Avoiding The Friend Zone

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This week marks the one year anniversary of Paging Dr. NerdLove, which I’m finding absolutely astounding. And I can only say “thank you” to everybody who’s been with me so far and who’s just joined me. I can’t do it without you all.

Since it is the first anniversary of the blog, I thought that it might be a good time to devote a week to one of the topics I get the most requests to return to: the Friend Zone.

Now, as I’ve said before, The Friend Zone is a myth. As much as people like to make a fuss out of it and how horrible the Friend Zone is, the hard and fast truth is that ultimately it comes down to the fact that the person you’re interested in just doesn’t want to sleep with you.

And to be perfectly frank, 99.9999% of the time, that’s your fault. Women don’t put you in the Friend Zone. You put yourself in the Friend Zone.

Getting the Let’s Just Be Friends speech means that ultimately, you fucked up somewhere along the line. You don’t want to be relegated to the Friend Zone? You need to know how people get stuck in there in the first place… and how to avoid it.

Exile in the Friend Zone

Before we get started: yes, this is a topic I’ve covered before – but it’s one that, in my experience deserves to be refined and expanded upon. If you’ve been keeping up with the basics, but you’re still finding yourself stuck in the Friend Zone, then you need to take some time to reflect on how you ended up there; after all, there are many paths that lead to the friend zone… and different zones entirely.

Yup. There is, in fact, more than one Friend Zone.

…. but they all feel a lot like this!


Stick with me here.

The Different Friend Zones

Friend Zone v. 1: Let’s Just Be Friends

This version of the Friend Zone is, frankly, born out of generations of socialization that teaches women to always be concerned about a man’s feelings and take care to not cause offense. It can be difficult for women to tell a guy directly that she just isn’t interested in him romantically or sexually, especially to his face , when you don’t want to hurt his feelings. Giving him the Let’s Just Be Friends speech (LJBF) is a – theoretically – gentler way of saying”look, I don’t want to date you/sleep with you”.

An artist’s interpretation of the state of one’s ego following the LJBF speech.

Sometimes this happens because the recipient pushed too hard, too fast and ended up ruining the chance of a sexual attraction building naturally. Sometimes, this is intended as a brush-off – the one giving the LJBF speech is hoping that the person on the recieving end will take the hint and leave. Other times, they are being entirely honest: they really would prefer to be friends. They may think that sex ruins friendships or they may be interested in somebody else. The reasons may differ but the end result is the same: you’re not going to progress beyond “friend”. If that.

Friend Zone v.2 : The Big Lie From a Nice Guy

The second form of the Friend Zone involves being in a relationship under false pretenses. This is, surprisingly enough, the most common form; it’s the end result of the Platonic Friend Backdoor Gambit, wherein a person – almost always a man – pretends to only be interested in a platonic friendship with the hope that he can weasel his way into her heart and/or panties, given enough time. It’s the move by men who ultimately fear rejection and would rather submit themselves to the Friend Zone than risk losing the fantasy. This is fundementally dishonest and a complete dick move; the pretender is trading on somebody’s willingness to believe him when he insists that he doesn’t have ulterior motives in trying to be friends with her. Ironically, the men who find themselves in this form of the Friend Zone have the hardest time recognizing the harm they’re doing – both to themselves and to the women that they claim to care about.

Friend Zone v.3: The Mistaken Intentions

This form of the Friend Zone is similar to the Big Lie in that it is often the result of being too shy or afraid of rejection to come out and specifically state one’s intentions. However, while the Big Lie entails active deception on the part of the person who finds themselves stuck in the Friend Zone, The Mistaken Intentions is the result of someone making an approach, but not making it very clear from the jump that he or she was interested in a date, not just hanging out as friends… and as a result, ending up being considered as a friend rather than a potential romantic partner. Interestingly, this is one of the most common forms of the Friend Zone for women to find themselves stuck in – also known as The Bro-Zone.

Friend Zone v.4: The Genuine Friend

This form of the Friend Zone tends to arrive out of nowhere – it entails becoming attracted to somebody that you were already genuinely friends with. Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing that your childhood friend is actually shockingly hot. Sometimes it’s a case of a crush striking out of the clear blue sky and making things complicated. Occasionally it’s a matter of bringing feelings that have been simmering undetected to the surface and unable to be ignored.

This form of the Friend Zone can be one of the most pernicious and hardest to avoid as it often seems to come on suddenly and out of nowhere. It is also one of the hardest to escape from; since these tend to occur in friendships of long-standing, it can be difficult to reframe the situation.

Be Clear From The Beginning

If you are interested in somebody, regardless as to whether you’re interested in them sexually or as a potential romantic partner, you need to be absolutely clear about your intentions. You can’t simply assume that your desires are so obvious that they can’t possibly be mistaken; I can’t keep track of the number of letters and comments I’ve received from people who couldn’t understand why the person they liked had no idea they exist despite giving what they thought were unmistakable indicators of interest. Unfortunately, one person’s “glaringly obvious” is another person’s “insanely subtle” and prone to misinterpretation. In fact, you will find that some people – nerds, especially – are prone to picking up on indicators of interest and actually rationalizing them away because they don’t believe that somebody could possibly be showing any sort of interest in them.

“My self-identity is too caught up in my being the tragic hero to recognize that women might be flirting with me.”

If you want to avoid any potential confusion, you have to be blatant. If you are asking somebody out, you need to make it perfectly clear that you are asking them out on a date. Not to “go hang out some time”. Not to “grab dinner, if y’know, you don’t have any plans”. Not “get coffee some time” or study together. You need to actually use the word “date” – anything less and your outing is subject to interpretation; you may think that you’re going on a date but she may think that you’re just hanging out because you enjoy each other’s company.

One issue that comes up, especially in the world of online dating, is that some people will want to be friends first; in fact, you’ll find many people – mostly women – will have “I want to make friends, if something more happens, then great!” in their dating profile. More often than not, this is an indicator that they want to take things slowly -all well and good. As I said, I do believe that strong relationships can and do bloom from friendships. However, you still have to be clear: you are communicating with this person because you are interested in this becoming something more than just platonic friendship. To do otherwise is not only dishonest but also runs the risk of causing them to misinterpret your interest. You also run the risk of losing out to somebody who is willing to make the connection happen rather than hoping that it just occurs naturally and without any input on your end of things. If you aren’t willing to take the initiative from the very beginning, you risk having any emotional potential grow stagnant.

Know The Difference Between Friends And Lovers

Most instances of The Friend Zone can easily be avoided, but it requires a willingness to take risks. Getting stuck in The Friend Zone is almost always the result of playing things too safe; it’s the end result of being too passive and too unwilling to put yourself out there in such a way that you couldn’t possibly be misinterpreted.

In short: you acted too much like a friend and not enough like a lover.

It’s an easy trap to fall into; many nerds assume that the best way into a woman’s heart is to be a nice guy and act like her new BFF. They make a point of being available at all hours, they want to talk every day about everything and nothing, they want to hang out all the time. This is friend behavior; the same behavior, when mapped onto a potential suitor1, would scream needy and no life whatsoever. Not only is this unattractive behavior in a potential lover, it’s misleading and will inevitably cause a misunderstanding of intent. When your behavior is incongruous with your intentions, it’s very easy to round down to friend rather than up to lover.

If you’re interested in wooing somebody, you need to be willing to be unavailable at times. This means not leaping to the phone as soon as you see your crush’s number flash on the caller ID screen; you can text her or call her back later. It means not dropping all your plans just because they called you up and suggested getting together – tell her that you can’t make it today but (and this is critical) you are free this other day and you would love to see her then. Keep in mind however: this does not mean playing games out of “The Rules” – you’re not making shit up just to keep the supposed “upper hand” in the relationship by being artificially unavailable, you’re just establishing that you have your own life and you’re busy living it.

By the way, don’t get me wrong: this is not to say that you can’t be friends with someone you’re attracted to or want to have more than just friendship with. Friendship and attraction are not antithetical binary states where you can only be a friend or interested in somebody with nothing between them. However, there are decided differences in behavior when you’re offering someone a platonic friendship and when you’re letting them know that you are interested to them as being more than friends. Part of avoiding the Friend Zone means knowing the difference and, critically, making sure that you’re not sending out the wrong signals.

 Break The Touch Barrier

One of the ways that we signal our intent is with touch. Touch is an incredibly important part of how humans communicate with one another, and it’s one that we frequently cut ourselves off from. A lot of people are hesitant to touch the person they’re interested in, whether it’s for fear of repulsing them or because they’re afraid of the potential intimacy. Still others will avoid doing any casual touching for fear of actually signaling that they’re interested – even when they are wishing that the one they like would touch them, taking the responsibility for the action off of their shoulders.

