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“Friendzone”: how to detect it and get out of it, in the words of experts

Who has not felt at least once attracted to another person, without reciprocity? And vice versa, who has not experienced or witnessed discomfort when noticing that another person had unshared feelings? These are situations that are precisely included in the term friend zone or “friend zone.”

Popularized by some popular works such as the series FRIENDS and social networks in recent years, the unrequited love that a person can experience towards a friend would take them directly to this “zone”, in which he is not perceived as a potential partner.

Despite its trivialization, this phenomenon can lead to emotional problems. We analyzed it with the psychotherapist María Ibáñez Goicoechea and the psychologist specialized in clinical psychotherapy and education Jesús Jiménez Cascallana, founders of the Center for Psychology and Introspection.

What signs should alert us that we are entering the “friend zone”? Can it be anticipated?

María Ibáñez Goicoechea: There are different types of friend zone and each one has its particularities. There is the most innocent one, in which the person who does not feel attracted to the other does not realize the situation. There is also the one in which both people relate as friends and one of them wants to move on to something more, to be a relationship or to have sexual relations, and the other does not want to.

Another option is when both “friends” have sexual relations, which is called “right to touch” or “friends with advantage”, and one of them wants to move on to a stable relationship and the other does not. Furthermore, in each option you can act emotionally as a couple or not. That is, they may go hand in hand, kiss goodbye, act like a couple in the eyes of others, even though they say or define themselves as friends. Or ambiguous situations may only occur when you are alone.

The key is this emotional part, which usually confuses those who want to move on to something more, since the other person usually shows emotional signs of not being just friends, but then stops any progress in that sense. If a person understands these contradictory emotional messages well, he can anticipate and avoid the emotional game that comes with being in the “friendzone.”

Is it possible to get out of it?

Jesús Jiménez Cascallana: Yes, of course, although anyone who suffers or has suffered from it knows how difficult it can be. The problem is that longing or desire is an emotion that can be very intense, even more so when it has a fear behind it, such as the fear of rejection, of failure, of loneliness, of the future… Then, the hope and commitment become blind

Added to this is that, most of the time, the other person feeds these illusions, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, due to their own insecurities and conflicts. The classic neither with you nor without you. If your romantic interest starts to get tired, he gives you hope, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so much. But if he approaches, then he stops him, even playing the victim and blaming him for insisting.

To get out of this loop, you have to be aware of those emotions, the illusions and fantasies, and the fears behind them. It also helps to realize the contradictions and psychological games of those who only want friendship, but who, however, act emotionally in a different way.

Is declaring always convenient?

María Ibáñez Goicoechea: It is convenient to be honest with yourself and with the other person. In that sense, coming out or being honest is a good idea, but always with the right attitude. That is, not begging, nor putting yourself in a position of inferiority, but trying to present the situation as equals. And, at the same time, try to get an honest response from the other person.

If the situation was already evident before the moment of declaration, which it usually is, and the response is ambiguous or indefinite in time, you must realize that the other person is manipulating the situation for their own insecurities or interests.

How to emotionally deal with rejection? Does it help to discuss it with the person we are attracted to?

Jesús Jiménez Cascallana: To face rejection you have to learn to adequately deal with emotions, not only rationally, but also explore the bodily sensations that the emotion produces. On the rational side, we must understand that the value of a human being does not depend on the acceptance or rejection of another person, since it is common that when someone is interested in being accepted by another person it is because they have initially overvalued them and feel inferior. to it and, as a consequence, insecurity and fear of rejection arise.

Discussing it with the person you may have felt rejected by is generally not a good idea, as it may be done with the intention of putting emotional pressure on them or victimizing yourself, or you may receive a new rejection. Thus, it is only a good idea to share it if you have faced rejection yourself first and if, finally, the relationship is redirected to a real friendship.

In the case of the desired person, what is the most responsible attitude towards a declaration of love?

María Ibáñez Goicoechea: Initially, be as honest as possible to minimize the pain that not being reciprocated may cause the other person; speak with empathy, but clearly, avoiding ambiguity or false hopes.

And, furthermore, review your own attitude to check that you have not been nurturing false expectations, or have been allowing yourself to be loved because it was pleasant, gave you security, because of the attention received… And if it is found that you have been doing this, understand the harm to oneself, not only to the other, which means letting yourself go or acting in that way.

Why does the scheme friend zone Is it repeated for some people?

Jesús Jiménez Cascallana: Normally, it is because they feel attracted, consciously or unconsciously, to people whom they consider admirable, strong, attractive, with character and, when they notice that attraction, they automatically feel inferior to that person.

For their part, those classified as “strong” are not really strong, and they feel safer receiving the attention of an “admirer”, but, at the same time, they look for people to admire and will never consider them as a possible couple to someone who appears inferior. Sometimes it happens that these roles are reversed or fluctuate, exchanging roles. But, whether done more or less unconsciously, or done on purpose, acting strong or showing disinterest to attract other people, are strategies that never end well.

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