Students navigate the mental health effects of the friend-zone


Being in the “friend-zone” can affect mental health in the long term, said graduate student Molly Chapman.

The term “friend-zone” is used in situations where one person in the friendship wants to be in a romantic relationship and the other does not reciprocate those feelings. Just being friends can hurt the one longing for something more and affect their mental health as well because the person does not match your infatuation. 

Katerina Wright, a senior at Kent East Liverpool campus, has been stuck in the friend-zone for over 10 years with a man who only sees her as a roommate/friend. Wright currently lives with him and wants something more than a friendship and constantly thinks about being his “friend” and nothing more.

“He said he’s never thought about being in a relationship with me,” Wright said. “I have told him my feelings and the truth about how I want a romantic relationship about two years ago.”

Wright said they tend to act like they are in a real relationship, but without the labels. Escaping the friend-zone can be tough, because “If that same person wants to stay friends, it’s because they want to keep things how they are … In most cases, this means keeping your attention, affection, friendship, and any other benefits that you provide — all without giving you what you want,” according to

Graduate student at Kent State Molly Chapman is currently studying clinical and mental health psychology and said that being in the friend-zone with someone long term that shows no signs of wanting to become more than friends can affect your mental health. 

“If the friend made you think they shared the same feelings but then friend-zoned you I think it negatively affects your mental health,” Chapman said. “On the other hand, if your friend makes it very clear from the get-go they do not share those same feelings then it’s less damaging to your mental health, especially long term.” 

Wright and her friend have talked about dating but have remained just friends. She said they have not dated anyone in their years of college together and if he did date someone other than her, it would bother her. 

“I want something more with him, but I do not want to put in all the effort myself,” Wright said.

Jeremy Nicholson explained in an article on friend-zones, “each person must give and contribute in equal amounts. Both people’s needs must be satisfied at roughly equal measures.”

Relationships work when both people put in the work and effort. Avoiding the friend-zone can be hard for those who are the ones invested and the other is not reciprocating those feelings.

Jennifer Lasik covers relationships. Contact her at [email protected].