Respecting The Friend-Zone

Love. The catalyst for so much of our struggling. Failed attempts can lead to people being left ‘friend-zoned’ and hurting. However,  this article is not your regular heartbreak handbook.

Today we delve into the much less reported on side of this interaction. Exploring how it feels to be the rejector.

Losing Friends

Words by Georgia Evans

 The rejection of unrequited love can leave the rejected feeling let down, heartbroken and confused. It feels like a personal attack that can change the whole dynamic of a relationship.  

The turbulent narrative of unrequited love isn’t black or white. Especially when there are real people’s feelings involved. It can become difficult to establish boundaries. I can relate to the “friend-zone” from a perspective that is arguably less explored.  

 The way we interpret someone else’s behaviour is subjective. What may be interpreted as ‘flanter’ can just be platonic banter. Being told “no” is hurtful, but there is little point entertaining a relationship that can’t provide either party with sexual or romantic satisfaction.

Personally, I have found that after letting someone down I have felt: guilty, flattered and overwhelmingly concerned about tarnishing my existing friendship. Sadly, my fears have been valid and those people I’ve “friend-zoned” are no longer in my life.

I have not been able to salvage these friendships due to the resentment of my lack of romantic interest. Consequently, It’s difficult to determine which position is most undesirable; to reject or to be rejected.

Friendship After Rejection

Being the ‘rejecter’ does not mean you must seize to be kind to the other person. The phrase “communication is key” rings true in this context. You must outline exactly how you feel – even if it is awkward or uncomfortable. This way you can continue to be friends without the fear or guilt that you may mislead them or string them along.

Equally, if you have announced your feelings for somebody and they have expressed they do not feel the same. Do not assume that subsequent kindness is flirting. People are often afraid to lose friends as a result of this interaction, so you have to understand that even though you have not been romantically compatible the other person still values and cares about you.

No does mean no. Regard for someone’s wishes is important, be it physical or emotional you must understand that pushing these limits can feel like a huge violation of trust.

It is the choice of the heartbroken if they are able to continue to be friends. As painful as this can be for the person who is rejecting. This is respectable behaviour. What is not respectable is staying around and persistently bring up your feelings or accuse the other person of leading you on. Reinforcing their feelings of guilt.

Heartbreak can make us act out of character, but if you want this person in your life then you have to understand that respect is the most important thing. Else you will lose them in any capacity.

Pererverence and Respect. A Balance.

Words by Cara Fielden

A stigma has evolved surrounding the phrase ‘friend-zoned’. The rejection of romantic feelings can result in a plethora of negative emotions. Having a damaging impact on one’s self-esteem post rejection. This is one of the major reasons that the ‘friend-zone’ can lead to feelings of contempt and disdain. However, depending on the context of the interaction, it’s not impossible to experience a positive outcome from these situations.

If you have been ‘friend-zoned’, it is vital to find a balance between perseverance and respect.  Personal experience has enlightened me to both positive and negative qualities of the person in the ‘friend-zone’. Pushing boundaries can result in disputes and confusion. Therefore, it is important not to continuously push the person to the point of anger and further humiliation.

Acknowledging the tone of rejection is also important in these situations. Recognising an aspect of the person’s mental and emotional attitude towards the rejection can help us understand whether perseverance would be admirable or disrespectful.

If it’s appropriate and you think they could be persuaded, maybe ask them again. However, if they seem like they are not willing to budge, don’t disrespect them by pushing boundaries and risk making the interaction more awkward or uncomfortable for you both.


My advice as the ‘rejecter’ would be to consider the relationship you already have with this person, outline the things you admire about it, and consider how a relationship could negatively change this.

There are definitely feelings of guilt and discomfort that linger after rejecting someone. It can come across insulting and can be difficult to remain kind without seeming patronizing. They’re putting themselves and their confidence on the line to express their feelings, so make sure to be reasonably compassionate.

They may become cold to protect their self-esteem, so prepare for this by maintaining a level head and an understanding attitude. Remind them why it is you value their friendship, and always stay positive.

Take Control

Ultimately, it is up to both parties as to how things progress. Don’t be discouraged from expressing how you feel. Living with “what if” is worse than living with “at least I tried”. True friendship can recover, and heartbreak does not last forever. Everyone experiences the ‘friend-zone’ at least once so don’t be embarrassed when it’s your turn. The key is respect. Like with most things in life. Listen to your feelings, listen to each other and cracks will mend.