How About You Be My New Dating.... Friend?
October 28, 2010 8:19 AM   Subscribe

How to become friends (not a romantic interest) with someone you just went on a date with through OkCupid?

Lately, I have been using OkC. This has resulted in a number of first dates with guys who are witty, funny, nice, and generally good-looking. However, I haven't felt any kind of romantic 'spark' with them. That is not to say that it would never happen if given enough time, just that the immediate physical chemistry is not there. I do not think it is fair to hold hands, kiss, hug, etc., if there is no spark.

However, I am new to this city and have few friends. These gentlemen are lovely people and I would enjoy going out with them more often. Is this possible? I am trying to find tactful, but honest ways to make this point and failing. I am sensitive to hurting people's feelings and also awkward situations in general.

I can't even imagine how a guy in the opposite situation would word such an email or insert that into conversation. In my head it always comes out "you aren't hot enough to date but let's hang out". Not good. I am also concerned that going on additional dates with these men would be (rightly) construed as romantic interest.

Have you dealt with this situation? Are you exceptionally gifted at telling people awkward things? Am I way, way overthinking this? Any help would be appreciated!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Well the best thing you in trying to strike up a friendship is probably to say that while you didn't really click romantically, you have other single lady-friends whom you'd love to introduce him to. That way you rejection is also a kind of endorsement. Bonus points if it's even true.

Some guys will welcome this (the introductions, and the friendship) and some guys won't. It's nice of you to offer at least.
posted by hermitosis at 8:27 AM on October 28, 2010

I don't think there is a good way to do this. You are rejecting someone and then asking them to be friends. Sounds like you should stop going on dates and start finding other ways to make friends instead.

Variations on this question have been asked before and there are people who make it work some of the time, but I think it will inevitably result in hurt feelings or drama at least part of the time.
posted by grouse at 8:28 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Possible but rare. It's a numbers game. You need to put your intentions for "friendship first" in your profile. All but the most naive understand the concept of mutual chemistry, so it may be a small disappointment but not the end of the world if you tell them directly that there's no romantic spark.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:32 AM on October 28, 2010

Disagree with grouse. Okcupid is a fine place to make friends. Many of these gentlemen will likely appreciate your valuable offer of friendship, and certainly prefer it to the all-too-common okcupid radio silence. But whatever you do, make your intentions super clear, because you're right to predict that future non-dates will be difficult to execute successfully otherwise.
posted by thejoshu at 8:37 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've done this with some success, but a lot of failure. BUT most of the times I've tried, the guy has appreciated the effort, for what that's worth, and I have DEFINITELY had the experience where a lack of initial spark eventually led to a really hot connection after we knew each other better. One trick about that, of course, is that once you've turned the guy down, you kind of have to be prepared to go out on a limb and make that move later (which I enjoy, but lots of women don't, which is why I mention it).

The thing to do is just be up-front and clear. Tell him you liked him, but you didn't feel that spark, but you'd like to hang out and get to know each other more. Hermitosis's idea of suggesting you have other friends you could introduce him to is a great one, and a good way to bring him into your friendship circle if it turns out he's a good addition.
posted by rosa at 8:39 AM on October 28, 2010

I've been in this situation twice. Both times I basically said "hey, i'm not sure I'm really feeling the whole relationship thing but you are awesome and I'd love to be your friend." In both of these situations I had not slept with either of them (after that point I think I would just shut it down).

Both times they said they were cool with it but might have been playing the long game, who knows. I am still semi-good friends with one of them (2 years later). The other turned into an online/chat friend that I talk to every once in a while.

I think the key is setting that tone early. And go for it, really. Whats the worst that can happen? He says he only wants to be your friend if he can sleep with you? He only wants to be your boyfriend? Well you can always say no to that. It isn't like you've put a lot into these relationships so far.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:40 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, what grouse said is likely to apply if the guy you're talking to is still romantically interested in you.

That said: back when I used OkC, it sometimes happened that a date and I would both end the evening going "Man, I am totally not into you Like That, but this was a fun conversation. Let's hang out again!" I made two or three really good friends that way (and in fact met my first wife through one of those friends).

I think genuine mutual lack-of-sexual-interest is the key. If he's still hoping it'll turn into Something More, then I doubt it'll go so well.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:43 AM on October 28, 2010

Well the best thing you in trying to strike up a friendship is probably to say that while you didn't really click romantically, you have other single lady-friends whom you'd love to introduce him to.

Generally this would work, but as the OP mentioned that they don't have very many friends in the city I wouldn't really recommend this approach.

