So, last time I talked about the dreaded Friend Zone, we established that The Friend Zone was, well… basically you being judged as “unfuckable.” Sometimes it’s a legitimate lack of attraction, sometimes it’s like the Onion article “But If We Started Dating, It Would Ruin Our Friendship.”
But hey, my telling you that the Friend Zone doesn’t really exist makes for good discussion but it doesn’t help those of you who feel like you’re getting stuck in it anyway. It may be a fictional construct, but you’re still getting the dreaded “Let’s Just Be (Platonic) Friends” speech. And let’s face it, there’s no quicker way to make a man’s ego shrivel like a slug doused in salt than the LJBF speech.
So why not avoid the Friend Zone in the first place?
Well, as a wise man once said: “Best block, no be there.”
So, what does it take to avoid the Friend Zone? Assuming you don’t have Bradley Cooper’s hair, Brad Pitt’s grin, Paul Newman’s piercing blue eyes and Ryan Reynold’s six-pack abs, you’re going to have to be willing to take some risks. Part of what got you into the Friend Zone’s event horizon is that you were most likely playing it safe. You were unwilling to make the decisions that were required, ones that meant risking rejection. You were passive for too long and now you’re going to have to work harder and risk more.
We’ll begin by assuming that there actually is a certain level of mutual attraction here in the first place. She’s comfortable in your presence. She touches you when she’s talking to you; maybe on the arm or the shoulder, when she’s making a point. She’ll seek out alone time with you, rather than insisting on hanging out in a group. When you talk on the phone, she’s not always distracted or doing other things as you chat.
If you’re not getting any of these? Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re kinda screwed, Sonny-Jim. But hey, we’re being optimistic here! There are some indications of interest! So what’s a guy to do?
Well, to start with, you’re going to have to start establishing that, no, this is most emphatically not a friend thing. If you haven’t been making it clear that you’re interested in getting into her pants, you’re not helping your own case. You need to start being comfortable with the idea of being sexual and of physical escalation. I’m willing to bet that, if we were to take a show of hands over who’s comfortable touching the girl they have a crush on, there’d be damned few hands up. And if I were going to ask those who did raise their hands if that touching was anything more than the occasional A-line hug (leaning in at the shoulders, pelvises kept firmly at a distance), even more hands would drop.
Touch is actually incredibly important to humans; it’s a form of communication, intimacy, comfort, social status… not being comfortable touching means you’re functionally cutting yourself off from other people and giving up an incredible tool towards building the attraction you want. So you need to be willing and able to touch your crush in the first place and, importantly, have her be comfortable with your touch. If she’s not comfortable with your hand on her back or your arm around her shoulders, she’s definitely not going to be comfortable with you trying to kiss her or going for second base.
So you need to be willing to touch her, casually but with meaning. Be willing to pull her in for a one-armed hug when she makes a joke about you and her, then push her away playfully like you’re annoyed with her. Touch her arm while making a point while talking. Place a hand on the lower back when escorting her into building. Have the guts to put an arm around her when you’re sitting together watching Netflix on the couch. Just be aware of her comfort level and pull back when you feel her tensing up and becoming uncomfortable.
And yes, you’re going to need to be willing to kiss her.
You’re also going to have to be willing to flirt and mean it. There’s nothing sadder than a guy who makes a joke about wanting to make out with the girl he’s trying to hook up with, then nervously laughing and trying to take it back when he gets called on it. You want her. You want her to know that you do, so you need to own it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more from her and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. Which takes us to the next part.
This may actually be harder for some of you than making the first move. You’re going to have to be willing to control the context of your relationship.
Think of it this way: when you’re talking to your crush, how is she treating you? How does she refer to you? Does she laugh off your attempts at talking about how you feel about her? Does she refer to you, unprompted, as her best friend? As “such a great guy, why can’t I meet a guy like you?” She’s framing the relationship; by going along with it, you are tacitly ceding the argument that, yes, you’re friends and nothing but. It’s your job to change the context. You need to be willing to give her a silly nickname like “brat” or “Princess” and refer to her that way. You need to be willing to banter. You need to tease her and tell her “Geez, you’re trouble. You’re feisty,” when you tease each other, as though she is the one who’s hitting on you. You need to be willing to say – in a charming, playful way – “You realize I’m just trying to get into your pants, right?” If she laughs and continues to hang out with you, you’ve just re-framed the situation; by continuing to hang out with you, she’s given you passive permission to keep trying.
This applies to all of the behavior you’re probably already too familiar with; it’s an opportunity to reframe the situation. If she’s coming to you in order to complain about the latest jerk who treated her like crap, you need to be willing to tell her “Hey, listen, I love you dearly and I know you think I’m your bestest girlfriend eveeerrrrr, but before you get to the point where you’re pulling out the Haägen-Daz and we’re doing each other’s hair, you need to know I’m only pretending to listen because I can kinda see down your top.” If she tells you, straight up, that she only wants to be friends, hey, Great! “Awesome! I think you’re a cool person too. But you gotta know I’m still attracted to you, and I’m still going to try to hook up with you.” And again: not ending things right then and there is passive permission for you to keep trying.
Lastly: you need to be willing to walk away.
Nobody gets every girl, and just because you do everything I recommend – and do it well – you’re not magically going to succeed every time.
Remember what I said about passive permission? That applies to you too. If a girl gives you the LJBF speech and treats you like her favorite female BFF, you can stay there, playing “Against All Odds” over and over again and hoping for the day that things change. But while you’re doing that, you’re tacitly accepting that, yes, you’re just her friend. And at that point, you have two options. You can sit there and twist the knife a little more each day.
Or you can reject her frame and leave.
Be willing to walk away, cut your losses and try again. It’ll hurt, but the clean break heals fastest and you’ll be in a better position when the next girl comes along.
And besides… when she sees you out there, having fun with other girls, girls who are clearly into you…
Well, that might be what does the trick.