Escaping the friend zone

How two best friends turned their friendship into something more.

Getting out of the friend zone can be hard, but it’s not impossible.

For Sammy — one half of this week’s Love Letter featured couple — it took years of walking the fine line between being persistent and pushy. He knew that he liked Devon, but Devon was worried about what might happen to their friendship if they started to date and things didn’t work out.

Eventually, Devon decided to give Sammy a chance and take him up on his offer to go on a date. Once he had an opening, Sammy took advantage of it. Within two months, the couple had already moved in together.

And even though they’re now happily married, the pair haven’t given up on their friendship.

“Yes, we love each other,” Devon tells Meet Cutes NYC. “But we’re best friends first.”

Here’s their story.

How did you meet?

Devon: We started out as friends. We met when we were in high school. We had friends who were dating at the time, and they used to kind of tag us along on a lot of their dates because we were so young. It was almost like a double date, but Sammy and I were just there as their support.

What were your first impressions of each other? 

Devon: My first impression of Sammy was that he was funny and captivating. 

Sammy: Devon was smiling the whole time. I was always drawn to her. 

How did you get together? 

Devon: Around 10 years later, Sammy and I were out at a bar in Hoboken with all of our friends. And that was like, the first time we ever kissed. Everybody was turning their heads like “Oh my god, these people have been friends for so long.”

For a year and a half after that, I would say I was friend zoning him. I didn’t know if I could get past us being friends. 

What did you think when you got the friendzone treatment? 

Sammy: It was weird. We didn’t really talk for a couple of months. I was annoyed, I couldn’t really understand it. But I’d basically stalk her Instagram to see if she was still posting pictures of her boyfriend, because she said she was in and out of something. 

How’d that change? 

Sammy: So the bar kiss was February. And then Thanksgiving eve of that same year we hung out but nothing happened. And then from November to May I was still trying, texting her but not being annoying about it. And then I saw she had stopped posting this guy she was with altogether.

I asked my friends for advice, some of them were like “No, you tried it already. That’s enough.” And others were like “You should try it. If she’s answering you, give it a shot.” When I first tried it again she left me on read for a couple of days and I was like I don’t know what this is

How’d you end up on a date? 

Sammy: I don’t remember exactly what I said but remember I was going to the park to play basketball with a couple of friends. I texted her and told myself I’m gonna leave my phone up here, I’m gonna play for a few hours and then check after. I looked and she still hadn’t answered. 

Devon: I was talking to a coworker at the time and I was like “Oh my gosh, I don’t know.” We had that encounter over a year ago and nothing had happened. But my coworker said “You know, if he’s asking you on a date, why don’t you just go and try it out and see how you feel?” So that’s when I officially said yes. 

What was your first date? 

Devon: I was a teacher at the time, so it was my last day of school going into the summer. Sammy’s from Hoboken originally, so a lot of the bartenders and waitresses and waiters all knew him. I always said he was like the mayor. But on the first date he was so nervous, he spilled a whole glass of white wine on me. 

He was so embarrassed and I told him “Don’t worry about it. Good thing it’s white and not red.” 

That whole summer I was actually traveling. I was away with my family. But when I got back he was waiting to pick me up from the airport with a dozen roses. I remember saying to myself “Oh my gosh, this guy is serious about me.”

After that, we pretty much officially started to date. 

Sammy: We moved in together pretty quick. 

Devon: Yeah like two months later. 

Sammy: We went on vacations together quick, too. 

Devon: We knew each other for so many years, it was just easy. We knew so much about each other. I knew his mom, he knew my family. We knew each other so well that it felt like it made sense to move that fast. 

Are you happy you were persistent in trying to get Devon to go out with you? 

Sammy: It took patience. Because it was two years of me pursuing it. It was hard not to overthink. But I also felt like There’s nothing to lose here

Are you glad you kept an open mind when it came to taking the risk of dating a friend?

Devon: I think it’s good to be open. It was important to me that he respected the fact that we were friends. But with Sammy, I trusted him and I knew the type of person he was. Taking a gamble is important. You never know if you’re going to miss out on an opportunity or what your connection is going to be like. 

Did the relationship impact your friend group? 

Devon: I think people kind of suspected it. I think people in our friend group always figured there was a reason why we were always keeping contact with each other.

What about your friendship with each other?

Devon: We knew from the jump that we were best friends. And in our relationship today that still comes first. We say it all the time. Yes, we love each other, but we’re best friends.

🤔 Poll

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📊 Last Week We Asked…

  • [poll] “Do you believe love finds you when you least expect it?”

    • 58% said “I think there's some truth to it”

    • 36% said “Yes, absolutely”

    • 6% said “No, I don’t believe love finds you”

And one meet-cuter shared: “I met my boyfriend when I had accepted that I was going to be the single friend of the group. I had no intention of meeting or dating anyone when I met my boyfriend. He kind of just walked into my life one day and became my friend and then he became my boyfriend.”

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Interviewed and transcribed by Nicolas Vega. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.