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How Can Women Escape the Friend Zone?

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A SBM reader asks the following (submit your own questions here):

I’ve been friends with this man for 1 year and we have a friends with benefits relationship. We only saw each other like once a month in the beginning, but lately in the past 3 months we’ve been seeing each other every week and we’ve been going out to eat and shopping which we never did. He even wanted to work out with me a couple weeks ago. I want to become something more but I don’t know how to go about it. How do I get out of the fwb zone?

friends-with-benefits-FWB-meme

As I wrote about here, I’ve expressed my doubts about the existence of the woman’s “friend zone,” but many women, including today’s contributor, continues to swear that women can also become trapped in the dreaded friend zone or the better, yet still long-term dissatisfying, friends with benefits zone. So, how does a woman get out of the friends (with benefits) zone?

Well, in the wise, elicit words of street poet Two Chainz, “You Got A F***king Problem.”

With men, the friends with benefits zone is one of those places that is easily entered, yet almost impossible to escape. The Friends With Benefits zone is like The Hotel California. You can check out whenever you want, but you can never leave. It’s a paradox like that. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Everything that’s improbable isn’t impossible. You do have a few hail marys options.

See Also:  Women Are More Superficial Than Men

1. You can tell him how you feel. You can be a grown up and simply tell this man that you want something more than he’s currently offering. I have to tell you, if I’m reading your email right – and I’m not sure I am – but it seems to indicate that you’ve had a FWB relationship for 12 months, of which, you saw each other about once a month, until recently. I’m taking a leap here, and I’m going to assume you had relations the majority of the time you saw each other during that time frame. Well, to be honest, men hate change and they like consistency. This is why men like the FWB arrangement. For them, it’s all benefits all the time. There’s really no risk in telling him how you feel other than: 1) the off chance that you might bruise your ego if he doesn’t feel the same way; and 2) things, for awhile, might get awkward because now he knows you like him as more than a FWB and he might/does not feel the same way about you.

2. Cut off the benefits portion of the friendship. I’m not a fan of this approach, but that’s because I’m a man and I admittedly recognize my own bias on the subject. You were unclear in your letter what, if anything, you wanted to change if your BFFWB didn’t want to become your BF. However, if you don’t cut-off the benefits portion of the friendship, the man really has nothing relative to lose or gain. In fact, depending on his viewpoint, he might have more to lose than gain. For example, most men avoid the official relationship title because they know it entails more responsibility. If I may be frank, if he wanted more from you – relationship or other – he likely would have brought it up himself, especially after one year. I must reiterate that just because something is improbable doesn’t make it impossible. It’s possible that he was simply bidding his time, because he’s already getting all he needs from the relationship and he’s willing to give (or take) more if the opportunity presents itself, but you have to take into account that by you bringing it up to him, you are calling his hand and he might fold rather than show you his cards.

See Also:  Can We Date Friends Successfully?

3. Tell him how you feel, then cut off the benefits portion of the friendship after a definitive passage of time. This is a combination of 1 & 2. Basically, you tell him how you feel and you let him know that you don’t want to continue along the route of FWB for infinity plus one. Instead of immediately forcing him to choose – although, let’s keep in mind that it’s already been 12 months so he should know what the hell he does or does not want from you by now and his actions seem to indicate that he doesn’t want more or he would have asked for more beforehand, but whatever – you give him a time frame – DETERMINED BY YOU, NOT HIM and I personally think it should be between 1 to 90 days given the fact that he’s already known you for 12 months – to decide if wants more, less, or the same from you.

WIM SigThose are my thoughts on the subject, but the benefit of writing into SBM is that we can solicit the opinions of our reader base as well. So, SBM family, let’s turn to our neighbor and say, “neighbor…TURN UP!” Then, answer the following questions for our reader: Fellas, how does a woman get out of the friends (with benefits) zone? Ladies, have you ever successfully escaped the friend zone or friends with benefits zone; if yes, what tips would you recommend our reader implement?

Comment(29)

  1. #3 worked for me. We were FWB for a little over 6 months. We married 4 yrs later. We established rules in our situationship. It doesnt sound like they had any here. Assuming there werent any, I say just be ready for whatever response is given. Don’t be disappointed if he is turned off by these feelings. Being FWB borders being in an open relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if he caught feelings himself. Good luck to her!

  2. Ok so first: Tell him how you feel.
    If he caught feelings too: HOORAY
    If there is no reciprocity: It's time to say DEUCES! Because obviously y'all don't want the same thing anymore! Also i don't see why you would continue to have s*x with a man who doesn't want you as an official GF.

    To escape the friend zone your partner must catch feelings for you… Without feelings, you better move on if you want something more!!! Don't assume that because he's giving you more time he wants something serious!

