Join 3,503 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Get me out of the friend zone!
June 17, 2011 9:31 PM   Subscribe

A woman in the friend zone. What to do?

This is so frustrating. I met a great guy about two months ago. We're both in our late 20s and single. Right from the very beginning, even when we barely knew each other, he would talk about other women he was interested in, to the point where he would tell me about the other dates that he'd gone out on.

Now, a few weeks later, I'm firmly in the dreaded friend zone, to the point where we will have wonderful and fun friend dates that feel entirely platonic. I'll absolutely find excuses to touch him, we talk practically every day in some way, we have a ton in common, and yet...nothing.

How do I get out of this? Or, should I just give it up and look for someone who is actually interested in me? Part of it is that I so rarely meet men that I'm this attracted to so quickly, but on the other hand, I hate being taught to pine.

Perhaps the real question is, how can I work on accepting that I am in the friend zone so that I can move on to find someone who is actually interested in me? I'm also just tired of being "friends" with men that I'm really interested in, I need to figure out how to not be in this position in the future.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
How do I get out of this?

Tell this person how you feel.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:33 PM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Use words rather than expecting him to be psychic. You risk more, of course, but it's not like sending psychic messages to him is working.
posted by rtha at 9:38 PM on June 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


It sounds like he treats you like a good friend, and not a potential date. If you think that could work, ask him on a date. Not out for coffee, dinner, or a movie - a date.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:40 PM on June 17, 2011


Men (self included) tend to not be subtle, and have trouble picking up on subtlety. Double for guys who don't think much of themselves as potential romantic partners: "Oh, but why would SHE be interested in ME?"

If he's not interested in you, it could possibly be because he's actively not attracted to you, or more likely, either assumes you're not interested in him, or hasn't thought of you as a potential romantic partner, but would be into it if he knew how you felt.

Tell him.
posted by supercres at 9:42 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can solve this problem with a five minute conversation. If he balks? Get over it.
posted by lobbyist at 9:43 PM on June 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe he doesn't know how you feel (many of us can be quite clueless about what you may think are crystal clear signals). So you should make it more obvious. Tell him straight up, or, if this is more your style, go and get drunk together and kiss him.

Maybe he doesn't know how you feel, but is genuinely not interested (for whatever reason). You should still make a move, or talk about it, so you can have some closure one way or the other.

(As an aside, I find the 'friend zone' thing to be a bit noxious. I find it's often used by creepily obsessed 'nice' guys to explain why no women want to date them. I'm not sure I'd use that term with him if I were you.)
posted by twirlypen at 9:44 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe he talks about other women because he's trying to send a message that he's not interested in dating you. If he were interested, he would not talk about other women in your presence.
posted by Fairchild at 9:55 PM on June 17, 2011 [26 favorites]


You tell him how you feel. If he doesn't reciprocate, you move on. That's it. No tricks. Show your hand.

In the future, pursue the people you want openly and, if you find yourself in the friend zone again, move on until you find the situation you want.
posted by inturnaround at 9:58 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Openly talk to him about it.

However, I echo Fairchild. Unless he's an especially clueless, inept person, if he was interested in you he would not be talking about other women around you.
posted by schroedinger at 9:59 PM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only value the "friend zone" concept has is in stating that it's sexy to have the courage to go after what you want and the self-respect to not hang around subserviently forever not getting what you want, and that people who do not demonstrate this behavior will experience a well-known form of angst until they reverse course.
posted by salvia at 10:04 PM on June 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


The noxious aspect of "the friend zone" that twirlypen refers to - I totally agree with. Because ultimately, it conveys total passivity - you "end up" or "get put in" or "finds yourself in the friend zone" because at no point have you clearly stated your stake in his interest in you. This is true also for so-called "nice guys" who don't understand why their pining is not enough incite a mutual attraction. Pining is passive. Being chummy and hanging out and talking every day but not making attraction explicit is passive. Ultimately I think we place ourselves in these so-called "friend zones" by not being willing to put ourselves out there far enough to possibly be rejected and end up stewing while remaining outwardly pals.

