How do I deal with a non-responder?
November 9, 2008 3:13 PM   Subscribe

What should I do when people (specifically, male friends) don't respond? Warning: this does get kind of long.

So, I need some advice. I've written about this situation quite a few times and it turned out to be rather long, so I'm going to try and keep it short.

This past summer I met a guy at a place where I was volunteering at. So far, this has been the only time we've met in person, but he seemed like such a nice guy- he asked me questions, he was nice, and we really seemed to hit it off. It kind of blew me away, considering that I'm not exactly the type of girl guys just go up and talk to unless it's as a joke- I'm a big girl and have social anxiety, which in turn is a side effect of something that I won't go into here. A few days later, I got a hold of his e-mail address from the head of volunteering- it was in a mass e-mail he sent, so it's not like I asked anyone for it- and then I Facebooked him. I was so worried that he would think it was weird and not accept, but he did, and we exchanged messages back and forth. After a few of those, I asked him if he wanted to hang out. By then it was close to the end and he was transferring to a new school, so he told me that he'd be busy, but that he'd see. Again I panicked, figuring that he was looking for an easy way to blow me off, but then I sent him another message about volunteering and he responded to that. I think it's worth mentioning here that at one point I did like him as more than a friend, but I kind of stopped pursuing that when he got a gf (they have since broken up, I think).

Since then, though, it's been spotty. We're both at school now, and I would like to try and get together over winter break (we live in the same area). I've written him two e-mails, but the first one he responded to after I wrote on his wall and told him I wrote him one, and he has yet to respond to the second one, which I mailed in late Sept. He seems to be on Facebook a bit more, and so in mid-Oct. I wrote him a private message telling him that if he didn't want to talk to me, he could just tell me, hoping that that would get him to e-mail me back. He responded (after a few hours) that he would respond, but that he was too busy right now and that he'd write back when the work lightened. I get busy at school too, so this seemed convincing.

Thing is, my Facebook news feed keeps reporting that there are these photos being added of him at parties, etc. at his new school There are even some with him in New York. It's like, he went to all these things, and "didn't have the time" to respond to my e-mail or contact me. And this is what has me doubting. But he responded earlier, and I think if he didn't want to talk to me, he would have made it clear by now, even if he was the sensitive type or thought I was going after him romantically. And even if he was sensitive, I don't think I did anything that day we met that would reveal to him that I'd be upset by him not wanting to talk to me anymore.

So, I don't know what to do. I don't have many friends, let alone guy friends, and I want to try and keep this running and not screw it up. It's very hard for me to make guy friends, partly because of the stuff about me I mentioned earlier, and partly because I go to a women's college, and the guys that come here are just not suitable (that's the most succinct way to put it) and I'm simply incapable of just going up to a guy at a club or a bar or even a bookstore and getting a conversation going. This guy was one of the few I met that I felt I could talk to. We had a lot of stuff in common- we both like a lot of the same indie films/music/books, and while it's not hard to find someone like that here at school, a lot of them don't like talking to me, and I don't know why. He was the first guy I met who had a fucking brain in his skull who 1) liked me at least as a friend and 2) wasn't a professor. I really want to hang out with him and talk about stuff while we're both home. But every time I talk to someone about this, I keep getting "no response is a response" and "if he says he has no time to respond, he really means he has no time for you." I'm not sure if this is the case with him, and so I want to give him another chance.

But should I? Should I call him out on the pictures, etc.? What should I do?
posted by awesomepenguin to Human Relations (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He was your temporary friend over the summer. When the summer ended, so did the friendship. Let it go.

If you're interested in analyzing this, he probably is avoiding you for any one of a number of possible reasons, none of which you have control over:

1) He thinks you are coming on to him, and is too much of a child to tell you that he is not interested.
2) He is honestly busy with other commitments and older friends.
3) He thought you were cool enough over the summer, but now he has to get back to things.
4) He has a jealous girlfriend who doesn't want him talking to you.
etc. etc.
posted by Electrius at 3:23 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

He sounds like one of those people who uses the (IMO cowardly) "always be busy" method of turning someone down rather than the "be honest and clear about where you stand" version.

I understand that you're frustrated with the situation... but it seems clear to me that he doesn't return your feelings. You've sent him enough messages that his non responsiveness indicates this.

I would not contact him anymore. Calling him out won't solve anything.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:29 PM on November 9, 2008

Just posting a reminder that some of us -- especially younger guys -- can be awkward and shy in erratic ways. I'm pretty sure I've made this kind of impression on people without meaning to give them the brush-off.
posted by grobstein at 3:34 PM on November 9, 2008

Probably not the best idea to call him out on the photos. I think that might come across as stalker-ish.

While often "I'm busy but will get back to you" is a completely valid response, I think that receiving more than one of those in this kind of elapsed timeframe does equate to "No response is a response". While hanging out with you in the summer was cool, it seems that it was a temporary arrangement for him. I'm sorry.

If you are so eager to have a more definitive answer without looking uncool, you could always go with the last gasp attempt of an email or FB message that says: "Hey, are you going to be in town over Xmas break? My schedule is rapidly filling up (isn't it crazy how that happens?!) but would be great to catch up. I'm free on X days - let me know asap if any of these work for you!"

