The Bro Zone

Much has been discussed about the “friend zone,” the circle of celibacy into which a woman places a male acquaintance she is not attracted to, such that she can continue to develop emotional connection with him without commensurate sexual involvement.

A brilliant comment from Ribbon Butterfly at HUS posits the counterpart of the Friend Zone:

She’s bro-zoned him.

Bro-zone is different from friend-zone. It’s usually a transitional phase, heading towards friend-zone. Bro-zone is where women place attractive men who are off limits.

How you’re treated in bro-zone: the way the woman imagines that a man might treat his bros. Sadly, women often have no idea how men interact in an all-male pack, so her idea of treating you like a “real bro” is to orbit you, the way nice guys have orbited her before. It’s what women act like when they’re trying to pay forward all those times that THEY had an orbiter.

Fascinating stuff – a way for a woman to pre-emptively reject the thought of having a relationship by replacing it with a different kind of relationship, as if she’s hoping he will friend-zone her and stop being so damn attractive. “Women often have no idea how men interact in an all-male pack – ain’t that the truth. She waxes more:

She probably thinks you’re Just Not That Into Her, by dint of you sleeping with the other girl. But at least she’s going to be the Nice Girl and be supportive and be there for you and eventually you’ll just become good friends.

Meanwhile, if she’s going to be happy for you and support your actions wrt the other girl, the way a Real Bro would, she might as well seek your now-unbiased advice. Your information on how the other side thinks is valuable. If she can’t have you, she can at least learn how to snag someone like you.

She might even cheer you on if you decide to Game/play/sleep with multiple women at a time. Because that’s what a Real Bro would do.

Ohai there, I think I’m just projecting now. Though I’ll say I really have bro-zoned guys before. Some of the males in my class, for example. Very attractive men, have a little Game, we joke and connect on a personal level – but they have girlfriends. Or they just broke up. Or they’re way out of my league. Bro-zoned them all. There’s a window of time in which bro-zone can swap back into date-zone, but it diminishes quickly, and eventually everyone moves to friend-zone.

I’m guessing it doesn’t really move into friend-zone, it’s more that the woman stops being interested and so it becomes an actual friendship without serious sexual interest on either side.

What’s wild about this particular case is that the man is interested in the woman; if RB is right, the girl is also interested in him, and with a little communication they could blow this bro-zone thing away and starting pounding like a sledgehammer.


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31 responses to “The Bro Zone

  1. I had this happen to me recently. A friend’s ex-girlfriend called me up to “watch a movie” at like midnight. She’s pretty mediocre (like a 5.5) but I figured what the hell.

    She had made the claim that “my bed is softer than yours,” so I climbed in, figuring I’d get the bang within minutes. She moved into the corner as soon as I got in the bed, telling me that I’m off-limits and we can’t do anything. I wound up passing out and waking up at the end of the movie so I could go home. She actually fist-bumped me as I left. Bro-zoned to the max! Too funny.

  2. When I was in my teens, my mother put attractive teenage boys (such as the sons of her friends) into the “son-in-law zone” by trying to set them up with me. She found them very attractive, knew they were off limits, and subconsciously (?) realized that the only way she could have them around her was if they were dating her daughter. (It hardly ever happened, by the way.) She would never have made a move on any of them, but it was a safe way for her to appreciate and admire them as males.

  3. Interesting! I had a man in the bro-zone (though I didn’t recognize it as such until I read this post) for 12 years, and the attraction never wore off. Finally we did have “a little communication,” I found out he had been attracted to me that whole time as well, and as you theorized… Despite the fact that we were both off limits (for a lot of reasons), we went through a few years of hell getting disentangled and are now happily married. Actually happily married, which frankly I didn’t think was possible. Plus the sledgehammer thing.

  4. That was definitely an astute comment. Leave it to a woman to articulate our zones so clearly and accurately!

  5. Candide

    Sharp woman.

    I’m in the bro zone with some of my exes (that I dumped) and certain girls that I know are keen but I’ve never made a move on (not attracted to). This explains their awkward attempts of trying to be like my male friends at times, fist bumps included (seriously don’t do that, girls!). I don’t know about the off limits factor though. Have a feeling that provided the right context, one thing may just lead to another (but hell no I’m not going there!)

