Limerence part II
March 23, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Limerence filter How do I ask someone out but minimize the other person’s discomfort, especially if this person has been a friend for a long time?

Anony poster returning as a sock puppet. This is my previous question.
After asking this question, I decided to spend a little less time with the guy and start dating other people. It’s not working and I sometimes spend even more time hanging out with this guy.

I have now decided that I just have to spill rather than immediately give up. Now I have thought of just saying, “Do you want to go out on a date sometime” or something along those lines, but (and I can’t find the links to these previous comments on another post) –

I’ve read other people responses to how they feel if someone asks them out. They frequently say they are flattered or things go well, etc. But I have also seen some responses from men stating that if they were not attracted to the women or did not view the “friend” in the same way, they sometimes felt as if the unwanted request was creepy/would make them feel uncomfortable/and one guy even said he would end such a friendship.

Regardless I need to try crossing the line. So if you had a friend who asked you out or expressed an interest in going beyond friendship (and you didn’t feel the same way about this person at all), what could that person say to you make you feel a little bit more comfortable? (Less creepyish) I know this sounds like an odd way to go about this but I want to keep the friendship of a few years if at all possible – and I don’t want my friend to feel uncomfortable.

Tl;dr Let’s assume that the guy I like doesn’t feel the same about me (no interest in a date or relationship) and may not be comfortable with me making this request. What could I say to him in addition to “want to go out sometime?”
posted by Dances with sock puppets to Human Relations (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've had fairly good success saying, "Hey, I've got a pretty big crush on you." Sometimes the response is "Oh good, me too." Sometimes the response is "Aww, that's sweet." It's never been "JESUS CHRIST CREEPAZOID AS IF." YMMV.

As Dan Savage always reminds people: don't bring potentially good stuff up as if you're bringing up cancer. Your tone helps. If you bring it up like you're telling him you just murdered his dog, he's more likely to take it that way. If you bring it up pleasantly, it'll probably be pleasant. Maybe not perfect, but pleasant.

Good luck!
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:16 AM on March 23, 2010 [17 favorites]

He's probably keen on you but because you keep talking about dating other people, he's got the message -- for over a year now -- that you want to keep it friendly only. There are dozens of movies exploiting this silly situation and milking it for all its worth. You know how they all end, too. So: short circuit the third act, grow a pair and ask him out already.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:18 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

The key here is subtlety. Just say "Hey, let's grab a drink." Then, while you're out, be flirty: smile a lot, touch him on the leg and shoulder, etc. Either he'll reciprocate or not, and you can recalibrate your expectations from there. It'll save both of you face vs. just saying "HEY LET'S DATE I DIG YOU."
posted by The Michael The at 11:19 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

(but don't be too subtle; make sure he gets the picture).
posted by The Michael The at 11:19 AM on March 23, 2010

Keep things light and playful. "Hey, how would you like to go out on a date sometime?" Make sure you use the word 'date', because I've used the "Let's do [common date activity] and they just assumed I was asking them to hang out as a friend.

On preview this is the same thing I suggested in the last thread... go for it!

If he's not interested things may be awkward for a short time, but when I've turned down friends (and vice versa) the only thing that prompted me to defriend was when they continuously expressed their romantic feelings toward me, OR stopped expressing them until the moment I was single and did the "I LOVE YOU LET'S BE TOGETHER."

And I don't think you're going to do any of those things, soyeah. You're good.
posted by biochemist at 11:28 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with biochemist, and disagree with The Michael The (sorry). I think that keeping things subtle/vague is a bad idea, as it places the burden on him to figure out what's going on. If you use the word "date", he knows exactly what you're looking for and what he's agreeing to. If he doesn't want to go on a date, he'll be able to say so.

I think the key to being non-creepy is how you react to him saying no -- you should keep it really light, and make it clear that you don't expect the friendship to change. Hopefully, he'll be able to take his cue from you.
posted by cider at 11:36 AM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

There's nothing creepy about saying you're interested in the other person, even if they're a friend. The key is, if it's a no, to respect that answer and move on.
posted by Hiker at 11:37 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

If the person is a friend of yours he may not think it's creepy thatyou ask humour (after all, he's enjoyed spending time with you as platonic friends) but it may be awkward for both of you if he's not looking to date you. And once you cross that bridge there's no going back, even if you remain friends. You will always have that sexual tension between you.
posted by dfriedman at 11:39 AM on March 23, 2010

I've been on both sides of this. At some level the discomfort of whatever you say may be the thing you can least effect, but what happens afterwards is up to you. So here are a few scenarios that I can recall from my own life, abridged somewhat, both successful and non-successful.

Me: I'm sort of into you.
Him: I'm sort of in love with my job, can't really be in a relationship
Me: Okay then; we can stil be friends?
Him: You want to still be friends? Yeah I'd love that.

Me: Hey do you want to come home with me after this party?
Him: What? Sure!

So I think the message you want to send is: you're into him, you'd like to consider something with him [and think ahead of time if you want this to be casual dating or something more serious] however you value the friendship and if he's not into you, that's okay.

I think for some people, they get uncomfortable because instead of a "hey I'm into you" they get a declaration of undying love or "you are The One" and that's a little difficult to come back from if the feelings aren't reciprocated. Also, and this may be just based on my own lens, I find that this is easier if you're the female... that a guy who receives this information is more likely to find it good news [even if not reciprocated] and less likely to find it creepy. Again, only true for my world, but maybe useful information to you. I've sometimes gotten the "I'm really into you" line from a friend and while it was usually fine, a few times I told people I didn't feel the same way and then the friendship sort of immediately died and I got vibes that maybe I was a bitch or a tease which was a bummer.

