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Someone's keen.
March 10, 2014 2:37 PM   Subscribe

I almost dated someone but complicated circumstances left us with no choice but to remain friends. Despite this, she still flirts with me continuously. How do I deal with that? A slight snowstorm inside.

I am a young gay woman and open with others about my sexuality.

A fair few months ago I met a lovely girl while working on a project. We immediately hit it off due to mutual interests and became fast friends. This project took months of work and we essentially spent every moment of our days together. We even went on a team building camping trip together. Stronger feelings for each other quickly developed and we weren't very shy about it. She was openly flirty so my friends and colleges were quick to pick up on this new change in our friendship.

I asked this girl out in person and she said yes but my anxiety made me question whether she actually understood that I meant as more than friends. It was never really mentioned again but about a month later I asked her out again via email. Again, she said yes but it didn't amount to anything. Our flirting got a little more serious and I was beginning to think that something would happen soon but yet again, nothing. I even met her parents and a few members of her extended family during this time. I was introduced as a "very good friend."

Finally I had had enough and I flat out asked her if she was interested in dating me at all. She said absolutely yes but she wasn't feeling great about it because she hasn't come out to many people and felt like it was a big step. Despite being disappointed, I understood that it would be a huge life step for her and it wouldn't be okay to force her into doing anything drastic. She propositioned me with the idea of dating in a year or so when she felt better about her situation. As lovely as she is and as much as I still have feelings for her, I said that that plan wouldn't be a great idea. I was convinced that she would lose interest in me over that space of time.

It's been a couple of months since that honest conversation and we see less of each other now that our project has ended. Whenever we do see each other though, she is still very flirty. My friends have noticed this and they are convinced that she is still interested in me. I must admit that I agree with them. She will deliberately seek me out on campus at least four times on a weekly basis; standing outside of my classrooms and tutor groups just to see me even if her own class is three floors up. Another example would be when we very recently attended an event related to our old project. She sat next to me in the lecture theatre with her body pressed against my own, her lips millimeters from my ear. In classes we do share, she will sit and stare at me like a lovesick tween when she thinks I'm not looking.

Her recent behaviour has been distracting and upsetting for me. I still have feelings for her, and must admit that I'm very flattered, but I worry about upsetting her and pushing her too far. The flirting is further fueling the feelings I have for her and I'm finding it hard to accept that we probably won't end up dating after all of this. Her flirting is distracting me from my current project that I can't afford to mess up. I've tried deflecting her flirting but I again worry about being rude to her.

I understand that when people have feelings for another person, they can't help those feelings and can become a slave to their emotions. I want to cut her some slack but it's getting harder as she continues with her behaviour. I must also admit that if she were to turn around and change her mind, finally deciding that she was ready to date me now, I wouldn't turn her down. We both want to be with each other but the circumstances are difficult.

My questions are these -

1. Should I man up and politely confront her about her feelings?
2. How can I train myself to become less aware of her constant flirting?
3. Would it be wise to offer to wait for her when she is ready?
posted by sapien to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
She likes the attention and is stringing you along. You are a "safe" source of fun for her. Be honest with her, tell her the flirting is too much unless she wants to take it further.
posted by Requiax at 2:49 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


Wait, so she wanted to have sex with you, but not make moves to leaving the closet?

I mean, yeah, coming out is scary, and everyone needs to do it in their own time. But from what you've said here, she's using you, and that's not okay. Even if she's a nice person. Even if she's confused or afraid. Still not okay.

I would be upfront with her and tell her to stop fucking with your head. She doesn't get to have her cake and eat it too. Don't worry about being rude when it comes to protecting yourself (not that you have to go out of your way and be a jerk, of course, but stating what you need and where your boundaries are is not being rude). Good luck.
posted by rtha at 2:50 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


I understand that when people have feelings for another person, they can't help those feelings and can become a slave to their emotions.

Ugh, maybe? But it's an unpleasant way for people to be. I think you should get some distance from this girl. She has her own shit to work out. Which is fine, she's young, you're young, whatever. It seems like you both like the attention you get from each other (and, perhaps, the drama of forbidden love). But you are looking for a girlfriend it seems like? Or at least some to have fun makeout times with? And she is not ready to be that girlfriend/makeout partner, and because you're both attracted to each other it's hard for you to have another kind of relationship.

