How to Know When a Guy Friend Is Going Out of the Friend Zone?

by MaryBeth Augusta

If you have ever seen the film "When Harry Met Sally," you'll know the plot of the movie focuses on the age-old question of whether men and women could ever be just friends. (The answer according to the movie? No!) Interestingly, the research disagrees. Psychologist Dylan Selterman writes that "romantic relationships do not necessarily differ from close friendships ... In fact, some researchers have said that the only difference between a friendship and a romantic relationship is the label." The key is figuring out if, or when, your label is going to change from friend ... to more.

Determine the type of intimacy between you and your guy friend. Is he acting on a friend-based intimacy level, by showing you understanding in a warm and emotionally connected way? Or is it a passion-based connection that feels more romantic and sexual? Transitioning from friendship-based to passionate-based intimacy is a sign your guy friend wants to leave the friend zone for something more.

Pay attention to how he plans activities with you. If the events change from drinks at a sports bar to dinner at a cozy restaurant, it could be a sign. Also watch for who you are hanging out with -- and whether it changes. Is he all of a sudden introducing you to his inner circle, or (gasp) family?

Listen to what he's saying, or not saying. Has he begun complimenting you more or joking about if you were a couple? This could be a sign. On the other hand, if he talks about women he's interested in, asks for dating advice or still treats you like a pal, he might not be planning on leaving the friend zone.

Speak up! The best way to avoid the friend zone is to make a move, but he may not be able to take such a bold step, especially if he is unsure of your feelings. If you are curious whether he wants to be more than friends, just ask. Ask him on a date, ask him straight up ("Do you like me?" works well) or just tell him how you feel.

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  • This article is written with opposite-sex couples in mind -- since a majority of the research looks at opposite-sex relationships. But one piece of advice works for any set of friends: Just be honest.
  • Passionate-based intimacy can be expressed in different ways. Think about how you know a guy likes you and see if your friend is exhibiting any of those behaviors. Does he touch your arm and lean in to you? Physically connecting with someone is one way to show that you are interested romantically and to test to see whether the other person reciprocates. Want to stay just friends? Refrain from returning the physical contact.


  • Everyone hears about the kid in elementary school who pulls the girl's pigtails ... and how he actually likes her. Beware of your guy friend acting out; he could have reverted to his elementary school days. Trying to make you jealous and ignoring you in hopes you'll miss him, these are difficult clues to pick up on and could mean that he actually likes you.


About the Author

MaryBeth Augusta began writing in 2002 for her college newspaper, "The Troubadour." She has written legal briefs and psychological research articles, covering topics such as international human rights and gender roles. Augusta holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Juris Doctor.

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