One Simple Way To Avoid The Friend Zone

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During a recent speaking engagement at the University of Central Florida, I was asked a question that I had heard quite a few times before. If we are encouraging men to be gentlemen, to be chivalrous and kind, then how can we ensure that they don’t end up being seen as the ‘nice guy’ and fall into the dreaded friend zone?

Some say that the friend zone is a mythical concept, but it is very real to men who have ever experienced the heartbreak of wanting to be with a woman who did not have similar feelings towards him. While the title we give it may not be the most mature, it is effective in the fact that everyone knows what it means when they hear it: The woman you want to be with just sees you as a platonic friend, nothing more.

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I think there is a reason that so many self-proclaimed nice guys find themselves in this predicament and become confused as to why. Perhaps they expect a woman to just assume he is into her and will make a comment to him about it. Maybe they just haven’t gotten around to telling her yet. Maybe they are working on building up the courage…putting your ego on the line is a difficult thing for a man to do when it can so easily be broken.

How can men avoid this heartbreak? There is one simple thing we can do better:

Clearly express your intentions to her.

While men often say that we are not mind-readers and should not be expected to automatically know what a woman is thinking or feeling, this goes for women as well. Some men think that the mere fact that they are present in a woman’s life is enough of a sign of interest; but if you do not show her or tell her how you feel, she will never know.

While it may be awkward to sit down with someone and just tell them how you feel (especially if you’ve been spending time together previously), there are more indirect ways to do it that can save your confidence from being bruised along the way.

– Give her small compliments. If this is a woman you know and value, it is likely you know enough about her to tell her what you appreciate about her. Don’t overdo it, but this is a good way to see how she reacts to you making small advances towards her. If she is receptive, enthusiastic, and reciprocates – you can slowly become more forward and invite her on a date.

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Use the word date. If you make a plan to go to dinner or do something fun together, using more intimate words such as this will clearly state that you are not interpreting this as two friends just hanging out. Friends hang out. Friends go to the bar together. Friends go out in groups. But an intimate couple goes on dates. If she cringes or steps back when you mention the word, you will know where her feelings are as well – but at least you will know now and not down the road.

– Be flirty with her physically. Respectfully. Small things like putting your arm around her for a few seconds playfully while walking down the street or mirroring her body language will give you non-verbal cues to how she feels about you. If she visibly pulls away or seems to be made uncomfortable, cut it out immediately, forcing the issue will make it worse, not better.

But one thing remains consistent with any way you work to try to gauge her interest in you: Analyzing can only take you so far. Action is the only way to move forward. An invite on a real date is one of the best ways to determine how a woman feels because of the connotation of the word, but if you wait too long to ask after a friendship has been developed, it may seem like it’s coming out of nowhere and make your friendship awkward.

The bottom line is this, gentlemen: If you do not make her aware that you are interested in something more, she will never know. We have to take risks in life and in love if we want to find happiness.

“It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out?

Ah, but what if it does?

– Peter McWilliams.

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12 Comments

  1. Shine On on November 12, 2014 at 11:24 am

    what’s wrong with just telling her how you feel? I’m always confused with the expectations of humans that relationships are some big secret and requires all this subversive posturing. What’s wrong with, “Hey, Melanie. I’m really into you. I’d like a more meaningful, intimate relationship with you that might lead to something more serious. Are you into me that way?” And then take the answer like a man…whatever it is. Otherwise, your just a pussy unwilling to take real rejection.

    • James Michael Sama on November 12, 2014 at 11:28 am

      You’re* just a pussy…and there is nothing wrong with telling her how you feel. I don’t recall anyone saying there was…the point is that it’s difficult sometimes to just put your feelings on the line by coming out and saying it. That doesn’t make you a pussy, it makes you a human.

  2. thesteadfastsoldier on November 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    James! Yet again another amazing post from you. I really enjoyed this one and can relate to being in the firm grip of the friend zone. Dating has been a challenge for me, but I’m not giving up. I typically have a difficult time transitioning from being a friend to moving to the romantic aspect of friendship. I have speculations as to what the difficulty is, they may be valid, but I have to work past those.

