Boys in the Friend Zone

How can we mentor boys in dating and relationship skills?

I’m a man hoping the peculiarly vicious gender battles happening in America these days can come to some sensible resolution. This has moved me, in part, after eight years in schools as a teacher and sports coach, toward research and teaching on boys’ social and emotional development. A big piece of this, as you can probably imagine, is how they navigate their relationships with girls.

It’s not lost on me that it took until my early thirties to find enough clarity and confidence with women to satisfy me. But I’m also a perfectionist too quick to blame myself, so perhaps my perception of reality was skewed by my own neuroticism. I guess I’m just hoping young men can figure this stuff out a lot earlier than I did with a little guidance from a guy who couldn’t. To paraphrase the parable, a person who helps you out of your hole by jumping in with you is often the one who knows the best way out. Hope I’m right about that.

In my experience working with boys in schools as well as one-on-one, there is one question that comes up more than all others about girls and cuts across race and class. A version of it goes something like: “Why do the jerky guys get all the attention?” The natural follow-up question is so classic that it verges on modern archetype: “How do I avoid getting ‘friend-zoned’ by a girl I like?”

We cannot successfully mentor boys in their romantic and sexual relationships without having first found some nuanced answers to these questions that avoid reductionist gender stereotypes or unethical thinking. They strike at the heart of conundrums that men face and women sometimes can’t fully appreciate: Balancing our biological drives with our duty to be moral, finding our voice without slipping into arrogance and misogyny, understanding the subtle social and biological cues that allow us to feel competent enough with women so we’re not haunted by damning “what if’s” when we choose to commit.

Once we come to some peace about these questions, we’ve got to find the boys struggling with them and help alleviate their suffering through patient listening and guided questioning. This is just as important as making sure young men who have no problem getting attention from girls are acting ethically and respectfully. Here’s why:

I’ve found it’s much easier for adults to notice, and then address, the kids at the top of the social hierarchy, especially in schools. The athletic boys getting the notes passed to them, the packs of girls roaming the halls with boys hovering like gnats trying to impress them with their masculine mischief. Our adult responses to these boys can be more clear-cut and grounded in their actual experience rather than in abstract terms: Don’t be a dick when you’re feeling X and want to do Y. Make sure you stand up for yourself like “this” if she says “that.”

But what about the kid who thinks he’s being respectful and nice, but who’s actually just a pushover needlessly putting girls on a pedestal at the expense of his own desires? Or the kid who’s inundated by an ocean of feelings about a girl he feels is out of reach, so he stuffs his feelings (or more likely turns them on himself), and ten years later is harboring complicated feelings toward women  that are at odds with one another?

After looking through the scant but growing research on adolescent romantic relationships, this is where there’s a gaping hole. What about all these kids not in relationships? Being the protective types we often as adults in relation to children, academic research on young people has tended to focus on whether or not bad things are happening. Do boys believe it’s their responsibility to advocate for condom use? What forms of “relational aggression” are happening between partners? Do certain forms of romantic attachments lead to greater risk of depression in teens? I think we should be just as concerned about the teens on the outside looking in, and how this is inevitably shaping their beliefs about the opposite gender. Without guidance, boys in these situations could end up thinking some misguided thoughts later on, about both women and themselves:

Anyone who spends a bit of time reading various “game” and seduction blogs will recognize a similar story for many of the men who arrive there. They find their way to this world, by and large, because they were either a) frustrated by being overlooked in their younger years, b) overwhelmed by the feelings they had when in the presence of girls they liked or c) hurtfully betrayed by a girl they were once involved with.

I certainly experienced a bit of all three before I was 23, so let’s just call a spade a spade here: I admit I read The Game and devoured blog posts for a good five years, and some of this stuff was downright revelatory for me. I can’t deny that without some conscious and difficult personal work during my mid- to late-20s, I never would have been able to confidently walk up to my soon-to-be fiancee at a cafe with so little trepidation. But without strong moral guidance from my parents and early adult mentors well before even reading this stuff, I’m not sure I would have come out on the right side of things.

So I’d say some truths about attraction from the seduction community are essential for men to understand, but I don’t think that any self-aware person can deny there’s an under-current of seriously damaging views going on in this world. Even men who’ve spent a long time in the community would agree.

So is there a way to avoid men getting caught up in such twisted ways? I’d say yes, but it’s going to require conscious effort to guide the sensitive, overlooked boys down a middle path between the two extremes of niceness and narcissism. More on this later.

Here’s a response from a 16-year-old boy to a question on an anonymous, online survey I recently conducted with former students. I think it accurately sums up what many boys silently struggle with:

“I really get upset about this whole friendzone thing. I try to be myself and be really nice to girls and treat them with respect and they end up going for the tools that don’t care about their feelings or anything like that. I don’t want to be like the tools who get girls, but I don’t know how to solve that problem. And when I like a girl or find a girl attractive, something changes. I can’t just talk to them without worrying about every little thing (do i look good? am i boring her? should i take her somewhere else? what should i do next?). I find it harder to keep my composure when talking to attractive girls. Is that the same for other guys?”

Let me be clear: I’m not saying that I believe all boys who are continually “friend-zoned” or betrayed in middle and high school will automatically end up gravitating toward the seduction community. But regardless of whether they do or don’t, they deserve to be given the tools to navigate their outer and inner worlds with confidence and clarity. They’ll fumble toward these things with or without us, it seems:

Look at the extensive work of psychologist Ervin Staub on basic human needs, for example. I’ll let him explain much better than I could, from his chapter entitled “The Roots of Goodness” in Moral Motivation Across the Lifespan:

“Basic needs are powerful. They press for satisfaction. When they are not fulfilled in constructive ways in the course of normal experience, people will develop destructive modes of need satisfaction. Destructive need satisfaction means that a person fulfills one need in a way that frustrates his or her other needs (if not immediately, then in the long run) or that he or she fulfills needs in a way that frustrates other people’s fulfillment of their basic needs.