So, in answer to your questions:
1) I'm not sure what this would entail? Getting her to confess that she's attracted to you? That doesn't seem like it's in doubt. So I'm going to pass on this.
2) You probably can't; you need to avoid her at least for a little while. You can be honest with her without being rude. You might not be able to avoid hurting her feelings, but it sounds like your feelings are getting hurt right now.
3) If you do save yourself for her, you're shutting yourself off from having other relationships with other people. You're also putting a lot of pressure on her to stick to that timeline. If you're both available a year from now (or six months from now, or two years from now) and you're both still into each other and she's figured out some of her personal stuff, then you can get together then. But I wouldn't recommend spending a year of university pining for a girl you can't have.
posted by mskyle at 2:53 PM on March 10


4) ask her on a date again

I don't get the sense that boundaries were set in that wait a year conversation. Not do I get the sense that either of you were particularly good about being upfront about feelings. That makes me think that she is flirting so hard still because she doesn't understand that it is a bit inapropriate. Or it could be that she is telling you that she is ready to date. Either way, ask her out and if she says she is not ready tell her she has to cool it with the flirting.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:54 PM on March 10


Just call her on it. "So do you wanna date me properly or something or are you just enjoying having someone to flirt with?" Then be like, "Look, I get that you're not really out yet, but if you don't want to date me, flirting with me anyway sends me mixed signals and in general isn't a good practice regardless of whether you're out or not. Knock it off."
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:00 PM on March 10 [23 favorites]


The second half of your question lead me to believe you are both college students. The reality is that many GLBT college students will come out on campus, and will date one another, even while not being out to family or friends back home. There is no such rule as "come out all the way before you can date people."

I would suggest confronting her and telling her that people on campus already know (or at least assume by her behavior) that she is gay - and that if she wants to have more than a friendship with you, now is the time to start - and that because people already know or suspect, this will not make any waves in your local social circles. But if she's just not ready for a relationship, the flirting needs to stop. Immediately. Gay or not, stringing someone along just isn't right.

To answer your specific questions:
1. Yes.
2. You don't, and you shouldn't have to.
3. No, that just lengthens the time she can string you along.
posted by trivia genius at 3:02 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


1. Should I man up and politely confront her about her feelings?
I think it's obvious she's attracted to you, so I don't think this would accomplish much, except for maybe making her think you were maybe into her.

2. How can I train myself to become less aware of her constant flirting?
Not sure how to become less aware of something, but you might start by ignoring it and trying to put it out of your mind. Hopefully, this will eventually grow into caring less about her flirting and maybe even become less aware of it.

3. Would it be wise to offer to wait for her when she is ready?
I don't think so, because some of the "flirty" behavior you describe strikes me as clingy-verging-on-creepy ("She will deliberately seek me out on campus at least four times on a weekly basis; standing outside of my classrooms and tutor groups just to see me even if her own class is three floors up. Another example would be when we very recently attended an event related to our old project. She sat next to me in the lecture theatre with her body pressed against my own, her lips millimeters from my ear. In classes we do share, she will sit and stare at me like a lovesick tween when she thinks I'm not looking."). This is very "teenage" behavior and I frankly don't think she's mature enough for a relationship right now.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:03 PM on March 10


Oh, and re: item 2, I find that reframing others' behavior is an effective way of allowing me to think about them less. In this case, you might stop thinking of her behavior as "flirting" and start thinking of it as "irritating/clingy."
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:05 PM on March 10


Just call her on it. "So do you wanna date me properly or something or are you just enjoying having someone to flirt with?" Then be like, "Look, I get that you're not really out yet, but if you don't want to date me, flirting with me anyway sends me mixed signals and in general isn't a good practice regardless of whether you're out or not. Knock it off."

This is what I would do. Some variant of "If you are not ready to date yet, do not continue to flirt with me please" She doesn't have to come out to her family for you guys to date properly (presuming she doesn't live at home and even then really...) if that is what you would both like. And yes people can maybe not control their emotions but they can absolutely control their actions and it's her actions that are causing you the problems so have a conversation with her about them. I wish you the best.
posted by jessamyn at 3:06 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I think it's time to stop worrying about being rude or not wanting to lose her as a friend, or whatever the awkwardness is here, and just give her some truth.

"Katie, I'm really attracted to you and want to date you. But we need to either do this or not do this. I'm not looking for a puppy, or a fangirl, or a friend. I can't wait around for you, and this ongoing schoolgirl stuff is driving me nuts."

