How To Friendzone Someone You’re Dating But Aren’t Really Into

Rejecting someone who wants to turn your platonic relationship into a romance is hard enough. However, doing this with someone you’ve been romantically linked with is a whole other level of difficulty. Thankfully, when done strategically, devolving your relationship into something entirely platonic can be successful if you play your cards right. Here’s how to friendzone someone you’re dating but aren’t really into.

  1. Drop hints. Don’t just spring it on them. Before you approach them directly, give them a chance to figure out where things are headed on their own. Tell them they are “such a good friend” or that they’re “just like a sibling.” Suggest inviting other people the next time you’re going out so it feels less like a date. Heavy-handed hinting like this may feel awkward and unkind at first, but it’s better than telling them out of the blue that you don’t want to be dating them.
  2. Talk about it directly. Eventually, you’ll need to address the elephant in the room. There is no easy way to do this, but if a part of them is already expecting it, it will be less painful for both of you. Be honest and kind without expressing pity. Romantic chemistry is a mysterious thing and it’s no one’s fault that you aren’t attracted to them in that way. Prepare for a bad reaction, and make sure you don’t backtrack out of sympathy.
  3. Set clear boundaries. You’ll need to establish some ground rules for yourself. You don’t have to lay them out verbally, but you have to stick to them. Do not continue to be physically affectionate outside of friendly hugs. Do not respond to romantic texts or tell them that your feelings might change someday. If they are confused and determined to change your mind, you will have to be almost cruel in your lack of compromise. It will feel unkind, but it is better for them in the long run.
  4. Reduce communication for a while. If you’re moving from a romantic relationship to a platonic one, you’ll have to change your messaging habits. While you may have texted constantly when you were dating, you will now need to communicate as you do with your other friends. This may be confusing and hurtful to the other person. After all, messaging isn’t sex, so why should it change just because you’re no longer dating? The best course of action is to be distant for a while. They will grow accustomed to it over time.
  5. Give them time to get over you. Alternatively, they may want nothing to do with you and communicate less than you would like. Try putting yourself in their shoes for a moment and contemplate the embarrassment and heartbreak they must be feeling. Don’t chase after them to try to make them like you. This will only make the situation messier, and you can’t speed up their emotions. This is something they have to process on their own. You cannot be the friend who comforts them during this breakup.
  6. Leave no room for hope. There is nothing crueler than leading someone on when you’ve already dashed their hopes of a romantic relationship. If you’ve made up your mind that they are not the person for you, don’t leave them in any doubt. They deserve consistency from you, even if they seem willing to have a no-strings-attached arrangement. If they have feelings for you, you have to be strong and leave no room for uncertainty.
  7. Start treating them like a friend. Even though you’re the one doing the friendzoning, an immediate transition to friendship will feel abrupt and artificial at first. But it has to be. The only alternative is to slowly transition out of dating, which is not possible without sending wildly inconsistent signals. The sooner you start treating them like a friend, the sooner your relationship will actually start feeling like a friendship. There is no shortcut.
  8. Don’t be flattered into flirting with them. Flirting can be a reflex when someone you like is flirting with you. Trying to be friends with a person you were recently dating is complicated, and you will probably have conflicting emotions and maybe even a hint of regret at times. But no matter how okay they seem with the new arrangement, they didn’t choose to be your friend. They still want something more, and flirting with them, however harmless it may feel, is hurting them.
  9. Start dating other people. Nothing says, “I am not interested in dating you” like dating someone else. Depending on how committed your relationship was, they may not believe that you’re serious about cutting off the romantic part of your partnership until you start pursuing other options. Dating someone new will also prevent you from slipping back into a romantic relationship with them.
  10. Be prepared to lose them. Friendzoning is not a natural progression. It’s based on the belief that the person you had sex with and considered falling in love with will be happy to transition into nothing but friendship. You may not think this is a big deal because you’ve stopped wanting them romantically for a while. But it’s a lot to ask of them. Before you friendzone them, understand that you may lose them for good.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. You can find her geeking out about the latest film releases or stunning crowds with her endless capacity for celebrity trivia. If you can’t find her, she’s probably eating tacos.