What Exactly Is Sister-Zoning, and Is It Happening to You?

You've probably heard of the friend zone, but have you considered that you might actually be in the sister zone?

Though you may not be familiar with the term yet, it's something that happens all the time. Keep reading to find out more about sister-zoning, and to find out if it might be happening to you.

What Is the Sister Zone?

The sister zone is a slight variation on the friend zone, in which a girl's potential love interest doesn't reciprocate her feelings because they think of her as something like a sister.

While the term implies a closeness that "friend zone" does not, it can often mean that there's even less of a chance of a relationship there. For one, calling someone a sister is shorthand for saying you're not interested in them romantically. And even if you're saying it to deflect your true feelings, that kinship means you probably don't want to do anything to change the status quo and potentially lose her as a friend.

This can also be known as the brother zone when someone labels someone else as their brother, and some people use the more gender-neutral "sibling zone" or "family zone" to refer to this phenomenon. It's a tricky place to be, but what can you do?


(via Shutterstock)


The Warning Signs

If your crush prefers to give you high-fives over hugs, calls you "bro" and tries to set you up with their friends, it's likely that they just don't like you that way. You may feel like there's some intimacy in a relationship, and you feel comfortable around them in a way that you just aren't with others, but where you feel love stirring, they think of you as family. Of course, the biggest clue is that they call you their "sister" frequently, and to anyone who'll hear it.


Don't Think of It as a 'Zone'

We actually prefer to avoid calling anything the friend zone or sister zone because the word "zone" sounds like a location you can move in and out of. In relationships, the roles aren't usually so temporary or changeable. Calling it a "zone" gives too many people the idea that through self-improvement, flattery, or even manipulation and trickery, you can graduate out of the "zone" into a relationship, and 99% of the time, that simply isn't the case. Remember that love can't be bought, and no one owes you affection, regardless of how much you've "earned" it. It's hard, but the first step is coming to terms with the facts—especially now that you know they think of you as a family member.


(via Shutterstock)


Understanding Intentions

Being treated like a "sister" by someone you admire won't always look the same, or even come from similar mindsets. While some people will call you a sister to actively dissuade your interest in them, others might harbor closeness for their own gain, and others yet will call you a sister because that's exactly how they think of you.

Maybe they notice that you like them, but they like someone else and want to prevent your feelings from getting hurt. Maybe they like a friend of yours, and they're actually using you to become closer to that person.

Other times, it can even come from a subconsciously familial place. If they're best friends with your brother, for example, they might see you as a sister because of the role you play when they're hanging out. Similarly, if you're close with your crush's sister, they might associate you with being a sibling. Understanding where they're actually coming from is the best way to protect yourself from actual heartbreak.


(via Shutterstock)


For more help on navigating your crushes, click HERE to find out what it means when a crush called you "dude."