Fed Up Of The Friend Zone? Here’s Your Roadmap Out

I often watch programmes like First Dates and cringe at some of the behaviours that I see. I’m no dating expert by any means, but from my own experience, I do know some things that work and many things that are best avoided. As a woman, I also know the kinds of things that impress, and I’m sharing my womanly thoughts and views with you.

I’ll start off by saying I’ve not always had it lucky with the fellas. In my teenage years, I too was accustomed to a lot of heartbreaks and rejections. There was the guy who dumped me because he’d found someone more fun and the guy who dumped me because he’d found someone prettier. I waited two months to ask my college crush out on a date (he said no and promptly never spoke to me again) and my now husband spent at least seven months convincing me that we were just friends before decidedly changing his mind. You can’t always turn a “no” into a “yes”, but there are most certainly ways to improve your chances.

I understand that right now, dating is hard. Dating and social distancing don’t really lend themselves to one another, and instead, for now, at least, many people are turning to dating online. Even with that in mind, I hope that some of these tips can be practical and useful to you now and will go far towards scoring you a physical date, even when lockdown ends!

1. Dress to impress

Guys, smart jeans, a shirt and smart shoes never fail, and for heaven’s sake, leave the hoodie at home. No matter how funny your favourite funny hoodie may be, it is not first date appropriate. Hoodies give you a paunchy-looking tummy and they scream comfort. A lady will most likely put a lot of effort into getting ready to meet you and won’t be impressed if you rock up in your trackwear. A clean shirt, a nice belt, jeans and smart shoes leave a lasting impression, and please don’t neglect your personal care!

For girls, jeans and a cute tee are the way to go. You don’t want to seem like too much work, but nor do you want to appear lazy. Keep the make-up light and minimal, and don’t make this the time to try out a new look or hair colour. Your date doesn’t know you, so it’s not the time to be asking a total stranger if your new colour suits your skin tone.

When it comes to fragrances, a good deodorant and light and simple aftershave are all you need for a casual first date. More fragrance means more scent, and more scent can be overbearing. Remember, no date wants your fragrance to be so strong that they can taste it during dinner!

2. Be punctual

One of the best things a guy can do is be on time. If you keep a woman waiting, it’s highly likely she may be distracted by someone else who was available while she waits. One man I dated was always on time and it impressed me a great deal. It shows commitment, and that kind of commitment is sexy. Likewise; ladies, “fashionably late” is not an hour late. Five-to-ten minutes maximum, more than that is disrespectful.

3. Ask (real) questions

“What’s your favourite colour?”, “What music do you like?”, “what hobbies do you have?”. Have you ever filled in a profile and been completely stuck for the answers? Questions like these are a bit like that, they’re annoying, boring and predictable at best. Instead, engage your date in the here and now. Asked them if they watched an event or movie that aired on the TV on Saturday night, ask them if they plan to watch a meteor shower or talk about some of your favourite foods and see how they react. If they react favourably, you’ll know you have something in common, If they don’t, now is your chance to ask them what they are into.

4. Be unique

Another guy that I dated took me completely by surprise. As I waited for his train to come into the station, I chatted to another commuter about the punctuation and timetable. With no warning, a voice behind me said “yeah, he should be here any minute. Are you alright?”. It was my date, and one of the most unforgettable dates that I have ever been on. Ditch cheesy pick-up lines until you know each other better and cringe at them together if it all goes well. If you do use a pick-up line and it does end well for you, your lack of creativity may come back to haunt you later on- at your wedding!

5. Watch your humour

Humour is a very subjective thing, and until you know someone, there really is no telling what they will or won’t find funny. Avoid sexist jokes, racial stereotypes or other politically incorrect banter until you can assess the reception. Laugh at yourself and show vulnerability, but don’t fall into a bout of self-depreciation at the dinner table. Remember, you don’t want your date to think you’re completely useless. Also, avoid goofing around and toilet humour, it can make you seem immature.

6. Mind your manners

You thought it was just your date you needed to treat nicely? Nope. How you treat other people will also be noticed. Did you click your fingers at the wait staff? Forget to say please and thankyou or did you shove an elderly lady out of the way so you could get to the bar for cocktails? How you treat others now will be indicative of how you treat your date. A genuinely courteous person is courteous to all people. regardless of who they are.

7. Don’t dish dirt on your exes

Now is not time to show off resentment about past break-ups. How you act about them could be indicative of how you act about your date one day, and that’ll be something that stays embedded in their minds for good. If you trash-talk the ex-girlfriend who left you after six weeks, we’ll refuse a second date to avoid having you talk bad about us later on. Remember what I said above about the way you treat other people, the “ex” talk is also a test.

