Tough situation. It happens to guys and it happens to girls and oftentimes, it can cause more heartbreak than an actual breakup.
Well maybe one (or all) of these scenarios apply to your situation. You get along better with him than anyone else. You “get” each other. He’s the only guy that you’ve ever felt truly understands you and with whom you can truly be yourself. He’s cute, he’s funny and when he’s around you, he completely let’s his guard down. You get to see him as the man he truly is – an unguarded version of himself that he hides from the world and only seems to let you see.
You trust each other. You might even say that you love each other. And you love every little thing about him… you can talk for hours or even just be with each other in silence… and you know exactly what the other person is thinking.
So why, in the midst of this seemingly perfect situation, aren’t you any more than friends? Or worse, why (when you told him how you felt about him) does he say, “I really love you. You’re the most important girl in the world to me and I’ll always be there for you but I can’t be in a relationship with you – we need to just be friends.”
Well, I’ll give you a few reasons and I’ll also give you the ultimate pull-no-punches guide to getting out of the friend zone.
1. Damaged goods: There are some great guys out there that have had their heart broken one to many times. And by the time they’re in your life, they have a lot of unclaimed baggage that they have yet to resolve. It’s an “It’s not you, it’s me” situation, except it comes before any relationship has even happened.
Problem is, your feelings for him and what your relationship could be or should be are just an illusion. The reality is that when someone hasn’t healed past hurts and relationship wounds, they really aren’t ready to get into a new relationship.
Now there have been times where the so-called damaged guy jumps into a relationship seemingly out of the blue after months or even years of lamenting about how “damaged” he is.
This can happen for a few reasons:
1) The new girl he jumps in with completely step out of that “mode” or “funk” he was caught up in. See, while you were listening to him sulk about his broken heart and smoothing his hair, new girl appeared out of nowhere as a limited-edition item. She attracted him and in some way made it clear (usually without a word) that if he wants her, he needs to act now or lose his shot.
It’s amazing how quickly a man will get his act together when he believes he might lose his shot at something. (Hint… hint… hint)
2) He knows he can put up a front and the new girl will buy it… at least, for a while. See, you know your friend, inside and out. But the new girl who just entered the picture is completely fresh – he can act like whomever he wants to appear to be and she’ll accept that that’s who he is. But with you, you know what he’s still struggling with… and he knows you know who he really is too.
Sometimes a guy just wants a vacation from himself and his problems.
Sure, these arrangements always end up melting down (maybe in a week, a month or a year), but during that time he gets to postpone dealing with his issues and can numb his pain with a simple girl who doesn’t unearth any skeletons… for a while.
3) The new girl had the advantage of a fresh “mystique” – that is, he doesn’t know anything about her and she put up a dazzling image that completely seduced him. The reality of relationships is that for them to move forward, they need to deepen over time. And part of deepening a relationship is knowing the other person more and more deeply and gaining a fuller understanding of who they are.
Your friend knows you deeply. But the dazzling new Cleopatra that stepped into the picture is a blank canvas – he can paint her up to be anything he wants to image that she is in his mind. The less he actually knows about her, the more he can fill in the gaps with his own fantasy.
It’s an illusion, but illusions can have tremendous power. Just ask the advertising industry.
The solution here and the first step to getting out of the friend zone in general:
Let’s keep talking about the damaged goods scenario though and why it can be a major trap if you don’t catch yourself.
You have feelings for your guy friend. You yourself have been a victim to your own fantasies and dreams about what you two could be together. Sure, maybe you weren’t drawing unicorns and rainbows with his name surrounded by hearts in your notebook, but you are definitely a strong believer that you’re “meant to be together”.
As romantic as all that sounds, it’s actually poison to your chances for success in you two actually starting some. Let’s look at why:
To put it quite plainly, you want something that simply is not reality. The more you try to force reality, the more it’s going to feel like pressure to the guy friend and the more he’s going to shrink away from you and guard himself. He’ll stop feeling like he can trust you and he’ll start feeling like he’s a target for your own personal conquest.
Hollywood loves to spread this idea that if someone rejects you, you should just push harder and harder and harder and suddenly, some magic event will happen and you’ll end up together.
