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Why you got Friend Zoned

Written by Anonymous, Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 in Dating Columns, Sex & Dating

The Friend ZoneSo, you got friend zoned. Chances are, that’s why you’re reading this article. In fact, the #1 topic of e-mails that Well Cultured gets from our contact form involves the “friend zone” in some form or fashion — so chances are, even if you are simply on this website, you’re on here because you got friend zoned. After all, to be honest, few guys seek self-improvement without an impetus (usually female) for doing so.

There’s no shame in that. But it’s time for some tough love. After polling a selection of women and collecting an insane number of answers, we’ve come up with a realistic list of the five major reasons why women “friend zone” men. This list is gonna hurt, but it’s necessary, because it explains a lot about how women view potential suitors, why a lot of men screw up their opportunities, and, most importantly, it teaches ways in which you can avoid being friend zoned in the future.

Two Preliminary Disclaimers
1: We don’t like the term “friend zone” in any form or fashion. In colloquial use, the “friend zone” refers to a “place” where women put men that they want to be friends with, but not date or have sex with. Though this sounds innocuous on its face, this whole terminology tends to imply some pretty stupid things: namely, that the idiotic “ladder theory” is at all viable, that women do this stuff consciously, that men are always shoved into a “zone,” and that (implicitly) men should do anything to avoid being a friend of a women. All of our polling of women did use this term, but we explained it to contextualize it.  Suffice to say, we use “friend zoned” here only because it’s familiar to most of our readers, not because it implies we think it’s an actual thing. This article is more about the reasons why men fail with women generally.

2: The polling base for this article was a selection of approximately 40 women between the ages of 18 and 27.  This age range was selected in order to best match our readerbase.  These women live all across the country, are generally college educated (or better), and voluntarily responded to the poll.  That being said, our results are very much limited by our polling base — so don’t take this as absolute gospel truth. There’s a specific issue with this demographic that I’m particularly concerned about, which I address below when it becomes relevant.

Reason #5: You are/were not readily available.

About 10% of girls that responded indicated that guys they would have normally dated were put in the friend zone because they were not “available” – meaning, as far as we can tell, that they were not easily dated. Often, this appears to be an issue when the guy lives far away (long drives make for infrequent meetings), when the guy is very busy, or when he tends to hang out with other people to the detriment of his availability.  Somewhat ironically, this can sometimes mean that a very successful guy with a job is less preferable than a guy with a crappy part-time job and lots of disposable time.

What you can learn:

Be available, but don’t be too available. On one hand, you should be available in the sense that you can realistically date the girl you want to date — after all, if you can’t date her, she’ll obviously not consider you a candidate to date anyway. On the other hand, sacrificing your life — be it work, social, or otherwise — to make yourself “available” is stupid and creepy.  This standard also varies based on the girl, so needier girls will demand more time, whereas more independent (and usually more career-focused) girls will be happier with less of your time. Adjust accordingly.

Reason #4: You pushed too hard.

No, really. At least 20% of the girls we polled indicated that, in addition to other reasons (listed above/below), the guy they friend zoned tried too hard to get their attention. This seems a bit backwards (it’s like saying “I liked you and wanted to date you until you hit on me”), but it reveals something important about the whole dynamic between suitors and women:

Girls are not oblivious to the fact that you like them. This is not an amazing revelation, but simply a statement of fact: if you’ve been pining after a girl for a while, unless you’ve had zero social contact with her, chances are she is fully aware that you like her, and she is intentionally staying away from you. The reason most women indicated that a guy “pushed too hard” probably had little to do with why a girl friend zoned a guy, but rather seems to indicate that his pushiness helped solidify her decision to avoid him. In essence, the harder you push with a girl with no interest in you, the worse it will get.

What you can learn:

If it doesn’t come naturally and the girl puts up a lot of brick walls, don’t try to break them down to see if she’s “interested.” If she’s pushing back, she’s not interested.

Reason #3: You had/have no future.

Along with the “pushing too hard” comment, a substantial number of girls (nearly 20%) indicated that the men they put in the friend zone had no future. This was often lumped into a man’s attractiveness (see below), but it seemed a pretty dominant factor in their thought processes independent of looks.

In essence, it appears that girls, after determining whether or not they find a guy attractive (again, see below), tend to do a lot of calculations regarding a guy’s social and economic worth. Where a guy seems to have a “future” — and I mean “future” usually in the future where “he’ll do ______ like I imagine my future husband will do” — a girl is more likely to date him. Consequently, where a guy is clearly a sort of stereotypical loser — no job, no prospects, no social worth, etc — his social value is lessened and, thus, his desirability lowers.

