The Attraction Doctor

How persuasion research can help you get a date

Escape The Friend Zone: From Friend to Girlfriend or Boyfriend

How do you motivate a friend to be "more than friends"? How do you turn from friends to girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, or lovers? Read on and learn how to escape the friend zone and get the relationship you want! Read More

how to escape the friend zone

this is a very interesting blog post! Although having a vision impairment has its own issues. Having said that, knowing where the boundaries lie for starters. I know for a fact that i'm probably desperate to get off the single life band wagon but, age doesn't matter as to when a girlfriend comes along. I'm behind the 8ball in some respects as not being able to see can mean missing facial expression if someone's uncomfortable. And if it comes to holding hands, who should be the one to initiate that? Should i ask to initiate that or should the friend do that? Maybe relationship counciling will have to take place before i get into anything like that and it probably sounds stupid that fear of rejection is the monkey on my back so to speak but, rejection happens it's probably how it is dealt with

All Things With Time...


It sounds like you have a couple of things on your mind. Regarding anxiety and rejection, I have written a couple of articles already that may help. You can find them with these links:

Dealing with Rejection Part 1: Handling Others' Rejecting Behavior

How to Reduce Dating Anxiety

With regard to your vision issues... Sometimes being successful in dating requires turning a disadvantage into an opportunity. Your impairment offers an excellent "excuse" to request getting closer and physical with a woman. Perhaps you ask to hold her hand as you walk together, so that you "know she's there". Maybe you ask to sit leg-to-leg close, next to her, so you can "be attentive" and "feel her body language" that you "can't see". Perhaps you even request to "touch her face" to "pick up on the small, beautiful details that your eyes can't focus on". All of these things offer a wonderful "reason" to for her to be comfortable with you getting closer...all based on your "impairment".

So, don't get down...and keep trying! Everyone can find love. If you do require additional help, counseling is always a good approach too.

Asking to Hold Hand

Oh God, never ASK a woman to hold her hand. Gently take her hand in your own. If she doesn't like it, she'll let go.

Asking versus Doing

Women do usually find bold actions more attractive. So, overall, I agree. However, if you read Kyle's comment above, then you will see he has severe vision issues. SO, he CANNOT just take her hand. Therefore, "asking" was a special bit of advice for his situation - not general advice for all.

Please read carefully before you critique and add your two cents...

Holding Hand

Yeah. Never ask. Another thing you can do which I prefer when your about to go walking somewhere with her is to put your hand out there for her to grab o to. Either she sees your hand and grabs or she sees it and doesnt. Just leave her hand out for a few seconds, 10 max.

However: I think that if the

However: I think that if the other person is really not interested, withdrawing is only a way to get them not to be your friend. :)


That's part of what makes the strategy so successful. You clearly find out whether the person is capable of having more feelings for you or not. If they are, taking a step back will draw them closer. If they are not, then stepping back will extract you from a bad situation. Either way, it is better than pining away for something you will never have.

Besides, if you can make yourself scarce and the other person doesn't care, then they are not even a good friend...let alone a good lover. Better to find that out, then waste your time and effort that could be better spend elsewhere.


Good strategy & pointers. I'll give it a shot and report. Situation: I am frustrated with a girl-friend who I want to become my girlfriend. She's already in a long-term relationship but flirts like crazy.
San Diego

on and off friends

My scenario includes an old crush from high school that has resurfaced. I had been in other relationships and so had he and by chance we both have returned to the same hometown at the same time both of us are dating but nothing serious, kind of like we did not expect to still have a little spark there until we met up in person.

Since we have last seen each other as friends 3 years ago I have lost 30 lbs and gained my self confidence I did not have back in high school and he has noticed but more in a hot and cold aspect since he is dating around. We started talking online as friends again once we realized we were back in the same town and decided to meet up for lunch. Lunch turned into a 4 hour conversation realizing how much we had in common now and him texting me an hour after we left saying how great it was seeing me and hanging out not to mention how great I looked.

We are both attractive people and just in the past 7-8 months got out of a serious relationship that had pretty bad break ups and now are enjoying dating and the attention with it. He has a job that takes him out of town for a few months at a time and I think I want this to be more but I'm not sure if he does because he's talkative and wanting to hang out one week then the next I hear nothing. Then I back off for a few days and he comes around again then has to leave for work, the its back to the start again.