The fact of the matter is, you need to be able to touch the person you like  if they’re not comfortable with your touch, they are definitely not going to be comfortable with hugging you, kissing you, or having sex with you. So you need to learn to be comfortable with touching and using that touch to signal that you like them as more than friends.

This means that you need to be willing to make bigger moves, both playful ones and moves with greater implied intimacy, not just little, timid gestures. You can’t just be touching somebody on the arm and assume that you’ve clued them into how you feel. You need to be willing to put your arm around them.You need to be able to give them a side hug when they make a joke and push them away like they were your bratty sibling. You need to take their hand when you’re walking together and give a hip-check them for a playful greeting. You need to be able to touch with implied intimacy in subtle ways as well; think of the times when your thigh brushes up against hers while you sit together on the couch, or your feet touch under the table as you talk.

Touch is also a good way to guage her level of interest as well; if you put your arm around her, does she put hers back around you? If you take her hand and walk with her through the bar to get drinks, does she squeeze your hand? If you hug, do you get the full body hug or the a-frame?

Call it a hunch, but I think she digs him.

When you’re touching, by the way, you need to also know when to break the touch as well. If you put your arm around her, for example, and you feel her muscles tense – even if she’s otherwise showing that she’s having a good time – then you don’t want to leave it and risk making her uncomfortable. You also don’t want to yank your arm back like you burned it; hold it for a second then pull back instead. Being in control of who breaks the touch – by being able to read her response and avoid discomfort – will help build the intimacy that you both want.

Be Willing To Be Sexual

There are some readers who will be uncomfortable with this in concept. In fact, I fully expect that there will be many comments about how injecting a little sexuality into the interaction would repulse them instantly and cause them to never talk to anyone who would do this ever again. And to you all I say: I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you may be misunderstanding things.

Straight talk: every relationship, no matter how fairy-tale romantic it may be, has a core of sexual attraction. Even if you are someone who prefers to take their time to build up trust and emotional intimacy before escalating on a physical level, you have to acknowledge that any relationship that is going to move beyond platonic friendship is going to have sexual interest. Trying to pretend otherwise is, frankly, either naive or dishonest.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the fact that yes, you are attracted to somebody. If that person isn’t comfortable with the fact that you are sexually interested in them, then you simply aren’t going to be able to progress in your relationship.

So, yes, you are going to want to build some sexual tension into your flirting.

Now keep in mind: this isn’t something to bust out when meeting someone for the first time, nor is it first date material2. There does need to be a level of comfort and existing intimacy before you begin ramping things up and that can vary from couple to couple. But it is a critical part of dating, especially if you’re looking to avoid getting classified as a platonic friend.

The best way to do this without being offensive is through humor. Teasing and joking – getting her to laugh – is a great way to inject some sexual tension into the interaction. You can do this with some creative misinterpretation – deliberately interpreting something she said as innuendo and responding – for example. You can tease her about your attraction to her: “I’m sorry, I was too busy thinking about your lips. You were saying?”  You can also jokingly reframe the situation and insist that she is trying to seduce you: “Look, I appreciate this but I’m not going to give it up right away. I need intimacy and comfort.” “I’m fine with you buying me dinner but I’m just not going to sleep with you tonight, ok?” “Quit looking at me like that. You’re giving me ideas and they’re totally inappropriate right now.”

You want it light, friendly and funny; if you push too hard, you only end up creeping her out instead.

Fortunately, as geeks, we have a sterling example of how to nudge the line towards the sexual without pushing past the point of acceptability:

What Would Peter Venkman Do?

Bill Murray plays Peter Venkman as a charming flirt, especially where Dana Barrett is concerned. She may get a little exasperated with him. She may even find him a little annoying at times. But the fact of the matter is, even when he pushes the envelope, she still can’t deny that he makes her laugh.


…But Not Too Sexual

Now having said that, there’s a careful balance to be maintained. While humor and teasing is a good way to keep some sexual tension going in the interaction, there’s a difference between tension and pressure. In fact, if you put someone into the position where they feel as though they have to decide whether or not sex is going to be a part of the relationship at that moment, the odds are extremely high that they’ll immediately default to “no”, cutting off any future possibility of being more than friends.

Not sure how to tell the difference?

Imagine if you will, someone that you’ve been hanging out with over the last couple weeks. There’s undeniable chemistry. You’ve been doing everything right: there is no question that you have been going on dates. There’s been ample amount of touching. You’ve been flirting, but you haven’t quite mastered that sexual edge.

Now imagine if you were to say “I want to fuck you so badly.” This is going to shut things down, hard. Beyond the fact that this is incredibly crass, you have essentially asked her to decide – right at that moment – whether or not the two of you are going to have sex. When you put pressure on someone to decide right then and there to sleep with you, most people will instinctively respond with “no”. Nobody appreciates being put on the spot like that and being made to feel as though you are pushing them to say “yes” before they’re ready.

On the other hand, if you were to say “If there weren’t people around, I would so totally be making a move right now”, you’ve put things in the theoretical. You’re firmly3 establishing that, yes, you want to sleep with her, but by putting things in the conditional, you take away the pressure to decide one way or the other. It allows for the fantasy of sex without making her feel as though that she needs to decide whether she’s ready to make that next step.

Keeping things in the realm of the *possible*, whether it’s by using the future tense or by making phrasing it as a conditional (i.e. it’s impossible right now but if it weren’t, then GODDAMN) you allow for wiggle room; she knows what you want, but you’re willing to give her the space to decide on her own terms.

Be Willing To Walk Away

One hard and fast truth: sometimes things just aren’t going to work out. The chemistry just may not be there, she may have met someone who she clicks with in ways you don’t… ultimately, the reasons don’t matter. The one surefire way to avoid the friend zone is to be willing to accept that things aren’t going to happen the way you hoped and to be willing to walk away and start looking elsewhere. Staying with the hope that they will come around is ultimately a matter of pretending to be somebody’s friend under false pretenses, and it’s a shitty thing to do to somebody. Staying as their friend in the hopes that your attraction will go away… well, that’s a very good way to make yourself miserable.

Is it possible to be a true friend to someone you have feelings for?


You see, I stuck myself in the friend zone more times than I can count back in the bad old days. When I started to make my progress towards being better with women I began to learn that I could maintain a friendship – a genuine friendship – with someone I was attracted to… but only by moving on. That often meant that I had to go away for a while and – critically – get involved with other people. I’m an advocate that sometimes the best way of getting over somebody involves getting under somebody else, and these were no exceptions. Once I had learned to accept that other people found me attractive and that there were other people in the world that I was attracted to, it made it easier to repair the bridges and keep that friendship alive. I was usually still attracted to them – and I would own up to it. But I could also accept, appreciate and enjoy our friendship for what it was without trying to make it anything more.

If you want to try to maintain a real friendship with someone – someone you’ve put yourself into the Friend Zone over – you need to be willing to put them aside for a while and cut yourself off from them. No email. No texts. No Facebook. Nothing. Go and date other people. Learn that you can and will love (or lust) again with others.

If you’re truly friends… well, you’ll still be friends when you come back later.

  1. rather than someone who is already her boyfriend []
  2. especially since if the two of you end up sleeping together on the first dates, odds are pretty good you don’t need to worry about finding yourself in the Friend Zone []
  3. fnar []

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  • I take issue with the idea that men disqualify themselves as sexual partners because of something they themselves did. Women don't consider every man that comes along in the context of "do I want to have a thing with him"….think of it as being an opt-in thing, rather than an opt-out thing. It's not that all of my guys friends are potential suitors until they do something to fuck up….it's that you have to do something pretty special for me to consider you as a possibility. Not because I have delusions of grandeur about who deserves to be with me, but simply because I don't walk around all day thinking about relationships. I'm too busy being my own person to be constantly evaluating my peers.

    Also, I'm really not sure about the "sexual humour" part. I would focus on the attraction and less on the sex – more of the "you're really pretty" and less of the "I'd make a move if we were alone". You have no idea how threatening it can be to hear that someone has been considering crossing boundaries during a conversation/relationship that you thought was completely platonic. If she's not interested, how does she get out of it? Laugh uncomfortably? Change the subject knowing you're still likely thinking about it, even though she doesn't want you to? In the "I'm sorry, I was too busy thinking about your lips to pay attention to what you were saying" scenario, it comes back to that classic trope that a woman's most important asset is her body, and not her mind. And that sucks for a nerdy chick. It may be less blunt than "omg I want to fuck right now", but trust me, we're still pretty damn uncomfortable about how to turn you down.

