Leaving the Friend Zone

by M.A. Grant

Good stories come from good conflicts and tropes offer some of the best, most familiar conflicts out there. We’ve all got our favorites, but to me, a child of the ‘90s and all its high-school film incarnations, there is no greater emotional disaster than two people leaving the friend zone for parts unknown.

That’s right, the sound you just heard was Pandora’s box opening.

Feelings get admitted or denied, with varying results, which leads to emotional fallout, where the characters and readers both ask the same question:

A Cinderella Story

Then, if things progress, the risks exponentially rise.

When in Rome

And don’t get me started on the sex.

Is it good? Is it bad? Now that you’ve had sex, do you have it again, or do you decide that it has become the greatest taboo since putting ketchup on hot dogs?

Ketchup Hot Dog

If all that turmoil isn’t enough, you are now vulnerable to the one person who knows every single one of your buttons.

Clueless GIF

And because they’re your friend, they will push that button every damn time.

Inside Out Anger Button

From this point, when complications come up (as they always do), there’s nothing we can do as readers but read on, watching the dominos line up. And the second we hit that black moment we all saw coming, when the world falls apart at the seams, we’re left…well, destroyed, is probably the best adjective to describe it.

New Girl Crying GIF

I believe we’re not just mourning the loss of the love, but the loss of that safe friendship that had meant so much. Friends know how to flip each other inside out, so that dark moment—when the friendship is utterly, almost irretrievably broken—rips out your heart and stomps on it for a while.

But the joy of romance is that once you crawl back to your feet and wobble through those last few chapters, you’re rewarded with an emotional catharsis that leaves you a blubbering wreck, no matter your intentions of not crying at work/school/home/etc.

Rory Cool GIF

These brutal highs and lows are the reason I love writing this trope. I admit that most of the time I have no idea what my crazy kids are going to do next, so I’m typing from the edge of my seat while I wait for the next catastrophe to strike. It’s the unpredictability of this seemingly clear-cut plotline that makes it stand out to me, both as an author and a reader. I hope you see that come out in my newest release First, where Cat and Dallas are forced to leave the friend zone in their dust.


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Best friends do everything together—including falling in love…

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3 thoughts on “Leaving the Friend Zone

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