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Friend Zoned No More! How to Spark Attraction on Dates

Dating coach Connell Barrett answers your questions on creating attraction instead of being friend zoned, getting more Tinder matches, and why looks don’t matter to women.

FRIEND ZONED

Connell, I keep getting friend zoned. It’s frustrating because women seem to be into me before we meet, but I don’t get second dates. How do I keep from getting friend zoned? 

—Craig, 37, Miami

Craig, I feel your pain. Getting friend-zoned after a first date hurts. Before I got good with women by being authentic, I didn’t just live in the friend zone. I owned a luxury condo there… and I was under house arrest. 

I remember a first date with a woman named Laurel, a smart, blonde bombshell. I tried to be everything that I thought she wanted—cool, clever, adventurous. To impress her, I made up a bullshit story about how I was studying to get my pilot’s license (instead of just being my true self with her. 

And she friend-zoned me. I felt so rejected, because she seemed to really like me. What the hell did I do wrong? 

Well, two things: I wasn’t being real and authentic with her. I was wearing a mask. Also, I wasn’t treating her the way a man treats a woman. I was being safe, and never taking risks or being vulnerable. 

My point? Women don’t put guys in the friend zone. We do it to ourselves! How? First, by being fake and inauthentic. And also by treating women like buddies, rather than like sexy, desirable women. 

So, here are two tips so that you never get friend-zoned again. 

1: BE RADICALLY AUTHENTIC

Be 100% you on dates. Speak true thoughts. Show your real self. 

When you channel your authentic, real self, a woman feels two very powerful things: attraction and trust. Being authentic is powerful in any walk of life, but in dating it’s rare, making it ten times more potent. 

When you put your real self on the line, you stand out. Not only is authenticity what women crave—it creates a vibe that’s more fun, connecting, and exciting, and thus makes your dating life even better. 

Instead of lying to Laurel about my (fake) pilot’s license, I should have leaned into my nerdy, dorky self and talked about, say, my love of improv, or my favorite self-help books. Lesson learned. 

friend zoned no more

2: TELL HER WHY SHE’S SEXY

On your next date, find something specific about her that you think is sexy (as long as it’s not about her looks) and tell her why that something makes her so damn desirable. 

And be genuine. No bullshit allowed. (A woman’s b.s. detector is more finely-tuned than a Richter scale.) It could be her smile, her presence, her wit, her giggle, her courage. Anything. 

I once had a date with a woman who revealed that she moved to New York City when she was 16, all by herself, to become a dancer. “You’re so bold and courageous for doing that,” I told her. “That kind of courage is really sexy.” 

She already knew she was attractive. I was telling her that the woman INSIDE was sexy. Ten minutes later, we were kissing. Not a bad first date. 

Don’t treat your date like a platonic friend. Treat her like a woman. Tell her why she’s sexy, and make it about a quality, not just her looks. 

If you make her feel sexy, you will be friend-zoned no more.  

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PLAYING THE MATCH GAME 

I get matches on the apps, but women don’t write me back. Not sure why. Here’s the opener I just used with a girl on Hinge: “Hey, [Name]. You are gorgeous. We should have dinner on Thursday night. How about it?” No answer. Ghosted! This keeps happening. Help! 

—Victor, 33, Denver  

Two big mistakes guys make on the apps? They either take forever to ask a woman out, or they jump the gun and ask her out too quickly. Either way, it leads to ghosting.

You made the second mistake, Victor. You never want to ask a woman out with your very first message. It comes across as over-eager, even desperate. 

Imagine if a girl walked up to you and her very first words were, “Let’s go have a dinner date.” Chances are, you’d say, “Woah! Who are you? Let’s get to know each other first.”

You need to get some rapport with a woman before you ask her out on a dating app. Here’s a rule of thumb: Expect to swap up to a dozen total messages before you ask her out. This gives her time to get comfortable with you. 

Oh, and I advise my clients against asking a woman out for dinner on a first date. Dinner can take hours, it’s pricey, and if you lack chemistry, you feel stuck together. Stick to drinks or coffee or smoothies. The smaller the first-date “ask,” the more likely you’ll get a yes.  

WHY LOOKS DON'T MATTER TO WOMEN

I’m not a good-looking guy. So I have a shot with attractive women. Or am I just too unattractive? 

—Gary, 45, Indianapolis 

It depends. How unattractive are we talking about? When you walk by, do people start to sing, “Tale as old as time…”? 

Kidding! The truth is, good looks are like the band U2—kinda cool but way overrated. (OK, except for “Joshua Tree.”) 

You might think that you need to be great-looking to attract a beautiful woman into your life, but you don’t. The reality is, looks are NOT essential to a great dating life. 

Hey, I do great with women, and I look like a Weasley brother. And my client Josh looks like John C. Reilly’s twin brother, and he dated an NFL cheerleader! 

Insecurity about looks is kryptonite for a guy’s dating success. If you’re out on a date and burdened by thoughts of “I’m not good-looking,” then you’re toast. Your date can smell that doubt, and it will crush your results. 

Men put way too much importance on their looks. We project our world view onto women. Men prioritize visual beauty, so we assume women do the same. But women are more attracted to behavior, confidence and intelligence. 

You can do GREAT with girls, whether you look like Brad Pitt or Brad Garrett—as long as you learn to be awesome, authentic, and play to your strengths. 

Let go of worrying about good looks or having the perfect body, and instead hone a 6-pack personality. Here are five things you can do to be more attractive to women, no matter what you look like. 

1: Develop your sense of humor, because women love to laugh.

Take an improv class, if there’s an improv school in your area. Or go into a date armed with a couple of funny stories. 

2: Be a better, present listener.

Women love to be heard. A tip: During a conversation, repeat back the last few words a woman said to you. This shows her that you’re listening, and it pulls you out of your head and into the moment. 

3: Be less filtered.

A man who “tells it like it is” is magnetic. My personal mantra for dating? “What I’m thinking and feeling is what I’m saying and doing.” Don’t be vulgar or rude, of course, but shoot from the “lip.” Speak your true thoughts.  

4: Dress great!

Get your style handled, wearing clothes that are tailored for your body type. Looks don’t matter, but your LOOK matters. In a Men’s Health poll, 81% of women said that a guy’s style was “very” important and made men more attractive. You can’t really control your looks, but you can transform your “look” with one trip to the mall. 

5: And always—always—date with authenticity. Because women like you for YOU. 


Connell Barrett is a NYC dating coach who helps guys get out of the friend zone and find the woman of their dreams. Connell's appeared on talk shows such as Access Hollywood and The Today Show. He's also appeared in publications such as Maxim, Cosmopolitan and O Magazine.

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NYC Dating Coach Connell Barrett

106 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

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