The friend zone is fundamentally a term for an “unrequited crush on someone you know.” People desperately search for ways to get out of the friend zone, and into the romance/sexy times zone where they believe they should rightfully be, but here’s the truth. There’s only one way out of the friend zone and it’s in the other direction.
Having an unrequited crush sucks. Having someone who makes your heart go all fluttery feel utterly unfluttery about you is harsh. It’s upsetting. Dude, I get it. But you're in love with (or at least infatuated with) someone who doesn’t return your feelings. They might like you. They might love you like family. But they don’t want to go out with you and they don’t want to screw you and getting all fucked up over it and continuing to fixate on how perfect things could be if only you could show them how wrong they are in not returning your feelings…well, let’s just say it’s really really not helping.
A partner you have to win over is a partner who doesn't like you enough to want to be with you on your own merits, no matter how head over heels, loopy, love song in love with this person you are. Even if by some bizarre twist of fate you do end up in a relationship, you're going to end up getting hurt in the long run, because we all want to be loved for ourselves, not our grand romantic gestures.
Don’t try to win the heart of the person who shows zero interest in return. Movies aren’t real life and being in love with someone, no matter how much, isn’t automatically going to make them fall in love with you. In the end, that’s not a bad thing. When someone’s not in love with you, it’s not an automatic indictment of your character, attractiveness, desirability or worth as a human being. What it really is, is a strong indication that for whatever reason, you’re not suited to one another.
Maybe you’re not their type, maybe they’re not into relationships in general, maybe they know that your personalities work as friends but would be disastrous as lovers, maybe they’re asexual, maybe you’re not a gender they’re attracted to, maybe you’re actually their sibling but you must never know because of your father’s terrible secret, and so on. There are endless possible reasons they might not want to be with you that have nothing to do with your value as a person.
People are different, and different people want and need different things in a partner, and if they’re not attracted to you, it’s probably because there’s a fundamental disconnect in what each of you needs.
So, how do you get out of the friend zone? The hard truth is that you have to move on. Fixating on one person and hoping that it’ll all work out is a terrible romantic strategy. It’s like only submitting one resume on a job hunt, or putting in only one college application. It greatly lessens your chances of getting where you want to go and limits your options.
But of course, getting over someone is easier said than done. First thing, is you need to stop feeding the crush. Lessen or cut off contact for awhile. It may take time, but eventually those pernicious feelings will begin to fade and you’ll be able to see the other options around you.
It’s also okay to take time to grieve. What you’re going through isn’t a breakup, but in many ways it might feel like one. It’s okay to need to cry, eat ice-cream, call on friends (the ones you don’t have crushes on) for moral support and not want to leave the house for awhile. While you don’t have a right to demand that someone be in love with you, you do have a right to your feelings and it’s OK to be sad.
It’s not okay to put the person or people they are dating down or treat them as if they did something wrong. They didn’t mean to make you have a crush on them, so it’s not fair to blame them for what happened.
You might miss the object of your affection a lot, and if you were close friends they probably miss you too, but a friendship that makes you miserable isn’t fair to either of you.
Once you’ve gotten over them, you can gently test the waters of being friends again if that’s what you want. But be careful and ready to back off if you feel the crush starting to rekindle. If you didn’t really want to be friends with them, and were kind of just hoping to bone… well, don’t do that. Don’t fake a friendship in the hopes of getting casual sex. There are better ways.
Now what if you end up in the friend zone a lot? There are a few possible reasons for this, the first of which is that you’re going after the wrong people. Really think about the type of person you’re going after. Are they a person similar to you and compatible with you? The business guy into heavily tattooed punk chicks, the nerd into cheerleaders, the church-y gal into artsy bohemian dudes, the IT guy into construction workers, the punky chick into business gals are all going to have issues getting with the kind of people they tend to chase. That’s not a bad thing. People tend to be most compatible with people who share their tastes, outlook and interests.
The next possible reason is that you have a habit of moving from one fixation to the next, without ever really looking around you. It's a very common tendency, and it usually stems from a tendency to idealize and romanticize an individual without really getting to know them. A good way to figure out if you're doing this is to think about the object of your affections: do they have interests that would seem boring or even distasteful on another person but are "cute" when they do them? That's a big warning sign that what you're feeling is infatuation and not a healthy or sensible attraction.
It's also possible that you're attracted to unattainability itself. If so, remember that just because something’s hard doesn't mean it’s necessarily worth doing. Stuffing a live frog up your nose is hard, and really really not worth the effort. The best relationships are those between people who find spending time together easy and comfortable.
You may also just be young, or inexperienced and not familiar with what it is that does suit you, and the best remedies for that are time, self knowledge and experience. Be gentle with yourself and with others.
Now, you’re probably always going to have a type, but examining who you’re attracted to and why you’re attracted to them can seriously help you make healthier choices in terms of who to pursue, and help you find a happy stable loving relationship with someone who loves you back. You do have some choice in the early stages of a crush and catching unsuitable ones early is really really useful in terms of allowing you to avoid the misery of unrequited love.