For example, the need for effectiveness and control is the need to feel that one can influence events and, especially important, that one can protect oneself from harmful events and fulfill important goals. When this need is greatly frustrated … then a child (or an adult) may attempt to exercise control over all events, including the behavior of other people. This leads to constant vigilance, or hypervigilance, which is stressful.

The excessive need for control limits the range of the individual’s behavior and interferes with the development of his or her own self and, thereby, the satisfaction of his or her need for a positive identity. It will also frustrate the needs of other people whom the individual seeks to control … and evoke reactions that will frustrate the individual’s need for positive connection to others.”

If this research is to be believed, then we should recognize that although aspects of the seduction community are extremely problematic, the underlying collective motivation for its existence came out of human necessity. All people, regardless of gender, need to feel some semblance of control over who or what they want in their life (or at least an ability to confidently go after it). For men, “effectiveness and control” in the realm of relationships with women still manifests primarily out of initiating, not reacting and waiting (regardless of how far we think we’ve come in redefining gender roles). The consequences of not being able to initiate with confidence can get real complicated, real fast. Shame, projected anger, beliefs about “all women” that we turn into “truth” to avoid our own deeper deficiencies, what else? Someone in therapy chime in here.

I believe the best response to these questions from boys is to ask some questions right back. The three we don’t ask Mr. Friendzone nearly enough are pretty simple on the surface, but point to an array of inter-connected concepts that I can only gloss over here. These questions are:

1. What are you about other than your attraction to that girl over there?

2. What is she about other than her perceived attractiveness to you?

3. What is the jerk doing that you could still do without being a jerk?

There’s so much here to unpack, but to address the first question, I believe there’s no better way for a young man to start walking the “third path” between the obsequious, silently resentful “nice guy” and the narcissistic, misogynist “asshole” than to have a sense of purpose and life direction to pour himself into every day. It gives him ground to stand on, allows him to avoid obsessing over girls’ responses to him, and it makes him naturally interesting to be around without artificially constructed stories, openers and “negs” to project the aura that he’s got better things to do. If he’s a young man of purpose (and I’m not necessarily talking about the Rick Warren, religious kind), he actually has better things to do.

The second question gets down to fundamental aspects of healthy relationships, but also points to common social dynamics in adolescent social spaces. Many boys, in my experience, end up attracted to the popular, physically attractive girls because so is everyone else. But what about aspects of character or personality that are important too? I’d say it’s foolish and short sighted to tell a young man that looks shouldn’t matter, but there’s a point where the energy expended on a physically attractive or popular girl who’s disrespectful, self-centered or manipulative just isn’t worth it.

So is she also kind, trustworthy, caring and fun to be around, at least most of the time? Does she know what she’s passionate about outside of her romantic and sexual involvements? Is she genuinely supportive of your passions and interests? I’m not talking about her needing to be a passive pushover or some throwback to Fifties housewives. Embodying these traits, regardless of gender, are essential in any relationship where partners will inevitably be sharing day-to-day experiences, experimenting with vulnerability and being intimate.

And of course, the natural end-point for the conversation that might ensue from question number two is clear: If she’s all these great things, then don’t you have to be them too? We can’t forget this piece either. But I suspect the kid in the “friend zone” has little trouble being kind, caring, trustworthy and supportive. He just needs to think about the ways in which he’s embodying these traits in a manner that sabotages his boundaries, voice and needs.

The last question reminds me of a quote from Clarisse Thorn’s awesome book Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser. A seduction teacher she was interviewing who goes by the name of Jonnie Walker said at one point:

“Some women may appear to love assholes. But those women are not actually looking for assholes. They’re looking for something that’s most closely approximated by an asshole. Men don’t have to be assholes to get girls, and they shouldn’t. Men should figure out what assholes do right, and do that, without being assholes themselves.”

Very true. I often ask “friend-zoned” boys about specific actions these other boys are taking and then discussing how they might be able to exhibit the same thing in an honorable way.

Say the jerk gets frustrated by a girl’s behavior and then just ignores her texts or phone calls as a way to deal with it. Classic pickup artist move. What about just telling her how he’s feeling, clearly and respectfully, at the time she’s frustrating him? This exhibits both confidence and self-respect, two things the assholes are supposedly exhibiting by being deliberately flippant and selectively interested.

I think young men desperately need to be told that they deserve more than just the erratic consequences of their adolescent horniness, especially if the resulting frustration from feeling inadequate will lead to shame and confusion. Otherwise, who knows how they’ll end up dealing with that once they’re older. Our job is to guide them toward being kind yet honorable, attentive without being smothering, and have a healthy sense of purpose and self-worth independent of what girls think of them. If we don’t, they may be in for a treacherous foray into the cult of seduction or maybe even a full-blown mid-life crisis later on. It’s hard to be a “good man” when you’re struggling with all that.


Read more on Emotional Intelligence on The Good Life.