But yeah, he's telling you about other women because he doesn't see you as a date.
posted by sestaaak at 10:07 PM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


dudes are like schroedinger's boxes - you don't know if the cat's alive or dead until you open 'em up.
posted by facetious at 10:19 PM on June 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


he would talk about other women he was interested in, to the point where he would tell me about the other dates that he'd gone out on.

Listen to people when they tell you about themselves. If this is what he's telling you about himself, wouldn't you take that as a clue that he might not be romantically interested in you?

But, you should still talk to him. Just tell him that you're interested in him. But don't be surprised if he's not interested in you, based on how he treated you right from the beginning (i.e. if he's talking about other dates he's been on, it's likely because he sees you as a friend).

How to accept you're in the friend zone: accept the fact that sometimes the other person's interest for you is just not there, even though you're fun, caring, interesting, have similar interests, etc. You may have feelings for them; they may not for you. You can't force something that's not there. How to not be in this position in future? I don't know if this is you, and if it isn't, then disregard. If you talk everyday in some way, that to me means you're "around" too much or you're too available when he calls. Having your own life is important, and if you respond to every call immediately, it doesn't give him the chance to build interest. At the same time, you can't play games like, "Oh, he's calling. I won't answer." or "Oh, I see he's called. I'll call back tomorrow." If he calls and you can pick up, then do so. If you miss his call because you're doing something else, call back when you have time and energy to (like at home when you're decompressing from the day, or the next day if you're busy that night), don't do it right away when you're at the checkout counter at the grocery store and are doing 5 things at once, or at the movies with other friends. That sort of thing.

He's a good friend, keep him as one (unless that changes somehow), but also focus on meeting other guys and keeping yourself busy with your life and your friends (including this guy).
posted by foxjacket at 10:30 PM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


It doesn't sound like he's interested but he could be really self conscious and think that you'd never be interested in him so he has to pretend that he's not interested in you. People are weird and self-protective.

So, I would just ask him out and see what happens. Rarely do people say yes to dates simply because they do not wish to hurt the other person's feelings.

I'm also just tired of being "friends" with men that I'm really interested in, I need to figure out how to not be in this position in the future.

If you like someone, ask them out on a date.
posted by mleigh at 11:00 PM on June 17, 2011


There are two strong possibilities that I see here.

In scenario number one, informing this guy of your interest is a good idea and will work out one way or the other just fine because he's a mature and decent guy.

In scenario number two, this guy has always been aware of your interest in him, in fact, he counts on it. Not only are you in the friend zone, but you are a stand-in for a more emotionally intimate relationship while he plays the field and looks for whatever it is that he's after.

Your ask gives me no indication of this fellow's character, just want you to be aware that even if you have fun platonically with this guy, make sure you put your needs and well-being before his.
posted by jbenben at 11:13 PM on June 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


I hate to admit this, but we guys are not so good at this stuff. Here's how this conversation will likely go.

"I'd like to go on a real date with you. Do you want to go on a date with me?"
"Uh, I guess."
"Good. Can we do it on Saturday?"
"Uh, I guess."

I apologize in advance for all guys who are this clueless, but since your other option is a guy who is unreasonably sure that you're totally into him, it's only a small apology, on behalf of all us nervous boys.
posted by Gilbert at 11:49 PM on June 17, 2011


If you offer him a relationship, you may get a relationship.

If you offer him sex, you'll only get sex.

If you make no offers, you get status quo ante.
posted by orthogonality at 12:10 AM on June 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


re "the friend zone": I wouldn't be too hard on her for being passive. The OP said she makes attempts to touch him when she can, that's at least something. "The friend zone" happens when you think you're doing everything short of being completely explicit, yet still get no reaction.

Still, just tell him you like him. The End.
posted by cupcake1337 at 12:55 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


He might not be interested. On the other hand, we're idiots.

