By Eiman Zuberi– 

The “friendzone” is the downfall of college students everywhere. Feelings can be hurt, friendships can be broken and self esteems can get dragged down. It can happen to anyone, at any point in their lives and there isn’t much to be done about it. But this Valentine’s Day, a small group of U of L students went in depth to try and figure out what the friendzone is really about.

Let’s begin with something simple. The term friendzone has been coined by this generation but definitions can vary.

“The friendzone is when one person has feelings for the other that are not reciprocated,” said U of L junior Lizzie Buchanan.

“It’s when a girl likes everything about you except for your sex appeal,” junior Michiel Van Zyl said.

“People misinterpret girls for being flirty when really, some of them just have flirty personalities,” said Buchanan.

Here’s how you know that you’re in the friendzone: you’ve told a girl (or boy) your feelings and she responds saying she likes you only as a friend. But she continues to text you all the time, let you pay for her meals and tells you about her life in intense detail. If she is leading you on and you’re not getting anything in return, consider yourself friendzoned.

But it’s not just boys who get friendzoned. Senior Alex Oyler explained how he had friendzoned a girl once, by answering with a straightforward “friends” response when she asked him about the status of their relationship.

It is not only one type of person who gets friendzoned. It could be the bold guy making his move or the timid guy who hopes the girl will get it. It could be the girl who flaunts it all or the girl who has been eyeing her best friend for years.

“People who crush easily can be friendzoned. But everyone has potential to be friendzoned,” Oyler said.

“I don’t think nice guys finish last,” said Vivien Pham. “It can happen to anybody.”

Everything seems to fall negatively on the person who is friendzoning their friend. That individual can be considered to be “leading one on” or “being too flirty” or “taking advantage of someone.” But they could also be labeled as a normal person who does not have feelings for someone that they consider a friend.

“I have a lot of guy friends,” Pham said. “If they tell me they have feelings for me, I usually just honestly tell them I like them as just a friend. That’s the least harmful way of not hurting their feelings.”

But why does friendzoning happen so often? Van Zyl seems to think that people don’t actually know the person they fall for when they get placed in the friendzone.

“People fall in love with the idea of people rather than the actual person. You have to remind yourself that you may not know the person very well,” he said.

“I think in this culture, everyone is mean to each other. So sometimes when you are nice to someone, it’s interpreted as being flirty,” Buchanan said.

It seems as though the friendzone is a difficult place to get out of. Most people don’t have the guts that it takes to be straightforward with someone, whether to tell them that they have feelings or they don’t. People often beat around the bush and that’s how feelings get hurt.

What do you do if you find yourself friendzoned by someone you have feelings for?

“You need a ladder and a helicopter to get out of the friendzone. The only person I know who has gotten out of the friendzone before is Ron on Kim Possible,” Oyler said.

“It really depends on why you’re in the friendzone,” Van Zyl said. “If she doesn’t like your looks, then [it’s] a lost cause. But if it is about how you treat her, then there’s potential.”

Now if you’re someone who knows that a friend of yours has developed feelings for you, there are a few things to help get you out of a potentially messy situation.

“First off, don’t accuse someone of liking you,” Buchanan said. “You need actual evidence before you say something or else you’ll seem like a jerk.”

“Also, if someone has been heartbroken, you need to leave it to them to decide what to do next,” Pham said.

Most importantly, don’t ever play with someone’s feelings.

You don’t know how terrible that will make them feel and you’ll lose more than just a friend – you’ll lose the respect the person had for you. Leading someone on, lying to them or changing your thoughts about them will do more harm than good, even if it seems to be the safest way out in the spur of the moment.

If you and a close friend are experiencing tension because one person has caught unreciprocated feelings, the best thing to do is hold an honest discussion. Even if someone gets their feelings hurt, that’s better than losing a friend in the long run.

Finally, never let anyone guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do. If you aren’t attracted to someone in a romantic way, that is OK. Don’t let someone make you feel bad for not liking them.

“You may be a cool person but you don’t have the chemistry,” Oyler said. “However, you have to at least try.”

“Even if it does not work out. You need to get hurt before finding love,” said Van Zyl.

“My final advice for anyone in the friendzone is to bounce back,” Oyler said. “But meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the book on exactly how to not get friendzoned.”