Image credit: mikebaird/Flickr

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About Ben Keeler

Ben Keeler is a consultant, researcher and teacher specializing in the issues that young men face outside the classroom in their social and emotional lives. Find out more about him at his About.Me page.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Various blogs speak of the blue pill and the red pill. Blue pill guys got it from someplace, and if it doesn’t work, if it sends women off to the red pill guy or the jerk, we need to figure out where it comes from, who’s promoting it and how to get past it without becoming a jerk.
    Some guys will say, uncomfortably, that they don’t like taking on the aspects of jerkiness but they were desperate and, now, they can get dates.
    If the red pill is valid, and if women need guys who can handle the red pill–or even the quarterly macho check known as the shit test–then we’ll be explaining girls to boys in ways that could be considered, at best, unkind. I don’t think this is what the author has in mind.
    I expect it could be difficult to tell a jr. hi boy or a high school boy that he needs a life of passion and energy which, among other things, will keep him occupied, make him seem interesting, and have him pushing the envelope of life. Too much structure in a kid’s life prior to HS graduation and too little known about the practical options available in his situation. If it isn’t school extracurrics, there isn’t much else. Best I can recall is bragging about who had the toughest summer job.
    For some reason, in discussing women and dominant men (aka jerk, aka asshole), the idea of putting one’s–the guy’s–foot down about going to dinner and which restaurant is common. Either restaurants hold a fascination for women or it’s a metaphor for a broader issue. But it’s generally held that if a guy isn’t going to put his foot down about the restaurant–or whatever–he will be despised, viewed with contempt, no matter that otherwise he contains the virtues of Sieur Bayard and Albert Scwheitzer combined.
    Presuming this is true–and I last saw it agreed to by Hannah Rosin in a discussion of her book “The End of Men”–somebody else can figure out how to explain it to a young guy. I suppose you can say just that it’s necessary and hope the kid doesn’t ask why.

  2. In reading stories from men who have been “friend-zoned”, it strikes me that the women they describe often seem very similar. They descibe women who have what psychologists call “histrionic” personality traits. Emotionally needy; flirtatious; superficially warm, likeable, and charming; seductive, yet having underlying hangups about sex; attention-seeking; self-centered; kind if shallow. Often they are popular and outgoing women who attract a lot of attention.

    It occurs to me that many of the “nice guys” may be getting sucked into “friend zone” relationships with certain types of women who need their attention and emotional support yet do not want to reciprocate. By contrast, women who do NOT “friend zone” are the ones who do not encouage men in their lives to have these kinds of unhealthy relationships with them. They will not be overly friendly to men they aren’t interested in. That’s not to say they have no friendships with men, but they don’t encourage men to become heartbreakingly attached to them.

    If you are a guy who always gets “friendzoned,” Google “histrionic personality”. It may be revelatory about the women you keep pursuing. I’m not saying such women necessarily have a full blown personality disorder or mental illness, but they may have a histrionic personality type.

    To avoid getting friendzoned, I think one step is to be able to identify women who are likely to friendzone you, and don’t waste time on them.

    • I actually think a large part of the cases of friend zoning is actually caused by men and boys who shower attention on a woman or girl in an attempt to woo her and who get the impression that they are expected to continue doing the same after it’s been clear that nothing will come of it. That naturally leads to resentment because that would be an extremely entitled attitude, but I think it’s more often not what the woman or girl intends.

    • Very interesting insights here, Sarah. Never knew about this personality type, and good point to mention that there are definitely girls and women out there who make sure not to be too friendly so guys don’t slip into the “friend zone” in the first place. Perhaps a lot of girls who have allowed boys to get to this place were on some level aware of what they were doing? Is that what you’re insinuating?

      But either way, I think we have to expect more from the boys/men here too. In the end, these guys have to be self-aware and socially aware enough to know they’re headed for this place. We can’t just expect this to be the girl’s/woman’s responsibility.

      • I think it is important for people to pay attention to the kind of person they are always falling for. For women, sometimes, it involves falling for “jerks” then they complain “why are all men jerks?” If a guy is always getting “friendzoned ” he may want to think about the kind of women he keeps pursuing. That’s my only point. Obviously it is hard to generalize too much.

    • That seems to be a very negative view of the women: to label them all as “histrionic personality disorder”…What if she just wants to be friends? Or do you think there is no such thing?

      In my experience since middle school, boys who tried to friend me were really trying to move it quickly into something more romantic…sometimes when a girl is talking about movies, books, and the weather, that’s all she’s really talking about….sometimes a friendly conversation is just that….why is that so hard sometimes?

      Even nowadays, when I strike up a casual conversation with a guy at a party/alumni event, somehow I feel like the guy is trying to push it further into something else….why can’t a woman just talk about commodities with another guy without it being misconstrued? I think if I was a guy saying the same thing then the outcome would be totally different…

      • As I said, I’m not trying to imply that all women who “friend zone ” guys are mentally ill. Not at all. I’m talking about a personality type.

        Also not talking about guys who misconstrue normal friendliness from women. That’s not being “friend zoned” as I understand.

        I’m talking about women who encourage men to become their close friends, so she can cry on their shoulders, use them as a BFF, probably knowing (at some level) that the guy has romantic feelings. These are the situations I hear guys complaining about over and over. I think the women in those situations often seem to have a similar personality type, at least based on the descriptions that men give. (Not always. Often.) She is emotionally needy. Lots of drama in her life. Asshole boyfriends. She is very charming. Seductive. Encourages closeness to give her emotional support, but somehow it only works one way. Etc.

        I have had situations where I knew a guy had a crush on me but I didn’t like him that way. I do not encourage a close friendship in those situations. That seems a little cruel to me.

      • @Leica..

        “…..why can’t a woman just talk about commodities with another guy without it being misconstrued?”

        I really think a lot of this is in women’s heads!! Not every flippin man who holds a convo with a woman wants to go romantic…I really irks the hell out of men when I hear/read your comment, then read a comment from say Sarah who does not even talk to “strange” men, and then hear how we men want to rape and/or committ some other form of harm. I mean just what the hell are we to do? Just not talk to women, period? It has just gotten absurd out here, indeed.

        This is what I have discerned with many women. If the guy is cute yada yada yada, then they don’t mind if he is flirtatious or trying to be romantic. The problem is that most women only find about 20% of men attractive. So, if the man talking to you about commodities is in that 20%, you and other women would not give a rats ass if he was trying to be romantic or not.

        On a personal level, I have one female friend who is married. Otherwise, I do not seek out women for friendship, at all. Only as FWB with sex obviously. Otherwise, my convo is 100% STRICTLY business. There are some women who are single and I find attractive at meetings and events. However, because so many of them have your mindset, I would rather eschew them.