    Sexual comments are never welcome, even from guys I'd previously been attracted to. There's a certain level of objectification that comes with suggesting that your opinion of her body necessarily needs to be present in your interactions. You can flirt without introducing sex into it, and it takes a pretty high degree of social awareness to not make innuendo seem aggressive. Stick to innocuous compliments–or better, just ask for a date and stop dealing in Machiavellian hints–and leave the sexual flirting to when you've already established her consent.

    • Max

      It seems to me that women's second-biggest fear when it comes to men is that guys will Only Want Her For Her Looks or Only Be Trying To Have Sex With Them. Now, I may know little to nothing about what goes on inside women's heads, but I know quite a bit about what goes on inside guy's heads. So, I can safely say that this idea is a stereotype, and it's false. Men are usually just as interested in having a meaningful personal relationship with someone as women are. If a guy is dating you, you can generally assume that he is interested in your looks AND your personality. Think about it: dating implies basically that you're hanging out and talking for a while, which is very hard to do if you can't stand the person.

      If a guys says "You have pretty eyes," it means just that; he thinks that you have pretty eyes. That statement does not immediately negate any possible positive feelings he might have for your personality. If a guy doesn't like talking to you, he won't talk to you for very long. I think this idea comes from a certain amount of insecurity in women (he's only complimenting my body, he must think I have a terrible personality!), and you can blame it on The Patriarchy too if you like. But the fact remains that it's a stereotype perpetuated by the media, and it's wrong.

      Also, unless I'm mistaken, the purpose of those sexual compliments is not to get a women to have sex with you; it's to let her know that you are interested in a romantic relationship, not a platonic one. I said this before somewhere, but the difference between a platonic relationship and a romantic relationship are so much more than just sex.

      • I totally agree with you that "You have pretty eyes" is A-Okay. But if you're saying stuff like "I wasn't paying attention to you because I was staring at your lips"….well, that's a little less okay. If a guy is dating me, he's free to be as flirty as he wants–hell, I'll encourage it, because flirting is fun, dammit. But if a guy is trying to signal to me that he's interested in something beyond a platonic friendship, then he'll need to demonstrate to me that he's capable of listening to what I say even if he thinks my lips are spellbinding. I don't think that's a particularly high bar to set.

        That's why I say to keep the compliments innocuous. I don't have an issue with flirting; I have an issue with the specific examples the good Doctor set out, which I personally would have found a total turn-off. It's completely possible to be flirty and create tension without being reductionist. Breaking the touch barrier is a good example of that, if you know when to withdraw.

        Aside: a certain amount of the idea that men who compliment women just want sex comes from the media, but a lot of it also comes from personal experience. Of course not all men are like that, but nor are all women who are leery of sexualized compliments dealing from insecurity or brainwashed by the media. We're not really talking about established dating couples here, but rather platonic friends who are trying to move further. There are very different guidelines for conduct in the early stages of dating, before you're comfortable openly negotiating and communicating about your feelings.

      • Robert

        "the difference between a platonic relationship and a romantic relationship are so much more than just sex."

        At the risk of sounding extremely naive and like a complete moron (not the first time I've done those and I'll be damned if it's the last) … what other differences are there?

        I have asked that question several times before, but the only responses I got boiled down to "You don't know until you've experienced it" and that just doesn't help me, since sex (the only difference I am currently aware of) is not enough to motivate me to pursue and experience a romantic relationship instead of one or more platonic ones. Note: I don't mean that in the sense that platonic relationships and romantic relationships are mutually exclusive. I mean it in the sense that, if I can get a platonic relationship with someone, why would I want a romantic relationship with them?

        For what it's worth, I did once have a "girlfriend". At the time, I believed that what we had was a romantic relationship. In hindsight, the only differences I can see between our relationship and a platonic one are increased body contact (which actually squicks me out most of the time) and statements of "I love you" at the end of phone calls. And now you know why I put "girlfriend" in quotes – if there are significant differences between platonic and romantic relationships besides sex, and increased body contact and saying "I love you" are not examples of such differences, then what we had was not romantic.

        I suppose you're wondering why I asked a question whose answer (from what I can tell) should be the most basic knowledge. Well, later in life, I made a second attempt at getting a girlfriend. I'd rather not go into details about this attempt – let's just say it made me realise that a lot of my "knowledge" about romantic relationships was simply untrue. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell which parts of my knowledge about romantic relationships were right and which were wrong, so I went with the "safe" assumption that it was all wrong, and then I basically wiped all the data. Stupid move? Sure. But at the time, I did not see checking each individual bit of knowledge as a possibility.

        And here I am, four and a half years later, having acquired some good bits of knowledge to refill the data bank with and getting closer to understanding how romantic relationships work (thanks in no small part to the good Doctor), but still missing key information that prevents me from reaching this understanding, and by extension whether or not I should want a romantic relationship. Kinda like a jigsaw puzzle. And, like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, an answer to the question I posed above is necessary for this goal, but it's not sufficient.

        • Patrick

          Add sex to a friendship and you have friends with benefits. In order to have a romantic relationship, you also need…maybe commitment?

          (sorry if the c-word scares anyone)

        • Ramen

          I would agree that the most basic difference between romantic and platonic love is the degree and type of physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy is also quite important.

          Physical intimacy doesn't mean just sex, but a range of contacts that evoke mutual physical pleasure and serve as form of bonding between romantic partners. I'm talking about simple physical closeness – legs touching while you sit on the couch, wrapping your arm around someone's waist, holding hands, that kind of thing. Humans crave touch, and since much of this kind of intimacy involves body parts that most strangers and casual acquaintances *don't* touch, it's pleasurable and fulfilling. I enjoy sex as much as anyone, but if I had to choose between a lifetime of sex without casual physical intimacy and the reverse, I'd give up actual sex in a heartbeat.

          Romantic relationships are also characterized by a higher level of emotional intimacy and empathy. Again, this doesn't mean that you sit around all the time discussing your feelings. But consider your friends, buddies, and bros. How much do you know about their feelings, ambitions, aspirations, or motivations? And how much does their state of happiness or well-being affect your own? Not much in either case. You care about them. You enjoy spending time in their company, but they are not super important to your own state. To paraphrase Heinlein, their happiness is not essential to your own. In a healthy, thriving romantic relationship, you do care about those things, and your emotional state is often tied to that of your partner.

        • ARC

          ""increased body contact (which actually squicks me out most of the time)""

          Interesting. Have you considered that you may be asexual?

          Alternately, if you've had "romantic" relationships that aren't very emotionally intimate, you just may not have had a very good relationship yet.

          Of course, the emotional intimacy parts of relationships do lie on a continuum. It's perfectly possible to have deep, involved friendships and casual sex.

        • Robert

          @Patrick, Ramen and ARC: Thank you for your replies. They have been very helpful and, as I had hoped, I now feel like I am one step closer to understanding these kinds of relationships. It's still a fairly long road, but the end now feels reachable. So, once again, thank you.

    • Jay

      We need more anecdotes up in here.

      "Sexual comments are never welcome, even from guys I’d previously been attracted to."

      See, I freaking love it when I get sexy flirting from guys I'm attracted to, up to and including explicit mentions of sexual activities. Now, there's still some verbal dancing to perform since both of us still have to gauge the line between sexy and creepy (and TMI, especially if other people are around). But in general? I make it a policy to be open and clear about what I want to do, and I'm okay with breaking communication taboos about sex. I talk about sex a lot and I'll often address the topic very bluntly and academically where other people would fear to tread. And if I'm attracted to a guy*, I think it's totally hot and flattering when we turn the honest talk about sex into more personal flirtations with each other.

      *to be clear, I evaluate both looks and brains. So by the time I determine I'm attracted to a guy, I'll have figured out he's the type of guy I'm fine having explicit conversations about sex with.

      • I think the difference between what you're describing and what I was reacting negatively to in the original post is the verbal dancing performed to gauge the line between sexy and creepy/TMI. It's way too simplistic to just say "go forth with the sexual flirting" because as you and I have just demonstrated, people have pretty different standards for that stuff. And a blanket statement for "introduce sexual comments to show that you don't want to be friend-zoned" can … go down poorly, if applied injudiciously.

        (I hate that I've come off sounding like a total prude in that first comment, but "I'M NOT A PRUDE REALLY" is such a cliche that it seems pointless to even deploy it. I'll just clarify that I like my sex life like I like other people's religion–private–and that's what informs a lot of my aversion to people trying to cross my stated boundaries.)

    • Amber

      I disagree. I think that a little sexual flirting can do wonders for building attraction. This is also the most difficult part of the Doctors advice to implement, because it depends so much on the two people involved and it requires one to be sensitive to non-verbal cues.

