Are we really just friends?

Biko Kennedy and Whitney Blackwood, Youthlink Writers

Imagine, you're lounged in a beautifully knit hammock, swaying back and forth as the wind whistles through the grass to slowly caress your face. Time passes with each second slower than the one before, leaving you in a never-ending, dream-like trance. Suddenly, you feel a sharp tap on your left shoulder and as you turn you are faced with the reality of a wooden bat ready to smack you awake.

Well, we've all spent hours daydreaming about things we can only wish we had, like being in that elusive relationship which blossomed from a near-perfect friendship. But who is really willing to risk hearing 'I don't want to mess up our friendship by dating' and what does 'I don't like you that way' really mean? We'll explain how to get past this hurdle using five different levels.

Level 1 - The cling factory
Friend-zone radar: 60%
The sign: You make him/her your primary focus and your social life pretty much revolves around him/her.
What your crush does: He/She'll have no problem dragging you to any event that presents itself because you're sure to make yourself available.
Avoid it by: Making yourself scarce. Quit replying to every text he/she sends within the same minute. Miss a few calls and then call back. Be a challenge. The sense of unpredictability can help in charming your way past being lost in the friend zone.

Level 2 - Being overly nice
Friend-zone radar: 70%
The sign: You're too accommodating and not quite bold and daring in your speech.
What your crush does: He/She'll constantly compare you to close siblings.
Avoid it by: Trying to be outrageous at times. Assess the situation; what you think might be the wrong thing to say may actually be the right thing to say at that moment, but do be self-assured, calm and charismatic as you say it. Remember, there is a thin line between being sarcastic and straight up insulting him/her.

Level 3 - Being their personal diary
Friend-zone radar: 80%
The sign: You're always there to listen to your crush's romantic stories about his/her significant other or persons he/she is interested in, and you're openly available to issue relationship advice.
What your crush does: Flirts with other people while you are around and asks for the best strategic approaches.
Avoid it by: Staying away from engaging in pointless gossip with him/her. Try flirting subtly. Dishing out a few playful and sarcastic innuendos will spice up the conversation, giving hints at a romantic flavour between you two. Don't just sit there absorbing his/her stories; suggest your romantic interest, but don't blurt it out. This may make you seem desperate for companionship.  

Level 4 - Caught on the wrong side of humour
Friend-zone radar: 75%
The sign: You've crossed the line from being quirky with your humour to being the go-to-person for laughs; aka, his/her personal clowns.
What your crush does: Whenever he/she is feeling gloomy, you'll be there to place the perfect smile on his/her face.
Avoid it by: Acting as though you're in a relationship; as more than a friend. It's great showing your humourous side, but you need to also show that more serious emotion-driven side. Don't hesitate from touching him/her casually but yet affectionately. These little cues suggest your confidence and comfort and, at the same time, show the basic signs of physical attraction. 

Level 5 - Always agreeing on every point
Friend-zone radar: 85%
The sign: There's never a disagreement between you two.
What your crush does: He/She has no problem telling you secrets, dreams, future plans, etc, mainly because he/she trusts you and knows you'll always agree with decisions.
Avoid it by: Stop playing it safe. Don't be afraid of offending him/her with what you may say. Feel free to disagree and stand your ground. Never let him/her think that you're just a puppet on a string. Introduce that shock factor and challenge his/her views on varying topics.