It's not far fetched (I've already booked up my entire Xmas 10 day holiday visiting home) and you may get an answer quickly. Either way, response or no response, you'll definitely know.

I realize that you may not see that the cool guy you so desperately want to have in your life may not be worth it, but trust me, take any non-response from him as a "he's not worth having in my life" moment. Good luck.
posted by meerkatty at 3:36 PM on November 9, 2008

Should I call him out on the pictures, etc.?

Absolutely not. This guy does not owe you anything- he's not obliged to spend time with you. Honestly, it sounds like this guy does not want to be your friend, and you're attempts at getting his attention are sounding pathetic and manipulative- telling him that "if he doesn't want to talk to you anymore, he can just tell you?" in hopes that you'll get his attention? Doing stuff like that might get someone's attention, but not for the right reasons. Who needs friends like that? Stop contacting this guy and focus your energies on social activities where you can make new friends.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:40 PM on November 9, 2008 [17 favorites]

I should add that even if he truly is busy and nonresponsive for legit reasons, do you want to deal with that all the time?

I've had to move away from new friendships because I don't have any time to keep them up, not because I dislike the acquaintances involved. If those people still wanted to be friends, I'd be flattered, but they'd have to be cool with my necessary flakiness, which I wouldn't wish on a friend.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:41 PM on November 9, 2008

In my experience, when anyone has said to me - even with the best of intentions - "If you don't want to talk to me..." it makes me NOT want to talk to them.

It's kind of like when someone gives you a guilt trip, you're just way less likely to want to respond. If it seems like someone is really really CRAVING a response, it becomes something that you don't WANT to respond to.

For now, just leave it be. Don't unfriend him on Facebook, but don't send him any messages either. Just let it alone. Perhaps sometime down the road you'll have a legit chance to contact the guy about volunteering or something. Who knows, perhaps sometime in a few months or whatever, he'll contact you. But for now, you're acquaintances. You hung out, you know each other, that's it. He doesn't owe you anything beyond politeness - which, while it sounds like he's being evasive, it IS more polite than "No. I really don't want to talk to you."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:45 PM on November 9, 2008 [9 favorites]

As painful as it is, his message is loud and clear. If he wants to get together at this point, he will initiate.
posted by trixare4kids at 3:46 PM on November 9, 2008

I wrote him a private message telling him that if he didn't want to talk to me, he could just tell me, hoping that that would get him to e-mail me back.

Don't do that. He's not brave enough to tell you he doesn't want to hang out, but not responding is what that means.

It kind of blew me away, considering that I'm not exactly the type of girl guys just go up and talk to unless it's as a joke- I'm a big girl

Oh, honey. That's just simply not true. The real problem is that you need to work on your self-worth. Being a big girl is no reason to believe that men wouldn't want to talk to you, at least the kind of man that you want to spend time with. I say this as a happily married fat woman who has many happily partnered fat friends.

I'll tell you what I'd tell myself if I could go back in time -- be confident. I spent too many years being absolutely convinced that I was unlovable because I was fat and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Have you seen Fatshionista? It's a community dedicated to fashion for plus-sized women. Look for the links titled "OOTD" -- that means Outfit of the Day. The confidence there is contagious.
posted by sugarfish at 3:47 PM on November 9, 2008 [5 favorites]

I am *so* out of place responding to this, and admit to not having a clue as to how things work these days with young people (18-22 age group, I'm assuming?). Anyway, 30 long years ago when I was figuring this stuff out first-hand, I suddenly had an epiphany of what the "golden" rule was that dominated young relationships. Simply stated:

Everyone wants what they *can't* have.

Think about it in reverse. He's practicing the rule perfectly ("You can't have me, you can't have me") and you just want him that much more. Try it out yourself and I guarantee it will work. If not on this guy, then someone better. Guys and girls your age aren't searching for a good fit with someone, they're trying to attain something just out of their reach. Ok, maybe that's more a guy thing than a girl thing, but still important to know. Make yourself that "just out of reach" gal and guys will be trying to step up to your level. Doesn't that sound a whole hell of a lot better than chasing them downhill to their level?
posted by Rafaelloello at 3:57 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, it sounds like he is busy. With parties, and school, and trips to New York. All of these things require a sizable social circle, and unfortunately it sounds like he has enough friends that he doesn't attach the same priority to this budding friendship as you do. And honestly, that's not a fault with him or you-- that's just the way things fall sometimes. We aren't always friends with all the people we could potentially be friends with.

Rather than pursuing this one friendship with the zeal you have been using, try spreading your friendship-energy out a bit. You tend to catch more fish by throwing out a wide net than by using the bait and hook approach.

Also, there has to be some pull to go along with the push.

"I wrote him a private message telling him that if he didn't want to talk to me, he could just tell me, hoping that that would get him to e-mail me back."
-- this is certainly push. You might have been hoping to entice him to be more chatty with you, but most people don't want to be guilted into chatting. Rather than making conversations with you a fun time, this indicates to him that there's a lot of high emotion riding on his communication with you (or lack thereof).

And there is-- it's affecting you enough that you're writing about it on the internet. This is a really big deal to you. Just probably not as big a one to him. And he, sensing that, might have opted out of this potential drama-trap.
posted by roshy at 4:02 PM on November 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

It kinda sounds like you didn't spend the summer volunteering with him, you met him *once* during your summer volunteer job. Friending him on Facebook and sending a message are perfect ways to follow up on a chance encounter, but you haven't seen him since, and he only rarely responds.

