It can be quite tricky when a guy friend wants to upgrade to a boyfriend but you aren't interested. Sometimes you can really like a guy, even want him in your life, and yet not feel that sort of zing that makes for a potential dating partner. When that happens, how you handle it might make the difference between a great friendship and a lost one.
Be direct and honest. There is really no good way to tell someone who likes you that you don’t feel the same. And yet it is far crueler to leave someone hanging than to let him down gently. The best approach is to tell him simply that you can’t really explain why, but you just don’t have romantic feelings for him.
Don’t ever lie. If you tell him you’re just not ready for a relationship and you end up with someone else two weeks later, it will hurt him far worse than if you had told him the simple truth in the first place.
Remain calm, assured, reassuring and gentle. Rejection is painful. Talk to him with the same compassion you would have for any friend who is going through something painful.
Focus on the good. If you really do want to be friends, make that the focus of your message. Tell him what a great guy you think he is and how much you enjoy his company. Apologize that you don’t feel he would be a good dating partner while being enthusiastic about the chance to remain or become good friends.
Be crystal clear. Don’t sacrifice clarity for compassion. When it comes to unrequited love, especially when a friendship is involved, it may be necessary to spell out absolutely how you feel. Do not give him mixed messages such as you’re not sure how you feel about dating or maybe something could happen in the future just not now. Don’t let him hold out hope that something is going to happen if you know there’s not a chance. Again simple, direct, complete honesty is the best policy.
Don’t cross the boyfriend/girlfriend line. Once you have clearly communicated your intentions, be careful not to muddy the waters by acting more like a girlfriend than just a friend. Spending too much time together, engaging in physical contact such as cuddling or joking about sex can all give your friend the false hope that he can be something more.
- Be prepared to lose the friendship. Once a romantic interest has blossomed, it can be hard to put back in the proverbial box. The fact is he may not know how to be “just a friend” in which case you may have to let him go completely.
Sherry L. Huckabee graduated from the University of Miami School of Law. Although much of her career has been in the law, her BA in psychology has also served her well through raising birth, step and adopted children, and in endeavors including managing, teaching and traveling. She writes regularly on law, health, yoga, fitness, relationships, psychology and travel.
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