There are two potential results of this conversation. You start dating, or you cut off contact. Period.

Friendships aren't holding patterns.
posted by Sara C. at 3:15 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


1. Should I man up and politely confront her about her feelings?

No. Man up and politely confront her about YOUR feelings about it. You don't actually know what her feelings are. But you do know yours.

"It's really annoying and not kind of you to continue flirting with me yet not dating me. It's not kind."
posted by vitabellosi at 3:46 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


"... I worry about upsetting her and pushing her too far..."

See, I think *you* are upset and she has pushed *you* too far.

I think you need to think about your own needs here and talk to them as a matter of priority, as vitabellosi says.

You are entitled to have a life that functions for your wants, not functions for others' comfort levels.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:51 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


My experience has been these things remain in limbo and crazy-making only as long as both parties remain ambivalent. Someone can only keep jerking my chain as long as I am willing to tolerate and/or encourage them to jerk my chain. If I decide it has gone beyond the pale, I stop leaving it open to "possibility" and I start making other choices. (If they continue to jerk my chain after that, I don't see it as "limbo." I see it as "stalkerish" and completely unacceptable and I respond very differently at that point.)

Your closing remarks -- that you would date her if she indicated interest, etc -- indicate you are also doing some fence-sitting here. I think you need to either pick a side of the fence or own up to the fact that you are just as guilty as she is of letting this remain ambiguous. It isn't necessarily an evil thing. You can have valid reasons for leaving it hanging. But don't just pin all the blame on her for "driving you crazy" when you are failing to send clear signals about which box you want to check: a) this is a romantic relationship or b) this is absolutely NOT a romantic relationship.

When I have been in such a situation and finally decided, nope, this guy has crossed some line and I have zero desire to get involved with him romantically, never mind that being around him still elicits FEELINGS, I have then made choices to distance myself from the situation and limit my exposure and stop leaving that door open for him to be crazy-making.

So I think before you decide what to say to her, you need to look in the mirror and ask why you are leaving it ambiguous. Figuring out the answer to that may help you either be more tolerant and patient with her or make a decision for yourself which it is. Once you know, then it gets a whole lot easier to say "Friend, I would be happy to sleep with you but if you aren't going to come across with a romantic relationship, you have to stop jerking my chain." or something along those lines.

At the moment it looks to me like you are de facto kind of trying to give her that year she asked for and she is trying to take it. If you are genuinely okay with that, then make your peace with it. I say this because one of your remarks -- that you thought she would lose interest in you before the year was up -- suggests to me that you would be willing to wait IF you thought she really would follow through. She appears to be potentially "following through" and I suspect that is the real reason you are leaving it in limbo -- you aren't averse to a relationship. You just didn't think she would really stick around.
posted by Michele in California at 4:04 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Let's give her the benefit of the doubt. I'm straight, but imagine that getting into your first relationship with someone of the same gender, if you're not out yet (or even if you are!), is a big deal and maybe a little intimidating, emotionally.

Could you lead the way here, in a positive, supportive way? "Katie, you clearly like me, and I really like you. I want to date you and explore that! I know it's a big step, but we'd be taking it together, and we can go slow. I'm here to support you."
posted by amaire at 4:10 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


It took me a minute to understand the problem. You have feelings and she has feelings. They are mutual!

It seems like the pacing is off and the level of commitment is off.

I'd come at this conversation in a very gentle way, you like her. You are attracted to her. You want to hang around her, and you have feelings...BUT you are uncomfortable with her spoken level of commitment (I can't be in relationship right now due to coming out/stigma), versus her actions (I want to be in a relationship with you RIGHT NOW flirty flirty). And ask her what she wants or is willing to do.

I think you should express that you want her actions/words to be more aligned so you can move forward regardless of the result.

Coming out is a way difficult process and there is really no timeline for it. Maybe you should outline how you can be supportive and how you can't be supportive with her.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:05 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Neither of you can let it go, and you're both interested.

Make a move and put the issue to bed. Literally.

The rest is just details.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 5:14 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I understand that when people have feelings for another person, they can't help those feelings and can become a slave to their emotions.

That's true, but how you MANAGE those emotions is an entirely different matter. Her feeling all crazy about you doesn't mean that she has an excuse to dump the crazy ON you.

