If you choose to develop a friendship now, can you escape the friend zone later?
Here’s a challenge: make a list of the most polarizing and emotionally-charged topics on dating advice websites and forums. Chances are, the friend zone appears somewhere on that list.
The “friend zone” can be terrifying.
Picture a situation where you are getting along well with a woman. Everything seems great and the two of you hang out all the time. But when you finally share your feelings, you hear, “I just see you as a friend.”
She might also tell you, “I don’t want to jeopardize the friendship we share.”
These can feel like devastating shutdowns.
And yet, some men prefer to gradually get to know a woman. The issue is, they leave the task of defining the relationship to the nebulous future. They hope a relationship will happen “someday” without actually learning the key skills to create that passion.
Sure, being friends with a woman seems like it would help you grow closer to her until you are ready for the next step.
But is that really the case?
If you’re wondering about this, you’re not alone. One of our readers wrote in and asked:
“You mentioned that we have to touch soon or the connection will stay friendly. Have you had an experience where a girl and guy were friends for a long time and started dating months later, or is the friend zone truly that scary?”
If you have ever caught yourself wondering whether you really need to tackle your dating skills right away, or whether you’d be better off starting a friendship and then hoping it develops into a relationship later, this article is for you.
- turning an existing friendship into something more,
- knowing when it’s better to skip the friendship stage and take a shot at romance (hint: almost always, if you have the option), and
- elevating your dating skills so you can navigate these murky gray areas with confidence and grace.
But before we dive into all of that, let’s figure out what the “friend zone” actually means!
What is the “friend zone,” after all?
There is a misconception that the “friend zone” is some terrible place where women maliciously put men they have no intention of dating.
A lot of dating advice on the internet makes it sound like being just friends with a woman is some special kind of torture you should avoid at all costs.
Thankfully, the truth is much less sinister.
Think of how you feel about your friends. You enjoy their company and you love hanging out with them. At the end of the day, that’s all there is to it.
You haven’t cruelly caged your friends into a mental zone where you’re actively repelled by the thought of dating them. The thought probably hasn’t even occurred to you, because you simply don’t think of your friends that way!
Regardless of the widespread negative connotation, the definition of the friend zone for the purposes of this article is simple.
The friend zone is the established assumption that, whatever happens between the two of you, the bond you share is platonic, not romantic.
Because that’s different than what you’ve heard, I’ll explain:
It might throw you for a loop if one of your friends suddenly revealed he or she wanted a relationship with you. So, you can understand why it could be difficult to elevate an existing friendship with a woman into something more.
Now that we’ve defined the friend zone, let’s work on defining your relationship!
Escaping the friend zone can be tough.
When you have a relationship with someone, whether romantic or otherwise, feelings tend to stay relatively constant and deepen along the lines they were originally set. Once clear boundaries are established and habits are formed, changing that dynamic can get tricky.
When a person gets the impression that a friendship is developing, any romantic feelings that may exist can get pushed to the back burner.
A woman may even have an interest in you as a potential partner when you first meet. But she is likely to shelve those feelings and focus instead on the platonic bond you share if it feels like your relationship is gaining “friendship” inertia as opposed to moving in a romantic direction.
This is why men advise other men to express interest early and avoid being “friend zoned.”
On the other hand, when you make your romantic intentions clear from the beginning, you are being clear and gentle. From there, you can build and intensify those feelings as things progress.
When you recognize and showcase what is attractive about yourself with quiet confidence while also being comfortable with chemistry, you can steer things down the relationship path from the very beginning.
By staying in a “dating” mindset and using your dating skill set, you are more likely to avoid that fuzzy gray area of confusion that often leads to one or both parties assuming the two of you are just friends.
But if you’re already friends with the woman of your dreams, don’t despair!
Friendships can and often do develop into something more, if the potential for romance is there and one of you initiates that.
Notice that big “if” in the previous sentence?
One of you must take action to change an existing dynamic.
Your friendship can bubble over with all the unspoken sexual tension in the world, but if neither of you ever points out the huge, rose-petal-adorned, romantic elephant in the candlelit room, nothing is likely to change.
