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Some say that friends make the best lovers, but I might have to disagree.  Whether it’s in grade school or in grad school, we’ll all have one experience being on the end of a relationship where one person wants a little more romance than the other.  When it’s all said and done, you can either end up in a loving relationship with your best friend or find yourself with a fragile friendship ruined by the awkwardness of an unrequited romance.  While we recently talked about reasons you shouldn’t be “just a friend” with a guy, many don’t realize that we often blindly walk into those type of situations not recognizing that the friend zone is right where we’re headed. Don’t take the risk of being asked to be “just a friend” by avoiding the following roles and actions:

1.  Don’t be the rebound band-aid.

One of the things that landed a close male friend of mine in the “friend zone” is unfortunately the fact that he was Mr. Nice Guy.  This is no way implies that I think all men should play Mary J. Blige’s infamous “Mr. Wrong” in order to be thought of as sex symbols, but being too nice of a guy (or girl) could in some ways weaken your love interest’s ability to see you as a sexual being.  Whenever I had a boyfriend break my heart, my male friend would rush in to save the day, telling me everything I wanted to hear even if it wasn’t true. In many ways, knowing that this guy would think the world of me no matter what I did took away the tension and suspense that initial sexual attraction is all about.

If you ever want to be sure someone is with you for the right reasons, don’t try to pursue them immediately after they’ve ended a serious relationship.  When someone is fresh from a breakup, they are high-strung off of intense emotions and haven’t had a chance to sort through the baggage.  This can cloud their judgment and instead of focusing on what they really want in a mate, they may be more likely to cuddle up to whatever is making them feel good for that time. That could be you.

2.  Don’t clear your calendar.

Passion has some element of a good chase in it.  Making yourself easily available by clearing your calendar at your interest’s beck and call can make you appear desperate and dependant on them. Unless you’re applying to be your love interest’s personal assistant, you need to make sure that you stay on top of your own agenda.  There’s a reason why people like a challenge; feeling like you have nothing to lose can get stale and boring. There’s nothing wrong with being reliable, but whether it’s a friendship or a love affair, no one likes a doormat.

3.  Throwing more shade than an apple tree.

So you’re head over heels with a good guy friend, and of course you don’t understand why he’s not attracted to the awesomeness that is you automatically.  It can be painful, torture even, to see him geeked over woman after woman that you feel aren’t worth the heels they’re walking in, and it can be tempting to want to point out every single flaw. Unfortunately, you’ll have to fight that urge. Constantly putting down the women he’s dating or physically feeling makes you appear jealous. Jealousy screams insecurity, and insecurity is just not cute. Also, by insulting these women, you could be indirectly insulting his taste. If you really want to turn his head, how about throwing a compliment her way?  There’s something alluring about a women who has enough confidence to compliment another woman when it’s due.

4.  Being too comfortable.

 In my opinion, the beginning of a relationship is no place for comfort.  This is the time you should be embracing your femininity. This doesn’t mean that you have to pull out your highest stiletto and little black dress if that isn’t your style, but it doesn’t mean you should pull out your Victoria’s Secret PINK sweatpants, satin bonnet and a case of Yuengling either. Find your balance and be yourself, but remember, it’s all about the presentation.  If the time he spends with you resembles the time he spends with his crew, he may be looking at you as one of the guys instead of the gorgeous gal you are.

5.  Not recognizing the signs.

There’s nothing worse than holding onto to the hope for a romance with someone who will never see you any other way.  But men and women are different.  With most men, although they may have no serious intention on pursuing anything serious with a woman, they have less difficulty separating love from sex.  This means that even if a man isn’t attracted to you, he’ll have no problem bedding you and then whooping your a** on the Xbox the next morning like nothing happened before he makes plans with the girl he’s really trying to really wife up.  Women on the other hand operate a bit differently; we automatically place men into the “lover” or “friend” category.  While we may not involve ourselves sexually with a friend, we have no problem doing relationship-like things with a guy to take the hurt off or to “hopefully” open a new door until we find someone who really gets our attention.  This can make for a lot of confusion and hurt feelings.

And if you’re looking for signs that he’s not looking at you in that way, try the following:

  • You end up as a shopping consultant for the gifts he’s buying the woman he’s dating.
  • If you hear any of the following phrases: “I wouldn’t want to ruin what we have.” “You’re like one of my homies/little sister.” “You’re going to make some guy really happy one day.”
  • He makes zero effort to try and impress you.
  • You’re dressed in your sexiest outfit and he’s more uncomfortable than turned on. Or, he clowns you about your attire.
  • He consistently is in a relationship with someone who is not you.
  • He finds your attempts at femininity funny.

As much as we all wish that real life played out like a romantic comedy where you profess your feelings in the pouring rain to a man you’ve silently harbored affection for and he tells you he feels the same, the honest truth is that once you’re in the friend zone it can be pretty impossible to find your way out.  Look at Julia Robert’s character in My Best Friend’s Wedding.  We knew she and Dermot Mulroney made the most sense, but instead, Cameron Diaz’s dippy, demure damsel-in-distress character ended up with the husband. We are attracted to certain people both sexually and mentally for whatever reason and everyone that we want isn’t necessarily going to want us back, no matter how much sense it may seem to make.  The important thing is to not invest too much time and energy into trying to force something that isn’t meant to be, when you can be pursuing someone who wants to be more than friends just as much as you do.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.

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