The Friend Zone
A state of being where a male inadvertently becomes a 'platonic friend' of an attractive female who he was trying to intitate a romantic relationship. Females have been rumored to arrive in the Friend Zone, but reports are unsubstanciated.
One of the troubles of being, well, alive, is pining for someone with ambiguous interest in you. She genuinely likes you, yes, but for some reason, real or imagined, she "doesn't see you that way" or "wouldn't want to ruin the friendship."
Yes, dear readers, I have been in the friend zone.
My freshman year of college: as I was waiting at the bus terminal to catch a Greyhound home, a woman approached me, saying "You look like a non-creepy person, want to sit next to me?" It wasn't a come-on, I could tell she genuinely wished to avoid the sometimes creepy passengers you find on this bus line. We chatted a bit, and I said that would be fine. She was from the same home town, attended the same college, also a freshman. She was pretty, had a wicked sense of humor, and was easy to talk to. I found myself hanging around her dorm a lot, attend sad little "parties" on her floor, and hanging out in her room. We got along well, enjoyed spending time together. But I was interested in dating her. Yet...I'm not sure I ever really explicitly asked her out. I hinted at it, but I never said it clearly. In case you're wondering, yes, palm went to forehead. Repeatedly.
In a relationship, you have to ask for what you want
At least some of the time. That doesn't mean you should be making constant demands, or be a control freak. However, if you want to date someone, not hang out in a nebulous friend zone, you need to ask them out. Get a Yes or a No.
If you're already friends
There are a few ways this can go.
- The standard brush-off. I don't see you that way; I'm interested in this other guy; you're really nice, but...
- She's not sure.
- Yes, I'll go on a date with you.
Consider these responses—they're the same you'd get from a stranger. The only difference is your history with this person.
Reasons why women say this
Oh, who the hell knows? Women are a mystery, blah, blah, blah. Seriously though, you don't know. In interviews I've conducted about dating life, one college senior said very wisely "When a woman breaks up with me, I never demand a reason why." Of course, your rational mind wants a reason, your heart wants a reason, and your ego wants a reason. But really, you don't know. And sometimes, when you push for a reason, you'll get diplomacy instead of honesty. Maybe her reason is totally solid, maybe it's shitty, but it's hers.
She doesn't have to justify herself to you
If a woman is not interested in you, she doesn't have to write you a thesis to explain.
But I've been so nice to her/done things for her/watched while she dated assholes/held her hair back while she puked, etc.
Good for you. If you're going to be someone's friend, then be their friend. You're supposed to do nice things for people. That's what friendship is about. However, "watched while she dated assholes" is a special case.
She doesn't see the "real me," and dates these assholes instead!
You might be right. Maybe she is dating assholes. And you could be the coolest person around, and she doesn't see it. Ironically, the best way for her to see that is for you to continue to be the coolest person around, but without making a fuss about it.
Understand that you will always have people in your life who make stupid choices and run headfirst into walls you saw coming much earlier. Often, you just have to let them.
Balancing assertiveness with kindness
Here's where you have to make a decision. Can you stand idly by while your friend makes choices you think are bad for her? Can you keep being her friend, knowing that she may never return your romantic interest? If your answer is Yes, then resolve to keep your integrity, and be her friend.
If the answer is No, then put some distance between you. While it takes guts to say it, "Heather, I understand you're not interested in me, and I accept that. But I can't hang around you right now, it's too difficult." Avoid absolutes. Saying "right now" leaves open the possibility that things will change. In some cases, when enough time passes, your interest in a woman will diminish to the point where you'll wonder what had you so excited about her in the first place. In others, it will remain strong, and you may still want to avoid her—that's entirely up to you.
Finally, don't be a doormat
Sometimes, a woman will take advantage of your interest, manipulating you into spending time, money or emotional energy to do things for her, because she knows you're hoping she'll come around. Don't make special exceptions for someone you're pining for—it shows weakness, demonstrating that you don't stand up for yourself. The Onion covered this last century with its classic "Totally Hot Chick Also Way Psycho." I encourage you to read it. If she seems familiar, avoid her.