Monday, January 14, 2013

The Friend Zone

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An all too common scene in a typical high school: Boy sees girl, boy asks girl out and then it drops..."I like you as a friend." Perhaps you'll hear its slightly more negative cousin "I don't like you like that."

In either event, the boy has been put in the friend zone. The thing is, for a girl, the friend zone is a holding pattern, the outer marker of "are you willing to get to know me, be affectionate towards me, take it slow." It could also be girls' idea of a way to say they aren't all.

For a boy, it is purgatory. There will often be a lot of prayer and discussion to get out of the friend zone. Seldom does a boy take up residence in the friend zone. He simply moves on. He has plenty of friends who won't have sex with him. Oops, there I said it. Boys want sex. I'm sure there will be arguments made that girls like sex just as much as boys, but I don't think I am stretching to say that girls want the cuddle after the sex to feel connected. Boys just want to connect to feel connected.

Am I oversimplifying? Probably. I'm not trying to come off as a pig, rather I want to be helpful. Show you a little of the dark closet we have between our ears.


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Boys have two classifications for girls... sex partner or friend. Oh, sure if a boy ends up with a girlfriend, he will appear to have more girl (pause) friends, but those two groups are maintained. You might even be convinced of the friend zone, but its more a "when" rather than an "if." Of course, boys think it would be great if the girl they want to have sex with will also be cool and fun to hang out with. A friend is someone he wouldn't sleep with. Sorry.

Now Hollywood will have you disagreeing with me. I think of Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, she was the "friend" but if you think for a minute Kevin wasn't angling for that kiss from the moment he heard about kissing, you're wrong. Now, Some Kind of Wonderful is one of my favorite movies of all time and in that one the guy realizes he wants the friend, but Watts played by Mary Stuart Masterson wore the pants in that relationship. The upshot is, unless there is some serious transformation or time apart, a guy isn't going to pull a girl out of the friend zone. This is important and I will come back to it.



...Time Passes...



As men, we've learned a few things. Sex isn't free. Again, I don't mean to sound like a pig, but as men, we realize a few things. A. There is more to life than sex and B. unless you are Brad Pitt, you're gonna have to work at a relationship to get it.

There isn't anything wrong with this admission. Truly stepping out of ignorance or naivety, women know when they are worth the effort. They want to be worth the effort. They know that much of the work is done for the prize. Oh sure, men will lie about doing work for the sex and women will let them lie. It's how the system works.

We haven't changed at our core and more than likely, neither have the ladies. In an affair, a guy who has been cheated upon will almost always ask "did you sleep with him?" while a woman will ask "do you love her?" Does this spell out each's priorities clearly enough?

There isn't anything wrong with it.

Now to my point that I made as a comment in my post Powertools, Relationships, and Soulmates. Though initially we hope to, men don't expect to be retrieved from the Friend Zone. We have a very limited understanding of how that might work, and frankly it is scary as hell.

Remember earlier when I talked about the two kind of girls for a boy. It isn't much different for a man. For a single guy, there are still women they'd sleep with and women they wouldn't. The women they'd sleep with might be friends, but likely for the reasons noted above. The women they wouldn't sleep with are either not thought of at all, or they become friends. They are funny or intellectual or they watch enough sports to serve as an honorary wingman or drinking buddy. Unless as noted above some serious transformation occurs or the "friend" becomes the aggressor, a guy isn't on his own going to decide "gee, we are awfully compatible...maybe we should kiss or sleep together." Or perhaps alcohol...


So with that in mind, men will feel that after long enough in the friend zone of a woman (who is available to have slept with them, ie: not in a relationship, etc.) they are automatically in the second of their own categories. They are the friend she won't "sleep with" or in women's terms ever want to "take the relationship to the next level."

For guys, anything beyond friendship at this point is like being in a foreign country. They have no idea what the rules are, or whether they speak that new language. They'll mistake the green light for, well pretty much anything else and as they've been rejected once before by this girl wonder if they should chance a second likely more painful rejection.