You mention you don't have any guy friends and don't want to mess this up with him- but he isn't a friend, just a cool guy you met that one time while you were volunteering.

Let him go. You've already gone a little too far with your "you can tell me if you don't want to talk to me", learn from the experience (or lack thereof) with him and go back to volunteering. There will be other cool guys who want to talk, I totally agree with sugarfish. If he wants to reemerge in your life and chase *you* (after you put up some pictures on facebook of what a great time YOU'VE been having), you can decide if you're willing to hang out, but until then, forget about him.
posted by arnicae at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you had a friendly acquaintance based upon a shared activity. He wasn't your "friend" so to speak. You are not a priority for him simply because he has his own life, doesn't know you that well, and is not particularly close to you. Just because someone is friendly to you doesn't obligate them to pursue and maintain a friendship with you.

I really don't want to come off harsh here because you sound like a very nice person, but really he's just a nice guy who was nice to you and probably thought you were fun to be around when he was around you. Then you took this kernel of friendliness and built into a whole series of expectations that were really not warranted. I realize it is hard for you to make friends, so this was a big deal to you, but really most people meet interesting fun people on a fairly regular basis and then depending on their personal circumstances they choose to either pursue or not pursue a friendship. I would say in over 90% of the time they don't pursue it.

I would advise you to stop emailing and messaging him. Also stop looking at his facebook feed. He is under absolutely no obligation to email you rather than go out with his friends or enjoy his life.
posted by whoaali at 4:17 PM on November 9, 2008

I think it's worth mentioning here that at one point I did like him as more than a friend, but I kind of stopped pursuing that when he got a gf (they have since broken up, I think).

Your behavior does not sound like that of someone who merely thinks of this dude platonically. Why? Because this early in a genuine platonic friendship one generally doesn't feel the need to push this hard--would you be stalking him via facebook and over-analyzing this deeply if he were a girl?

My instinct is to say that he knows you're attracted and isn't interested, for whatever reason. His not being interested is not necessarily a negative reflection of you. But his befriending you this summer does not mean he's obligated to keep in touch indefinitely. TPS nails it--he doesn't owe you anything. Sending messages about ending the "friendship" is pushy and guilt trippy and not cool.

You're hedging too many bets on this person you hardly know. I think it's time you work on your self-esteem a bit--sugarfish's suggestions for participating in fatshonista are great! Get yourself a great outfit and get out there and meet people, men and women. And quit putting all of your love & friendship eggs in one basket.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2008

Those pictures and things...that's what he's too busy doing to hang out/talk to you.

Sorry. You're pushing too hard, for too much, based on too little. Let it go and find someone who's interested in YOU.
posted by purplecurlygirl at 5:05 PM on November 9, 2008

GET OFF OF FACEBOOK. It is facilitating a very unhealthy habit - causing you to obsess over an otherwise unremarkable semi-flirtatious semi-friendship.

Seriously. Close your account. Do it now. You will only continue to perpetrate this semi-stalkerish behavior, ridding the emotional ups and downs, and wasting a whole lot of time and emotional effort. If not with this current guy, it'll be the next guy who makes a pass at you. It's childish and it's self destructive.

Grown up relationships don't work this way - if there is any real chance for a lasting, meaningful relationship, you'll know it... you won't have to stake out a website and hope for clues that will allow you to second guess other people's unknowable motives.


And to hopefully quash any of this, I'll tell you exactly what this guy was thinking:

He was probably going through a lonely patch, maybe feeling down on himself. He met you, found you accessible, that you hung on his every word, liked the way that he could flirt with you and that your low standards prevented you from noticing his flaws. So he rode the flirtatious euphoria for a while. He might have even hooked up with had a drunken booty call transpired - but it didn't, and you're lucky for that.

He moved on, you underhandedly snaked his email address and cyber stalked him a little - then took the plunge and requested him as a "friend" - he didn't think much about it, because he's one of those Facebook users who accepts all friend requests, even from people he doesn't know and doesn't care to talk to. You wrote him, he, not being a complete jerk, wrote back to say hi, you read too much between the lines, and now you've absolutely gone off the deep end because he's the first guy to give you the time of day...

There is an entire world of men out there who will appreciate you for you. Guess what? This guy isn't one of them... you need to move on, to accept rejection like a grown up, and work on your own bad habits so that when the next guy comes along you'll be more confident. And confidence is super sexy...
posted by wfrgms at 5:19 PM on November 9, 2008 [9 favorites]

I'm with ThePinkSuperhero.

If the guy was enthusiastic about being your friend, he would respond to your e-mails. When I don't respond to people's e-mails, it's because I have other things I want to do more. Do you want him to respond to your e-mails just because you pressure him into it? Do you want it to feel like a chore for him? Then back off. If he doesn't respond, then he's not worth your effort.

I think it would be completely out of line to call him out for going to parties and whatnot. He doesn't owe you anything. If you're like that with other people, you probably come across as needy and insecure and it's not surprising people don't want to hang out with you. I'm seriously surprised it would even occur to you to call him out on going to parties, that's how weird it would be to anyone else. I'm sorry to be that blunt about it, but I hope it's helpful to hear; when I have known people like that, no one has the heart to tell them what's so off-putting and they end up going through life without understanding.