    • Sounds about right. The ones that don’t use the guys may not be active enough in showing their interest in the guys yet the ones that show the interest could be the friendzoners, but they do so in an ambiguous fashion flirting the line between friend n more. It’s said a friendzone is the guy who gets the responsibility of a relationship (a shoulder to cry on) without the benefits (sex, intimacy, etc). This is especially painful if she is telling you that you are the ideal guy for her but she goes off to date guy who are nothing like you, it makes you wonder if she’s full of shit or just telling you stuff to try make you feel better. Maybe it’s best for women to clarify that the guys traits are good but there is more needed, call it a spark if you have to, but let him know that it doesn’t exist between you both so he isn’t under the impression that you 2 are a great match but you choose someone else.

      I’d much rather know she isn’t interested in me but my qualities are also great for friendship instead of being told that they’re great qualities for her for dating but fails to tell me that there are other qualities that aren’t met. I guess when you are told a generic statement about women loving sweet n nice guys and being told you are a sweet n nice guy it can get confusing when you haven’t realized that it’s also a great trait for friendship and won’t make a woman fall for you in every case. The way I had it told to me by women was in a way which implied I was sexy as hell but then she failed to find me sexy which caused confusion as they weren’t telling me other stuff. I think we need to tell kids in school that not everyone is attractive to everyone, and that just because one doesn’t find you attractive it doesn’t mean others won’t. We need them to know that being nice n sweet is a trait that is good for some in relationships, but it’s also good for some for friendships. The hardest part to deal with was the ambiguity of actions by some female friends I had which hinted that they liked me, but then went for others. This could be a problem with males not having much physical contact with each other in the way that women touch each other, I’ve had women stroke n touch my arm n leg yet only want friendship….which at the time were very confusing as a young adult. Your instincts are telling you she likes you, but she says she doesn’t, then she does something to imply she does like you, then she dates another person.

      Maybe most of the problem is shitty communication skills between genders? Too much trying to guess each others behaviours? I know of a guy being texted by a girl who told him her underwear colour late at night yet she didn’t want anything more than friends with him. Confusingggg! I think so much pain has been caused when someone has wanted attention or a feeling, acts selfishly without thought for another and they end up hurt, eg guys using girls for sex, girls using guys for attention n comfort. I had girls using me for attention, I was someone they would bitch to about their lifes drama’s and I’d do what I could to make them feel better and then they’d not talk to me for ages until the next drama, I wasn’t able to bitch to them about my life, it was very one sided…And for a young n naive mind it can lead to quite a lot of bitterness!

      • Archy—I agree, Ozy, about the underwear thing. Ok–I’m a very touchy feely person–with anyone I’m remotely close to. I could entirely see myself talking about underwear with platonic friends. OMG I got I got the cutest pair with this little heart on the crotch! There would be nothing sinister there. Some people are just open people. I can be very crude around my friends. Not only do I fart and burp around them, but I talk about sexual things. That just shows that I’m comfortable with them. My male friends have talked about their underwear preferences (usually boxer briefs) and sexual desires. It’s not some weird thing. I have male friends to whom I’m not even close (and who are dating/having sex with other women) hold me arm in arm or hold my hand when I’m wearing high heels or something.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:


    If you look for “friend zone” or “nice guy”, you will find a near-infiinity of opinion on the subject. Yours is the first to address the type of woman who friend zones. You may be right.
    Others say it’s a guy who’s afraid to tell a woman what he wants so he hangs around being nice hoping she’ll make the move. She thinks he’s just a friend, and is annoyed or offended if he tries to cash in his nice guy chips, which are worth the paper they’re written on. IOW, a guy can get himself friendzoned, but a woman can’t do it to him, since, if he’s forthright, he’s either in a romantic/sexual relationship with her, or gone.

  4. “Some women may appear to love assholes. But those women are not actually looking for assholes. They’re looking for something that’s most closely approximated by an asshole. Men don’t have to be assholes to get girls, and they shouldn’t. Men should figure out what assholes do right, and do that, without being assholes themselves.”

    Here’s the problem, it’s much easier to be an asshole than to emulate an asshole. I’m not sure why men should go through the trouble to give women the perfect asshole experience without being a real asshole. Women are adults. If they chose to date an asshole they also have to deal with the consequences.

    Now regarding girls. The first boyfriend of my younger sister was an inconsiderate jerk. Nobody in my family liked him, neither my older sister, nor me, nor my parents. Unsurprisingly, he cheated on her and broker her heart. What was I supposed to do? Don’t allow my sister to date him? Beat the guy up? In the end I told her I don’t like the guy, but it’s your business. She made her own choices, but also her own mistakes. I think my sister learned a valuable life lesson. At least her later boyfriends were all nice and pleasant guys. Making mistakes is a part of growing up.

    You should tell your students they should stop pampering girls. If a girl wants to date a jerk she should, but don’t be the shoulder to cry on when things go south. It’s important for sensitive young men to set boundaries, to put their own interests first. That doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole, but be your own person. Trying to jump trough the endless hoops some girls hold up will only make you less attractive. If you are trying to be a honorable person emulating the desirable traits of an asshole you are already trying way too hard. Move on to a girl who appreciates your personality. Taking rejection gracefully and moving on is probably the most useful dating skill for men.

    • ThomasM,

      Thanks for the thoughts. I agree that “taking rejection gracefully and moving on” is key, and what I’m saying in the article is that it’s much easier to do this if you’ve got something you’re deeply passionate about in your life other than chasing girls or just listening to your lust. But I’m not saying to emulate assholes, although as I re-read the article, it sounds like I’m insinuating this. I probably should have said to just get really clear about your boundaries and don’t be afraid to speak up when a girl crosses them. But it takes careful mentoring to help guide a boy to do this firmly yet kindly. That takes a lot of modeling of situations and back and forth discussion, in my experience.

