Let’s talk about the friend zone. The friend zone is like the matrix. It seems real — we certainly hear about it enough, but here’s the thing. It isn’t. It’s a construct. It’s all in your head, and just like the matrix, it’s your own delusions that are trapping you there.

What exactly is trapping you? Unmet expectations. Whether you wanted a date or something more, the betrayal you feel when it doesn’t happen is the feeling that has become known as being stuck in the friend zone.

Everyone’s got at least one friend who complains about being stuck there, and they usually blame someone else for putting them there (If you don’t know which friend it is, it’s probably you). But the residents of the friend zone are not as varied as you might think.

There are two main types of people who occupy the friend zone. There are the timid people who have yet to actually ask out or in some other way make a move on the person they imagine is friend zoning them. And then there are the people who have done so, been rejected, and refused to let go.

If you’re the first type, escaping the friend zone is relatively simple. Just communicate your feelings. Ask them out, take them to a movie, do whatever, just do something. Keep in mind that until you have done this until you’ve at least tried, you cannot complain about being in the friend zone. Nobody can be expected to simply know how you feel or what you want. It’s your job to communicate that. If you fail to do so, the fault is yours.

If you’re the second type, then the only way to escape the friend zone you’ve supposedly been imprisoned in is to just get over it. If you tried and they rejected you, respect that. It’s ok to feel disappointed, but don’t hold onto it. Maybe that means taking some space or partying with your friends. Whatever does it for you, do it. You simply have to move on. You might even find that once you stop resenting your “friend” or “acquaintance” status, the horrors of the friend zone simply melt away.

So if you’re feeling friend zoned, figure out whether you’re type one or type two, and stop letting the imaginary friend zone control your life. If you’re actually interested in being a friend, this is a necessity. And, for anyone struggling with the friend zone, here are some helpful things to remember.

Simply wanting something doesn’t mean you deserve it or are entitled to it. It also doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

Nobody is obligated to fulfill your wishes, no matter how much you might want them to. People owe you basic human dignity and respect, nothing else.

If you get rejected, that’s unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the world.

Finally, friendship is not a means to an end. I repeat, friendship is not a means to an end.

So just stop thinking about the friend zone. Stop worrying about it. Stop blaming others for placing you there. Stop allowing yourself to get caught in the trap. Take the red pill. See the matrix for what it really is, and leave the friend zone behind for good.