My girlfriends are telling me just to let it go but for some reason my gut is telling me that it just might need some time to flourish since there is a really long friendship between us (9 years) that is going to put on the line and the whole changing the way we see each other mentally, but I could just be seeing things through rose colored glasses. It's so hard to tell when your newly attracted to some one!

What would your advice be to get this moving away from old friends to possibly new lovers or more? We have never had a real date yet and haven't hung out more than 3 times. So I'm lost!

Thanks for the advice :)

By the way your blogs are fascinating and I can not wait to read your next one!

Hi! My scenerio had to do

Hi! My scenerio had to do with a guy that I "hung out" with for 2 1/2 months. We hung out every weekend and he always payed but he never attempted to build a relationship with me. In that time he never touched me! (much less kissed me). I remember he spend a whole afternoon at my house and spent the whole time at the edge of my couch. I just felt nothing for him after the first 3 dates. I would flirt by text and get little reaction (I remember asking him if he could have 1 food 3x a day for the next month what would he have. his one word response "tacos") Only after I basically told him I was through with him did he finally come out and say that he had "never felt this way before" but by then I was so disgusted and frustrated with him that I was done. Now I find myself wondering if I gave up too soon or if my expectations on what I should expect from men are too high? Also how can I avoid this happening in the future?

50/50 Is the Way to Go

I appreciate that you have these concerns and questions. They show that you care and want to do right by others. I want to encourage you in this perspective-taking, looking at all sides, and caring.

In situations such as this, I have found that it pays to be forward and ask for what you want. Instead of making the guy make 100% of the moves (and judging him negatively when he doesn't), try meeting him half way. He was clearly interested and investing in you (hanging out and PAYING every week, for 10 weeks). However, he also sounded a bit shy and intimidated by his attraction to you. He was nervous to do ALL of the work.

Men receive a number of very mixed messages today. While I encourage them to be assertive...much of the other advice is not so supportive or empowering. It is not uncommon for men to feel that it is "wrong" or "disrespectful" to attempt to kiss a woman...especially if she isn't showing clear interest and consent. If I were talking to him, I would encourage him to feel ok about being a bit more forward. However, given the current climate of equality, I would certainly encourage you to be a bit more forward too. Clearly let the guy know you are attracted to him and want more...or just kiss him!

If he was treating you like garbage and not putting in 50%, I might give different advice. Also, others might wrongfully advise that the man should do all the work, while it is a woman's right to simply observe and judge. But, I believe your disgust and frustration were misplaced and your expectations are indeed "one sided". Unfortunately, they led you to reject a man who would have probably made an excellent boyfriend. It would have just required that you tell him how you feel, ask for what you wanted a bit, and lessen some of the stress and pressure on him.

As it is, you can certainly avoid this unfortunate situation in the future. When you have a man who is treating you well and investing his time/money into a him half-way. Tell him you like him. Encourage his interest. Make a few moves. Take a few risks onto you (and off of him). Be courageous too. That is a truly equal, caring, and balanced relationship. You may just find yourself with a truly good guy that way...

One final point of advice... If you choose to NOT take my advice, and stick with the more "traditional" arrangement of having the guy make all of the moves while you judge his performance, then please consider judging/dumping him quickly. If you "feel nothing" for him after date 3 and don't intend to make a move yourself, it is unfair to make him pay for another 7 dates. Either meet him half-way or cut him loose :)

Thanks for the advice...and I

Thanks for the advice...and I agree with your statement about when you pull back and he doesn't even seem to notice, that it's time to walk away. Well, I agree....but whether I can actually give up trying is another story! LOL Sad, I know!!

But that's pretty much my situation...I've been in the friendszone with this guy for a few years now, and just recently his FWB.

I tried to not call him for a while, but really didn't get much of a reaction at all. He can pretyt much get any girl he wants and is a huge flirt. But I realize that he's also a vain guy and I know he's not physically attracted to me....I'm not a stunning, petite blonde! And unfortunately, there's nothing I can do to change that part.

dunno what to do

I've been in friendzone with this guy for a few months now.I want us to be more than friends but he said he cant since we live far away from each other.He doesnt believe in long distance relationship.That breaks my heart.I cry everyday thinking of that and hoping that he would change his mind.He said he never wanted to hurt me that he drinks and smoke , his dick does all his thinking.I know that and i understand coz we're still young.I made up a story of my ex and told him to make him jealous and at the end it backfired me.he thought that im on the rebound that i need him.

