When it comes to relationships, there is no more dreaded “F” word in the English language than “friend.” As in, “oh he’s just a friend” (and not in a Biz Markie kind of way, either). Whether or not you’ve heard about the Ladder Theory, as I myself hadn’t until about a year ago, you’re probably still familiar with the idea that some people just seem to be branded with a capital “F” that won’t wash off, no matter how hard they try.

For the uninitiated (read: women), the Ladder Theory says that, while men have one hypothetical ladder, with women occupying rungs based on a hierarchy of hotness and how-badly-do-I-want-to-sleep-with-you-ness, women have two ladders. One is for men we’d consider romantically, while the other is for those we only consider friends. And never the two shall meet. So, employing that logic, if you occupy real estate on the latter ladder (sorry, it was too easy), you’ll likely never make it onto our relationship radars. But, I tend to think that logic is flawed, and I’ll give you a bevvy or reasons why.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve written about this topic before, and I’ve detailed all of the things that can relegate you to a life of Friend-dom: Being unmanly, too man-icured, a deadbeat man, etc. Basically, anything with an obvious “man” pun in it fits the bill. But, just in case this is a late-stage intervention and you’re already deeply entrenched in the Friend Zone, there are some things you can do to disentangle yourself from the vines of a platonic relationship.

I promise, it’s not entirely a lost cause.

First and foremost, let me reiterate the idea that you have to change the way we see you. Even if you’ve already been dubbed a womanizer in our minds, or a slacker, a metrosexual or a wimp, you can still try to distance yourself from those titles, if that’s what you want.

As I keep repeating over and over on this site, I’m the biggest proponent of the philosophy “Don’t listen to anything he says, just pay attention to what he does.” So, you can start showing us that you’re not whatever you’ve been labeled by making your actions contradict all that. Take some initiative in your career, clean up your appearance, whatever. Just take action, and stick with it.

But there are some other ways to flee the Friend Zone, too, and they are the following:

Determine why you’re in it in the first place, if you’re unsure: How do you do this? Easy, find a trusted source (read: a female friend, preferably one that both of you share) and get her to spill. A woman who is even remotely compassionate will help you out, especially if she thinks that, barring this one impediment, you’d be a good match for her friend. She should be able to nudge you in the direction of what the roadblock is without running straight back to her friend to betray your trust. Also, if she gets the feeling that what’s keeping you there is unable to be fixed, she should also give you a heads up, if she’s kind…and especially brave.

What’s unable to be fixed, you ask? Fundamental differences. For some people, it’s religion (but that’s another post entirely, and one that’s forthcoming), for others it’s your career path (i.e. your club promoting ways are too much for her to keep up with, or your job causes you to uproot and move every two years, etc). If the issue is your career, try dropping hints that you don’t intend to keep that pace (or job) for life, and will eventually settle down. This helps reassure her that she won’t have to ride that roller coaster with you.

Still other reasons would be that you used to date someone she’s very close with, therefore rendering you untouchable. Or maybe your marital past or the fact that you have a child (we’re not that young, it’s plausible) is more responsibility or baggage than she’s willing to take on at this point. If so, you can’t blame her for that. People get there when they’re ready. No sooner, I’m afraid.

Or it could be something physical holding her back, like height or weight. *Note: Miss Wingman doesn’t believe that height is really an across the board deal breaker, unless the difference is REALLY egregious. If weight is what keeps you platonic, unless moving you requires a fork lift, emergency personnel and door removal, it shouldn’t be that big a deal. If it is then trust me – you don’t want that woman anyway. Also, I’d reconsider even being friends with someone so superficial, for what it’s worth.

Or maybe there’s a slight chance that you’re just too awesome for her to risk losing: If what you two have is the kind of thing movies are made about, perhaps she’s scared that hooking up will destroy your good thing. Guys have been known to let sex ruin friendships, so it’s also a possibility that she’s terrified of what would happen if things didn’t end up working out (read: you freaked and went all “guy” on her). If that’s her fear, then that’s a valid reason for pause.

Maybe she thinks it’s the other way around, that it’s you who’s put *her* into the Friend Zone, and she doesn’t think she can get out: Are you really shy? Do you tend to not be overt with your flirtation? If you haven’t made it clear that you’re into her “like that” despite spending ample time with her, or if you’ve been known to date a steady stream of 9′s and she’s afraid she’s a few points shy, this could also be what’s stalling your romantic progression. Try to make it clear that you want more, if she’s into you she’ll get on board.

Or if it’s a new person in your life, don’t fret: The best relationships start out as friendships, so if you’ve just come onto her radar and she’s not all over you, be careful not to assume that it’s because she’s not into you. Maybe she just needs a minute to trust and get to know you, it doesn’t mean she won’t try to move things along once she’s comfortable with you (and when she does, you’d do well to reciprocate, and fast). But, if it’s been over six months and still a cold spell, then this description may not necessarily fit the bill.

Whatever the reason that you’ve seemingly planted your flag atop Mt. Friendistan, if you want to change addresses then heed this advice: If you want her, then go out and get her.

I know, this may sound borderline restraining order-worthy, but what I mean is that for some women, especially the mature ones, sometimes the best quality a guy has is how much he loves you. As in, the sexiest thing a man can prove to a woman is that you’ll do what it takes to stay in her life, and that you won’t change your mind when something shinier/better comes along. If you’re really serious about your intentions, she’ll see it and give you a chance, at least most of us would anyway.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think in matters of love, it’s never too late and nothing is written in stone. Well, almost nothing. You should do your damndest to change your situation if you believe in it enough. You just have to ask yourself one question before deciding whether or not take the leap: Is she worth it? Only you can answer that.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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