You finally worked up the courage to confess your feelings to your crush. Maybe you've known her for a short time, maybe you've known her for years, maybe you've even seen her go through a relationship or two, but regardless of that now today is the finally day. You strut up to her with your head high and chest puffed out then ask her out on your first ever date, and much to your dismay she tells you that she only sees you as a friend.
Or maybe you never got the courage to ask her out at all, you just eventually hear the words "I'm so glad to have you as a friend." Maybe she's a longtime friend you suddenly developed feelings for, or maybe you've been friends with her for a bit while also secretly having feelings for her. Maybe you asked her out a long time ago and she constantly reminds you that you're just friends, or maybe she might even be an ex-lover who you still have some lingering feelings for. You stick around with her in hopes that one day she'll come around and realize her feelings for you (spoiler: she most likely won't).
What do all these scenarios have in common? The guy in the story is in the friend-zone.
What is the friend-zone?
The most commonly accepted definition of the friend-zone refers to an interpersonal relationship between two people where one person wants a romantic or sexual relationship with the other person, while the other person only wants a strictly platonic relationship. It is most commonly reported for a heterosexual guy to be the one in the friend-zone with a girl although it is completely possible for the girl to be the one in the friend-zone. It's also possible for a friend-zone situation to exist between two members of the same sex. Point of the matter is the friend-zone is generally not a desirable situation to be in.
Why do girls say "Let's just be friends, etc."?
The most common reasons why a girl says this are:
She genuinely does see you as a friend and is being honest about it, while also being clear that she has no interest in a romantic or sexual relationship with you, this scenario tends to be more common if you've known the girl for quite some time or have actually befriended her.
She's just saying it to be nice and let you down easy. She probably doesn't really have any intention of being your friend but she either doesn't want to hurt your feelings or she's afraid that you'll react harshly so she's trying to soften the blow as much as she can. She might or might not try to be your friend anyway.
She's trying to friend-zone you on purpose. Maybe she wants to keep you around for attention, maybe she feels validated knowing that she has potential "suitors" vying for her, maybe she wants to keep you as a "just in case" option. These girls can be dangerous and are often competent in the art of "breadcrumbing", that is putting in just enough effort to leave a metaphorical "trail" for you to follow while at the same time keeping themselves just outside of your reach.
So How Do I Put Myself There?
The most she can do is give you the offer of friendship or even in the friendzone, but at the end of the day nobody can force you to accept it. Despite what the above picture says, there is nobody pointing a gun to your head that's forcing you to put yourself in or remain in the friendzone, at the end of the day it's a situation you put yourself in entirely of your own free will.
So how do I get out?
The most obvious way to get out of the friendzone is to avoid putting yourself there in the first place. There are a few ways to do this:
Make your intentions clear as soon as possible instead of beating around the bush or dilly-dallying around and building up to a "big reveal" moment. This means that if you meet a girl that you think is cute, instead of trying to take the "be friends first" approach ask her out on a date as soon as possible, and do not hide the fact that you are attracted to her. No, there is no guarantee that she will be interested in anything more than friendship, but with this approach you will at least find out how she feels about you sooner than later. The sooner she rejects you the sooner you can move onto the next girl.
Accept her offer of friendship and only that and write her off completely as a romantic option. There's nothing that says you can't actually be friends with her, and if you can put your feelings to the side it can actually be beneficial. Whether or not she does end up liking you in the future is irrelevant: you are not counting on the possibility of that ever happening, the ball is chiefly in her court. As long as you
If you honestly don't think you can handle being her friend then cut her out of your life immediately or distance herself as much as you possibly can. Yes it will most likely suck and you'll probably miss her, but there really are plenty of fish in the sea and sooner or later you'll get over it.