  5. My teen son is a “nice guy” who gets stuck in the friendship zone. I tell him that the right girl will come along and appreciate the fact that he is a good guy. I think we need to also think about mentoring girls to not chase after guys who act like jerks and don’t appreciate them.

    • Hey Marie. Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad to have come across your website. Seems you’re doing good work. But I think it’s dangerous to just tell boys who are “nice” that eventually it’ll all work out. There’s enough evidence in the modern dating marketplace to get pretty conclusive about recent social dynamics requiring a young man to exhibit social charisma, solid boundaries and self-confidence. Susan Walsh over at is doing a wonderful job helping college kids and young professionals get their head around all this while still keeping the discussion nuanced. I’m just concerned about boys going too far the other way, and taking on all these crappy pickup artist mindsets as a way to exhibit this confidence. I want to see an honorable, appreciative and respectful self-confidence grounded in a deep sense of purpose. Perhaps I’m expecting too much for teenage boys, but in my experience, if you’re a personable, empathic and reasonable adult, kids will rise to whatever bar you set for them.

      I’d say you’re right, too, to mention the girl side of things. It’s a tough discussion, no matter what. It’s going to take adults being willing to be honest with themselves, first, and kids second, and not hold back going into the “dark corners” with discussion…

    • Bay Area Guy says:

      I think we need to also think about mentoring girls to not chase after guys who act like jerks and don’t appreciate them.

      Yes, thank you for this!

      I’d say it’s about time we looked at the female side of the equation and the responsibility they have in all of this.

    • you cannot change what women are attracted to.
      In you carefree single days, you were also bedding hot bad boys.

      We dont need to change anything. We cant
      We just need to acknowledge that the dating and sexual realm is unfair to men. I’m glad we are close to doing that as a society.

  6. Ben, Thanks for this piece. It’s awesome.
    It’s important for young boys to know what they are doing. Mostly so that they develop proper skills for the future. I know that I never had such people in my life before PUA.
    The most advice I got outside of PUA fell into these categories:

    1. Be yourself/be confident:
    Continue to bang your head into the wall. Who knows tomorrow a door might magically appear.

    2. It will come naturally
    Sex is as natural as walking! So don’t sweat it. It will come. (Forgetting the years that a child actually trains to be able to walk properly)

    3. This doesn’t matter and what you prioritize is an illusion.
    What?!?! You have a penis!?!?!

    4. Be a man!
    Me: Then how should a man be?
    A: Don’t ask just BE!
    Me:… Wat?

    These advices have some gold nuggets in them. The problem is that they do not have the rigid framing that PUA have. PUA was something that I actually needed a manual, and not a mystic. Now I agree that a lot of things in that community are crap and harmful for men and boys I feel that the general idea is important.

    But I have a question for you Ben. Everyone else can answer as well.
    This is a question that has nagged me for some time: Why do these dating advices exist and why is it mostly men that need the advice?

    This question seems to be ignored today. Something that makes me confused. Especially when it is feminists that ignore it. Instead of answering this question they seem to be more interested in creating a sort of “kid friendly” PUA. Example: Nerdlove.
    It feels like everybody knows, deep down, that the answer won’t be pretty.

    • “But I have a question for you Ben. Everyone else can answer as well.
      This is a question that has nagged me for some time: Why do these dating advices exist and why is it mostly men that need the advice?”

      The answer is what the society is not ready to acknowledge right now.

      The answer is that women find fewer men, physically and sexually attractive.
      Men find a much larger number of women, physically and sexually attractive

      Men are instinctively and naturally attracted to women’s bodies, their sexuality and their genitalia. Women dont desire mens bodies in that way. They sure do, but only if the body belongs to a Geek God. An average males body and looks does little for most women. But an average looking woman’s body can be deemed desirable by countless men.

      This means that men need to SUPPLEMENT themselves with other qualities. They need to give women a good reason why they should be chosen. They need to persuade women to have sex, They need to bring other things to the table. Why? Because a man’s natural physical appeal is rarely ever enough for women to base attraction upon. That’s why men are in a perpetual state of confusion regarding what women want, what turns them on, etc.

      This lack of natural appeal of men manifests in the courtship and dating norms, where women rarely pursue men (they only pursue very good looking men who are naturally appealing), they need to pay for dates, they have the burden to make her laugh, entertain her, impress her with his intellect, show that he is successful, is socially significant, a good provider and so on. There are countless PROPS that men use to ‘render’ themselves acceptable and attractive to women.

      Women dont need to do any of this. We men find them sexually appealing just the way they are. They already have something we want…their bodies, their sexuality, their genitalia. Why would we require women to make effort for sex, when we already want them ? Why would we require a woman to ‘make us laugh’ to persuade us to have sex?

      All this is EQUALIZED if the man possesses exceptionally good looks and physique. That man can expect his sexuality, his body to be valued just like vice versa. That man can expect sex to come to him as easily it comes to the average woman.

      Its not that women have lower sex drives. Its not that they are not ‘visual’. They might have as high a sex drive as men, but that sex drive is only for a very small number of men. The visual stimuli they require to be turned on, to be attracted, must be very intense.

      Because this truth is bitter and likely to cause resentment among men, as well as make women feel uncomfortable; it is understandably shrugged off. We say, women are not visual, they are attracted to personalities, not appearance etc, they are more complicated. The truth is its the lack of physical and sexual appeal that we men have to make up for, by our personalities, humor, intellect, money, and so on.

      Every observation, every conundrum, every pattern, regarding dating sex, attraction and relationships, that baffle us, can be explained by the theory I’ve stated above.

      I think its time we put more scientific and philosophical thought into this.

      • Hi Timm
        It is interesting to read your comments.
        Has it ever occured to you that the instinctive animal part of a woman pick out good genes just like men do when they are intensely attracted?

