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We’ve all heard about the “Friend Zone,” a term used mostly by men who lament that the woman they set their sights on is not interested in them romantically or sexually. Women find themselves there too, but it’s rare that we find a woman complaining about being in the friend zone with a guy. Even if he doesn’t want a relationship, a man would probably still sleep with a woman he finds attractive. Either that or he wouldn’t entertain a friendship at all, because most men don’t hang around women they’re not attracted to in some way…at least not that I know of.

But with women, we can hang around a guy we have zero feelings for and who we don’t find attractive. We may genuinely appreciate his personality and sense of humor without wanting to jump his bones, and value a man’s point of view from a purely platonic place. And no, he doesn’t have to be gay. Men can do it too, you just rarely hear about a man who wants to spend all his free time with a woman he’s not actively trying to sleep with.

That said, if you’re a man who IS actively spending all his free time with a woman and you DO want more than a friendship, then stop doing “friend zone” things. Going shopping with her, holding her purse, letting her cry on your shoulder about some other dude – those are all friend zone things men do that let us know that you’re not interested in us that way, or confirm that we should keep you there. Most men I know who hang around waiting for the woman of their dreams to “wake up” and realize what a great guy he is have never actually made their intentions known. They just think that one day they’ll catch her while she’s having a weak moment and end up in his bed after consoling her on the guy who just dumped her and broke her heart. And to these men, this is easier and less painful than simply asking her out on a date.

Now, I will say that most men and women know when someone is interested in more than just platonic friendship. I’d venture to guess that women know this instantly considering most times we’re the ones who are being approached. I’ve never had a man come up to me and say, “I saw you and thought you’d make a great platonic friend.” But just because you say hello doesn’t mean we automatically know what your intentions are, and if a man has managed to build up a friendship with a woman, chances are she was interested enough for it to get that far. Some women may know instantly that a man is not her type, but there are others who are on the fence about how to go forward with a man they’ve just met…which is where the man must either step up, or step away.

Maybe she’s thinking you’re not her type physically, but she loves your smile. Perhaps she might have overlooked you, but then you made her laugh. Attraction for some isn’t always immediate, but I’ve heard many a woman say that a man has “grown on her” only for her to fall head over heels in love with the man he is on the inside. And chances are, these are not men who just sat around hoping. They were direct and persistent, and probably dated these women while they sorted it out. They made their intentions known, and didn’t try to sneak in through the back door.

If you’re a guy who is holding back or trying to “be nice” and not ruin the friendship by making her uncomfortable and asking her out, then just know that you are putting in the friend zone, not her. Your inaction or insecurity is telling her that you’re either not interested, or that you’re not confident enough to ask her out…in which case she doesn’t want you anyway. If looks at you like a brother, its’ because you’re acting like one.

This may seem ridiculously obvious, but ask yourself – have you actually asked her out on a date? If the answer is no, you have no one to blame but yourself for your friend zone status. If you’re constantly overlooked, it’s because you’re doing friend zone things thinking you’re being a good guy. And you probably are a good guy, and hopefully the woman you want likes good guys.

But if you want to stay out of the friend zone, leave the “good guy/brother” stereotype at home. Court her, ask her on a date and let her know you find her attractive. Touch her in a way that lets you know you’re interested – and I don’t mean groping. Hold her hand or touch her shoulder. You’ll know instantly if she’s feeling it or not, and sometimes touch helps a person feel attracted to you as well. Either way, you’ll let your intentions be known and if you’re wasting your time. If they don’t reciprocate, demote her to an acquaintance and move on to someone who IS interested. Don’t tie up your feelings in one woman who can’t see how great you are.

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