can girls get friend-zoned?
October 12, 2008 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm a girl. How to get out of the friend zone with a guy?

I know, I know. All that ladder, friend zone stuff is kind of silly. But I don't have a better way to describe my dilemma. I am in my mid-20s, I don't know how to rate my attractiveness but I think I am okay. my interests range from having good discussions about politics and history to conversations about great books to being a completely girly-girl to talking about fashion, makeup, celebrity gossip to sports to blah blah blah... the point is i feel comfortable participating in conversations about lots of different topics.

i have noticed sometimes that guys that are, i guess, for lack of a better word, fairly desirable (i.e. they are good looking, well educated, etc) in the area i like tend to befriend me and seem to enjoy conversations with me on the phone and in person. i do not really initiate these conversations but i am happy to partake.

i feel like (and this has happened with a couple of guys) what happens though is that i am always there as "the girl who is so easy to talk to" but i am never the girlfriend. like, i get told "you're so much fun and so easy to talk to, i cant do this with alot of other girls" and we end up talking alot and (i am sure, subconsciously i start to get emotionally attached on the basis of long hours of phone conversations) - but i never am the girlfriend of these guys. i am always the girl whose the friend.

does any of this make sense? i am sorry i am not verbalizing this well. i mean, i have ended up talking to some of these people alot (them always initiating) in the quantity that a girlfiend-and-boyfriend would talk; OR about very deep and personal things.

i am not saying guys and girls cannot be just friends -- i am happy to be a good friend and i think i am. but i guess, after talking to a guy like this for awhile, sharing your hopes/dreams/thoughts, etc. i start to get emotionally attached and begin wishing i had more of a relationship that just being "one of the guys."

how do i get across the point that i am interested without scaring a guy like this away? i feel like if i am blunt and express my interest, he will say no (which is fine and i can go back to bein regular friends), but he may not want to be as close to me anymore b/c he may think he is sending mixed signals.

i feel like, sometimes, if he hasn't expressed his interest in me by now, he's not interested. but i guess it would be foolish then, of me, to keep giving myself emotionally in these conversations correct? i should dial down how much i talk to this person, right, if my needs aren't being met?
posted by paperlanterns to Human Relations (30 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
how do i get across the point that i am interested

Asking him out would be traditional. "Would you like to have dinner with me sometime?" would probably work. Have you tried this? Depending on how intense an interest you want to express you could offer to cook dinner for him instead. Asking a dude over to cook dinner for him 1 on 1 is a pretty clear signal.

i feel like, sometimes, if he hasn't expressed his interest in me by now, he's not interested.

This is a bad assumption. Think about it in context of your question. You're asking how to express interest in someone you've been talking to for a while. Does the fact that you haven't expressed interest yet mean you aren't interested? Why should it be any different because he's a guy? An old fashioned sexist notion of gender roles, maybe.
posted by Justinian at 4:22 PM on October 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

Expressing interest may well damage your relationship with him if he doesn't reciprocate.

That would suck.

But it also might not, and he might feel the same way.

Take the chance. You cannot get the point across without some risk of scaring him away, but there's a reason we have cliches like "Better to regret what you did, than what you didn't do."
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:24 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're assuming that if they were interested in you they would have made a move, but you're interested in them and you haven't made a move, right? From the perspective of quite a few more years observation and experience, in general, people are interested or they are not. But people often don't want to make the first move because they don't want to deal with embarrassment, rejection, interfering with the friendship, whatever.

There are lots of signals that make it considerably more likely that a person is open to romantic developments - if they look for opportunities to have interactions in person, not just calls and texts or whatever, if they seem to be looking for non-threatening chances for physical contact, if they seem to look for opportunities to prolong contact (i.e. after the movie they want to go to a restaurant or hang out at one of your homes), or they pursue personal/intimate topics in conversation. Conversely, if someone is putting firm boundaries on activities (you go to the movies but part company right after) , always coming up with reasons to cut off the night or get home, are happy to talk or text but tough to nail down for real in-person interaction, chances are they are putting up roadblocks to your pursuing intimacy.

