The dreaded friend zone. It’s the Bermuda triangle of platonic relationships: we’ve all heard of it, no one goes there on purpose, and we can’t name anyone we know that has ever made it out alive. In an effort to avoid finding yourself in this no-man’s land, brush up on the following six mistakes that will land even the most well-intended man a seat in the friend zone.
1. Coming on entirely too strong, too soon. Too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. Do our methods to attract her attention resemble that of a dripping faucet — sparse yet consistent and noticeable — or are they a tidal wave? Is she looking around curiously wondering where that noise is coming from, or is she unable to breathe with a panicked look on her face? When letting a woman know you are interested, err on the side of a slow approach. Give us time to process and breathe. And quite possibly, reciprocate.
Pro Tip: Consider your approach to be musical. A few well timed notes here and there leading up to a larger crescendo.
Save Face Factor: A slow lead-in allows for a graceful exit if necessary. Imagine yourself extending a handshake or waving at someone that doesn’t wave back: it’s much easier to play off when done in slow motion.
2. Lack of a Happy Medium. Your pendulum swings to either narcissist or cripplingly insecure. Women are turned off by narcissists who can’t stop talking about themselves. Relationships are give and take: dialogue not monologue. The narcissist may think he has his date’s unwavering attention, but talking only about yourself is not a sustainable relationship model. Your date will describe you to her friends as a “a great guy, but….” The “but” is your one-way ticket to the Friend Zone.
Conversely, the insecure man found on the other end of the spectrum runs the same risk. Self-deprecating humor, negative self-talk and body language which imply lack of confidence are equally as off-putting.
Pro Tip: If you want to change, you can. This is not rocket science, man. Self-diagnosis is the first step. If you are insecure, take strides to change that. Figure out what you’re good at, and do that thing more. Little by little, you’ll gain confidence. In the event you find yourself sucking all the oxygen out of the room because you won’t stop talking, try sharing the spotlight. You might enjoy it. Start small. For every story you tell about yourself, ask at least one question of the other person. Then two. Then three.
Save Face Factor: If you skew too far one way or the other on the security spectrum, take a true interest in what she is saying. Ask questions. It will buy you time as you work on adjusting your behavior.
3. You Have Ex Drama. Regardless of age or experience, the further away from drama one gets, the more obvious it is when one sees it in others. And the more obvious the drama, the less that anyone accustomed to a modicum of peace in their life will be willing to tolerate it. They simply don’t have to.
You may find yourself too close to the eye of the storm and not realize how bad it is, but any ex drama may be more than someone who has a peaceful life wants to deal with. You will be banished to the friend zone as a result.
Pro Tip: Ex drama is like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum. Ignore it. It will eventually get distracted or tire out and fall asleep.
Save Face Factor: Phase out the drama by protecting the new relationship.
4. You’re Still an Emotional Basketcase. You may think you’re ready to move on, and you appear to be interested in someone new…but the moment you have a compassionate ear, you wax nostalgic for your ex. Sentences that start with “Can you believe she” and “How could she” send bright, sparkly flares into the night sky, alerting any potential love interest that you are not over your ex. You are, in fact, still processing, rationalizing and trying to make sense of the demise of your relationship. That’s all fine and dandy, and necessary…but boyfriend material it ain’t.
So when you look up from your drink at long last, with pleading eyes, and lean in for what you hope is a kiss, don’t act surprised when we do a polite swerve, give the bartender and knowing look and grab the check. Let’s get you home, buddy. Alone.
Pro Tip: Talk it out. Cry it out. Drink it out. This too shall pass. You won’t be ready until it does.
Save Face Factor: Test your mettle. Go out three nights in a row without talking about your ex. Not. A. Word. Complete the task and the odds of success are in your favor.
5. She’s just not that into you. Physical attraction is an instant and often fleeting phenomenon. It can turn on you faster than the perfect avocado. You may never know why or how. One moment you’re in, and the next… you’re out.
Pro Tip: There is absolutely nothing you can do about this except keep looking for someone where the spark has a lifespan that allows for the it to be fanned into a flame. To try and force something that isn’t there or worse, try and figure out why, is a waste of time and energy.
Save Face Factor: Walk with confidence. Away from her. She may change her mind, meanwhile you’ve maintained your dignity.
6. Lack of Manners. While she may not need you to open every door, pull out every chair and help her with her coat, a lack of manners will banish you in the friend zonein a hurry. Lack of manners can include, but is not limited to: chewing with your mouth open; constantly interrupting her; or being rude to the wait staff. Remember, she’s not just screening you for herself, she is looking at how you’ll do in front of her friends and family. At this stage in life, she doesn’t want to have to reeducate you on the basics.
Pro Tip: Take a course in etiquette. Consider it an investment in yourself and your confidence. Classes are one to two hours and it will change your perspective and how you carry yourself. Better to know and not have to use all the tools in your repertoire, rather than find yourself clueless and ultimately dateless.
Save Face Factor: You’ll stand out be being a gentleman, and your handsome face will not require saving.