When I was an teenager in school, one of the things that I heard constantly from girls that I wanted to date was something to the effect of, “You’re a great guy, but I just see you as a friend.” In other words over and over again, I entered what has become known as the friend zone.
This is a terrible place to be. We get there a whole lot of different ways. When I was younger, (at least in my experience) there were some times when I really was friends with the girl before I decided I wanted to date her. But as you get older this is less likely.
Many guys when they like a woman start being really nice to her. We go out and try to meet her needs, help her out with anything she wants, buy her considerate gifts etc. I once bought a girl a birthday present that I wasn’t even dating. I was a 30 year old man. WTH was I thinking? I liked her. I should do nice stuff for her right? Yikes!
Many guys think that this is a way to get in with a woman. Rather than ask her out, I’ll simply get to know her as a friend. After all, this is way less threatening. The idea is to be safe and a friend first. But this is a terrible strategy and frankly it’s intellectually dishonest anyway. Friending someone in order to get them to like you is manipulation just as much as any of the “evil” dating game moves. Just way less effective.
The funny thing is, women know all of this. Some of them are even mad about it. I saw a blog (which I can’t seem to find or I’d link it) where the women were basically saying, “There is no friend zone. Guys shouldn’t be mad about this. You could be my friend or not. But if I tell you that I don’t want to date you and want to be just friends, take a hint. I don’t want to date you.”
When a woman says I see you as a friend, 9 times out of 10 it means they don’t want to hang out. And if they do, it’s for some other reason other than being interested.
So the question is, how do you get the heck out of this cycle. I want to offer a few frank suggestions. Some of you won’t like them. That’s fine. Do you man, but don’t whine about it.
Stop Using This As Strategy
Just stop! Now!. Stop trying to get a woman to like you by being her friend. Stop it. And most of all, stop being self righteous about it. I’m a nice guy and I want to be friends with the girl first. I care about her and if I can be friends with her with the hope of more, so be it.
It’s totally ridiculous, completely dishonest and chicken. It’s hiding what you really want behind the guise of platonic friendship or worse in the church – ministering to her. Ugh that makes me want to vomit. It won’t help her. It for sure does not help you. And it won’t end up with you together.
Quit Agreeing To It
If you want to date someone and they say that they want to be just friends, just say no. Stop feeling like you have some sort of responsibility to be friends with every girl you’ve been on a date with.
A few years ago I went on a few dates with a gal and I actually thought we had some real chemistry. But when I called her after a date she didn’t call me back. Now by this point in my life I had learned that there was always someone else and I just sort of moved on.
About three months later she called me. I was sort of in shock to be honest. I had written the whole thing off. We were sort of chit chatting and I said, “Look, I enjoyed our dates and I’d be willing to go out again and see where it goes. I’m totally open to that.” She then said, I kid you not, “Well I’m not really interested in that, but I thought we could be friends.”
After laughing, I said, “Look, we are friends in the sense that we like each other as people, but I don’t have time to just hang out. I have friends. I’m looking for a wife.”
Change Your Mentality
In high school I was always the “friend”. But when I went to college I made a conscious commitment. I was not going to seek out girls as friends. Now this didn’t mean that I had no female friends. But I was not going to be “that” guy. And you know what happened? I had a lot of dates. Most of them went no where. In an ironic twist my best female friend in college by far was girl who I met on a date. We both decided it wasn’t going anywhere. But you know what? She respected me and our friendship because she knew I wasn’t “just a friend”.
This leads to my final point:
Get Out Of Any Friend Zone Relationships Now
If you are friend zoned with someone, just end it. Stop being a buddy to the girl you want to date. It takes way too much of your time, energy, thought life, and heart. It’s unhealthy, keeps you from pursing other women, and it’s not going to suddenly change. You’re worth more and frankly so is she. Move on.
People have asked me, how do I get our of the friend zone with this particular person. My answer every time is simple. Just stop doing it. Walk away. In a sense, break up. It is the only way. There’s an outside chance (extremely remote) that it might eventually make you more attractive to her but that can’t even be the goal. Move on. Just do it brother. It’s not complicated. Do you want her respect or her acceptance?
Do what it takes. If that means switching community groups do it. If it means taking her number out of phone or de-freinding her on FB, do it. If it means not talking to her at all, do it. Whatever it takes. Do it and do it now. You don’t owe her or anyone else the self flagellation. You really don’t.
