Why Men Put Women In The ‘Maybe’ Zone
This is article #34 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
(Photo: Education Dynamics)
You know you’re in The Maybe Zone when friends repeatedly see you with a man and ask inquiringly: “Are you guys a couple?”
And your response is to shrug your shoulders and say: “I’m not sure really”, or even just “I’d like to be!”
Within The Maybe Zone there are typically two big traps.
There is the Friend Trap (commonly also dubbed ‘The Friend Zone’), and there is the Friends-With-Benefits Trap (sometimes called the ‘F-buddy’ Zone).
I’m not saying that you can’t be friends, or have casual sex with a guy if you want to. A woman only counts as being in The Maybe Zone is she is in one of these scenarios but also secretly, or explicitly, wants a relationship with the guy in question.
Let’s explain both of these traps individually and why different kinds of women fall into them.
The Friend Trap
The Friend Trap is an old familiar favourite. It’s typically seen as something that afflicts men more commonly, but it happens to women as well.
The Friend Trap is when you like a guy, you both get along like best buddies, except…that’s it. Nothing sexual EVER happens. It’s like one endless tease, where you think something could possibly-maybe-just happen one day, but every time you get close to him he pulls away and decides not to.
It’s like being on a perpetual first date that’s going really well but the guy never goes in for the kiss, (even though he would totally score if he did!)
It gets frustrating. You can tell he loves being around you and hanging out, hell, he may even hug you now and then like a boyfriend, but he never initiates anything more physical. Is he just incompetent? Shy? That’s possible, but even incompetent shy guys take the hint eventually and can manage to guide their lips toward yours!
What’s more likely is that he loves being around you, and probably does even love your personality to some degree, but he has no sexual attraction.
Imagine the following simple formula for attraction:
Real Attraction = Sexual Chemistry + Connection + Respect
The guy can have all the Connection and Respect in the world for you, but without Sexual Chemistry, he’s not going to be able to feel true attraction for you.
Annoying right? It’s probably annoying for him too. A lot of guys wish they felt sexual attraction for women they were great buddies with, because that would be the ideal scenario! But neither he, nor you, nor anyone else can force sexual chemistry if he doesn’t feel it. Moreover, you have to watch out for those guys who actually enjoy the validation of the Friend Trap and stay there on purpose, enjoying your attention but never really making their move.
The Friends-With-Benefits Trap
The Friends-With-Benefits Trap happens when you are having sex (or some sexual activity) with a guy, and although you want him to be your boyfriend he never wants to commit.
At first you think he has issues with commitment, but then you realise you’ve seen him with a girlfriend before.
He calls you up like you’re his girlfriend sometimes, but he only wants to meet when it’s convenient for him. He never wants a proper date and every time you bring up any relationship conversation he reminds you he’s “just having fun”.
Let’s go back to our formula we just used: Real Attraction = Sexual Chemistry + Connection + Respect
Now in this case, unlike the Friend Trap, the guy clearly has Sexual Chemistry with you. But somewhere your relationship is lacking in either Connection or Respect.
Some women will be tempted to think that Respect is linked to them having a sexual relationship with him too soon, but that’s not true. Respect isn’t inherently linked to sex, and unless he’s of a very antiquated and out-dated mentality, he’s not going to judge you for having sex with him outside a relationship. Respect in this scenario is linked to other things. In the Get The Guy book Matt and I used the term ‘Perceived Value’ which might be a better way to think of Respect in this context.
Perceived Value can be linked to many things.
It can be:
- Whether he thinks you have integrity and purpose in your life
- Whether you would make an awesome girlfriend (just because he’s attracted to you and likes you, doesn’t mean he thinks you’d be great together ALL the time). Maybe he thinks you’re needier than he is, or vice versa, maybe he thinks you’re not as affectionate as he would like.
- Whether you have independent interests and an intellectual life (crucial to some guys).
- Whether you will be thoughtful and kind (some guys just won’t date a woman because they don’t think she’ll be nice enough to him!)
- Whether you are adventurous and willing to try new things.
