Why Men Put Women In The ‘Maybe’ Zone

Stephen Hussey

(Photo: Education Dynamics)

You know you’re in The Maybe Zone when friends repeatedly see you with a guy and ask inquiringly: “Are you guys a couple?”

And your response is to shrug your shoulders and say: “I’m not sure really”, or secretly to yourself, “I’d like to be!”

Within The Maybe Zone there are typically two big traps.

There is the Friend Trap (also dubbed ‘The Friend Zone’, though the term has become controversial), and there is the Friends-With-Benefits Trap (sometimes called the ‘F-buddy’ Zone).

Someone only counts as being in The Maybe Zone if they secretly, or explicitly, desire a relationship with the person in question, but remain frustrated in their efforts.

Let’s explain both of these traps individually and why different kinds of people fall into them.

The Friend Trap

The Friend Trap is an old familiar favourite. It’s commonly seen as something that afflicts men, but 10 years of coaching has taught me that it happens to plenty of women as well.

The Friend Trap is when you like someone, you both get along like best buddies, except…that’s it. Nothing sexual EVER happens. It’s like one endless promise of hope over the horizon, where you think something could possibly-maybe-just happen one day, but every time you feel like you’re getting close they bat off any romantic advances and leave you pining for them when they’re not around.

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 does truly enjoy being around you, and possibly does even love your personality to some degree, but he doesn’t have enough deep attraction.

Imagine the following simple formula for attraction:

Deep Attraction = Sexual Chemistry + Connection + Respect

A guy you’re friends with 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 real attraction for you.

Annoying right? It’s probably a bit annoying for them too. A lot of men and women wish they felt sexual attraction for someone they are great buddies with. It would be an ideal scenario. But neither he, nor you, nor anyone else can force sexual chemistry if someone else just doesn’t feel it.

The onus is on you here to put distance between you so you can finally move on. Especially if you’re waiting around for a guy who actually enjoys the validation of the Friend Trap and stay there on purpose, enjoying your attention but never really making a move.

Screw that. Save your time. Save your emotional energy. Set yourself free and look for someone who reciprocates the love you have to give.

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 maybe you realise you’ve seen him with a girlfriend before.

He calls and texts you 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: Deep 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 has 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 Connection and Respect in this context.

Perceived Value can be linked to many things.

It can be:

  •   Whether he feels like you care about the same things he does (i.e. family, career, health)
  •  Whether he feels he could picture himself in a relationship with you (i.e. do you have habits that bother him? Or a lifestyle/friends that he wants to be a part of?)
  •   Whether you connect on an intellectual level (yes, men care about this. Everyone with a brain does).
  •   Whether he likes your character
  •   Whether you have the same vision for the future

These are just a few things that will cross someone’s mind (men AND women) when they think about a relationship, and if they doesn’t imagine them happening then he’ll place you in the Friends-With-Benefits Zone. It’s the place where he likes you, he’s attracted to you, but he doesn’t feel enough pull 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 someone a bad person just because they don’t want a relationship. Much of the issue simply comes down to compatibility.

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:

(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 someone has a fixed opinion of you, it can be 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, does NOT mean you are unattractive. He’s one guy, there are others. And the longer you pine after one person who isn’t interested, the longer you’re missing out on an amazing guy who would be a model boyfriend if you were only available for him to find you.

Moreover, 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. It’s up to you after that to decide if the friendship is really worth keeping.

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 and ultimate mindset should always be: “I don’t want to waste time with guys who aren’t already sure they’re crazy about me”. 

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 do NOT 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. You can open your eyes, see the writing on the wall, and walk away at any time.

The Maybe trap can be seductive, but it only exists so long as you choose to remain within it.

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120 Replies to “Why Men Put Women In The ‘Maybe’ Zone”

  • I like this. I had a crush on a guy for years and he never asked me out. I actually finally decided to date another guy and that didn’t work but how glad I am that I chose to move forward.

    Lately the old crush and I seem to have been growing a little closer. And I do feel like man this guy has a lot of what I want. I would love if something could happen there.

    But I am not going to hold out for it right now I am working on some major exams for my job once I finishing in two months I am going to just date:

    Never wait around for someone to decide being with you is worth it.