So keep it casual, have some "well you can't blame a gal for trying, we still on for Friday dinner?" line ready and best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 11:39 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you want a script.... use one! Just say "My god, I feel like we're living in a movie. You know the one, where the girl has this great friend that she hangs out with and after every crappy date and failed romance they go out and she sobs on his shoulder, and all the while she refuses to admit to herself that she's actually totally smitten with the friend, and she's just realized how she feels about him, only she's too worried it will screw up the really valuable friendship they have so she spends weeks worrying and fretting about it and finally breaks it to him by telling him how much she feels like her life is like a movie, and then his face lights up into a thousand watt smile and they run off to go bowling and drink margaritas." And at some point when you are saying this rushed monologue his baffled look turns into a thousand watt smile, and then you can give him a big smooch and go bowling and drink some margaritas. The end.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:44 AM on March 23, 2010

Best answer: Don't forget that movies are a very poor source of relationship advice in general... (Proper "communication" is the crux there, I suppose.)

Anyway, be careful about being too joking, because that can be misinterpreted easily. I don't recommend that. It's my opinion that you have to be both unequivocally clear about your intent without being overly pushy.

One way to keep things comfortable is to word your feelings in such a way to make clear that the object of your affections always has "a way out," with no obligations. This is how good managers deal with employees as well, and probably in any number of other tactful situations. In this case, the "way out" is that you'd be fine with staying friends with him and that you'd totally understand it if he doesn't share the same type of feelings. Both setting and tone matter, such as a casual but unequivocal "I just wanted to be honest with you that I've always found you attractive. I thought we could try dating, but if you're not interested, don't worry about it, I'm totally cool with the way things are since you're just an awesome person." Mind, that may or may not be true (you being okay with being just friends), but wording it a certain way to give him a "way out" could keep the relationship more or less intact. Maybe.

Keep in mind, though, that leaving the "way out" open will still alter your relationship with said person by virtue of broaching the subject, period, no matter your intentions. That's just the way people are.

That said, his reaction would be a good guide for your own pursuits later, with or without him.
posted by Ky at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm TERRIBLE at picking up signs of attraction. I thought one girl only wanted to be my friend for months, only to find out a month before she moved overseas that she'd been interested all along. On the other hand, I recently made somewhat of a fool of myself because I was sure beyond belief that someone was interested, only to find out that wasn't the case at all.

The point here is that he may very well have no idea at all that you're interested. Also, he may be sending signals that he is interested, but you keep missing them. You've said that you want to cross the line and ask him out, which is the important step. In order to keep it friendly if it turns out he's not, you need to ask him in a way that makes it clear it's no biggie if it doesn't happen. If it's obvious you're hugely invested in his response, then it will be uncomfortable for him to say no.

If it were me, I'd follow Ky's advice and make sure it's obvious what you're asking, as well as leaving a drama-free response if he wants to take it:
"Hey man friend, we get along like a gift horse in the mouth. Want to try going on a date sometime? I think it'd be kinda fun. No worries if you don't want to though."
posted by twirlypen at 12:44 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would go with a trial approach. Tell him that you've been having a great time with him, but not so much your other dates. And you think it would at least be worth a try to go on a date. And it if doesn't work out, just resume your normal routine.
posted by shesaysgo at 12:52 PM on March 23, 2010

What if you said something along the lines of, "I've been thinking that I'd really like to take you out on a date. Have you ever thought about us that way?" That way, you're perfectly clear about what you want while still leaving room for a conversation about it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:01 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ok this happens to me ALL the time so I have some suggestions.

1) Don't do it right as you're sitting down to dinner (or anywhere else where you'll be trapped together for a significant portion of time afterward).

2) Yet, give it enough time for you to get a good handle on his reaction, so don't do it on the subway when the doors are closing between you, it'll just prolong it for both of you.

3) Resist the urge to tell him that you've felt this way for a is really uncomfortable to hear that from someone you're not into because it throws your whole relationship as friends into a weird context.

4) If you can't hang out without being normal, don't try to push it. Let it go. If you're miserable or unduly hopeful around him he might have to make the decision to cut it off or avoid you. It is not fun to be "casually" hanging out with someone who is really not casual. Wow, she's obviously upset or still into me. Am I being an asshole and leading her on by being out with her? Maybe she's taking this the wrong way. Wow this is uncomfortable.

5) If you do decide to avoid him for a while, let him know that you think he's great and that you had an awesome time being friends with him. He should get the message that you value him as a person even if he doesn't want to date you and you can't hang out any more. It hurts to have friends disappear and then you're left wondering if they really ever liked you as a friend. Maybe I'm more sensitive to that than most people, I don't know.

6) If you can be cool, but you don't want to hear about his love life, that is an OK boundary to set. Just be clear about that.

7) ADVANCED: The most coolest thing you could possibly do would be to handle rejection calmly, accept it, and then start introducing him to your available female friends, making it absolutely clear that you want him to be happy even if it's not with you. I had a guy do this for me once when I told him we would never have a serious relationship. He introduced me to some more compatible guys who he thought would be good to me. It was great, and I am very grateful that he reacted so kindly and thoughtfully. We were able to maintain our casual relationship and I gained a lot of respect for him.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You've favourited it already, but my girlfriend of over two years said to me, over two years ago, "You know, I may have a bit of a crush on you."

My reaction was "[WHOA!], I might have one on you too."

So go for that, I think it really reduces the awkwardness to about the bare minimum.
posted by knapah at 5:39 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I meant you've 'best answered' it already...
posted by knapah at 5:41 PM on March 24, 2010

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