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Friend Zone? In? Staying out?

Published on March 7, 2012 by dondraper

I posted this publicly, but want an expert opinion, so it's pasted below...its kind of long but I think relevant.

First, I'm pretty sure I'm not stuck there (regardless of what I'm told) and I will give the evidence. My question is more I'm not sure what I want to do, I'm not one for distance relationships and quite frankly I'm having fun. I guess I want to keep the option open. And perhaps, some re-insurance.

First, this is work colleague, different office, much different business line. She used to come to our office every several weeks ago and was a friend to the whole office and we were friendly work aquaitances. When we first met, we were both married. Coincidentally, our spouses both left us around the same time. At this point, she was never in our market, or rarely, and for her position travels a lot. We were never bffs or anything like that, we have no school history, etc., but I did reach out to her because I knew exactly what she was going through, and she I think heard about my situation as well. I told her to call me whenever is she needed to talk, she said likewise, it very genuine amongst the both of us. However, neither of us took the other up on it. We mayvbe checked in every month to six weeks or so to see how the other was doing. Around last summer, we summer around the same places, tried to get some plans with people together that never happened, no big deal, like I said, this was a work colleague.

Now, do or did I think she's cute, yes. I'm also pretty sure she thought the same of me, she's even told me. Actually, quite recently were started talking a lot more, mostly over txts and she was going to be in my town to visit someone so we made plans to get together to finally catch up in person. I'm a flirtatious person by nature, so I didn't change my self and was, just my normal self. I don't recall when this happened to me, it was before we started chatting each other up a lot, but I started seeing her in a different light, I was definitely more attracted to her; not sure why, just happened, I even said I wish we could hang out soon and she was taken back, I think even quite flattered (this was again, before we started talking regularily).

I would come up with some outlandish flirty stuff sometimes and I found it odd once when something I said that was actually not implying anything, she got real defensive, I mean overly defensive... she said something like, "X, there is so many reasons why we shouldn't go there, I think you know exactly what I mean, blah blah" (the big thing I know is the work thing). I basically laughed at her and told her I was out of her league. I then even started being even more playful and she was responding positively; I was even being even much more complimentary and flattering, like how you would talk to a girflriend and she was very cool with it. Anyway, I know she's coming to town, so I said to myself, I'll know when I see her if I ever have a shot. I decided to make this what I cal an undate. It's not a date, but treat it a little like a date, talk to her to a girl your trying to woo, attract, etc. Here were the key points where I think I'm not totally in the friend zone and I do want to stay out...

First, she asked me if I'd been dating a lot since Y left me. I answered truthfully, "Yes." She told me she hadn't, but had been seeing an old college friend who was a very long distance away and to her own admission, "Not practical" I get this, this is all rebound, I was there myself, perhaps even still a little bit. Oh, I then say, well, let's make this a date. She doesn't roll her eyes, she starts uncontrollably blushing and having that awkward girl smile, "X, this is not a date, stop," smiling, "besise, the whole work, dating thing." I answer, "We really don't work together," which she agreed. I do keep this up, but drop the D word, I tell her how great she looks and we become very touchy feely, I mean REALLY touchy feely - hands, legs, arms, back, neck, etc. Now, I was not looking to try and make something happen, but I don't recall too many friend/girls of mine acting like this, also, we're not even that really close friends if you think about it. We never hung out when she used to come to our office, and the few conferences we saw each other at, it was like the typical hi work thing. We flirt some more, I think I even drop a cocky line like, "Actually ending up with me wouldn't probably be a step-up, or a good thing," I don't remember how I said it, it was that line being confident without being obnoxious, she agreed. So, I have the uncontrollable blushing, the touchy feely, now the next thing, our exes come up. I actually have met her ex-husband before, she never met my ex-wife so she was asking about her, I told her, then she was asking what she looked like, I started describing her, then I said, "Actually, I'm pretty sure I still have some cellphone pics of her in here somewhere," She cuts me off vehemetly and said, "I don't want to see her." I look at her oddly, "Really?" I ask, she continued, "No, I don't." I'm like okay. We go back to what we were doing, we both had other plans later that night and leave each other.

