Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making It Out of the Friend Zone: Mission Possible by Karen Rock


Here’s the playbook for pulling off the romantic equivalent of a Hail Mary pass- turning your best friend into your boyfriend. Some say it can’t be done. Some say you’ll crash and burn. I say, if handled right, you have nothing to lose… not even the friendship. Flashback to high school. You met in study hall and bonded over failed science experiments and mystery meat lunches.  You were friends until graduation. Maybe went to prom together, came close to kissing then decided you didn’t want things to get weird. Then it got weird. You each left for distant colleges- disappointed and relieved that nothing happened. So you cooled off the friendship but kept tabs on each other. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… somehow you became the soundtrack to each other’s lives. How could you forget the person who surprised you with tickets to your favorite boy band reunion concert? That was forever. At least you thought so. And then, after college, when you returned home for holidays or jobs, you started hanging out again, this time meeting again in convenience stores, local book stores, coffee shops. Suddenly you were closer than ever with one itsy bitsy problem. Now you’ve noticed how handsome he is and want to be more than friends. How to overcome history and start a new future? Here are some strategies to break out of the Friend Zone:
 
 
1. Shake things up. Catch him off guard with a compliment. You always think them, so why not say one? He needs to know that you see him as more than the boy who once evacuated the school after a Bunson burner incident.
 
 2. Stop bringing up the past. It will only reinforce you as a friend. Instead focus on the future. Ask him what he’s doing over the weekend and make plans. Show him that you want to spend time with him.
 
3. Change the subject whenever he wants to talk about girl trouble. You aren’t his sounding board or his advice column. He needs to see you as girlfriend material… and no one thought Ann Landers was sexy. (Okay… maybe Mr. Landers…)
 
4. Do things meant only for two. Having other friends around makes it super awkward to break out of the routine and get romantic. Try doing something you’ve never done alone. Hike a nature trail to a secluded spot, stop at a local deli and bakery and have fun picking out items for a beach picnic, rent a tandem bike, go shopping for the perfect frame for your favorite picture of the two of you.
 
5. Touch. And not in some creepy, stalker way. But in a casual, ‘oops how did that happen?’ kind of way. Grab his hand during a scary movie, fly a kite and hold onto the reel together or fishing for that matter, dunk each other in the pool or anything else that will get you two in physical contact. Maybe even offer to join him in washing his car then get into a sudsy sponge fight. The more that happens, that more comfortable you’ll feel when the hand grab turns into a hand hold.
 
6. Romantic gestures. Bake his favorite cupcakes and put hearts on them when he’s down, bring him chicken soup when he has a cold, send him a  ‘Thinking of You’ card when he least expects it, bring him a thermos of hot cocoa during a cold sports game . Men are all about action. So take some. But don’t paint him in a corner. He’ll only want to escape and that will include your friendship.
 
7. Laugh. A lot. This is something you already do as friends so it should be easy. And this part of your relationship should never change. But if you bring a lot of friend drama to him, it might be time to dial it down and focus on having fun as a couple. The next time he invites you to hang out, bring a funny movie, a couple cans of silly string for a basement romp, or a box of water balloons on a hot summer day.
 
 8. Get word to him through a friend. You can always deny, deny, deny, later. But in case he likes you- SCORE! Sure it’s juvenile, it’s high school, it’s whatever… but some of us aren’t good with the direct approach and it will give him time to think before feeling pressured into giving an answer. Another plus- he’ll see that your mutual friends support the status change- are even working to make it happen!
 
9. Write a note. Nothing long. Nothing over-the-top. Go for the three S’s- short, sweet and sincere. Something like: Zach, you’re such a great friend and you’d be a great boyfriend too. Will you go out with me? Text me Y or N. Either way. Nothing changes. xoxo
 
10. And if all else fails- hit the EJECT button on your expectations. But don’t ditch your friendship. You want him in your life even though it’s time to move on to greener pastures. Date someone else instead of mooning over him. And who knows? The grass on your side of the fence might look greener to him too and he may decide to join you.

 
 Best of luck! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below- plus you'll be eligible to win the novel, FOUR TIMES THE TROUBLE, an autographed bookmark of my ‘Friends to Love’ young adult romance, CAMP BOYFRIEND, and two friendship bracelets. Visit my webisite at www.karenrock.com to learn about my upcoming Heartwarming novel: WISH ME TOMORRROW, 9/13. Please share your ideas below and I'll announce the winner on www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters .  Thank you!!
 

 

35 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Morning, Karen! I love this piece! It's relevant for singles of any age, from teens to a widow ready to think about love again. For that matter, its warm-hearted advice is a welcome nudge for us happily married folks to treat our best friends- the handsome husbands- with the care they deserve :-). In fact, I'm writing my husband a note today. The cupcake hearts might be out of my baking league, but if I can write a Harlequin novel, I ought to be able to write a note to make him smile! Thank you, my friend!

