Every guy’s been there. You’re really getting into a woman, but something is clearly off. Maybe she says things like “aww” whenever you express affection, maybe she’s always talking about other guys in front of you, maybe she’s just a little cold since that time you tried to kiss her after what you thought was a date.

Yep. You’re in the friend zone.

You don’t need me to tell you that, though. You need me to tell you how you got there—and more importantly, how to get out. Here are four scenarios, plus what to do to extract yourself. Hopefully more smoothly than the US pulled out of Southeast Asia.

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Few things scream “overgrown man-child” more than a guy who is afraid to put it on the line and straight-up ask for what he wants.

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1. Time frame
How you got in:
When you first meet a woman, there might be an initial spark. But that spark needs to light a fire pretty quickly or she’s going to keep looking for someone who’s ready to bring the heat in the sack.
How you get out:
If you’re feeling a little more serious about her, simply begin being more romantically and sexually forward with her. She’ll either be impressed that you are bold enough to handle that type of social and sexual tension, or she’ll decline your advances. In which case, well, it’s not like you were sleeping with her before, is it?

2. Hanging out
How you got in:
You know what boys do? They call up a girl they like and ask if she wants to “hang out.” They hope she gets that “hang out” is a code word for watching a movie while hooking up. You know what men do? They ask women out on dates, a move that is unambiguously geared toward getting together in a romantic and sexual manner. Few things scream “overgrown man-child” more than a guy who is afraid to put it on the line and straight-up ask for what he wants.
How you get out:
Take a wild guess.

Looking for what not to do? Try just about everything this guy did for nearly 10 seasons.

3. Value pack
How you got in:
Ever see a guy with a woman who’s totally out of his league? Chances are he’s got something that showcases him as a high-value man. Whether he can rebuild the engine in her car or he’s got a high-paying job as an IT professional, he’s got skills and she knows it. Women respect and are drawn to a man who’s good at something. You get bonus points for actually enjoying what you do well.
How you get out:
Show her what you can do, man! Find even the flimsiest pretext for demonstrating your expertise. (Think how much tail that Mystery dude has gotten with freakin’ magic!) Do it with gusto and you’ll go from friend zone to fighting her and her friends off with a stick.

4. She’s just not that into you
How you got in:
How much explanation do you really need for this one? You just don’t make her lady parts flutter.
How you get out:
This is a difficult but not impossible situation. Basically, if she’s not attracted to what she’s seeing, you’ll have to make some sort of change to reveal your awesomeness. You could hit the gym, acquire a motorcycle license, get cozy with another woman (something we like to call “social proof”). The real key with all these moves: they’re going to make you a better and happier man regardless. And who knows, by the time you’ve leveled-up, you might just be not that into her, either. Which will of course have her banging down your door…


Jordan Harbinger
is a Wall Street lawyer turned Social Dynamics expert and coach. He is the owner and co-founder of The Art of Charm, a dating and relationships coaching company. If you dig this and want to learn more from Jordan and The Art of Charm team, visit theartofcharm.com. You can also interact with Jordan on Facebook.