Stuck In The Friend Zone!


I would like some advice. I discovered that I have a crush on my friend. We have been good friends and working colleagues for these last four years and I have always known him in a relationship. ‘Unfortunately’, last March his partner ended their five-year relationship.

He knows that I like him and we joke about it but sometimes I feel like he is taking advantage of this situation. We kissed a couple of times but that’s all. Whenever we have private conversations we flirt a lot but he always ends up talking about his ex. He opens his heart with me and I’m glad that he trusts me enough to tell me but it really bothers me because I like him so much. And all he does is talk about her! I don’t want to be anybody’s rebound. I know that they are still in contact and I believe that he is still into her even though he does not admit it.

I don’t know if he’s trying to make me jealous or what, the thing is that he is confusing me. I don’t know what to do! Sometimes he acts as if I might interest him but then again he talks to me about his ex and that thought disappears.

What shall I do? Shall I tell him not to talk to me about her and that I want more than being just friends with him, but if he says no I am afraid to lose our friendship… Please help!

Dear Kikka,

It must be frustrating being caught in your situation, where you value a friendship but you might risk ruining it, or changing its dynamic, by revealing the extent of your feelings. You definitely don’t want to be his rebound, just a sounding board for his woes or only a warm body to fill the emptiness left by his ex – it would be too one-sided. Unless you’re into the friends-with-benefits thing, which is not the case it seems.

The blending of a friendship morphing into something more can be tricky unless you clearly define the boundaries. My advice is don’t forget to uphold your self-respect at all costs – no if’s or maybe’s – while you’re navigating these uncertain waters. If you’re the giving kind, it can be easy to forget yourself while comforting your ‘friend’ as he is more than a friend to you. That’s the perfect recipe for being taken for granted, which would ruin both the friendship and potential relationship – if it’s in the cards – leaving you drained.

There are different choices you can make to get you out of this limbo. You can truthfully communicate your feelings and frustrations. Whatever his reaction will be – proceed from there as appropriate. If he doesn’t respond as you’d like him to, you can still ask him, out of consideration and respect for you, not to talk to you about his love life for as long as it makes you uncomfortable. Otherwise you have the option to distance yourself – as much as possible (seeing you are colleagues) – until he takes the hint.

An other option is to give it time to see how the break-up evolves, or for him to process it, while still steadfastly keeping your boundaries in place. If hearing about his ex bothers you (naturally!) he can talk about it to someone else, you don’t have to suffer through it. If it feels bad, then it’s bad for you full-stop.

You say that you are scared of losing the friendship if he rejects you. If it is a strong friendship that you both value I am pretty certain that, unless you let egos get in the way, after some time the friendship might change a bit but it will balance out again.

However your situation unfolds, make sure that there’s a sense of give and take, otherwise you’re better off focusing your energies on someone else who will return your feelings and fulfill you, rather than confuse you with mixed messages making you anxious. You deserve to be appreciated both in a friendship or relationship and it’s up to you to protect your self-worth. I hope you will soon find peace of mind!