        As you well know,humans breed animals like cows artificially.
        Research tells us that a female reindeer is better to pick a mate with good genes( for her reproduction of calfskin) than scientists can. They can choose in the wild among all thousands of reindeer.

        This will offend you. And I have absolutely know knowledge in this matter, it just struck my mind as I was reading your comments.

        It seems to a fact that women choose men that want to have children with them, and that can cope a family. In Scandinavia research tells us that some men marry many times. They find young wife’s as they grow older and start new families, and have children. Young men often want to play around,but women can not wait for biological reasons.
        Are they physically attractive these old men? NO they are not.

        Maybe you think a lot of American men are not physically attractive? Are they?
        Look to other cultures,where men stay slim,fit,dress well and smell good…….

  7. ” I tell him that the right girl will come along and appreciate the fact that he is a good guy.:

    And you would be giving your son some terrible advice. You’re advocating he take a passive role in finding romance. He’s a young man. He should be the one actively working towards his relationship goals with girls, whatever those goals might be. The confident, self-assured guys will be the ones approaching the girls. If he’s not approaching, he’s not showing confidence. Tell him that.

    And when he’s been disappointed enough by playing the waiting game, he may very well turn to the techniques of pick-up artistry.

    • Hi Private Man,

      I didn’t take the time to elaborate on my comment but the advice has been helpful to my son because he is a confident, self-assured young man. It’s great that our son feels comfortable enough to have these discussions with us and it allows us to have candid conversations about societal pressures on boys and men. We are teaching him to also see the value in girls that he may be overlooking. We don’t encourage him to take a passive role. However, we think it’s also important to tell him that he doesn’t need to chase after the “hot girl” that every guy likes.

      We have to realize that that young people are receiving messages through various media outlets that depict the nice guy as boring. In most tv shows or movies, the nice guy secretly loves the girl who loves the jerk. In most cases, the nice guy gets the girl at the end after her heart has been broken and the nice guy finally gets the courage to tell her how he feels.

      As I previously stated, we need to empower girls to see that behaviors such as a guy being unpredictable and playing hard to get are not excusable behaviors.

      • Hi Marie

        We’rent you bedding hot bad boys in your carefree days as well?

        I think your son is not good looking. It is extremely important for young men to possess great looks in order to attract women. Even a mediocre looking plain jane expects good looking guys these days. Thats just the way it is.

        If you have a daughter, she can have her fun with 50 guys by the age of 20. Your son might remain a virgin until 26.

        • You sound bitter. There is nothing great about ‘having fun’ with 50 guys by age of 20′. It shows low self esteem on her part. Its better to be a virgin until 26 and wait for someone who is right for you.

  8. Ben Keeler:
    ” “Why do the jerky guys get all the attention?” The natural follow-up question is so classic that it verges on modern archetype: “How do I avoid getting ‘friend-zoned’ by a girl I like?”
    We cannot successfully mentor boys in their romantic and sexual relationships without having first found some nuanced answers to these questions that avoid reductionist gender stereotypes or unethical thinking.”

    You are skipping a step here. The first step should be to answer the question as truthfully (meaning here fitting well with empirical evidence) as possible. This has nothing to do with ethics, it is just about finding out how the world works and the answers could well be unpleasent to us. Only in the second step you can use that knowledge to decide how to act, this is an ethical decision of course. Also while the first step is something where collaboration and others people experience are of tremendous value, the second step is everyones own personal decision.
    “I think we should be just as concerned about the teens on the outside looking in, and how this is inevitably shaping their beliefs about the opposite gender. Without guidance, boys in these situations could end up thinking some misguided thoughts later on, about both women and themselves:”
    Depeding on the guidance, for example if the guidance is more committed to ideology than truth, one could replace the “without” with a “with”. Further what we call misguided thoughts, are sometimes just unpleasent truths about us and our social circle. People don’t like to see their flaws exposed and the majority has a way of portraying its perception as the right perception. People on the outside, have a different perspective, dismissing this perspective, because they aren’t romantically or socially successful seems stupid. To explain, I believe that you can tell most about a persons character by how they treat people, who they have no incentive of treating nicely, other than compassion or moral values.
    Look at how they treat the weak and social outcasts, look at how they treat the pushovers, look at how they treat the ugly people, and you wil see who they are when they are not playing a role.

  9. Women dont like bad boys or jerks. They want attractive guys. Those guys may choose to be nice or bad.

  10. Why dont women get caught in the friend zone?

  11. At the end of the day, if you like someone, just tell them soon enough so that you still have a chance. If the friendship is ruined, quite frankly, she’s immature and it wasn’t a good friendship anyway. Better you get knocked back than be in a friendship where you resent the other person and can’t be upfront and honest. That’s what women like: honesty. The asshole guys are all honest – just in a dick head way. Learn to be honest and still be respectful and who knows what may come from it.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s really very simple. You get friend zoned because you don’t indicate that you’re interested. Throughout my life I’ve made very good friends with guys, only for them to turn round and tell me (as far as I’m concerned, out of the blue) that they’re in love with me.

    The guys I date ask me on dates. They pass comment on how attractive I’m looking, but not in a jerk-y way. They’re not TOO keen (most women I know can’t stand a clingy guy). The best relationship I ever had started with a guy I was friends with, after a around 6 weeks of us being friends, asking me on a date but saying “I like you enough, and think you’re cool enough for this not to be weird if you turn me down. If you turn me down, I will still be your friend. I will simply peruse other women rather than holding out for you”. Perfect.

    I had another guy say a similar thing to me, and I did turn him down. We’re best friends to this day and as soon as he realised I wasn’t interested he was able to be happy going after other women. He’s now engaged and couldn’t be more thrilled. Happy ending all round.

    • Its good being a woman isnt it. You get to decide which men you want to put in the friend zone and which ones you want to date and have flings with.