We talked a lot.And now i feel like thing has more jokes no more laugh,even its hard to find time to talk to him.maybe he hates me but he says that he cares.He often hurt my feeling and i know it happens unintentionally but it hurts.maybe im just too fragile so its ok.

i dunno how to think i dunno what to do.i try not to talk to him so that i can forget him and at the same time maybe my absence would make him miss me.but all just bullshit.

Hard to Get

Dear Hearteache,

I believe you will find the answer to your question in my article here:

Does Playing Hard to Get Make You Fall In Love?

everyone should listen to

everyone should listen to this song if you’re stuck in the friend zone! lol

Avoiding the Friend Zone?

Hey there, I enjoyed reading the article, it was well written, etc. However, i do feel that more often than not, knowing how to avoid the Friend Zone entirely would be more useful. The past 7 - Yeah, i keep count - people in a row that I have had romantic interest with - My last romantic relationship was roughly 1½ or so ago, to give you an idea of pace - I managed to end up in the Friend Zone. So I applied some of these steps after a while - eventually you learn them, if you're at all interested in psychology, i guess - but every time, what ended up happening was that the entire friendship just kinda faded away. Now, as you say, that's much better than continuing a friend-relationship in which one party wants more, but still I end up none the happier, just less painful, if you will. What seemed to happen wasn't that the scales were uneven, it was more along the lines of not enough weight on either side for my preference, but enough weight for their preference. What i mean is, we were roughly even, but i wanted more and they didn't. It seems that avoiding it entirely is more effective.. now, how to do so is most certainly not my forté, as you can see above. I'm assuming that i need to just be more forward faster or something, but i don't know. I'd love some advice on this subject.


I apologize for the lack of paragraphs, etc. but for some reason my original writings triggered a spam filter, so it ended up a little but compact.


I apologize for the lack of paragraphs, etc. but for some reason my original writings triggered a spam filter, so it ended up a little but compact.

The Want To Hang Out

I am totally sandwiched right now between the first one or two steps and my want to hang out. I really love this girl and she loves me too, but as a brother. She likes it when I call her babe and be sweet to her but I am lost because I don't want to stop hanging around her but I want her to get that feeling of me slipping away. She also told me that she never wants to lose me so she already has a sense of that, therefore it is very difficult for her to get more of a want for me, so what should I do in this sense?

Since I am in the exact same

Since I am in the exact same situation I would appreciate some feedback here please.

Escaping the Friend ZOne

Dude - that's cruel. A woman decides whether or not a man is boyfriend material within 90 seconds of meeting him. Once you've been Friend Zones, the only way out it to pull the ripcord and bail. Not interested is not interested, and isn't going to change.

Telling men there's a chance is just cruel.

If you've been Friend Zoned, you need to go fish in another pond.

thanks jerromy i do feel that someone has to keep the peace here

someone's got to keep the peace on here. it feels like the comment i made has been blown out of praportion the only time i did ever hold hands was when it was iniciated by another woman i didn't ask her. so is it true you never ask a girl if you can hold her hand or was i just incensed at this. I never know what to do. i'm either given consent to touch and i feel i'm not allowed to even ask or i keep looking over my shoulder every 5 seconds for fear of getting into trouble! it's a touchy subject!

Touchy Subject lol


I try to avoid "never" and "always", as there are usually exceptions to rules. For instance, a great number of women find many men "asking" for a kiss, hug, etc. as a turn-off. Other women, however, want men to ask for permission to do anything and get offended when they don't. This has a long explanation in political correctness, dominance/submission, masculinity/femininity, and various gender ideologies that empower one group at the expense of another. The short answer is that it becomes a headache for men without clear guidance.

Given that, generally speaking, men are given the advice to take bold action. The majority of women appear to find it attractive.It also helps men to appear confident and assertive, as opposed to the more passive "asking".

Your personal situation can be considered an exception to that rule though. If you cannot see a woman's hand, then you cannot try and hold it without permission. You must ask for it...and they must give it to you.

