Everything is fast-paced these days. A guy meets a chick, he gets her number, they exchange a few messages and by the weekend they're going out for drinks. After a few rounds, he flirts intensely with her and she flirts back. Things happen.
That's the way we court nowadays. And it's frightening.
However, if you're looking for something serious, you have to take things slow to get to really know his intentions. You don't want to become another statistic...some girl he slept with that he mentions offhandedly to his friends before they knuckle punch and carry on, laughing.
When you meet a guy and you have a good feeling about him, let him prove that he can be patient. He can't meet you for the very first time on Wednesday and automatically expect to land a date that coming weekend. Hell no. He needs to show you that he's not just into you for a quick fix--to prove that he can be more. That he can be a friend, too. However long that takes.
So, before you go on any dates, put him in the friend zone and see how he copes. While in the zone, he should be trying to understand every little thing about you. What makes you smile, what your ambitions and greatest insecurities are, what's inscribed on your bucket list, etc. Over time, you'll be able to asses if he's genuine, or if he's just pretending to be interested because he has ulterior motives.
Time is the ultimate test.
Now, boys will be boys, and if he's really into you, it's only natural for him to want to ask you out...he's human, after all. And it's probably natural for you to feel pressured into accepting. But if you're not fully comfortable with him, it's in your best interest to politely decline. And if he doesn't respect your decision, he's not worth it anyway. Don't feel sorry for him, and don't cave in just because you're afraid he might move on. If he gives up that easily, then he's not in it for the long haul.
On the contrary, if he accepts your decision and demonstrates willingness to develop a friendship with you, then maybe, just maybe, he deserves to take you out. But remember, long-term relationships require patience, so he still has a way to go.
Once you're convinced that he possesses the qualities you admire in a friend, let him graduate from the friend zone so he can take you out on a proper date. Although you're probably head over heels for the guy, this of course does not mean that you automatically open up the flood gates for physical stuff. Trust me, for him to truly appreciate you, he has to work his ass off, even for a kiss.
Hypothetically speaking, let's say a tennis player is preparing for the U.S. Open. He trained his ass off in the preseason and ends up winning the entire tournament. Now imagine that same player being awarded the winning trophy without even playing a single match. Do you think that trophy would mean much to him?
Let's be clear, it's not about playing hard to get or anything like that. The bottom line is this: All successful marriages are rooted in strong friendships. Let him prove his worth as a friend before you give him a chance to connect with you on a whole new level.
This article first appeared on Christopher Lai's relationship blog, Living The Lai, as Why It's Okay To Put Him In The Friend Zone and later appeared on Thought Catalog. Follow him on Facebook for some pretty cool updates.