The implied upside to that situation is that you can take action to change it… if you have developed the dating skills to (a) read the moment and (b) shift the vibe between you.
When you are confident in yourself and your dating skills, you tend to be more comfortable addressing, verbally or nonverbally, the chemistry and spark you feel.
Tune in to subtle shifts in the mood. Then, act on one of the myriad opportunities that may naturally present themselves in a close friendship:
- Using inside jokes and the close bond you share as a foundation to express your feelings,
- Casually shifting the topic of conversation to your dating life and what you hope for in relationships in general, or even
- Initiating closer proximity and subtle touch to build chemistry even when feelings have been dormant between you.
Your friendship may already be close enough that she is fine with you touching her. You can take things a step further by trying one of these suggestions:
- Extending your goodbye hug for just a few seconds and taking note of how she responds,
- Gently placing your hand on her back as you guide her through a doorway and, again, gauging her response, or
- Shifting your position so you are sitting or standing closer to her than you usually would.
Any of those ideas give her the opportunity to react favorably or unfavorably, without being too pushy or overbearing.
Remember that you will likely have to work a little harder to challenge the boundaries of the friend zone than you would if you were never in the friend zone to begin with.
Though moving a friendship to a relationship is definitely possible, it’s often easier to skip the friendship phase altogether.
So, if you’re not already in a long-term friendship with the woman you want to pursue, how can you stay out of the friend zone and make sure you’re firmly categorized as a potential romantic interest in her mind?
Here’s how to skip the friend zone entirely.
Starting a relationship is all about intentions:
- What do you want from the relationship?
- What does she want from it?
- Have you clearly communicated those intentions to each other?
The definition of your relationship is incredibly important. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether you say it out loud or show it with nonverbal body language.
Don’t fall into the trap of “modern dating” where you feel you need to play the game, stay cool, and avoid showing any interest out of the fear of being vulnerable.
That’s the quickest route to the friend zone for most guys.
Not every woman will take her cues from the man, but most women still do wait for the guy to make the first move. You might think the modern feminist world of dating has made women all about taking charge. But that is just not true!
The tried-and-true method of “boy meets girl; boy asks girl out” is still what feels most natural and wonderful for both parties in a heterosexual relationship.
This is where honing your dating skills comes into play.
Acting with confidence and taking the lead means that every time you go on a date, you are practicing…
- identifying your own values and standards,
- learning to read a moment and trust your gut during interactions, and
- developing your conversational skills (link to relevant blog posts and conversation guide?)
It’s okay if you prefer to take the friends-first approach. But challenge yourself to develop some chemistry before friendship becomes your default status.
It can be much easier to develop a relationship early on than to swim upstream and change an existing dynamic once it has been established.
When you seize the moment, you avoid the tricky pitfalls that are all too common with the friend zone.
You won’t have to:
- Wait for her to make a move,
- Agonize over every conversation and interaction, wondering if she feels the same way,
- Hope that “someday” things will fall into place so you don’t have to risk rejection or even possibly damage the friendship, or
- Let your fears convince you that it’s better to stay in the friend zone and cultivate a platonic connection rather than take a chance.
Conclusion on whether the friend zone can ever turn into something more.
It can be tempting to take the safe road and cultivate a friendship first. However, in the long term you may be cutting an opportunity short by deliberately entering the friend zone.
So, let’s wrap!
In this post, we covered:
- Understanding what the friend zone is and how to know when you’re choosing it over a relationship,
- Making the choice to skip the friend zone and go straight for what you really want, and
- Practicing your dating skills so you can elevate your connection beyond friendship.
Becoming a benevolent badass in your dating life is all about learning to read situations.
When you master that skill, you can trust yourself to act accordingly with confidence. Learning those skills comes with time, practice, and ideally, the hands-on mentorship to get you there in the smoothest, most edifying way possible.
Definitely download our free ebook, “Why PUA Doesn’t Work for Introverts & What Works Instead” to discover even more helpful tips and tricks to achieve your dating goals.
If you prefer customized, 1:1 advice for your specific situation, consider our flagship program, Launch Your Dating Life. Then, if it looks good to you, apply here for a private phone call where we can see if its’ a fit!