      Bottom line for guys: It is OK to be assertive and it is OK to be a little sexual. As long as you are able to back-off if she seems uncomfortable -and if you aren't sure, ask! Literally, "does this make you uncomfortable" or "is this OK" are fine questions to ask. No one is a mind reader, and I don't think that most women expect you to be one.

    • Toffee

      I agree – the "sexual humor" is a very tricky route to navigate, since personal preferences and boundaries play so much into it. It's personally a turn-off for me when someone deliberately turns something I say into an innuendo, even if I was attracted to that person. Not only does it make me feel like they've discounted whatever it was that I just said, it's usually a pretty juvenile joke. Now, it may just be a case of poorly executed humor, but it's happened to me so many times, by so many guys, that it's just gotten really old.

  • Milk

    I guess I'll go ahead and be one of the ones who do not agree with the last bit. I've always found Venkman to be arrogant and a bit creepy and wondered why Dana would fall for that. Those examples would throw me off of any possibility of attraction and make me feel unsafe around that person. I know some women would see this as harmless flirting, but it makes me very wary.

  • “I want to fuck you so badly.” is something only people in porn can say without having ever been intimate with each other. I don't think this works in Real Life.

    • As for the other way to forumalte it, I'll have to agree with @Phire's comment before.

      I can only hope the good Doctor is making assumptions about the level of intimacy these hypothetical people are having and simply forgot to tell us about. Otherwise it comes accross as fucking creepy.

      • Dr. NerdLove

        I've gone back and done some editing in order to clarify my thoughts on the matter, since I may not have been clear enough.

  • sarah

    I'm glad you clarified that the 'sexual tension' part isn't appropriate for early in the relationship. The reason so many of us resisted the idea in your previous post was because you recommended using it as a means to signal initial attraction, having been in the 'friend zone'. If a guy you thought was just your friend started doing that it would be very awkward and objectifying, maybe even threatening. If you're already in a relationship of some kind then it's much more appropriate. Context is key.

    It's probably also a good idea to know how to back down if you've upped the tension too fast. Some of us just like to go very slowly when it comes to physical intimacy, and/or won't be comfortable with Venkman-style teasing (I'm another one who's not fond of the guy). Personally I wouldn't be comfortable with it until a deeper connection had been firmly established. If you know how to DE-escalate sexual tension as well then you're much more able to recover if it turns out your partner isn't on the same page.

  • Patrick

    "If a guy you thought was just your friend started doing that it would be very awkward and objectifying, maybe even threatening. If you’re already in a relationship of some kind then it’s much more appropriate"

    Wait a minute… If you and some guy are "in a relationship of some kind" and he is not "just your friend", then I would think the matter of mutual attraction has already come up at some point, no? How would the two of you even agree that you're in a more-than-friends relationship otherwise?

    • Patrick

      (sorry, that should have come out as a reply to sarah's post)

    • sarah

      Surely the whole article up to that point consists of ways to express attraction without being explicitly sexual? It's the sexualised comments that would be awkward and objectifying, not expressing romantic interest per se.

  • Gman

    I actually have a difficult time with applying the advice about touch – but not for the reasons you mentioned above. I am actually much more afraid that she might cry out due to sexual harassment reasons – and frankly I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I constantly hear about different harassment cases in the news or something.

    Same goes for the being sexual (after getting beyond a date or two and establishing some intimacy) – for example the latest girl I dated – I literally forced myself to awkwardly tell the girl I liked her, because I was too afraid to make a physical hint/move, like you wrote in this post. Luckily – she got the fact that I am a little awkward in these situations and told me I need to be more confident and assertive in my approach. (Btw – "assertive" is a word I hear often when I ask for advice about women)

    So it's basically a battle against my own twisted internal illogical fear – one of the most frustrating aspects of being socially awkward – realizing that you want to act one way, but ending up acting a whole other way, for reasons that you really can't logically explain.

    • Mike

      "Assertive" is a good word. Be calm, be friendly, and give her every possible opening to say no. I've gotten very good results with asking direct questions. They make it pretty easy for her — early on, nothing explicitly sexual, but distinctly conveying interest while giving her time to think, set the pace and maybe ask some questions of her own. I have a youbusy (as in, "you busy?") with whom my first meeting wasn't explicitly a date. As we were leaving I said, "I had a lot of fun and I'd be kicking myself if I didn't ask; would you like to retroactively call this a date?" A couple minutes of playful banter and a goodnight kiss later, I had a playful, casual sexy fling with a cute, sweet lady that is slowed by both of us having moved recently, but still active.

      Be assertive, but don't insinuate that you're doing anything more than asking. And above all, accept her answer and any reasoning she gives. You don't have to like her answer, just respect it.

      • fw

        "You don’t have to like her answer, just respect it."

        I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Thank you.

        • Gman

          Actually, I have come to learn to deal with rejection – so now I totally accept it when I girl rejects me – I respond with "Well Great talking to you anyway, have a good day". I most certainly don't go and "rage" or curse her or something crazy of that kind.

          I find it extremely important to treat my fellow friends (not just girls I'm interested in) with the utmost respect. But like I said my problem is with showing that I'm interested – both physically and verbally.

          • Gman, you don't have to do any fancy fandango to look interested.

            Ask for a date. "I think you're neat, and I'd love to get to know you better. Would you like to go $ACTIVITY with me on $DATE?"

            And if that happens and seems to be going well: "I've been having a good time, and I'd like to kiss you. May I?"

            Don't make it complicated. It doesn't need to be.

  • QD

    It seems like the "sexual edge" is extremely important in this process. My question is, how do you handle this in a, to put it perhaps a bit too insultingly, a more prudish atmosphere? For example, at a fairly conservative college where it is a social scandal if it is known that you are not an advocate of sex-only-after-marriage?

    Is there some kind of "romantic edge" that is less sexual in nature, which could fulfill the same function but not have implications when it came to crush's ethics?

    • Cat

      "If we were married, I'd so be fucking you right now…"


      • UnderOrange

        Oh my god, this made me laugh. I actually had a guy say "now you need to save that so when we're married we can show our kids" ON A FIRST DATE.

        Needless to say, it was a first -and only- date because… No. Just no.

        • Skelly

          Good Lord, I don't envy you THAT experience. :[

          • Under0range

            He really -really- wanted a second date even though we didn't agree on politics or religion and he completely ignored the part where I told him I didn't want kids… He kept pestering me, though, so I told him I'd go on a second date but only if it was at the local drag show and he had to meet me there.

            Funny, he didn't show.

      • QD

        indeed, that was hilarious

    • A) Transfer to a different college.

      or, perhaps…

      B) Talk about your future plans and the importance of family.

      I suspect that the women who attend your college are there – instead of at a normal college – because they are interested in building families. Talking about the importance of family – your current family or other close knit families you know of – could be a subtle way of indicating that you may be interested in doing the same thing with her … but without coming out and saying, "I am looking for someone to start a family with." or "will you have my children? Also, don't talk about long term future plans CONCERNING HER or concerning how many kids you want to have. Just your own long term future plans as far as career and accomplishments go. This will indicate that you are thinking about the future, which is likely important to women who attend a college like yours. Finally, ask her about her future plans. Let her decide if she wants to tell you about career, academic accomplishments, or family plans.

      So, to sum up, talk in general about good families you know about and about your own personal future, while asking about her personal future. If she isn't interested, it is good, safe conversation. If she is interested, it is laying a foundation for a "solid," long-term relationship.

      • QD

        Lol, it's a little late for transferring, and honestly I don't disagree with the actual ethic of the place, just with the prudishness towards -speech-

        Substituting "marriage/family" does seem logical. Thanks! And definitely noted about keeping things open and not specific ala what the Doctor advocated with the sexual banter.

  • Cat

    Just to add another female voice to the conversation:

    I think it's becoming apparent (if it wasn't already) that different women/girls have different comfort levels when it comes to flirting. Phire is much more comfortable with "innocuous" type comments, Jay is fine with more sexy/sexual comments from guys she's attracted to, and Sarah can sometimes find sexualized comments "awkward and objectifying."

    Personally, if I'm engaged in a flirtatious conversation, and the guy takes it to the next level, so to speak, with the types of comments that the Doc mentioned (along the lines of, "if there weren't so many people around, I'd so be hitting on you/kissing you right now,"), I'm fine with that. I don't find it offensive or off-putting. I might not respond to it 100% of the time, but if it's gotten to the point in the conversation that we're flirting, chances are I'm interested, and will respond with sexy flirting in kind. The only time I'd find it offensive would be if I'd been trying to give the guy the brush-off and he wasn't taking the hint. In that case, then he would be stepping way over the line.

