How To Avoid The Friend Zone

The friend zone is one of those commonly used relationship phrases that I have a fundamental problem accepting. While I acknowledge that men and women can form platonic friendships, and that dating can often progresses towards this scenario rather than romance, the idea that friendship dampens attraction is confusing to me.

My general subjective take is the following; if you’re dating escapades usually end with a handshake and a “let’s just be friends”, it’s time to stop scapegoating your responsibilities on “the friend zone” and begin to look at your behavior, attitudes and general make-up as honestly as possible in order to see what can be done to improve your romantic chances (nobody is perfect, there’s always something to improve, and frankly, I’m in desperate need of a dust-up myself).

Again. Avoiding the friend zone in no way implies not being friends, it is simply a matter of also presenting yourself as a romantic candidate. This article will outline subtle ways I feel you can convey both friendship and interest — and no — these qualities are not mutually exclusive.

I Like You Like A Friend

Let’s be honest, we’ve all heard this one before, even if I did eventually lead to a spark of romanticism. What does this mean? Simply put, while they like you or respect you, they are simply not attracted enough — it’s as simple as that. By and large the majority of people I speak to seem to suffer the same fallout, which unfortunately leads to the following self-reinforcing vicious cycle.

  • You are turned down.
  • You become insecure (you might blame your looks or other attributes that you cannot change).
  • Your self-esteem takes a hit.
  • You enter your next dating phase with your insecurity, thus lowering your chances dramatically.
  • You are turned down again.
  • The problem reinforces itself and becomes progressively worse.

The point I’d like to make here is that it is this latent insecurity which usually kills attraction. Never underestimate a person’s ability (this filtering is rarely conscious) to sniff out low self-esteem or confidence. The first step to avoiding the friend zone is simply that of becoming conscious about how we appear to others and what it says about us.

What Our Bodies Are Saying About Us

I’m sure we can all agree that attraction is largely non-verbal, relying on feeling rather than reason. Thanks to modern psychology we are increasingly aware of how and why our body communicates the way it does. Becoming conscious of your body language is enormously useful when it comes to attraction, because we can begin to give off and interpret all the right signals.

But there’s a problem.

Most of the time, especially if we are shy or defensive, our body tells the wrong story. There simply is not enough space in this article to detail the meaning of body language, I would advise reading a concise article about it, or you could simply take my word for it (in the meantime).

The best part of body languages’ role when it comes to how to avoid the friend zone is that you can convey romantic interest (thus making yourself a candidate) non-verbally, which is a lot easier on your stress levels than mechanically asking for a candle-light dinner. So, how do we portray ourselves as romantic candidates with body language?

I Said Maybe – And That’s Final

Here is a list of suggested behavioral patterns and why they are universally conducive to attraction.

Make direct and prolonged eye contact – Prolonged eye contact without blinking is not your quintessential “friendshippy” gesture. It’s message is universally clear. Don’t overdo it, and don’t do it too often or it can quickly double as aggression! The reason why it is attractive is the underlying qualities of honesty, strength and interest it conveys.

Open your posture – Avoid slouching, don’t cross your arms, learn back or look “past” your date. All of these gestures convey insecurity, defensiveness or worse.

Mirror them – Have you ever noticed how couples and best friends always seem to copy each other? Rapport is the word used in neurolinguistic circles to describe this phenomena. Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, but more importantly, it rapidly creates trust. Subtly copying their posture, talking speed, tone of voice and even their breathing patterns can lead to a very intimate and comfortable feeling.

Agree to disagree – Nobody likes a push-over, as a human being you have your indignation and opinion, do not be afraid to express them. Expressing (with a smile!) your thoughts denotes character, independence and the idea that you are able to put yourself first. All of which are attractive qualities. Erecting personal boundaries (not for the sake of argument) not only lets your date know who you are, it also hands you  a healthy amount of value.

Don’t make yourself too available – Giving too much too fast is not only repellent to attraction (you look needy and desperate) it is also leaves you wide open to the pain of rejection. Do not unconditionally put them first, neither in words or in actual fact, until they have earned their right to be that important to you. Slowing the dating process is never a bad thing, familiarity really does breed contempt. Slow down (this also goes for other things such as talking and not interrupting, messages and other forms of contact e.t.c).

The Most Important Variable Of All

I apologize in advance for having left the most important thing last. Yes, how could I possibly forget to mention having fun! Releasing the ego’s grip on our own self-consciousness is paramount to our success. The dating process should, and can be, a great deal of fun. Whether it ends in “the one” or not.

A shift in attitude from the negative to the positive is perhaps the greatest single catalyst for attraction I have ever observed. Don’t believe me? Try this: Go outside and head to a densely populated area. On your first pass though it smile, walk upright, hold eye contact and take your time. On your way back to the opposite. The difference is staggering. The world literally feels like a different place — and it is –because you are, both apparently and chemically.

Instilling attraction is as simple projecting positivism. People innately gravitate towards others who add to their lives, those who make them laugh and take them out of the wear and tear of their day-to-day stress. This doesn’t mean doubling as a Buddha, or being manically fake, it simply means showing off your ability to relativize life and painting yourself with a touch of self-irony.

In closing, realize also that many people, like us, are generally far too worried about how we come across to judge you. The fact that you are there having fun unconditionally will make the other person feel much more comfortable because they no longer feel the need to impress or fill in that awkward silence!