I know what you're thinking...all guys want the one thing, sex. I said "long enough in the friend zone" AND that's usually really short if the guy is a pig and only after the one thing. So he HAS stayed and they ARE friends, so he likely isn't a pig. He's accepted that they are friends. And what do guys do (or more importantly NOT do) with Friends?

So, to answer Jessica of Single Motherhood Bliss, the green light may not be enough. A conversation that goes something like this may have to happen:

Girl: how would you characterize our relationship?

This is a great starter because the answer is probably going to be expected. How could it be anything other than "friends?" (Question mark inside or outside of the quotes is intentional)

Girl: who's idea was that?

Another question she should know the answer to, but it will crack the ice for the guy.

Girl: and are you comfortable with that?

The last two questions could be reversed, but you're indicating that there may be a change to the situation.

Girl: I'm not necessarily going to do this, but if I were to take off all my clothes right now... How would you react?

Now here is where it gets interesting as the reactions you get could be all over the place, including...

1. "Are you drunk right now?" This answer belies my theorem above.

2. "Are you serious right now?" Same with this answer.

3. "You're making me uncomfortable." This answer could go either way. Girls, you may be in HIS friend zone or he may be uncertain if you are serious or he may have a chubby.

4. "Shouldn't we kiss first?" I'm sure you'd be delighted to get this answer and the romantic man will perhaps give it. (Men, take note of any comments)

5. "Do it and find out!" I really hope this isn't the answer, but it might be ok depending upon the guy. To me (a romantic) this says, "my patience in your friend zone has paid off...finally. Hit it and quit it time!"


So hopefully, I've entertained you and maybe given you some insight. This isn't a roadmap for guys on how to escape the friend zone, but hopefully it has given the ladies some idea of why we are the way we are.

That's what HE Said. (I'm happy to link to any SHE Said answers)


My good friend Jewels weighed in before she even knew I was writing this, check her out at



  1. A fun read for an old married man like me. You are quite the Dr. Ruth! Oops, trouble with your posting button!

  2. Sorry that you had trouble. I love Disqus, but more people are having problems.

  3. Jessica Rose GreenwoodJanuary 16, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    This is great!! I have come to realize I stick men directly into the friend zone because I do realize they are usually only after sex and I'm not up for being hurt. Probably going to be single forever with a behavior patten like that... but it is what it is! I had my own thoughts on "the friend zone" a while back. Admittedly, and as it usually goes, I'm probably more confused about it now than I was then... but nevertheless, these were my thoughts then:

  4. I hope that I helped women understand the man's perspective on the Friend Zone. You probably should put men in the friend zone at least temporarily as it will weed out the jerks.

  5. Ah the dreaded friend zone. I've been there before quite a bit before. I think you're really on to something with this post and the Power Tools one. Perhaps you should start your own podcast or something with relationship advice?

  6. I'm not sure I'm an expert on any of that and I could rapidly run out of material. But I have enjoyed writing these relationshippy posts.

  7. The comment about the holding pen, that is so true. I've liked to friend zone guys to see what they are really like and whether or not they are suitable for the long term (ie, not a douche.) Guys shouldn't worry about getting out of the friend zone, but focus instead on being awesome. Write that book, go for the promotion, get involved in charity, take a trip to somewhere exotic... girls like awesome. Not braggy awesome, but people who are interested in life and do fun things

  8. I knew it!

    I mean, I completely understand.
    I've always been non-braggy awesome, so it was never clear to me how I stayed in there so long without being rescued or at least adopted. I guess my viewpoint of myself needs to be clarified...with myself.
    Glad you liked the post.

  9. I think I forgot an important caveat: women with their heads on straight like awesome, but then there are quite a few waiting for their very own Christian Grey :P

  10. The excuses people give while friend zoning are really funny sometime.

    Funny Friend Zone Excuses




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