    All this is a long way of saying: You need to be aware of the woman/girl's comfort level. If she seems okay with the level of flirting, then either stick with that level, or take it up just one notch. Always be aware of how she is reacting and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) she seems, and adjust accordingly. You might need to look for nonverbal cues, like if she starts looking around the room (possibly for friends to bail her out, or an excuse to break off the conversation) or starts to wind down the conversation ("Well, it was nice meeting you, but…"). Or, if it's someone you're friends with, and you're flirting, you should know them at least well enough to tell if you're making them uncomfortable.

    We're all individuals, and we'll all respond in different ways. Some of us are more comfortable with a less sexual, more romantic type of flirting; some of us enjoy a more overtly sexual type of flirting. But whatever type of flirting you do, try to keep it lighthearted and fun!

    • Paul Rivers

      I think it’s becoming apparent (if it wasn’t already) that different women/girls have different comfort levels when it comes to flirting. Phire is much more comfortable with “innocuous” type comments, Jay is fine with more sexy/sexual comments from guys she’s attracted to, and Sarah can sometimes find sexualized comments “awkward and objectifying.”

      Yes, thank you, this is *really* the bottom line. Different woman are different.

      A friend of mine is far more of a social risk taker with dating than I am, and it's almost amusing to watch one girl say that saying anything sexual to her is somehow humiliating and degrading, then watch him go out and a totally different girl be *really* turned on by that same language, sleeping with him and telling him how hot what he was saying was.

      You **really** have to judge your audience.

    • sarah

      This is really the crucial point, isn't it? It'll go down well with some women, and not others.

      I mean, if the doctor made that clear in his articles I wouldn't even bother to comment, you know? It just seems important for people trying to learn how to flirt to be aware that some people won't respond well to particular styles.

      • Paul Rivers


    • Spirit

      Yes! And if she seems to be uncomfortable, just dial it back a notch and diffuse the tension a little bit, don't take that as an immediate rejection. I know we talk a lot about a woman's visible discomfort usually meaning "no" but it also simply means "back off."

      I am really uncomfortable about exposing too much of my private self too quickly. I have a tendency to keep myself bottled up, and to me, my sex drive is a private thing. So when someone I don't know very well starts with the sexy flirting, even if I like him, I'm going to get uncomfortable. I fear that this discomfort is probably what makes it so tough to find a date, because as soon as I get uncomfortable, only the jerks tend to keep pushing, while the nice ones do the noble thing and move on. But it might have been different if they'd just backed off a little and took it a little more slowly.

    • meepspeem

      I have a question: if a woman/girl is looking around the room for friends and you feel like you're losing her interest, does that mean you should just give up then and there? I've had this happen on occasion with girls I'm interested in getting to know more (I'm not one to go prowling for one night stands) during a date, and it is a huge blow to my confidence. I don't know if I should just accept that she's just not that interested, or if I should try to "be more interesting" (though I know the former seems the obvious and fair conclusion).

  • Ramen

    That's a great differentiation between the intentions of the Nice Guy(tm) and a nice…guy.

    I'd say there might yet be a Friend Zone v. 3.1 – people that are platonic friends at the moment because one or the other is romantically involved with someone else. They are perfectly happy now, but In the event both were available, they might give it a go. It's different from v. 2 or v 3 because both parties know the score, but are enjoying the benefits of a plain friendship. Neither party is pining away for the other, but accepts any sexual attraction as part of life.

    I have this in spades in my personal life. I've got a lot of wonderful friends who are in happy, healthy relationships. I think they hot, interesting, funny, etc. And they think I am hot, interesting, funny, etc, but they aren't going to leave their current partner for me. Likewise, I have many wonderful friends who are single, and who are interested in me on some level. And while I admit to some degree of reciprocal attraction, I am happy in my own relationship. They're not pining for me or waiting for me – hell, I set up at least one of the singletons with a female friend of mine, and now he's in the "coupled" category.

    I guess what I'm really saying is that sexual attraction and friendship are not mutually exclusive.

    • I don't know. If everyone is "happily coupled" then to me this kind of attraction sounds like a perfectly healthy relationship. Friend Zone to me always has the undertone of an unhealthy attraction or a fruitless, perhaps even toxic relationship.

      • Ramen

        Well, not everyone is always coupled at the same time – case in point is my cousin who briefly dated a guy in college, then broke up and remained friends. She was single through most of his marriage, then she was married when he divorced. It was not until after she was widowed for some time that they got together.

        These kind of relationships can also be a source of friction. It's hard not to feel threatened by a partner's opposite-sex friend, even if you trust both partner and their friend. I blame the (changing) idea that men and women cannot be friends because sex or attraction always gets in the way. There is this weird social assumption that it's unnatural – even unmanly – for a guy to spend time with a girl without the motivation of possible sex, hence why the Friend Zone has such a toxic overtone.

  • Ally

    I'm a girl. my problem is that I do everything right like dress nicely, makeup, smile, keep in shape and guys just aren't attracted to me. I guess I'm just ugly or something… (I think so at least) usually in highschool guys were disgusted if I had a crush on them. I lost weight and dressed better, used makeup, smiled, become outgoing etc. and guys just don't find me very good looking… no one ever "hits on me" either. I'm the girl whose "one of the guys" but will never break that because people just find me so ugly 🙁

    • djteslarose


      Dear, your posts break my heart. If your self esteem is really this low, then of course you aren't attracting guys. Men are attracted to confidence just as much as women are.

      I have no idea what you look like, but it sounds like you are a reasonably attractive girl who is cutting herself down simply because you aren't getting "male attention". You also sound really young so teenager?

      Look, the teen years are rough and generally suck. Your body is changing (skin, etc) and you want to find love and fit in an all that stuff. But some girls don't "fit" in high school. We call them late bloomers. I was one such girl for sure. I was never an ugly girl, but I had very little male attention in high school. I was one of the guys and a giant nerd (still am!). I was also pretty outgoing. But it just didn't click.

      But oh man did that change in college. I decided back in high school that I was who I was and college was my escape. What college really was was a door that led me to a lot of new people, new views, and new experiences. High school is a tiny microcosm. In college, I was able to surround myself with people I liked and just not hang out with those I didn't (unlike high school where it's hard to avoid people). I found that my confidence in being a little different drew people (and guys) to me rather than isolating me. Sometimes your peer group needs to grow into you.

      And I learned how to really BE a woman, to flirt, etc as a college girl. Instead of just trying to be one of the guys, I became a girl who hangs out with guys, but also can rock a pair of heels. And I've just grown more into that as I've gotten older. (Trust me, I'm very much in a relationship but I still get plenty of attention just now I let them know I'm already taken)

      But all this took time. I was very much the "Ugly Duckling" of the story and sometimes I forget that now I'm in the "swan" part. But it wasn't just looks because, besides loosing the braces, I don't look that different from my high school days. The difference is my confidence and that I love me for me, weird nerdy quirks and all.

      So I hope that you will start loving you for you. Stop measuring yourself by male attention and instead trust that you are a worthwhile person. Learn to love yourself and to be alone but not lonely. It was the most valuable lesson I learned in high school and it has meant that I've never been scared of being single and never stayed in a relationship that was bad for me because I feared being single. And when you start loving yourself, other people will gravitate towards that. It's not about the right weight, or dress, or makeup. It's about confidence and joy in yourself.

      Hugs Ally, I hope you are ok. I hear you. I've been there. Find your joy and ignore the bullshit. High school is only 4 years and there is so much better coming down the pipeline.

      • Crowbones

        This. All of this.

        I was a late bloomer as well. People at school were constantly telling me how ugly and gross I was.While I was not outrageously ugly…I was thoroughly average (I'd like to know where my 30 potential suitors and all these men that constantly approach any average woman were…) And so, so sad.

        It did get better, life is much better now (early/mid twenties), I am happier and more confident guys and girls do notice me in *that way* now. 🙂

    • Cat

      Ally, everything that djteslarose said is right.

      And let me add something to it:

      Once guys start paying attention to you (because they will), please, please, PLEASE do not let yourself get caught up in the first relationship you have, and focus on it to the exclusion of all other romantic relationships, because you think that this guy (the first one to date you) is the ONLY guy who will ever date you. I went all through high school with unrequited crushes and only one or two dates. When I was a Senior, I finally got a boyfriend. In retrospect, I realize that what I wanted wasn't *him,* I wanted a guy to pay attention to me and give me the status of having a boyfriend.