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    1. Oh- that's so sweet, Joanne! I bet your husband will LOVE the note. And you are right... it's important to treat our best friends- our amazing husbands- with the love and care they've earned and deserved! Thank you so much for commenting :)

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  3. Karen, You put a lot of thought and work into this blogspot. The scenario plays out time and again and sometimes works, sometimes not. It's a plot used many times in romance books and with so many different variations.
    My oldest daughter actually met her (now husband) through a work acquaintance. His birthday was to be in a few days. She worked in Palm Springs, he worked in L.A. She sent him flowers at work. He later told me that no one had ever sent him flowers and she kept popping into his head, so he started making a lot of driving trips to Palm Springs. And she was my kid who said never, never, never gonna get married. Ha!

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    1. haha- now you know why I sent out that frantic note last night, Roz! But your sweet email made me smile and I went to bed trusting that all would work out in the morning and it did :) I adore your daughter's romance- it's so sweet and very Heartwarming if I may say... I love that she vowed never to marry and then made such a romantic gesture in sending the flowers. I think all great relationships start with a special story like that. Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful story with us, Roz!

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  4. Although my husband and I weren't friends for that long, we were friends first and when romance entered the equation, it was really...yeah, weird. But that was 42 years ago, so it must have been okay.

    This was a really neat post.

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  5. Hi Liz! My husband and I were friends too and it was a little scary and weird to go that next step- but like you- it definitely worked :) I would love to know how romance entered your equation... for me it was a persistent suitor that I needed Greg, my husband, to scare off by pretending to be my boyfriend. As the night went on, we stopped pretending :)

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  6. Awesome post, Karen! This is so relevant to a lot of teenagers. I wouldn't mind following your advice right now either ;)
    It is true that it's hard to make the first move towards turning friendship into love, but if you never do it then how would you know what could have been, right?
    So I think it's great that you decided to write about this :D

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    1. Thanks, Richa! You are so right- if you don't try, you'll never know... It's a hard thing to do, like you said, but if it pays off- WOW. Thanks so much for commenting :)

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  7. I never had a friend-turned-boyfriend. I think new relationships of any kind are scary, so kudos to everyone who can get this done! Kimmy :)

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    1. Hi Kimmy :) It is scary and definitely not something a lot of us are comfortable trying... I tried to give some options for those of us a little less daring (like me!) because if you can fall in love with your best friend, it is the kind that lasts. So glad you stopped by to share your thoughts :)

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  8. Wow! If these great ideas don't work, nothing will. I guess my husband and I were friends for a while, too. It can take time and persistence to get to the romantic level.

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    1. Thanks, Dale! It does take time and persistence to break out of seeing and treating each other as friends to wanting to be with each other romantically. It's a risk, but, like you said- with patience- it can happen. So glad for you and your husband that it has :) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and story with me!

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  9. Love your post. Don't need a reward for visiting! Just enjoying the post is enough! This is good advice for a SON who is struggling in the dating game! He has a good job in a respected profession and a very good income, but finding his partner in life has been a struggle! I tell him not to worry so much, but he is living it, so there is the difference!

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    1. Hi Connie! Thank you so much for your commpliment :) It was a fun post to write, and heartfelt. I believe that the best relationships are rooted in friendship. With a wonderful, supportive mother and family, your son is probably taking his time making sure he finds just the right person to meet the standards you have set. But I do hope these tips might be useful to him in some way :) Thanks so much for commenting. It's nice to meet you!

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  10. Okay, I'll try not to write a long comment, but actually...
    ... I'm living a friend-more-than-friend/what-the-hell-are-we situation RIGHT NOW and it's kind of stressful.

    It started with the compliments (you got that one all right) and then some sweet notes. The casual touching. The unexpected phone calls.
    Then I started feeling a totally unwanted pang of jealousy when he mentioned other girls. I found myself sending cheerful messages on his bad days at work. Or cute/funny photos.
    he kept buying my fav cookies to invite me over.

    AND WE'RE STUCK in this situation. because we both have long-term stories who ended quite recently. We hate each other a lot. We...

    Oh, god, I really think I might be in love.

    And I'm not a teenager, btw. Though right now I feel like one.

    I don't have any advice to give. I just know that I want to be sure about my feelings, because I might end up losing a great friend. Sometimes it's hard to be a friend of someone you feel so strongly about. What if it's love? What if it's not? What if we both feel too alone and we're mistaking our loneliness for something else?
    WHAT IF...

    Right. Going crazy right now. Sorry for my major rambling but love is hard. guys are harder

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    1. You were speaking from the heart and that is NOT rambling! (okay- maybe a little- but you are entitled.. this is serious) I've done my share of hashing confusing situations like this out and it's the only way to come to some conclusions. And I think you are getting very very close, actually. The fact that you treasure his friendship so much shows just how much you care. That goes beyond loneliness- I don't think there is any mistaking the genuine feelings you have. The question of whether or not he returns those feelings is not possible for you to impact or change. The heart wants what it wants and his feelings for you are set- you just need to know where you stand...and part of that is letting him know where he stands. Since you've both had bad break ups, I would lighten things up and do lots of fun things together. Trust me, if romance is there, it will come out when you give yourselves alone time to relax and enjoy each other :) GOOD LUCK and keep me posted- I may have to turn your story into my next Heartwarming- thanks so much for your thoughtful (not rambling!) comments!