What you can learn:

Work hard on yourself before you jump into the dating pool. While a lot of womens’ responses regarding a man’s “future” were somewhat vague or stupid (sorry, girls, but they were difficult to parse), the message is fairly clear: the more you improve yourself and your social/economic standing, the more desirable you are. Succeed at work and you’ll succeed at women.

Incidentally, this should also mean that you should be realistic about the kind of women you can date.  If you are content with living in a small town and not doing much, don’t expect to date a cosmopolitan millionaire baby who wants to travel the world.  Attraction plays a lot of a part in romance, but rational compatibility is also a pretty important component to the calculus of love.

Reason #2: You were creepy.

At LEAST 50% of women we polled indicated that “creepiness” was a major factor in our poll. This, in other words, means that chances are creepiness played a part in why you were friend zoned, if you ever have been friend zoned at all.

So far as we can tell from parsing the results we acquired, being “creepy” takes on a lot of forms. On one hand, a lot of women polled indicated that the word “creepy” referred to how overtly sexual and awkward the guy was towards her — treating her differently, being overly serious with her, overly dramatic showings of favoritism, etc. On the other hand, other women defined “creepy” as things like being a social recluse, only being able to talk about anime pornography, and the like.

What you can learn:

Don’t be creepy. Unfortunately, creepiness — like mental insanity — is somewhat difficult to self-diagnose. Have a close female friend honestly give you pointers. If she mentions anything close to the word “creepy” — including but not limited to comments about you being “tryhard,” pushy, awkward, etc — fix it, immediately.

There’s also something else to note here: a lot of the behavior women associate with “creepiness” is often the result of a guy expecting a vending machine relationship.  By a “vending machine relationship,” I mean the attitude a guy takes in a relationship where he feels as if things he does (being nice, helping a girl with homework, etc) should immediately and directly translate into benefits (dating, sex, etc).  Where a guy is frustrated in this scenario, he often comes across as awkward, unnecessarily “nice,” or just weird.  Thus, even if you aren’t a greasy basement dweller wearing anime t-shirts, you can be “creepy” by being a vending machine sort of guy — so don’t do it.

Reason #1: You aren’t attractive/her “type.”

So, this is the part where I feel guilty for writing this article.

A full one hundred percent of women we polled indicated, in one way or another, that attractiveness was a reason for friend zoning a guy. Most of those polled – over 75% – indicated that this was the dispositive or sole reason that they friend zoned a guy. In other words, assuming that the women we polled fairly represent a cross-section of women (though see the limitations above), attractiveness is pretty much the core reason why men get friend zoned.

Admittedly, this isn’t the kind of result we wanted to get. It’s highly vain, unrealistic, and pretty damn mean. And, perhaps worse, it reflects really poorly on the women we polled. But it’s the result we got.

So what does this mean? Chances are, if you got friend zoned, your attractiveness played a part in it.

For those of you who are curious, women polled indicated that the following things fell into their definition of a man’s attractiveness: his overall facial structure, his smile, his hair, how he was dressed, his musculature (especially shoulders, biceps, and forearms, but sometimes including abs), his posture, and his penis size (don’t ask me how that can be determined from a “friend”). They also indicated that, much like men, they evaluate these things very early on when meeting a guy.

What you can learn:

While this result seems like a dead end, in reality, there’s a lot that can be done about your appearance, and you should probably do them. While certain things cannot be changed without plastic surgery (see: facial structure, etc), a lot of other things can be changed with effort. With braces (if necessary), a new haircut, a good exercise routine, a new wardrobe, and the like, chances are you can fix a lot about yourself that was messed up before.

But there’s also something else you can learn from this: chances are, if a girl puts you in the friend zone because she found you unattractive, you probably shouldn’t bother pursuing her, especially if you are taking care of yourself already. If you are putting forth every effort possible to make yourself look good — and by that I mean working out, maintaining a good hygiene routine, dressing well, etc — the girl is not for you. Not everyone will find you hot, and that’s perfectly fine, as even the most allegedly hot actors and actresses have their detractors.

As a side note, and on a more editorial side, this may just say a lot about young women. As noted above, the women we polled were young – usually barely out of college, if that. These girls are at their sexual and social peak, and many of them have the luxury of being arrogant about looks, oftentimes notwithstanding their own oddities, shortcomings, and problems. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this — no-one is faulting them for enjoying their power over men while they have it. But still, this result may have a lot to do with the fact that many of the women we polled have no desire to find a decent guy yet – a lot are admittedly just out to enjoy themselves, constantly pursuing their unrealistic image of the Ivy league educated Disney prince with a six-pack and a billion in the bank.  In other words, our results may be limited to the demographic we polled – so don’t freak out about this too much.

