After meeting a cutie at the club, your insides flutter with the prospect of a blooming relationship. Exchanging numbers and conversing on the phone used to mean true love in the old days, but now emojis and mixed signals have taken over the relationship realm, confusing the lost single souls. Chick flicks make it seem like great romances grow from friendships, but real life shows that’s not always the case. Instead of spending hours dissecting every text between you and your crush, look out for these 10 phrases that are clear indicators that you’re in the friend zone.
If you’ve heard these 10 lines, sorry buddy. You’re in the friend zone.
1. “I value our friendship too much.”
Florida State University freshman Jake Batke said, “Every time I tried to get serious with this girl she would tell me ‘I don’t want to ruin our friendship. We’re better off as friends.’” Sorry to break it to you, but what this really means is that she would probably value you even more if you kept arm-distance at all times. New relationships equal vulnerability, which can be scary. While you might be ready for the next level, your friend would rather keep you right over there in the corner.
2. “I love you, bro.”
Don’t stop reading after that comma because that bro is a game changer. Pet names like “bro” and “dude” are verbal Walls of China clearly defining your relationship as just friends. If he’s referring to you the same way he talks to his basketball buddies, it’s probably because he thinks of you as one. It crushes my heart to say it, but if your friend is incapable of letting meaningful phrases like “I love you” stand alone, then he’s already shipped you across the country with Amazon Prime speed to the friend zone.
3. “Let’s go bra shopping.”
Did I hear that correctly? Florida State University junior Stephanie Shaw said, “I know girls who have taken their guy friends bra shopping with them because they didn’t think of them in a sexual way.” Just because you’re getting closer as friends doesn’t mean that a budding romance is developing, too. So whether you’re chugging beers together or shopping for lingerie together, don’t be fooled into thinking your friend is ready to take the relationship to the next level.
4. “I wish I could find someone just like you.”
Oh really, you do? Well that’s interesting because there is no one else like me. If you find yourself hearing this phrase, it’s basically a cop-out for someone who likes you in the friend zone and intends to keep you there. Facing the reality of the nature of your friendship is tough, but bumming yourself out over someone else’s loss is useless. Pro tip: Actually put yourself out there and meet new people, and if your friend has secret feelings for you, they might get jealous seeing you with other love interests and un-friendzone you when you least expect it.
5. “You’re like a sibling to me.”
Dating a sibling=incest. Need I say more?
Even though we’re constantly told that decorum and chivalry are a lost art, there are mannerisms that haven’t slipped through the cracks. If you’re trying to impress a possible romantic partner, I seriously doubt you’re going to let them smell last night’s taco bean salad dinner. Next time your friend feels comfortable enough around you to pick a booger, belch or fart, don’t mistake it for a sign of intimacy, accept it as a signal that you’re friend zoned.
7. “I want to explore my options.”
…that are not you. When you eat at the dining hall, you don’t have to decide whether you want pizza, chicken, cereal, grilled cheese or salad for dinner because you can have a little bit of everything. Having friends is just the same; you can have friends from different circles ranging from Greek life to cosplay. But when you pick a significant other, you can only choose one option. So if your friend isn’t in the mood for just pizza, you’re out of luck.
8. “You’re too nice for me.”
You hear this and wonder how someone can possibly be too nice. Did you open the door for her too wide? Did you get her home too safely after she drank a little too much at happy hour? Should you have said disrespectful comments about her body to your friends while she was in earshot? Look, it’s not you; it’s her. She’s left you in the friend zone for so long that she can’t even speak sensibly anymore. It’s a lost cause.
9. “Can I bring my friend with me?”
After working up the courage to ask your classmate out to coffee, he asks to phone in a friend. Don’t be fooled; this friend is a buffer. He’s not trying to introduce you to his friends already because he fell in love at first sight, he’s just trying to keep this coffee date platonic. From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that when I’m trying to let a guy know he’s not tickling my fancy, I call in a friend for a special favor to throw me a life vest before I drown in awkwardness.
10. “I’m so happy we’re best friends.”
Best friends is the step before Facebook official, right? WRONG. While there are the lucky few who find the dynamic of How I Met Your Mother‘s Lilypad and Marshmellow, don’t just assume this is how your friendship will unfold. Most people who say this are gritting through their teeth, hoping you will remove the arm you just attempted to place around the waist. Be wary of the best friend declaration, because that’s a red flag that you are once again friend zoned.
5 More Lines to Know You’re the Mayor of the Friend Zone
Written by Alia Hakki
11. “You’re going to make someone very happy.”
Spoiler alert: Whoever dishes this line does not want to be that someone. You might want to consider focusing your attention on the hypothetical person that might actually want to be made happy. “It’s pretty very counter-intuitive for a person who likes you to suggest you should be with someone else. I would move on,” said Seattle University sophomore Isabel Cunningham. Bask in the glory of sappy love songs and Ben & Jerry’s binge sessions for a minute, wipe the remnants of Chunky Monkey off of your mouth, and start looking/talking/dating/swiping.
12. “I have to *insert bodily function*.”
Farting, burping and pooping secure high positions on the list of no-no’s for potential partners. If your crush alerts you of their impending bathroom trip, immediately cease attempts at their heart. Familiarizing yourself with someone romantically becomes exponentially harder when a fart is thrown in the mix. Their strategic attempt at friend zoning may not sound silent, but it could be deadly.
13. “They are so hot.”
Unless they make talking about you in the third person a strange habit, this line should make your heart throw up a white flag. Raving about another person generally connotes a disinterest in the person standing in front of them. “Girls have pretty much trained themselves not to talk about other guys around guys they are interested in,” said UCLA sophomore Kayla Schroeder. Bottom line: If your friend gushes over another person, they probably want them and not you.
14. “You’re adorable.”
Another word reserved for dogs and babies. A general rule of thumb: comparison to something inhuman or under the age of 18 probably means they do not see you in a romantic context. “At this point, you should probably just pretend you’re gay,” said UCLA sophomore Sam Brogadir.
15. “You should go for them.”
Alright… Here we have another blinking neon sign reading “STOP TRYING.” Handing you off to another person blatantly exudes “not into you” vibes. You are not a football, but your feelings for this person are in double overtime. Your friend can probably sense your lingering crush from the way you stare at her/him while they sleep, and write their name on your binder. Let the hand off happen. After all, the friend zone lies in the murky depths of solitude that few make it out of. You can and will escape it only by vigorously abandoning ship. Hopefully your dignity and sanity will make it out in tact.
*Updated on March 6, 2018 to include list items 11–15 by Alia Hakki.