Navigating The Friendzone

Navigating The Friendzone

The urban dictionary describes the friend zone as “the worst position someone can be in”. It happens when one person in a platonic relationship wants to enter into a romantic relationship and the other doesn’t. For me, the friend zone is the equivalent of unrequited love, a subject explored in many Shakespearean plays and sad love poems.


Celebrity couple Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith managed to work their way out of the friend zone. Speaking about their relationship on, Jada says: “After we’d known each other for many years, we went out for dinner one night with mutual friends and I saw that he had grown from this lanky kid to this really responsible man. We started courting each other and our friendship turned into romance.” It’s common for women to friend-zone men.

But what happens when the roles are reversed? You WhatsApp each other every day, call every second day and “like” every status update he makes on Facebook. You give him more attention than other guys and you share personal jokes. But when you see that he’s not making further advancements towards a romantic relationship, you panic and start analysing how and when the lines were blurred.


According to Elite Daily contributor Sierra Vandervort, being friend-zoned is also a reality for women. One of the signs of being friend zoned, she says, is being so comfortable around each other ,you feel okay with wearing your oldest or most comfortable clothes – like your favourite iduku (headscarf) and oversized sweatpants – around him when he comes over for a visit.

Another clear way to tell if you’ve been friendzoned is when your guy friend finally expresses his true feelings for you and tells you he loves you …like a sister. Dr Akashni Maharaj, a Durbanbased psychologist and coach, adds that he might not be into you “if he frequently talks about other girls or talks more about himself without asking you about your life”.


Mathapelo, 27, experienced it first-hand when the guy she’d been friends with for years became engaged. What he didn’t know was that Mathapelo had been in love with him. “I was crushed when I found out he was engaged.I knew he had a girlfriend but I was secretly hoping for a moment to express my feelings,” she says. Plagued with questions about whether or not to still tell him, she decided against it. “At the end of the day, I was going to be putting myself out there so much and I felt it wasn’t worth it, especially if he didn’t feel the same way,” she says.

Steve Harvey, comedian, talk show host and author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, believes men and women cannot have platonic relationships. “All of my friends are men. I don’t have female friends. I’m incapable of that,” he told CNN news anchor Fredricka Whitfield in an interview. “We remain your friends in hopes that one day there will be a crack in the door.

Trust and believe that the guy you think is just your buddy will slide into that crack the moment he gets the opportunity – 99,9% of men think this way,”he adds. Navigating the friendzone is not easy because when you finally voice your true feelings, you risk embarrassing yourself. Dr Maharaj is a believer in expressing how you feel. “If you know he feels the same about you and‘maybe’ he’s in denial or you just want to get things off your chest, you can tell him how you feel so that both of you can move forward with all the facts in hand and make informed decisions based onthat.”


But if you’re going to go out on a limb on the subject, you must understand things might change. “The relationship can and may become strained if he doesn’t share the sentiment. However, if the friendship is strong,it may survive this with no collateral damage.It’s easier to know than to live with the ‘what if’ scenario in your head,”she adds. Friendship is worth cultivating and no one likes rejection.So whether you’re the one in the friend zone or doing the friend-zoning, always remember, it’s a risk either way.

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