I mean it. Idiots.

I'd have to take Jeet Kune Do to perform the face-palm warranted by hindsight.
posted by evil holiday magic at 2:17 AM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you offer him a relationship, you may get a relationship.

If you offer him sex, you'll only get sex.

If you make no offers, you get status quo ante.


I think there's some truth in this, but it's not a hardcore fact that if guys sleep with someone they don't want a relationship. It's just possible that it won't turn into one, so you have to decide if that would be ok.

IMO the problem with some replies is the thing about the OP making a move. It's a nice idea that men and women should have equal responsibility for making an overt move, but in practise most women won't be happy with that. If the guy does it, it's probably better all round.

So I think the key will be to try and find situations where it can get more cosy and intimate. You say you touch, which is a good thing. Take it to the next level by sitting next to him on a cafe sofa where you can cuddle up next to each other. Invite him round for a meal and wine at yours and do the same etc. This will create a situation where it's ok to go for the kiss without making it a problem if it's not happening.
posted by Not Supplied at 2:33 AM on June 18, 2011


IMO the problem with some replies is the thing about the OP making a move. It's a nice idea that men and women should have equal responsibility for making an overt move, but in practise most women won't be happy with that. If the guy does it, it's probably better all round.

I don't know why it's "better all round" for the man to do it. I'm sure you're right that many women would prefer to passively let the man make the first move. But that's no reason this must be the way it goes -- many men would prefer to passively let the woman make the first move!
posted by John Cohen at 3:21 AM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes it's true that a man might wish for a woman to make a move, but IMO the idea that it's an equal thing is a mental construct that doesn't really work. Let's not derail the thread too much anyway she can make her mind up. Message me if you want.
posted by Not Supplied at 3:47 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Men (self included) tend to not be subtle, and have trouble picking up on subtlety.

I would say that most people, both men and women, are inclined to give subtle signals because it feels safer to avoid the risk that's inherent in being direct, and also disinclined to act on others' subtle signals because it's safer to avoid the risk that comes with reacting to a 'signal' that might have been imagined.

As noted many times above, the solution is to use your words. Signals are only effective as shorthand after you've come to understand each other using more explicit forms of communication -- not before.
posted by jon1270 at 3:59 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


He might be totally not into you, and really relieved that you don't seem very interested in him. Or he might think you are the hottest thing ever, but is afraid to make a move because he doesn't want to risk losing your friendship. There's no way for you to know without making a move. It sucks, I know, but if you want some clarity you are going to have to cowgirl up and see what happens.

You can do it with words ("It's been fun hanging out as friends, and I've started to really like you. How about going on a real date this weekend?"), or you can do it with action (eg going in for a kiss). Which is the right thing, none of us can know. Both approaches can work, and both can bomb in a huge way. But without taking that risk, you will remain stuck in your current situation, which seems to be making you unhappy.

And there's always the third option, straight out of a million bad romantic comedies, where you don't talk about it and instead start dating some other guy to make this guy realize what he's missing. I guess that can work sometimes, but to me that sounds like a lot more work than just kissing him, you know?
posted by Forktine at 4:45 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think he is probably not interested. I also think you've had enough and would even be prepared to lose the friendship by asking because all this is so unsatisfactory to you.

So just say you're into him, and you don't want to be friends and have to listen to any more of his talk about other women (if applicable).

You have nothing to lose.
posted by tel3path at 5:52 AM on June 18, 2011


He sees you as a friend. You see him as a "friend". Make a move, or move on; anything else will do nobody any good.
posted by sophistrie at 6:23 AM on June 18, 2011


If he's really your "friend," you can confide in him your current efforts at finding real romantic connections, as he is doing with you. Moreover, you can even recruit him into putting you in contact with the better male candidates in his circle of friends. For a lot of guys, getting recruited to find a female friend a date or two with some good guys, forces a re-examination of her likeable, interesting qualities on the way to selling these qualities to their male friends. And sometimes, bingo! A light bulb goes off in their own heads...