      High school (and even early in college) can be a pressure cooker, and at that point in your life, your frame of reference is very limited. You only have the experience of high school and "nobody wants to date me" to help frame your perspective. Trust me, there's a LOT more out there, so please don't get down on yourself, and please don't latch on to the first guy to come along. I did that, and it was a REALLY bad decision! For a long time (too long!) it kept me from exploring my options and getting to know lots of different people, and I really regret having closed myself off from the dating scene for as long as I did. I stayed with him because I was afraid of getting my heart broken by other guys, and also because I was afraid of hurting the guy I was with. Trust me, broken hearts mend, and the only way you'll know what you want in a real, long-term relationship is to date lots of guys, get your heart broken a few times, and learn from it all!

  • Stupendous-Man

    Doctor you misspelt gauge on page 2. Cat how could you let this happen?

    • Cat

      Time-crunch factors… Sorry… 😛

  • Kudos to the good Dr.: This is one of the best posts I have read so far.

    One of my main complaints has been that many of the posts don't go far enough when it comes to helping people see the subtle distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. A lot of posts throw out crazy, extreme examples and say, "Don't do that." without much in the way of careful instruction as to what to do instead.

    Especially when it comes to things like sexual innuendo, it can be really hard for a socially inexperienced person to tell when one is crossing that invisible line. It has been my toughest sticking point. I have finally gotten to the point where I can start a conversation with almost anyone. But I have long lamented my inability to take a conversation to the next level. I knew there was a certain level of sexual bravado involved (no, I don't normally talk like that) but I was always afraid of coming off as a douche-bag. And my fear of seeming to be "just like all those jerks" my female friends had been complaining about all those years, made things even worse. Oddly, I might have been better off if I hadn't been friends with so many girls when I was younger. (Not a friend-zoned, Nice-Guy. Just a regular friend.) I wouldn't have heard all their complaints about how douchey guys can be, and thus been afraid of coming across the same way.

    The examples given here really helped me to have a better idea of where to start looking for that line. And the comments, especially Cat's, have given me a way to tell when I am getting close to that line for any particular woman. Interestingly, when it comes to the actual having of the actual sex, I have long espoused the notion that not every woman is the same, and that men need to be able to pay attention to the subtle signs to see if what they are trying is "working" for the particular woman they are with. So, I am slapping myself on the forehead with the realization that not all women are going to be the same in the flirting category either. One woman may be interested but not like a certain level of innuendo and be turned off, while another woman may not be interested but may be comfortable with a higher level of innuendo. Sometimes my style and her preferences will match. Sometimes they won't. That won't always mean "I am doing it wrong." But, by watching body language, I will be able to better judge how close I am getting to that particular woman's "line" and be able to worry less about coming across as a douche-bag.

    Thank you.

  • Vince

    I'm definitely someone who has struggled with breaking the "touch" barrier. I have a bad habit of waiting for someone else to make the first move for fear of breaking a taboo or otherwise getting rejected out of hand. Even when I do attempt to break it, it's rarely a confident, casual move so much as a snail's paced inching towards something like touching thighs when sitting next to one another or putting an arm around a date. "Maybe if I go slow enough, my date won't notice we're snuggling until it's too late!" sort of thing. Now that I write it out, it seems pretty silly. 😛

    I definitely think this has been a function of me just overthinking things, and have been trying to use the three-second rule as a measure against it. I'll definitely be using some of the tips pointed out here when I go out next.

    Thanks for the pointers, Doc!

  • Shaj

    I mentioned this in a comment on the previous article, but I want to repeat it due to the fact that it is addressed in the last point in the article – "Be Willing to Walk Away."

    How do you do this in the case where the woman gets angry with you for doing this, or even refuses to let you stop being friends?

    The latter actually happened to me – we traveled in the same social circles and would see each other places, so completely avoiding her just wouldn't work without ostracizing myself.

    • Vince

      From experience, I'm going to strongly suggest that you don't do the latter. You honestly just have to learn to co-exist. If you have mutual friends, it might be awkward being in the same room for a bit, but you get used to it. If you've built up good friendships, there won't be any "winning of the kids in the divorce" if she happens to get mad at you for taking your space. Your friends will still be your friends.

      If she confronts you on it, all you can do is polite and be honest. That you like her, but because of circumstances the way they are, would not be being emotionally honest if you tried to be "just friends." As such, you'd like your space and would appreciate if she'd respect that. And of course, at the same time respecting the fact that you have the right to spend social time with your mutual friends as much as she does (so keeping your space doesn't mean hermiting up until the feelings go away. Made THAT mistake. :P).

      Hope this helps! Good luck and god speed.

  • James

    What about the fourth friend zone, I mean in my situation the attraction that happened was totally spontaneous , how should I go about dealing with my it? I mean I'm crushing on this girl. HARD. She has said that she wouldn't date a friend but her actions state the opposite. Should I continue or not?

  • Scott

    I have been in a different friend zone for 20 years. We had a 2 year relationship that ended with the let's just be friends conversation. I never have really accepted her as a friend I just waited for her to give me another chance. Which she did 3 years later.

    After that chance failed I would not got back completely into the friend zone. So, we agreed to a friends with benefits arrangement that did not work out long term.

    For the last six months I have been working on getting the intimacy back as the preferred alternative to ending the relationship completely. Which I have some hope for because she finally told me why she does not like sex with me, and I know now how to change that.

    The problem is that she seems to be more afraid of sex with me now. Because the stakes are a lot higher than when giving me sex was just a matter of her putting up with the pain to try and make me happy.

    If this does not work out I am afraid of ending it not only because I have a 22 year attachment to her that I do not want to give up, but also because the only time an ex cut her off she got PTSD and was suicidal. However I know that I would need to move on and the only way I can do it is as the Dr. suggested.

  • t.s.

    i found myself in that zone recently, and this was the 2nd time in a couple years. so I basically told it off and walked away in the nastiest manner i've ever regarded someone in years. dick move? sure. i've been dicked around ever since my last relationship which was years ago. if there's anything educational to be gleamed from my experience is to watch for the warning signs of "getting played". And maybe call them on it to get clarification every so often when talking to someone trying to stick you in that little cubbyhole.

  • Tim

    Women never get stuck in the friend zone because they can always be Friends with Benefits, if nothing else, with their crushes.

    • EFjord

      That is a load of BS. Many women have the same difficulties finding someone to have a relationship with. They too often believe the other gender has it easier than they do when trying to get people to date them. Some women develop crushes on their guy friends or guys in general and get turned down. Women are not the Master Gatekeepers of Sex. They too have to attract someone before that someone will say yes or ask them out. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they fail. Same thing that guys go through.*

      And no, friends with benefits is not an acceptable substitute. If you want a relationship with someone, casual sex is not the same. It’s not always an option any way. Most guys are not desperate to have sex with any and every girl that will give them the time of day. Especially if they have a girlfriend. Honestly, becoming friends with benefits with a guy who doesn’t want something more in hopes he’ll change his mind, is as idiotic as pretending to be someone’s friend solely so they’ll date you once you’ve done your time. The drama is going to be a pain in the ass either way.

      *You could point out that because men are supposed to do the pursuing they will be rejected more often, but then I’d have to point out that doesn’t do much good for the woman if she isn’t being pursued or is being pursued by guys she isn’t interested in. Plus, most women these days will pursue a guy if they are interested (because men are not psychic) and if the guy isn’t interested he will generally say no. Maybe he says yes to get in her pants and she never sees him again once he’s had his fill if he’s one of the few men who are total bastards. That’s not actually better than rejection though.

      • Tiana

        Yes, this. I accepted a FWB relationship when he made it clear he didn’t want to date me but was perfectly okay fucking me, and that was the worst decision of my life. It’s still messing with my relationship and sex life, three years later. So no, I’ll never accept a FWB substitute again. If I’m not good enough to date, I’m not good enough to fuck either.

  • krmaml

    It is a common bullshit advice given to men that in order to have success with women they need to form good friendships with them.

    Paradoxically, the men with the most success with women, sexually and romantically, have few female friends if at all.

  • Ree

    I'd say ONLY start talking any specifics about sexuality in regards to the other person (even as much as "I was distracted by your lips) AFTER mutual romantic interest has been established. Women are brought up to be constantly on guard often, and even an inocuous statement like that can seem very scary when alone, or if there's implications of being alone — especially when taking into consideration the rape/sexual assault statistics. The article "Schrodinger's Rapist" explains this very well.

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  • Bill

    Wrong. Time to air out your biases.

    The Friend Zone is very much real and alive, and it's very, very hurtful. Saying it's a myth, minimizing it, and blaming the victim just keeps this bad behavior from women going. The sooner men stop this nasty habit from women, the sooner women will stop doing it and start being more honest with their intentions.

