I Realized Why I’m Still Single: I’ve Been Friend-Zoning Myself

I took a good look at my dating history and thought long and hard as to why I always seem to end up in the friend-zone with most guys. I started off by blaming them, but then I realized the problem was actually me.

  1. I freak out when a guy shows romantic interest in me. When a guy comes up to me and asks me out, I kinda freeze up. If I know that his intention is to flirt or get my number, it makes me crazy nervous and I tend to default to friend mode. I feel safer when I’m in the friend zone because then I won’t get any unwanted attention. I can’t explain why I feel this way, it’s just how I naturally react.
  2. I’m terrified of rejection so I make sure it can’t happen. I think I assume from the get-go that no guy would be interested in me anyway, so I put on this “just friends” front to stop any kind of flirting in its tracks. After all, if I put myself out there and let my feelings get involved, it would seriously suck to be rejected if he didn’t feel the same.
  3. Flirting is fine, but I shut it down before it goes too far. I’m actually not too bad with base-level flirting—I think it’s kinda fun—but if there’s ever a chance that the flirting could turn into something more, I get freaked out. I don’t want to risk it turning into something romantic, so I find ways to shut it down and keep myself firmly in the friend zone. I’ll call them “dude,” dodge any questions about dating, and just pal around. It makes me feel more comfortable around men, sure, but it also leaves me perpetually single.
  4. I have so many hangups about sex. For some reason, flirting feels wrong to me and it might be because I’m so shy when it comes to talking about anything sexual. I was raised to see sex as a bad thing, something you only do in private and never talk about in the light of day. It’s so scary to me to talk about my sex life or about crushes and stuff like that. It’s just so cringe-worthy to me, which doesn’t make it very easy to form meaningful relationships.
  5. I don’t understand traditional gender roles in dating, clearly. I can’t accept that the woman should follow and the guy should lead. I want to be in charge and make the decisions. I want to come up with the ideas and tell people what to do. Guess what— guys hate it when girls do that and will often write you off as “just a friend” if you cross these boundaries. Oops?
  6. I come off as innocent and naive. I’m 28 and people think that I’m 19. My face just reads as being young and innocent. I kinda act innocent too. I have this “fairy-like” energy to me. I’m endlessly curious, I ask a lot of questions, and my mind is really quick. I wish I could be more of a “bad girl” but I’m such a square. Guys get the message pretty quickly that I’m too innocent to be in a relationship. Either that, or they assume I’m naive and end up trying to take advantage of me.
  7. I bust their balls for fun but it scares them away. I think I’m being clever and fun when I make jokes about guys, but they see it as a bit too much. It’s OK for guys to make fun of guys, but when a girl does it, it comes off as being bitchy or mean or even just too dominant. I have too many funny jokes swirling around in my head to not let them out at least once in a while. The problem is, guys get intimidated by how quick-witted I am. They feel like they can’t compete so they automatically see me as just a friend, not a girl they could have an actual relationship with.
  8. I expect to be “one of the guys” and a potential love interest. I have so much fun palling around with my guy friends, but then I turn around and complain about being single all the time. I have to realize that I can’t have both. Sure, there are some guys out there who are attracted to girls that are loud and funny and tom-boyish, but they’re few and far between. I’m doing this to myself and I have to change my ways otherwise I’ll be single forever.
  9. I totally act like I’m not interested in dating when I really am. Another reason I tend to fall in the friend-zone is that I act like I don’t want to date anyone when I really do! I think I’m being cool or casual, but it’s actually hurting my chances at finding love. I don’t know what I think I’m going to accomplish by being like this but that doesn’t stop me from doing it.
  10. Being “friendly” is a deeply ingrained part of my personality. I can’t really stop being friendly. I guess the compromise here is to give the guy at least a little space to establish some kind of romantic rapport and to push myself to get out of my comfort zone. It’s hard to keep my fear surrounding flirting and relationships in check, but I know I’ll get over it someday.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.