    In your area of expertise, have you ever encountered couples where one person in the relationship had a physical disability? What direction would you give someone in that position? I know that is very broad, but I intentionally left it open for you to expand and go in any direction you’d like.

    More closely related to the post: I’ve expressed how I felt to ladies I had an interest in, yet it usually changes the dynamics of the friendship.

    Lastly, any difficult advice you give won’t be a hinderance to my self-image nor hurt my feelings. I’ve had much time realizing that dating will be a challenge for me.

    Thank you, James!

  3. aee8 on November 12, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    The fear for me to give the number on piece a paper with full interest of the guy at his work. As a girl, i try not to avoid to be in friend zone. It is a challenge for me to give it while at work and just leave like 50 / 50 chance to call or text me after his shift. I must not give up to see him in 4th time when i visit him at work. But lately, i have another chance to give a move to have convo after his work or something. Any advice for this one? Thanks for your an amazing posts and I will appreciate you reply my comment back. 🙂

  4. Little Miss Menopause on November 13, 2014 at 1:36 am

    I have to ask, because you mentioned “Mirroring her body language” and of course I have seen that mentioned elsewhere as “a thing to do.” But seriously, how is that flirty or flattering? I would find that rather irritating – – suddenly we’re 8 years-old playing the Copycat game!
    ps. Nice post!

    • thesteadfastsoldier on November 13, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Mirroring body language isn’t an immature act. Guys won’t mirror every single thing, but mirror meaningful things. It shows a liking when mirroring. Its a conscientious thing. If it’s done correctly, neither party will notice it’s happening…it should be THAT nonchalant. Men shouldn’t do it in a manipulative way, but merely as a way of grabbing her attention in an intellectual way. Think of it as speaking and connecting via body language.

      • Little Miss Menopause on November 13, 2014 at 2:20 am

        Thank you! I was actually joking with my last line (i blog humor) but your explanation makes good sense –except I always thought it was done very unconsciously–the mimicking behaviors. And do you know if it’s done in the animal kingdom too?



      • thesteadfastsoldier on November 13, 2014 at 2:39 am

        Hmm good question. You’re probably right in saying that it’s an unconscientious act; however, when I am pursuing a lady I’m interested in, I need to remind myself of these social cues. Again, not that it’s manipulative, but if I am serious I want to let her know and make her aware of how attentive I am.
        I’ll be honest with you; I’m working on a bachelors degree in psychology, and I don’t want to mislead by showing to know many facts. I am willing to admit I could be wrong. I also do extra studying of body language, so my field of knowledge is somewhat broad.



  5. The Free Woman on November 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Agreed! 98% of men I friend zoned b/c the never let me know they liked me. Being nice isn’t enough! Men, you have to let us know, in words! For me, you have maybe 2 weeks from the time I meet you until the time I friend zone you, and once I do, I don’t change my mind. Thats just how I operate! Good luck out there

    • twgonder on March 17, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      I can’t believe how many people commenting here (including the blog owner) have no idea how attraction works. If The Free Woman was honest, she would admit that a man goes into the friend zone within ten minutes of meeting him. Every woman instinctively knows when a man is interested in her. Every time I’ve put or been put in the friend zone, it was because the “chemistry” just wasn’t there. It had nothing to do with words unsaid.

      • The Free Woman on April 17, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        I disagree! Im pretty open to giving men a few tries!



    • Anon on February 24, 2016 at 11:48 am

      You friendzone guys because your ego is hurt + your name says everything for itself you know 2 weeks is a really really short time to start any kind of relationship or get a person known better, this way only people you will attract are psychos or rapists well unless you are teenager in wich case its perfectly normal, but if you wont get past this phase later in life then well….good luck in life. You know many men look for more than good looks, so they want to see whats the deal first.

      For majority friendzone is either what I posted above or something really really simple you wont even believe, something people are so afraid to acknowledge because of their fragile egos working. You are ugly to her/him, he/she is not attracted, period. There is no rocket sciene.

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