  6. Anacaona

    Very good article indeed. I think I did bro-zoned a friend who I developed a crush for but I knew he was not interested and I felt shitty for twisting our innocent friendship by getting the hots for it.
    Not sure how subtle I was soon after I crushed on him he got a girlfriend that hated the living daylights out of me, she ended up breaking our friendship (subtly of course the woman was at least an 8 so her feminine wiles were very good) and I never saw him again. I was actually relief that it ended because of her than because of me, but who knows maybe she knew…women can be very perceptive.

    In another note:
    I found this oglaf comic relevant to you!
    I hope you like it! :)

  7. Bronan,

    Why did she judge you off limits, did she think she was sloppy seconds for you?

  8. Anacaona,

    Nice comic, that is the lulz.

  9. Pingback: WHAT’S THE BRO ZONE?

  10. Anacanoa, oh women know. We always know. There’s a girl who went to grad school with my husband, and upon the first meeting I just knew she had a crush on him. At that time we were newly engaged. Here’s the story on that:

    Good thing is that my husband is really perceptive and honest, so that never went anywhere. The next year of grad school they got different seating arrangements, and he shared an office with two guys instead of an open cubicle arrangement next to her.

  11. Ribbon Butterfly

    I shamble off to celebrate the end of Movember and suddenly Badger makes a post of my comment… oh dear. :3 *so inexplicably pleased*

    As for whether “one thing may just lead to another” in bro-zone… well, depends. Depends on whether the male makes a move. Depends on how far along the sliding scale to “just friends” he is. Depends on whether the female is a risk-taking type, and what kind of risks she takes. Depends on whether the people involved are the risk-benefit calculating types at all.

    Tangent: why is fist-bumping in the “don’t do that” category?

  12. Butterfly, fist bumping from a woman to a man is probably like a man talking about nail care techniques with a woman. It’s too incongruent with the gender and thus looks too try-hard, too weird, and just not that attractive.

  13. Ribbon Butterfly

    Interesting. So what does it mean when a man offers the fist-bump to a woman? (Presuming they are not sleeping together.)

  14. I think many women understand that the fist bump is kind of masculine. All the better to communicate to a man that he is in the bro-zone.

  15. I was hoping someone would bring this up for discussion. I’ve taken some flack over at HUS for my defense of friend zones. I still hold that position on the grounds that I’m a good friend, not taking advantage of some poor chump for free drinks.

    I suppose “bro-zone” more accurately describes the way I handle those kinds of friendships. I often bro-zone guys just because, while they may be super-cool and good-looking, I sense that we’d be incompatible. I could be wrong so I think the best way to find out is in the context of friends. It takes me a while to warm up to people sometimes, we might as well all relax and see what’s on netflix.

  16. Anacaona

    Yeah that was my guess oh well it worked out in the end for the best I sure wouldn’t had wanted him to find out and start to pull out thinking I was going to jump on him or something. Again I respect friendship too much and I was okay with adding ketchup to my feelings and eating them for the sake of it.

  17. A woman fist-bumping me? Ew. I don’t even do that frat-boy crap with guys. If a girl tried to fist bump, high five, or chest bump….she would recieved a VERY awkward stare from me.

    If you’re bro-zoned with a guy, remain a girl…..we like girls who are girls.

  18. Ribbon Butterfly

    … but guys offer to high-five and fist-bump me all the time. (Not, admittedly, chest-bump.) By offer I mean THEY raise their hands first, so I follow along like a good girl oughta.

    I thought I could reciprocate friendship in man-talk by ALSO offering the high-five or fist-bump. How enlightening that this is not the case.

  19. Not even a high-five now? Really? I had thought that had become gender neutral over the years.

    Then again, the rules about handshakes between men and women still apply, don’t they? (In a nutshell, men and women shouldn’t really shake hands, but if either one initiates it, the other one should accept. But it’s not considered ladylike.) I guess the high-five is another sort of handshake, strictly male territory.

  20. RB and Bell-

    I would never offer to high five or fist bump a woman. EVER. If the guys are offering they’d give me serious douche chills if I saw them doing it.

    And for the record, I don’t shake women’s hands. I take their hand and pull them in for a hug or kiss on the cheek. If I REALLY like her, I’ll kiss her hand.