Unless of course they want the whole thing to fall apart when the chap in question asks when he can meet these single lady-friends.
posted by mr_silver at 8:44 AM on October 28, 2010

I think the only context in which this might work would be where the guy has already come to the same conclusion, and that you're the friend and not the love interest. However, in my experience, a man is not going to cross that Rubicon first (because, hey, there's still a CHANCE FOR SEX). Which means you have to make the first "let's be friends move"--which is going to result in hurt feelings and/or resentment (speaking, I'm afraid, from personal experience).

Also, keep in mind that you're seeing these guys at their best--being polite, witty, charming. It may well be that the guy who laughed at all your jokes and also, amazingly, loves Jane Austen (whattaguy!), really thinks you're boring and would rather be reading the sports pages, but is putting on a good show to get in your pants.

Tl;dr: if you want friends, go to If you want boyfriends/girlfriends, go to a dating site (or date people you meet on Don't go to dating sites to make friends.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:51 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

As a guy who is on OKC now and then I would not be interested at all, I have friends, I like my friends, I am not on OKC to make more friends.

Obviously I am not solely indicative of my gender, but in my case I would probably just ignore you, or tell you not to waste my time, others will very likely react differently.

I am going to second everything that Admiral Haddock said, because it is better than my comment, especially the part, I have met some very cool people through that.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:10 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Agree that is a much better place to meet people, try out the dating thing, and then go back to friends if it doesn't work out than a dating site.
posted by smackfu at 9:12 AM on October 28, 2010

Back when I was single, I would only be romantically interested in someone who I also thought I would like to be friends with. When I was turned down romantically, it never stopped me from wanting to develop a friendship with the woman in question.

That said, not every guy has the same approach that I did.
posted by tdismukes at 9:15 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two things to say here:

1. I've learned from internet dates that sometimes it's OK if the "spark" isn't there the very moment you meet. Sometimes it takes a little longer to figure out whether you're interested in someone. At this point I don't ask "is there a romantic spark between us?", but "am I attracted to this person?" The smitten thing will come later. Or not. But I usually know when I'm really not into someone, at all, period.

2. I don't think there is good potential for an OKCupid date to evolve into a real friendship. For one thing, you're practically guaranteeing a relationship where one person "wants to be friends" so as to eventually sleep with the other person, who really only wants to be friends. And for another thing, you have no real basis to build a friendship on. You only know each other via a blind date scheduled through an internet dating site.

Even in a situation where an OKC person and I went out on multiple dates, mutually agreed that we couldn't be in a relationship, ran in the same social/political/hobby circles, and ran into each other on several occasions, it still didn't work out. There was too much "let's hang out soon!" and not enough actually hanging out as friends. I secretly like to believe it's because I'm just that foxy, but I know I should chalk it up to the fact that this is pretty much impossible to do.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on October 28, 2010

I have met quite a few men on OKC. I am friends with the vast majority of the ones I have met in person.

I've found that if you just act like a friend (no flirting, no physical contact, pay your own way) then most of the time you can avoid having that awkward I'm just not that into you conversation.

You can generally figure out from the moment you meet someone if you want to make smooochy faces with them, so once you've got that, you can steer the date into the friendly outing zone pretty easily.

Note: If you change your mind later, it's a bit more difficult to steer it back into smoochy face territory.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:03 AM on October 28, 2010

I've tried to make friends out of some guys on OKC but it's usally failed miserably because all they see is the romantic rejection. I think your best bet, no matter how kindly you can phrase "let's be friends", is to emphasize friendship in your profile. It's easier to step things up if you're interested romantically than it is to tone things down to friendship, IMHO. Good luck.
posted by ShadePlant at 10:10 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my experience that sort of thing rarely works out.
posted by Silvertree at 10:19 AM on October 28, 2010

I agree that you have to both be on the same page to become friends successfully. He cannot be hoping you change your mind. But I have done it. I met a good friend through OKC (it started as a date), and I also have a friend (who I met through Meetup) who became really close friends with her neighbor when she ran across him on OKC. All totally platonic, for realsies. Now we're all socializing together in a group that did not exist before last year, and some of us are dating other people that we met through this group of friends.

Try it and see what happens. It won't happen with every single guy, but lots of people are on OKC because they're new to the area or they're just out of a long-term relationship and maybe they don't have as many friends as they used to have. You could also try to approach other women on OKC and suggest a group outing or something, and see what happens.

But definitely also check out Meetup. There's some fun stuff happening there too, and it's much less pressure.
posted by aabbbiee at 10:20 AM on October 28, 2010

As a guy, this has been tried on me without success. As above, my basic reaction was, "Thanks, but I already have friends who don't tell me I'm unattractive."