But there's no easy way out of someone taking a risk and getting down to it. You want to get out of the friend zone? Ask them if they're interested.
posted by nanojath at 4:24 PM on October 12, 2008 [9 favorites]

Too many times I've been absolutely crazy about a girl that I could talk to and laugh with and all that, but been so afraid to try anything because if she turned me down, the great friendship we had might be ruined.

It's entirely possible this is what your fellas are going through. So, help them out. Flirt. Try being a little more physical. Set up some times to hang out that are more conducive to your end- less chatting on the phone, more dinners and nights out. Subtlely is nice, but sometimes a more overt message is required. Give it a shot.
posted by twirlypen at 4:36 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

"i feel like, sometimes, if he hasn't expressed his interest in me by now, he's not interested"

Or, he's just a guy, and has a hard time expressing these things in general
posted by Geppp at 4:50 PM on October 12, 2008

Imagine the opposite - "I talk to this girl all the time on the phone, she's amazing and I really like her, but saying anything would jeopardise that. She obviously doesn't have feelings for me."

Say something, it's worth the risk. My girlfriend did it with me and we've been together for about a year now, if she hadn't said anything we'd probably still be great friends and no more.
posted by knapah at 5:00 PM on October 12, 2008

>"after talking to a guy like this for awhile, sharing your hopes/dreams/thoughts, etc. i start to get emotionally attached and begin wishing i had more of a relationship "

I hope you realize that in all likelihood this is also happening in the other direction; guys can get emotionally attached too after one too many talks like that.

They might be hesitating to act on it for the same reasons you are.

I think often what happens is the "window" for a physical relationship eventually closes if it hasnt been acted upon by either party, and at that point 'just friends' becomes easier and becomes what is defacto expected. At that point neither party wants to risk "losing the friendship".

Next time you find a guy you can easily talk to, maybe you should steer it in the direction of a physical relationship (taking the chance that it may, in fact, end the potential friendship, because it might and you need to be okay with that). Or maybe even initiate friendships with people you find physically attractive and see how it goes from there (You mentioned you generally dont 'initiate' these long talks - maybe you should, and be the one deciding who to initiate it with).

>"how do i get across the point that i am interested"

if you're either old fashioned or highly confident, you could try the head-on approach of asking for a date. If you dont want to make him or yourself self concious, then do the tried and true college method of engineering a situation where you and him together wind up doing an activity that involves dim lighting and physical proximity (dances, bars, movie (just lean and he looks at you look back, he'll do the rest ;), late night nightcaps, and of course, back rubs). Its not rocket science ;) people are combustible but what they need is the environment.
posted by jak68 at 5:01 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

What keeps jumping out at me about your post is the part where you say the guys are always doing the initiating. I think what you are trying to convey is that they must be interested, since they took the first step. The thing is, I think the reason it isn't going any further is that you aren't taking the NEXT step.

Kiss him. Kiss him, kiss him, kiss him already. You are making this much more complicated than it is. That's all it really takes if he's into you. And if he isn't, he won't allow himself to be alone with you in a situation that allows you to kiss him!
posted by misha at 5:14 PM on October 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

Wow. This is usually the kind of question I expect to read from a guy, not a girl.

Look, it is my strong belief that women have it so much easier than guys do when it comes to attracting a partner. I say this as a guy who likes women, spent a long time looking for one and trying to attract one and is marrying the woman of his dreams in just under a years time.

Let me answer your question from a male point of view, focusing on just one of your paragraphs.

"how do i get across the point that i am interested without scaring a guy like this away? i feel like if i am blunt and express my interest, he will say no (which is fine and i can go back to bein regular friends), but he may not want to be as close to me anymore b/c he may think he is sending mixed signals."

Speaking as a guy, the fact is that the best way for a woman to tell a guy she's interested in him is to tell him you're interested in him. One of the best experiences of my life, to this very day, is the night when a girl I liked (but would never have had the guts to tell that I liked her) said to me, quite directly, that she liked me and would like to sleep with me. And that was great! No games. No second guessing or overinterpretation of things she said to me needed. No worry and doubt over whether that smile she gave me meant something. I know knew she liked me and as a guy, that's all I needed. So naturally I accepted her advances, and did so again several times thereafter.

