10 Steps to Moving Beyond the Friend Zone

03/10/2015 12:46 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2015
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Are you stuck in the friend zone? It's a rotten position to hold when you'd prefer to be the "lover." The fear of staying trapped in a minimal position is equal to the fear of moving forward. Frozen in a battle between two conflicting emotions, we wonder, is something better than nothing?

The anxiety of being imprisoned in a category that's far less than we desire is humiliating. It's not good for us and we know it. Yet, we fear the loss of this special friend and the possibility of self-embarrassment in the process.

Making the shift from friend to lover seems tenuous. And risky. But being true to our feelings is necessary. It's better to be honest with our friend than remain hopelessly longing for them in silent torment.

Making the shift to internal freedom requires a grounded method that feels comfortable and secure. There's a smooth way to rezone yourself from friend to lover while keeping your dignity intact. It's empowering and non-threatening.

Here are the steps to take when you're ready to leave the friend zone and move forward:

1. Speak Up:

Speaking up and owning your truth is the hallmark of empowerment and confidence. Courage and conviction show you know yourself and have the internal strength to speak your mind, without fear. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If love is your goal, better to take the chance to attain it than stand by sadly, mute and frustrated, as you watch your friend date others.

2. Use "The Monologue" approach:

"The Monologue" approach is a term I use for a one-sided series of statements. Here's where you make an admission of your feelings. This strategy is highly effective, as it's not activating a discussion that requires a response. It's a monologue. Therefore, it eliminates the tension of "hunting" for the recipient's approval or acceptance.

The power of "The Monologue" is that it shows you have no attachment to how your message is received. This approach has worked in every case I've had, with every client, when done with conviction and confidence.

3. Begin with a statement of fact:

The beauty of a 'statement of fact' is that it's pure information. Admitting your feelings is no different than saying, "The sky is blue today." Your friend may be surprised and need time to adjust to this new input. Perhaps they had no idea you felt this way. Remember, its just information. After you've stated your feelings, stop speaking. You're not waiting for an answer.

4. Make it short:

Boil your statement down to three or four definitive sentences, max. Get to the point and shut up. Don't elaborate. Don't explain. Don't plead or bargain. Again, you're not waiting for a response. You're simply stating the facts... with the same tone as warmly placing an order for a meal. Directly, confidently and without hesitation.

5. Don't play the "sex card:"

If you tell your friend they're hot, sexy and you can't stop thinking about how they'd be in bed... you'll shoot yourself in the foot. This frames your intention in the wrong light. The better approach is to highlight the qualities you admire in them and the characteristics they have that inspire your affection.

Present statements that are value-based assessments. This is the tool that gives your information its power and merit. Focus on what their friendship has brought to your life that makes you want partnership beyond what you now have. Your statement must include this specific information to be effective. It shows this person that you see their true worth and that is the basis of your desire, not sex. This powerful observation of the inner being is what induces a friend to see you as relationship material.

6. Don't ask how they feel about what you've said, or if they find you attractive:

This is a cardinal rule! Never, ever, give another person the power to validate your worth. Asking shows you doubt your value. It's a sign that you're begging for their approval. There's nothing sexy about weakness and a lack of confidence.

7. Look them directly in the eyes when delivering "The Monologue." If this conversation must be made via the phone, make sure there is a pause in the conversation to allow for the power of your statement:

Flipping from a friend to lover doesn't work in a text or email. It may seem like the easy way out, but don't do it. You will fail. They need to either see your face or feel the warmth and conviction in your voice to make your statement work.

8. Once you've made your statement, take a long beat:

You want to punctuate the power of your admission. Then, resume your former conversation or activity. Your friend won't hear what you're saying, anyway. They're still processing the new information. This shows your special friend that their response is irrelevant. You know your power. You know your worth.

9. Let it go:

You've made your statement. You've presented your information. The trick is to now let it go. Don't belabor their response or question how they feel about you and the revelation of this new input.

It's tempting to worry that your friendship may be damaged as a result of this admission. But think it through. Were you really happy staying locked in the friend zone? Weren't you just taking that position because you were waiting for your chance to move forward? Now you've done it.

Nothing is lost. You have other friends. Losing one person you'd rather have, as a lover, isn't a loss at all. It's a clarification. Move on. You want what you want. When love's your goal, then you should create a possibility for love to flourish.

10. Continue to be yourself with this person, as before:

Your friend needs time to process this information. No pressure, and no demanding an answer on your end. They now have the information they need to assess the situation. Stay calm and let the winds blow between you. Your friend will address this situation in due time. Either way the dice rolls, you've spoken your peace and will have clarity. And you now have the possibility of creating more than friendship.