Ladies (primarily): what blind spots to check for as a man whom women value only as a friend?

If you’re like a former guy friend of mine, your blind spot might be that you fail to evaluate women’s behavior towards you vs other people, especially people you don’t think are competition for her affections. Before you let yourself build up romantic ideas towards a woman, mentally step back and watch how she treats other people. It can be hard to tell if someone’s interested, and it’s easy to decide that this little sign or that one means they are, but who else is she sending these signals to? If everyone gets the same signals of interest, they’re not signals.

Say she laughs at your jokes. A lot of people will tell you this is a classic sign of interest. Maybe. Pay attention the next time another woman makes a joke, does she react the same way as when you made a joke? If you notice that she laughs at everyone’s jokes that way, it’s not a sign, she just has a friendly attitude towards people in general. Same goes for casual touching, another “clear” sign. Okay, she touches your arm when she talks to you. Does she do that to other people too? Some women touch everyone: guys they like, other women, old people, relatives…

Before you give your heart away, and potentially start griping to yourself about her being the sort of girl who led you on, make sure she’s not treating you like she does everyone else.

I think there are at least two reasons why it’s hard to get out of the Friend Zone - you get used to thinking of each other a certain way (sort of brother and sister-like), and you also don’t want to take a chance on wrecking a friendship. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully converted a friendship into a romance - if any of my guy friends wanted a relationship with me, I never knew about it.

I agree that you have to show that you are confident and comfortable with yourself before you will attract women. And also that you have to be willing to take a chance and make romantic overtures yourself, and risk rejection.

On a more superficial note, how do you groom yourself? You say you are “unattractive” but “not smelly or overweight.” But do you get regular haircuts? Shave or trim your facial hair regularly? Dress in an attractive, neat fashion? Take care of your belongings? As a woman, I put a certain minimum of time into my appearance each day and expect to have to do so if I want to attract the opposite sex. I also maintain my car and home to a minimum standard of cleanliness. Unfortunately, it seems that men commonly think they don’t have to do the same.

And if you really are less than average in the looks department, good grooming goes a long way toward making you more appealing to women. I would rather be with a well-groomed 4 than a slovenly 10. A slobby 4 has no shot.

As with so many other things, what women find attractive is complicated.

You’re not Robert Redford? Who cares. You could be Ernest Borgnine and still be considered very attractive, if you have other things going for you. Masculinity is far more important than looks. Is your voice deep? Do you have broad shoulders? Are you reasonably well muscled? These are things that can be improved. Personality comes through enormously, and it is far more often the make/break point than how symmetrical your facial features are.

Don’t be afraid to be sexual. If you spend too much time with a woman without making a move she’ll begin to see you as just a friend. I’m not a lady but I’ve got tons of buddies who could be dating if only they could work up the nerve to make a move. They can’t, so instead they’re all stuck in the friend zone.

Honestly, I think you have to be more transparent when you ask a woman out. If you ask her out for coffee, she’s going to think, oh, coffee, that’s probably friendly, not a date. If you let her go on thinking it’s probably friendly and then you don’t make a move, she’s going to decide that yes, it’s friendly, and then not make a move on you in case she gets shot down.

So next time ask her out to dinner, make some excuse like you’ve always wanted to visit [some romantic local restaurant] and since you met her there’s no excuse not to. Make it clear to her that you’re not viewing her as a friend.

Another thing you can try is to complement her. Not overdo it, but the one earlier about “you have nice eyes” (and then smile at her wistfully) followed by an invitation to dinner is very clear without being creepy – imho, although I’m sure others will disagree!

Don’t overdo it, don’t show up with flowers and a tux on the first date, don’t tell her she’s the most amazing thing on the planet, just try to be subtle and let her know you see her as potential relationship material. Otherwise she’ll feel like she’s just a friend to you.

There are lots of ways you can indicate your interest. It’s called flirting!

Hold her gaze for longer than usual, then when she notices, smile and give her a compliment. Nothing over the top though, something genuine. If you can’t think of anything about her appearance to compliment, say something like ‘I’m really pleased you’ve come out with me, I’d really like to get to know you better.’

Let’s say you go to a coffee shop. You might want to find a table first, then say ‘I’ll get the coffees, what would you like?’ Then as you get up, touch her on the arm or shoulder briefly as you say ‘I’ll be right back.’

As you’re standing in line, don’t just stand there looking around vacantly, again let her ‘catch’ you looking at her, then smile and look embarrassed at being caught.

It’s absolutely brilliant that you’ve been doing these things, it sounds like you’re really dedicated to some serious self-improvement. The only thing that I think is missing there is boosting your self-confidence. That’s why you see less attractive guys with attractive girls. Girls love confident guys, just as guys love confident girls.

No, I was worse yet. On my SECOND TO VERY LAST day as an undergrad, I stopped by the bookstore where my roommate worked to ask him what time he needed to get to the train station; I was supposed to drive him there next day. A young woman who also worked there, and was a student, turned out to have been admiring me from afar for quite some time. My roomie was telling me all about it afterwards; she’d been saying “you know him? He’s your roommate?” Really a nice, attractive, intelligent woman, in many ways like my wife now. We did get together when I went back down for visits a few times. She was seeing someone else and these were only casual dates. I can’t blame her for looking elsewhere if I wasn’t going to notice her.

