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The Friend Zone: The Ultimate Guide

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Saturday, June 7th, 2008 in Dating Columns, Sex & Dating

Most of us have been turned down for one reason or another. Some of us mess things up, some of us shoot too high (or too low), some of us act like jerks. However, with the advent of the Internet and general dating discussion, many men are realizing a new reason for not getting the girl they want- a reason that has now been termed “The Friend Zone”.

The Friend Zone is best defined as a mental association for males in the female mind (or females in the male mind) where the relationship is entirely nonsexual. A guy who is in the “friend zone” is a guy who, for one reason or another, is categorized in the female mind as “just a friend”, ergo someone who is not a potential love interest, in any sense of the word. While this term really was considered folk psychology, it nonetheless became popular because Friends made it popular, which questions why a bunch of lonely guys were watching Friends. Nonetheless, many internet browsers (including many who e-mail me) complain about being “friend-zoned” quite frequently, asking me the same questions: why does it happen, and how can they get out of it?

Well, it’s time to clear the air and make what I will consider my ultimate guide on the friend zone. No more dilly-dallying. This should hopefully explain my thoughts and theories on the friend zone, as well as some general ideas on how to combat/accept the problem. Here we go.

As a disclaimer, the whole concept of “The Friend Zone” is speculative at best. No-one (myself included) has really sat down with a bunch of bearded Ivory Tower Sociologists and made this official fact. There have been no empirical scientific/sociological studies “proving” this that I know of.

How does the Friend Zone happen?

The Friend Zone, in my opinion, comes as the result of inconsistencies in four distinct areas: Social, Physical, Logical, and Personality. From what I have seen helping people (and in situations with myself), the reason your Average Joe is friend zoned is because of a flaw in one of these four traits, and the resulting processing most women do as a result of these inconsistencies. Translation? You can generally be friend zoned for one of four reasons:

1. Social Constraints
Social Constraints are issues which arise from the social scene. In the most extreme circumstances, it can be something religious- for example, many Jewish and Mormon girls friend zone guys because an attraction would not be socially acceptable. Similarly, many girls do not date outside of their social networks, or simply refuse to date based on generally uncontrollable circumstances. This tends to explain why many couples date within their own race. This also encompasses situations such as girls who have the reverse Florence Nightingale complex (I’ll explain below)- many have so many “guy friends” (or just enjoy being the “tomboy”) that they inadvertently friend-zone virtually every guy they meet.

2. Physical Constraints

This is a lot simpler than it sounds. Guys who are not attractive or otherwise have some sort of physical issue that turns off mates will naturally be friend zoned quickly. This generally explained why some “fat and happy” guys are extremely well known and social, yet generally single: despite being awesome personality-wise, their physical aspects lack, and thus the girl ignores the guy. This also sometimes applies to guys with handicaps, such as being in a wheelchair.

3. Logical Constraints

Despite what hit-it-and-quit-it wannabe date doctors will tell you, women are pretty damn logical. Often, logical constraints are things that play out because of circumstances generally beyond your control- for example, “We live across the U.S. and I don’t like long-distance relationships” or something like that.

4. Personality Constraints

This is the last, but by far the most common constraint: personality. Some girls like weak guys, some like strong ones- and while they may like one personality type for a friend (for example, a friend who is caring and compassionate), they may be mentally and/or sexually attracted to someone completely the opposite. Guys can easily make this worse by being clingy or needy, which tends to make the repulsion worse, rather than better.

So, we have a general schema: you can mess up in one of four ways. I’m sure there are more, but in general, they always tend to fall into one of the above four- no doubt, if you are friend zoned, at least one of those bullets at least casually applies to you.

One special exception to this is what I’ve somewhat arrogantly nicknamed the “Reverse Florence Nightingale Complex”, or what I sometimes term the “Tomboy Complex”. In this situation, a girl may have what those arrogant social scientists call Heterosociality– that is, preference for social interaction with one group- in this case, males. Girls like this tend to be pretty damn fun (lots of “Gamer Girls” are like this), but nonetheless carry the nasty attribute of being almost entirely nonsexual to their vast male friends, sending mixed messages. That, by all means, doesn’t mean they don’t date- it just means that their grandiose number of male friends prohibits them from being entirely willing to date. A lot of times, these girls have a steady boyfriend who they may or may not even like simply to avoid being single or feel slightly feminine.