From time to time, people make friendly conversation with people because they think they're nice enough people, even though they don't want to be friends. Sometimes they even do this out of pity, i.e. this person is nice therefore they should have friends, so I'll talk to them to make up for that. I know I've done that before, especially with people I don't expect to see much of them later, like coworkers at semester-long jobs. As it's happened, there have been times where I have had to see them for much longer than I expected, and it's exhausting. You've got to keep seeming more friendly than you feel because you know they're nice people and you don't want to hurt their feelings, but when it comes down to it you just don't click, you just never think, "Hey, I want to hang out with or talk to ______."

I hate to say it, but that's what this sounds like. If one of those people ever said something to me like, "You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to," I would be irritated, for one, since it comes across as emo and manipulative. (That's unfortunate since I think someone could say that and be neither of those things, but that's not usually the case and I don't think that's how most people would take it, especially not from someone who has seemed clingy.) Second of all, if someone comes across as so needy that they press me to respond to their e-mails, I'm not going to feel comfortable telling them that I don't want to talk to them; I'd feel sad, like I must be one of the only friends they have, or else they'd have given up already. Third, remember that I talked to them partly out of pity because I think they're a nice person, so I'm not going to want to make them feel worse than I suspect they already feel. There's a regretful "I wish I was a good enough person that I could genuinely want to be friends with someone just because they're nice" feeling, but in reality it takes a lot more than that. Anyway, the point is that I wouldn't want to crush their self-esteem just because they don't have what I want in a friend. What would my excuse be? That I've been too busy. And that's exactly the excuse I have given for not responding to some e-mails.

I realize that sounds cruel, and in a way it is despite being well-meaning, but I want you to understand the mindset he might be in.

Point is, leave him alone. If he wanted to talk to you or hang out, it would be easier than this.
posted by Nattie at 5:36 PM on November 9, 2008 [9 favorites]

He's not a friend, and he's too afraid or awkward to know how to tell you that. Sorry. You're well rid of him.

Been there, had someone pull the "busy" thing....I was 18, had no self-esteem, and there'd been a relationship for few months, then on and off. Horrible experience.
posted by dilettante at 5:42 PM on November 9, 2008

You barely know this guy, he doesn't owe you anything.

Should I call him out on the pictures

What? Call him out on what? He dared to not make sure his free time included someone he knows primarily from passive-aggressive messages on the internet?

People are busy. We make time for the people we know well, and we don't always put the time into new people. Maybe he's a friendly enough guy who didn't mind chatting with you but doesn't really have the inclination to go any further. Maybe he thinks you have a crush on him and isn't interested but doesn't what to hurt your feels or isn't sure of your intentions and doesn't want to look like an asshole.

In any case, stop "checking in" on him, stop sending him guilt trips on Facebook and stop thinking he's obligated to do anything. Move on; if he contacts you then you've have the choice to blow him off, tell him off or pursue a friendship.
posted by spaltavian at 7:05 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I won't make significant references to previous answers because I largely agree with them: the guy in question seems nice enough, but has his own life, and never seems to have attached nearly the significance to your interactions as you have. I also agree that your biggest problem here has to do with your own sense of self and self-confidence. Dealing with those issues will do you far more good than getting this guy to talk to you.

But I'd ask something which I hope would put things in perspective: Given that you don't seem to spend most of your time in the same general area, how, exactly, is a friendship with this person supposed to work? Take this particular guy out of the picture for a minute and think about it generally. Long distance relationships of any kind are difficult, but in my experience it's only those that are of the most committed sort--familial relations and significant others--which have any potential for working over extended periods of separation, and the ones that work out best are the ones that tend to have a significant foundation of proximity. Platonic friends who don't live near each other may stay in fairly regular touch, but it tends to be the once-a-week-at-most variety, if not once a month or once a year.

Bringing it back to your question, from you've written, I don't think that's not what you want from this guy. You want regular contact of the sort which will provide significant social and emotional support. Platonic friendships can in fact provide this, just not over distance. It just doesn't work. There's something irreplaceable about face-to-face interaction and without that, relationships of any sort just don't grow. Friendships are built on the sorts of daily interactions which can only happen through sustained proximity. Many of the friends I've made over the years, even people with whom I was quite intimate at the time, have faded into the background as we've moved away from each other. I don't love them any the less, but they're no longer a daily part of my life, and that's just the way life is. I see them when I see them, and it's always great to do it, but we had something that we no longer have. C'est la vie.

You need to let this go. Even if he considered you a close friend, you're being unreasonable: you want something that can't be made to work regardless of what anyone wants. You had a positive interaction, and even if it didn't turn into everything you'd wanted, take it for what it was and move on.
posted by valkyryn at 7:08 PM on November 9, 2008

OK, and so I've read all of these, and there are two things that I need to say that I felt I should have said in my original post:

1. The reason I have social anxiety is because I have Asperger's syndrome (look it up if you don't know what it is). In other words, I can't read social cues, etc. So at the time, thinking of calling him out on his pictures was the right thing to do. Don't treat me like I'm stupid because it "should have" occured to me.