I have an idea I remember her staring at me in the library, about two years before all this, but I’m not sure.

I find it worth noting that Ernest Borgnine, phouka’s go-to unattractive guy, has been married 5 times. :smiley: Doesn’t seem to have held him back any!

First off you need to less apologetic and tentative. If your social approach is anything like your OP post most (not all) women, despite whatever anyone may tell you, are not going to be enthralled by shy, tentative men apologizing for themselves.

You need to have the inherent feeling that you are bringing something substantive, valuable and important to to the table in the relationship be it a casual date or a longer term scenario. If you do not have this in some form of fashion you’re usually kind of wasting your time trying to date unless you’re looking for a therapist instead of an SO. Women are usually looking for men who are somewhat confident (not overbearingly so) and who are open to life and maybe a little interesting. If there’s even a whiff of cringing, at least in the meet and greet stage, you’ll get ignored or passed over.

As a practical matter, while others may have different experiences, as a 51 year old man I found wandering the local venues (bar, book store, parties etc) hoping for a casual introduction or meeting was (for me) a huge waste of time. Internet dating was the way to go, and eliminated enormous amounts of wasted time. Being social buddies with women is great way to be social buddies with women. It’s not an intro to dating success.

Re your characterization that you are absolutely not in any way, shape or form “impolite, egoistical, domineering or inconsiderate” is sweet, but it’s also the primary reason you get no action. Putting aside the “impolite and inconsiderate” which are bad social manners no one likes, real world you need to have some slight, reasonably moderated ego and dominance vibe in your attitude and personality for most women to be sexually interested in you. It can come across as “knows what he wants” or “self confidence” or whatever, but without it you’re going to be failing more often than not.

Beyond this, there’s a level of reciprocal interest dynamic involved. For women to be seriously willing to be with you beyond the first few dates they have to be willing to fuck you (conceptually at least), and this is a decision a woman makes within the first few seconds or minutes of your introduction. Assuming, per your OP, you are not a physical troll a lot of this female decision making is going to be keyed to how you come across and carry yourself. Thinking you have a full date or multiple date(s) worth of time to make a good impression is a fallacy. You will usually know within minutes of meeting (on a date) if there is a possibly for relationship success or not. If not, be polite, pay the bill, and move on. It’s a numbers game and there is no use wasting multiple dates if you don’t have spark. Pounding on closed doors is humiliating and stupid.

If you are seriously interested in dating, don’t waste huge swaths of time trying to be buddies in the hopes you can sidle your way into a date. It’s pointless. Don’t pursue women who are not eager to re-connect after the first date. If the fish don’t like your bait move to a different spot in the lake. If a woman is not willing to be physically intimate within 3-4 dates you’re usually wasting your time re any long term success in that relationship.

You need to take a strategic view of dating and be brutally honest with yourself about your objectives. If you are getting almost no play at all you need to change your attitude, or possibly even change the type of women you are pursuing. If the only women you are interested in are way out of your league attractiveness-wise or maintenance-wise re your expected material success you’re being a fool. If you are bringing yourself to market you have to identify the likely buyers.

All this advice was pretty much summed up in a proverb centuries ago:

“Faint heart nor false heart ne’er won a fair lady.”

Confidence, man.

No matter how you hide it, women can smell the stink of low self-esteem and will keep their distance. If you walk around thinking and projecting “I’m unlovable,” you can’t be too surprised when people listen. And don’t think you aren’t projecting it. You are. Nothing can mask it. You aren’t going to find someone to like you until you like yourself.

Which is probably a good thing. If you enter a relationship with such low self-esteem, chances are you’d find a way to screw it up by being needy, insecure or distant. You aren’t getting into a relationship because you are emotionally not ready for it. You have to figure yourself out before you really have anything to offer another person. Women can sense this.

Once you get your self-esteem working, in my experience, you’ll find opportunity everywhere and the things you are looking for will fall into your lap. How do you start to like yourself again? I’m not sure, but wallowing can’t help.

I used to think that this was a classic chicken-and-egg situation. You need dates to get self-confidence. You need self-confidence to get dates.

I now think that the best thing to do is get self-confidence from somewhere else, outside the dating arena. You get self-confidence by being successful at things. Small things at first, maybe, then larger. It sounds like the OP is doing many of the right things (exercise, etc)… but maybe learning to do things in the social world is needed? I wonder whether public speaking would help. I know that in my case, I had to learn a lot of things later that other people seem to pick up at an earlier age.

And I love what Dangerosa said. Part of the problem with this is that we get so little social feedback to indicate what we are doing wrong.

And there’s this fiction many guys seem to feel like they must employ of only having platonic intentions.

“Want to go see a movie this weekend?”

“Well, ok, but as friends, all right?”

“Oh sure. of course…”

Bull. More than once when I was single, I said something in response like, “Actually, I have all the friends I need. No, this would be a date.”