You have every right in the world to take her aside and say "look, if you aren't going to be dating me, either you need to dial it back a notch, or I'm going to have to keep my distance because this isn't fair."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:14 PM on March 10


We both want to be with each other but the circumstances are difficult.
I wonder. If you both wanted it, actually, it would be happening. She doesn't want this, but she does want something else: she wants your attention and interest. She just doesn't want to follow through. Definitely not now, and probably not ever. If she was as concerned as she says she is about staying in the closet, she would not be behaving the way she is behaving in public with you. I don't behave that way with my own boyfriend in public, and we've been dating for a year.

Also, the fact that she asked you to wait for a year, and that you turn this down not because it is immensely unfair to you but because you thought she might lose interest in you that amount of time? I want to say this gently. You seem to be down on yourself in two ways here: one, you thought she would no longer like you in a year; two, you would have otherwise put her needs before yours. Why shouldn't you date other people in the next year? Why should you put your life on hold for someone who has not demonstrated they would do likewise in return? Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. It's OK to put yourself first in matters like this.
posted by sockermom at 5:16 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I think she likes the idea of you but not the whole, actual relationship thing (because it's all a bit scary). The problem is, her fantasy-with-no-follow-through is affecting your life and work. Whilst it must be very fun for her to think what-if and all that without doing anything at all, she's hurting you in the process. You have to ask her what's going to happen and she has to be the one to "man up" and get on with making a decision about what she wants. More than likely, this whole thing will be a 'move on' situation.
posted by heyjude at 5:18 PM on March 10


I think under the circumstances you should point out that:

(a) literally everyone who's ever seen her around you knows she likey-likes you, so if she wants to stay in the closet, it's not working. Plus what everyone said about out at college does not mean she has to be out at home if that's an issue.
(b) if she actually decides she wants to sack up and date you instead of being a tease, let you know, but until that time, you will:
(c) be avoiding her as much as possible, because this kind of behavior is shitty.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:19 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Back off, no need for wordy explanations. She will either move away or even closer and make a decision. If she hangs out by your classroom, its "oh great to run into you here--sorry I have a thing I have to go to, call me" etc.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:09 AM on March 11


I honestly feel like you guys need to have a discussion about whether you like each other enough to warrant trying this even if she's not ready to come out. It is totally possible to have a satisfying relationship without being out to absolutely everyone; lots of queer people do it for at least some period of time. I mean, if you're not willing to do that, then I think you just need to add some distance, but... coming out is a process and it's totally normal not to be ready to do it all at once. That doesn't mean that your feelings stop existing until you're ready.

It sounds like she's just assuming that she's not entitled to happiness until she's really ready to jump in the deep end, and maybe all that's really necessary here is some reassurance that it's okay to take it in stages when you've found someone who makes you happy--you don't have to have sex right away, you don't have to come out to everyone on the planet right away, you can just figure it out as you go along.
posted by Sequence at 7:29 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing a lot of "she's stringing you along" type comments and I think that's certainly a possibility. BUT I wouldn't totally discount the fact that you're both young, and it doesn't sound like she's had a relationship before and that can be a big, scary step for lots of LGBT people (disclosure: I'm straight but most of my friends in college were queer so I saw this play out a lot).

I think one possibility is that she does want to be with you but is having trouble taking that plunge. If this is the case, it might be worth you having one more conversation with her: let her know that you're interested, and you think she is too, that you're not willing to wait, but you are willing to stand with her and help her do whatever she needs to do to come out, and/or that you're willing to be with her even if she's not yet out to her family (obviously, only say all of this if it's true).

Sometimes when one person involved is young and a bit insecure/unsure, it falls to the more confident/experienced person to kind of make things happen. Not in a forceful sense, but in the sense of putting it all on the line. Some people are fine with being that person, some aren't. If you're fine with it, it's worth a shot.

Now, I could be totally wrong: she may indeed be stringing you along. But the good thing about putting it all out there is that if she is, you'll know. If she continues to say she's not ready but still flirts with you, then you'll know nothing is going to happen and you can move on.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 7:36 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think it sounds like she really likes you but is unsure about taking the big step into Actually Dating A Girl. Maybe what is needed is processing time, where you both talk to try to understand -

1) What does dating mean to her? What does coming out mean to her? What parts of those does she not want to do?
2) What does dating mean to you? Would you be willing to date her, even if she wasn't out to her family or some friends?
posted by corb at 9:51 AM on March 11


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