How to navigate leaving the friend zone.
You've always connected on a deeper level, but timing or circumstances didn't line up. You didn't want to date someone you worked with, or you were in relationships with other people. You resigned yourself to being in the friend zone. But, one day you woke up and you are both single, sitting at a bar, buzzed, flirting and seeing each other in a whole new light. This feels weird and you leave the scene completely confused.
What just happened? You're in the beginning stages of leaving the friend zone, but you're not completely out because you're worried about ending the friendship, or God forbid, it actually working out. (The third option — becoming "friends with benefits" — is even more confusing.)
Where do you go from here? There are several ways to play this out in a way that should not affect the friendship. As long as both parties are adults and communicate properly, the friendship or potential relationship should only get stronger.
Here are 4 important steps you need to keep in mind when you're transitioning out of the "friend zone."
1. Be honest about what you're looking for
Are you both looking to settle down, or is one only looking to have some fun? Be on the same page, so that there is no resentment if it ends. There's no point in trying, if you're not trying for the same thing.
2. Open yourself up
This means you have to show vulnerability, and allow yourself to talk about your feelings, wants and needs with this person or with any relationship you are seeking.
3. Establish some intimacy
Get dressed up and go on a real date. Be romantic and do the little things you weren't used to doing before; holding hands, sharing food, gazing into each other's eyes, etc.
4. Give each other permission to be physical
This one is important. A lot of times, you have to build physical chemistry with each other. And after having friendship boundaries for so long, one of you (or both), may need permission for physical activity with the other. I do recommend waiting to have sex. Don't complicate things too soon.
When all else fails, talk, talk and talk some more.
Honesty and understanding of one another is key. Don't be afraid to share your feelings, even if they are about getting back into the friend zone once you've explored a more romantic relationship. There is nothing wrong with appreciating a person's friendship so much that you don't want to ruin it.
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This article was originally published at LoveLifeTBD,com. Reprinted with permission from the author.