4 Simple Ways to Help You Get Out (and Stay Out) of the Friend Zone
The friend zone is a place where sparks go to die instead of fly. On the internet, it’s defined as “a metaphorical hell for men” and needless to say, it’s not exactly a desirable situation to be in.
And while no one wants to end up in the friend zone, there are a few reasons why it’s a super common scenario to find yourself in. Maybe you never made your romantic intentions clear from the get-go, you were perfectly content being friends (until you caught some feelings) or maybe you’ve just been too petrified to make a move, playing it safe and accepting your friend role. The good news about all of this? There are ways to make a change.
Sure, it takes far more than a suave line or one specific move, but experts agree that with a little persistence and a few deliberate strategies, it is possible to go from platonic friends to full-blown date potential. Here’s how.
Plant the Seed
In order to make a smooth transition out of the friend zone, you’ll need to change your behavior. While this shouldn’t be a dramatic shift from your current dynamic, you’ll need to add a layer of flirtatiousness that allows her to see you as a potential suitor.
The idea here is to increase the sexual tension via subtle hints, like ambiguous glances, lingering hugs and flirty comments. That way, you can notice how she reacts, and figure out whether she’s receptive to this new kind of behavior.
“In the digital world, send a flirty text, follow them on Instagram and like and comment on their posts,” suggests Fran Greene, licensed clinical social worker and author of “The Secret Rules of Flirting.”
According to Greene, one of the best ways you can get her to see you in this new light is by giving her compliments. Don’t overdo it, of course, or it won’t seem genuine — just an honest observation once in a while when she least expects it.
These compliments should color outside the lines of what a friend might say. Meaning, you should plant the seed in her mind that you find her attractive, and dole out enough sweet sentiments without coming off as a big ‘ol creep.
Break the Touch Barrier
Another way to show you’re interested as more than a friend is to make physical contact. As coming off aggressively here could backfire, all you need to do is break the touch barrier in a nonchalant way that’ll show your true intentions.
“Move closer when you are talking and gently touch her at certain points,” says Greene.
An example? Rather than sitting across from her over drinks or dinner, sit next to her. Then, you’ll have more opportunities to make contact (like briefly placing a hand on her shoulder when she makes you laugh, perhaps). Giving her a playful nudge when she teases you is another way to break the barrier, too.
A little effort can still have a powerful impact. Skin-to-skin contact triggers the body to release oxytocin, a feel-good chemical that’s associated with bonding and devotion, and makes us feel closer to each other.
Define the Difference Between Hanging Out and a Date
Rather than grabbing takeout and crushing beers at your place, if you make plans, take her out in public for some quality one-on-one time.
“The only sign that matters is that she is responding favorably to, or even, reciprocating your interest,” explains Edwards. “The next step is to maintain the romantic frame until it’s time to go to that next level, which in this case, typically means asking her out on a date.”
As you can imagine, being direct is often the best approach.
“Plan an activity that is just the two of you and if the vibe is good, suggest going out for a drink or dinner,” notes Greene.
This is also your chance to really wow her with a taste of what it would be like to date you. That means setting the right tone from the get-go. Being chivalrous, breaking the touch barrier and making sure she knows that your attention is solely on her should do the trick. By the end of your date, she’ll likely have picked up on your intentions, and to boot, you’ll also have a better idea about whether she shares your feelings or not.
Look for the Right Cues
It’s super important to remain alert and aware of her responses during conversation. Be mindful of her body language as well, as this can tell you a lot about whether she’s receptive to your advances. Does she angle her body towards you when you’re talking? Does she tend to turn away when she sees you leaning in close?
Take a look at her feet, too, as body language experts say that when they’re pointed in your direction, that can indicate mutual interest. If, on the other hand, she crosses her arms, pulls back and creates physical distance, or averts eye contact when you get physical, that could indicate that she’s not feeling it. Also, if she ever seems a little jealous when you talk about other girls you’ve gone out with, that could mean that she secretly wishes she was in their shoes.
According to Greene, if your friend starts calling rather than texting, texting you more frequently or otherwise changing their communication habits with you, that can be a very positive sign that you’re starting to make your way outside of that dreaded friend zone.
You’ll probably reach a point where you’ll want to be direct about your thoughts and feelings. And while this can feel incredibly vulnerable, it’s the best way to seal the deal and escape the friend zone once and for all — that is, if she’s on board with testing the waters in a new stage of your relationship.
But whatever you do, don’t force it. The reality is, in order to peace out of the friend zone, you’ll have to accept the possibility that no matter how hard you try to change her perception of you, she may still see you as a friend and nothing more.
Putting your heart on the line may feel risky, but you know what’s worse? Always wondering what would’ve happened if you keep quiet. You owe it to both of you to give it your best shot. Maybe she’s been secretly trying to get out of the friend zone, too, and someone has to be bold enough to make the first move.
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