8. Try not to seem desperate

If you’ve been single for four years and all you’ve done in that time is sat around, drinking beers and pined about your single life, you’re likely going to stay single for a good while longer. Your date doesn’t want to feel like they’re plugging an empty gap in your life, instead, they want to feel like they’ve become an important part of the puzzle. Don’t let your single status define you. The busier you seem, the more valuable your time becomes and the more attractive you will appear. Your date doesn’t want to become something to do, your date wants you to have your own hobbies so that if you develop a relationship, they can share some of your hobbies with you.

9. Let’s leave sex at home

Nothing makes a first date more awkward than expectations. Whether it’s some lustful lip licking, some smutty wordplay or ordering oysters for a starter, the more you amp up the pressure, in the beginning, the more awkward your date will feel. Would you order oysters if you were hanging out with a friend or lick your lips in front of your pals? Friendliness and a lack of expectation promotes comfort, and comfort can help develop trust and security with one another.

10. Leave out your bad habits

So you crunch ice or you make your own jacuzzi every time you get into the bathtub? Good for you. Unless you want your date to think you’re childish, gross and most certainly not dateable material, leave that kind of talk for when you’re much more comfortable with one another, or there again, maybe never.

11. Keep a hold of your own junk

It should go without saying, but ladies, if you get out of the taxi and hand him your handbag, there is a high chance you may not see him again. If you buy shopping, expect to have to carry it. You can’t have a chivalrous gentleman when you want him to be and be an independent woman in between. Any self-respecting man won’t spend his time allowing you to bend him to your every need without expecting some support in return. Relationships are about teamwork, not sacrifices. If you want him to help you, be ready and willing to help him, too.

12. Put your damn phone away!

Regardless of whether you are male or female, put your damn phone away! “Phubbing”, the act of ignoring someone for your phone, is such a big problem that it’s now even been given a name. No matter how hot or how boring your date is, they are still a human being and still worthy of your time. Ignore your phone and focus your sole attention on your date instead, and believe me, it will get you noticed!

13. Maybe don’t argue if she wants to go Dutch

I know, fellas, I know that it’s really annoying when a woman refuses to let you pay for dinner, but you need to understand from our standpoint. Long in our society has it been ingrained into us that, if a man pays for dinner, it’s rude to say no to him. Maybe we really don’t fancy you, maybe we don’t want to date you and we most certainly don’t want to kiss you or sleep with you, but your insistence on paying for dinner has left us in a bind. Don’t make a big deal out of it now and it will go a long way to making us feel more at ease in your presence, and more at ease in your presence may mean more chance of a second date in the future.

14. But also know that nobody owes you anything

Ladies, no matter how much of a princess you may think you are, the world doesn’t owe you jack sh*t. If you’re going on a date and you can’t afford to pay, don’t go and assume your date will pay for you anyway. Some more modern guys don’t pay on the first date, and it says nothing bad about them. A guy is not a bad guy because he refuses to pay, it just means to say that he refuses to be treated as a fool. Might I introduce you here to one of First Dates’ most hated women, Jade? Whatever you do, please. please don’t be like Jade.

15. Act gracefully

If dinner is eaten and all is said and done but your date still isn’t attracted to you, don’t moan and whine about them or say they are “like all of the others” (yes, that actually happened to me). People are people, and sometimes relationships just don’t work out. A “no” now could be a “yes” later on. Even if nothing else, handing rejection with grace, even if only for a few moments until you can get away for a good cry, will earn you their respect in the long run.

16. Maybe a friend really is just a friend

So your crush put you in the friend zone and you want to be in their life as something more. While that’s sweet, there may be reasons behind their decision which you will never fully understand. Ultimately, you have two choices now: accept the friend zone, or remove them from your life, whichever you decide, please don’t hound after them for rejecting you. Your friend won’t have a sudden change in heart because you sent him or her a long verse and if anything, your excessive actions may encourage quite the opposite. I’ve been the victim of stalking and no, I didn’t suddenly change my mind. Accept that you are different and accept them as a friend. Ultimately, it may be better for you both to have them in your life as a good friend than not have them in your life at all.

So there you have it, my 16-point road map to help you on your way out of the friend zone.

Have you ever found your way out of the friend zone? Why not share your secrets in the comments?

Until next time,

Stay safe & have fun,

Helen xx









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