Ask Emma: How do I escape the friendzone?

Feel out the relationship first; H.O.T. A.P.E. your way through flirting



If you have a certain friend you hope to be in a relationship with, it can be hard to navigate whether or not they have feelings for you back. Emma hopes to help ‘Friendzoned’ this week.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Dear Emma,

I have a friend who I’ve known for a few years, and we’re really close. I’m starting to have feelings for this person but I’m not sure if they feel the same way. 

I’m a little anxious about saying something to them because I don’t want to mess up our friendship if they don’t feel the same way. I mean, isn’t that what anyone who is trying to escape the friendzone would be worrying about?

Anyway, I don’t know what to do so I’m just waiting for something to happen. A small part of me hopes they will read this and know it is about them, but I know that’s silly. 

Any advice about what to do?



Dear Friendzoned, 

This is a great, albeit difficult, question. You do not want to make them uncomfortable by making a move if they aren’t ready, so it’s good that you aren’t jumping to that yet.

My best piece of advice is to feel out the relationship. You don’t need to think of it as “testing” this person. Rather, just observe how they act around you without any pressure or expectations. 

For example, do the two of you ever spend time together outside of your normal friend group? If so, and depending on what you do when it’s just you two, that could be a pretty good indicator they may also like you.

Another thing to consider is what types of things you share with this person. Are your conversations mainly about school or work? Or do you share more interesting or personal things, leaving very few topics off-limits? If the person knows and remembers a lot about you and your personality, chances are they care for you, possibly in the way you want them to. 

Something to be wary of when you’re feeling out the relationship is projecting your own feelings onto your observations. Try not to overthink it (difficult, right?) and simply take in how your friend acts around you and others. If you see a difference in how they treat you versus their other friends, that could be promising. 

It may be difficult to make these observations, given that we’re living in the age of quarantine, but you can always think back to past interactions. Or, if you and your friend have been interacting online, think about what those conversations entail. Do they keep conversations going after they have seemingly reached their end? Do they pick up where you left off the next day?

Once you have taken some time to consider how they might be feeling and think you have a chance, you can try very casual flirting. If they pick up on it and respond, then that’s great for you. If nothing seems to change or they don’t notice or seem uncomfortable, then you should take a step back. 

I once saw a TED Talk about an acronym for how to flirt, and it has really stuck with me over the years. Plus, it’s hilarious. H.O.T. A.P.E. stands for humor, open body language, touch, attention, proximity and eye contact. Try adding in some of these in your future conversations, and see if your friend picks up that you’re trying to flirt. A caveat: these strategies work best in person, not online.

I hope this helps! Best of luck getting out of the dreaded friendzone.

Take care, 


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