2. Here's the exact text of the so-called guilt trip:
"Hey! So, I've noticed you're not much of a responder, and that's fine. However, if you don't want me to contact you, just tell me. Thanks!"
No one else thought it was a guilt trip, not even my therapist. I defy anyone here to tell me now that it was.

3. I know you people are well-meaning, and I thank you for that, and so don't take the following the wrong way, but: PLEASE stop telling me to go "find someone else" like it's the easiest fucking thing in the world to do. I have AS, I have SAD, I go to a women's college, and I'm fat. Oh, and people don't seem to like me for some weird reason. While such comments are well-meaning, they are making me feel worse than I already am and are therefore counterproductive. Please stop.

Aside from that, thanks!
posted by awesomepenguin at 7:30 PM on November 9, 2008

1) The Asperger's would have been helpful to know from the outset. You would probably have gotten much different advice.
2) That text message is a classic p/a response. No way around it.
3) I'm with ya. But...

To answer your question, guys are dumb that way. We will often take the easiest way out, regardless of the effects on others. Sucks, but that's how it often is. You just have to forget about the jerk and move on.
posted by Aquaman at 7:41 PM on November 9, 2008

How were we supposed to know that you have asperger's, SAD, and go to a women's college? Also, although it may be difficult, the difficulty you might have in meeting new people doesn'tt mean that it wouldn't be the best thing for you.

That message still feels a little heavy for someone you met once. And I'm usually a big fan of just asking people where you stand in romantic situations rather than skirting issues. What you had with this guy wasn't a romantic situation, though. Early on in any relationship (friendly or romantic), it's a really, really good idea to just be cool about things--and make no assumptions about where it might go in the future, or what responses they owe you.

I'm not saying this because I think you're stupid. I'm saying it because, perhaps in part due to your AD, you seem unaware of the socially appropriate way to act in this situation. In fact, you've pretty much said as much. We're trying to help you here, really.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:51 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

AS, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:52 PM on November 9, 2008

I have AS, I have SAD, I go to a women's college, and I'm fat. Oh, and people don't seem to like me for some weird reason. While such comments are well-meaning, they are making me feel worse than I already am and are therefore counterproductive. Please stop is not here to make you feel better about yourself. is here to give you advice on your situation. Most of the advice, so far, is rock solid. You are completely correct that moving on isn't "easy" or the easiest thing in the world. If it was, would not be filled with five new questions a day about people dealing with other people. You need to stop looking for advice that just reinforces your current world view because, guess what, that won't happen. And why won't that happen? Because what you're currently hoping for (i.e. some magic bullet or phrase or word to get this guy to be your friend and hang out with you) isn't going to happen.

This guy isn't your friend, as much as you hope he would be. He never really was your friend. He was merely someone you worked with over the summer. He talked to you because he found it worthwhile to talk to you while volunteering. He was engaging because he felt that you should be engaged with while volunteering. You were a good volunteering companion for that short period of time. That's a great thing! I've wasted plenty of time in my life at events where I didn't want to talk to a damn person sitting in the room. This guy wasn't just being nice to you - he was actually chatting with you while volunteering.

But that's all he wanted - to chat with you while volunteering. He's not a friend in the way you think a friend is. He's an acquaintance, someone slightly above stranger but below the person you'll try to remember in 10 years going "oh, i wonder whatever happened to so and so". You mistook what he was doing. He was not there to be your friend, he was there to make your volunteering together a fun and easy going experience. He wasn't looking for a relationship with you outside that context. Once you stopped volunteering together, the context for the relationship ended. What he is now doing is telling you in an indirect way that he doesn't want to be friends with you the way you want to be friends with him. If you run into him volunteering or somewhere, he'll talk to you, ask you how you are, remember the things you told him and be genuinely interested in what you have to say. But he doesn't, and won't go for, anything beyond that.

I know that you want this guy to be your friend - but just because you want him to be your friend doesn't mean he wants to be friends. You view communication and asking questions as a sign that a person wants to be friends. This isn't necessarily the case. Communication, questions, etc can be used in certain situations to form stable and short term relationships that function well. You and him had a relationship like that when you were volunteering. But now, that doesn't exist anymore.
posted by Stynxno at 8:04 PM on November 9, 2008 [9 favorites]

2. Here's the exact text of the so-called guilt trip: "Hey! So, I've noticed you're not much of a responder, and that's fine. However, if you don't want me to contact you, just tell me. Thanks!" No one else thought it was a guilt trip, not even my therapist. I defy anyone here to tell me now that it was.

Even if you didn't mean to make him feel guilty, what you said probably did make him feel guilty at some level, and, regardless of how he felt, was not a great way of getting to the truth of the situation. People generally don't like to hurt other people's feelings, which is why when faced with questions ("Do I look fat in these jeans?") or situations where telling the truth might do so, people will often avoid addressing the situation directly or tell a white lie to avoid hurting the other person's feelings. People generally don't really enjoy the discomfort of having to lie, and might have a hard time building a relationship with someone they can't avoid having to lie to.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:06 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you have Asperger's, you're certainly not stupid for misreading the situation. For future reference, though, there are almost no occasions where it is appropriate to call someone out. You do that when someone has promised you something and then blatantly not followed through. This guy just said he was too busy to contact you - you're probably associating "busy" with "work", though as other people have said busy can include social life - or sleeping, or playing video games, or anything else. He decides how to spend his time, not you.