How do you know you are Friend Zoned?

This is a bit complex. How do you figure out if you have been “friend-zoned”? There are plenty of good tests available online, but they all boil down into a few categories. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, these are a few common reasons:

1. She says it out straight

By far the most common: you may have confessed to her already or she’s already picked up on it. Many girls will tell you to your face- be it something kind like “I just see you as a friend” or something much more mean. In any circumstance, this is by far the easiest to figure out- and if she’s said it out straight, she’s had plenty of time to rationalize why, and you are in big damn trouble.

2. You occupy the unique position of being “The Girlfriend”

If you are going out on shopping trips and carrying the bags for her (proverbially or literally), this is a problem. The famous way of determining if you have been freind zoned is to simply examine how she interacts with you and other males- in no uncertain terms, if she’s talking to you about “boys” and complaining about her boyfriend, you are probably occupying this position. Despite common belief, a girl who is TOO relaxed around you (to the point of letting lose, like not bothering to dress nicely or wear makeup) tends to feel that she has little reason to obsess about how she looks to you, which is a common sign. Naturally, all girls are different and this may not apply, but it applies a lot more than most would like to admit.

3. If she simply shows little interest in you in social situations.

Probably the most stereotypical issue in highschool movies: the nice guy being ditched. For example, many guys will find that the girl who hangs around them the most suddenly disappears when they go to parties or go into social situations, the girl opting for a different crowd. This doesn’t have to be that dramatic- it can simply be her personality changing when someone comes around. As usual, this sometimes does not apply, but often this is a warning sign.

How to handle it- and get out of it.

Unfortunately, there is no magical answer on how to “get out” of the friend zone. While many guides attempt to sell you some CDs or guidebook, I’ll make it clear: if you’re REALLY stuck, no amount of dating magic will get you out. Unfortunately, the high chances are if you are lodged in too deep and you’ve been too blatant about your attempts to get out, your best option is to simply get the hell out. This isn’t a bad option (and often, it’s the best option for you personally), but here are some tips if you absolutely must have the girl of your dreams:

Get out.

I’ll make it blunt: stop being her pet poodle. If you are in the friend zone, make yourself as distant as possible and stay there. By all means, this doesn’t mean go emokid and cry and avoid her in an attempt to make it obvious: your job is to subtly make yourself too busy for her whims. Don’t hang around her. Go out and do things with other friends or alone. The best way to do this is NOT to just hang out alone (loners aren’t attractive)- rather, it’s to go out and find other friends. Keep yourself busy- she’ll want to fight to have you back (and stop thinking that you’re a guaranteed thing). That, of course, leads into…

Date other girls.

Girls are not dumb. Guys who cannot get regular dates are strange- while they may do it intentionally, vitually all of them are simply considered unworthy of attention. Sure, lusting after what your neighbor owns is technically a sin, but it’s one everyone falls into- and if the girl has any interest in you, it will help it. This actually helps you more than it helps her: more than anything, it will allow you to see other girls and potentially allow you to find other awesome girls (trust me, this helps more than anything, because even if the girl you want doesn’t want you, there are plenty of other girls in the world).

Break the effiminate trends you may develop.

Okay, personality is personality. But when your answer to her problems is a pint of Ice Cream and a Sex in the City marathon, you have a serious problem. Your masculinity should be enjoyed, not starved, so stop trying to appease her (or anyone else, for that matter) by weakening yourself for her enjoyment. If she begins to whine at you about a boyfriend, cut her short. Don’t grant unnecessary favors just to “make her happy” unless you do it with nothing expected: most of the time, subconsciously, you expect reward, which isn’t going to happen. That being said, if you have any clothing she bought you for you to wear (“cute shirts” or whatever apply), avoid wearing it incessantly. Make a point.

Move on.

The best advice? Move on. More than anything else, most guys obsessed with the friend zone are those unwilling to accept failure at getting a girl. Face it: she is one of billions. The best thing for you to do, both mentally and socially, is to simply move on and forget about her. Yes, this is hard and a kick to the balls, but this is by far the best option to take, bar none.

