February 2007

Escape from the “Friend Zone”

Author: Keith Kelson

Alcatraz, affectionately known as “The Rock,” is one of the most famous prisons on the planet. Officially, no prisoner sent there ever succeeded in escaping (alive, that is). Alcatraz’s well earned reputation as the last stop for many of the nation’s most incorrigible inmates fascinates people to this day.

However, there exists another prison that is proving to be just as hard to escape. The inmates there are nice people, for the most part, and many are decent, law abiding citizens. Some find themselves there by accident, bad timing or just rotten luck. But escaping from its confines, though there are no steel bars and no armed guards, is next to impossible. Of course, I’m referring to the “Friend Zone.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the Friend Zone is, it’s that dreaded compartment where women place men whom they like, but for whom they don’t really have that “weak in the knees” feeling. If you’re a man, you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. Some of us have been there multiple times and have the scars to prove it.

For a while, in the late ’80’s, after several stints in the Friend Zone, I suffered from PTFZS (Post Traumatic Friend Zone Syndrome), and I had a hard time adjusting to life on the outside. I don’t regret my time there because, in the end, it made me a better man. I even got a hot tip from a stockbroker sent to the Friend Zone by Laurie Loughlin. That being said, however, I don’t ever want to go back.

Of those poor souls sentenced to the Friend Zone, many would rather have bamboo shoots placed under their fingernails than serve out their sentence. They would rather watch Mariah Carey’s celluloid masterpiece, Glitter, one hundred times with the sound on than spend one minute in that dreaded no man’s land. Trust me, I have the bamboo shoots and the only known director’s cut copy of Glitter on DVD as proof.

You want to escape the Friend Zone, my friend? Do you want to join the men whose names are spoken with hushed reverence—the few men who are allowed to watch an NFL or NBA playoff game in peace, without interruptions? It is a very small fraternity of brave men—some who were kind enough to share their secrets. It can be done. It won’t be easy, but it will be well worth the effort.

Notice that I said escape was next to impossible. I can help you, but be warned. If your intentions are not pure, none of the advice will work. So, all of you cads, players and pick-up artists, take heed: only a true gentleman will succeed in escaping the Friend Zone using my plan. All pretenders and ill- mannered miscreants who attempt to use the following for their own selfish ends will be permanent residents of the Friend Zone, with no hope of ever escaping. That being said, here are the five key components for escape.

(1) Act interested in her but not too interested.
(2) Always treat her with respect, but don’t be afraid to tease her.
(3) Date other girls.
(4) Casually flirt with her.
(5) Have a life.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “That’s it?! Thanks a lot, Yoda. My mom gives me the same advice.” Well, you should listen to your mother. Remember, this plan is for GENTLEMEN. If you’re a fella who’s looking to give Hugh Hefner a run for his money as the top Playboy in the land, it won’t work for you. Remember that the men who have escaped the Friend Zone swear by the five principles above. Are you going to argue with professional wrestler, Bill Goldberg?

Back in the day (before the Internet), when rotary phones were commonplace, these principles were called “courting.” All men were assigned a spot in the Friend Zone, not by a young lady, but usually by her shotgun-toting father. You got sent there, and they made you like it. Given the choice, I’d have to say that I prefer today’s version of the Friend Zone. At least you get three square meals.

“But, you said that I should date other women, genius,” you counter. “The woman who has placed me in the Friend Zone will think that I’m a player anyway if she sees me with another woman, right?”

Not so fast, grasshopper. You’re not a loser, are you? You’re not some social misfit who can’t get a date, are you? If you are, you don’t belong in the Friend Zone, but Loserville. It’s the town from which Lex Luthor hails.

You should be a man who has a lot going for him, and that includes women who find you attractive. So, if you’re out on the town with a lady, you won’t frighten anyone off. You’ll be seen as a desirable man who has—and this is my favorite part about dealing with any situation—options. You also show her that you have a life and that you’re not about to watch it pass you by, hoping that she’ll change her mind.

Dating more than one woman is only negative when you have ulterior motives. Trust me when I say that no woman wants a man who can’t get a date. So, you can rest assured that dating other women while you’re in the Friend Zone won’t hurt your chances with the young lady who has placed you there. If she does get upset with you and says that you’re a cad or a playboy, gently remind her that the only reason that you’re out in the dating pool is because she pushed you.

I’m kidding. Just let her know that you’ve always wanted to take her parasailing and tell her to meet you at Sky Pirate on Palmetto Bay Rd.

Be bold and daring, my friend! Show the young lady that you’re a man of action and refined taste. Seize the day, and sing your own praises like a young Ali, if need be. Make each date a memorable experience.

Dates don’t have to be expensive, but they should be creative and fun. If she declines your offer, refer to the list and continue following the basic principles.

Don’t forget that your main goal is to show her a good time. Master the skill of being a fun date, and you’ll almost never be relegated to the Friend Zone—unless, of course, her shotgun-toting father says otherwise. Don’t worry. You can borrow my copy of Glitter, and the guys from the M.I.T math club will keep you company.

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