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Dating Challenge: Crossing the 'Friend Zone'

You've had feelings for your friend for a while and you're worried about crossing the line and ruining the friendship. That's not really true, of course, but that's what you keep telling yourself so you can justify not putting yourself on the line and risking rejection.

Sure -- it's possible to love a friend of the opposite sex without picturing him or her in bed. Having feelings for your friend doesn't necessarily prove Harry's theory in "When Harry Met Sally" who famously declared that "No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her."

There are exceptions to Harry's rule, but one thing is certain -- being seen as just a friend by all the people you want to date can be frustrating. So here are a few ways to prevent being stuck in (cue scary music): 'The Friend Zone':

1. Do Flirt

It's okay if romance is on your brain when you greet your friend. In fact, it can fuel the chemistry. It's good for your friend to catch you subtly checking him or her out. As long as you're not drooling or gawking, it can be sexy. You want your friend to think he or she imagined the look. Light touching and sincere and specific compliments are great for flirting, too.

2. Don't Be the Problem Solver

Are you on speed dial every time your friend needs something fixed or wants to process a bad relationship? It's nice to help your friend occasionally, but make sure you're not the one he or she associates with problems.

If you do come over to help, mention that you're happy to assist for an hour but have plans after that. Better to remain a little mysterious and have your friend wondering who else is getting your attention.

3. Have Fun

Create unique memories. You're aware of your friend's passions, so initiate fun and interesting activities that you know your friend will enjoy but isn't doing with others. And -- if someone has dumped you, confide in a friend you don't have feelings for! Remember to keep an upbeat attitude and stay confident -- those are two of the most attractive qualities cited by singles when looking for a mate.

Of course, not every friendship ends with a romantic happy ending and you may have to be prepared that your crush just wants to stay your friend. You'll have to decide if that's enough for you. In the meantime, if you feel like you often end up in the friend zone with people you want to date, plant some of these seeds and see if anything grows in your relationship. Sometimes a glass of wine or a flirtatious exchange can change the dynamic... and you look at each other and wonder why it took so long.

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