Relationships are complicated things. We have them with family members, friends and the all-important romantic relationships. Each takes their own amount of time, work and effort to function smoothly and each hurt when they go south. It is arguable that romantic relationships can and often do hurt the most when they don't go the way we want them to. But many of us still get back up, dust ourselves off and continue the hunt for that one special person.
One shady area in this department is known as the dreaded Friend Zone. Many women automatically put men there because it's easier for them to form romantic attachments with friends, while guys all dread being just a friend and assign every girl they meet to the Potential Girlfriend Zone. This complicates the relationship before anything ever happens and leads to some interesting communication difficulties. A lot of guys invest considerable time and effort to escape the friend zone, often surprising the girl of the depth of their affections. Some guys are content to be friends for awhile but eventually find themselves wanting more. And some of the girls start looking through their friend list for potential boyfriends but are uncertain of their reception after being just friends for so long.
Then we have friends with benefits which is a completely different shady area. To help simplify things, here's 15 ways he's trying to escape the friend zone and five that we're just friends forever.
The most obvious sign that a guy wants to escape the friend zone is when he asks us out on a date. This could take us completely by surprise or be a question we've secretly been wanting for him to ask for some time. Either way, it's a bold move for him and we need to handle our response carefully, especially if we don't return his feelings of interest. Being friends is comfortable, being more than friends can become complicated very quickly—plus it's a new place we've never been with him before and new can often be translated into scary very quickly until we try it.
Who knows though? Maybe this is the one we've been waiting for and he was here all along. Cue sappy rom-com music. The way in which he'll ask us out will vary from guy to guy; some will just straight up ask with no fanfare or hesitation, others will be all hesitation and shyness, and then there's the few who think that if they wow us with fireworks, cake and everything else we will be more likely to say yes than if we're not wowed by their display of great date-ability.
Depending on the guy's personality, a subtle sign that he wants to be more than friends is increased physical contact. According to Luvze, he'll hug us more frequently (like when he first sees us and then again when it's time to go home). He'll casually brush his hand against ours while we're walking or talking. He'll rub our shoulder if we're in distress or randomly in the middle of a conversation.
Basically if he can safely and casually touch us appropriately, then he'll be all over that. He's trying to communicate that he wants to be more than friends and kiss us. Plus once he's in a relationship, he'll pretty much go all octopus on us and never let go. Or at least, he won't let go for very long in the beginning stages of the relationship.
Some guys are naturally more physical than others and these casual touches might already be a part of how they regularly express themselves. In which case, we should look for increased frequency, longer hand-holding durations (once he touches us, he won't want to let go and will prolong the experience as long as he safely can), and newer casual touches that he doesn't display to others.
Sometimes, depending on the guy we're friends with, he'll start using more flirty emojis when he texts us. If he previously only used the simple smile and frown emojis, he might throw in a wink or a kissy face or maybe a heart here and there. It can be cute and sort of feels like he's trying on a new shirt to see how it feels before taking the plunge and buying the shirt.
Other guys might already use the full emoji language and thus there probably won't be too much of a change in how they word their texts so it really does depend on his personality. It's a safe way for him to feel us out before asking us out.
Besides, we all know how fun it is to get a winking kissy emoji occasionally. Gifs are similar enough to emojis to include here, especially if our guy uses them more often than emojis for whatever reasons. Kissing gifs might be more pictorial than emojis so he'll likely not use them very frequently—making it very easy to tell when he's stepping out of his friend zone boundaries. Of course, he could've just discovered gifs and is sending tons to everyone.
Let's say that we start looking at our pool of friend zoned guys and decide to see if one would make a good boyfriend or not. The easiest and most obvious way to efficiently find out is to outright ask him if he's at all interested in being more than just friends. If he's interested, he'll tell us and jump at his chance to do so. But if he likes being just friends, he'll tell us straight up that that's the extent of the relationship. We should respect him on this issue and try to be content with the friendship, especially if we value it and don't want to lose him.
One of the quickest ways to lose him, according to Bolde, is to keep pursuing him as more than a friend when he doesn't want to be our boyfriend. Guys are programmed to be the pursuers and while the new dynamic shift is in our favor to pursue equally, they will still strive to be the dominant pursuer and could view our efforts as a major turn-off. It works a lot better with very shy guys who need that boost of encouragement to begin the pursuit in the first place.
