It started well. You met an attractive woman. You exchanged contact info. You hung out a few times. The signs were there.
She’s beautiful, intelligent, confident, and fun. She shares your tastes in music, movies, and food. She enjoys your company and laughs at your jokes. She doesn’t think you’re weird for liking that obscure Japanese anime thing.
At last, you thought you’d found her: the perfect woman.
That is, until she delivered that oh-so-painful line – “Let’s just be friends” – and smashed your heart into a thousand aching shards.
Now you’re stuck in dating purgatory… so close, yet so far away… so very deeply in the friend zone.
How do you get out? If you want any hope of escaping your BFF fate, follow these steps.
Quit Lying To Yourself
Before you’re ready to admit there’s a problem, you become a gold medalist in mental gymnastics. You convince yourself that you’re not in the friend zone – that you’re the man for her and she just hasn’t seen it yet, that one day the fog will disappear from her eyes and she’ll see what a great guy you are.
You’ll try any handspring, backflip, somersault or twist to avoid acknowledging what you already know: she’s not into you.
Don’t kid yourself. Accept the reality of the situation, except that your actions may have put you there, accept that only your actions can get you out. If that weren’t the case, you’d already be riding off into the sunset together. It’s time to get your head out of the sand and try a different approach.
Figure Out The Why
How you escape the friend zone may depend on what put you there in the first place. Try to determine the root cause.
If you’re terrified of rejection, or simply didn’t make your intentions clear, she may not know you’re interested in her at all. If you didn’t spark enough attraction, she never had the opportunity to see you as a potential mate rather than a platonic pal.
Maybe you’re too needy, or too irresponsible, or tick off several points on her dealbreakers list. Maybe she’s not ready for a relationship. Or maybe – just maybe – she’s really, truly, honest-to-goodness not into you.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to keep you in the friend zone, it’s whining about being in the friend zone. Don’t complain, plead, beg, or bargain. It won’t get you out. What it will do is harm her perception of you, your friends’ perceptions of you, and your perception of yourself. Keep your cool and take a step back. Desperate people don’t get what they want; they end up with what other people give them.
While you’re busy putting on a politely indifferent front in public, keep your infatuation in check in private. Stop stalking her social media profiles. Delete any photos from your phone. Don’t ask about her when you’re with mutual friends. You’ll never move on from the friend zone – or just move on – if you obsess over her 24/7. Make it your goal to become so occupied with your interesting life that you don’t have time to think about… um… whatever her name was.
Make Yourself Scarce
For this step, we turn to science. According to social psychology, humans place a higher value on things that are scarce and a lower value on things that are abundant. In other words, we want what we can’t have and the very fact that we can’t have it makes us want it even more.
In sociology, the ‘principle of least interest’ states that the person who has the least interest in continuing a relationship holds the most power over that relationship.
Together scarcity and the principle of least interest can be a turning point in your journey beyond the confines of the friend zone. By stepping away from the relationship, you flip the script. Her interest may increase as your presence in her life decreases – and suddenly, instead of you chasing her, she’s pursuing you.
Stop Acting Like A Boyfriend
If you want to be her boyfriend, you should do everything you can to prove you’d be a good one, right?
Wrong. Although she does want to see signs you’ll be a good partner, she doesn’t want a doormat. Stop excessively complimenting her, running errands, kissing ass, and otherwise bending over backwards to prove you’re The Nicest Guy In The World™. You’re not climbing out of the friend zone by doing so; you’re digging yourself deeper in.
If you really want to get out, you need to quit seeking validation and approval from her, quit obsessing over what she thinks of you, quit letting her walk all over you, and quit acting like every other friend zoned suck-up desperate to get into her pants. You’ll stand out when you’re relaxed, fun, confident, and not trying so hard.
Here’s where things get delicate. If you want her to be attracted to you, you have to build attraction. But if you don’t want things to blow up like a Trump rant on Twitter, you have to be subtle.
Ease gently into being more flirtatious and intimate. Open the conversation to topics beyond casual friendship. If she reacts positively, keep going. If she doesn’t follow your lead, step back and move even more slowly.
Begin to flirt – again, subtly. Smile more. Hold longer eye contact. Throw in a sincere compliment here and there. Introduce natural, relaxing touch and ramp it up over time if you continue to receive positive feedback.
Don’t Wait On Her
We return once again to scarcity. Don’t just retreat from her life – make strong movements forward in your own life. Hang out with your friends. Hang out with other women. Even – gasp – date them.
Continuing to date creates a spark of intrigue (and yes, jealousy too) and can increase your perceived value by showing that other women find you interesting. Just don’t go overboard or you’ll catapult yourself straight from the friend zone into asshole territory.
Not only does this potentially tap into some of her competitive and curious primal drives, it also serves a greater purpose: giving yourself the opportunity to move on.
Focus On Self-Improvement
Want to be a better mate prospect? Become a better man. Dive headfirst into personal development – eat healthier, hit the gym, pursue your hobbies, excel at work, learn a new skill, read. Do whatever you can to improve and become the best version of yourself. That man doesn’t just stand a greater chance of escaping the friend zone, he stands a greater chance – period. You’ll upgrade your life whether or not a particular woman comes with it.