This is why I believe that girls have it easier than guys in attracting a partner. All women really need to do is tell us that they like us. I have said this to many female friends (some of whom I liked as more than a friend, by the way) who have disagreed with me. They think that's crazy talk! But it's really not. Believe me when I say that most guys will find it incredibly refreshing if you would simply tell us that you like us.

Infact, I'd even be willing to go so far as to say that simply telling us that you like us can manufacture interest in a woman for a man. Extrapolating this concept into, say, a nightclub venue, if I were a single guy and an attractive woman I had never met before approached me and told me she liked me and would like to get to know me better, I'd take her up on that offer and would probably be very relaxed talking to her from that point on. I dare say that many men here would agree with me.

See, a lot of us guys are worried about getting shot down. You've all heard of the male ego right? Well those egos exist and let me tell you, they're quite precious to us. Indeed, for many of us blokes, our egos simply cannot bear rejection and so while we may like a girl, we'll often just talk to her since it is all that the fear of rejection will allow us to do. But all a girl has to do is simply say she likes us and that fear of rejection is forever gone. We can then make our advances on you without fear of our egos being damaged.

By the sounds of it to me, this guy you like who likes talking to you about a lot of stuff, he sounds like me and many of my friends back when we were dating. He sounds like he likes you but just dosen't have the nerve to tell you that because he's afraid of being shot down and rejected. So be straight and up front with him. Tell him you like him! You say if he says no (which I suspect is highly unlikely) you're OK with that and you can go back to being regular friends, so being straight with him means you have nothing to lose. At the least he'll be very flattered, and I very much doubt he'd not want to be as close to you anymore.

Give it a go and let us know how you go! I'd say good luck, but I don't think you need it!
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:36 PM on October 12, 2008 [7 favorites]

To add...If thats not right, you two are mutual, then its real simple.
Just tell him. be bold and confident. with a smile.
If he declines, then say thats 'totally cool' and proceed like rejection doesn't bother you.
make him laugh, say something self confident, like, "ahh its probably a for the better. im pretty sure I fart in my sleep".
He will admire you for that, then get up " I leave ya alone" and go do something on your own. He will admire the strength in someone to brush it off like it was nothing. He will notice your independent and strong.( You will feel awesome) (he will begin to feel dependent)
or in other words, He fall on his arse with affection heha
posted by lacol at 5:49 PM on October 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Get more physical. Not like you have to grab him and kiss him, just be slightly more flirtatious physically and see how they react. You know, poke him in the ribs jokingly, grab his arm, etc. If they reciprocate, you can kind of build on that and perhaps one of you will eventually make an actual move. This has worked for me in similar situations, including with my boyfriend that I was close friends with for about 3 months before we finally became romantic.
posted by fructose at 5:51 PM on October 12, 2008

Yep, suck it up and tell him how you feel simply and clearly. Effigy2000 has it right.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:54 PM on October 12, 2008

I can think of someone that I've been very good friends with for years that I'd love to have tell me that.

Tell him.
posted by DMan at 6:05 PM on October 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hell, I have been in the male half of that situation because in the back of my mind, I feel it's creepy to make friends with a woman on a platonic basis and then suddenly make a move. That's violating a kind of trust. So my advice is: as soon as you feel they are potentially romantic partners, make your move. Which as misha noted, might be snogging them good and hard as context dictates.

The longer you leave it, the more the barriers of "I don't know if they like me that way" and "this will spoil our friendship" grow.

"i feel like if i am blunt and express my interest, he will say no (which is fine and i can go back to bein regular friends), but he may not want to be as close to me anymore b/c he may think he is sending mixed signals."

That's a risk you run. So do you want to have a lot of angst-provoking platonic frienships with men and a low chance of one of them making a move, or to have a boyfriend and fewer platonic guy friends? It's a choice. You're not a bad person if you go for the former rather than the latter.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:21 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I meant that the other way round, former vs latter. But actually, you're fine no matter which way. Up to you.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:23 PM on October 12, 2008

I was going to post the same advice that Effigy2000 did. I am sure that there are some people who enjoy all of the other stuff that generally goes into this type of thing, but I can say it would be so nice if people would just come out and say what they feel.
posted by Carillon at 6:29 PM on October 12, 2008

I can think of someone that I've been very good friends with for years that I'd love to have tell me that.

