How To Friendzone A Girl Without Damaging Your Relationship

Updated March 14, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Mismatched feelings between you and a friend can be complicated. If a girl you’re close to is interested in a romantic relationship with you, but you’d like to keep the dynamic the same, feelings can get hurt, and you could risk losing a good friend. While the term friendzoning sometimes has negative connotations, defining your relationship with a friend doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable situation. In fact, it can help you and a woman you’re close to avoid hurt feelings and complications in your friendship. Below, we’re going to discuss how you can friendzone a girl in your life without damaging your relationship with her.

Establishing boundaries in relationships can be hard

What is the friendzone?

When someone’s interest in a romantic relationship with a friend is not reciprocated, they are said to have been put in the friend zone. Friendzoning is sometimes a necessary way of maintaining a friendship with someone without adding a romantic component. 

Friendzoning may happen intentionally when someone knows that a friend has feelings for them. Or it can happen unintentionally, often by someone who doesn’t realize their friend is looking for more. Friendzoning has had negative connotations in the past, but as we’ll discuss below, it can be a healthy way of setting boundaries in your friendship and ensuring your friend doesn’t get her feelings hurt.  

Why do people go in the friendzone?

There are numerous reasons a person may not reciprocate romantic affection for a friend. Some people may be attracted to their friends but value the friendship so much that they don’t want to risk hurting it by changing the dynamic. Others may simply not see their friend in a romantic way. 

Putting someone in the friend zone in a compassionate but definitive way, far from being a negative thing, can actually be beneficial for the other person. It lets them know where they stand without leading them on. It also signals that you respect them enough, to be honest with them. In fact, friendzoning a woman you’re close to can lead to a healthier friendship.


How to friend zone a girl respectfully

Friendzoning someone can be a simple process, but if you are uncertain about relationships or struggle to communicate openly, it can also be complicated at times. The most important thing to remember when defining a relationship with a friend is that you should remain respectful and compassionate. To place a girl in your life in the friend zone, consider adopting the following approaches. 

Understand her intentions

Before friend zoning a woman, it can help to know for sure that she is interested in a romantic relationship with you. If she only wants to be friends, trying to further define your friendship could create confusion or lead to hurt feelings. Look for common signs of romantic interest, such as touching, eye contact, playful teasing, or more overt forms of flirting. If she’s interested in something more out of your relationship, she may try to spend time alone frequently, joke about dating you, or even come right out and ask you if you’d like to take things to the next level. Once you’re certain she’d like to be more than friends, you can decide how to proceed. 

Start with subtle indications

Being kind and compassionate is almost always the best course of action when you’re friendzoning a girl. You can start out with subtle indications that your interest is only friendly. You can drop the word "friend" into casual conversations, avoid making overtures that could be considered romantic, and make a point to not spend time alone. If she says things that indicate she’s interested in changing the relationship, try not to lead her on by agreeing or going into detail. 

Set boundaries

To make sure your friendship stays that way, set boundaries about what you will and will not do or say together. Discussing sex, your romantic preferences, or similar topics can create romantic intimacy between two people. To make sure your friendship is purely platonic in nature, avoid conversing in a way that might suggest you’re interested in something more.

Keep physical boundaries in place, as well. Although a casual hug is certainly not an indication of romantic interest, cuddling up together while watching a movie, holding hands, and other close contact can have intentions that go beyond friendship.

Tell her outright

If boundaries and subtlety are not working, you may have to move on to a more direct discussion of your relationship. This conversation should be an empathetic one, but it should not leave room for uncertainty. Leading a friend on can cause tension and even more discomfort later in your relationship.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Establishing boundaries in relationships can be hard

Instead, one effective and considerate way to have this conversation is to start with a question, such as, "I sometimes feel like you're interested in more than just friendship. Am I wrong in feeling that way?" No matter the response, you can follow up with, "I just want to be clear that I value our friendship, and I’d like it to remain friends." The two of you can discuss particulars from there if need be. One study found that people usually expect their honest communication efforts to be far more negative than they are, so the conversation itself might not be as difficult or awkward as you fear.

Give her space

If you’ve set boundaries around your relationship with a girl, it is normal for her to desire some time away from your friendship. She might want to stop hanging out with you in person for a bit or even avoid contact altogether for a while as she processes her feelings. It can be hard to hear that someone you’re interested in romantically does not feel the same way; so, out of respect, try to give her some space until she’s ready to interact with you. 

Avoid leading her on

Once you’ve established that you’d like to keep your relationship friendly, try to avoid doing things that may make her feel that you’ve changed your mind. For example, try not to flirt with her or inquire about her dating life. The more you establish that your relationship is friendly, the easier it may be for her to move on and maintain a healthy friendship with you. 

Putting a woman in the friend zone can be hard and may lead you to reach out to her with kind words. This, too, can cause confusion if your words signal the existence of romantic feelings. If, for example, you say something like, "I can't talk to anyone the way I can talk to you," that could be misinterpreted and seen as a romantic interest. Instead, keep the thought to yourself, or say something that also reinforces your status as friends, such as: "I'm grateful you've been such an incredible friend."

Finally, know that having these conversations can sometimes result in the loss of the relationship. As painful as that might be, it could be in both of your best interests. It might be too painful for your friend to have to quash their true feelings for you or continue to be friends while holding out hope that you will someday change your mind. If your friend tells you she can’t stay friends, you’ll have to respect her wishes, even though this could be hard for you. You can tell her that you’d love to resume your friendship if she changes her mind (it’s possible that she just needs a break from your friendship). The important thing is that you’ve set a healthy boundary around your relationship in a compassionate and empathetic way.

Defining your relationships with online therapy

For those who are in a partnership or are having a hard time delineating the boundaries of their relationships, online therapy is a proven and useful intervention. For example, in a study that included 600 total participants, researchers found that online therapy led to “significant improvements in relationship satisfaction”. These results can be added to those of an increasing number of studies that point to the efficacy of online therapy for those experiencing complex relationship challenges. 

If you struggle to set boundaries or find yourself in friendships with people whose interest in you is primarily romantic, consider reaching out to a therapist who can help you work through these difficulties. Using an online therapy platform like Regain, you can discuss topics like friend zoning and relationship dynamics remotely, through video call, voice call, or in-app messaging. Regain works with thousands of qualified therapists—who have a wide range of specialties—so you’ll have a good chance of matching with someone who can address your specific concerns regarding creating boundaries and maintaining healthy friendships. 


When friend zoning, honesty is the best policy. Beating around the bush and hinting may only cloud the issue further, while honestly stating where you stand (and where you expect to stand in the future) allows you and your friend to move forward in your relationship. If you’d like further help defining your relationships or building friendships, consider getting matched with a licensed therapist online. With the help of a professional, you can develop more effective communication skills, learn about boundary-setting, and forge healthy, fulfilling relationships.

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