I can understand where you got your idea about calling out from, but in the end you have to stop deciding for him (and perhaps for others in the future) what parts of their life are unimportant enough to make way for talking to you. That means stop facebook stalking them, and stop questioning their motives. People who are "too busy" are telling the truth and will be "not busy" when they want to be.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:27 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wait, is this a person you've only met once? You mentioned something about "the day we met" and "the only time we've met in person" that makes it seem as though you've only actually met this man once. If that's the case, he's definitely not your friend. He's not even an acquaintance. He's someone you met once and had a pleasant conversation with, exchanged a few emails with, and then haven't had any real contact with since.

I know that it can be hard to make new friends. If you're at a women's college, you may need to resign yourself to the fact that most or all of your friends will be women until you graduate, but you can spend time now making lots of great female friends and practicing the social skills that will make it easier for you to meet all kinds of new people throughout your life.

In the meantime, let this go. You're devoting a lot of your mental energy to a man who is, in the words of the schlocky self-help book "just not that into you." I know you say that you're not romantically interested in him but, the way you talk about him reads as though you are. That tells me that you're devoting way, way too much of your brain space to him.

I'd delete him as an online friend, and begin to mourn the loss of this friendship that never was. Let yourself grieve for it, just as you would if you had a friend and had lost him, because emotionally, you did have this relationship. And don't feel bad about this; we've all been there. We've all let ourselves get emotionally involved with people who turned out not to feel about us the way that we felt about them. It's difficult, but once you realize what's happening, you can move on with your life. That's what you need to do here.
posted by decathecting at 9:27 PM on November 9, 2008

Make friends with women. If you manage this (and yes, making friends can be hard) then they will introduce you to men.

Making friends with men and dating men are two different things.

Being fat does make it harder to meet men, but not that much harder. (Really). There is a whole industry dedicated to convincing you that you need to be skinny, but for the most part, you don't.

Ask your therapist about training in social skills.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:38 PM on November 9, 2008

Whenever you are asking a question related to social norms, or social interactions, it is always relevent to mention you have Aspergers.
Further, it can be quite helpful to mention that because of this, you may have missed, mistaken, or not understood a certain interaction, and that explanations of what you might have missed are appreciated.

For myself - I don't have Aspergers.
But I do tend a bit towards more systematic kinds of thinking, and I was a bit socially isolated for long enough that I was a bit stunted, socially, for some time.
I think I have largely overcome that, and yet - if I am asking a question about social norms, I will usually say I have Aspergers-like traits, as knowing that, people are more likely to assume I might have missed something in reading the social situation, explain the things they think I may have missed, and when I ask for explanations, sometimes reply in more detail. Sometimes I think this might backfire on me, (there's a difference between ignorant, and stupid - even in social situations), but mostly from this, I have learned a great deal.

That I usually had to really break down social situations, and spend some time figuring out the mechanics involved to 'get' them, means that now, there's even been a few times when people have complimented on my assessment of a social situation (which means I figure I'm getting about average), also I'm no longer getting compliments which imply that my former skills were noticeably sub-par like 'Wow, in the last couple of years that I've known you, your communication skills have really improved!' (direct quote).
(It took me years as a child to realise I wasn't getting compliments or certificates on my reading like other children were, because I was quite good at it - and that the certificates were being given to kids who had been significantly behind, and caught up, through a reading-recovery program)

Just some general advice, I don't know how it would work for someone actually Aspergers (to be clear, I really don't think I am or was, I was just a little stunted by external circumstances, which looks the same, but I had an easier time catching up), but it could be helpful:

My approach to overcoming that was typically systematic - reading psychology & body language books etc, a lot of observation of social situations, and listening and asking others about things I might have missed in social situations. You can ask this in natural ways, and have people willing to talk and explain - mentally, you just phrase it as gossip. When you hear that someone is angry at so&so, or obviously likes someone else, or that you can say things like 'Wow, I totally missed that...', or 'Huh, I didn't and then merely by looking interested, and being an attentive listener, people will often be encouraged to explain why they know (They've been bringing them drinks all night, and meanwhile, other-person-b has been trying to get their attention, and drag them away all night), without you prompting further.
It was also quite helpful explaining situations to another friend of mine, who was more socially stunted than I, when they had not understood something and I had - and there is always someone worse at it than you. I was able to put concepts I'd grasped, but not logically, into words, and figure out the general cases.

Also, you have another benefit - you are a female. Really. This is a big benefit.
Male aspies are often loners, and male loners are often perceived as threats.
People tend to be less exclusionary in general than they were in high school (suddenly wondered if this was a factor - people are more willing to chit-chat and be friendly with people they are with, but it also doesn't mean they are necessarily interested in 'more'), and being a female, they will be more comfortable including you in conversation and events even as a loner, and this will make it easier for you to learn.
posted by Elysum at 9:42 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and it seems that overweight women have more sex than "normal" sized women.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:42 PM on November 9, 2008

things that I need to say that I felt I should have said in my original post

Oh, I didn't realize that there was all this other information missing from your original post.

In that I case I resend all of my heartfelt advice from above.

