Regardless of whether you’ve experienced heartbreak in the past, realizing you’re not your beloved’s top priority is devastating. It may feel breakup, or perhaps it just feels like you’ve been put on the back burner. Whatever the case, it’s possible you’re well on your way to the friend zone.
For some, the introduction into the friend zone happens before any sort of romantic connection has even occurred. And for others, it’s the first stop on your long-term relationship’s breakup tour. If any of these signs sound familiar, there’s a good chance you’re headed straight for it, which means it may be time to assess.
1. You’ll do anything to please them on a whim
Wanting to make your partner happy is to be expected, but if you’re not actually in a romantic relationship, your overly helpful actions will easily skirt the line of being friend-zoned. Elite Daily draws upon the example of going out to dinner. If a person is just a friend, you both have no problem spotting one another from time to time. If a person is in the friend zone (meaning only one person wants something more), however, you’ll do more than just ask what they want for dinner: You’ll cook up your crush’s favorite meal at the mere mention of it. And if they need a ride somewhere? You jump at the chance, no matter how busy you are.
This kind of overly willing behavior clearly doesn’t make for an equal partnership, which means it’s time to face the facts. You’ve been friend-zoned.
2. There’s no romance
Obviously, there are certain aspects that separate a platonic relationship from a romantic one. And if there’s no romance in the first place, it’s not a good sign. It’s also possible that your relationship needs a bit of a refresh, in which case, there are ways you can try to rekindle the romance. But again, if there’s a total lack of romance, it’s time to recognize your hope for a relationship with this person is nothing more than a pipe dream.
3. You’re their go-to buddy
You don’t need to fill the role of wingman or woman to realize your “friend” truly sees you as nothing more than a buddy. While having a friendship as the foundation of a romantic relationship is great, there’s a fine line between being friends in addition to partners and just chummy pals.
In most relationships, at least during the first few months, people are usually aiming to show their best self. A person who has put you in the friend zone, however, cares about no such thing. Mowing down an order of wings at the pub together is fine, but disclosing the details of what it does to their stomach later on indicates they’re not that concerned about impressing you.
4. They never touch you
Having romantic feelings and actually being intimate are two different things. You may have romantic feelings toward a person, but it takes two to tango. There needs to be a mutual physical attraction on both sides. If there’s no intimacy, there’s no way your relationship will survive. It’s time to call it quits on your quest to turn something into nothing; you and your potential partner are better off as friends.
5. They always invite a third wheel along
Being social with your friends is important, but when it totally overshadows any shot of just the two of you hanging out, it’s a bad sign. Quality time is crucial in growing any kind of romantic relationship, and when you’re constantly surrounded by other people, it’s impossible to get it. Not to mention, if this person really wants to date you, they’ll want to be around you, and no one else. As Bustle says, “If you’re the object of his/her affection, they won’t want anyone else around.”
6. Your emotional needs are not being met
When someone is in the dreaded friend zone, they won’t feel fulfilled. “Someone is not getting what they want and need,” Jeremy Nicholson, Ph.D., said in Psychology Today. “Because all good relationships are but from a mutually-satisfying social exchange and trade, friend zone situations ultimately don’t feel very good.” Don’t sacrifice your own happiness on someone who’s not willing to give the relationship a shot.
7. They’re always trying to set you up with other people
Now, this should be a pretty obvious red flag, but you’d be surprised. This more or less applies to those who’ve not yet entered the physical part of the relationship. You’ve been friends until this point, but now, you’re hoping for something more. Before you actually realized this, though, it seemed normal to suggest potential partners for your friend. But rest assured that, in this tricky dynamic, it’s better to be brutally honest.
The next time your “friend” makes a comment in passing about how well you and their coworker would hit it off, tell your friend how you’re feeling. That’s the only way to know for sure if you’re both on the same page, instead of beating around the bush.
8. They’re constantly asking favors better suited for a significant other
Asking favors of people in your life — from boyfriends to girlfriends to just friends — is pretty normal. When you need something, those you love are there to lend a helping hand. But when we’re talking about the friend zone, here’s the real kicker: This person is constantly hitting you up for favors.
In Thought Catalog‘s glaring example, you should probably head for the hills if you’re being asked to pick up a pregnancy test for your friend, who recently slept with someone else. Get out of there. Do not collect said pharmacy items.
9. You always find a way to bring them up in conversation, but they never do the same
When you like someone, bringing their name up every chance you get is common. You’re so excited to let others know just how great they are. And while it can be annoying enough to hear someone talk about their partner non-stop, it can be even worse to know they’re talking about someone who doesn’t feel the same way. If your sister knows when his or her mother’s birthday is, but their best friend can barely remember your name, there’s a problem.
10. You’re after a person who’s not looking to commit
It’s a grandiose idea to think you’ll be the one to change another person. Even though someone’s told you, flat out, that they’re not interested in a serious relationship. You’re sure you’ll be the one to change their allergic reaction to romance. You’re the one who’s going to make your “friend” realize they’re ready to settle down, and that you’re the one they’ve been waiting for.
Allowing yourself to be swept away in fleeting thoughts of romantic bliss — with a person who’s not even giving you the time of day — will only leave you reeling for more. And do you really want to spend your life chipping away at a stone statue, only to be disappointed in the end? In this situation, it’s best to heed caution. If nothing else, maybe you could learn a thing or two from someone who’s been where you are now. Tonilyn Hornung, for instance, explains in The Washington Post why she has repeatedly landed in the friend zone. According to Hornung’s personal experience, her exes would tell her she’s the “kind of girl guys commit to.” Well, if someone isn’t ready to commit to you, it’s best to remain just friends, and seek a significant other elsewhere.