Worse case, OP, you get an introduction or two to someone who is, or may be, interested in a relationship with you, if this guy is not so inclined.
posted by paulsc at 6:44 AM on June 18, 2011


Is it possible that he's really insecure? How many other actual female friends does he have? Or is it only this stream of endless babes that constitute the other women in his life?

IANAMan, but I've known some guys friends who specifically mention other girls around the girl they're into to see if they get a jealous response. Yeah, sure, it's immature and self-destructive, but keep in mind... some dudes have only limited (high school-ish) dating experience, have only dated immature women, and fall back on bravado because it's the most convenient behavioral model available to them. I'd bet $$ that if you were to mention other guys the way he mentions other women, you'd see a strong reaction. Is it possible your man fellow just doesn't know how to take it to the next level with you?

If I were you, I'd take the huge leap and gently ask for a date with CLEAR expectations. He might be more fragile than he's letting on. ... and later let him know the constant womanizing/bragging/whatever talk is actually a huge turn off for you. If he really likes you, it's probably not worth embarrassing him over near so much as giving him a chance to improve on his own. Good luck!
posted by human ecologist at 7:23 AM on June 18, 2011


I'll be honest. If you're a woman in the friend zone with a guy, it's most likely because he's not attracted to you.

It could simply be that you're not his type. But you mention that you're "tired of being 'friends' with men that I'm really interested in" -- it sounds like you've had the same problem outside of this one guy.

It's my experience that people are better off spending less time looking "for someone who is actually interested" in them, and spending more time making themselves more interesting (looks, experiences, success) to the type of people they want to be with.
posted by ElfWord at 8:00 AM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think I'd take a different approach. The answer is: "you don't".

Enjoy being his friend. He's not into you. You generally can't convince people to be into you. As a guy, believe me, if I was into you I certainly wouldn't be telling you about other dates I was going on as you were dropping all kinds of hints and unnecessarily touching me. In fact, the more you touched me, the more uncomfortable I would feel and the more I would talk about other women as a way of trying to send a very obvious signal to you to stop.

So, enjoy his friendship. Friends are great. Stop touching him. It's inappropriate and if the genders were reversed, people would see it more closely for what it is, which is a bit creepy.
posted by modernnomad at 8:01 AM on June 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Okay, I say this only because it's something I consider myself: are guys often into you? Do you have a large obvious drawback? Because I'm overweight and not very girlie, I tended (when dating guys) to assume that the default guy position was "not interested", and this was pretty much been born out by the asks I made. (On the other hand I've met enough people, male and female, who were interested that I haven't had real trouble dating. It's just that people don't get mysterious secret crushes on me.)

I personally don't ask when in doubt, because the odds are substantially against me as history has shown.
posted by Frowner at 8:05 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would concur with modernnomad and Frowner that you can tell when someone isn't interested, especially if it's a guy. I would actually say to NOT ask him and choose to move on, because it sounds transparently clear that he's not nursing a secret crush on you here.

But if you must ask: are you willing to give up the friendship entirely if he says no and then things are really awkward afterward? Maybe that might help to get you over him, but I really hate that whole awkwardness that comes from "I really like you!" "I... don't," and that tends to kill friendships for me, at least.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:27 AM on June 18, 2011


What about all those askme's we see where it's a guy asking if his friend is in to him -- she touches his arm, etc. but he just doesn't know? Maybe he's one of those guys.
posted by bleary at 9:10 AM on June 18, 2011


Either he is or could be into you, or he's not and you are in fact stuck in the friend zone. Gun to my head, not knowing this guy at all, if forced to guess I'd say he's not interested, but I'm not at all sure of that.

Ask him out and use the word "date." This friendship clearly isn't doing it for you, so you have nothing to lose, and at minimum you should gain some clarity and peace of mind, and at best you gain a hot new love interest.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:46 AM on June 18, 2011


Go out with this guy on a weekend night, have some drinks, be a bit flirty. If you still encounter the stony, absolutely-do-not-pursue signs, you can be sad but at least you'll know - as much as anyone can know besides asking the object of their affections.