  • Hello will I met some guy a day out clubbing gave it to him that same day saw each other everyday met he’s family he met mine I got pregnant of him he never told me we where gf and bf he never through me out their I felt like I was a fuckbuddy this happened 2016 lost the baby he got a gf I got back with ex husband saw him a few times I was in love with him he blocked me on FB now suddenly after 3 years he unblocked me tells me how he started working at a good job that he has a good truck he has he’s own home and I’m like so why message me he’s like I thought about how good you treated me so what is he’s problem he works 16 hours away from me so I know it’s not sex what is it help me my feelings for him never went away he when we text we talk about our issues and stuff

  • Okay so there’s this guy that wants to be just friends the problem is I’m not interested I’m not able to be the supportive friend when it comes to his relationship or be the understanding friend when he can’t hang out that’s just not the kind of friend I am I might I understand if it has to do with work or school but if it’s his girlfriend I’m not going to be able to and I told him that I’m actually the one that ended the friendship with him I cut him off a few years ago I should have done that years ago the friend zone needs to be shut down

  • Friends trap I hate it. I used to be in that trap, but not because the guy didn’t like me. He actually did, but I wasn’t brave enough to open up and develop our friendship into a relationship. When I was – he already was with another one. I struggled. A lot! That was a lesson for me- Plamena never stay in the friend zone for too long!!!

  • First off I would like to say I appreciate this article. For being straightforward & rational guide when it comes to dating, even when there are times it can seem so hazy.

    As for my Maybe Zone situation, I used to think it was complex but it’s becoming more of a reality to me that it isn’t that hard to understand at all. And maybe this can help someone in the future.

    I was in an on and off again flirty friendship with a guy friend for about the past 3 years. We met online when I was going through trials in my relationship with my boyfriend of the past 6 years so to give you context this is someone who knows the dynamic of my open relationship.

    At first it was a pretty casual friendship. I can tell he found me attractive, amazing and intriguing all things I felt with him too, we were so similar in terms of interests but anytime we would plan to meet up things somehow went wrong or were consistently delayed. I kept thinking well maybe he’s just nervous. But months went by and nada.

    So I did what any normal girl decides to do, I just went on my way and found a guy who was interested in me. It did not take long before I was dating a new guy (in addition to my boyfriend, I ended up having 2 boyfriends at this point) my friend and I eventually started talking less and less to each other.

    Some months later, i catch back up with him. My new bf and I are on rocky territory and my guy friend basically starts telling me how my new bf isn’t shit. I once again tried to progress us to at least meeting and he doesn’t want to again. However after I broke up with bf #2 he starts warming back up to me, and we start talking again.

    This time we get even deeper with each other. we loved to talk about everything, art, music, philosophy, science, spirituality, travel, video games, tech and just anything that was new and involving the future. We even had debates and pushed each other’s boundaries…It felt so progressive. It was everything I felt with my boyfriend but different. So as I love my bf, I grew to love my friend too, only I didn’t know this nor did I tell him.

    However, him and I finally decide to meet up (it was actually his plan) and he was so sweet he included my boyfriend too. We all decided to go to a concert together seeing our fave artist. The night was nothing short of magical for me, everything flowed so perfectly and we all got along so well. After that he agreed to meet up with me and my partner for quite a few more occasions but never tried to get me alone. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. Could it be he truly just liked me as a friend??? I thought about it a lot

    over the next 2 years we became frequent in blocking each other. It came to the point where we got at our wits end with each other. And we stopped talking completely for almost a year. I broke down finally and contacted him very passionately and with anger. He responded, i was so shocked. But he still feels I am too needy for attention and I felt he was too self centered and selfish. In the end we both deserve someone who loves us for US.

    I finally got tired of the rollercoaster. I give up on trying to figure out if someone just simply will reciprocate my sexual energy and feelings. I surrendered to the current and am deciding to go with the flow. I want to meet someone new, someone who returns my interest be it sex or something more. I am getting so excited again for the idea of having someone new come explore and experience me. You should too because you deserve it.

    So I would just like to end here with, literally do not make your feelings more complicated than it needs to be. Take that person’s actions for what reality is assess it and move on, it might come back to you and you might not even want it the same anymore anyway lol. Good luck!!!

  • Happy to have my lover back after 3 months of breakup, thanks E-mail: (Robinsonbuckler11@ ) gmail com……………

    Aw hehe ^^ ********.

    Glad to share

  • To me, a guy’s age/how old he is says a lot. If a guy is, say, in his 20s and he’s sleeping around and doing the friends with benefits thing, that tells me he’s having fun and playing the field because he doesn’t know what kind of girl he likes or wants in a committed relationship yet. I can understand that. But if a guy is, say, closing in on 40 and he’s still doing the friends with benefits thing and sleeping around, that almost 40-year old guy is immature, emotionally unavailable, and will never be ready to get into a serious relationship. Those kinds of guys have attachment issues and have a lot of growing up to do (sadly).

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