Picture from Coloring From Grown Ups
I’m not sure if I follow this Justin. So, are you saying that when I go to church, I should wear a T-shirt that says “Can’t be your friend, can’t be your boyfriend, stay far back”? It seems to me that this affirms the marriage/family idolatry I’ve written about for years.
If you are called to celibacy or don’t want to date the girl, and she doesn’t want to date you, then being friends is fine. I’ve had all sorts of female friends over the years. I don’t ask out a girl to be friends though. If I’m trying to get married, being “friends” first is not a good tactic. Legitimate friendship is fine. But that’s different than the friend zone.
I know what you’re saying. Addressing friends from the standpoint of dating is much different than addressing them from the standpoint of people who have chosen celibacy. Yes, legitimate friendship is fine which is different from the friend zone. But who else knows what my intentions are? It’s interesting that the word friends does not appear in the New Testament. It’s just one of the words whose definition is determined by popular culture, like “When Harry Met Sally.” My friends are more important to me than many husbands and wives are to each other in marriages.
Great post Justin. No one wants to be manipulated, which I think is the point of your post. There is a difference between offering friendship for friendship’s sake and offering friendship in order to make someone like you. And honestly, the “friends” who I knew actually wanted to date me were a selfish boost to my ego. Wasn’t good for either one of us.
I really just like your blog.
You just hit it out of the park here Justin! At one time with this, I would have disagreed with you but now, I get it.
I have…..truth be told….some solid female friends. One from my college days (when Bush I. was in office and I was in her wedding back in 1998…we’re still friends btw). The fact is that as a Christian guy; and if you are looking to get married, you are going to have very, very few female friends. It does happen though. The one girl from my college years I mentioned, I was the one who set her up with her future husband……funny story for another time though…….
There is a HUGE difference between being polite, friendly and uplifting to everyone in The Body and being the guy who does everything for the single women in the church that you like, or may want to like more because you are trying to be “like Jesus”. We men in Christ bemoan the ‘christian-romance-novel-fantasy’ and the ‘romantic comedy’ (Christian or not) that Christian women seem to love and want; but us being the “friend” plays right into the same fantasy we criticize our Christian sisters for.
Too many us just believe that if we are indeed “nice” and “docile” and “helpful” the girl in question will just one day open her eyes and realize the guy of her dreams has “been right there in front of her all the time”
This is as silly as the fiction we men criticize. It is. It causes the man heartache when the friendship is not reciprocated in the mindset of friendship , it sets the woman up on a pedestal that we are *not* even dating and turns many a solid man bitter, resentful, confused, and in a deep hole……for too many of us, the only solution is to keep trying the same thing over and over. We believe that “next time” the outcome will be different. It puts the woman in a position of headship in a friendship relationship and warped expectations of what “exactly” the word friendship means.
Real life “romantic comedy behavior” lands real men with a restraining order, being labeled a creep, or over to church elders for a talk and being labeled “that guy” in the church body. Don’t be that guy. Help that guy.
There is nothing wrong with friendship. Christ expects those of us who indeed claim him to be breaking bread with fellow believers, men and women. Where the problem starts is before you decide to be “too nice” or whatever the current buzz line our Christian sisters use….just ask her out. She says no? Let it go. Be polite, general decorum and let it go. If indeed you are confident she passed up a “righteous guy like you” she will realize this eventually, and it won’t matter anyway.
I started to sleep better after I took up this mentality. The resentment and anger towards women started to melt, and leave me. I actually could be “friendly” to women in a genuine Christian sense….and no, I don’t have an amazing dating life now….but what of it? I feel better and more confident in my Christian walk now because of it.
Really top notch here Justin. Thank you for posting this!
There are men who “friendzone” women, too. Way I see it is if you don’t want to date her, why would you want to be friends? If you’re not attracted it’s kinder to let her go. No phoning. No texting. No half stepping. All I or get out, I figure.
It’s much more the other way around in a church environment.
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The issue I have with this analysis is that it assumes that a desire for romance, and for friendship, must be mutually exclusive. But such is NOT my experience: it is quite likely for me to genuinely feel for her friendship, while knowing that, were more on offer, I would happily explore it. But my kindness to her is not false here: I do not lose all interest once I know dating is not an option. Are you saying I should? But to be clear: to those who would fake at friendship in thought that you will trick her into a date, you act disreputably, and must cease — friendship is NOT a tool.