    As far as studying this hateful phenomenon and finding ways to deal with it, it doesn't do any good to divide it up into the weird zone numbers presented in this article. Just keep it simple. Women do it because evolution has gifted them with an incredible sense of who is going to give them the best baby and be the best protector of their family, and who isn't. When you present yourself to a woman for the first time, she instantly sizes you up and immediately assigns you to one of those two categories. Think Auschwitz: If she sends you to the left, you get the gas chamber. If she sends you to the right, you get life in her captivity. And just like Auschwitz, she keeps this selection process a secret. If you don't save your own life by forcing her to reveal her true intentions at the outset, you lose. And once you get past this point, there is not a damn thing you can do about. Just leave your coat on the hook.

    It just happened to me last night. I haven't asked a woman out for 10 years because of all the rejection. I had actually given up, but a few months ago, a beautiful woman who is a classmate in graduate school seemed to show interest, so I asked her out. She said yes. School got pretty tough so we had to cancel. All during this time, I was helping her with her homework and giving her answers because she was lost in class. Also, she flirted with me a lot and really got me distracted: On my birthday, she wore a see-through black dress and gave me a gift on campus. She kept encouraging me. I asked her out to a nice dinner and jazz club and she said yes again. When I told her I got the reservations and mentioned the word, "date," (I hadn't said this word explicitly before), WHAM! The Big Reveal: "I just want to be friends." Permanent boot from the gene pool.

    So, I got used — and hurt. Post-mortem: I didn't say "date" right at the beginning to force both of us to reveal our true intentions. I missed the warning signals along the way: Her saying yes to informal meetings and then being too busy to actually get there. Checking her watch when we were together, and leaving early. Rewarding me for commenting on her revealing clothing and beautiful figure but never saying anything that she desires about me.

    Moral of the story: If you're interested in the woman, use the word "date" when you ask her out. Smoke her out of her hide. Don't invest any time or resources in her until you get this damnable, intractable secret out of her. Most of all: Screw evolution.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Moral of the story: If you're interested in the woman, use the word "date" when you ask her out. Smoke her out of her hide. Don't invest any time or resources in her until you get this damnable, intractable secret out of her. Most of all: Screw evolution.

      Funny that after you take all the hateful bullshit out of it, your advice is the same as the Doc's. The only place the friend zone exists is inside the head of people too afraid to ask out a woman in an up front manner. Be friends or go out but don't pretend to be friends and complain about being stuck in the "friend zone" because you put yourself there by not being a real friend in the first place. If that's where you man up and either ask her out or walk away.

      Also, yes, screw evolution because all your evo-psych is bullshit.

      • Bill

        The advice is not the same. We have opposite perspectives. The Friend Zone is a myth vs a reality, it's the fault of the man vs. the fault of the woman, you put yourself in the Friend Zone vs women put you in the Friend Zone. You share Nerdlove's perspective, which is fine but assert hateful bullshit words and attitude toward my perspective, which is not.

        People enter into relationships based on trust. Where this whole thing breaks down is the woman taking advantage of ambiguity of intent. If a man is asking a woman out for a date, common sense tells you he has a romantic intent. For a woman to accept time, gifts and favors from the man with no intent at all to reciprocate is fundamentally dishonest. She knows exactly what's going on. Why else would so many men be upset when the Reveal happens.

        I asked that woman out to two romantic dates in an upfront manner. Most men do, I suspect. I didn't ask to "hang out" or "be friends" (we already were). Her actions and words to me were teasing and encouraging, and not something you would do with a friend.

        There's no reason why I or any other man should have to put up with someone taking advantage of the ambiguity in the beginning stages of a relationship. My words still stand: Smoke them out!

    • Dr_NerdLove

      Women do it because evolution has gifted them with an incredible sense of who is going to give them the best baby and be the best protector of their family, and who isn't.

      Aaaaand here we have the first fallacy. Guess what? I realize you're scared of women, but they don't have "genetics radar sense" like some sort of reproductive Daredevil. The movie Species isn't a documentary. Women fuck for the same reason men do: because they're horny, because they're bored, because they want validation, because they want love, because they're in love, because it's Friday night and they're a little drunk so why not make some bad decisions.

      Think Auschwitz: If she sends you to the left, you get the gas chamber. If she sends you to the right, you get life in her captivity. And just like Auschwitz, she keeps this selection process a secret.

      Man, Godwin's law right off the bat too. That's some kind of record.

      If you don't save your own life by forcing her to reveal her true intentions at the outset, you lose.

      Can't imagine why women don't fall all over themselves to get at you, what with your explicitly seeing them as opponents instead of potential partners. It's a mystery really…

      You already know you should've been explicit on asking her out, so I'm not going to point that out. But it's late and I'm kinda bored, so here's a free clue amigo as to where you fucked up (beyond the whole seeing women as the enemy, which is going to keep you from ever getting laid…):

      You made the mistake of assuming that this was at all about tricking you or using you or encouraging you. You were mistaking friendly behavior as "flirting". Surprisingly, women act friendly to people who they think are their friends. Like, say, giving birthday presents on their birthday. Strange how that happens.

      Wearing "revealing clothing" has far less with leading you around by the boner (trust me, she didn't think about your boner) and more about enjoying feeling pretty. Shockingly, women do do things for themselves rather than because they're consummate game players trying to drain men's precious bodily fluids.

      Quit blaming evolution and start examining your own attitudes. Because guess what sonny-jim: everything you just said about The Friend Zone proves my point. You weren't "put in the friend zone", she just didn't want to fuck you and you didn't pick up on the very obvious signs she was sending your way.

      • Bill

        Quit blaming me and start examining your own attitudes. Because guess what sonny-jim: everything you just said about The Friend Zone proves my point. I was "put in the friend zone" because she just didn't want to fuck me but wanted all the academic help and took advantage of the fact that I shouldn't need to "pick up on the very obvious signs she was sending my way."

        • Mad_

          Then don't do things for them beforehand.

          I know this is an "ALL WOMEN ARE AWESOME" leaning site, but they're not. Some of them are shitty people, and some of them will lead you on to get what they want.

          My reaction to when you mentioned helping her with housework and homework and taking her out to places without getting anything in return was "what the fuuuuuuck." You're not her parent, her tutor or her lover. Why would you give that all up for free? That's not shit you do in a regular fashion for a girl if you're not boning her or in some otherwise asexual relationship.

          • enail0_o

            Actually, kind of yes to this. Women aren't slot machines. You can't just put in favours and kindness tokens and have their legs pop open for you when you've put in enough.

            If you want to be someone's friend, yes, do the nice things friends do for each other, and as long as they're doing the same friend-type things for you, congratulations, you've got yourself a friend. (And yes, helping with housework, homework or taking them out places are things I might do for a friend – as long as it was reciprocal). If that's not what you wanted, well, perhaps you should, say, let them know that you want a different kind of relationship with them instead of just hoping that they'll magically divine it from the fact that you're doing nice things for them.

            If it's not reciprocal, sorry, you've found yourself a user (or possibly someone who really doesn't want to accept favours from you at all but who doesn't feel safe to turn you down all the time because you're being scary). Which is sad, and anyone who gets taken advantage of has my sympathy. But it can be avoided by not doing things for people with the expectation that they will reciprocate with some totally different thing (ie. having sex with you).

            If you want to date someone or have sex with them, that's not just going to happen magically by you giving them all kinds of stuff and doing favours for them.

          • Mad_

            I got an "actually, kinda yes to this" out of enail :')

          • enail0_o

            I don't always disagree with you! Just a lot of the time 🙂

          • Mad_

            I want to alter that.

          • enail0_o


          • Dr_NerdLove

            He doesn't want you to disagree with him as much.

          • enail0_o

            Ah, gotcha, thanks.

            Difficult, I think. Our opinions are far enough apart on a lot of matters that I'm not sure either of us is likely to be persuaded to the other's perspective. But I'm always interested to discuss, so you never know.

          • Mad_

            I could just have a better attitude about a lot of things is all I mean

          • enail0_o

            Oh, I see. I thought you meant one of us convinces the other on various subjects we disagree on, which struck me as somewhat less likely. Anyway, just because I disagree with you doesn't mean that I necessarily think your attitude is bad or lesser. It just means I disagree 🙂

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  • EFjord

    I wouldn’t say that when women reject men the guy necessarily did something wrong – there are a lot of reasons she could not be interested that have nothing to do with screwing up. Incompatibility doesn’t necessarily mean someone screwed up. It can just mean someone isn’t interested.

  • I understand your reasoning on the subject of touch, but if your possible partner is arthritic, touch is a no go.