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  11. Karen! You should teach a class! Or write a column!

    Ron and I were friends first. Well, I thought we were. Because he was 12 years older, he was ready to take the next step long before I was. I had big plans, dreams of Europe, all sorts of things to be done before I settled down.

    Then I began to notice how often he made me laugh - and that's so important to me. Then how safe he made me feel, and eventually, how cherished. You can't beat that combination. I think going from friendship to love is all about trust and determination. DON'T DO IT if you don't trust your friend completely, and then BE DETERMINED to rededicate yourself everyday to the committment you've made. The rewards are beyond imagining.

    And to READING MIND, that isn't rambling. Isn't that precisely what we writers do when we're trying to figure out a character's next move? We reel out all we know about him/her and their situation in the hope of figuring it out. And you're smart, REASING MIND. Now is the time to take stock.

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  12. Hi Muriel! Thank you so much- maybe we should teach a class together- RWA 2014?... Your love story with your husband is beautiful. My husband is older as well and we were friends for a while first but, as I later learned, he knew from GO that I was the one. Like your husband, he won me over with his humor, his intelligence, and his kindness. I agree that such special relationships take determination, trust, and committment. I appreciate your comments and the great advice you gave to the other Heartwarming commentors! You are such a generous, giving person.

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  13. I have never had a friend turned boyfriend...and at my age I'm thinking this is something that I want/need to try...my relationships haven't always been the best, so why not start out with a best friend!

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  14. I agree, Sandie. You have so much already in common with your best friend- like the same things, share the same memories... it's such a strong foundation to build lasting love on. I have a feeling there is a man in your life who might be in for a wonderful surprise...Best of luck and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!!

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  15. Thank you all for your kind words and your support. This post really hit something inside me! Hope that I'll soon have it all sort it out

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    1. I'm happy that it touched you and I hope that when you sort everything out wonderful things will happen!!!

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  16. Great post, Karen. I married my best friend after we discovered there was more to us than just our friendship :)

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    1. Awwwww! That's so sweet and romantic, Syndi! I want to hear details at RWA! I hope Heartwarming authors will be there:) I can't wait to meet everyone! Thanks for commenting!

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  17. OH. MY. GOD. I love your blog posts! You should seriously consider becoming a relationship columnist one day!

    I agree with every bullet you have mentioned here except number three. I feel as though you'll get to know them better as a person if you talk about their relationships with them. Maybe you'll decide whether all the waiting is worth it. Just watch the context of the conversation.

    They came to you for a reason.

    I do suggest though that if anyone goes through with my idea on number 3, you don't try to break the couple up. You try to keep them together. That way, when they officially break up - they will come right to you and you can subtly flirt.

    If they're in a relationship, I say wait two-three months for them to cool off. It goes back to one of the basic rules of a relationship - it takes half the amount of time to get over someone, as you were in love.

    **Sorry if that's jumbled. It's 11:30, and I'm about to go to bed! Hahaha!

    Great job Mrs. Rock!
    I love this post!

    -Cody

    (You must tell me how you get your ideas for writing a romance blog. I've tried to a few times before, but after the first post I'm like...well now what do I write about? My friends tell me I should start one, I just never have any topics! Haha!)

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    1. Cody, your ideas on how to amend tip #3 were awesome! Sometimes it is hard to a avoid those discussions and you helped readers know how to handle it with finesse! I agree with your friends- you should start blogging about relationships and I'd be happy to help any time! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts today:)

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  18. I love your ideas! Spot-on! And the funny thing is, I'm currently putting together a story of best-friends-to-lovers but it's the hero who decides to go after her. Still, those tips will come in super handy. :)

    Never had a friend turned boyfriend - was always too scared of jeopardizing what we had. The opposite happened, though, if that's relevant here. My husband, whom I met through an arranged match, became my best friend and I believe that solidified our relationship and helped us to weather all the storms. I see no reason why that can't happen with a friend turned bf/husband.

    XOXO

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    1. Hi Zee! I can't wait to read your friendship to love story!! I'm glad the tips might help:) As you said. the best relationships are a mix of romance and friendship- whichever order that comes in- what matters is that you have both. And you are a lucky lady to have that in your happy marriage :) thanks so much for commenting!

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    2. Lol, Karen! I hope to finish that story sometime this month.
      And yes, the best relationships have romance and friendship. I'm lucky to have found all that and more (like some major headaches & a crazy overwhelming desire to throttle him every so often, lol) with him. :)

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  19. me and my husband never had the "friends for a long time" type of relationship. we met in 2004 and still going strong ever since. but he is my best friend tho

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    1. Congratulations on being married to your best friend! There is nothing sweeter or longer lasting than a relationship with such a strong foundation :) thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

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  20. Congratulations Reading Mind for being the winner of today's awesome giveaway! Please send your address info to www.karenrock.com :)

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