We all have that one happy crush whom we just can’t seem to get enough of. Everytime you see them, you can’t help but adore each unique quirk that they have. This silly little crush then develops into something more, until one day, you just find yourself shooting your shot. “Here goes nothing,” you tell yourself.
If they reciprocate your feelings, hooray! This is probably the start of your happily ever after. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in a fairy tale. You hold your breath as you wait for the dreadful words: “I like you too…but only as a friend.” Your world crumbles, yet you still give them a faint smile.
You’ve just been friend-zoned, and while you were never a couple, you feel like you just got your heart broken. What are you going to do now?
The initial answer is most probably to “move on,” but we know that it’s easier said than done. Thankfully, you’re not alone in this heartbreak.
We asked our Rappler readers, and clinical psychologist Abegail Joyce “AJ” Requilman from mental health organization Empath, on how to move on after getting friend-zoned, and here are some of their tips so you can finally let go of those romantic feelings.
Crying? Or drinking it away?
If your instinctive reaction was to cry, turn to alcohol, or deflect with humor, we can’t blame you as we are naturally inclined to protect ourselves from harm. As such, wanting to get rid of negative feelings or escape situations that make you feel uncomfortable is very understandable.
However, AJ does not recommend these solutions. According to her, emotional drinking delays dealing with your feelings, and when this becomes habitual, it can do more harm than actually help with moving on.
Deflecting with humor, just like turning to alcohol, is not so different since you are refraining from facing your true emotions.
“On the other hand, crying is the opposite of escaping your situation. When you cry, you let your guard down and allow yourself to deal with your true feelings,” AJ reasoned out. She also explained that emotional tears contain high levels of stress hormones and thus, shedding tears can help release the pain.
Just remember that when you cry, you open yourself to healing, but when you drink, you are locking your feelings somewhere, which is not really helpful with healing.
Moving on from getting friend-zoned is quite ironic because it might be best to not be friends for a while. According to one of our readers, she decided not to talk to her crush after getting friend-zoned, with the exception of necessity.
This is actually a good choice so one can focus on their own healing. After all, moving away from a person who has hurt you is not always a sign of weakness.
“When you see this person or know what they are up to all the time, it is easier to go back to thinking about what could have been if you put in more effort. You cannot move forward if you keep on looking back. This is easier said than done but try your best to avoid traps such as looking at their social media updates. While you haven’t fully healed yet, it’s best to cut ties for now,” AJ told Rappler.
Staying away digitally from the person who rejected you is easy and doable but some Rappler readers prefer to create physical distance. Traveling to move on can surely distract your aching heart, so if you’ve got that extra money, this rejection might be your sign to see new places.
Finding someone new
Some people say that the best way to get over someone is to find someone new. If you think about it, they’re not completely wrong. How can you be crying over someone if there’s another person who already makes you happy?
According to one of our Rappler readers, having lots of crushes helps with lessening the pain of a rejection. However, this is not the case most of the time.
AJ said that using another person to fill a void risks you getting double heartbreak if this person also leaves you, or if it turns out that they are just there to comfort you as a friend. “When you jump from one love interest to another too quickly without taking time to heal, you may be just transferring your attachment from one person to another without looking into what caused the problem in the failed, could-be-relationship,” she added.
More than that, it’s just unfair to your new love interest as you may also find yourself comparing them with the previous one. AJ advises that it’s best to focus on yourself and your healing for the time being before putting yourself out there again.
Maybe then when you find that someone, you will truly realize that your crush who rejected you is not even worth your time, as one of our readers shared.
Focusing on yourself
After getting rejected, you might think that you have no one to give your love to, but that’s where you’re wrong. We often forget, but we can also accept the love that we wanted to share with other people.
Self-improvement and self-care comes in many forms and it could be pampering yourself at the spa, treating yourself to a solo samgyupsal date, or bulking up at the gym.
A Rappler reader also shared how he looks into the rejection as a way to improve his character. However, this does not necessarily mean that focusing on yourself means looking for your mistakes. It’s easy to question yourself and think of all the possible negative qualities you may have that make you unworthy of love.
