No person likes the Friend Zone. We dread the words "I rather be friends", or the slightly more accurate "I'd rather just be friends"
The question is why?
Friends are good things. Honestly, I want more friends, at least real ones. Good ones are hard to find.
The problems is actually the word "just".
When people say they want to be friends, they are actually saying they don't want to be anything MORE than friends.
And honestly it is very rare that they mean they actually want to be friends. Usually the "lets' be friends" people don't want to really be friends. They say it because they are too cowardly to say goodbye. Worse, if it is really true that they want to be friends but not more than friends., than it usually means they like you but don't want to have sex with you. In other words, they find you sexually unattractive. Ugly.
That's why people don't like the friend zone. Too often it is a lie.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
I have had three serious relationships with women. One of them I am still friends with. Let's call her "A". "A" and I worked hard at keeping the friendship alive - in part by going on a trip together after we broke up. It took both of us willing to take chances.
It also helped that we had a lot in common besides sex. The other two relationships (M & S) had less in common. I'm not saying we couldn't be friends. Just that "A" and I have far more in common (outside of the bedroom) than I had with either M or S. Honestly M was mostly about the bedroom, which is why it didn't work out.
Friends are good. You can't go wrong if you look for friends first. But you want more than just friendship for a relationship. You need a bit of sexual attractiveness, compatible desires for sex, and compatible long term goals.
You can be friends with someone that wants children if you don't want them. But you can not marry them.
Note however that when Long Term Relationships issues are what keep you from dating, no one talks about being just friends. We talk about wanting different things.
My advice to people is simple. If someone wants to just be friends, then you need to figure out if sexual attractiveness is the problem, or if the comment just be friends is a cowardly lie. You might need to work at being more attractive. There is nothing wrong in sprucing yourself up - either physically or mentally.
If it's a cowardly lie, well, I can't help you much there.