Like you, the woman was "new to the city." The thing was, I didn't get the feeling she actually wanted to "be friends" - she wanted an unpaid tour guide and activity partner. If she had asked me to do something we were both genuinely interested in and said "but can we make it platonic" - I would have considered it I think.

But "let's be friends" in this context just sounds like a request to be on-call for showing someone around a new city or keeping her company when she's lonely. While feeling unattractive.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:40 AM on October 28, 2010 [9 favorites]

In my head it always comes out "you aren't hot enough to date but let's hang out"

That's because that's exactly what you are saying to them. Act accordingly.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Plenty of people on OKC say they are interested in friends as well as dating. What do your dates' profiles say?

If it helps, here's the text in an email I used to do exactly what you want to do. Hope it helps- it worked for me.

"NAME, it was fun to hang out last night- I didn't sense sexual chemistry, but the conversation was a pleasure and if you'd like to hang out platonically in the future I'd like that. So let me know- really ok either way. The internet means the absence of pressure to do one thing or another."
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:10 PM on October 28, 2010

I agree that this isn't really appropriate on dating sites. You will more likely cause offense than win any friends.


If you really really want to try, I suggest you write a message along the lines of what you have said.. and then immediately make plans to catch up with them.

That way you will distinguish yourself from those who are merely writing a 'Dear John' brush off.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 12:34 PM on October 28, 2010

Yeah, I'm female and I've been there. It's probably been mentioned already, but a few things to consider:
1. Don't write off people as no chance of romantic spark immediately. Give it at least 2 or 3 dates. If you don't want to lead them on, you can not kiss them or engage in other romantic activities. I think most men on OKC understand that the first few "dates" are more just getting to know each other, and don't have grandiose assumptions about where this is going.

2. If you really don't feel a spark, you can just tell them that you really like them, but still want to keep in touch and stay friends. Tell them you're new in town and really want to meet new people. If they were super interested in you, they might be disappointed, but if they're a well-adjusted person, they would not really be THAT hurt, especially if you didn't pretend you were super into them romantically beforehand. It's likely they're also meeting a lot people, and stuff like this just comes with the territory of dating, especially online dating. You don't need to feel bad about it.

3. You might consider saying upfront in your profile that you are mostly interested in meeting new people and making friends in general, and if it works out romantically, that's even better. I see a lot of those up, and though most people will ignore it and still hope for score romantically (or sexually), at least it'll be out there first and foremost, so no surprises.

4. It's very likely that after you offer friendship, the men will say "Thanks but no thanks". Many people are not really on there to make friends, even if they say they're open to it. Most people have friends, and staying friends with a random female who they went on a date with but have no other friends in common is unlikely. Even when I said on my profile that I wasn't looking for dating but only friendship, nobody asked to be my friend and still asked me out on dates.

But it's worth a try... I tried it twice, and once I got a "No, I'm interested in being more than friends, so I don't think being just friends will work out." Another time he was willing to be friends, but he was also weird so I didn't pursue it too much.
posted by lacedcoffee at 1:14 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oops, for #2, I meant you could tell them that you don't feel the romantic spark but still want to stay friends. Basically what you told us. Making immediate plans is probably a good idea.
posted by lacedcoffee at 1:15 PM on October 28, 2010

I can say definitively that there are few emails I would rather receive than one saying that "I didn't sense sexual chemistry" but also immediately making plans to catch up. I would find that phenomenally galling.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:15 PM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have been in this situation twice. Really cool guys, had fun on the dates, lots in common, enjoyed chatting and matching wits, but no physical chemistry. (All pretty cute guys too! Chemistry just wasn't there.) Little to no flirting - very platonic, non-touchy dates. But I genuinely liked the guys! Both of them were complimentary and nice, but I didn't exactly get the feeling that they were dying to make sweet love and have all my babies, so I thought friendship could be in the cards. Besides, who doesn't want new, awesome guy friends?

I sent both of them emails shortly after our dates. The emails said something like: "Thanks again for the other night. I had tons of fun. I think you're awesome. I'm not sure if I've felt a romantic connection yet (and of course, it's cool if you don't) but I do think you're worth knowing and I'd like to continue to get to know you. That said, I'd like to hang out again - no frills, no formal dates... just hanging out. I don't know if that's something you're interested in (totally cool if it's not), but if it is, I'm going to see this-band-you-said-you-like on Friday night at this place! We should meet up!"

BOTH times, the guys were like "I am TOOOTALLY on the same page. I was just gonna write the SAME email to you. I think you're an awesome girl! We SHOULD hang out more, that'd be AWESOME. I'll text you on Friday, I'm SO down to hang out at the show!" (slight exaggeration for effect.)