Yup. I was there once, she finally had the guts to say something, and it was a huge relief for the both of us. In our case, it didn't work out, so that's a risk you run, but I still the alternative would be worse.
posted by phrontist at 6:41 PM on October 12, 2008

Flirting, or relationships in general, are like dancing, or a conversation. Meaning, one person does something, and then the other person responds... or doesn't. It sort of sounds like you want them to do all the dancing, you know?

Make it more mutual, and don't be afraid to take a risk. So if he has phoned you a couple of times, you can take the next step and say "hey, I really love chatting with you, how about we go out on Friday night for drinks at this great bar?"

To really cut out the ambiguity, you would want to use the phrase "go on a date" or even "go on a real date" in your proposal, but if you are still feeling him out it's cool to roll with the ambiguity and see how it plays.

The same thing applies at whatever point in the process you are getting stuck. Long candle-lit dinners, and endless heart-to-heart discussions next to the fireplace, but nothing more? Take the next step and snuggle up/hold his hand/move in for a kiss/whatever. Sure, it risks rejection, but if he's just not into you, isn't it better to learn it and move on?

If you are attracted to socially inept nerdy guys, then take what I said and multiply it by ten. You will probably need to learn to take the lead, if those are the guys you are hanging out with.
posted by Forktine at 7:04 PM on October 12, 2008

i'm not even going to read the responses here the answer is "try to kiss him" the end

mark as best answer thanks in advance
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:07 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

You say you think you're reasonably attractive - let's take that as a basis - but are you making yourself appealing? The friends I have who sound like you are the ones who don't go out of their way to project a sexual, feminine persona. That doesn't necessarily mean to deck out in a pancake of makeup, frilly dresses and stilettos, but to learn how to be viewed as a woman by men - to project flirtiness and sexuality. And it doesn't mean to be a natural beauty, either - but to be desirable. People sometimes think that a little mating dance, a little flirty game-playing nullifies all prospects for meaningful, genuine connection. That's crap, I say. Sometimes a chase can yield a real connection. Sometimes sex on the first date turns into marriage, too. Happened to at least 3 of my girlfriends.

So what do you do with this one guy? I don't know. I guess I second the others who advised you to weigh the potential embarrassment of being turned down against the potential bliss of finding out he's willing (or eager) to give it a shot. But in the future, I say try to balance maybe 80% cool, down-to-earth conversationalist with 20% flirty, feminine woman.
posted by namesarehard at 7:07 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just one guy's experience: I have been friends with women I'd be interested in having a relationship with far more often than I've been friends with women I wouldn't be interested in having a relationship with; what made it difficult was that the ones I was most interested in having a relationship were typically the ones I least wanted to lose the friendship of, precisely because of the qualities they possessed -- and in most cases, I didn't consider a relationship as important as the friendship. In short, if it progressed from a friendship to a relationship, great, and if not, who cared, because I had a great friend!

Still, if you want to see if something else can happen, I suggest you try to put yourself into a situation where such a thing can be brought to the table. Going to a party together, going on a road trip, or other situations where it's okay for you to be together "with" each other (alone or not) and opportunities to take the step may arise. Something potentially romantic is also nice, like a walk on a pier when it's a little bit cold out, then let him know you're cold and ask him to keep you warm. If he puts his arms around you, this is a good sign; if he whips off his coat and hands it to you from a bit of a distance, that's a pretty clear sign, too, albeit not a good one.

Nothing's a guarantee, though. I had a really good friend, and she'd never shown interest in me other than as a friend, and I reciprocated...but she was very attractive, smart, and all-the-way awesome, so I thought about making a move every so often, but never did. Our friendship lasted over a decade (and technically is still in force, though we haven't spoken in years) and I cherish every moment of it. Yet, years into our friendship, she once reminisced about how, when she first met me, her first thought was that "we could do some damage together", and once when I stopped in on a New Year's Eve party she was at, it struck midnight and she sprinted into the room to give me a huge kiss, and then ran out of the room.

