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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
“You are a very nice guy, I really like you as a friend. One day you will someone very special. I don’t want to ruin our friendship” Familiar? Love is a battlefield where nice guys fight with heart, mind and soul, but the cute girl is entrenched and heavily armed. It’s not possible to continue advancing, no matter how much the nice guy wants it. He’s not aware, but he’s fallen in the friend zone pit, easy to get there, but very hard to get out. And here comes the jerk, blowing his horn (of battle) to conquer the battlefield and thus, the heart of the cute girl.
The nice guy, defeated and humiliated, wonders how it came to this. His shoulder was always available for her. Gifts, kind words, all for her. He gave her everything a girl would want. Yet it didn’t work and the jerk came with nothing and took her away. Or at least that’s how he sees it. I don’t even like the term “jerk”, but I will use it from now on for simplicity, but a jerk is the “bad boy” archetype. He may not even be a “bad boy”, but from nice guys it may appear so for many reasons…and one is that the jerk got the girl.
The friend zone, a term popularized by the TV show Friends, involves either a man or a woman (from now on, I’ll talk from the male point of view, but the friend zone affects all kind of relationships) and his romantic interest in a situation of a one sided platonic love. The man attempts to pursue a romantic relationship through a friendship or the feelings may arise at any point of the friendship. Unfortunately for the man, getting out of the friend zone is a quite challenging task and the same reasons that brought the man into the friend zone will cause him to be unable to get out.
Why did the nice guy end down there?
As blunt as it may sound, being unattractive (for the girl) is the main reason to get in the hellish friend zone. The girl may consider the nice guy to be intelligent, funny, charming, nice, etc. but if there’s no attraction, physical animal attraction, she’ll not develop any deep feelings. Some men (boys) will unfairly call the girl “shallow” or some other nasty adjectives, but there’s little to do there. If someone is not attracted to someone else, it’s not a problem, it’s life and love. Some will call it chemistry, some others being in the same wave.
The nice guy will do many things in order to get her attention and
her love, but all of them are in vain. Contacting her everyday, being
available for anything at all times, buying her gifts (flowers,
chocolate, teddy bears, etc.) and so on will not improve the situation
but instead, will make it worse…for him, because the girl may reap all
these benefits and exploit her recently acquired male girlfriend.
Probably the worst thing the nice guy will do is sacrifice his own self
in attempt to be more likeable and in her eyes this is like castration
He will bend his will to her, he will change his taste in anything (music, movies, politics, etc.) to accommodate to her, he’ll disregard his own needs and wishes to make her happy, he will never confront her on anything, he will continuously give away his manliness (if he had any) in pieces just for her, just to be liked more and ironically, this will have exactly the negative effect.
Attractiveness and why the jerk is a winner
So why is the nice guy not attractive to a girl? Or most of them? I have come to make two lists, one is what I call “basic attraction traits” (BAT), the other is “relationship sustaining traits” (RST). A woman is wired to fall in love with BAT due to many biological (animal!) reasons. However, our society is mostly monogamous and keeping a relationship alive requires a big effort and the RST really help to establish a healthy and solid family. The nice guy may be piled on RST (or not), but he certainly lacks BAT. While the jerk has these basic attraction traits that makes him so attractive to girls.
Inside BAT we could include confidence, security and assertiveness.
These three traits give a man the possibility to live his life however
he wants, ignoring what other people may think of him, leading his life
to where ever he wants. He sets limits and boundaries and people who are
to deal with him must respect those. While I’m talking about men here,
these traits are also highly desirable and welcome in a woman, but as I
said, I’m using the male point of view.
So why is the jerk a winner with women? Because he has these traits and they show at all times. This also makes him a challenge because while the nice guy will walk around with a banner that says “Please like me”, the jerk could not care less if some random girl doesn’t like him. There will be more…and that means more competition as well. He’s assertive enough to tell someone that what he/she did or said was wrong and when he does something, he does it with confidence. This is such an important trait in a person, at any moment, stage or situation of life so why wouldn’t it be so attractive?
The stereotype bad guy that teenager girls go crazy for is careless, arrogant, decisive, even bit disrespectful…he’s confident, assertive and secure. He just doesn’t need the validation of other people.
What about the relationship sustaining traits? Responsibility, education, courtesy, sensitivity, intelligence, etc. Very useful traits in life, but they don’t make a girl go crazy (in general!). The nice guy may have all this, but he’s missing confidence with what he’s doing, he lets others, and especially the girl, influence too much on him and he’s unable to say “no” or to confront her or other people. This leads him to be unattractive in her eyes.
So why not have traits from both categories? BAT are much easier to attain, they are reachable by anyone and while there will always be levels, becoming confident, secure and assertive it’s not that complicated, but it starts with brutal honesty with oneself and admitting that some things can be done better. Not focusing so much on women (or men) can also help since we’ll see things from a different point of view.
Avoiding the friend zone
Getting out of the friend zone is hard, very hard, so the easiest solution is to not to get there to begin with. Although first of all we should always keep in mind that we can’t control anything but ourselves. Even if we really wish it, if the other person is not interested it’s not the end of the world. As said above, there are many factors that come to play in this battlefield. Being ourselves at all times helps immensely and this includes confronting the other person when we disagree or we have been wronged. It will also filter out people who are not a match so we can avoid incompatibilities in the future. Not being available at all times (there’s no need to talk everyday, really), being focused on oneself’s projects or hobbies, not coming across as needy or desperate, etc. will make us more attractive.
But in the end we have to realize that if we have ended in the friend
zone it’s because we have acted as a friend, not as a potential
romantic interest. So we’ll have to show our intentions at some point
and the earlier, the better (at least when we know that we really like
this person). Afraid of rejection? Avoiding showing intentions in order
to sneak in her heart will work in rare occasions, but in most cases
it’ll end with our bones in the friend zone.
Showing our intentions doesn’t mean we go with a box of chocolate, a dozen of roses and we shout “I LOVE YOU!”. That may work in movies, but in real life a more sensible approach is to flirt with words and with our body. I’ll not expand myself in flirting, but I’ll make emphasis on how physical contact is very important. Touching someone may be risky due to boundaries, but that’s why the first physical touch should be long enough so it’s clear that it’s not accidental, but short enough so it’s not uncomfortable. Hands, elbows, shoulders are fine zones to try to gently touch to gauge the girl’s reaction.
I know it sounds easier on paper, but love is as simple as it’s complicated. It either happens or it doesn’t. And when there’s a doubt, there is no doubt. Some people are just not on the same wave and it’s wise to move on even if it hurts or it feels like a failure.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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