Connell Barrett answers your questions on igniting romantic chemistry, gaining confidence, and dating-app openers that women love. Learn how to get out of the friend zone.
Most of my first dates end with me basically hearing, “You seem nice, but I just didn’t feel the chemistry.” Any tips on how to get out of the friend zone?
–Jacob, 33, Indianapolis
Jacob, I feel your pain. Before I got good at dating, I spent more time in the friend zone than Jerry Rice spent in the end zone. When your dates go nowhere, it can hurt, making you ask, “Is it me? Am I just not attractive?”
The good news? It’s not you! You’re just missing one element: edge.
By edge, I’m referring to a sense of fun, sexiness, and excitement that women want. Nice guys like you and me need to bring a little edge to our dates to avoid being banished to the friend zone.
Take my client Trevor. He came to me to find out how to get out of the friend zone. He was getting dates with cool, cute girls, but he couldn’t get second dates.
I gave him a few strategies, and he met Becca, a gorgeous, witty brunette who’s a professional chef. Pretty much Trevor’s dream date. He added some edge, and sparks flew on their first date like it was the Fourth of July. Before the date was over, Becca was sitting on his lap, and they were making out—while half the bar gave them “get a room” glances. (Their second date? A couple’s massage that she arranged.)
How to get out of the friend zone? Add some edge to your dates. Here are five ways to do it.
Banish these words from your vocabulary: “So what do you want to do?” Handle the first-date details. Take the lead and suggest an activity, time and place. And present it with confidence: “I know a great wine bar that you’re gonna love. How about [day/time.] Sound good?” Your leadership and certainty will impress her. Also, going into the date, have a second spot in mind where you can take her if you’re hitting it off—and make it easy to get to. You might say, “Let’s grab one more drink at [such-and-such place]. It’s just a quick Uber ride away. Shall we?” Women love a man with a plan.
To up the “edge” factor, talk about one of your cooler passions—say, playing guitar, salsa-dancing, learning Italian, etc.
At first glance, my client Matthew, 26, is just a nice, nerdy guy. To help avoid the friend zone, on dates he talks about the screenplay he’s writing—a dark, quirky political murder thriller, similar to “House of Cards.” He’s not JUST a nice guy in women’s eyes. He’s a creative, ambitious type whose name will one day be on the big screen. Now THAT’S edge.
We’re hardwired to love stories. A good personal anecdote makes you more charismatic, holds her interest, and invites her to share her own stories.
When story-telling, you can follow a three-part structure: setting, conflict, resolution. Here’s a story from my teenage years that I’ve told on dozens of dates: “I was in study hall in high school [setting] before a geometry test. I knew I wasn’t ready, and if I failed I’d end up in summer school [conflict]. So I went to the nurse and pretended to have back spasms. When my parents came to get me, instead of taking me home, they took me to the hospital for X-rays. And the doctor diagnosed me with scoliosis—for fake back spasms! [resolution]”
When it comes to learning how to get out of the friend zone, a simplest fix is to tell your date that she’s sexy. A woman might get the “friend” vibe because the guy didn’t summon the courage to let her know he finds her attractive. If you find a woman sexy, tell her—not as a “move” but because you’re an authentic man who speaks his thoughts. It sets you apart from guys who are too afraid to say it.
Pro tip: Instead of making it about her looks, tell her a trait that you find sexy about her—say, her sense of humor or intelligence. (“Wow, you’re quick-witted, too. That’s sexy as hell.”)
Hey, women want to feel sexy and appreciated, so give them what they want.
On a date, look for something nerdy or dorky about her and PLAYFULLY tease her, and see if she responds well. Just make sure it’s a topic that won’t offend her. No jokes about her appearance or her family. Be cheeky, not mean. Stick with light topics—perhaps her taste in movies or TV shows. “What? Your favorite show is Real Housewives? OK, this date is over…”) A well-timed tease is not just a show of confidence. It’s an invitation to tease you back, which can send the chemistry soaring.
Connell, I saw you on the “Today” Show talking about how “Radical Authenticity” is the secret to dating success. I’m lonely, and I want to find a cool girlfriend. Can you go deeper? How can I be more authentic, and how will that help my love life?
—Nick, 39, Orlando
The secret to dating success in a word: authenticity. You see, when you channel your best, most authentic—when you become what I call “Radically Authentic”—a woman feels two powerful things: attraction and trust. She’s attracted to you because it takes confidence to unapologetically be yourself, and confidence is intoxicating to women. She also can trust you because you’re being honest and real. The amount of “attraction” she feels for you is in direct proportion to how authentic you are.
Remember, the typical single woman has heard more lies and bullshit than an NYPD polygraph expert. When you’re authentic, you signal to her to that you’re that rare man who she can finally trust. And when there’s both attraction and trust, you create a real connection.
If you want confidence and a great girlfriend, authenticity is everything. It’s the hokey pokey—what it’s all about it. It’s Coca-Cola—the real thing. It’s a Tina Turner song—simply the best.
Authenticity is to your love life what the Force is to Luke Skywalker: powerful and already within you. You just have to channel it.
Here’s a real-world example of applying radical authenticity. Let’s take approaching. You’re at a bar or a coffee-shop, and you see a woman you’d love to meet. Instead of thinking, “What’s the coolest line I could use?”, instead you want to ask yourself, “What’s the most honest, genuine thing I’m feeling?” And say that to her! (While being a gentleman and never vulgar, of course.)
For example, maybe you approach and say, “Hi, I’m actually kind of shy, but I just saw you and had to meet you.” That level of vulnerability will knock a girl’s knee-socks off because it’s real, rare and a huge compliment to her. It also feels great to YOU because you don’t have to use cheesy pickup lines. You can just speak your thoughts.
That sort of vulnerability can lead to incredible connections with women. And, as a bonus, a Radically Authentic man gets to date with integrity, while having total respect for women. It’s win-win, for you and for her.
In dating, authenticity is king, connection is queen, and long may they reign.
Women rarely reply to my openers on dating apps. What’s the perfect opener to send after you match?
—Martin, 43, Denver
The perfect opener doesn’t exist, Martin. It’s a myth, like the Tooth Fairy and funny Adam Sandler movies.
If you’re hearing crickets, you may be using boring, overused openers such as “Hello,” “How’s your day?” or any variation of “Hi.” The best openers are personalized and relevant to the woman. After you match, check out her photos and bio and look for a topic she would enjoy discussing—say, her adorable French bulldog or her love of red wine. Then ask her a question or give her a compliment that relates to that topic, keeping things light: “Allison, I see that you’re a fellow pizza addict. So… deep-dish or thin-crust?”
Witty, clever openers are great, but they’re not required. Don’t try to be perfect. Just be authentic to you while keeping the conversation relevant to her.
Connell Barrett is a dating coach for men who helps men all over the world figure out how to get a girl. He teaches everything from how to show confidence to a woman to what to text a girl. Look for Connell's dating book coming Spring 2021. Connell's appeared on shows such as Access Hollywood, The Today Show and more.
NYC Dating Coach Connell Barrett
106 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001