We txt later on that week, she travels a lot so I said something like, "Go somewhere fun, so I can meet up and we can have fun." (knowing she rarely goes anywhere good). She started in with, that would be a bad idea, that could lead to "what not" and that would be bad for a friendship. At this point I'm a little annoyed and I have a sporting event I am about to participate in which is quite violent. I called her out, this has been about the third time, "Z, you're the one always thinking about "what not here" not me." She then starts in with, we're way too different people, I like being your friend, I told you I'm seeing someone and want to see where it goes," etc. (the long distance thing). Also, she really doesn't even know me well enough to know how similiar or disimilair we are. I also know her big hang up is the work thing, which I understand. I respond, "I got to get ready for a game, but this is all you, you're the one that always bringing up "what not" not me, you always need to tell yourself this. As for your "seeing someone", that is just a rebound thing, but I can completely empathize with that, you're own words, "not practical", then I really call her out and say, "You're a whole issue is you're worried we may end up in a friends with bennies situation." I'm cutting a few things out, I think at one point I even said, "If you want a real good guy friend, go find a gay guy or someone unnattractive." Which I know wasn't every nice, she stated that was cryptic, which i said it wasn't and then called her out with the whole friends with bennies line, etc. She never made a comment about that.

I felt a little bad, so the next morning I emailed her or txting her, "good morning sunshine," I was curious to see if she was mad, she wasn't, we chatted about a few things, pretty much normal.

Damn, I'm sorry that's a lot of background, but I thought it was necessary. First, we summer in the same place now, so I think there's a good chance I'll be seeing her quite a bit in the summer. I'm torn how I feel. I do definitely have feelings for her, and despite what she says at times, I do think she's attracted to me, because of her actions. I'm not one who is a big on the long distance thing as I said before, and I'm kind of having good fun, locally right now. If she was local would I pursue her? I thought about that and I probably would. For now, I think I just want to keep the option open and I definitely, do not want to get into the friend zone.

Thoughts? Advice?


You have to start pushing her attraction buttons and stop trying to be her friend before you are her boyfriend.

Thanks, I'm pretty sure I'm doing that....I don't think she'd let a guyfriend, who's more of a work acquaitance, grope her. I was even direct and told her get a gay friend or an unnattractive guy if you're looking for a bff.

My real question is, while work is her issue with this, mine is location. I am not into the distance thing, but I can't deny my feelings. I am also having a lot of fun right here in NYC... I simple want to keep the option open.

I just want to keep the option open

Hi Don,

Thanks for the question. After reading your description, it's apparent that you are interested in this woman and that you two have chemistry. It also seems that she is sending a clear signal that despite the chemistry, she has her hesitations and won't likely pursue anything. Things can always change, but it's important to respect someone's perspective and let things evolve if/when she's open to exploring things with you. Fortunately, you seem to have joy and an active social life in your own home town, so I would encourage you to put your focus on that.

You expressed your desire to keep the option open, but it seems that the choice now falls in her lap, as you've been clear in expressing your interest. If you let things lie, they will either fizzle out because of her hesitations or they will shift based on her interest/time table. I don't think you can do any more to 'keep the option open' so be proud of yourself for putting yourself out there and sharing your interest in her. And remember that human nature dictates an innate desire to deepen a relationship once the other party moves on. I don't mean to imply that you should ever play games with this woman or any woman (because they will only backfire if you do). Just a little food for thought.

Best of luck to you!

Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT

Women who get dumped in a divorce love to have their egos built up by cute flirtatious guys, even if they don't want to date them.

Thanks Allison, you're the only one that actually made any sense. If I ingnore her, she always contacts I said, we'll see. This is going to sound a little chauvinistic, but what women say, sometimes, and what they feel, can be at odds. I can even use my own wife, or ex-wife, as a perfect example. I remember when we first starting dating way, way, way back when, I remember taking a cab ride home with her and her telling me, "I've finally got used to being independent again (her ex-boyrfiend), I don't want to get involved with anyone right now, I hope you understand." That cab ride ended with us making out in the backseat, her coming back to myself and eventually marrying her..... I think I got this under control. Neither of us are ready to settle down anytime soon, and I have a lot going on here. Like I said, if she lived locally, I'd probably be more inclined to do something about it now...