      • Yup, because no woman, anywhere, ever got friend-zoned by a guy.

        • On average it’s probably far more women doing it to men than the reverse, since men are the pursuer more often. From Hannah’s comment I am wondering if she had far more offers than the men did?

        • Bradley

          Women do get friend zoned. But its usually after having sex.
          Women can still be Friends-with-Benefits with their male friends.

      • Suzana Alves says:

        I cannot decide to put someone in the friend-zone without their agreement. They could just end the friendship as well. Also I can decide what guys I want to date or have flings – but just between the ones that also want the same with me, so in the end both of us decides.

  12. @Marie…

    “We are teaching him to also see the value in girls that he may be overlooking. We don’t encourage him to take a passive role. However, we think it’s also important to tell him that he doesn’t need to chase after the ‘hot girl’ that every guy likes.”

    Sure, you as parents can tell him anything you want. However, his biology is telling him to indeed chase after the hot girl. Biology. Always. Wins.

    • Supra deluca says:

      Talk about yourself. Humans are rational, but if you like to act like an irrational animal that can only see looks not taking into consideration YOUR OWN LOOKS and in the end cries because you overlooked women in your own league that might be amazing people… go for it. But then again, I guess you American males feel no shame in chasing women much better looking than you guys and believe you guys “deserve” them. And never wonders if SHE would not deserve something like, as hot as her.
      We all, male and female, pay attention, visually, to the “hottest” one, in our opinion. But then again, there are many hot people that are not the hottest. Some are even kind of… exotic… but we fall in love with their mind and then boom: they become the most beautiful person outside as well. You American guys should wake up, stop being selfish machos and try it.

  13. I don’t really like the use of the term “friend zoned,” because I think it undervalues the very real friendships I have had with women whom I was attracted to. Some of those friendships developed into relationships and some of them didn’t. Either way, I’m glad we were friends.

    As a middle-aged, married guy, I would love to have more female friends. Just friends. I value those that I already have for the friendships in themselves, for insight into a female perspective on life, and for the fact that I can spend time with an attractive woman without putting my marriage in jeopardy.

    Why are young guys in such a hurry? Embrace the friend zone! It might just get you laid, eventually.

    • “Why are young guys in such a hurry? Embrace the friend zone! It might just get you laid, eventually.”
      Because a woman who is deceitful to you by being ambiguous, flirting n then not being interested, jerking someone around is not a friend. Some refer to friendzone as you do, but others mean women who are not friends but users.

  14. Oh, and for a boy, *definitely* cultivate friendships with girls. I was a drama geek in high school, and I had lots of friends of both genders. Unlike a lot of geeky guys, and believe me, I was and still am a geeky guy, I had a much more active dating life in high school than I did, say, for much of my twenties.

    So what’s wrong with the friend zone, exactly? Spending more time with girls means spending more time with girls. Eventually, you might wind up kissing one of those friends.

    • What’s wrong with the friendzone? Well if you are friendzoned by the overwhelmign majority of the girls then frustration of having oooodles of friends but zero romance. Basically a man craving a relationship with a woman doesn’t need another friend if he has 100 already. Then when you notice you’re only getting to friend status with the majority of women you will question your own attractiveness. You may end up kissing one but that’s not someone who is friendzoned, friend-zoning is generally about being seen as a NON SEXUAL BEING to that woman, not just a friend, but someone who is completely sexless. You’re a kendoll, no penis, just a friend, always a friend, never anything but a friend. This is made worse if they start to use you and know that you are interested in them but have no intention of dating you, so basically a woman can milk the courting phase where a man may go above n beyond in hopes it will win her heart.

  15. Jonnie Walker says:

    People are attracted to who excites them, turns them on, all too often for what they are trying to compensate for (status), and in the end who they can get and keep in a free market.

    Being an asshole is a bad way of being. Duly noted. But the asshole is living with intent and going after what he wants and is doing it in a way that spikes emotions to create the emotions she craves. This is the atractive masculine part that is attractive; so attractive that she’ll put up with all kinds of crap and lie to herself to keep it comimg. An attractive man is all that without the asshole. They are two different species.

    Men and women who are stuck in the friendzone aren’t taking responsibility for their way of being that put them there. Let’s get real, dating is a market place. Are we really expressing selves fully in day to day life that we make a good investment (i.e. personal growth, passion, maturity, interestingness, fun factor, awaremess, cool factor, grooming, style, exercise, diet, etc.)? If we are then all this finding a great partner to be with often takes care of itself along the way toward being an “Awesome Me.” At our very best selves, we increase our options. Others have options too and there will always be competition; win some, lose some. If you don’t like your results, up your game and go for what you want until you get it. You aren’t entitled to anything. You have to get your ass up and get what you want or it will pass gou by. This is the attractive man we need to teach our kids.

  16. Jonnie Walker says:

    [A great quote by Zan Perrion]

    There seems to be some confusion relative to the concept of “having no agenda” and “being unattached to the outcome”.

    When I say I have no agenda, I mean I have no hidden agenda. When I meet a delightful girl, she knows exactly what I am about. She knows there is no way she can put me in the “let’s just be friends” box. How does she know this? Because I tell her!

    I tell her with my body language, my touch, and my words. She knows the difference between me and a guy who is on the make, trying to pick her up. And also the difference between me and a guy who is a “nice guy”, asking her out for a coffee, and a subsequent string of frustrating “dates”.

    And when I say I am “unattached to the outcome”, I am really saying:

    I am open to all outcomes, but attached to none.

    There you go. This is very important. I think some guys are thinking that all I do is approach women, shower them with compliments, and then skip merrily on my way singing “Skippity-doo-dah”. No, this spectacularly misses the point.

    Of course I would love to get physical with this delightful girl… to explore her in all her glory! That’s who I am. And of course I am going to say, “Wow, look at you!” Of course I am going to say, “Run away with me… I’ll take you on an adventure!”

