You Want Her But That’s Cool. Because She’s Awesome.
Now obviously, you’re going to want to flirt with her and even hit on her a little. This is critical – you can’t just come out one day and confess your undying love for her and expect the purity of your passion to win her over in an instant. You need to build that attraction.
At the same time, you can’t just start telling her you that you think she’s hot and you totally want to bang. Doing so is going to make her think you’re only her friend because you’ve been trying to get in her panties from the beginning. You want to acknowledge your attraction to her… while emphasizing the fact that you love being her friend too. You’re not friends with her because you’ve been harboring this secret desire for years, you’re friends with her because she’s awesome. The fact that she’s awesome is also why you are attracted to her.
Early on, I had one case of being in the Friend Zone with somebody who knew how I felt and was incredibly uncomfortable about it and about the fact that I kept bringing it up and hitting on her in my clumsy way. The problem was that I made my constantly throwing my feelings for her in her face a condition of being friends with me. We couldn’t have a conversation that didn’t eventually come around to how I felt and our relationship. It made things awkward and nearly sank the friendship entirely.
It took years to repair the damage… and those years didn’t make me any less attracted to her.
What did change was my attitude towards her and how I expressed my attraction. When we had managed to fix things and we were back in regular contact, I was still flirting with her, but I made sure that she understood that I was uninvested in the outcome. I was willing to keep things to the level of “Hey, I like you, I want to get together with you, it’s all good if you don’t feel the same way.” She was much more comfortable with this; the fact that I liked her and was attracted to her was not going to be a big deal. As a result, she didn’t feel put on the defensive about how she did or didn’t feel about me and was able to relax and enjoy herself. She was even willing to flirt back a little because it was low-stakes.
We hooked up soon afterwards. And it was awesome.
The fact that I was willing to start flirting with my crushes – even bringing sex into it – was a major part of how I would get out of the Friend Zone; it was easier to accept because a) it was leavened with humor and b) I was also willing to acknowledge our friendship was great too and I was really happy to be her friend. I wasn’t asking her to make a decision – be my friend or be my lover – I was just expressing myself in a way that was entertaining, even flattering, but unthreatening. You want to let her know: “Hey, look, I think you’re awesome and you’re a great friend, and I want to get together with you. Feel free to shoot me down, I’m going to be totally cool with that, but that’s not going to change the fact that I’m attracted to you. I think you’re cool to hang out with and I’m super-happy that we’re friends.”
Send Mixed Signals
This is going to sound manipulative and mind-game-y but stick with me here.
You need to keep your crush off balance. You want to be a little unpredictable. You don’t want to just be hitting on her or flirting with her incessantly – even if it didn’t make her uncomfortable, it just ends up becoming part of the background radiation of your relationship. Similarly, being permanently unavailable is just going to mean that your friendship is going to wither and die. You want to run hot and cold – you flirt a little, you pull back. You give a sincere compliment and follow it up with playfully giving her shit. You want to keep a balance of pushing and pulling, basically, “go away a little closer,” if you will.
You don’t want things to be too comfortable or too easy to define; the last thing you want is to reaffirm the status quo of being “just friends”. There’s value in ensuring that keeping your status in flux – after all, you want to be seen as more than just a friend, you want to be seen as a potential lover and partner. The unpredictability and uncertainty is, contrary to expectations, surprisingly attractive; as much as we like certainty, certainty can be boring. We find unpredictability to be intriguing because it challenges us. We want to know, which means we keep coming back to it in an attempt to define it and understand just where we stand.
Sending those mixed signals will help spur your crush to invest more into your relationship… and into you.
Date Other People
You want to break out of the Friend Zone? You need to date other people.
Yes, it seems counterintuitive, but it works. To start with: you don’t want to be hung up on just one person, no matter how attracted you are to them. Dating other people will keep you from spending all your time moping about “Whyyyyy won’t she luuuuuuuuurve meeeee” and annoying all of your friends about how unfair it all is. It will help keep you grounded in the reality of relationships instead of getting caught up in the fantasies about your fairy tale romance with your crush. It will also do you a lot of good to be reminded that not only are there other awesome women out there, but they find you attractive too – not only will this boost your confidence and self-esteem, but it also means that you will ultimately be less invested in your non-relationship in the Friend Zone.
It also will help her realize that a) you’re not waiting around for her, b) that you clearly have something going for you if all of these other women find you attractive and c) maybe she’s just a little jealous that these women are getting the attention that used to be hers and hers alone.
Ultimately it’s a win-win situation; on the one hand, you win your crush’s heart. On the other, you may have been shot down by your crush, but you’re still dating awesome women. Hard to go wrong, really.
Take It Slow, Bro
Look, even under the best of circumstances, this isn’t going to be a fast process. In an ideal situation, it will take weeks to months. If you’re dealing with a long-standing friendship, it could take years. Changing a long-held perception of you and your relationship is a marathon, not a sprint. You want a slow boil; getting impatient and trying to rush things will only make her uncomfortable and end up blowing things. Badly. Push too hard, too fast and not only are you not going to get out of the Friend Zone, you’re going to lose the friendship entirely. You need to be calm. You need to be patient. If you aren’t willing to put the time and effort in knowing in advance, you need to seriously reconsider whether you’re feeling honest emotion or that you just want something you can’t have.
Make Your Move
It’s starting to look like maybe all that effort is paying off. She’s flirting back with you. She’s initiating the physical contact and is more accepting of more intimate (but non-sexual) touch like snuggling on the couch. She’s sharing much more of her own sexual interests with you. She’s starting to show signs of jealousy when you bring up the other women you’re seeing.
If everything works well – if you’re starting to get definite signs that she’s starting to see you as more than just a platonic friend rather than trying to analyze her every word like it was the Zapruder film – then it’s time for you to make your move.
This does not mean that you’re about to confess your deep and abiding love for her; even if she is becoming attracted to you as a potential lover, dropping the L-bomb1 is going to freak her out. You’ll be putting way too much pressure on her considering she’s only just starting to see you as someone she could date.
Yes, I know I told you to let her know you were attracted to her – there’s a world of difference between acknowledging that you like her and want to get together with her and telling her that you believe the two of you are soulmates and you’ve already picked out the names for your kids.
No, you’re going to have to make a physical move.
You’re going to have to kiss her.
The best time for it would be at a point when you’re fairly intimate already – hanging out at a bar together with your arm around her, snuggled up on the couch watching TV, something – but ultimately there is no “perfect” moment. The “Perfect Moment” is the one that you make. It can be as the two of you lean over the balcony of your apartment and admire the view or it can be spur-of-the-moment in a bar watching a band. What ultimately matters is that you take that attraction that you’ve been building and act on it.
If it goes wrong – if she’s not into it… well, your attitude needs to be “no harm, no foul”. She will likely take her lead from you; as long as you treat it like it’s no big deal, it won’t be a big deal. Shrug your shoulders, say “Sorry, thought I’d take my shot,” and move on – preferably to one of those other women you’ve been dating.
But if it doesn’t go wrong, when she wraps her arms around your neck and starts kissing you back…
Well, just try not to get distracted by all the fireworks.
- still not lesbians. [↩]