Working up the courage to ask someone out can take a monumental amount of effort and humility. Being turned down, even gracefully, can change the dynamics between two people and impede the health of a friendship. After the polite decline to date, you can work toward continuing and strengthening your friendship. Even if you and he don't fit together as "relationship material," a friendship can be a strong, invaluable source of support.
Put Expectations Aside
No relationship can progress if both individuals aren't on the same page. If you've been turned down for a date and you want to remain friends, you have to put aside expectations for anything more than friendship. This may require emotional and physical distance -- at least temporarily -- to give both of you time to process the change in expectations. Placing the potential for dating on the table will understandably alter the dynamics between you. If, however, you can agree that friendship is the goal, you can focus your energies in a way that can make previous expectations less influential.
Be a High-quality Friend
Friendships between individuals who have a history of romantic intention may require more effort to maintain than platonic relationships. Communications researchers, in a study published in the "Western Journal of Communication" in 2005, found that underlying romantic intention led to additional effort on the part of one or both parties. In contrast, the researchers suggest that individuals may exert less effort in relationships that don't include a potential romance. Working on the quality of your friendship can be accomplished, they conclude, by regular contact and spending time together.
Even if you've resigned yourself to working on a friendship, it can be tempting to cast out a line periodically that says otherwise. Pay attention to what you say to your friend and be mindful of the potential impact of communication on your friendship. Initially, both of you may feel awkward because of the proverbial "elephant in the room," and communication may be equally wrought with unintended innuendo. Over time, you won't have to put quite as much effort into choosing your words carefully; ideally, you will both find your level of comfort as friends.
Date Other People
While you both work to put awkwardness aside, it's important to take your attention off of him. Even if you don't feel ready for a serious relationship, dating other people can help you to engage with others. In addition, allowing yourself to move forward and date other people can help decrease the impact of feelings of jealousy that may surface when he, too, decides to date. You don't necessarily need to integrate your dating life into your friendship with someone who has turned you down for a date. In fact, research suggests that it may be healthier to avoid discussion of dating, in order to preserve your friendship.
- Marquette University: What Does Research Tell Us About Healthy Relationships?
- Western Journal of Communication; Relational Maintenance in Cross-Sex Friendships Characterized by Different Types of Romantic Intent
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships; An Integrative Conceptual Framework for Friendship Research
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships; Benefit or Burden? Attraction in Cross-Sex Friendship
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