By Carlos D. Williamson Chicago Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Being rejected does not mean you've been friend zoned. As much as we'd like to think otherwise, it just means that person, for whatever reason, isn't into you. A hard pill to swallow.
When you think of someone being put in the friend zone, you think of people poking fun at men who complain about being rejected.
But this rejection status isn't as one-sided as people think.
Men and women are guilty of leading each other on with no real romantic intentions for the future.
I've had my fair share of disappointments in that area. But let's get one thing clear: Being rejected does not mean you've been friend zoned.
As much as we'd like to think otherwise, it just means that person, for whatever reason, isn't into you. A hard pill to swallow, I know.
"The more and more that people are getting burned, the more and more you're coming out from a space of defensiveness," said Goal Auzeen Saedi, a licensed clinical psychologist. "It's immediately like, 'I'm going to hold you at arm's length, and I'm going to use you as I see fit, but I'm not going to let you get very close to me.'"
Pursuing someone who isn't interested rarely works out. And according to Saedi, most people know when they're being friend zoned. It's just a matter of coming to terms with it.
Andrea Moseley of Bolingbrook, Ill., for example, is well aware of what's going on between her and the friend she's been pursuing since 2011. When she first met him at church, the attraction was subtle, but as the two spent more and more time at Bible study, her feelings grew stronger.
"He always looks like he's smiling except for when he's concentrating on something," Moseley, 31, said. "It's the shape of his lips when he's ready to smile."
After numerous false starts and misinterpreted signals, Moseley began wearing dresses and making sure her hair was done every time she saw her would-be beau. She even took up cooking, hoping one day to share her culinary skills with her romantic interest.
These kinds of actions, Saedi said, are a reflection of one's self-worth.
"A lot of times, honestly, it's confidence," Saedi said. "If they start saying, 'Oh, does he really care about me? What do I have to do to win this person's affection?' That to me is a cue of, 'I have to give something. I am not enough as I am.' "
While there's no foolproof plan for avoiding ambiguous, one-sided relationships, one way to evade the friend zone is by setting boundaries, said Saedi. There's nothing wrong with a healthy reciprocation of affection, but knowing when to step back is key.
Communication, or lack thereof, is another issue that can lead to hurt feelings.
"The whole thing about being in a friend zone is that you're not comfortable enough or assertive enough to make your feelings known, and the other person is not assertive enough to just say, 'Hey, this is never going to happen,' " said Wilder Anderson, a Rock Island native who's been friend zoned.
The 33-year-old added that this experience in college left him "emotionally and mentally in limbo."
Despite the initial ambiguity, Anderson admitted to being aware of the one-sided affair and tried to amplify his chances by being a "really, really good friend." This approach, however, did not work.
According to Saedi, technology and the various non-face-to-face ways through which people communicate can cause "hurt feelings for no reason." Simple things like an unanswered text or communicating through social media can cause emotions to flare up and down, and for some people, that can feel like a roller coaster.
But while there's a huge difference between misinterpreting a text and intentionally ghosting or leading someone on, some people willingly accept their circumstances.
"That's the reality," Moseley said. "There are people who are going to win, and there are people who are going to lose."