She’s interested in dating, but wants to be friends first. How do I do it?

BastStar asks: 

She recently got out of a relationship. I don’t know much about it except it seems like her boyfriend wanted to be with other people. She told a mutual friend that even before we met that she was very excited about meeting me. But before anything happens between us she wanted to be good friends first. We’ve hung out twice and she gave me her number. We have mutual interests and talking to her is fun which is rare for me. I asked her friend what she thinks of me after we hang out the second time and she said that she’d love for something to come of this but at the same time she wants to be sure and not rush into anything because we have the same friends and it’d be awkward.

I definitely would want to date her and see where it goes. But despite what she and her friend says, I’m not really sure she means it. I’m afraid that they’re just trying to let me down easy and hoping I take the hint. I haven’t dated very much so I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Should I take it slow and be her friend first and risk being friendzoned? Or should I not get my hopes up and put my eggs in other baskets?

Demetrius says:

Sometimes when I give advice I can give a very distinctive YES or a very distinctive NO, but in your case, I don’t think it’s that simple. Let’s lay out what you’re asking here:

  • Is she telling me she wants to take things slow as a form of passive rejection?
  • Should I take it slow and be her friend?
  • Will taking it slow end up with me in the Friendzone?
  • Should I avoid getting my hopes up about being friends first, then moving into dating?

These are all valid questions, and I want to answer them, honestly I do, but I think we need to change the way you’re thinking of this situation. Let’s re-frame the situation a bit and take the idea of even dating this girl out of the picture. In this thought experiment this is just a friend of a friend who recently went through a breakup and would like to make new friends. Would you be friends with this person? Would you work on building a friendship with this person if the option for dating was completely off the table? If you said no, then no, don’t try to befriend her. If you said yes, then yes, befriend her and work on being her friend.

Because really, that’s all she’s asking you to do. Be her friend. She didn’t promise you that you’ll have a shot at dating when she’s ready to date, nor did she guarantee that if you wait it out you’ll eventually be her boyfriend. What she is telling you is that she’s interested in being your friend. Could that be a rejection? Absolutely. Will you end up in the friendzone? Maybe! It’s possible that “friendzone” for her means “a friend” not your definition which is probably closer to “I’m attracted to this girl and she is not but we’re friends”. Either way is possible. Should you get your hopes up about being her friend with the option that maybe you can potentially date her later? No. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t befriend her, but what you shouldn’t do is befriend her if you think that it will automatically make her want to date you.

If I was in your shoes I’d befriend her, but also continue dating other people. Don’t hold out hope for potentially dating her because, well, I don’t think anyone should wait for someone to want to date them, but also because she might realize she doesn’t ever want to date you, given enough time. You shouldn’t put your love life on hold for her or anyone else so feel free to date other people and if the right person comes along, date them. If you do all those things, still don’t find someone great, and she eventually decides thatshe’s interested, pursue her then.

Until then, treat her only as a friend, with no ulterior motive…Or don’t befriend her at all.

Good Luck Out There.

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