Please, continue to pester this person who obviously is not interested in you. Continue to stalk him, obsess over his activities and photos, keep passively-aggressively annoying this poor schlub whose only crime was to be friendly and noncommittal toward you. Keep writting him to say, "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so," "If you don't want to talk to me, just say so!!!!!!!!"

Yes, yes, he hasn't told you to piss into the wind yet, not because he is is a nice person who is just hoping you'll take the hint and do the grown up thing and leave him alone... no, no, it's not that at all... in fact it is all some elaborate test of your interest level, the more you harass and annoy him, the more he will like you, until one day soon he shows up at your door step, shirtless and glistening in the sunlight, oh yeah and he's ridding the last of the unicorns, and he'll extend his hand out to you and say, "Come with me!" And together you'll ride off into the sky. On a rainbow.

Yeah, please do all that, because the stuff you left out means that we're all 100% wrong...


LOOK: we're all telling you "find someone else" because that's the only option you have short of kidnapping this guy and keeping him chained in your basement.

We're not saying, "Oh sister, guys are a dime a dozen, just jump the bones of any one of the hansom, eligible bachelors who you step over each day from your hall to your door..."

Relationships aren't easy! Meeting people is not easy! Why do think people write books about this stuff? Even the pretty, well adjusted people have trouble...

I promise you though: every minute you spend thinking about this guy, every moment you're glancing through his photos, or considering your non-existent "options" for tricking him into noticing you, is time you could have spent fixing all the little things in your life which are collectively making it hard for your to meet other men.

The moment you force yourself to stop wasting your time on a guy WHO DOESN'T LIKE YOU and on a stupid website which facilitates your unhealthy fixation, is the moment you begin moving toward a realistic destination. Just because you can't see Mr. Perfect waiting for you at the end of that journey, doesn't mean you shouldn't start taking the first steps in that direction.
posted by wfrgms at 11:23 PM on November 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

There's a feature in facebook newsfeeds that will limit the stories you see for any particular person on your friend list. You should use it to help you start pulling away from this situation. Put your mouse over the name of the person when you see a story about them in your newsfeed, you will see a little "Options" button appear to the far right of their name/news story - click options and choose "Less about __"

I don't see why you can't just defriend him though. He's not important, he's not a friend. I'd remove him.
posted by zarah at 2:01 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whenever you are asking a question related to social norms, or social interactions, it is always relevent to mention you have Aspergers.

Yes, absolutely. While SAD and going to a women's college aren't really relevant to your question, Asperger's is a totally relevant thing to social situations.

None of the advice here is meant to make you feel worse about YOURSELF. We're a pretty straightforward bunch, and we're trying to answer your question as clearly as possible. Sometimes, that bluntness can come off as insensitivity, it's true. Just take it as one of those lessons that what people mean to say can come off as harsh in the cold, cold light of the internet.

You might want to mention the next time you chat with this guy: "Sorry if my messages seem intrusive, I have Asperger's and it's hard for me to get a read on people unless they totally spell out what they're feeling."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:32 AM on November 10, 2008

"Hey! So, I've noticed you're not much of a responder, and that's fine. However, if you don't want me to contact you, just tell me. Thanks!"
No one else thought it was a guilt trip, not even my therapist. I defy anyone here to tell me now that it was.

1. People that you know will take your side much more often than people that you don't know. Just because everyone you know thinks that text was guilt-free doesn't mean it's a good idea to ignore the advice of strangers on AskMe whose advice you wanted before they gave it.

2. If it's not a guilt-trip, it's definitely misleading. You say that it's fine that he hasn't responded to you. But if it really was fine with you, you wouldn't have even mentioned his non-responsiveness.

3. It's expecting too much for someone to respond with total and complete honesty to a request like "If you don't want me to contact you, just tell me." I mean, I can think of maaaaaaaaaybe like 2 people that are very close to me that I would expect that level of honesty from. With anyone else, I would know that a consistent lack of communication is the way that most people express that they don't want to be in contact with you, and that there's nothing really wrong with doing this, especially for people that you barely know.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:43 AM on November 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

he's blowing you off without manning up and saying he's not interested. let it go. and don't call him out on any facebook activity. that's really stalkerish and immature.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:18 AM on November 10, 2008

PLEASE stop telling me to go "find someone else" like it's the easiest fucking thing in the world to do. I have AS, I have SAD, I go to a women's college, and I'm fat. Oh, and people don't seem to like me for some weird reason.

I don't think people mean to imply that finding someone else is easy, just that it's a good thing for you to do. If everything good for people was easy to do, the world would be a lot different and we wouldn't have junk food or nicotine patches or snooze alarms.

Your situation is so familiar to me - we're not exactly the same, but we've got stuff in common, and there have been a lot of times when I've had the same "why won't he talk to me?" situation. You've been blown off by this guy, and it hurts, and it's left something of a scab. Trying to figure out what's up with him is like picking that scab: it might feel good at first, but every time you do it, it's going to get bloody and messy and extend the healing time even longer, and you're more likely to end up with a scar.

The times when I've really liked a guy, even just-as-friends (but more often "as a potential boyfriend but if i can't have that i guess i'll settle for friendship"), and pursued way too aggressively for too long when I should have backed off, and done those weird passive-aggressive tests-of-friendship and issued ultimatums... they never ended well. In fact, they ended shittily. I have emotional scars, I have enemies, from trying too hard to be friends. I wish I could go back in time and fix things, but it's impossible at this point, and I know it's mostly if not entirely my fault.