Don't make some ultimatum, don't tell him off, don't act pissy and sulky - but do spend some time (online dating, meetups, etc) looking for a new crush. Once you find someone genuinely interested in you, this guy's attention will be less important and his friendship more valuable.
posted by amicamentis at 10:00 AM on June 18, 2011


I'm actually the OP. I won't go too much further into detail because said guy has mentioned that he reads this site.

Okay, I say this only because it's something I consider myself: are guys often into you? Do you have a large obvious drawback?

Guys are often not into me, my obvious drawback (according to all of my female, straight and gay male friends) is not my looks or personality, but apparently my intelligence. "Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls" and so on.

Go out with this guy on a weekend night, have some drinks, be a bit flirty. If you still encounter the stony, absolutely-do-not-pursue signs, you can be sad but at least you'll know - as much as anyone can know besides asking the object of their affections.

I actually tried this the other night and it was definitely not reciprocated. So that makes it pretty clear that he is not interested. I've been in a bit of denial about this, so reading over this thread has cleared up a lot of confusion for me, especially the comment about believing what people say about themselves.

One day I would love to be a woman who asks out a guy that I'm interested in out, but I don't think this one is the right one to do that with.

It's my experience that people are better off spending less time looking "for someone who is actually interested" in them, and spending more time making themselves more interesting (looks, experiences, success) to the type of people they want to be with.

How true. I'll take that to heart.

Thank you everyone, I am closing this chapter out. I won't be making a move, just moving on.
posted by so much modern time at 10:54 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


One day I would love to be a woman who asks out a guy that I'm interested in out, but I don't think this one is the right one to do that with.

I think that is exactly what you should take away from this thread.
posted by grouse at 11:05 AM on June 18, 2011


"Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls"

As you close this chapter, I hope that will include leaving this notion behind. This is not true. This is absolute nonsense. You know what kind of guy doesn't like smart girls? Jerkoffs. To anyone worth dating, man or woman, intelligence is an aphrodisiac.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:48 AM on June 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


I notice you lived in China at one point. Are you by chance still there and talking about a Chinese guy? If so, well, Chinese guys are often intimidated by western women and are not always assertive about making moves from a fear of loss of face. Not sure if that even applies though. (well, I guess chances are he's not a Chinese national if he reads mefi).

anyway, good luck.
posted by bearette at 12:06 PM on June 18, 2011


"As you close this chapter, I hope that will include leaving this notion behind. This is not true. This is absolute nonsense. You know what kind of guy doesn't like smart girls? Jerkoffs. To anyone worth dating, man or woman, intelligence is an aphrodisiac."

This. There is a certain type of man who only wants to date a woman who will look up to him, so those men will only pick someone they can display as less-than them in some way, or someone they can undermine into thinking of herself as inferior. Do you want to date someone like that? HELL TO THE NO. So that your intelligence will actually be screening out guys that will make you very very unhappy.

Other than that, this is just a variation on the old "I'll never get a man because I'm [fill in the blank] and men don't want a woman who is [fill in the blank]." You don't want men. You want a man. You only have to find one man who does want a woman who is [fill in the blank].
posted by tel3path at 3:10 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a fairly clever boy, I like only clever girls and have zero interest in not-clever girls.

Unrelatedly, if this is a recurring problem, give some serious thought to asking some of these dudes out. That gets easier and less frightening with practice. If you want to be pursued, maybe wait and give them some time first -- maybe a month max? But if you find yourself becoming "friends" with someone you're interested in and whom you don't want to be friends with, sitting by and passively waiting and hoping is unlikely to suddenly start giving you what you want.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:21 PM on June 18, 2011


I'm a guy. I am utterly unable to see if girls are attracted to me. Make the first move.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:20 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older How and where to sell my (gent...   |  I am looking for great perform... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.