Twice I ended up dating the girl who got that line from me; once the girl said, “Well, then maybe we shouldn’t…” and I was fine with that too. But when I was looking to start a romantic relationship, it seemed obvious to me that the right start wasn’t going to be “as a friend…”

That’s not to say that there haven’t been times when I genuinely started to get interested in someone that was a friend at first, of course. But if I started out interested in a date, then saying yes to “as a friend” seemed dishonest and passive-skeezy to me.

Stop waiting for a partner and live your life, is my advice.

Suppose I could look into the future and tell you, with certainty, that you will never partner, it’s just not in your cards. Would you spend months and years, pining and waiting, harshly judging yourself a failure? Or would you spare yourself that, to just get on with it, and build an interesting life regardless? Because that’s, kind of, what you need to do.

Think about the last/next time you say to someone, “That sounds awesome!”. Find a way to do a couple of things that you think are awesome. Climb a mountain, take a trip somewhere challenging and exotic, do something that scares you a little. When your life is fun, fulfilling and challenging, you won’t notice you haven’t a partner, so much.

Better still, as soon as you reach this place, where life is fun on it’s own, potential partners will appear and throw themselves at your feet, for true. Because you’ll have lost the smell of a guy who needs someone to complete him.

Nothing improves self esteem and gives confidence like doing something you yourself thinks is ‘totally awesome’. Have a more fun life, is my prescription.

Well, all kinds of things. I guess it’s flirting, one way or the other; things like casual physical contact. It’s hard to just give a list because it’s really more of a general demeanor. Dressing up a little when you get together. I usually expect a bit of puffery, too; the guy’s trying, somehow, in a way friends don’t.

If you’re really fumbling, you could try picking up the check. I can’t imagine a situation in which a male friend would just sweep in and pay – it screams ‘date’ to me. Or, maybe a small gift; it doesn’t have to be flowers. A little thing that you give someone, saying “I was thinking of you when I saw this,” screams romantic interest in my mind.

If you have a hard time expressing your interest, maybe ‘friends first’ isn’t a good strategy for you?

About not being domineering, yes, it’s a good idea not to demand that a woman conform to your every wish. That said, for the love of Pete, express an opinion! As a woman, I have dated many men in my life, and if I hear “I don’t know. What do you feel like?” one more time, I’m going to have to go on the run for murder.

Not expressing an opinion can, I suppose, look like you’re being considerate. But what it really looks like, to me, at least, is indifference. From what movie to see to what dinner to eat to what color the wallpaper should be, I don’t care if you disagree with me. Just show me that you actually care enough, that you’re actually there enough to respond. Even if there’s nothing you actually want, there must be something you don’t want enough to say “Well, I’m not sure, but definitely not Mexican.” or “I don’t really care much about wallpaper, but I think orange wouldn’t work very well.”

On the whole, passive is not very attractive, because it strongly suggests indifference. This applies to everything from asking a woman out in the first place (are you sure none of your woman friends has any interest in a relationship?) to deciding where you want to live the rest of your lives together. There’s a huge middle ground between domineering and lack of engagement. Don’t in your effort to avoid the first fall into the second.

Hey tschild, been there until very recently. Almost all the women I’ve been out with in my life have made the first move on me… and I’m wondering why I’ve been single for six months now. Go figure. But recently I had an epiphany - the following quoted from MichaelEmouse’s museum date thread:

More here. In other words, if I’m attracted to the woman, I’ve stopped caring about ruining the friendship, and have steeled myself to accept rejection as not being the end of the world.

After I wrote that last post, the girl and I finally kissed when sober, spent the night together, and she told me she loves me and thinks about me every day. She also said she doesn’t want to be in a relationship at the moment - something I’ll take as a probable excuse for keeping her options open; then again she is 17 years younger than me, so that may be a factor too. OK, it’s not ideal, but damn it’s a good healthy distance away from fretting “OMG if I try anything, I might wreck the friendship”.


I think Dave Barry wrote about the feeling, in middle school, that if you ask out a girl and she says no, your only remaining choice would be to immediately flee school and live the remainder of your life in a secluded forest, with only the squirrels and chipmunks for your companions, and even they would chitter at you as they went about collecting grubs and nuts, “What a loser!!”

But why? There are other girls, other weekends, other everythings. Why spend so much time obsessing over it and attaching so much importance to it? Yes? great, see you at Friday at 8? No? Well, maybe some other time.

That’s it. It’s not surgery, it’s a date.

What is the conversation like during these Sunday coffee meetings? Are you constantly complaining about how unhappy you are? One of the most important things you can do to be attractive is smile. If you are unhappy, it shows, and why would anybody want get closer to that?

Go to any party and look around - the person getting the most attention will not be the most physically beautiful person, it will be the person who is having the most fun. (The “life” of the party.) Make fun a priority, and people will want to be closer to you. Buy some toys,a nd carry one with you - a frisbee in the backpack, that sort of thing.

Also, take a dancing class. Like ballroom dancing, or modern “club” style dancing. This will teach you how to move alongside a woman and be in rhythym with her, something we are unconsciously looking for. Plus, once you get good at it, you’ll feel confident asking the woman out dancing, and there’s no better path out of the friend zone!

Good luck.