In Closing…

The thing is- the main point I’m trying to get across by writing this article- is that often, despite the situation, a lot of the situation resides with you. This isn’t something of an insult to you, rather, it’s simply a fact. The best thing I’ve always seen “work”, if anything at all, is for you to simply move on with your life. Chances are, if you are reading this for advice, you have someone in mind: and, as much as I hate to say it, that’s probably not the best thing in the world. Trying harder rarely works in situations like this, and often can come off as creepy, crude, perverted, or simply desperate.

Still, when you do handle the Friend Zone as a whole, the rule of thumb is to handle it discreetly. Sometimes, the best option is to simply ask the girl out- but rarely, if ever, should you have a “dramatic confession”. Even if you don’t intend to “move on”, generally your best starting point is to pull back and, much like a video game, give the relation a restart.

Anyway, hopefully this guide helps. As usual, if you have any questions for our team, use our contact form- we’re available for any questions on the subject both through that form and our forums- so feel free.

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16 Responses to The Friend Zone: The Ultimate Guide

  1. Richard says:

    Thank you is not enough!

  2. Michael says:

    I liked your article, but is there anything I can do if I’ve already gone emokid and avoided her as much as possible?

  3. Floppie says:

    Thanks for the post. Blogged it myself at http://www.quadra-tec.net/~floppie/blag/2008/06/the-friend-zone-the-ultimate-guide/ – seriously, a big thanks 😉

  4. Anon says:

    I second the “move on” point. it gets to a point where she will be in your head, and it’s best for everyone to move on and get over it. also, what the fuck happened to my wikichan?

  5. tom says:

    this is not what i want to hear

  6. anonymous says:

    Goddammit, Wellcultured, why do you have to tell the truth?! The truth hurts too fucking much!

  7. Anon says:

    Really nice, actually I think everybody find out thier own ways out of this shitty so called Friend Zone, but its cool somebody can give us a hint on how getting over it faster.
    thnx dude

  8. Hambrabi says:

    ah, yes, so many sad times. however, my #2 experience wasn’t too bad. oh, the nipslips, oh the sideboobs. not to mention, I’m glad to say I’ve both moved on with my love for her, and we’ve stayed friends.

  9. James says:

    the pain…
    how can I avoid her when she’s everywhere I am?

  10. Jono says:

    james, you are not joined at the hip, you can go elsewhere. i still haven’t got the girl of my dreams and ive been trying for two years now, and that was after she split up with her long term boyfriend. i probably took the distance yourself thing a little too far as i moved to a different city to her, but i stayed in contact with her. you i am guessing will be going to college soon, if you are a highschooler, in which case, i urge you, choose a different one to her, date people there, and try to make sure they aren’t as good looking as her, then she will become jealous. if you are beyond the college stage, then find a job in a different and rinse and repeat

  11. Tyciol says:

    This is some good general advise here. I think it’s good not to get the idea that someone is a “girl of your dreams” because there’s no way your dreams are telepathic enough to know everything about somebody. Not even a friendship is, sometimes. You have to try stuff out and see what you learn.

  12. Ronin says:

    Reading this article was like a quick shot to the undercarriage. I have a girl that I’m good friends with and I think just now I realized where I’m at with her after reading this article. We recently talked about it and while she said she’s unsure about dating me because she’s worried she’d ruin our friendship which at the time was nice to hear, but now I think I finally heard what she meant, and not what she said.

    Boy does it ever suck.

  13. Pingback: How I Avoid or Escape the Friends Zone

  14. Clay says:

    My question is. is it nigh impossible to make a friend a relationship?. i have a friend and ive had feelings for her for a while but i continued to be friend with her cause i didnt understand my feelings. now she tells e everything and i know im friend zoned. but shouldnt all relationships be with your supposed (best friend). or am i completley off my rocker…. any help with this is appreciated.

  15. CJ says:

    Been Friend Zoned like almost all of us. I ran through every senario of the ecounter and steeled my nerves prior to being FZd. She said she saw me as a good friend, but it just bounced off me like “no porblem”. I think it caught her off guard too, as she had a puzzled look and said that my reaction was not what she expected. I told myself rejection happens to us all, deal with it and move on. She might of expected a shocked or confused response, but she hasn’t lived my life: Be strong or you’re dead. I’m fine with being her friend, if anything we’ve become better friends than before. I just let the events unfold before me and plan for the future.

  16. Steven says:

    I don’t really believe in the “Friend Zone” at all. I think it’s just an idea or way of thinking men use to distract themselves from why a girl wont date them. I really enjoyed the article.

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