Sometimes guys will try to shake up routines to get attention. If their previous habit was to call and text frequently and on a fairly regular bases, Major League Dating advises them to stop that and make themselves scarce instead. This is a subtle way for them to get our attention because they are counting on us noticing the change in pattern. If they have our attention, it's step one and they'll be able to move onto the next step of asking us out or perhaps telling us how they feel.
At any rate, if he suddenly stops talking so much, don't assume he's dead and maybe give it a day or two before checking on him. He could just be working extra hard or he's accident prone and dropped his phone again. There's not a lot of help to be had for the accident prone guy but the workaholic is salvageable. If we're okay with routine shake-ups and do them frequently ourselves, his little ploy to get our attention probably won't work as effectively as he was hoping it would. Besides, if we guess his game, giving it an extra day or two to reply gives everyone involved some extra thinking time.
Another subtle sign that he's ready to ditch the friend zone occurs when he starts learning more about us. According to Luvze, this can take different forms from listening intently to everything we say to following us on social media and asking us questions about our interests. Usually he will just ask more questions about us, our personality and our childhoods for example.
This increase in interest can be flattering but remember, he's learning about us and storing that information away to use later on (gifts comes to mind), so it's wise to pick and choose what to tell him—especially if he'll stay a friend and never graduate to the next level. We might have to tell him that eventually, hard as that conversation will be for both of us.
Occasionally we'll find a particularly curious guy on our hands who asks us questions willy-nilly with no ulterior motives beyond satisfying his natural sense of digging up the unknown. This is usually when bluntly asking if he's trying to escape the friend zone comes in handy; it'll either surprise him completely or catch him off guard enough to reveal if that's what he's doing or not.
After he's done gathering info on us, he'll likely start applying it in the hopes of gaining our attention and winning over our affections. One form this often takes gifts. If our birthday is close and we mention something we need or would like, he'll save that random conversation note and probably get it for us. Or if it's a Tuesday and he's out shopping, he might pick up that candy bar we really like.
According to Luvze, he'll drop a good chunk of money on us trying to impress us and win our attention that way. It's important to not take advantage of him at this stage, especially if we're going to stay friends. If we decide to reciprocate his affections, dating will definitely be a lot of fun.
Everyone loves gifts and it's sadly very well known that shiny things are often our weakness (even if that shiny thing translates to a new book, a whole chocolate cake or a set of wrenches to work on our car with). Clever men will know this and try to use it to their advantage to win us over like birds do with their colorful display of feathers and vocal talents.
If we've known our guy friend for long enough, he'll likely have developed several nicknames for us—most of which probably aren't very flattering. According to Bolde, if he refers to us as his little sister then we can kiss our chances of dating him goodbye. If we're comfortably in the friend zone and simply looking for any restless signs from our guy friends, this is one where we can relax and continue being friends with.
However, if we were hoping for more than just friends with him then we'll have to reevaluate our friendship and figure out what we actually need. Big brothers are nice and all but they aren't our boyfriends and if what we truly need and want is a boyfriend, we'd best start looking for him elsewhere and send big brother after him if things go south.
Even if he's attractive and would make the perfect boyfriend, he might have more and better uses as our adopted big brother in the long run of things. Every girl should have a hunky guy around to send after dead-beat ex-boyfriends for some intimidation. Plus if we're moving to a new apartment he can help haul our furniture inside for us.
Some guys will be okay with being our friends and doing friend things with us but most of them will draw the line at doing "boyfriend" things when we're only friends. Which is understandable. For a guy, doing all the boyfriend stuff without the status and benefits of being a boyfriend isn't rewarding. It's an arrangement that benefits us more than him and therefore isn't balanced enough to be healthy in the long-term.
According to Getting Out Of The Friend Zone, what constitutes as boyfriend things include frequent communication and always being there for us. If we take our problems to him to solve all the time, he might consider that boyfriend stuff too and stop solving all our problems.
Also, telling him all about the guys we're dating isn't fun for him if he wants to be dating us. Other guys can be irritatingly helpful and jump to solve all our problems (even the ones we're unaware of till he brings it up for us so very helpfully). As long as we don't have one of those on our hands, picking this escapee out from the crowd should be a piece of cake.
Occasionally if the guy is so deep into the friend zone that he can't find the door or doesn't know where to begin looking for the door, he might approach us with a cute little hypothetical scenario of a guy trying to escape the friend zone and he'll ask us for advice on how his hypothetical friend should escape. While it's cute and flattering to be sought out for advice like this, it can often be a very subtle sign that he wants to escape the friend zone himself and date us. Watch for some of our advice to play out in real life with him and that will be our confirmation that he's ready to move on and branch out.
