Here’s How to Escape the Friend Zone

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The friend zone—it is the place you’ll end up if your romantic interest thinks you’re nice, but isn’t attracted to you romantically. Despite your best attempts to show your “friend” how great being in a relationship could be, your “friend” just isn’t reciprocating. Maybe one or more of the following has happened to you:

  • A romantic prospect introduces you to other people, saying “This is my FRIEND…”
  • A romantic prospect refers to you as a “brother” or “sister”- perhaps after there was some sort of physical contact (i.e., a brief make-out that leads to them pushing you away…saying “I feel like you’re my sister/brother.” 😦
  • You’ve made obvious advances that were ignored

Shifting interest from “just friends” to something more is difficult, but not impossible. If you are perpetually finding yourself in the friend zone, consider these three principles and a few tips on how best to implement them.

  1. The Principle of Least Interest: The member of a relationship who cares least about it is often more desirable and powerful. In other words, letting go of your intense desire to be in the relationship is more likely to boost your chances of ending up in one. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the same principle that explains why so many of us have played ‘hard to get’. Feigning a lack of interest can make oneself more desirable.

So what can you do? Entertain other options.

Showing interest in others demonstrates that you aren’t willing to forego other options for someone who isn’t feeling the same way about you. In other words, you’re not going to sit and wait for someone to start being interested in you. Though not seeming too eager can be hard when you really do like someone, actively meeting other people and keeping your options open will help you regain some of the power that you lost while pursuing a relatively disinterested person.

  1. The Principle of Scarcity: A close cousin of Principle #1… Because we value things that are scarce more than we value the things that are abundant, it’s in your best interest to remain somewhat unavailable. When you are always available, you’re depriving your partner of an opportunity to win you over and understand just how valuable your time is.

So what can you do? Fill up your social calendar.

Getting busy will give your love interest an opportunity to miss you. Committing yourself to other activities—and refusing to cancel them—is a great way to signal that your time and energy are valuable.

  1. The Ben Franklin Effect: This psychological phenomenon explains why people have better feelings towards the people for whom they do favors. In practice, this means that you are the favor asker instead of the favor doer.

So what can you do? Ask for small favors that can lead to spending time together.

Figure out a way for her to help you out and also to spend time with you. If your apartment feels a little stale, ask her to help you redecorate. If you need a weekend away, ask her to watch the dog; find a way for her to help you out. Instead of you driving to their home every day after work, ask them to drive to you.

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