Don’t get us wrong. The friend zone is horrible. But the following not-so-famous, but oft-experienced, zones are much more horrifying and harder to escape.
(If anyone has any advice on how to get out of these zones, you’re more than welcome to send us an email.)
The spare tyre zone, the girlfriend stand-in zone, and more spots that suck more than the friend zone
THE “UNREQUITED LOVE ZONE”
Let’s start by talking about the friend zone. Everyone thinks being friendzoned is what happens when the person you like sees you as just a friend, but that’s technically just unrequited love. If you want to differentiate the two, the friend zone is the zone where two people are attracted to each other, but don’t want to ruin their friendship by dating. You can move out of that zone by facing your fears and taking the plunge together. But unrequited love is a different story. You can’t force someone to fall in love with you, short of attempting to induce Stockholm Syndrome by kidnapping them. If someone doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, it’s best to move on rather than waste your life hoping that they one day see the light.
THE “ONLY HANGS OUT WITH YOU SO THAT HE CAN HE CAN COZY UP TO YOUR BFF ZONE”
At first, you thought this guy was playing hot and cold. He approaches you at some parties, but ignores you at others. And he never replies over the phone despite how much you talk in real life. And then it hits you: he only ever makes an effort to talk to you when your BFF is around to notice. He’s abiding by the principle that if you want to get close to a girl, you’ve got to win over her friends. He’s cozying up to you in hope that the real object of his affection will pay attention to him. Or better yet, in hope that you would give him advice or put in a good word. So not only does the person you like prefer someone else over you, but you feel like an idiot for misinterpreting his actions. Ditch this guy as soon as you can.
THE “COLLEAGUE ZONE”
Oldest story in the book, or at least, in all the books written since Human Resource departments became a thing. You like him, he likes you, but neither of you are willing to risk your jobs to pursue a relationship. Until one of you quits, or both of you get caught (and subsequently fired), you’ll have to limit your romance to longing glances across the tops of your cubicles.
THE “FORBIDDEN FRUIT ZONE”
You like him, and he likes you, but he’s dating your sister. Or he’s your best friend’s ex-husband. Or he’s your boss. Or he’s your professor. Or he belongs to an ethnic group that your family has forbidden you to marry into. Long story short, you guys aren’t allowed to be together, which only makes you want each other more.
THE “WE’RE ON A BREAK ZONE”
Are you together? Broken up? Working this out? You’re not sure whether you should change your Facebook status to single, and yet you’re not allowed to be mad when the other person has a fling with someone else because you weren’t technically in a relationship. At this rate, you’d rather simplify your life by just calling it off.
THE “CRINGE ZONE”
You’re a little embarrassed at the fact that you like this person because there’s something about him you once deemed hugely inappropriate. For instance, while you’ve been working for two years, he’s 10 years younger than you and still in university. Or he’s a complete mama’s boy who doesn’t know how to do laundry. Or – ladies – he’s an inch shorter than you. It’s not that you’re forbidden to date, but that your friends would raise an eyebrow if you ever introduced him to them as your boyfriend.
Unlike the other zones in this list, the cringe zone is a place that you can escape on your own accord. As long as the guy is a good catch, you can get over whatever superficial qualities are keeping you apart. Sure, your friends and family might find your choice a little unlikely, but they won’t be laughing when he ends up outlasting everyone else’s boyfriends.
THE “SIBLING ZONE”
“You’re like the brother/sister I never had!” If the friend zone is hell, then this glib little phrase encompasses all the hells of all religions combined. Friends can always turn into lovers, but siblings can never date. If the person you like refers to you as his or her brother, sister, cousin, or even mother, then you might as well give up now.
THE “EGO BOOST ZONE”
The “ego boost zone” is what happens when the person you like doesn’t return your feelings, but flirts with you anyway because they enjoy the attention. You’ll know you’re in this zone when the person teases and laughs with you in the moment, but makes no attempt to deepen your relationship beyond casual banter. Don’t try to change his mind. Just walk away. As long as you keep letting yourself be used, he’ll never respect you enough to see you in a romantic light.
THE “SIGNIFICANT OTHER STAND-IN ZONE”
The “significant other stand-in zone” is what happens when you find yourself playing the role of a girlfriend, without actually being the person’s girlfriend. This zone, which is a particularly cruel combination of unrequited love and being friendzoned, consists of you talking to the person late at night, accompanying him to weddings, and watching movies at his house, until the day he really starts dating someone. He only enjoyed having you around for all the benefits of a relationship without emotional intimacy or the responsibility of commitment. Out of all the zones on this list, this one is likely the most painful because it gives you a glimmer of what it would have been like had you been dating. Better luck next time.
THE “SPARE TYRE ZONE”
Otherwise known as the backup plan, the “spare tyre zone” is where you’ll find yourself when the object of your affection’s first choice turns him down. If he pursues you too quickly after being rejected, then you’ll know that he hasn’t quite recovered from the sting – he’s just decided that you’re an acceptable alternative.
But you know yourself better. You’re not anyone’s second choice, and you certainly won’t let him use you to make someone else jealous. You’re someone that people should pursue, not settle for. While it’s tempting to believe that he’s changed his mind about you and this is YOUR ONE CHANCE, perhaps it’s worth giving up your one chance to be someone’s spare tyre for a chance to find somebody who would choose you first.