From there, we'll have to do a little soul searching ourselves to decide if he's the one for us or not. While soul-searching sounds like an awful lot of work, it doesn't have to be. All we need is a bottle of vino and maybe twenty minutes of uninterrupted thinking time in which to fully decide if he's dating material for us or not. If we're perfectionists or overachievers, we'll need an hour, a journal, and some neatly lined pros and cons lists.
When guys start getting antsy and wanting to move on from being just friends, they start trying different things for attention—sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously and all with varying degrees of success. According to Major League Dating, one thing they try is dating other girls. We might think this is healthy and gets him out more, especially if we won't ever return his feelings.
But what he's hoping will happen is that we'll see him as boyfriend material and notice the parade of competition he's subtly showing us. He'll also try to keep his date details close to give himself a mysterious air and make us wonder what he's like on a date.
This sometimes works but not always. This strategy definitely won't work if he's a serial dater and ran out of local girls to date before noticing we're female. If that's the case, do we really want to date someone like him? He might be safer as a friend in the bigger picture of things. Once he's dated everyone, he's pretty much seen and done everything which doesn't give us much to compete with successfully or leave us anything new to bring to the table.
When guys are on the prowl looking for a girl to date, they pair up and act as wingmen for each other. In platonic guy-girl friendships, if he's not at all interested in us romantically he'll likely try playing wingman for us too. That translates to being a good friend in his manly mind, even if we'd ideally rather go out with him instead. According to Bolde, another sign that he wants to just be friends is when he tries to play matchmaker and set us up with his guy friends.
If this happens to us, it wouldn't hurt to try dating his friends. We might find our perfect match and since they're already friends, there's a very good chance that our date will have similar qualities to our crush and we'll be able to adjust fairly quickly and easily. If he's setting us up with his friends, there's a good chance that he'll have weeded out the weird ones and the one we're going to dinner with will be the normal one and therefore actual date material. It can be argued that no one speaks man better than another man and our guy knows us so well that he'll know what type of guy we're looking for.
Depending on personality and the dynamics of the current relationship, sometimes an indicator that our guy friend wants to be something more is a lack of action. According to Major League Dating, if he'd previously been in the habit of dropping everything to rush over and talk to us, he should stop doing that. It creates a pattern disruption which gets our attention, frees up a surprising amount of time that he can then use to reevaluate his affection for us and it helps us realize the level of dependency we have on our platonic guy friend.
If we like being dependent on him for these little things and find their absence jarring, we might be more inclined to take him on in a greater capacity. On the other hand, his gamble could come as a welcome relief and backfire on him. Some of us are introverts and don't require a lot of social interaction to survive so having a break from that one guy who rushes over constantly at the sound of pin dropping will be a welcome relief. Eventually we'll probably miss him but not for awhile. Best give him some time to over-think his strategy.
Some guys are raised to identify their emotions and express them in an appropriate manner which shows they have very good communication skills and are enough in touch with themselves to understand what's going on below the surface. But other guys aren't as in tune with their feelings and don't know how to identify or process the vast number of everyday normal emotions they encounter. These guys usually train themselves to identify a few major ones like hunger, anger and happiness before tuning everything else out. For guys like this, being stuck in a friend zone relationship can make them frustrated, especially if they see no clear way out.
So if our mild mannered guy friend starts randomly showing signs of frustration but can't necessarily identify the root cause, it could be stemming from his expectations of where he wants the relationship to go ideally. Expectations can kill a relationship before it even begins if they're focused on too much. General expectations with the expectation of adjusting the expectations to fit reality are healthier and more achievable than unrealistic ones. And a bit of a helping hand (or book, therapy session or frying pan to the head) can go a long way in helping a guy emotionally mature.
Sometimes in friendships the dynamics will form into a leader-follower relationship. So Major League Dating advises the guy to stop following and take charge instead, even if it's in little things like changing the radio station or deciding where to eat. This will help shift the balance of power in the relationship and hopefully catch our attention because most of us like a guy who can take charge. It lets us know that he's a real man and fully capable of leading a family someday.