    1. Actually, to escape the friend zone your partner (the guy mainly) has to experience way more than just catch feelings for you…I know too many situationships whereby they demonstrated affection for her but DID NOT and would not make it official…..I think it was a case of the guys never saw the girls in the "more than friends/girlfriend/wife" light, regardless of his emotions……Feelings alone are not enough (for some people)

  3. Well for me my friend zone is inescapable. I’m not a guy who shies away from commitment so if for whatever reason I don’t look at you in that light, is a good enough reason that even if you cry your heart to me, ima just still need time to see where I wanna be. I’ve had women tell me they can’t handle being just my friend, unfortunate but do what you must see you in a few months when you’re bored/lonely and suddenly miss me.

    I think the “friend zone” gets a bad rap in general, too much blame is thrusted on the friend for simply not wanting someone. Not enough accountability, for every person oblivious to the seemingly perfect mate before them, there’s plenty who knows exactly what’s before them and knows it’s not what they want. I’m probably in the minority here but if friendship is what’s on the table, enjoy the friendship. Nothing more, nothing less. Are you in love with this person, do the love you? Is it really worth it to plot and negotiate for a man when there’s plenty out there who want what you want?

      1. I think people try to ease the hurt of the friend zone by telling themselves that the other person is "scared of commitment/needs time" NA BRUH they just don't want you. The friend zone has a big exit sign called "MOVE ON". If people would follow the exit sign that lead to the big door instead of trying to sneak through the small crack in the "relationship window”, the world would be such a happy place.

        I think she should tell him just to get it off her chest. But I hope she doesn’t get an answer she doesn’t want to hear and over think it. Take what ever he tells you at face value. If he doesn’t want you as his woman move on. Don't continue to stay in the friend zone as a substitute for what you really want.

        1. Also the world would be such a happy place if people would not try to break the ultimate rule of this friend with benefits type of relationship which is: DON'T CATCH FEELINGS!!

        2. I think it's hard to not break the rule because sometimes actions or words get misconstrued. He may say lets go out to dinner (which you never did before), starts calling you baby (which he never did before) or even talking to you about a diverse array of things (which he never did before). So when men start to change things from the norm, a woman can take it as in he is dropping a subtle hint that he wants more, not realizing he is just becoming more comfortable with you but not feeling you any deeper than he was before.
          My recent post Children are our future part 2

        3. I get it, but at the same time women love assuming… If you see him change, ask him why… Don't start creating a whole love story in your mind!!!

        4. +1, Know thy self.

          Don't take FWB situations as replacements for what you really want (dating leading to something serious). Don't confuse catching feelings for his d!ck for catching feelings for him. Sometimes the peen is good but the man attached to it… not so much.

        5. My point exactly! Too many people start this FWB situation with expectations, hope and assumptions… road to heartbreak!

        6. "Sometimes the peen is good but the man attached to it… not so much"
          Classic and Nothin but the truth!

  4. Can you even get out of the friends zone? I don't think it's possible for men to want to be with someone in their FWB zone. It's benefits them greatly and unless you are the only one, i doubt he is only kicking it or smashing with you. He may hang out with you the most but he really isn't looking to flip this into something more substantial. I think she should tell him how she feels and then cut off the benefits and keep it friendly. You can't make a man feel about you the way you feel about him, and it is better emotionally for you to move on wait for someone who wants to give you what you need. I just don't think she will get what she want because men just do not view sex the same as us. She's falling for the guy (which happens a lot for FWBs) and he probably doesn't notice or feigning ignorance so he could draw it out longer.
    My recent post Children are our future part 2

  5. Oh yes, I escaped by chalking up my two fingers. There is no way in holy hell would I ever allow myself to go through that again. I think I was hella lonely at that time in my life. I can say that this man did start to have feelings but there was no way he was gonna commit to me when I satisfied every desire he had. But lesson learned.
    My recent post Can You Bring This Freak Out?

    1. "But Lesson learned"–I think that is the most important thing. None of us are perfect and sometimes we end up in situations we are not proud of; but as long as we learned from them we can't regret it.

  6. I've had this happen to me on one more than 1 occasion. I've never been successful in getting a relationship from a FWB situation so I just don't get into FWB situations anymore. I think this girl is asking to get her feelings hurt so she should walk away and find someone who wants the same things she wants.

  7. "Well, in the wise, elicit words of street poet Two Chainz, “You Got A F***king Problem.”"

    Fellow street poet Sir A$AP Rocky makes similar claims, lol.

  8. I'd go with #2. Cut off the benefits portion and get low. Don't be as accessible. Begin to move on. If he notices and tries to reel you back in, state your terms…I really like you but I'm looking for a relationship now and if I can't have that with you, I need to move on. If he complies, awesome. If not, keep truckin.

