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Confessions of a Dateaholic: How to Successfully Transition to Friend Zone

I often hear the same query, “Is it possible to maintain a friendship after having a romantic relationship?” My response is always the same—yes! However, in order to transition into friend zone you must have a dialogue to determine if it is possible.

In college I dated a guy name Marcus. Marcus attended Morehouse College, where I was a writer turned copy editor for the Maroon Tiger, a student newspaper. One of the coolest aspects of attending an institution located in the Atlanta University Center, or the AUC for short, is the ability to cross-register and participate in all student body organizations/activities. I met Marcus around the same time I was lusting for this tech geek, who has the deepest dimples a girl has ever seen, and talking to one of the most artistic individuals I've ever crossed path with.

Marcus and I went on the best dates during my college matriculation. We went for walks in Piedmont Park, he took me to the best restaurants Atlanta has to offer, etc. He was spontaneous, funny and almost always opened my car door. In spite of his great courting skills, Marcus' personality was a bit too brash for my taste. After a few months we called it quits. We went our separate ways and I was positive he hated my entire being. We rekindled our friendship, but of course I ruined it. After an additional year, Marcus and I revived our friendship once again.

Following my commencement ceremony, I returned to Brooklyn. Marcus, who was originally from Cambria Heights, Queens but moved to Atlanta in high school, traveled to New York for a visit. During his stay, my best friend Kristina and I decided to give Marcus a Brooklynite experience. We had Texas sized drinks at Dallas BBQ along with the steroid ridden sticky wings. Following drinks and dinner, Kristina and I took Marcus for a walk along the promenade. Once he returned to South Carolina, where he relocated for a job, he mentioned the idea of a long-distance relationship. I was flabbergasted. I thought we were transitioning into friend zone without all the cliché drama. It was then I realized we never officially had a conversation or set boundaries.

As you date, you may stumble upon great individuals. Some you'll date, things will end and you’ll go your separate ways. Others you may want to keep in your life. Just because things did not work out romantically does not mean this individual cannot remain in your life. So how do you transition to friend zone? Here are five ways Marcus and I made it work.

  1. Put everything on the table. What Marcus and I eventually did was have a shouting match. He put all his feelings on the table and told me exactly what I did to mislead him. I explained my position and how I felt.
  2. Apologize. If you genuinely want to move forward, the party who was wrong must apologize. I did not intentionally lead Marcus on, but I did realize I hurt someone I valued. Though apologies do not lessen the pain, it’s a great start.
  3. Space is necessary. While it was important for me to maintain a friendship, I had to give Marcus his space to decide if my friendship was valuable to him.
  4. Be mindful. I am a natural flirt so sometimes I am unaware of when I am flirting or behaving in a way that can send mix signals. Make sure that is not what you are doing.
  5. Set boundaries. Now that I am in a relationship and he's dating other people, we are cognizant we cannot pick up the phone in the middle of the night to talk foolishness. He respects my relationship and I respect his pursuit of one.

Today our friendship is stronger than ever. We no longer have to walk on eggshells when communicating with one another, so to speak. We give one another dating and/or relationship advice and we generally want to see the other succeed. Marcus is probably one of my best male friends, but it took a lot of work to get to this point. I knew he was a great guy; he just wasn’t the guy I should be romantically involved with.

If you are considering the transition to friend zone make certain you are doing it because this individual is a great person and you both can gain a sincere friend. DO NOT, with an emphasis on the DO and NOT, do it because you think it’s an alternative route that can lead to a relationship.


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