Gentlemen, in pursuit of the ladies, avoid activities which they perceive will land them in the Friend Zone. The Friend Zone is the dead end of a romantic pursuit, according to most guys. The abyss of never-ever-will-I-ever-get-laid. The zombification of everything good and pure. The Failed Hail Mary. In other words, a rejection of epic proportions because you, the guy, are accepted...as a friend and nothing more.
I've asked a bunch of guys what they think of the Friend Zone. From my womanly point of view, I saw the guy as the victim: taken advantage of by a heartless girl with no regards for the feelings of a sensitive man. I was surprised at how many men lay fault with the guy for allowing himself to become an emotional tampon in the first place. I guess it makes sense. After all, a woman who finds herself in the position of fuck buddy has no one but herself to blame.
Yes, there are urban legends of men who have made the conversion. Whatever. And I have a friend's-cousin's-boyfriend's-father who actually left his wife for his mistress.
In truth, most women determine that a man is just a friend or potentially something more right from the beginning. We just don't let guys know. It's our little secret. The chemistry is there or it isn't. It's not like we are purposely making things difficult for men. We just don't like to hand guys a card that says, "Yes, you may pursue me" or another card that says "No. Please. Just stop."
So, how is a guy to know if they're just a friend or potentially something more? Plain and simple: Watch. Wait. Then ask the coach to put you in the game. Carpe Diem and all that shit. In other words, ask the question, make the move, or in some other way make your intentions very, very clear. Luck favors the bold. And you won't know if the girl favors you until put her to a decision.
Now, before you guys go out there and start making fools of yourself by stealing kisses from married ladies (very low odds of success, at best) or playing some ridiculous song from a boom box beneath your love interest's window (only happens in movies, gentlemen. sorry), you need to be aware of your position and timing.
Ask yourself: Do you really feel something for this girl or is it just a numbers game? Has she given any indication that she's interested in you? Is she available to date? Ready to date? All of these will play into whether or not you will be successful. Keeping in mind the football analogy, you don't ask to be put in the game when the star quarterback, already on the field, is connecting. Likewise, if it's off season, don't even bother.
If the time seems right, it's ok to be direct. Think of it like ripping off a bandaid. There's nothing wrong with having good dialogue to clear the air and make your intentions known. But, if she wants to be only friends, avoid the guilt trip or endless questions of "Why not me?" Guys who are friends, but nothing more (and never will be) may try to put direct pressure on a girl to force the conversion. "But you like me, right?" Bad, bad idea.