  • Firestarter

    Hello everyone
    I've been through loads of reading on this website here. My mind is now literally blown after reading all this stuff. I'm very glad that i'm not the only guy going through a rollercoaster of emotions and how you see yourself before, during and after dating, wether ending up in a good or bad way.

    You see, i ended up in Friend Zone V. 2 (sort of). Let me explain:
    I fell seriously hard in love with a colleague of mine.
    When the days passes at work, we chatter a bit, not too much, I tease her once in a while with a joke or I make a physical 'sorry my mistake ' touch. She accepts all the dumbs things I do and she ended up doing the same to me. And because of that "mutual joking" around (not even sexually at all, just normal plain stuff) my love for her burns even harder and harder.
    At home I couldn't even stop thinking of her, walking on the ceiling, well you all know what falling in love is, right?
    Anyway, I started drinking some beers with her after work every now and then. I had such a difficult time surpressing my love to her, that I ended up being not myself at all anymore. I started saying nonsense stuff, etc. It felt not natural at all. :s
    After a few weeks it started to get out of hand with myself. Asking people for opnions on what to do, reading stuff, … anything that helped me out in this overwhelming druggy love world. I started to work out more, eating healthier, doing stuff with my friends, just to get my head clear . I just couldn't think straight anymore. I even surpressed my love more and more and almost accepted that my love for her is soo big that it would scare her and I wanted to prevent this.
    Next step on what to do?
    I had to distant myself from her for a bit otherwise there was no more stopping me from doing stupid stuff (especially when you start getting drunk). I succeeded until I ended up drinking again with her and I ended up in her couch (again) to sleep. But you see, I couldn't sleep at all, twisting and turning, and suddenly I stood up, put my shoes and my jacket on and the moment I left her room, I said loud and clearly:" What am I doing here??" Then I left, called a cab and went home.
    During the cabride, she sends me a message saying: "Sorry but i think i have a crush on you but i don't want more or something. Maybe that's why it's a bit strange between us and maybe I gave you the wrong intention. I should have said that to you earlier but I'm ashamed. It's because you have a crush on anyone that you have to do something. I don't want to hurt you"

    I was quite drunk and send her a message:"Are you serious?" (I meant this in a good way bc I was sort of happy that she actually had a crush on me)
    And that was also the end of the conversation.
    2 days later at work, things were awkward. We had to work with each other again in the bar, we stayed friendly and professional not letting anyone know what happened. I played my role good as so did she.
    I thought she was angry with me and she thought I was angry with her. So after the first awkward working day, I had to talk to her.
    I took her to the water where it is calm and where nobody could disturb us and had a revealing and kind of a strange conversation.
    I started the conversation where she thought I was still angry. This is what I said next:
    I'm a moron and a dumb ass. I shouldn't have reacted like that like getting up middle of the night, say something strange. I'm angry with myself that I didn't behave like I normally do. And the reason why I reacted like that is because I WAS in love with you…. " I even made her a fine detailed drawing and gave it to her as token that I appreciate her a lot. I wrote on the back:" For a beautiful woman"

  • Firestarter

    But I said WAS.
    Why did I say half the truth? I was actually still in love with her. I even said that she's my inspiration, my everything etc…
    She said to me after that:" Well, you are a bit older than me (7 years) and she said that was a bit of on issue. She wasn't sure about herself saying that as well and said that she still needs more time and space. But I wasn't sure about myself either because I lied to her but I didn't look into her eyes when I said that. So the next thing that happened is that we talked a bit more and ended up agreeing in being friends.
    After the conversation we went to the pub again and ended up sleeping in her couch again. I got up very early in the morning, went to the market, bought some strawberries and food and hot coffee.
    Now today I'm still working with her, and it's like today history is repeating itself. She starts sort of teasing me again. The touches and the jokes and the whole lot. She even looks me in the eyes when she talks and laughs with me and with nobody else.

    So guys and most of all girls/women, I have this great urge to say in true honesty that I totally love her. I have to make it up or I will never sleep good ever again.
    You have to also know I come from a 4 year relationship, haven't had a girlfriend for the past 3 years now. Had a few one night stands, dated some women but to no avail.
    I have fallen in love a couple of times but not as serious as this one. I'm 33 now and I thought this could never happen.
    So what should I do? I really have to tell her this week or next week or tomorrow or never tell her?
    Should I wait until she makes a move or is she just being friendly close? I want her to get used to me again and feel comfortabel. She's a beautiful flower to me and I would do anything in the world to make her happy.
    The thing is: I don't know what she's thinking and I'm afraid to ask her because she might think that I'm gonna put her through the same awkward moment again.
    What's a good solution to do? Tell her I really love and admit that I lied saying I was in love with her? Or leave it be, move on with life in the result that I start to ignore her because I can only focus on one woman at a time. This is very difficult for me and I hope you guys and girls find this amusingly simple so to say 😛

    Thanks for reading this and thanks for sharing your thoughts as well because you all already helped by posting your lovecoasters on the net.

  • Firestarter

    Half of my story came up here

  • chenouar

    Well, I wonder how can anyone even think of falling in the second category. Seriously, it takes some serious level of manipulation to tell itself "I'm going to pretend being his friend so I will be able to convince her into horizontal sport". But I totally understand the reflex to disarm any unspoken intention by saying "no, of course I don't want to date you, what terrible idea" when you fera rejection and a very akward situation – the perfect example of it in tv might be Marc the waiter in the -sadly interrupted- show "don't trust the b**ch in apartment 23", spending whole seasons acting like a friend and disarming any suspicion of the girl, for fear of rejection.

    (On a totally different level, I apologize in advance for my maybe poor english, I'm french, so I may have some vocabular/syntax problems)

    However, I must say, as a hung-up and really shy guy, I often fell in the third category. In the "I like this girl but don't know how to express it and fall into the intimate friendship" category, which is, from my point of view, the most frustrating, as it's not what you intended to do, and you still get pretty intimate with the girl, except not as much as you would like to, thanks for not daring.

    One of the hardest thing with being a shy/nice guy (I mean a shy guy, which also happens to be friendly and genuinely nice, not nice because hey, "girls like it") is when some people tend to say that all guys who end up in the friendzone this way are assholes. Seriously, it's hard enough not to be able to make a move because of fear/stress/the never-ending certitude that anyway, she is not and never will be attracted to you and you will just be laughed at, without being pointed out as an asshole for it.

    I may have being especially close friend with a girl I wanted to date. Yes, it never ended like wanted. But no, I didn't become friend with her to get intimate, then to seduce her. It ended up with me being considered her "friend" because I didn't know how to make her understand I liked her, for her looks sure, but also because she was the most gentle and funny girl I've ever known.
    So I tried the only approach I saw at the time : being overtly nicer with her than with other people, hoping she would catch my unspoken intentions and help me move – to one direction or another.

    Well, it didn't end well. One day, I gathered enough courage to tell her "erm, you know, I wanted to say it to you for quite a time now, without really daring, but I kinda have some strong feelings for you…", and even before I ended my sentence, she said "why should I care" (which ended our relationship, not because she wasn't interested, but because seriously, answering this way to someone you say you care about, even a little?)

    One of the downfall of french language, even if I love my language, and if it's the language of love, is that we don't have a term for "date". We can't say "let's go on a date, you and me". There is no equivalent. So all we can say is "si on allait boire un verre ensemble?" which translate into "want to have a drink with me?". It's, right from the start, ambivalent and undefined. Seriously, I envy you for this single word that might make everything much simpler.

    The only way I can imagine to tell a girl I like her is… well, to tell her I like her. Even if I haven't had an occasion to try it yet. But it's pretty hard for me, as you can imagine.

    But, excepting this part about being clear on my intentions, I'm glad to see I'm globally naturally following your advices DNL. For example, last girl I slept with, I was really into her (she was not that much it would seem, at least not in the idea of a ongoing relationship), and after the second date (and literally hours of passionate kissing on top of Paris highest building – by night), I told her something along the lines of "If my roomate was not home with his girlfriend tonight, I would have invited you to take one last drink home". The truth is, even if I was totally willing to have sex with her, even I was still not confident in her enough to do so right on the spot, but anyway I showed my wanting to go further without imposing her. But, when you think of it, it's basic gentleman behavior, not to make people fell obligated of anything.

    But yeah, it's possible to maintain a genuine friendship with someone you're attracted to. In fact, it's easier I think, to be emotionally and intellectually intimate with someone you're attracted to than with someone you're not. But you have to move on. In fact, it's pretty easy to tell yourself "well, she is not attracted/in couple/lesbian/etc., and there is very little chance it will change, but you're close to this amazing girl, sharing a deep emotional bound, just enjoy it without hoping it will be anything else".

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