Still, though, there’s nothing wrong with self improvement. That’s what this whole website is for, after all. Just do it for yourself — not for a girl who turns you down.

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5 Responses to Why you got Friend Zoned

  1. Andrea says:

    This is pretty spot on. Except for the distance part. My mostly female college in NYC is packed with international 18-27 year old princesses boasting about their long distance men across the US, Europe, Asia and South America (Despite living in NY and staying there to work post-college). As written, they’re career-driven and less needy. Technology makes anyone “available.” If a woman is seriously into a man, distance means nothing…unless you’re ugly of course. Don’t even try. But seriously, men, don’t fret. We’re not THAT shallow. If Prince Charming has a cruddy personality, Forrest Gump can have my babies. Even Beauty ended up with a Beast (whom she formerly friendzoned).

  2. Martin says:

    Sound advice. I’d like to present my spin on it.

    You don’t “get” friend zoned. You friend-zoned yourself. That’s the tough realisation you need to arrive at. Assume responsibility: you got there by your own means, actions, and decisions, but you probably didn’t know any better. It happened, and you made it happen, not her. That’s not meant to shame you by the way, it’s meant to empower you. You didn’t get friend zoned, but you did get experience. You’ll need that experience to get into your next relationship. Read on.

    The number one most attractive thing in men (and clearly the one one that matters) is self confidence. That’s essential. Self confidence means someone who is assertive (but not a commanding asshole or other form of power nazi). Someone who is driven, who has passion, who wants to accomplish things, build things, make a mark on the world. Ask yourself if that’s you, and if that’s what you demonstrated to your newest lady friend. If it is, you might need to work on your presentation. Carry on, you’re on the right path. If it’s not you, reflect on this: your new goal this instant is to change the world in a way, to make your mark, to get yourself noticed (and make the world a little better, not worse please!) What will you do? That will get you noticed. What can it be? Any number of things: help the needy, entertain crowds of varying sizes, invent something useful, make life easier for others. Do it in such a way that you’re building an empire out of it. And don’t dream it but do it right now. See it grand: breathe in that ambition, breathe out confidence.

  3. Robbo says:

    The problem with your methodology is asking young women what they want in men is a waste of time because they don’t know themselves. You are asking the conscious brain to answer something it has no clue about.

    Do you sit down and choose who you are attracted to? Or do you just *feel* the attraction? I’d bet the latter if you are honest.

    Yet if you are asked, your conscious rational brain will create an explanation – it will rationalise an irrational ‘decision’. It will create a narrative to explain something that did not happen rationally.

    So the fact that the women you surveyed came up with a load of vague or superficial reasons for ‘friend zoning’ men does not surprise me. It tell us exactly what we already know: college girls are superficial, and they don’t really have a clear idea of why they feel attraction, they just feel it. Asking them for the answer is about as useful as asking your cat why it keeps peeing on your carpet.

    The positive points to take from this article is that through your behaviour and actions you can make yourself more attractive, but that’s not exactly a revelation is it?

    Make yourself more successful, more confident, better dressed and more handsome, and more women will show an interest. Have your own thing going on and your own life, and automatically you will avoid being too pushy or creepy.

    • D Leone says:

      Sorry, but this is incorrect. If you want to avoid being “zoned”, the best course of action is to be upfront with your intentions in the first place. If you’re interested in being friends, BE HER FRIEND. If you are interested in starting out as friends but hopefully taking it to that next level, TELL her from day one. Rather than doing a bunch of stuff for her and expecting things in return, and expecting her to be aware of your underlying intentions, how about ASKING HER OUT? Otherwise, don’t be mad when another guy sees her and goes in for the kill. Being honest about your feelings from day 1 is the best way to go in this situation. The truth is, most “nice guys” are actually self-entitled creeps. They think just because they have been a “friend” to you, that they are entitled to some booty from you or that you are obligated to them, when that’s not the case. Most “nice guys” have this victim complex. Ever heard of niceguysofokc? I use quotation marks to describe this particular type of “nice guy” because in actuality they are only self-proclaimed. There is a difference between a truly nice guy and a “nice guy”. Get more perspective on it and work on whatever needs to be changed. good luck.

  4. asdf says:

    Agree with Leone. Stop whining about the fact that a girl doesn’t happen to like you and stop trying to change it. Move on to another girl and you’ll both be happier.

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