And then... radio silence. And that made me feel more bummed than if they had never contacted me again after the first date.

My theory is that it's too counterintuitive. They're going on that site to find girls to date/hook up with/flirt with. Do they want to spend time fostering a new friendship with a girl who probably doesn't want either of those things? Probably not. You also don't really know if they're the kind of guys who even hang out one-on-one with female friends, or if that's even remotely in their repertoire. One of my guy friends also suggested that one of the guys may have actually been really into me and felt rejected when I suggested friendship, but played it cool and went along with the "let's be buddies!" thing, never to follow through because who the hell voluntarily walks into a situation of extended unrequited desire? Isn't that what got you on OkCupid in the first place?!

I'm not saying it can't ever happen. You have nothing to lose either way. Give it a whirl. But generally, OKCupid isn't really a great place to find friends.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 1:32 PM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Blackcatcuriouser, that's a fascinating twist on the story. Yes, I'd wager they responded enthusiastically in kind just to jerk you around. It's like a devilish relationship alchemy! They have transmuted the dumpee in the the dumper (and vice versa)! Pure genius. (Sorry for you being bummed out, though!)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:56 PM on October 28, 2010

I prefaced a meeting with the intent to make friends, and if something happened, great. We had a good time but I didn't have any spark. We are going out again Saturday and I kind of get the feeling I will have to clarify the friends part at some point, but I'm hoping the generally friendly tone and lack of kissing will make my point for me. Still, I'm prepared to head off an awkward moment with a reminder of my friendly intent. Friendship doesn't always work out either, as it has to develop over time, but I think he genuinely had a good time. If you had a good time going out with someone, they might want to repeat the experience as well. I'm prepared to say I see it as more of a friendship than something romantic should it come up. It's just being upfront and honest, but I'm not going to harp on it or bring it up if it is unnecessary. Say you had a great time and would like to do something else and head off any romantic angles by mentioning friendship or that you hope you can become good friends. You don't have to say anything about hotness. You'll know from their reaction how it's going to go, and you might as well give it a shot. What do you have to lose? They might like hanging out with you, too. If not, so be it.
posted by provoliminal at 3:07 PM on October 28, 2010

While I haven't met anyone on the internet (not that I'm knocking it!) I have been in a similar situation (I'm a guy though). I meet girls who are cool, sometimes actually hook up with them, and then realize that they aren't going to be my future wife, but still want to be friends.

Now, considering that I've hooked up with them, that certainly does alter the relationship a bit, but I've found that honesty really is the most important thing. And while you can't win them all this way, I think that just saying that you want to be friends should hopefully work with the right guys.

Some guys are wierdos who will think that you are just playing hard to get if you say you want to be 'friends,' whereas other confident guys will understand and welcome a new friend.

Just be sure to make sure the guys aren't a little nutso which sadly happens more often than not (egos are a fragile thing).
posted by darkgroove at 10:11 AM on October 30, 2010

To what darkgroove said, I'd add that I've been able to do that with people I was already habitually seeing, people I knew from "real life". But people I met online, who I have had minimal in-person interaction with? Extremely difficult to do. It's a whole different level of tetris, really.
posted by Sara C. at 10:21 AM on October 30, 2010

I've been on a few dates there since joining it, all with attractive and well-educated guys (i.e., my type). Only one has led to a second "date." He was actually the only one who was honest with me, telling me that he was seeing someone when we went on our first date, but nothing "official" (his words) and that he didn't like where it was going (again, his words) but he extended an offer of friendship despite being busy finishing his degree.

I took offense to that, I felt like I was a distant second and I told him I didn't need his BS (I didn't say that, but something along those lines). Then a week after that I realized that he wasn't giving me BS, he was being honest and sincere, so I wrote back and told him that I liked how honest he was and I would love a new friend and would like to hang out again.

He wrote back and he was really nice. We went hiking, it was a little intense in that it was a very physically challenging winter hike (more like ice/rock climbing).

But really, at the end of the day, I'll take someone who's honest and just wants to be friends rather than someone who doesn't know what they want and leads me on. All my other dates went well, but either I didn't want to continue pursuing it or the other party didn't. I also recently went on a date with a guy my age, we had a lot of mutual friends, we went back to his apartment to make out. Didn't have sex, and boy am I glad I didn't; he actually said that he got a "friends with benefits vibe" from us. NO WAY. I am all for friendship, I am all for a relationship if something naturally grows into that...but there's no way I'm doing a friends with benefits thing; I know from experience that someone always wants more.

So basically...I guess you'll know someone's true colors based on what happens after the first date. It takes effort on both parties. Hope this helps.
posted by skybluesky at 3:11 PM on November 28, 2010

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