This is not reality. It’s better I tell you than a straight-up reality check – reality can be pretty cold when it comes to this kind of thing. The good news is that there’s a way to avoid this and possibly turn things around. Ironically the solution is: Move on.
Not in a dramatic, mean-spirited or punishing sort of way. I’m talking about moving on mentally and letting it go. Be cool with being just friends. And be honest with him and yourself when you make the decision that you’re happy just being friends – people can tell when you’re faking it.
It can actually be one of the greatest lessons to learn to truly let a crush go and accept just being friends. It’s compassionate and respectful to them. And it also gives the other person the psychological “space” to possibly grow feelings for you at some point down the line.
Letting go and just being friends can be something you just do silently within yourself. It doesn’t need to be a talk or event – you just simply decide you’re going to shift your attention to appreciating him for who he is and that you have someone who you enjoy so much in your life.
Backing off is the first step to this process.
2. He’s not attracted to you “in that way”.
OK, this one can definitely hit you like a brick. As a guy, I remember back in high school when I had a devastating crush on my best female friend. We’d chat on the phone constantly. We’d hang out all the time. We got along great.
When I finally spilled my guts about my feelings for her, she said she just didn’t have “those kind of feelings” for me. She loved me like a brother. She saw me as just a friend. Ouch. I have to imagine the sting is just as bad for a girl when she hears that message from the guy friend she wants more with.
So what are you to do?
Well, even if your guy isn’t “damaged goods,” I hope you read the last section because backing off is a REQUIRED first step if you want to get out of the friend zone and possibly (even remotely) have a shot at having something more with him. You MUST truly be OK with being just friends right now. Accept it and enjoy your guy friend as a guy friend.
It might be tough, but if you add gravity to the situation or romanticize it or dramatize it, it will be 100 times tougher. What I mean is don’t talk like you’re just friends, but then in your mind plan your wedding day and the love story that led to it. Don’t cry and moan to your friends about how it’s not fair and how it shouldn’t be this way. Gracefully and maturely accept it. It’s not easy, but if you can’t truly do this, you can kiss your chances of getting out of the friend zone goodbye.
So now that you’re just friends and you’re cool with it, it’s time for a personal reinvention. A head-to-toe makeover, inside and out.
I know some of you in the audience are about to throw something at me and scream, “Why should **I** have to change for him? He should just love me for me! I’m not changing for anyone, that’s so desperate and lame.”
OK, fine. Don’t change.
But this article is called “How to Get Out of the Friend Zone” and not “How to Do Everything You’ve Been Doing All Along and Magically Get Different Results.” See my point?
If you want this guy and want a different result than what you’re getting, it’s clear that you need to change what you’ve been doing. That may be hard to swallow, but when you think it through it’s pretty clear.
Of course, you could just decide to give up and find another guy that appreciates you exactly as you are. And that’s fine… maybe that’s even the better move in the long run. However, the fact that you’re reading this tells me that you probably have already tried that or you’ve looked and there’s nobody else who’s impressed you as much as this one guy. So let’s talk about the game-plan (and I’m going to warn you, I’m not sugarcoating this – this is a blunt, no-punches-pulled guide)…
Guys respond to looks. It’s not fair, we didn’t choose our biological / sexual makeup – it is what it is. The sooner that you can accept that guys respond to the physical appearance of women, the sooner you can use it to your advantage.
For the sake of keeping an already long article as short as it can be, I will briefly touch upon things you can do to punch up your look:
- Get into the best shape of your life. As a dating advice writer, I don’t like telling women to get in shape. Some of my closest female friends and ex-girlfriends have had eating disorders in their lifetime. It’s tragic and heartbreaking and I would never want any girl to have one. So I want to be very clear: NEVER, EVER get into extreme dieting or ruthless fitness. It may seem like the answer at the time, but in the long run you will pay dearly for it and I promise you that you’ll end up far worse off than when you started.With that said, I do advocate you eating healthy and working out regularly. I eat right and I work out hard, but it is balanced – I used to go super extreme and I actually ended up getting worse results because of the strain I put on my body.If you feel like you could get into better physical shape, then pick a good fitness program and get to work. Don’t worry about your natural body type or shape. Guys are attracted to all different body types and shapes, but we unanimously like one thing: fit, healthy, happy women. Aim for that – make it a goal and you will be very happy with the results. (For further reference, see Ask a Guy: What Do Guys Think of Super Skinny Girls)
- Master your makeup. Makeup is one of the greatest advantages women have over men in terms of massively increasing their attractiveness with minimal effort. Just ask Jenna Marbles in the video, “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Really Good Looking .”
