Get A Second Look
The trope of “suddenly sexy” is a long-standing cliche in fiction, especially romantic comedies; one moment it’s your old childhood pal who’s like a brother/sister too you and then all the sudden there’s a slight change and then you can’t get them out of your head.
The problem is that it can be hard to pierce the filter of our pre-concieved notions about our friends; we have built up these images in our heads, a sort of mental short-hand that stands in for the real thing. You need to give her cause to re-define who you are to her – and that means it’s time to make some changes and shake up the status quo.
And the best place to start is with your body and your look.
If one of your friends has ever made a sudden change to their wardrobe or hairstyle – one that seems out of character for them – then you know the effect that I’m talking about; you know that it’s your friend, but they’ve moved so far out of your expectations that you’re forced to look at them in a new light. Sometimes the changes work – they feel natural and help emphasize your friend’s good points – and sometimes they don’t… but either way, your mental image is shaken.
This can be a critical tool to making your escape from the Friend Zone.
Back in the bad old days I didn’t exactly know how to dress – oversized clothes in the hopes of hiding that I hadn’t gained the Freshman 15 so much as the Freshman 40, really godawful t-shirts layered with ugly flanel (hey, it was the 90s!) – or how to carry myself. I slouched and folded in on myself, afraid to take up space for fear of inconveniencing other people. Everything about me screamed “LOW SELF-ESTEEM!” My style was “whatever is (mostly) clean and is comfortable”. My archetype was “Reclusive Nerd”.
It was no wonder why women weren’t exactly beating down my door, is it? This was my default for decades – and this was the image that was locked into the heads of my friends – especially the ones I had an interest in.
When they saw me few years later, they were astounded. I had made a complete transformation – I’d lost weight and taken up weight training, I had learned to appreciate stylish, well-fitting clothes; I had a hair style that wasn’t the SuperCuts Discount Special and – critically, the way I carried myself had changed. I was standing straight, with my shoulders back and my arms held loose at my sides. When I walked I had what could almost only be described as a “swagger”, born out of the fact that I was more relaxed and moving with purpose. I was so out of line with their pre-conceived idea of who I was and what I looked like that they were forced to re-consider who I was and how we related to each other. I was no longer “that nice guy I’ve known for years”, I was almost a stranger. They had to re-learn who I was – and this gave me the opportunity to re-define our relationship.
Now, this is not to say that you have to completely re-invent yourself in order to get out of the Friend Zone; in fact, you might be surprised by the returns you get on some small changes to your look. Better fitting clothes and a new, more flattering hairstyle can work wonders. Improving your body language and posture by adopting more confident attitudes can make you seem like a new person. If you wear glasses, consider contacts. If you have facial hair, shave it off or adopt a style that works better with your face – not every style works well for every sort of face.
Just keep in mind: the longer you’ve known your crush – and the closer you are with them – the harder it can be to shake that mental image of you. I’d been friends with mine for close to a decade or longer before I got out – and part of what assisted my transformation in their minds was my having to not see them for a few years.
Act Like A Lover, Not A Friend
I covered this some last time, but it’s worth reiterating: if you want to get out of the Friend Zone, you can’t keep acting like a friend. You need to be willing to treat her more like someone you’re dating.
This means that you can’t be available to her all the time, the way you are now. You have to be willing to say “no” to her when she asks you for favors or to hang out; you aren’t going to convince her to change how she sees you when you’re dancing in attendance on her at all hours. Let her miss you a little; we tend to value things that we miss more than what we have available to us at all times. Don’t forget: this doesn’t mean that you’re going to make yourself artificially scarce and lie about being unavailable in hopes that she’s going to break down eventually – you need to have your own life going on, one that doesn’t necessarily include her all the time.
Similarly, you need to be willing to express yourself sexually and have her acknowledge you as a sexual being. We sometimes can have a problem acknowledging that our friends have a sexual side to them – it’s part of how we compartmentalize people. In practice, you need to be able to talk about sex – especially your sex lives – with her. It may be tough hearing about the other people she’s slept with; not to sound cold but deal with it. Everybody has a sexual past, and it’s a mark of maturity to be able to handle it without freaking out, pouting or acting squirmy. A hint of jealousy is good; acknowledging her other partners as “lucky bastards” is a nice, subtle way of indicating that you wouldn’t mind being in their place without driving the point home.
How do you bring up sex without sounding like you’re trying to perv out on her? Talk about the other girls you’ve dated, especially in the context of what makes a good boyfriend or girlfriend. “Yeah, Michelle was sweet and she gave great massages but we just didn’t click in bed, you know?” “Leah and I were a bad fit. She was needy, I was in a bad place but we stuck together because the sex was just mind-blowing.” Leave a little bait to encourage her curiosity and wait for her to ask for details – you don’t want to just launch into a conversation about how this girl you knew gave the greatest head because she could do this one thing; you run the risk of too much info, too fast and making your friend uncomfortable. Let her take the lead when it comes to finding out more. If the conversation starts to flow away from sex, let it. Once again: you don’t want to sound like you’re trying to convince her that you have sex, nor do you want to sound like you’re trying to pump her for details for your masturbatory fantasies. You want her comfortable with the idea of you being sexual in general.
You’ve Got To Touch
Once again, much like with avoiding the Friend Zone, touch is incredibly important. Part of acting like a lover is to be willing to make physical contact. You have to be willing to touch her, and with greater intimacy than just a sock on the shoulder. You need to be willing to be physically affectionate. If you’re not touchy-feely already, then you need to learn. Give her your arm when you’re walking some place. If you’re leading her to her seat, put your hand on her lower back. Put an arm around her and pull her in for a side-hug and let it linger for a second. Give her a hug goodbye. Snuggle up on the couch while you’re watching Netflix.
Just remember to be aware for signs of discomfort: muscles tense up, she doesn’t lean into the hug or the arm or moves away; you want to be the one who breaks contact first, before she becomes aware of her discomfort. The last thing you want while you’re working your way out of the Friend Zone is to have her associate your touching her with feeling uncomfortable or awkward.