  9. I go with option1. No point in playing games with a man who is already familiar with the most intimate parts of you. I once turned a FWB into a real relationship and you know what? The relationship SUCKED! In my opinion (both men & women) only make a FWB out of someone they KNOW they ain't trying to be with in the first place. Sure right now it seems this could be a great relationship but in reality it probably wouldn't be. In my situation my FWB & I became official and 6 months later realized we weren't meant to be more than FWB's so we went back to what worked for us. Sometimes people mistake simple things as being more than they are – if your homegirl asked you to meet her for dinner, or go to the gym would she be trying to boo you? If not then why does that HAVE to be the case w/ the FWB. I mean seriously you can sleep with a man but can share a meal? Kinda silly if you ask me.

  10. It's odd to me how people use the title "friends" so interchangably.

    This is my philosophy; men put their friendships w/ women in 2 basic categories "Just Friends" and "Friends For Now". A FwB relationship falls under the latter. If he's find somebody better, then the FwB is a wrap. If he catches feelings too, ya'll will slide into a titled-relationship.

    With women, it seems like their FZ is based on them not being attracted to you or them not seeing any type of real connection or longevity. With guys, our FZ is equally deliberate. We already know that we don't want you enough to call you ours. But we'll have sex with you and do all the filler stuff if you allow it. People are in pseudo-relationships all the time, under the guise of "it's cool because we're friends though." But in Streetz's response to the reader, clearly women don't always see themselves for what they are and that's, Friends For Now.

    "He may say lets go out to dinner (which you never did before), starts calling you baby (which he never did before) or even talking to you about a diverse array of things (which he never did before). So when men start to change things from the norm, a woman can take it as in he is dropping a subtle hint that he wants more, not realizing he is just becoming more comfortable with you but not feeling you any deeper than he was before." <— <b>THIS

    I think the only way to negotiate out of the FZ (which is kinda rare for women anyway) is #1. Be upfront and transparent that you wanna be his girl. Worst case, he'll be 100 and just tell you he doesn't want that. Don't risk heartbreak waiting on him to answer that question.
    My recent post With Love, You Always Have a Choice: Love and The Commitment of Change (Part 2)

    1. It happens, I've seen it a few times myself. However if a man initiates an FWB agreement, its most likely because he doesn't view the woman as someone he'd want to commit to. So he doesn't intend to catch feelings.

  11. Women shouldn't be caught in any friend zone. You are women, you can get play from a dude faster than vice versa. Think about it women, for the most part don't have to work hard to get a date, they don't buy drinks, rarely pick up the check (i'm not talking about relationships mind you) they just have to look even half way appealing in some cases to get a guy's attention. if a woman is stuck in the friend zone then she must be very unattractive and even THEY get some play. So all in all, I find it hard for this to happen. I think the only way the 'friend zone' rears its ugly head, is if they don't give up any action and the guys they kick it with have little to no patience.
    My recent post WTF Am I Listening To?! – 10 Dumbest Rap Songs Ever Made

  12. While there is the rare escape from the cut buddy zone, it doesn’t happen enough to warrant subjecting yourself to being put there, much like the friend zone for men. Like the friend zone, you more often than not, will have to walk away and find somebody who wants the same thing you do instead of trying to “mke them see the light about how wonderful you are”, to which my question is this: If you’re so wonderful, why are you trying to sneak through the back door, or the window into a relationship rather than the front door?

    The rule about quite a few of us is this: Cut buddies is a dead end job; no advancement opportunities (as a rule. There might be exceptions but far and few in between). 9 times out 10, when he does choose to pursue a relationship, it’s not likely to be with a prior cut buddy that he doesn’t respect ON THAT LEVEL. Not saying he doesn’t respect her at all, but I think that different categories carry a different level of respect with them. A man likely won’t make a woman he views as only cut buddy level a girlfriend.

  13. in my humble opinion, one of the reasons the FZ, FWB, cut buddy craze is so prevalent today is because we as individuals are selfish, lazy, and not very self-aware. we all know and say "we are not perfect", but how many of us actually acknowledge what are flaws are, and can be honest about them while making effort to change. we pursue and accept these pseudo relationships because they are convenient. fear is another driving factor, because we are scared to put in the work, or face ourselves and those things we need to alter to grow and become better individuals. when youre connected to someone truly, you see the changes you need to make, because you want to be better for both you and your relationship. we all have been disappointed, hurt, used, etc…its all a part of dealing with people, but we build walls and elaborate defense mechanisms to keep people from getting close on one hand, on the other we are so lazy and impatient, that either when trouble comes or when we dont want to work with someone through their issues, we run like heck. we want to be tolerated and accepted, but wont tolerate or accept others. i feel thats why there are more single people and psuedo connected people in the world today.

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