Anyone who has recently gone through a breakup may understand what I’m going through. I’m not the type of girl that has ever rushed into a relationship — mainly because I was in just one relationship for 8 straight years. I was a late bloomer in the dating world at the age of 18, and I’ve only ever had one real boyfriend. So, now that I’m single, I don’t feel ready to mingle just yet. I have no problem hanging out with a guy, but I have become that girl that instantly friend zones any potential dating material. I’d rather keep it casual and just be friends in order to avoid an awkward situation — or relationship. Truth is, and this will sound so incredibly cliché, I’m just not ready to start dating. But, even with my best efforts at explaining my disinclined position, what if the guy still thinks otherwise? What is a girl to do?
Well, thinking that I’m not the only one out there with this dilemma, I started brainstorming how to make sure that a simple hangout doesn’t get the wrong impression as a date. Here’s my take on how to make it NOT a date:
- Pay for yourself. Nothing screams “WE’RE ON A DATE!” more than a guy paying for a girl. It may be traditional, but it will give the guy the impression that you also consider the meeting a date. In order to avoid confusion, it’s a good idea to ask for a split check or offer to pay for yourself. With the growing number of independent women, though, you might instead portray feminism beliefs (I can handle this! I can open doors and pay for meals!). So, it would be wise to keep reading below.
- Don’t wear skanky clothing. While I really don’t condone wearing super revealing clothing anyway, it’s definitely not appropriate if you just want to hang out with a guy and not imply that you want it to be more. Stay away from clothing that says look at how hot I am, and instead opt for casual and comfortable. Think about what you’d wear if it was just you and your best girl friend hanging out – and I’m not talking about those times you go to the bar in hopes of a guy offering to buy you both drinks. You can still look nice, just avoid cleavage, short-shorts, mid-drifts, and so on.
- Avoid physical contact.
Probably a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t kiss your guy-friend, right? Physical affection is often what separates friends from boyfriends. For me, I tend to be a bit more conservative, so a kiss would never happen on a first date anyway. In fact, I’m avoiding holding hands, too. BUT, what if he goes in for a hand-hold to solidify this meeting as a date? Simple:
- “OMG! What’s that!?” *point with targeted hand* This method became a good distraction when Marty McFly was in trouble, so it seems good as any to avoid a friend from taking it to the next level.
- “Want to arm wrestle?” *report to battle pose. win/lose. release.* If anything, this will be funny. If you have the arm strength, go for the win.
- Carry a purse, cup, bag, souvenir, small child, trash, camera, keys, any thing in your hands (just in case). This way, your hand is unattainable — just like you.
- What if he tries to flirt by squeezing your shoulders or trying to give you a massage? Relax. There’s a way to get out of this one (and also get a laugh). This quick escape, which might require some skillz, calls for you to walk down a pretend flight of stairs. Just take a moment to really picture this. You slowly get farther away from his hands, and you look a little crazy. It’s perfect.
- He leans in for a kiss…this is what you’ve been trying to avoid all day/night. If you kiss him back, you are confirming that it is indeed a date. If you can’t seem to avoid this situation, just turn the other cheek. (No, literally. Make him kiss your cheek.) It might feel rude, but so is leading a guy on that you don’t intend to date. If you’ve tried to make your intentions clear, and he still doesn’t seem to get it (or respect them), then don’t feel guilty for not reciprocating his feelings.
- Invite a friend. What are best friends for if not to help you in a time of need? Having a third person can prevent awkward alone time and keep things friendly. Besides, your pal can help to notify you if you’re sending off any accidental flirty vibes instead of your intended friendliness.
- “I’m so glad we’re JUST friends.”
Maybe a subtle hint that you want to be JUST friends is all you need. Guys know exactly what the friend zone is, so they may either accept this fact or see it as a challenge. Either way, it may be nice to break the news gently at first.
- Be honest. If all else fails, and your guy friend still can’t take a hint (or two), then just be honest and open. It might not be what he originally had in mind, but if you get along and are cool to hang around, then he just might be OK with being your friend.
If you’re open to letting the friendship unfold into something more, then by all means feel free to avoid these tips. Being “just friends” isn’t right for everyone, but it does have its advantages. After all, don’t you want your future significant other to be your best friend, too? Starting without the pressures of a relationship allows you to be yourself. You won’t feel as nervous or silly if you say or do something quirky. If and when the timing is right, you’ll be ready — maybe even with a new friend at your side.