It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of great character can occasionally just really, really not do it. There’s no real reason – he’s smart, funny, you’ve got loads of in jokes and seemingly he’s quite good looking, but you simply don’t want to go there.

Enter The Friend Zone. While it might require some getting used to once you show them about, they won’t look back if they’re correctly settled in. Chiefly because they can’t. Once you’ve been friendzoned, there’s no leaving – it’s an one-way ticket until they find somebody else. As a good friend once said: ‘It’s like getting a lurcher, and then finding out you can not walk it enough. It’s kinder to return it to the dogs’ house so someone else can look after him properly.’ However, returning a dog is nothing to the fine skill of friendzoning.

I talk from experience – both of doing the friendzoning and being friendzoned myself (hint: it’s distressing). Contrary to what the glowing lights of Wikipedia would have us consider, the zone is entirely female. Needless to say we are NOT buddies, and I am still haunted by the memory. Here is not a relationship to be downgraded by – and the ultimate guide to friendzone a guy.


No heavy petting

An apparent one, this, but worth reiterating – and I speak from painful first hand encounter (see previously). If you are unsure of the boundaries, stick to the ground rules: ‘ No flirting, cuddling, touching or anything that may give mixed signals, he continues sagely. ‘Otherwise they’ll convince themselves you enjoy them back’ and, in turn, all sorts of weird arrives.


Fan the fires…away from you

He is fancied by suppose your mate? Do so with the same delight, and tell him instantly you had reserve for the news that he’d got a job promotion. Find him checking out your partner? This is not painless because – like any flesh and blood gal – you down are loath to let it go, and like the focus. ‘I believed I’d truly love it, but I found myself gritting my teeth ’ says Emma, recent friendzoner. She tried another tack – tell the possible puppy love how great a man he’s. ‘It was so much more genuine, encouraging him,’ she says. If you rate his camaraderie, describing his great wit will not be difficult.


For relationship guidance about another man ask him,

There’s dating talk with a girl, and there is dating conversation with a girl you are completely in love with. The first is unpleasant. The second, unbearable for significantly more than two mins, tops. Do not rub it in too much: there’s no need to empty the salt cellar into his little puppydog wounds, but done with surgical precision, salt is a powerful disinfectant. That, folks, is an extended metaphor worth remembering.


Be tender

You can find two things in life you should at no point underestimate. One is the sea, and the other is the male ego. Then you can’t let him down gently enough in case it gets to the point at which you need to Have A Conversation. Phrases like’ I wish I did’ can sound profoundly patronising: literally, translated, it sounds like ‘I just want my standards were not so high’. One friend uses the brother route – a path that concurrently endows them with the best qualities and leaves them sexless, but the effectiveness of that hangs on you a) liking your brothers and b) not having so many brothers the idea if you wanting another one is laughable. For reference, see my family (I have one brother and he’s great).

Invite other people along to anything that could be perceived as a date

You big coward. By becoming a pack animal one way is, obviously, discounting possible datelike scenarios. Nothing says friendzone like ‘Yeah I Had love to have a look at that new gin popup!


Friendzone them openly on social media

This really is a pretty embarrassing way to go about it, judging by the amount of furious blogs focused on the deed, but I guess needs must. It’s particularly useful as it pertains to presents or sort gestures with overtones that are amorous. Those blossoms ARE wonderful. That surprise trip when you felt they made, ill WAS so sweet. Post post it, give thanks because of their loving friendship tag it and in the accompanying caption. ‘My mate gave me these blooms! What a terrific teammate he’s. I love having mates. Mate’ could have the desired effect. That could be quite awkward for both of you.

Just be honest

Christ this is a toughie, but James says it’s ‘ the best means to handle matters’ – and as someone who has tried every conceivable variation of ‘it is not you, it’s me’, I’m inclined to concur. ‘Not being in correct position right now’, ‘not looking for a serious relationship’, and’ not over my ex’ after dumping him are all only indirect ways of telling a man three years, you don’t fancy him. ‘You do not have any reason to feel guilty or offer an explanation,’ says James. ‘But nipping it in the bud early is much kinder than stringing out things just because you appreciate the ego boost.’


Act like a nutter no sane man would date

What worries me is not how extreme this tactic is, once you get going but how enjoyable it can become. When I did it, what started as claims of parental-divorce-induced devotion problems became a trolleyload of bags that was unusual as ‘family things’ was just vaguely alluded to by me. As an umbrella, it’s perfect: poor communication, sudden disappearances from gatherings and a long-term anxiety of romcoms can all fall neatly within its boundaries, but you can go bigger if needed. Stomping my feet in rage was great fun, as was bringing deep questions about death and madness apropos of nothing. One pal feigned a snort laugh – and a baked bean phobia and dinner is the right showcase for wacky quirks. Within my case, insisting my meal be reheated at regular periods, fishing out the ice cubes from my glass, and eating each grain of my risotto separately. Just some tips for you, there.


Stop texting all the time to them

Sad, but true if encouraging your mates to every one of his date propositions, guiding him firmly to the sofa bed after a night out, and behaving like a nutter NO sane man would want to date (not entirely urged… but I’m not the only person to try it) has blasted so badly, you discover him back from your sofa, sitting in his trousers at the end of your bed a day later.


FYI: Three hours afterwards, after a cacophony of explanations and subtle -not-subtle attempts to get him to leave the house / place his trousers on, I tried some of James’ strategies: a two pronged approach of space, and truthfulness. We’re some way off BFF’s, but six months after he’s definitely running for mayor of The Friend Zone. See, this stuff works.