OK, I’m kidding with the last link… but not really. In all seriousness, read A New Mode’s beauty section. Next…
- Dress right. Whatever you choose to wear, be sure you wear it with confidence. There is nothing attractive about a woman who is fidgeting with her outfit constantly or one who looks uncomfortable. Confidence is magnetic to guys, so wear things that make you feel amazing about yourself. On this note, A New Mode has tons and tons of great fashion advice. Look around and study up. As a guy, I’ll share the best fashion advice I ever got: Wear what the mannequins are wearing and wear clothes that fit your body perfectly (and being that that’s the best fashion advice I think you can see why Sabrina is our designated fashion expert and not me!).
- Fill yourself up. While looking good will definitely help you, “filling yourself up” is the most important one of all here. What I mean is filling your life with things that make you feel happy and fulfilled.All too often I see women desperate wanting a relationship to fill them up. They come to men with their hands out, begging to make them “whole” by getting into a relationship with them. However, no relationship will ever make you whole, happy or fulfilled. That’s the little known truth – and a truth that Hollywood doesn’t you.The TRUTH is that you need to come into a relationship already happy, fulfilled and whole and allow your love of life and love of yourself to spill over into the other person. Only then will you get to have the relationship that you’ve always wanted. You can’t come in wanting to fill an emotional void – you must come in whole.
- A final note on happiness… TV and movies portray an idea that quality men want to date “bitches” or that we fall in love with difficult women.We don’t. Men who have choice will completely avoid unhappy, “bitchy,” critical, difficult women. Why would a man want that? Men HATE drama and being thrown off from enjoying our life. Why would we want to be around a miserable woman?The truth is: Men want happy women. Men want women who are full of love and who love themselves and have confidence. Men want women who love men.So if you’ve historically shown yourself to be an unhappy girl around your guy friend, that could be a major factor in what’s keeping you apart. Men want to be around happy women who they know they can “win” with – at being your hero and making you happy. Put positive energy out there… you have to trust me on this that it will work much, much better than being miserable.And you get this happiness from filling yourself up (see above).
3. ”Love is like a shadow, when you chase it, it runs away, when you turn back and walk away, it follows you.” – Unknown
I think that quote is a little extreme, but it illustrates an interesting point. It actually goes back to what I was saying in the last section – you will not be able to attract a relationship if you’re looking for it to fill an emotional void for you.
There’s a difference between wanting and chasing. It’s fine to want a relationship. But chasing a relationship is different. It implies that you have a desperate need to have it, like it’s the only possible nourishment for your starving heart. Poetic, but very bad for success…
I’m going to tell you something shocking. If you can do this next thing, it will change everything for you. But chances are, you’re going to protest it and want to fight me on it. And it is…
Open up your dating options… start talking with and meeting other men. Rack up OPTIONS.
Yes… in case your head is not computing that I’m telling you to date other men in an article about getting out of the friend zone with your guy friend… yes, I’m telling you to start opening yourself up to other men. And be earnest in your efforts. Really put some energy into meeting new men and talking with new guys… you don’t have to date them or sleep with them or marry them. Just talk with them and get some guys interested in you.
Who knows, you might even end up meeting a better guy in the process. You never know if your true destiny is to meet your perfect man by accident… don’t resist this.
Open your options up so that you know that you’re not dependent on just one option.
I almost feel evil for saying it, but for some guys just seeing that he might lose his shot with a girl can be all he needs to snap to attention and reconsider his feelings for you… lest he should lose you to some other guy. Worth noting, but in this case don’t make this your focus.
For now, this is just about options.