For months you tried to plant the seeds of romance by being a genuine and thoughtful friend, often consoling her and listening to her complain about how Stage 3 douchebags (if you’re confused about the stages, I encourage you to check out last week’s column) seem to be a dime a dozen in this shanty town.
And all the while you wondered if she was blind.
But you had a plan. After sweeping her off her feet and emptying your heart of its long-suppressed contents, she would realize that what she had really wanted all along was right in front of her. After all, hadn’t Jim Halpert used this tactic on Pam Beesly to win a promotion from friend to personal bed-warmer?
Knowing she was worth the risk, you asked her to dinner and she said yes.
Surely she knew you meant it to be a date date?
You find yourself sitting across from her and everything goes well at first. You both enjoy the usual flirtatious banter and engaging conversation, but amidst this she drops the nuclear bomb: You are like my brother.
Translation: I enjoy your company, but I would never want to do the naked dance with you.
You have just been sucked into a black hole of broken dreams and sexual frustration from which there is no escape.
You’ve crossed over into … the Friend Zone.
If you are a Stage 1 idealist, then you likely often find yourself in similar situations. Perhaps you have even begun to believe you are destined to always be the friend and never the lover. Whereas “it was written” for Jamal to get the hot Indian chick in Slumdog Millionaire, you are perpetually doomed to fall prey to the emotional Sarlacc Pit of the Friend Zone.
Nevertheless, I am determined to help Stage 1 individuals find a way to avoid the Friend Zone, and if sucked into it, how to escape.
How to Avoid the Friend Zone
First, don’t make yourself too available. This is a tricky one because you want to convey interest while at the same time not mirroring the tactics of Stage 3 douchebags by acting like you don’t give a damn. If you have common friends, do whatever you can to avoid being part of her “group.”
Second, do not be her therapist! I can’t stress this one enough. Stage 1 guys naturally want to rescue the damsel in distress because they care for her and want to see her smile, but by doing so sacrifice their hope for being seen as romantically viable. The surest route to the Friend Zone is via listening to her problems, especially when they involve other guys. Don’t be an emotional crocodile, but if you find her barraging you with beckons for advice, grab your helmet and take cover in the nearest fox hole.
How to Escape the Friend Zone
First, stop doing what got you into the Friend Zone in the first place. Make yourself less available and stop being her therapist. She can always call her girlfriends or Facebook chat her priest if she needs emotional support.
Second, take a chance. A lot of this depends on how close you already are to the girl, so use your own discretion, being mindful not to come on too strong, but do something. If Jim hadn’t been bold enough to tell Pam how he felt, then she would have ended up marrying that Roy (who’s at Stage 3).
Of course, you can’t help the way you feel anymore than she can and sometimes she is just not that into you. But don’t despair, my friends. In the end, things have a knack for working out the way they are supposed to.
College is a unique opportunity to meet tons of different people and if you happen to find someone you feel a strong romantic connection to, always embrace it and never neglect it. Sooner than you think you will be indefinitely parting ways with most of the people you have met and don’t allow something that could be potentially great slip through your fingers, lest you be left wondering what shoulda, coulda, woulda.
If you are willing to follow it, your heart will lead you in the right direction.
It always will, it always does.
MIKE HOWER is aware he referenced both Slumdog Millionaire and Star Wars in the same sentence. Tell him how impressive you think that is at firstname.lastname@example.org.