Ok, so my last post before Easter: When you want to be more than friends, was for those of us more on the unrequited and pining side of the story. This post is for those of you who may find yourself on the receiving end of such affections from a much loved but platonic buddy with whom you want to stay PLATONIC friends.
So, if I try to picture this scenario from the other perspective, I imagine it goes a little something like this: You have an amazing friend, maybe even a best friend, or probably at least a relatively close friend. You and said friend always enjoy your time together and tell each other lots of personal details. You support each other and celebrate each other and you’d never want to do anything to hurt them. You want nothing but the best for them and you are pretty confident they feel the same. You are so glad you met and grateful to call this person a friend. You can’t imagine a future without them in it. In extreme cases, your visions of growing old may include living next door to said person and double dating with their partner and your own, and venting to one another about said partners. It’s a dream scenario.
Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, said friend suggests you cut out the "middle men" and just get together yourselves. The 2 of you…. In a romantic relationship…. You try and let this suggestion sink in. For whatever reason, you just can’t imagine it, or frankly you just don’t want to. Lets be blunt and admit that you probably aren’t attracted to your friend. This might be true even if they are conventionally attractive to other people. You have just never thought of them that way, right?
Well, let me tell you there is NO way to gently tell a person you are not attracted to them, and no great explanations as to why that will never change. Don’t go there. Please. Your friend has not come to the decision to confess lightly and they probably hold even the smallest hope that you feel similarly. Telling them you find them unattractive will damage their self-esteem and your friendship. This is still true even if you say “I am not attracted to you that way.” Remember when we talked about too much honesty? That is a good example.
It is a tricky situation, I know. In my own experiences with other women, I have been told “I am heterosexual, sorry.” That is a perfectly valid reason. Right? Yes, it is, however, in those circumstances it still points to the fact that I am not attractive to the object of desire, which can make it kinda hard to look at them in the eyes in future and not feel ugly. When your friend is already feeling naked and vulnerable, and an embarrassing rejection is upon them, it becomes your job to throw them a blanket while still making sure they feel comfortable.
It is also not recommended that you say things like “Our friendship is perfect the way it is and I don’t want to risk that for a romance which may break our friendship.” Again, that is a valid argument, and probably true. However your friend has obviously considered this and decided the risk was worth it for them. Saying this may imply that they care less for the friendship than you do. That’s not how they see it, I assure you.
Which brings me to my next point…. You may begin to question if this person ever was your friend or if they were playing along all the while with ulterior motives. You might even be angry and feel as though they are implying that you owe them in some way because they have been such a great friend. Be very careful before you accuse them of this. It may be true, however it is more likely that even if they had attractions to you from the beginning that they decided friendship with you was better than nothing at all. I know that makes it sound like your friendship is a crappy consolation prize… ouch. Of course you didn’t say they were ugly and they didn’t say you were a consolation prize, but both things can easily seem true if you let them. What you say and what someone hears can be totally different so the less you say the better.
The most likely scenario is that your friend really did like you as a friend until they realised somewhere along the line that they had started liking you more than that and decided to confess in one form or another. You were great friends up until this point based on trust for each of your positive intention towards the other, so do what you can to foster and protect this positive intention and trust. In this instance both of you need to think more about the other person than yourselves.
Right....All that is well and good – what not to say - but what should you say? Regardless of their method of delivery, I recommend being mature and direct, not whimsical, silent or misleading. I suggest saying something along the lines of “Thank you for telling me. While I do not reciprocate your feelings, I love that we always communicate so openly about everything and I do hope that will continue. This doesn’t change anything for me, and I trust you will handle your feelings in such a way that things will not change between us.”
It doesn't mislead them with hope by using terms like "right now" or "if things were different" or even "I wish..." It doesn't make light of their feelings. You are not explaining how you feel or do not feel, or why? Feelings cannot be explained and you can tell them this if they push for a reason. After that you have my permission to tell them you have nothing more to say on the matter and move on. It isn’t a negotiation. While you have undoubtedly hurt someone, don’t forget who handed you the weapon. You have nothing to feel guilty or sorry for. Of course your friend may need some space or distance to get over his or her feelings for you or recover from the rejection and you have to respect that.
Continue contacting them as you normally would, however respect it if they take some time to bounce back. If the friendship is true it will recover with time and patience on both sides. Let your friend dictate if they feel comfortable hanging out or joking about the issue etc… And resist the urge to flirt with your friend to boost your ego or look for clues that they were flirting with you or checking you out. In order for the issue to resolve, both of you need to put it out of your minds, and continue moving forward with positive intention and trust in your friendship.
Your Best Friend ForNever