How do you motivate a friend to be “more than friends”? How do you move forward from “just friends” to girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, or lover? How do you escape the friend zone? 🙂
Newaiz, this is part 2 of my previous post The Friend Zone Part 1.
For those who don’t know the term, “the friend zone” refers to a situation where one individual in a friendship develops more intense feelings and wants to become “more than friends” with the other person. More often than not, the other person is unaware of the friend’s desires and quite happy in the friendship-only arrangement. As a result, the person is “stuck” in the “friend zone”, unable to transition from just friend to girlfriend or boyfriend.
Being stuck in a friendship and wanting more can be a frustrating position. Sometimes this frustration is sexually motivated, with one friend desiring a physical relationship with the other. On other occasions, the friends are already sexually involved (i.e. friends-with-benefits), but there is a motivation to transition into a “relationship” as a committed girlfriend or boyfriend. In other instances, both motivations play a role. Nevertheless, in any case, wanting more than you are currently getting is a heart-wrenching situation. The “friend zone” is not an easy place to live!
Why Does “The Friend Zone” Happen?
Before I help you get out of the friend zone, we first need to discuss why people get stuck there in the first place. Essentially, all relationships are social exchanges (for more, see here). This means that people set up give-and-take agreements, usually without discussion, to get what they want from the other person and give what they are willing to give.
When someone gets stuck in the friend zone, they have entered into an exchange friendship that isn’t even. The other person is getting everything he/she wants…but the person stuck in the friend zone isn’t. In a nutshell, the friend zone person sold himself or herself short. They gave their “friend” everything, without making sure they got everything they wanted in return.
Let’s look at some examples to make this point clear…
Toby and Favor are friends. As “friends”, Toby pretty much does everything for Favor. He takes her places, buys her things, listens to all of her problems, and helps her out of trouble. Toby, however, wants to be Favor’s boyfriend. favor, though, isn’t interested because she’s having all of her “boyfriend” needs met by Toby, without having to meet his. She can be free, non-committed, and still have all of Toby’s effort. That is why Toby is in the friend zone.
Onyeka and Jones are friends-with-benefits. They hang out and hook up. Onyeka, however, wants to be in a real relationship with Jones. Jones, in contrast, is happy to just hook up. Jones is being sexually fulfilled, without having to meet Onyeka’s commitment needs. The exchange isn’t in onyeka’s favor and she has nothing left to bargain with. Therefore, she’s stuck in the friend zone.
Now Part 2…
How to Escape the Friend Zone
To escape the friend zone, you must first realize that all relationships involve negotiation – and you are attempting to “re-negotiate” the current exchange. Essentially, you want “more” from the other person. Most likely, you are already giving too much and what you really want is for them to balance the scales.
Fortunately, there are a few influence principles that do indeed balance the scales. Using those principles, we can devise a few steps to get you out of the friend zone:
1) Be Less Interested – The relationship is already imbalanced because you value it more than the other person. Take a step back. Being “needy” is no way to negotiate. Desperate people end up with what others give them, not what they want. So, be less interested and ready to walk away if you don’t get the relationship you want. Those who are more willing to walk away have the power to guide the relationship (called the “Least Interested Principle” – Waller & Hill, 1951).
2) Make Yourself Scarce – Spend some time away from your “friend” and do less for them. If they truly appreciate you, then your absence will make them miss you and want you more. This is the principle of “Scarcity” – where people value something more when it is rare or taken away from them (Cialdini, 2009). When you are no longer around as much or tending to their needs, they will most likely feel the loss. This will increase their desire for you and their willingness to meet your needs back. If it doesn’t, then they are just “not that into you”…and don’t value you. In that case, find another “friend”.
3) Create Some Competition – Go out and make some other “friends” of the sex you are attracted to. Broaden your social network. Then, talk about these new friends with the friend you desire. Competition and a little jealousy are another great way to develop “Scarcity” (Cialdini, 2009). People value more what they think they might lose. If you are “busy” with other people, you might just find your friend a bit more eager and motivated for your time and attention. If you don’t see any “jealousy” though, then they might not want to be “more than friends”. In that case, set your sights on someone new!
4) Get Them To Invest – Ask your friend to do things for you. Contrary to popular belief, people like you more when THEY do favors for you, rather than when you do the favor for them. This is called the Ben Franklin Effect (Jecker & Landry, 1969). The more they invest in the relationship, the more you will mean to them. So, stop doing favors…and start asking for them. Get them to give you a ride, study with you, fix something, etc. Heck, even asking them to get you a soda from the fridge has an impact!
5) Be Rewarding – Don’t forget to be grateful and reward your friend when they behave as you desire. After they are good to you, remember to be good to them back. Being attentive and affectionate, only when they do what you like, encourages them to continue those behaviors. Also, ignoring them when they behave badly helps to reduce unwanted behaviors. Always remember to keep an environment of mutual gratitude flowing too.
Taking It From There
Applying the steps above will balance the value and exchange in the relationship. It will highlight how truly valuable, desirable, and important you are to your “friend”. Essentially, it will raise your status and worth in their eyes. You might even be able to pick up the change in their body language when you are around.
From those first steps, it is a matter of changing the actual relationship, either by asking the question directly or indirectly. Perhaps you’d like to indirectly ask them out on a real date, See my trick here…. In any case, find a way to either directly or indirectly ask for what you want…and you’ll be much more likely to get it. That is, unless they find you so attractive now that they ask you first!
It is possible to dig out of an uneven, “friend zone” exchange, with a little persuasion and influence. Go for what you want in a relationship and don’t settle for less. Just remember to focus on your own worth, don’t be desperate, and be willing to walk away. Allow some space for the other person to miss you. Make some friends outside of that friendship and create a little competition too. Finally, let that friend invest in you and reward them for it. If they truly value you in their life, then they will be much more likely to take the relationship to the next level. If they don’t, you already have some new friends, your self-respect, one foot out the door. And of Course this is out of experience 🙂