The Friend Zone: What Science Says About Staying Out

We’ve all been there at least once: The friend zone. It’s what happens when you’re into her and she’s into you… but only as a friend. The good news is that science now shows us how you can both avoid getting into the friend zone and get out of it. What’s more, we even know why the friend zone exists in the first place. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the friend zone, how you get out once you’re there, how to stay out of it all together, and even how to make her chase you.

Why the Friend Zone Exists

The friend zone is a human expression of Bateman’s Principle. Put simply, this is principle states that in all animals, but mammals especially, there’s a tendency for women to invest more energy into producing children than men. What this means is that, at least as far as your caveman genes are concerned, women are a limited resource for which all men must compete.

In the modern world, this creates a “friend zone” because not all men who fail to win a woman’s heart are total jerks that she wants nothing to do with. This can create a state of mind known as limerence that causes the man in the friend zone to become more and more obsessed with winning over the woman in question, often to the detriment of his cause.

Good News For Men in the Friend Zone

There’s some good news for men who have found themselves in the friend zone: Science now states that it’s impossible for men and women to be “just friends.” This doesn’t mean that the object of your affection is secretly carrying a torch for you, as you are her. What it means is that there’s some level of attraction that exists between all friends of opposite genders.

Think about it for a second: How many unattractive women are you friends with? Even if you think of her like a kid sister, chances are good that you still think she’s smokin’ hot. What this means for you is that you’ve already got one foot in the door, so to speak. The challenge is getting the other foot in the door.

How to Get Out of the Friend Zone

Once you’ve gotten into the friend zone, things can seem a little hopeless. However, there are some biologically and sociologically sound ways of getting out. These include:

  • The Principle of Least Interest: In short, this means that you start caring less about the relationship than the other person. The principle of least interest holds that the person who cares least about a relationship holds the most power within it. Stepping away from the relationship might sound counterintuitive, but it’s how to make her chase you, rather than the other way around.
  • The Principle of Scarcity: Psychologist and author Robert B. Cialdini has written extensively on the power of persuasion, primarily as it pertains to retail sales. One thing, however, that’s always true of humans is that we value things that are scarce more greatly than we do things that are abundant. When your time available to her becomes scarce, there’s a good chance that her interest in it will increase. Spending your time with different people — preferably other attractive women — is how to make her chase you.
  • The Ben Franklin Effect: Who do you think is more likely to do you a favor? A friend who has done you a favor in the past or a friend that you have just done a favor for? The Ben Franklin Effect says the former. What this means in practice is that, rather than doing things for her to get her to like you, you ask her for things. These don’t have to be “favors” as such. It’s just a question of getting her to invest time and energy into you, rather than the other way around. Once she starts doing this, she’ll want to keep doing it.

How to Stay Out of the Friend Zone

The best way to get out of the friend zone is to never get there in the first place. There are some pretty simple and easy ways to make sure that you stay out of the friend zone. First and foremost, you want to come across as “sexy” right off the bat. Again, science has begun to discover, objectively speaking, those things that women find sexy. Here are some behaviors to cultivate while you try and stay out of the friend zone.

  • Confidence: We actually have a whole piece on the science of confidence, but to summarize: Women love men who display confidence. In fact, it’s just about the most attractive quality that a man can have. What’s more you can learn it and even fake it while you’re picking it up.
  • Sense of Humor: You know that women like this, because they say so in the pages of women’s magazines. But there’s also a study at the University of Northumbria that confirms that funny men get women to like them. Not only are women more likely to go to bed with funny men, they’re also more likely to enter into long-term relationships with them. The study further found that if you’re funny women to think that you’re smarter and more trustworthy.
  • Commitment: This doesn’t mean commitment in the sense of a committed relationship. It means being committed to the interaction. It means going after her even when she starts testing you. A University of Texas at Austin study found that talking to more women and being more persistent about talking to women was a better predictor of sexual success than physical attractiveness.

AJ Harbinger - author of 1157 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born. View all posts by AJ Harbinger

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