The spirit of Halloween is among us. What’s one of the top fears my generation has, you ask? Ghosts. And I’m not talking about the spirits, but the people who magically vanish after leading someone on. On that same note of Halloween, where’s the place some people do not wish to be? Not the Twilight Zone, but the friend-zone *dun dun dun!* Yes, the overly dramatic friend-zone, where people think their hopes and dreams of being with someone are killed because the other person wants the relationship to be platonic. But actually, the scariest part of all may be telling someone that you just want to be friends.
The “let’s just be friends” conversation is one that no one wants to have, but it’s actually one of the most important. Don’t be that asshole who invests a lot of their own time, and allows the other person to do the same, only to fail to communicate when you feel the dynamic needs to change. It’s 2018, we’re expressing our feelings now.
If a relationship no longer serves its purpose, it may be time to let go. Of course, this isn’t going to be easy for you—it will be painful. But with time you’ll be glad you didn’t drag it on any longer.
There are many relationship situations in which this sometimes uncomfortable conversation may occur, but due to the fact that I am not a relationship expert, I want to focus on a situation with which I am most familiar. This is all assuming that the friendship or relationship is with someone who is not manipulative, abusive, or in any way a harm to you. If any of those circumstances are true for you, please reach out to your family and friends for support and guidance.
Much to my dismay, I had to confront someone whom I had feelings for on and off for some time. Every time we spoke, my mind told me that I should be having “the conversation,” but for some reason, I held on. Let’s call this boy Sebastian. (I’m only choosing that name because this is one of the days where I have “Bye, Bye Li'l Sebastian” from Parks and Rec stuck in my head.) The manner of my relationship with Sebastian, according to every single person in my life who knew about it, was quite odd. We liked each other but just never acted on these feelings. There were repetitive conversations, but neither of us made any effort to see each other or invite one another out with our friends. So finally I made a move, and it definitely wasn’t the move he was hoping for. It was the move that both of us needed but neither of us would act on. Throughout the duration of the conversation, I felt like I would puke, but I survived! Creating movement in a very stagnant relationship seemed to immediately relieve a lot of the heaviness I had felt in my body.
I valued all of the conversations and the time I did share with Sebastian, but I just knew that deep down both of us had outgrown whatever this was and neither of us would own up to it. When I expressed my emotions to him, he understood where I was coming from and was in agreement. This conclusion did not mean that we weren’t a little upset about it being over, but rather that we both cared enough about each other to let the idea of us go.
Taking control of a situation that I kept hidden within me for awhile felt so liberating. Guess what? You can have that feeling too! You can tell your own Sebastian that you think the relationship would be healthier in a platonic way, and if they react negatively, then that’s only another sign that they should not be in your life.
Holding that space in my life for someone who I was not entirely sure about kept me too comfortable. Freeing up the area that Sebastian held has given me the push to explore my feelings in new and old relationships. One thing that does help me is that I continuously work on not getting stuck on expectations. The beauty (and kind of the fear) of it all is that we can never know how long someone is meant to be in our lives. It’s tough but worth it for me to remain present and appreciate every person for what they teach me.
If you’re postponing this conversation, stop torturing yourself. There is never the perfect time to say it, but unlike that presentation that’s due tomorrow, this is something you can’t procrastinate. Your time, as well as that of the other person, is valuable. I beg of you to not be comfortable wasting your (or the other person’s) time, because it can only lead to more hurt emotions and a strain on the friendship.
Some of you may still like the other person, but you know that you’re not at a place in your life where you think a relationship may be healthy. That’s totally okay. There’s something strong in acknowledging that you can’t be the best version of yourself in a relationship at this time. While we can’t control the future, we can control how we communicate in all of our relationships.
Lastly, keep in mind that your feelings are valid and you don’t need to stay in this relationship out of fear of upsetting the other person. It’s okay to know that something or someone isn’t right for you. The right people will understand, even if it takes a little time.
When both parties want the best for each other, everyone should feel safe expressing their emotions. Some people just aren’t meant to be in a relationship together, and that’s okay. Someone who is worth being in your life isn’t going to be upset or even think about the notion of the “friend-zone,” as they’re happy to just remain in your life.
It can be scary AF to confront someone, but the adrenaline rush you get after vocalizing what you desire is so, so powerful. Own your feelings, and congratulate yourself on taking a step towards what you want in your life.
Annie Walton Doyle