  21. Ribbon Butterfly

    Douchey, really? I may have to rethink these fellows, but they all seem like good guys to me. As in Good People, honourable and trying to do right as much as they can.

    Maybe it’s a cultural difference between where I live and where you live, Danny. I observe the male-female high five all the time (this includes several strata of hotness), and my douche-signal doesn’t go off at all. Usually takes place in appropriate situations, like nailing an answer in small-group learning. (Maybe it’s a function of who I work with, too. But the high-five was there before medical school, as well.)

    You’re right that the connotation/sensation is certainly different, between a guy high-fiving a guy and a guy high-fiving a girl. When I’m offered a high-five, it feels more like, “Aw, you done good, little sister.” An indulgent high-five, if you will. When two men high-five, there’s a certain admiration in communication, more akin to, “Props bro.”

  22. A guy friend initiated a high five with me today and made me think of this post. Hahahaha!

  23. I find it really interesting that almost all the comments here are from women…I guess no guys want to comment on being bro-zoned (or no guys are reading my blog).

    I do think high-fiving is a a very bro thing, I can’t think of many times I’ve wanted to high-five a girl I’m crazy for. I wouldn’t read too much into it though, girls. Fist bumping is another thing entirely.

    Jamie, good to see you around here again.

    “I was hoping someone would bring this up for discussion. I’ve taken some flack over at HUS for my defense of friend zones. I still hold that position on the grounds that I’m a good friend, not taking advantage of some poor chump for free drinks.”

    There’s a difference between being friends with a man and the “friend zone.” The friend zone connotes unrequited attraction on (usually) his part, so by building and continuing the friendship the woman is causing the man great emotional pain by giving him a limited dose of herself. Of course, the friend zone is closely tied to one-itis, and a guy would do well to eject that from his repertoire.

    On another note, I’ve been meaning to say this over at Susan’s blog wrt all these readers who want to get romantic with friends but are afraid of “losing the friendship”: you’ll get new friends. You will. No friendship is so valuable that you can’t speak your mind about how you feel about the other person, and what kind of friendship is that anyway? Take it from me, who’s been on both sides of it: a friendship in which one of you is driven slowly crazy by not having the other’s total heart, soul and body is a ticking time bomb that’s not going to wind up being a friendship you look back on with fondness but rather with frustration.

  24. just visiting

    Wise words.

  25. flyfreshandyoung

    Ha I’ve been brozoned. way back in the day when I was flyfreshandveryyoung. I was always attracted to her, but the way she introduced herself and how we started off, and my lack of sexual dynamic awareness, led to the bro-zone. People thought it was just so cute how well we got along and were always giving each other shit, and we even went to a dance or two together. Then we graduated high school, and that was that, or was it?

    One night during that summer before we moved out and parted ways, under the influence of everyone’s favorite truth serum, we banged. She had liked me from the start, and I just didn’t have enough of a clue to make a move beforehand.

  26. chris5050

    Being brozoned is fine. It’s like freezing your left overs for another day! The attraction between each other from my experience has a very long expiry date. This could vary between girls I suppose.

    Definately a topic I will be posting about in the next few weeks.

  27. chris5050,

    Thanks for commenting. Getting brozoned is much preferable to getting friendzoned, because the most difficult element – the woman’s attraction for the man – is still there. All that has to happen is for him to become “available” somehow and it’s on.

  28. Pingback: Happy Birthday to the Badger Hut, Part 2: Best Posts | The Badger Hut

  29. Fred

    Well, I know it’s been a while since the last comment on this topic, but I have been bro-zoned, it’s not pretty.

    I’ve liked this girl for almost 2 years now, we’ve pretty much grew up together(if you count 2 months per year as growing up together) because we live in different countries and only get to see each other in summers. I think I’ve been Bro-zoned because of the distant relationship that we have(we’re kind of third-cousins). But what’s annoying about being in the bro-zone is not knowing what a woman’s actions actually mean. For example constant hugging, playing with the hair, laughing at your jokes, talking about you to her friends; these things would usually mean that the girl is into you, but then again whenever things get a bit too serious, she reminds me that I’m like her brother. I think that that is the definition of a mind-fuck.

  30. steve

    i know tht this convo died over a year ago, but any way how to get out of the bro zone?

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