With this, AJ pointed out that it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, rejection happens not because there is something wrong with you, but simply because you and the other person are not the right fit for each other.
“Be honest with how you really feel and what you want to do moving forward. Ask yourself what things you wished the other person did for you and do them yourself. Treat yourself to a spa day, buy yourself gifts you would like to receive, tell yourself positive affirmations. You do not need to wait for someone to do nice things for you,” AJ advised.
The last, and probably the hardest, stage in the five stages of grief is acceptance. Getting to this part could be difficult, but once you’re there, you can truly say that you’ve finally moved on.
While it may be a harsh truth, one of our readers shared that getting rejected means that it’s simply not for you. Meanwhile, another reader said that even performing outrageous acts can’t get your crush to like you if you’ve been friend-zoned. With this, you are left with no choice but to accept that friendship is all that you can have with your love interest.
Accepting that you are just a friend who’s lost all chances for a romantic relationship with your love interest is definitely difficult, but it’s not the end of the world. Just like what one reader said, not everything has to be yours for them to remain special to you. It sure requires a lot of emotional resiliency, but becoming a true friend to your love interest is possible, especially if you really want them to remain in your life.
In our interview with AJ, she laid out some tips that one can consider to be ready for friendship with the person who rejected them. Her first tip is to find out the reason for the rejection and to clarify past misunderstandings, so that none of it can get in the way of rebuilding their friendship. Next, she advised that none of them bring up the rejection in the future. If one needs emotional support for the heartache, AJ suggests looking for this from other friends.
However, we do understand if you still find it extremely difficult to suppress your emotions. AJ reminded us that we can always be honest and take time to heal. Reflect whether you can really stay friends with this person and tell them your decision instead of disappearing without notice.
“One of you, if not both, might want to keep some distance for the time being and know that this is okay. What’s important is that you remain respectful towards each others’ healing process and willingness to rekindle your friendship,” AJ concluded.
To those who are still in denial
Believe it or not, a couple of our Rappler readers who got friend-zoned are still not over it. Of course, each of us has our own pace for moving on, but if you decide to continue being friends and you haven’t gotten over the rejection, there is a chance of you continuing to have feelings for your friend.
“It would be good to ask yourself if hoping for a relationship with your friend is still reasonable or if it is becoming self-destructive. Also, be mindful about the risk of being hurt even more if they get into another relationship or still don’t want a romantic relationship with you,” AJ advised.
She also emphasized that it is also important to reflect on whether one’s feelings as a friend are genuine or not. “Being friends with someone means you trust each other and that you can provide care and support without ulterior motives,” she added.
Getting out of the friend-zone
It’s unfortunate that this one person you fell for couldn’t reciprocate your feelings, but remember, they’re not the only person who can give you love. You can source love from your family and friends, and even from yourself.
AJ said that it’s best to surround yourself with people who accept you unconditionally and remind you of how great you are. “It is easy to get insecure when you feel rejected, so spend more time with people who make you feel accepted, especially during this time,” she said.
If you think that this is not enough and all the other tips don’t seem to work, you can also consider seeking professional help. According to AJ, some people who experience being romantically rejected can make them go down the rabbit hole of their past issues of feeling abandoned as a child or bullied by classmates during school years. “If being romantically rejected has triggered your past abandonment issues or has tapped into deeper wounds, talking with a therapist may help you see aspects of your situation that you couldn’t see yourself. It would do more good to find professional help to assist you towards healing,” she suggested.
When you’re finally free from heartache, remember to keep your doors open. Just because you got rejected once, doesn’t mean you will get rejected again. After all, if you don’t try, you will never know. According to AJ, radiating self confidence and cultivating your own happiness will lead to a greater chance of attracting genuine and incredible partnership with someone else.
“Moving on and loving yourself more doesn’t always mean that you will forever shy away from finding a romantic partner. Not that you always need another person to complete you, but just being open to possibilities is important.” – Rappler.com