A well-meaning friend told me that if you have an interest in a woman early on, you need to make a move immediately, otherwise you risk being banished to the friend zone, which is permanent.
However, I've seen evidence to the contrary, not in all cases but some, where the man and woman had to be friends for a while before the romance could blossom. Does anyone think that this actually could result in a marriage even stronger than if both parties jumped in right away?
You are going to get two schools of thought here, Carl...one generally expressed by the distaff side...and one from painful experience. Like all generalizations, there are exceptions...but, the 'friend zone' is one of those amorphous grey areas that women like to use as a safety valve (ie, you're ok, but I'm just not that into you, need a strong back once in a while, and I'm going to wait for my knight on a white horse) while you're thinking "hey, this gal is great...I could see myself with her for the long haul"
Does it exist? Of course it does. Otherwise why would it be a topic of discussion?
That being said...your well-meaning friend had good advice. You end up in the black pit of the 'friend zone' (and, yes, I know you have to be friends with your mate...but the friendship is a deeper relationship than the platonic implications of the 'friend zone'...so, stop with combining the two, people, in an attempt to soften the blow, ok?) when communications, intent, actions, and attitude are NOT clear. Ambiguity is a killer. Be clear, be honest, be honorable. If the lady of your interest drops the "LJBF" (Let's Just Be Friends) bomb on you...decide whether you want an occasional cup of coffee, a phone call to step on a spider or do heavy lifting, and maybe, if you're lucky, a peck on the cheek for your exertions...or you're looking for more.
The only way to stop the games is to refuse to play, Carl. And the "LJBF" ploy is just that. If you want it to go deeper (both sides, folks), let your 'yes' be a 'yes'...and your 'no' be a 'no'. You can be acquaintances...and polite to each other. But, why waste time on something that will distract from finding YOUR happiness?