So don't keep picking this scab, awesomepenguin. It will heal quicker if you don't.

A couple other things:

It's anecdotal evidence, so take it or leave it, but I have been obese and I have been a normal weight. It may be coincidence, but the better relationships of my life all started when I was heavier. The people worth your time will like you both now and fifty pounds either way, and there are more of them out there than you think.

Additionally, when you picked your Mefi username, you picked awesomepenguin instead of fataspiesadpenguinwhomnoonelikes. Which leads me to believe that you do think you're awesome in some way. And I have a feeling other people would too. (I have a feeling that if you and I went to the same school, we'd end up friends.) Even though it's a cold dark miserable November in the middle of nowhere and you have social anxiety, you are still awesome. Focus on what makes you awesome instead of what stands in your way, and you'll have an easier time making and keeping friends who are attracted to your awesome. It'll still be hard - there's no magic bullet - but it will be less hard.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:15 AM on November 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I hear you that it's hard for you to make friends. But we're telling you to try to focus on other people besides this guy because 1) it seems likely that he's not interested and it'll hurt less if you're not so focused on him; 2) even though it's hard to make friends it's not impossible, but I bet your preoccupation with this one guy is just making it harder for you; and 3) if this is indeed salvageable, you'll be more likely to succeed with a friendship the less desperate you feel and act.

If I were you I'd hold off on all contact for a while, and then either right before or right after break starts, get back in touch with him once and ask about hanging out. There's some chance he's just the kind of guy who isn't that into long-distance communication, especially when he's in the middle of his busy life (and yes, it's totally legit for his busy life to include his friends and parties and trips and such, it is not an insult for him to prioritize that above messaging a girl he's only met once), but that when he's back in town he'd be interested in getting together. But the more times you ask (without substantive response on his part), the less he'll think of you as "that nice girl I had a good conversation with while volunteering and who it'd be fun to talk to again" and the more he'll think of you as "that girl who makes me feel kind of uncomfortable and who might get even more obsessed with me if I see her again." So resolve not to get back in touch until around the beginning of winter break (and if he blows you off then, just let it go... if you're not clear from his response if he's blowing you off then feel free to bring it back to AskMe for our read on it.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 8:49 AM on November 10, 2008

A key concept in friend making, regardless of gender, is to let them come to you. Seriously. I know you don't think this will ever happen, and therefore you seem to more stridently pursue people who pay attention to you, but that is not going to win you friendships. Pushing harder is NOT (!) the solution. I know you have a lot of issues impeding social progress and I am genuinely sorry you're finding yourself in this position. It's great that you're reaching out and looking for answers and trying to build frienships. And I'm glad you're getting this anonymous advice from Ask.Me because it sounds like there aren't very many people in your life who are willing to give it to you straight like you've been getting here. You sound defensive and angry. Which again, is understandable, but it also perhaps why people are not inclined to be honest with you. The guy that you've been messaging certainly sounds like he's taking the passive approach to letting you know he's not interested in communicating. And really, he's not going to come right out and say he doesn't want to talk to you because that's too personal an interation for what you've had together. You were just acquaintenances. Nthing everyone else who's advising you to let that fish go.

In terms of advice for what to do to remedy your situation, I think you've got to take the counterintuitive approach here. Spread yourself really, really thin. Meet as many people as possible, instead of finding one and honing in on that person. Meet a lot of people and then see which ones seem to want to talk to you. I promise you, they are out there. You just need to find them. You've got a whole lot of excuses lined up as to why you can't it seems (women's college, various mood and personality disorders, people don't like you, etc.) but you've got to be a bit more positive. You will eventually find people you click with, I promise. But it's probably not going to be easy. People are generally attracted to fun, happy other people. I would concentrate on keeping your mood in that zone. Next, what do you like to do? Do that. Find other people that like to do that. Try meetup. Start your own meetup. If you're goal oriented, set a goal for how many new people you're going to meet in a month. Maybe there are support groups around you for people with Asberger's? I would also focus on groups that may be sympathetic to those with social cue problems, or are at least aware of what's going on in that regard. (Don't people with ADD sometimes also have those issues? Maybe an ADD group?)

You're going to be fine. Most women out there have to eventually tackle the "he's just not all that into you" thing. Good luck.
posted by smallstatic at 9:34 AM on November 10, 2008

Nobody will EVER give you an honest answer to "If you don't want to talk to me any more, just tell me already," because they don't want to kick you in the face even if you're asking for a kick in the face. (Which you are.) They will either lie, ignore you, or claim to be "busy." Nobody ever wrote back after saying, "I'll get back to you! I'm just busy!" ESPECIALLY MEN. Everyone has to learn this one the hard way, you are no exception. Hell, a 47-year-old friend of mine is still doing this crap. When she told me "he said he was just busy," I was all, "um, yeah, let me know if you hear from him within the next month. If ever."

"Let them come to you" is a pretty good rule to follow. If they are interested, they will talk to you. If not, they will ignore you. I loathe The Rules, but to some degree, they gotta pursue you BACK, and if you pull away and they don't come after you, they just don't like you. Sorry. Aspie or not, that is how it works.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:37 PM on November 10, 2008

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