As long as he doesn't take the charge and run wild with it, there's nothing wrong with this change in our guy. We might end up liking it and looking at him in a different light. After all, it does get a little tiring making every single decision ourselves. But don't tell him that. We won't be able to live it down and regain control if he knows our secrets. If we have control issues, however, this strategy of taking back control in the little things will likely get our attention and highly annoy us so monitoring how we respond to his actions is a good idea if we want to retain him as a friend in the long run.
When guys get together, they behave differently around each other than they do around relatives, co-workers and potential girlfriends. Our guy's manners will be rough, noisy and not the best. Guys can burp and sneeze at amazingly high volumes when they don't care who is listening. One sure sign that a guy likes us is when he behaves well around us and is always on his best behavior.
If this quality is lacking or we've only ever seen him in sweats eating pizza and needing a shave and a shower, then he likely considers us one of his guy friends and doesn't see us as dating material. Best to move on or relax, depending on whether or not we actually wanted to date him in the first place.
If we've seen him all cleaned up and on his best behavior for a date, this will be torture for us since we'll know he's capable of better behavior than what he displays around us and we'll want to see him on his best behavior for us because we deserve that same level of respect like his sweeties do. We're women too after all, even if we're an honorary guy.
Along with asking us out, another subtle but obvious sign that our friend wants to be out boyfriend is flirting. He might give us a certain look and go all Joey from Friends on us in an attempt to recast himself in a different light as someone we'd go out with romantically rather than in a platonic way.
Depending on his personality and skill in flirting, this could end up being hilarious or really turn us on and get our attention fast. So if he starts flirting, we should figure out fairly quickly if we want to take that next step with him or not and then clue him in so he doesn't waste too much time and energy in a fruitless pursuit. It's simply common courtesy in that regard.
Sometimes harmless flirting will be one of his natural communication quirks and he'll flirt with us just as much as he'll flirt with the waitress, bank teller and our grandma's friends at the retirement home so this method of escape won't necessarily work on him. Ironically, we might end up being the only one he doesn't flirt with if he's serious about us being more than just a friend of his.
It's a known fact that guys like to be mysterious and women like a good juicy mystery. Hence why, in their advice to escape the friend zone, Major League Dating advised guys to stop telling us everything about themselves. If we have their whole life story freely given, then there's no mystery for us to pursue beyond finding out if he can kiss and we're not likely interested in that if he's just a friend.
But if our guy suddenly stops telling us about his day when he'd previously told us everything about himself, then it could be a sign that he's looking for more attention. And he's attempting to gain that attention by being mysterious. Amusing as it sounds, he thinks it's a strategy worth trying so we'd best do our part and decide what we're going to do with him now.
Of course, a little harmless teasing never hurt anyone and guys are such fun to tease sometimes—especially when they think they're being all serious and mysterious when we can see right through their cute methods almost immediately. We just have to be careful that we don't give away their strategy too soon or they'll go sulk in a corner somewhere.
Finally, one last very obvious way a guy can let us know that he's no longer interested in being just friends is to throw his hands in the air and dramatically cry out, "I don't want to be friends anymore!" This is usually followed by an explanation and an invitation to dinner in the hopes of gaining that coveted boyfriend status he's been longing for. In which case we either stall for time or do some very quick thinking and decide if a date would be a good idea. After all, some relationships start out as friends and end up being all the stronger for that foundation of trust.
At any rate, we do know now that he needs to work on clear and calm communication somewhere down the line to avoid more outbursts like that. Sometimes this strategy can work very successfully in his favor—sort of like how a deer caught in the headlights just stands there starring at us. His outburst could catch us so completely by surprise that we agree to a date and then think about it later when the initial shock and surprise have worn off and we've had some time to have a glass or two of wine.
Finally one other glaringly obvious way to tell if he's permanently friend zoned us is if he has a girlfriend. According to Bolde, he'll introduce us to his new shiny sweetie as a friend because that's exactly what we are to him. He's likely not trying to create drama or competition.
This is when our own good manners come into play. If we value the friendship, we'll put our own feelings aside and try to get to know the girl. After all, she has potential to be a good friend on her own and we already know our guy has good taste if he's friends with us. She might balance him out better than we could since we've been friends with him for so long that we probably can't see many of his annoying romantic faults that she'll see and smooth over.
Pining over a guy when he's involved with someone else is a waste of our time when we have better things to do like binge on ice cream and boyfriend shop on eHarmony. Besides, boyfriend shopping with the aid of wine, chocolate and a good friend or two is a really fun activity for a rainy Saturday night. We don't actually have to date them after all.