Even then, however, there are more assertive ways of "asking". You can hold out your own hand and say something like "where is your hand?", or "give me your hand", or "take my hand". This is more confident and attractive to a good number of women, as opposed to a more passive "can I hold your hand?" or "would you hold my hand?". See the difference? bold in your asking. That should solve the problem :)


I'm graduated but met this girl while visiting my old college who lives near me. The college is 3 hours away, so we gradually through texting, built up rapport then hung out together once during her Christmas break. Since then things escalated to where we text for hours at night, everyday, for the past month straight and have really gotten to know each other better. I consider her to be one of my best friends. She really likes me too and would probably say the same. We've hung out once at home since then.

My struggling point came when I went to her place for a weekend. We built up a lot of sexual tension texting, and she's very open and more sexually experienced then me. We had sex each night. But then I told her after sex I wanted to take her on a date before I left. Bad choice. She told me that'd be fine but to make sure it's casual. She said she wasn't happy with herself the past several years until recently when she started getting attractive and hit on by guys. She said she doesn't want anything serious. Yet she was just in a rather serious relationship this past summer which ended. The guy she was dating then was a sexual deviant and why she's so open sexually now though not slutty.

Should I just enjoy the FWB relationship we have, even though I can see myself potentially getting hurt? Or should I push for her to settle down with me. I'm going to see her again by surprising her on valentines day (she thinks I'm coming Friday) and be staying for four nights with her. We still text daily but have recently begun doing phone calls once in a while.

What would your advice be? Should I pull away from texting her everyday, sit down and talk more deeply with her, do I tell her how I feel and what I want? Your opinions greatly appreciated.


Given your description, I'm concerned that this young woman may not be a good candidate emotionally for a relationship. It sounds like she has some self-esteem issues. She is primarily getting her validation and feeling good about herself by getting sexual attention from men. When you combine it with the fact that her most serious relationship experience had, what you consider, a "deviant" sexual component, she may be seriously confusing sex for love, self-esteem, and validation. The fact that she is so willing to sleep with you casually, yet wary of an actual "date", lends support to her fixation on sexual attention only.

Given all that, I would say that she is both uninterested and possibly unsuited for more than a purely sexual relationship. Given her recent experiences, she may never change on that issue, always desiring fresh sexual attention for validation and self-esteem. While you may simply label that behavior as "open" right now, trading sexual favors to get esteem and validation is often eventually the hallmark of promiscuous (i.e. slutty) behavior. Until those behaviors and feelings change (usually with counseling), she is probably not a good candidate for a serious, monogamous, relationship.

Having said that, whether you continue a FWB relationship is up to you. If you desire more than a friendship and a casual fling, however, then you have a high probability of getting hurt. Women (and men) in the particular frame of mind you describe often desire fresh experiences and multiple partners (i.e. a short-term mating strategy). So, if you require for monogamy and fidelity, you may be hurt to find that she may have other FWB's as well.

Overall, I would take her at her word - and not try to change her. If you can just enjoy the sex, without getting attached, then have fun. If you are not wired that way, then just stay friends without the "benefits". Either way, trying to make it more romantic is just going to backfire. Forcing yourself there on Valentine's day, when she doesn't want romance, may sour both the potential sex...and perhaps even the friendship.

Personally, I think you are way more invested in the relationship than she is. Take a step back. Enjoy it for what it is, rather than trying to force it to be something more. If you desire a relationship, then continue to date other women. Getting your sexual needs met with her will put less pressure on you "having to settle" for another woman and make dating more fun. Also, dating other women will allow you to be less emotionally invested in your FWB. Furthermore, the competition and you being sometimes busy and invested with other women might make your FWB change her mind. But chasing, talking, and smothering your FWB is not going to change her mind. So, enjoy it for the friendship and benefits (if you can), date other women to find a girlfriend, and if your FWB changes her mind..she will definitely let you know. Otherwise, don't wait around for what may never happen.

friend zone

So this friend says she likes me we kissed a few times at the bar, afterwards she says shes really interested, next day talk for hours. Then the day after that (2 days after the bar) she says she just got kind of official with another guy. She likes me and is interested, says I'm a great guy. What the issue right now if she is interested but doesn't want the relationship?

Friend Zone Help Please!

Ok im in high school and this girl i've been talking to seems to have put me in the friend zone. For a while we were friends, and then we got real close and had a little thing because we both liked each other. After like 3 weeks of this i texted her twice and she didn't answer so I guessed she didn't like me anymore. We stopped talking for like 2 weeks and one day she just texted me. That was about a month ago and since then we've been talking a lot again. I think she put me in the friend zone because she be's saying stuff like how she wouldn't hook up with us (me and my friends) and she always finds ways to make everything sound friendly. She keeps texting me and I don't know what to do because I know I'm supposed to ignore her for ice her for a little to see what she does but she keeps texting me. HELP!!!!!

