The friend zone is the agonizing state for one person in a friendship when they want to elevate the state of the friendship to somewhere between friends with benefits and dating exclusively. How does someone get stuck in the friend zone and what can you do to get out of it?
The most common way someone gets stuck in the sticky friend zone web is due to bad initial timing when two people meet, combined with the awkwardness of too much friend-time before either of you can take the relationship to the next level. I have heard many dudes lament this scenario. They meet a girl who they have instantly attraction and chemistry, but find out she has a boyfriend. A friendship ensues, and then many months later the girl is single. However, the two people have been discussing relationship problems, going out for Sunday night takeout, have Wednesday night beers, all the things that make friendships form and grow. Then, ka-boom, they are both single. All the friends of the two people involved dissect approximately one billion different scenarios where the two can make the leap out of the friend zone. But the two people in our story have become a “frouple”…a friendly couple. When a frouple has formed, the relationship suddenly becomes sucked down by the Earth’s gravitational pull. Much like space travel, the frouple needs some HUGE propulsion to rocket out of the atmospheric friend zone and to the next level.
This is easier said than done. A person who frequents this blog and must remain name- less to protect his admittedly frayed man-card was recently quoted as remarking “dude, she squeezed my hand, did I tell you?” He had told me this quite a few times that night, and about 50 times this week. I got a chuckle every time he did so, but it also got me thinking. The high-energy and immense possibilities of a frouple making the leap can distract any Chi-town bachelor from all of his other activities. I know for a fact that the frouple he is in has cost Chicago some serious productivity. People from 5 different companies spent many workday hours typing huge email responses to his dilemma, indifferent to any pressing work demands – Hell, one of the crew is stuck in a frouple vortex, this is an emergency! In hindsight he is really not to blame for over-emphasizing the hand-squeeze. The energy demands of an inscrutable frouple scenario can drain your mental resources from any other task you have to complete.
So what has worked and not worked when trying to elevate from the friend zone? My response was to have a lot of beers and then try and assess the “vibe” before swooping in for the big smooch. My thinking with this strategy is that if your advance was not welcome or going to be reciprocated, the frouple can blame it on being “sooo drunk” and the friendship stays intact. This is terrible advice. First of all, you get all liquored up and so you don’t have your A game in case there are some key verbal spars that you need to have your wits for. Secondly, when frouples get drunk, they fall into old habits quite easily. Also, you will start having your usual good time with the other person and then rationalize why it can wait for another time – This was always a favorite tactic I used on myself to disguise my lack of intestinal fortitude. So after further analysis, I have accepted the fact “tons of alcohol” is terrible advice, and sought out some other feedback.
“Verbal hints” seems to be another popular but badly performing strategy. Verbal hints means saying suggestive or leading commentary to the person you want to leave the friend zone with. It could be as simple as saying “I want to date someone I really know and connect with deeply” while looking at the person you have connected with and know deeply, your good friend who you are mired in friend zone muck with. Or perhaps, “I want someone that does x, y, and z.” while you are doing activity x with your friend zone pal, while making plans to do activity y in the future, and then of course you are planning on texting about activity z and will probably do so way too soon and eagerly. This advice, alas, is even worse than the “tons of alcohol” strategy. It only ensures that the tentacles that are gripping your ankles from the friend zone undergrowth will tighten, and start snarling their way up your leg. Not to mention the hours of mental masturbation to do post-night analysis on what she said/he said…although masturbation can be fun don’t get me wrong.
NowInChicago.com’s author says to “ask them to go for a walk” and then say “so, I think we should hook up.” I was shocked to hear that not only does this work, but our female companion at the time thought it was also a good idea to put it out there! Damn I’m an idiot for not knowing this. It does seem quite simple, direct, and apparently has a high success rate. Hand-squeezer, I’m sending you this when it posts, get some liquid courage and put the offer on the table! But not before more “Verbal Hints” strategy, because it is a blast discussing the verbal hint used and the resulting response.