He Family-Zoned Me And It Was So Much Worse Than Being Friend-Zoned

I always thought being friend-zoned was the worst thing that could happen to me, but I was so wrong. I crushed hard on a guy who family-zoned me, and the experience made me want to give up on love forever.

  1. The lowdown on family-zoning. Family-zoning is when the person you’re crazy about treats you like you’re part of their family, like a sibling or cousin to them. In their eyes, they might see this as a compliment to you—what’s better than family? To me, it was just a way for the guy to say, “We’re never going to date or have sex. EVER.”
  2. Family-zoning doesn’t discriminate. I’m proof of how it can happen to anyone. I always thought things like friend-zoning and family-zoning were what happened to guys. But no one is immune! I felt a huge attraction to a guy I was working with and every time we hung out at the office or went out for drinks after work, I thought there was a chance for us to date. I was sadly mistaken.
  3. He took my hand and… no! One night, we were out at a concert and I felt so close to him. We were having so much fun and then he reached out and took my hand. Yes! He held it and then said, “You’re so cool. You’re like a younger sister to me.” Wait, WTF?
  4. I wanted to run away. I couldn’t believe I’d worn such a sexy outfit for this guy. Here I was, listening to how important family is and how close we are. I’d been hoping we could get close in a totally different way, so now I felt really awkward and uncomfortable. I told him I had to go home because I had an early night. I just couldn’t bear one more minute in his presence.
  5. Our friendship was on the line. I wasn’t sure if we could still be friends. It was a tough decision to make because on the one hand, he really saw me as an important part of his life and he’d become an important part of mine, but on the other hand, I had to deal with all my emotions! It was quite unfair for me to have to sit by and bite my tongue raw, knowing that I couldn’t be with this guy in a romantic way.
  6. There was no way back. At least with the friend zone, there’s always the chance, however small, of climbing out of that horrid hole and being seen as a romantic partner. But with family-zoning? Yeah, good luck. How do you go from “sister” to “soulmate”? Trying to look like a sex goddess wasn’t going to cut it. It would just make everyone feel really weird, including me, because it’s so… incestuous. Ugh!
  7. I feared he knew my secret. The fear that hit me later that night, when I was alone in bed, was: What if he told me I’m like a sister to him because he knew, on some level, that I had feelings for him? I started to worry that he’d used the family-zoning thing as an excuse so that he could put me down gently!
  8. What people don’t tell you about unrequited love is… It kills your confidence. It might teach you lots of lessons and make you stronger, but it makes you feel completely worthless. That’s what it did to me. I felt like being told that my crush saw me as family was the ultimate in not being attractive or appealing enough. Every time I ran into him at work, I just felt so unattractive.
  9. I entered the self-blame zone. I wondered if I’d done something wrong to be family-zoned. Had I come across too much as a family member? Had I been too nurturing and killed all the mystery needed to date someone? Had I let him see my flaws and that killed any attraction that might’ve been there? The torture!
  10. Sticking around was unfair to both of us. I couldn’t continue being friends with this guy. Even though I felt guilty about it, it was bad for both of us. I couldn’t be myself anymore because I had to deal with my romantic feelings without letting on that I liked him, so I was lying to him on some level. As for me, why would I want to stick around and listen to this guy talk to me about other women? No thanks.
  11. The worst thing was being silenced. The absolute worst thing about this entire situation wasn’t really the rejection—ugh, I’d find a way to pick myself up again as I always did after heartbreak. It was the fact that I had something within me to express, these gigantic feelings for him, and I couldn’t speak to him about them. Having to keep them in day after day was killing me slowly.
  12. I hadn’t read the warning signs. I think I’d been so mad about this guy that I hadn’t really looked at the signs that he wasn’t attracted to me. For instance, maybe when he didn’t make any effort with his appearance at all, that was a sign he saw me as family. Or maybe it was when he didn’t really make much effort to invite me out to the amazing activities he participated in on weekends and told me all about at the office on Monday? Hmm.
  13. I had to dump the baggage. Maybe even if I’d been a supermodel and had all the qualities he looked for in a partner, he still wouldn’t have seen me as GF potential. Maybe even if I did everything right, the same would’ve happened. It didn’t really matter how it happened or why. The fact was that we saw each other in different ways, and there were no hard feelings. You either feel for someone or you don’t. I wish I hadn’t felt anything romantic for him so that I could’ve enjoyed being like family to him, but sadly, that wasn’t meant to be, either. Whatever the case, I had to lose all the “what if” thoughts and move on!
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.