These are just a few things that will cross a guy’s mind when he thinks about a relationship, and if he doesn’t imagine them happening then he’ll place a girl in the Friends-With-Benefits Zone. It’s the place where he likes the girl, he’s attracted, but he doesn’t feel enough Connection and Respect (i.e. an alignment of values and standards) to see something more serious happening in the long-term.
How To Deal With Guys Who Put You In The Maybe Zone
The first thing to remember is that it doesn’t make a guy a bad guy just because he doesn’t want a relationship.
For example, not every guy you have sex with will be your idea of a perfect boyfriend. Some of it just comes down to compatibility issues. A guy might put one girl in the Friends-With-Benefits Trap, whilst for another girl he gets down on his knees and begs for her to be his girlfriend.
Likewise, with the Friends Trap, just because he’s not into you physically doesn’t make him a jerk. What does make him a jerk in either circumstance is if he strings you along without ever making his true intentions (or non-intentions) clear.
The trick in handling this situation is twofold then:
(1) Don’t be too judgmental in either situation (unless he willingly deceives you and pretends he wants something else). Just recognise it for what it is and spot the signs of a guy not moving anything forward either emotionally or physically.
(2) Begin to create immediate physical and emotional distance.
Is there a way to get out of these traps and still get into a relationship with the same guy? SOMETIMES.
But here’s the problem. Once a guy has a fixed opinion of you, it’s very difficult to change it.
In the case of the Friend Trap: The preferred option should always be to put distance between you. You can still be nice to him, but you can also be totally honest and say “I have feelings for you, and need to put some distance between us in order to stay friends”. If he’s really a friend, at this point, he’ll understand.
Or if that seems way too dramatic, just stop putting yourself in any one-on-one scenarios with him altogether. E.g. no sitting at home together watching movies, no more ‘buddy-dates’ where you both go for dinner together and hang out all night. Make it a rule to only see him in the company of others, or not at all.
It will feel hard when you like the guy, but believe me, it’s much easier than wasting a year or longer pining over him when he doesn’t have romantic feelings for you.
Remember, just because one guy isn’t attracted to you, doesn’t make you unattractive.
He’s one guy, there are others.
Also, it’s always your own responsibility to remove yourself from the Friend Trap. Even if he’s clearly loving the attention and enjoys being ‘buddies’ with you: if you’re the one getting hurt emotionally, it’s up to you to notice this and remove yourself from the situation without being bitter towards him.
In the case of the Friends-With-Benefits Trap: You have slightly more chance of winning him over here since at least here you’re beginning with sexual attraction, which is obviously crucial before any kind of romantic relationship can occur.
But here’s the thing.
Once a guy has made up his mind, or told you he doesn’t want to commit at all, it’s always, ALWAYS best to take him totally on his word. Otherwise, even if you end up getting a guy to sleepwalk into a semi-relationship for six months, he can easily turn around and break it off all of a sudden when he freaks out and realizes things have gotten too serious for him.
Your priority should always be not wasting time with guys who aren’t already sure they want to be with you.
You don’t want to convince a guy to want a relationship with you. If he gives you ‘the talk’ where he says how he just wants to be single and have fun, just smile and say “that’s cool”. Then withdraw. Not coldly, not spitefully, but just in a relaxed way. Show him your standards in that moment. You want to withdraw affection in a way that says: “that’s cool. But that’s not what I want. I need someone who wants more commitment right now.”
A guy’s respect and attraction will go up intensely in that moment just for seeing you stick to your standard.
Now go meet other guys and forget about this one. And maybe, just MAYBE, at some point down the line you might both re-connect in another place and time and he’ll wonder why you didn’t ever get together (but again, don’t bank on this happening, it only may happen, but the point is, you don’t need it to).
If he never calls again, no harm done. You’ve spared your time and your affection for guys who are worth both.
Remember, both the Friend Trap and the Friends-With-Benefits Trap aren’t like your regular trap. Of course, you may stumble into them (as we all do) now and then without realizing. But as soon as you realise it, you always have the option to free yourself again.
The trap can be seductive, but it only exists so long as you choose to remain within it.
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