"Maybe if I do this for the next five years, she'd run out of assholes who'd be interested in her, and finally, I'll have a chance! Sounds like a plan."
Let me share a joke. It's very relevant to what I have to say today, I promise.
Q: How many "Let's Just Be Friends" does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Only one, who will…
… call you up every night for three months and talk to you for hours on end, about how bad her current light bulb is, how it goes out without warning, and never provides her with the kind of light she would really love to have.
… tell you what a wonderful light bulb you have, and how any woman would die to have such a light bulb.
… tell you it’s amazing that your light bulb has been sitting alone in its little corrugated cardboard tube for the last six months and even more amazing that you don’t have a dozen sockets to screw it into.
… call you up at three o’clock on a Monday morning, (destroying any chance you had of being alert, much less coherent at that crucial business meeting at 8 am) to agonize about the fight she had with her light bulb, and to tell you that she finally lost her temper with it and unscrewed the light bulb forever.
… be shocked at your offer of a replacement bulb, and will tell you that she could never screw your light bulb into her empty socket, that doing so would ruin the light it gives out, and that it’s too good a bulb for her anyway, but that she hopes she’ll still be able to come over and talk to you about her light bulb problems.
… go home, rummage through the trash can, find the defunct light bulb, lovingly clean it off, screw it back into the socket, and sit there in the dark.
… call you up every night for three months…
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? But don't worry, I'm not going to get into that whole "nice guys finish last" diatribe, because being the Nice Guy, or even the legit nice guy, has its own host of issues that I have no intention of taking up right now. I'm more inclined to just focus on the concept of the friend zone, and the fact that despite all the tips you may have heard from the Mystery's or the Ross Jeffries' in your life, whenever it happens, it never stops being a source of consternation, no matter how many canned lines you have ready to deal with it.
The last few times it happened to me, I thought I was prepared. With one, it was a case of us being on the same page, to begin with. I didn't see myself with her, nor did she, so when she sprang the LJBF song and dance on me, it was merely a case of her beating me to the punch, but hey, no drama, right? It's all good.
After weeks upon weeks of finding myself having an inexplicable connection with her, that very same connection ended up being the very reason why we didn't have a snowball's chance in Hades of making things work. I think Usher said it best... "you remind me of a girl that I once knew."
Oh, sure, it's a blow to the ego that I couldn't exit from the equation with my head up high, but fine, no drama, right? It's not like I'd be heartbroken over being friendzoned at this point, since I had the same idea, anyways.
But when it happens more than enough times, and when you, unlike the stereotypical Nice Guy actually muster up the courage to make your intentions clear, yet still get the whole LJBF routine? Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Sure, you could say you don't want to just allow yourself to be boxed in, since, y'know, friends don't do that to each other. You can come up with a million lines to either soften the blow or outright try to sway their opinion. But what happens when they turn out to be that 1% of the time where all your game falls to the wayside and you just don't have a prayer of turning things around?
That's the point where you begin to resent yourself and you ask yourself where you're going wrong and what it is you don't have. It makes you question yourself: if you're really a person who can be loved, or simply a fool deluding yourself and other people that there's more to you than the masks you put on to stay relevant and interesting.
So when someone attempts to put you in the friend zone, remind them that you already are friends, and that they can't realistically expect you to just ignore your feelings and pretend they don't exist. Don't allow yourself to be boxed in. Real friends don't do that to each other.
Yet, despite all your desire to fight the status quo and to prove yourself a cut above the rest, respect her wishes if she clearly doesn't see you that way. Just make sure that in turn, she respects your feelings, and you don't give her opportunities to exploit them. In the end, that's all you really could do, and hopefully, though the heartbreak of an apparent rejection may be painful, your sincerity should at least count for something.