How do I get out of the friendzone?

Dear Lisa,

I’ve become good friends with a girl (6yrs younger than me, she’s mid 20s I’m early 30s) who I play hockey with on a co-ed team. I’ve know her for 2 years and in that time we’ve enjoyed each other’s company as good friends both on and off the ice. She has a great group of girlfriends (and a lot of guy friends too through playing other sports), and I’m privileged to be considered on of her closer good guy friends.

Over the years we’ve enjoyed each other’s company, hug a lot, caring text messages back and forth, etc. She’s dated a few guys in that time span and they have basically all treated her badly by playing with her emotions, not reciprocating love towards her, telling her that their relationship with her is purely physical. She’s been saddened by this indeed.

She also has confidence issues that stem from body image problems of herself, and not a pretty family past of a absent father and not having know her mother for a long time. She tells me that all of these family issues have affect her emotionally and how she perceives guys.

I’ve been there for her over the years. I’ve told her that she can do better and that she is totally a great girl to date and that I would date her. She acknowledges that but sees me as a good friend. I don’t want to rock the boat on our friendship but I’m wondering if I can do anything more for her to see me as a guy that she can date?

–Confident Man (♂ Victoria)


Dear Confident Man,

It sounds like there are a couple of things complicating your situation, the first has more to do with you, and the second has more to do with her. Let’s start with what’s going on for you. My impression of you from your letter is that you typically put women first in your life, for example, if the gal you are interested in asked for you attention, you would probably drop whatever you were doing to give it to her. At some level, you believe that to make a woman happy and subsequently get her love, you need to give her what she wants. This behavior is called ‘Nice Guy’ behavior, and nice guys almost always end up in the ‘friendzone’. The reason for this is very primal: women can’t trust men who can’t trust themselves. For you to be romantically attractive, you need to have your own life, your own purpose and vision that you make a priority, and won’t sacrifice for what she wants.

Successfully getting out of the friendzone doesn’t mean changing who you are – your kindness, compassion, gentleness – it means shifting your perspective or beliefs around women. You don’t have to swing all the way to the other side of the spectrum and start acting like a macho asshole, rather, you need to learn how to walk the fine line between. Make sense? And, making this adjustment won’t necessarily change how this particular woman feels about you either, mainly because of what is going on for her.

Since I only have your side of the story, I can’t be sure, but it sounds to me as though the woman you are into is attracted to emotionally unavailable men. Ironically, the type of men she goes for is the exact opposite of what you are, which explains why she isn’t into you. Now, if she is attracted to emotionally unavailable guys, or guys who treat her badly, or guys who only end up wanting sex, it is highly probable that she likes these guys because they confirm a belief about herself – that she isn’t worth more. So, if your lady continues to feel this way about herself, she would never be attracted to you because you aren’t, nor will you ever be, the guy who treats her like that.

The crux of your situation is that right now, neither of you are in a healthy place – she doesn’t feel good enough about herself to raise her standards, and effectively neither do you. My recommendation is that you put a little bit of distance between the two of you, put the romantic thoughts of her aside and do your work; not for her, but for you.

– Lisa



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