Ask TSJ: How Do I Escape the Friend Zone?

friend zoneLife is hard. It seems like every new day brings a new question that, try as you might, you’re just unable to find an answer for. The Smoking Jacket understands this, and we’re here to help.

Each week, media sensation Tracy Pendergast and TSJ’s managing editor, Adam Tod Brown, set aside some time in their busy schedules to answer your questions in a feature we’ve cleverly named “Ask TSJ.”

This week’s question comes from Jason, a reader from parts unknown…

If you’ve been grouped in to the phantom zone called the “friend zone” by a woman, is there any way you can break free…short of a nuclear explosion?

tracyTracy Pendergast: Jason, you can most definitely break out of the friend zone, but it’s going to require patience! Usually things like this boil down to timing. I was friends with my husband for six years before he ever told me he had feelings for me. Throughout the years we kept in touch, but were always in other relationships, traveling for work and doing a lot of growing up. We always say that if we started dating when we first met, it would have never worked out. It was all about timing.

I don’t know the details of your situation, but there are definitely some huge no no’s when it comes to stuff like this.
First of all, if she has a boyfriend, do not make a move or even tell her you have feelings for her. If she’s going to break up with her boyfriend, she needs to make the decision on her own. Don’t talk down about him or try to convince her you’re the better man. The last thing you want is for her to resent you or start questioning her decisions because they’re your ideas. DO NOT try to hook up with her while she has a boyfriend. If you are successful it will most likely come back to bite you in the ass. You don’t want her so racked with guilt and paranoid about getting caught that she cuts you off.

If she doesn’t have a boyfriend and she’s not acting interested. She probably isn’t. Just play it cool and be patient. Date other women, and when you do, talk about them with respect. Show her, through dating other people, what an amazing catch you are and how mature you can be. Try not to talk to her about the physical details though, be mysterious and let her imagination do all the work. Being with other women is going to make you less available to her all the time- this is a good thing! With women, less is more.

Want another stupid little piece of advice? Always smell good! Women love a man that smells good. This is a general rule to live by, not only in this situation. Not too much cologne, just enough that every time she smells that scent, she thinks of you. Mature, patient, adorable you.

At the end of the day, there is still a chance it may never work out between you and your friend. All you can do is continue to be the stand up guy I know you are (because you read Ask TSJ) and hope that everything happens for a reason. Continue to live your life, date and have fun with other friends- and hopefully at some point the timing will be right!

adamAdam Tod Brown: Well, first of all, don’t be so quick to discount the nuclear explosion. If it was good enough for World War II, it should be good enough for your comparatively minor situation. But I’m assuming that’s not an option, which is why you’ve turned to us.

The friend zone is undoubtedly an ugly place to be. I mentioned in a previous Ask TSJ column that guys are almost never friends with women for the sole purpose of being friends. There are exceptions, but none that I can state here without adding to the already sizable collection of hate mail this site receives on a weekly basis. So I appreciate your question if for no other reason than because it somewhat strengthens that previous argument of mine.

Alright, enough gloating about how right I am about everything, let’s deal with your conundrum. Obviously, the best way to avoid landing in the friend zone is to never get there in the first place, but that’s easier said than done. Once you’re there, the best course of action is to use your insider status to your advantage. Spend some of that friend time getting to really know the woman in question. Listen to all of her womanly thoughts about men and shopping and goddamn purses or whatever else women talk about. Become a confidant. The go to shoulder to cry on. All of that.

Once you’ve established yourself as the very best friend a girl could ever have, start making yourself scarce. If at all possible, start dating someone else. Or at the very least, when she asks why you’ve been such a stranger of late, tell her you’re dating someone else. You’ve now started the engine that fuels every relationship one woman has with another woman…jealousy. She’ll tell you she’s happy for you, but secretly she will resent the new competition for her best guy friend. You’re getting closer now.

This is the point where all of those hours of listening to her ramble about her hopes and dreams and wants and needs is going to come in handy. Vow to spend more time with her. Maybe push the issue by apologizing for being so neglectful. Set up a weekly coffee date or some other innocent meetup. During this weekly date, make sure to include lengthy, detailed mentions of your adventures with your new woman and, this is important, make sure those stories relate to something that the women you really want has already told you that she’s way into. If she likes romantic gestures, make up a story about some ridiculously romantic date you and your lady went on. If she likes music, tell her you went to see her favorite band in concert. If she likes violence, tell her you and the other girl beat up a hobo. By this point, your “friend” should be wondering why she’s not dating you. Now, it’s time to set the trap.

Hopefully, somewhere in all those fact finding talks, you learned something about what the woman you’re trying to extract from the friend zone really hates. Stories about shitty treatment she’s received at the hands of jerk ex-boyfriends are ideal. Use that information to concoct an elaborate story about how your new girlfriend has done you wrong. Call the “friend” late at night and ask if you can see her. Try to sound wounded. When you get there, tell your story. Not only have you established yourself as the ideal boyfriend that she for some reason passed on, but now, you’re coming to her because you’ve been hurt by some heartless skank (her words, not mine) in the exact same way that some shady ex-boyfriend once hurt her. At some point, give the impression that you may be about to cry. She will undoubtedly move in to comfort you.

Make things as touchy-feely as possible. If anything is ever going to happen, it’s right now. Keep an eye out for your opening and pounce when it comes. If you can’t seal the deal at that point, you never will. But at least you’ll know it’s time to move on.

Someday, I’ll answer one of these questions in a way that doesn’t involve deception and trickery. I swear.

Adam Tod Brown is the managing editor of The Smoking Jacket. He would like to be your friend on Facebook and on Twitter @realadambrown.

Tracy Pendergast is a writer, model, singer, television personality and convicted felon. We might be lying about one of those facts. Check out her official website or follow her on Facebook to find out which one.

Got a question for Adam and Tracy? Click here and fire away. If we use it…your life will immediately improve for the better.