    An example:

    Zan: Wow, look at you in that dress! You look spectacular. I was over there and I saw you standing over here, and I just had to come say hello…

    Her: Well, thank you!

    Zan: I have never seen you before. Amazing, huh? I usually know all the girls around here.

    Her: Hmm, really…

    Zan: Of course! Tell you what… why don’t you cancel your plans and come out with me this evening? We will celebrate!

    Her: I can’t. I have a boyfriend.

    Zan: (leaning in and winking) Ah, but that’s not what I asked.

    Her: (laughing) That’s true…

    Zan: Is that a no?

    Her: Hmm, I’d like to, but I can’t…

    Zan: I understand, of course. And don’t worry, I completely respect that you have a boyfriend. But hey, I would be remiss if I didn’t come over here and say hello to you, now wouldn’t I? And I would be completely out of character if I didn’t offer you a shared adventure tonight. That’s just my nature.

    Her: That’s refreshing to hear. In another time and place, perhaps…

    Zan: (looking in her eyes and smiling) Yes, I can tell… just by looking at you… in another time and place, you and I would be the most exquisite lovers…

    Her: Oh really? How can you be so sure? You don’t even know my name…

    Zan: Ah, but can you feel that in the air? That sense of destiny, that connection?

    Her: (smiles)

    Zan: (laughing) Of course you can… look at you… you totally understand what I am saying…

    All of the above is said with a smile on your face, and a twinkle in your eye. She will laugh, and shake her head at your audacity, and turn you down, but guess what? She will love it!

    There is no presumption here. There is no manipulation. There is no hidden agenda. There is no neediness. There is no rejection. There is no crushing sense of loss because she has a boyfriend. There is no “I am the prize”. There is no “If you don’t accept what I am offering, then it’s your loss”. There is no trying to wrest a phone number from her.

    There is just you expressing who you are. And that you like nice things, and that in another time and place, you and her would be lovers, and that you are not afraid to walk across the room to tell her that very thing.

    And no, you will not apologize for it! She will understand implicitly that this is just who you are, this is the way you celebrate life, and this is your style.

    She will never put you in the “let’s just be friends” zone. Ever. You have shattered that possibility forever. It doesn’t mean that you are necessarily going to get together with her. In fact, you may never see her again. But if you ever do, wow, she will never be thinking to herself, “He’s a nice guy, but…”

    In an interaction like this, everything is possible. You are dancing in the moment. Nothing phases you – not that she said no, and not that she said she has a boyfriend. None of this matters to you because you are open to all outcomes, and attached to none.

    If you have any doubts about any of this, show this to a woman you know and ask her opinion…

  17. It’s funny, but I had a life of always getting friend-zoned by nice guys. The nice guys I liked (I avoided the bad boy types–couldn’t stand them) always seemed smitten with the beautiful mean-girl types, the popular crowd, the girls who were well-endowed but always rejected them. These girls, of course, wanted the alpha-males, because they were the queen bees. Whatever this whole middle school view of life is, it’s time to move on once you’re an adut. If nice guys went for nice girls, and vice versa, and everyone were more concerned with people’s insides than outsides, there might be more happy couples. I’ve known an equal number of men and women who were not great looking, but could only be attracted to members of the opposite sex who were, and were always getting shot down by someone “out of their league” who greatly valued looks, popularity, and drama. There are also really good looking people of both genders who are nice and willing to give anyone a chance, although it seems less common. It’s about finding potential well-grounded partners who care about depth and substance, not superficial qualities. I really don’t see this as a gendered dynamic, but can only attest to my own experience.

  18. Women are attracted to the following 3 qualities and men and nothing else:
    1. Looks
    2. Money
    3. Fame (Power)

    Men are attracted to only one thing in women:
    1. Looks

    Both obviously will lower their standards if sexually desperate. That is the way it has been. It is the way it has always been. It’s simply natural selection doing its work attempting to kill off those who are inferior (read: unattractive). Therefore, it is the human reaction in order to gain more physically perfect specimens.
    Of course, alcohol serves as a loophole every time. The main reason why people have sex is because they can’t do any better.
    As cynical as this sounds, this is the ONLY way human sexuality can work. If you are unattractive, expect to have a miserable life, for you were made wrong.

    • Suzana Alves says:

      I am a woman and what attracts me in a man is:
      1. Looks. If he is not good looking enough (for me, and I go after the ones in my own league, no hypocrite here) unfortunately that won’t happen. I could still like him, but no more than just a friend.
      2. Expression. I like sensuality, charm, grace, passion. I like vain men, the way they take care of themselves is very attractive.
      3. Emotional intelligence. Over smartness, over personality. I like kind, compassionate and empathic men.

      And no, there is nothing “natural” in wanting someone for their money or fame, wtf lol. That is just more sociocultural shit. Most women (or men) could care less about your money or fame.

      “If you are unattractive, expect to have a miserable life, for you were made wrong.”
      But you see, everyone is attracted to something different. Some people like really weird shit. You see, I love masculine (but not hairy machos, yuck) guys – but I also love extremely feminine and soft men, also crossdressers – not typical at all.

      • Supra deluca says:

        Many men use only half of their logic. They see a famous man attracting lots of people, so they assume that these people feel attracted to… the man’s fame! And not by the man that, as you see, got famous because he is attractive. Facepalm. That gets even worse with attractive men because straight men in general are really, but really one-sided and could never imagine what a attractive man looks or acts like. They are so castrated emotionally with all these homophobia vibe that exists in society that they shut down to anything that could ever indicate a man’s attractiveness.


  1. [...] stuck in this situation, they cut their losses and move on. When lonely, isolated, awkward people get stuck in the Friend Zone, however, it can hit them hard. TV, movies and culture tell them that every man will end up with a [...]

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