View from the "other side"

Hello everybody,

sorry if I am wrong but for me what you wrote sounds like the one in the friend zone is the poor victim, who is being treated badly and used by the other part. I do not believe it's that simple.

I am a girl so I will be talking about the situation when the guy is in the "friend zone". Of course it also applies to the opposite situation.

I can tell you I am really sick of guys first pretending to be your friend (even if they know from the start you are in a stable and happy relationship) and INSISTING they want to be a friend anyway, and then eventually blaming you because you "played them", even if there were absolutely no signs to justify that. It is just beyond unfair. Even more so if you tell them MANY TIMES that you are not interested in a romantic relationship and simply can't love them - and they still stay and insist they want to be your friend, just because they don't take what you say seriously.

My advice to avoid "friend zone": If you feel you want more from a girl TELL HER RIGHT AWAY. If she doesn't want more DON'T PRETEND you want to be her friend anyway and say things as they are: you don't want her if you can't get more.

Staying there and pretending, hoping that because you are so "nice" and doing all those things, she will eventually HAVE TO love you back, because she "owes you for all you've done for her" is SIMPLY WRONG. It doesn't make you a nice person, you only damage yourself and also her, because you make her believe she can count on you and you really value her personality. While in reality you don't give a damn about her, unless you can get what you want!

Now I do understand that you need to move on and all that, but then DO MOVE ON and stop fooling both of you. Girls who "put you in friend zone" have feelings too. The fact she doesn't want what you want doesn't mean she is a bad person! So just stop pretending. Decide what you want and do it.

Here is what most girls would agree with and all guys should read:

And yes, sorry if my post seems angry, I guess I am - just had an experience when I was basically pushed to stay friends despite of my tries to make it clear to the person that it might be the wrong thing to do for him. And now I am the bad person (and worse...) who played him. Just because he finally realized I wasn't joking when I said (multiple times) I don't love him and want to stay with my bf. So he finally put away his "nice guy mask" and his usual "I really want to be your friend in any case because of your great personality" and showed his real face.
I guess I will run away immediately if this happens again before I get attached to the person and then insulted for no reason and eventually "disposed of"...

Thank you for being the voice of reason

Thank you so much for saying this. I read through the article and the other comments, shaking my head in disgust. The only common sense in the entire article is the statement that neither party can really help how they feel about the other. That does not place the one with stronger, exclusive feelings in the right and the other in the wrong.

I am disgusted that a psychologist would place the blame for a "friend zone" scenario solely on the shoulders of the friend-zoner. Your grasp of theory of mind is at best questionable here, Dr. Nicholson. By stating that this party places lesser value on the relationship fails to take into account the fact that this party views it as a platonic friendship and may not be aware of the other's unmet affection or interest. She (for the sake of ease and because the article is written from that bias) may not have any interest whatsoever in a surrogate boyfriend. She might well be using the friend-zonee in this way, or she might even be reciprocating such favours as favours - as a part of friendship. But if the friend-zonee imbalances a friendship with excessive attention and acts of kindness as a means to an end, then he's the one who is failing to find satisfactory value what his friend is offering - a friendship. In plain English, he's being a bad friend by placing unrealistic or unachievable expectations on his friend.

Men and women in the "friend zone," listen up: If you aren't satisfied with your relationship with someone who does not return your romantic or sexual interest, staying friends with them for the sole purpose of trying to impress, pressure, seduce or persuade them to "the next level" is the worst thing you could possibly do, not just for you, but for them. Friendship is a part of a romantic relationship, but romance (and/or sex) is not "the next level" of friendship. Get that through your heads. If your friend doesn't seem interested, they probably aren't.

Trying to make the object of your unrequited affections jealous of your other friendships is petty and insulting. Make other friends, explore other romance interests, and take time away from them for your sake, not theirs. If you're tempted to "earn" someone's affection by making them feel neglected or unimportant, maybe that's your answer as to why they weren't interested in more than friendship right there.


I have covered this point elsewhere in a follow-up article. See point 3.

Avoiding the Friend Zone: Becoming a Girlfriend or Boyfriend

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Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D., is a doctor of social and personality psychology, with a focus on influence, persuasion, and dating.


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