Ask JMS – Escaping The Friend Zone


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After launching the Ask JMS section of this website, I have been overwhelmed by the inquiries received. This one in particular, submitted by “SV” caught my attention. The quoted message will be below, followed by my response.

I am facing a situation and I wanted to get your opinion on it.

There is this girl at work and we’ve been working together for a year. We click and are best friends. She is the person I care about most on this planet and I have told her this. This was met by a “we are just friends.”

Then she says a relationship has to be exciting, new, challenging and so on. Which is fine because I agree. But I think cause we have been colleagues for such a long time, that negates any “newness or excitement” I can provide as opposed to meeting someone at a party and dating from there (which she is doing right now).

Don’t get me wrong I have been friendzoned before and had breakups before but this feels different. This person is literally the most important person in my life but because we were colleagues for 6 months before I fell for her, the boundaries have been established. This is definitely not the run of the mill type of heartbreak/friendzoning.

For additional context, she has mentioned to me after work  in passing that things have gotten stagnant in her life. I think that perhaps that is why she’s feeling this excitement and rush of feelings for this guy. He is 29 whereas she is 23.

In short, I am devastated because we are quite close and our colleagues think there is potential and I guess subconsciously I thought it was gonna be me.

If you have any advice please send me a reply because I need your thoughts and plan of action badly.


Dear SV,

I feel your pain. I think there will be many people who read this that can relate to the heartache of wanting someone you are (possibly) unable to have. I will do my best to give honest unfiltered input based on the information you’ve given here.

The first thing that stood out to me is the fact that she’s 23 years old. While everyone matures at a different rate, I can speak from personal experience that at 23 I wasn’t ready for a committed relationship, and in my experience, many women aren’t either.

This seems to be solidified by the fact that she said a relationship has to be fresh and exciting. While I do agree with this, relationships are also many other things. They are work, they are chemistry, they are compromise – they can even be routines and sacrifice. What it sounds like to me is this girl is at the phase in her life where she’s chasing after a rush and a temporary high, rather than a real solid relationship like you are looking for.

This makes two problems arise: First, it’s possible that you are on fundamentally different pages in life, for which there is no solution but time. Secondly, the challenge you openly discussed about not being “new and exciting” to her, given your existing friendship.

Also keep in mind that she may not be comfortable dating someone at work. This in itself can raise eyebrows because if something goes sour, not only are you losing a close friend but you are creating an unavoidable awkwardness in a place that you spend 40+ hours of your life every week. I’m not saying to not pursue her, I’m just saying to keep this in mind.

So, what would I do if I were you? I would continue spending time with her, but keep it “as friends.” Hear me out…

Given your relationship, I’d venture a guess to say that you know some things about her. What she likes to do outside of work, what some of her hobbies are, what she’s interested in. Use this to plan some things you can do together (without spending too much money) that she will find fun and exciting. This will expand her horizons, give her what she wants, and best of all, she will associate you with these experiences.

It’s possible that she may not be seeing the side of you that would attract her to you. I’m not sure what you guys do for work but it’s not always the ideal place to express your own personality.

Try not to push the issue of being more than friends, the last thing you want to do is make her uncomfortable. In my opinion the best route to take is to focus on showing her the best qualities you possess (while being genuine about it).

Don’t rule out other women, be careful not to put your eggs all into one basket, as tempting as it may be. To be brutally honest about it, you are starting behind the 8-ball here, but there is always hope. Make her comfortable around you, keep things exciting, focus on being the best version of yourself, and most importantly – let us all know how it plays out.

– JMS.

Do you have any advice for SV? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. heather on May 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    maybe if you quit your job and work somewhere nearby she will realise how much she misses you ,especially if you occasionally ask her out for a friendly drink after work.Things may develop as you are no longer a co-worker and she doesnt get a chance to see you everyday and take your friendship for granted.

    • Katie Reische on June 2, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      I don’t really think that this is a good idea. Quitting your job just to attempt to attract a woman doesn’t sound like the most stable thing to do. That screams desperation, at least to me.

  2. Neha sehgal on May 25, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I think Sir u shud express ur feelings to her
    well we all know dat friendship shud be the basis of any relationship and i think both of u have made dat foundation
    coz she is jst 23 so i guess she doesnt know the basic principles of being in a good and successful relation
    U shud make her realise dat love is nt all abt dating having parties
    its Understanding each other and being committed
    U express the warmth of ur love and make her feel loved
    And lets see Wat is her opinion

  3. GABRIEL OKEKE on May 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Dear SV, There’s one fact i have over the years experienced. Women don’t like staying too attached to a man,because probably you would be spending almost all the time you got with her at work,at home or any other extra activities,so the probability of her seeing you will enormously increase which in turn bring about what economist know to be Diminshing returns. A proverb which says that Over familiarity begats contempt,settles it. Create an atmosphere where by you would not stay constantly with her,at least,as you said she wants a relationship that is fresh and exciting. I’m not in anyway saying that you should start avoiding her,always call her,text her,buy her gifts bt nt too much,cuz too much of every thing is bad. Take a good look at your dressing code,cuz you wud be addressed the way you dress. Appearance matters alot. Take time to knw what she’s interested in…Etc. In my own opinion,keep her at a distance. My dad once told me that for one to avoid heartbreak,that you shouldnt love with your heart,but with your shoulders. What he meant was dt you shuldnt be too emotional,if you love a lady,dnt let her knw much odawise she ll play with ur feelings. All the way from Nigeria Iam Gabbythehomeboy. Signing out.

  4. michellemanning2014 on May 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I can relate to her. I met a man a little over a year ago and we have been friends for this past year. He has maintained a friendship with me through two relationships, impending divorce and the unexpected loss of my sister. We have been friends to each other. He has been consistent with his friendship, I have always been comfortable with him and eventually we started going out on “dates”. He has been diligent to move at my pace, we have been on the same page through this whole process. One year to the day that we met, we decided to take our relationship to the next level because we were BOTH ready for this move. I have NOT looked back, he is the most generous, kind, loving and fun man I have ever known. I’m head over heels in love with this man, he wins my heart over more and more every day! (And everyday I don’t think it’s possible for him to do this because I’ve been sold out since we decided to be in a relationship!) The key is, being yourself, still having a life outside of work and her, NOT putting pressure on her and lots of patience.

  5. Matt on May 26, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Michelle Manning, you are right on point.

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