When She Says, “Let’s Just Be Friends”

by George P.H. on September 27, 2012

To a man romantically interested in a woman, few phrases are harder to hear than “let’s just be friends.” It’s a rejection made even more painful because it creates a glimmer of hope, giving no closure but leving many questions.

Does she really want to be friends? Will she eventually see how good you’d be together if you stay friends? What does the phrase really mean and what’s the best way to respond?

With this post, I’d like to end all speculation and answer these questions once and for all.

What “Let’s Just Be Friends” Really Means

So you start hitting on a girl you like, but at some point get rejected with some version of “let’s just be friends.” Common variations include:

  • You’re too nice.
  • I’m really busy with my job/career/pet right now.
  • I value our friendship too much.
  • I like you, but I’m not ready to date anyone yet/this is a bad time.

Women use lines like these to say “No” without hurting a guy’s feelings too much. The problem is, none of these phrases make it 100% clear that a girl’s not interested – or why she’s not into you. And without closure, it’s easy to get stuck in emotional limbo.

If you’re so nice, why won’t she see you? If she likes you enough to be friends, why won’t she give dating a chance? What’s really going on and is there anything you can do?

These are all good questions, and I hear them often from my clients. I usually respond with a question of my own:

What would she do if you were Brad Pitt?

She’d make time; risk your friendship; get over her ex in a heartbeat. If you were a man of extremely high value, she’d be chasing you instead of blowing you off. So every time you hear “Let’s just be friends” or a variation thereof, you’re really hearing: “You’re not attractive to me as a man.”

It hurts to face the truth, but at least it’s better than not knowing. So why don’t girls just blow us off directly, cutting us loose and allowing us to get closure immediately?

Why Girls Do It

You might think that girls are protecting us with these indirect, ambiguous rejections – at least, that’s the explanation my lady friends usually give me after Let’s Just Be Friend’ing some poor schmuck. But the reality is, they’re protecting themselves.

Humans are social beings, and we dread rejecting and breaking up with others – even when necessary. It makes us feel bad about ourselves and girls don’t want to feel like jerks by blowing guys off directly. It’s easier to say “Let’s just be friends” than “You don’t attract me as a man.”

Sometimes, there’s more than just the ego at stake. You might be unattractive sexually, but offer something else: gifts, attention, a self-esteem boost, help with her chores… There’s no reason to cut you off completely when you could still be useful. It sounds rough, but humans are value-seekers and there’s no point in severing ties with someone who can offer you something.

Of course, it’s actually best to reject someone completely so they can get closure and move on. Leading someone on – even a little bit – is selfish, and doesn’t protect anyone’s feelings in the long run. If a person really cares about you, they won’t make excuses for not wanting a romantic relationship – they’ll tell you the truth. Keep that in mind if you ever think someone’s being nice by using “Let’s Just Be Friends”-type lines.


So ladies, if you’re reading this – when you don’t like a guy, make it very clear that you’re not interested. This makes it easy for him to move on and means you won’t have to deal with him pursuing you to the point of annoyance.

Guys, if you’re reading this – when a girl says, “Let’s just be friends,” get the hint. She doesn’t want to be friends, she’s not busy and it’s not because she doesn’t want to risk your current relationship – she’s just not that into you. Don’t delude yourself.

Remember: honesty is the best policy and ensures nobody gets hurt. If you don’t like someone, leave them no hope; be 100% clear, regardless of your sex.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul T October 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Very nice article! I totally agree, with just one or two points I’d like to add…

1. Don’t despair if you are in the friend zone – it can be escaped. However the price to pay for trying is it can change your friendship forever. Not necessarily for the worse, but repeatedly trying will change the friendship dynamic, and the way to get out of the friend zone is by changing your behavior towards her to a more attractive way.

2. Saying lets just be friends is not just her protecting her feelings (Although she is. Totally agree.), it is also often her trying to protect yours. It is both if you and her really are friends.


Mike October 4, 2012 at 3:54 am

Yes this makes a great point. Trying to be sensitive by using the friends line really is insensitive and hurtful in the long run, as though men need to be coddled or cant handle rejection. To be fair, many men respond poorly to rejection. The truth is always the best route though


J. Delancy October 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

P.H that be brutal truth!

The third paragraph of “Why Girls Do It” explains the female perspective of “Friends with benefits.” The man sticks around with hopes of sex or a relationship and the woman keeps him around to provide gifts, money, a listening ear, etc.
Here is my response to “Let’s be friends”, whether I say it seriously or humorously, “Excuse me, but I decide who my friends are, you don’t.”

If nothing else she’ll respect you.


George P.H. November 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for the comment, J, you got me as you always seem to :)


Nick November 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm

This is why I love reading your articles George — you don’t sugarcoat anything. Sometimes guys just need a dose of reality.

Your part about women protecting themselves is spot on. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard women tell me horror stories when they try to reject a guy. The men flip out, call them names, and guilt trip them. So instead they just try to let them down easy, even if it’s not the cleanest way.

I’m not saying it’s right but I understand why they sometimes take that route.


George P.H. November 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Agreed, brother! When I get frustrated with a girl, it’s usually because she’s been conditioned to be difficult by all the men she’s seen previously. What you said is really important, I think it’s 100% necessary to understand how most men are if you want to have healthy relationships with women.


Elgie R. November 14, 2012 at 5:31 am

I thank you for your response, Nick. Women have been stalked/persecuted by men they try to “reject” honestly. Not for a minute do I believe that a man will accept “I am not attracted to you” and leave it at that. And why is it that a friendship with a man is using a man if he wants to love you but you don’t want to love him? Just because you fall for someone does not mean that person is obligated to fall for you. I love a man who I know does not love me. He likes me, but it is certainly not his duty to fall in love with me.


George P.H. November 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Elgie, I don’t think it’s unfair to be friends with a man who loves you. It is, however, unfair to let a man like that on or use him.

And of course nobody’s obligated to love someone else. I think it’s easy to forget that and feel ungrateful, but really – even one-way love is an amazing feeling, right?


Chris Tanner January 5, 2013 at 10:24 am

Great article George. I wonder if this advice can be followed in my situation. I am American and I live in Japan. I have been dating this good looking Japanese girl but I am now getting the “Let’s just be friends” bullshit. I am pretty sure your opinions regarding our women are universal, but does this apply to Asian women too? Thanks again.


George P.H. January 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Japanese dating culture is pretty different, so there are some differences and nuances for a gaijin. When it comes to “let’s just be friends”, though, a woman is a woman no matter where you are :) .

I wrote a post about getting out of The Friend Zone a while back, before anyone was reading my blog – check it out, might help!


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