up if it’s not there. Everyone gets rejected, and it’s never fun at the time, but ultimately you move on and find someone with whom you have mutual attraction.
The Joker Zone is where the person wanting romance makes too many jokes, almost like they are performing, and ends up postponing the possibility of intimacy by keeping the person they are interested in at a distance. Part of the problem is that they have never made it known what it is they really care about, and the other person wonders how they can take the joker seriously. What the joker in this situation doesn’t realize is that by treating the other person like a buddy, they put the other person in their friend zone first. Clearly, this other person genuinely enjoys the joker’s company and if there is physical chemistry, there is hope in this situation. If you are in the Joker Zone and can allow for yourself to deepen without needing to make something funny when you notice the deepening, then there is hope that you can move out of this zone. A lot of romantic comedies deal with this kind of dynamic, but in reality, if you can consistently show up and show the other person that there’s more to you, you could come out on top.
The PUA Zone aka the Pick-Up Artist Zone, is where a guy is heavy on scripts and light on substance. Maybe he’s moving past the realm of carefree hook-ups and has found someone he wants to pursue for the long-term, but doesn’t have the necessary relationship skills since he has focused on casual dating for so long. This situation has potential if he is willing to work on his enduring skills and turn his short-term game into long-term strategy. It could be argued that women do something similar, where she pretends to be interested in whatever the guy is interested in until he feels an emotional connection with her; but this creates a false foundation in which a quality relationship cannot be built (an example of this is the classic 1954 film, Three Coins in the Fountain, of course Maria gets her prince in the end, but in real life it probably wouldn’t work out like that).
The No Risk Zone is where the disinterested party doesn’t want to ruin a good thing. Maybe they are a colleague at work and don’t want to disrupt the professional environment or lose respect. They also might have recently emerged from a breakup and are not ready or are having difficulty transitioning back into the dating world. Over time, this kind of zone could evolve into romance, but most of the time it’s better to remain friends.
The Workaholic Zone is when a good woman/ man senses they will never be #1 in the other person’s life and turns down their advances, though they might go on a few dates with the other person before they figure it out. The workaholic in this situation is going to have to learn how to prioritize or accept that they are more interested in their hobby or career at this point than a lasting relationship. Workaholics in this zone also run the risk of being used by a person of lesser caliber that will give them attention as long as the workaholic is capable of providing what they want.
Thumbnail image “Two Lovers” by Marcus Stone, 19th – 20th c. British painter