My point being, even if it doesn't work out, if you're good friends you can survive raising the issue, and even if he doesn't run with it doesn't mean he doesn't think you're a very attractive, smart and all-the-way awesome person. Life just doesn't always align the way you want it to.
posted by davejay at 7:27 PM on October 12, 2008

Okay, I'm going to go against what most of the other people are saying. You sound like me. A lot like me. A couple times I did tell that guy friend that I was interested, and he didn't reciprocate. I don't regret it- the awkwardness soon passed, we stayed friends, and it limited the amount of time I spent crushing on a guy who wasn't interested in me. I know that this sounds old fashioned, and yes, there are exceptions, but I find that in general, if a guy likes a girl, he will eventually let her know.

My advice is this...instead of trying to break out of the friend zone, concentrate on meeting new men and not getting into the friend zone in the first place.
posted by emd3737 at 7:33 PM on October 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

Being direct isnt for everyone though, especially if either of you is a little shy, it may have the opposite effect.

I was a shy teenager and more than once rejected women who were too direct, not because I didnt like them, but because I didnt know how to respond to directness, and I even resented the sudden self conciousness that came with that, it felt like an intrusion on (what I imagined was) a more 'natural arc' to our relationship. I'm just saying, it really depends on both of your personalities.

You might be better off getting him into dim-lighting/physical-proximity situations and letting it flow from there. You'll know soon enough if he likes that.
posted by jak68 at 7:44 PM on October 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

in relation to my previous comment, I'm 2nding jak68's suggestion of dim-lighting/physical proximity.
posted by fructose at 8:41 PM on October 12, 2008

I disagree with the 'simply tell him' advice. This can work, but only if it's done in a very confident way.

My suggestion is learn to flirt. It's an essential skill. Flirting doesn't need to be false. It's a way of testing the waters before you plunge in. It's also very enjoyable in itself. Much like kissing.
posted by Sitegeist at 8:57 PM on October 12, 2008

Infact, I'd even be willing to go so far as to say that simply telling us that you like us can manufacture interest in a woman for a man.

That is, in fact, how my second relationship started.

As a guy who often in the past spent a lot of time talking to women I liked but was not confident enough to tell (lately I've been taking the plunge and getting shot down, so the only difference is my ego's been bruised), I fully support the "Just tell him" approach. I don't recommend the "learn to flirt" approach, because unless it's clear to you that they are flirting with you, they're probably just going to miss anything but the most blatant signs of affection. At least, if they're anything like me they will.
posted by Caduceus at 10:03 PM on October 12, 2008

I've talked my way out of many potential relationships. Being smart, interesting and a great conversationalist will create interest in a guy, but without the physical component, they fall flat. Guys are often reluctant to bridge the gap between the mental and the physical. This doesn't mean that they are (with notable exceptions) unwilling, but they just aren't going to take the chance of messing things up. You will need to make the first move - don't wait for them to do it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:13 PM on October 12, 2008

Get drunk with him and try and get him into bed.
posted by mary8nne at 3:04 AM on October 13, 2008

how do i get across the point that i am interested without scaring a guy like this away? i feel like if i am blunt and express my interest, he will say no (which is fine and i can go back to bein regular friends), but he may not want to be as close to me anymore b/c he may think he is sending mixed signals.

Impossible. Some of the people you demonstrate interest in are going to decline. Accepting that is a big part of doing better in the dating game.

Take the risk. Keep on it until you make it work. Flirt a lot with people. Start flirting with this dude lightly. See what happens.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:10 AM on October 13, 2008

(i am sure, subconsciously i start to get emotionally attached on the basis of long hours of phone conversations)

I think this is your problem. It's a weird concept, but by making yourself more ellusive and mysterious (not talking for hours... saying your busy when you're not) it creates interest in your life from the guy. It makes you a desired commodity basically, and this can be the basis to starting the move to more serious relationships. I find that if I DON'T return every phone call and answer EVERY text, I get better results than returning info on the fly.

Just my .02
posted by razzamatazm at 3:09 PM on October 13, 2008

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