Miss Information

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Every girl thinks we work better as friends. How can I leave this perpetual friend zone?

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Dear Miss Information,

Just got friend-zoned for the third time in a few months. Apparently I’m bad at dating. Who knew? Oh, right, I did.

The most recent was a real kick in the balls. I met this girl at a party and we got along great. I invited her to a bar two nights later and she said she had to work late, so I said we could reschedule. Then I suggested we go out to an art opening. She said yes, and we had a great time. Out of respect I didn’t kiss her or anything, though I guess I should have, because maybe then I wouldn’t have ended up in the friend-zone. Anyway, a few nights later we went to a mutual friend’s party and ended up talking awhile. I asked her out again and she said she thinks we’re better as friends. 

Other than not kissing her, I don’t know what I did wrong. I showed all kinds of interest. Asking her out 3 times in one week is a pretty clear signal, right? And it’s not just this one girl. This keeps happening. I’m so sick of this dating thing and it’s starting to feel like I will never understand how girls operate. What am I doing wrong? Why am I constantly the friend? Can I get some female perspective on this?


Dear (Fr)Endzone,

Okay, let’s start here: “Getting friend-zoned” is not a thing. Attraction isn’t some finicky snake that needs to be charmed; it is either there or it isn’t. Attraction can grow or dissipate over time, but when someone says “we’re better off as friends,” she’s really telling you, “you’re more into this than I am, and I prefer we back off a bit.”

What you’re describing here—kissing on the first date, expressing clear interest, etc.—isn’t relationship-building, it’s seduction. Seduction is, at its core, manipulation. You’re trying to herd a girl into wanting to date you, and then getting hurt when she doesn’t respond the way you want her to. 

There’s good news, though, (Fr)Endzone. If I put on my Liberal Arts Goggles and squint, I can detect a sensitive soul behind the indignation. If you want better relationships, though, you need to drop the Pick-Up Artist *façade. When women feel like they’re being plugged into a Paint-By-Numbers, they turn off.  Next time you meet a girl you like, don’t try to advance an agenda: just be genuine. And, most importantly, read her reactions. Is she laughing? Leaning into you? Seeming “sparked” by the conversation? Touching your arm? Coming up with future things you can do together? All good signs. If she’s not doing these things, it’s not because you’re somehow “bad at dating”—it’s just likely not a good fit. You shouldn’t have to coax a girl to date you. If she likes you, she’ll gladly show up on her own volition. 

Remember, (Fr)Endzone, there are a million reasons two people may be “better off as friends” that have nothing to do with you. Maybe she’s seeing somebody else. Maybe she’s preoccupied with school. Who knows. Fizzled “almost-dates” can make the best friendships, if you let them. Don’t assume it is always a consolation prize.