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‘Just Friends’ Forever


About two years ago, I started hanging out with a boy who had been dating one of my friends. He was cute (perfect teeth, adorable dimple) and funny. I was surprised how giddy I felt when they broke up. I invited him to come along whenever I hung out with friends and took every chance to talk to him. After a month of hanging out at the beach, watching movies and talking on the phone, I fell hard for his smile and fun personality.

My hopes were high. He called at least once, if not three times, every day. My friends would tease me, “He totally likes you!” I loved the way he looked in a plain T-shirt playing with his baseball, and seeing him act like a total geek obsessing over the computer game Counter-Strike and his favorite anime, Naruto, was just too cute. Little did I know, I had set myself up for a trip to the hell of relationships, the “friend zone.”

The friend zone is that gray area of relationships where the guy or girl you’re attracted to fails to see you as anything more than a friend. It is a misconception that the friend zone is only for men. People seem to assume that because guys are usually the ones who ask the girl out, they face the risk of heartbreak and rejection that we girls don’t have to worry about. But we have all been its victims.

Illustration by Cecilia Cho, 16, Burbank HS

The first stage of the friend zone is denial.

As we got closer, he started to ask me for advice about girls. On the phone he would say, “Oh man, I just farted.” Are you serious? I’m a girl too, can’t you hold back a little? I convinced myself that he mentioned girls to make himself seem unavailable, and therefore more desirable. I decided that only because he felt so comfortable with me did he openly proclaim his bodily functions.

The next stage of the friend zone is misinterpretation of their caring actions.

In January, winter formal had the entire school excited. One by one my friends were all finding dates and I desperately hoped he would ask me. One day while chatting online, my prayers were answered—kind of. A message from him popped up on the screen: hey. After waiting a few moments (I didn’t want to seem like I had been waiting for him), I answered back with a casual: hey wsup? He said: I need to ask you something. Then I saw the words I had been waiting for: will you go to winter formal with me?

Maybe he did like me

Not wanting to sound too eager, I told him that if he brought me a Rice Krispies Treat I would go with him. The next day at school he tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and saw him holding a box of about 30 assorted Rice Krispies Treats. I was so excited I got dizzy and I could barely say “thank you.”

Preparing for winter formal was like a dream. He called to ask what color dress I was going to wear, so he could pick a matching bowtie. He asked what color corsage would match me best and how many flowers I wanted. I felt as if I were his girlfriend.

The dance was a blast, although not exactly what I had imagined. He mostly stuck with his guy friends. At the first slow song I waited for him to ask me to dance, but he ended up getting a soda. After four more slow songs, I saw he had no intention of asking me. The last slow song was “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé. We watched as our friends paired up to dance until one of our friends nudged him. “Why don’t you guys dance?” I pretended to fix something on my dress. He laughed and said, “Well, if she wants to.” My mind went “YEAH!” but I just laughed trying to seem “whatever” about it. Eventually our friend forced us to dance, and at that point all the disappointment I had experienced earlier was forgotten. My cheeks turned bright red at having him hold me. I turned my face to the side hoping none of our friends would notice.

The last stage of the friend zone is enlightenment. You realize you are in the friend zone and you’re never getting out.

After the dance I waited for weeks for him to ask me out. Looking back, I realize that the girls he would have asked to the dance had already been asked, and that I was his closest female friend. If he had truly been interested in me, he would have known better than to ask me online.

I watched with envy as he flirted with pretty girls. I noticed how hard he tried to impress them, but around me he would burp and tell stupid jokes. If I was appealing enough to be friends with, why wasn’t I appealing enough to like? I made him laugh and we had fun together, so what was missing? After a while I understood. I had guy friends who I loved hanging out with. I would never consider dating one of them. To him I was his friend, never a girl.

I gave up because I knew there was little hope of success. A guy had liked one of my close friends for four years before he recognized that he was nothing more to her than a friend. I debated telling him how I felt many times, but I didn’t want to lose our friendship.

To all those friend-zoners, my advice is to decide whether you appreciate the person more as a friend or as a love interest. If you choose the former, keep what you have because finding a good friend is rare. If you choose the latter, try telling them; don’t get ignored as just a friend.

It took me four months to get over him. I forced myself to see him less often and I slowly forgot my feelings. That crush is a distant memory now, and other guys have come and gone since then. I don’t even feel embarrassed to share his name: Brandon. It’s all out there now. I’ve survived the friend zone.