When I met my current boyfriend, we were colleagues. We spent each day together, at times even locked in a room alone for eight hours straight. It was downright impossible for me not to drool over him. He’d spend hours telling me about his Tinder dates and we’d jokingly swipe through the roster of women together. I, of course, using this as an excuse to get closer to the handsome devil.
He’d tell me what he liked in a girl and I couldn’t help but giggle thinking that I fit the description pretty well. At times, I would stalk the poor sod around the office and insist on sitting next to him during lunch and meetings. It was so obvious, and yet nothing ever happened.
Of course, we’d flirt to pass the time but it was clear as day that I was the predator and he was the absolutely terrified prey. After a six-month friendship, I managed to turn it into the blissful relationship that it is today, over a year later. More in love than ever and with fewer arguments than I’ve ever had with a partner before.
The base of friendship can create a wholesome and solid foundation for an incredibly healthy relationship. These are the things that helped me go from friend to lover in six months:
Often, when we spend large amounts of time around someone, it is more difficult to put into perspective the feelings we have towards them. It is when we notice a void and a missing presence that we begin to understand our true feelings towards them. It can all be going seemingly well. You’re closer than ever. However, sometimes changing it all up is what you need. We must create a new environment in order to reveal what could be lingering in the background.
When I look back now at my boyfriend and I’s latter stages of friendship, there are some very clear points in time that stand out.
We had by then worked together every day for six months as best buds. He had the comfort of knowing that I’d show up at the same place and time every day and this meant that there was an ease and a lack of urgency. There was no need for him to consider anything and there was absolutely nothing to chase. He could expect to have me there for him every single day.
As adults, once we leave immature teenage love behind, most of us cannot fathom a relationship based on games and chases. However, it isn’t to say that it’s not beneficial to analyze a relationship and make changes accordingly. The truth is that when something is expected it creeps into the depths of our subconscious and is interpreted by our psyche as easy and uninteresting.
We both expected to see each other every day and he was never forced to make a decision or even attempt to look at me in a different light. There was no effort needed for anything because there was always tomorrow. We would pass the day in each other's company and still have the freedom to do what we wanted after hours. It was the perfect arrangement — for him.
According to PsychologyToday: every relationship is a social exchange. This means that people set up give-and-take agreements, usually without discussion, to get what they want from the other person and give what they are willing to give. When someone gets stuck in the friend zone, they have entered into an exchange friendship that isn’t even. One party can be having all of their needs met by the other without the commitment that the other secretly desires.
One day, I announced that I’d shortly be leaving the company to go on to complete my Master's. Chin trembling, I could see the pure confusion in his eyes. He’d never considered that an end to our daily banter would come. A time where his favorite colleague wouldn’t be there each morning to hear about his raunchy dates or homesickness. The thought of the future without him in my daily life made me sick to my stomach. There was now a countdown. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, doesn’t it?
I was also going on a month-long expedition to Vietnam right before the beginning of my course with a bunch of friends, which included some males. I felt the switch. Something in him had changed. I could see the slight jealousy and sudden curiosity around the dynamics of my friendship group, the exact length of the holiday, and the trip itself. There were suddenly all of these questions about my return and whereabouts upon starting back at University. I knew at that moment, he was caught in my web.
Of course, none of these things were intentional or done with the motive of provoking him in this way but when I look back now I believe that it helped us tremendously. The time and changes created a distance that I didn’t know we needed and put things into perspective for him. Perhaps, creating a little space and using a less overt way than traveling 6,000 miles away could work equally as well.
Make It Obvious
Often, people have invisible crushes. Ones that are obvious to everyone around them but the person they're crushing on. At some point, your outrageous flirting will do the talking for you, a mutual friend will spill the beans or you’ll be forced to outwrite tell them. It’s just a matter of time.
I always made my feelings clear. Whether it came across as a complete and utter joke, I didn’t know, but his interpretation wasn’t my issue. All I promised myself was that I’d give this intense crush the best shot. And I was pretty certain our friendship wouldn’t suffer as in a worst-case scenario, it was all passable as typical flirty banter.
I was so forward with my flirting that it became our ‘thing’. However, he hardly backed away, instead, he entertained it. We were coined as ‘Sack’ by our colleagues, which was a fusion of our names; Sandra and Jack and it was an ongoing joke around the office. As someone who doesn’t get embarrassed very easily, I had no issue in playing the hungry vulture but of course, there are more subtle ways of going about this.
Creating this type of dynamic opens up a flow of thoughts potentially never considered by your ‘friend’. It is also significant progress on the chart to something more. Neither of you may realize this at the time but at some point in the future, you may acknowledge this as a step to a realization or circumstance that wouldn’t have happened if you were still playing it cool.
Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them In
Due to the tricky situation of sitting on the fence of two completely different dynamics, it can be hard to know how much you can say. As with any love interest, there is the pressure of remaining ‘perfect’ in their eyes. By nature, we don’t tend to mind our friends or acquaintance’s flaws. They don’t weigh heavily on our minds as we aren’t involved with them in such an intense way. On the contrary, a partner is someone you accept wholeheartedly and completely. Taking on their strengths and weaknesses.
Therefore, when we approach a potential new partner, we either actively or subconsciously try to hide flaws, conflict, or baggage. We hide them until they can’t be hidden any longer. Should you bring up your ex? How far can you really take the jokes before it gets awkwardly apparent? The tension in the air and the one-second-too-long stare.
From my experience, sharing did me well. I know this because I myself began hesitantly. At first, I would avoid speaking about exes or any previous unresolved feelings. I wanted him to perceive me as entirely available. However, this was preventing our friendship from deepening. The surface level of it all was what was keeping me in the friend-zone.
It is often when you show vulnerability in character that people see the human in you and begin identifying qualities they can relate to. To this day my boyfriend says that when we were friends, he saw me as a completely different person. He had no idea about the sensitive and caring nature lurking beneath. I was focusing so much on separating myself from anything I considered negative or draining that I hadn’t shown him the complete version of me. If anything, I was emphasizing just how much of a fun mate I was.
Our first kiss was triggered by a newfound fearlessness. By this point, there was a mass of sexual tension between us. Upon my return from Vietnam, our company got together. Everyone rolled their eyes as ‘friend’ and I chatted, ogling and smirking at every word we’d mumble to each other. It had been a long four weeks.
At that moment, I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned around to see my ex-boyfriend standing there. He was with his current girlfriend and he greeted me for a minute or so and left. This was someone who had hurt me tremendously in the past and I was shaken for the following few hours.
He noticed this and it was obvious he didn’t recognize this side of me. It is as if something switched in his mind. For the rest of the day, he was different. Rather than our usual ruthless banter, he seemed protective of me. That evening, we had our first kiss.
You cannot force someone to love you and you should never try. It is usually obvious if there is even the slightest glimmer of a potential future there. Those are the times when you should try.
If you have a more formal friendship, it may be best to be more direct and ask them on a date, rather than beginning to act differently around someone who sees you as just an acquaintance.
Once you put the power in their hands, it will become evident just how much they value your relationship.
Don’t be afraid to lose someone by showing them your feelings. If you’re good enough friends you will remain just that, only with the addition of a slightly comical story to tell. And if it works out then you can go home every night into the arms of your best friend.