Worse Than 'Just Be Friends' - 'The Harmless Zone'

by Scot McKay

When two people are seeing each other and one isn't quite 'feelin' it', the other is invariably about to get the 'Just Be Friends' talk. This, of course, is assuming we're not dealing with desperate, clingy people who would rather 'settle' than be confronted with having to meet someone else.

And 'nice guys' everywhere universally dread the 'JBF', as inevitable as it ends up being much of the time when a woman's femininity fails to be ignited.

But there is a place even more dreadful than the 'JBF' zone. Dreadful, yet oftentimes completely ignored as even a remote possibility by most men. After all, if you are imprisoned there you may not even realize it -- you may actually be naïve enough to believe you are getting somewhere with the women you interact with. And this, my brethren, is what makes this particular place even more insidious.

Yes, indeed. If 'JBF' is a 'zone', then 'Harmless' is a 'dungeon'.

You see, if you are given the 'JBF' lecture, then there's an automatic assumption that at one point you at least were given a chance romantically. If you are 'Harmless', it's generally understood -- probably by EVERYONE -- that you have NO CHANCE. Not a snowball's chance in Yuma, AZ. The crazy part of this dynamic, however, is that 'Harmless' guys typically can get away with breathtaking displays of flirtation with drop-dead hotties -- and actually get friendly responses from such women.

Other guys around them are awestruck. "How can THAT guy get so much female attention?" Simple, Big Guy. He's HARMLESS. The other guys? If they were to flirt like that they would risk being taken seriously, which unfortunately is way too much risk for most guys (see previous newsletter "Getting Beat By A Girl").

So how does a guy end up in the 'Harmless' category?

1) Too Young

One time a bunch of us were out at a restaurant that was particularly known for hiring attractive waitresses. Someone's eleven-year-old son began bantering with one such waitress in a particularly forward manner. Before his embarrassed Mom could bring herself to discipline him for his 'rudeness', something bizarre had already started happening. The waitress was RESPONDING to the kid in kind, culminating with a kiss on the cheek. Preposterous! Nah…not really. He's HARMLESS…at least for several more years.

2) Too Old

Another time, back in the IT world, I worked in an office that—again—was known for hiring attractive women. One time, during one of those impromptu hallway 'meetings', a very kind, paternal British gentleman mere months from his retirement date wandered up and proclaimed, "I do declare, NEVER have I seen such a FINE COLLECTION of EXTRAORDINARY beauties in one office."

At that point, two of the referenced women exclaimed, "Awww!" and kissed him on the cheek simultaneously. One Armani-clad thirtysomething guy in the huddle responded by blurting out, "Hey, what about me?" Both women raised their eyebrows and one retorted, "Him? Stop being jealous. He's Harmless."

3) Famously Happily Married

If someone is blissfully happy in his or her married relationship, and everyone knows it, there are certain -- and sometime strange -- incidences when such a person can get away with jokes and/or banter that nobody else could. Usually, this is seen when there's a particularly quick wit and a distinct lack of jealousy between spouses involved.

Some can just naturally get away with saying things to MOTOS (Members Of The Opposite Sex), particularly among friends or in the workplace, that others would never utter in a million years. But it's okay. These people are HARMLESS.

4) Gay

When women OR men interact with MOTOS who lead an alternative lifestyle, the flirtatious banter that can sometimes occur can confuse the heck outta other people around. Now you know why. Harmless.

5) Physically Uncared For, To The Extreme

If someone--particularly a guy--is morbidly obese, infirmed, poorly groomed and/or extremely unattractive in some other way then he is often considered HARMLESS by MOTOS. Ironically, the more physically fit and sexually attractive a woman is, the more likely she is to respond in a playful manner to flirtatious banter from such a person -- especially if she has an outgoing personality.

Now you know why this goes on. To a lesser degree this dynamic can be seen in reverse (i.e. the woman is 'Harmless'), but almost always when the woman's personality makes her irresistibly fun to be around…harmlessly.

6) Weak Personality, To The Extreme

Very shy, socially removed, and/or socially unskilled guys often receive special attention from certain beautiful women, especially very sweet and outgoing ones. Such women inherently understand that these guys are likely getting zero female attention, and therefore smile at them and hug them because they're HARMLESS. After all, such socially hamstrung guys won't be crazy enough to act upon it or anything.

By now you've guessed that the first four bullet points above aren't really negotiable -- at least we suppose not. Granted, boys grow up, older guys can get 'game' if they so choose (the gentleman in the above scenario was not of that frame of mind), marrieds aren't always immune to cheating, and those who are gay may become bi-curious. But generally speaking, those first four scenarios are safe-havens for all involved.

It's points #5 and #6 that we can do something about. If you have solid reason to believe that either of those last two situations apply to you, and you wonder how you can be getting female attention but NO DATES, now you know why. I know this is where a lot of guys live on a daily basis, yet an amazing number don't even realize it.

Just last night, Emily and I hit our local Sonic Drive-In after the Spurs game. There they were: Two pretty young women with their 'Harmless' guy friends -- both of whom were trying unsuccessfully to believe they had a chance, much to the amusement of the ladies. So yes…what we are talking about here is very, very real.

While outlining what it takes for someone who can (and should) to get out of the "Harmless Dungeon" is way beyond the scope of this short piece, know for starters that it is absolutely possible -- and can be accomplished faster than most guys think. My purpose today is specifically to shine a light on the issue, which I've never read about elsewhere ever.

There is one key caveat to this conversation. Someone out there is saying, "Yeah, but she gave me the 'JBF' talk before we even went out…all I did was express interest. And that was the worst!" Okay, granted.

But that was no 'JBF' talk, at least as far as the working definition we use around here. In such case, you've been issued notice that you are supposed to remain HARMLESS…and to please stay that way so she can peacefully forget this ever happened. Call it a 'Harmless Talk in JBF clothing'.

And what if you are finding that MOTOS are completely disgusted with you and avoid you at all costs? Okay, you've got me there. Yeah, well… that's just flat-out ' creepiness' and is truly as bad as it gets, short of a formal restraining-order. That's the worst 'zone' of all.

Scot McKay's dating strategies for those who refuse to settle for anything less than the ULTIMATE relationship are found at: http://www.relationship-advice.us/. Stop by right now and grab a FREE e-book ($20 value) when you sign up for the X & Y Communications Newsletter, which is always packed with unique and practical dating tips.