How can I be a true friend to a guy whose romantic feelings I don't return?
March 21, 2012 7:13 AM Subscribe
My dear friend, to whom I am not attracted, continually brings up wanting to date me and isn't getting what I thought were my polite expressions of interest in being just platonic. I think I need to tell him in no uncertain terms, but am not sure how, due to the special snowflake details below.
posted by anonymous to human relations (49 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My friend is a kindhearted soul who does many things for the small community in which we live. He's bailed me out of several jams in the past year and I appreciate him a lot, not just for that, but for his intelligence, warmth, and sense of humor. He truly is a fantastic person and I value his friendship a lot.
However, he's brought up liking me as more than a friend several times, and I've politely passed it off as just flirting, or deflected it somehow. He is an extremely rejection-sensitive person and he's told me enough that I know he'd be very hurt to hear an explicit explanation that I am just not physically attracted to him. He already feels undesirable due to some unpleasant experiences in the recent past including a huge betrayal by his ex that led to divorce after decades.
I just don't want to hurt him! He's done so much for me and all I want is to give back...but platonically. I have begun to feel like I'm taking advantage of him by being the recipient of his generosity. (He has offered help and I've accepted; he does such things for everyone he knows).
I also feel a little awkward, like he's been my friend for the last year because he's been waiting to have a shot at dating me. It makes me uncomfortable.
The last time this came up it was during an online chat and he got really embarrassed and left the chat, in which he had said he wanted to talk to me about the possibility of dating but then a few lines later said he was feeling embarrassed and didn't want to know the answer.
I in turn felt embarrassed and am worried that to continue the friendship will just hurt him if he's pining for me and all I want is to be seen as a sister to him.
I could simply distance myself, but I think that kind of sucks. He's been so awesome (except for bringing up unwanted discussions of romance).
I have a lot of reasons why, to me, he and I are incompatible, but my lack of physical attraction is the top one and I just feel terrible about it. Unfortunately, it's not just a "meh" feeling. I am actively turned off by certain aspects of his physical presence. I'm afraid that will come across and I fear he already thinks he is ugly. I so don't want to be someone who reinforces that.
Should I just act normal and address the subject next time he brings it up? Should I say something now? If so, what the heck do I say?