Is There Ever A Chance After You're Rejected?
February 19, 2013 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Do people ever reconsider after rejecting someone? Or is that a pipe dream? I asked someone out and got rejected...but things seem to remain unclear.

I’m having an interesting time trying to navigate the results of recently asking my friend out. She rejected me by stating that she “didn’t think we should date.” Overall it went really well and she was really nice about it, and asked if we could still hang out, which I said of course. However, since I asked her out it seems the tables have turned and she has been initiating much more than she used to in terms of asking me to hang out. I was expecting to take some space, but she picked everything right back up 2 days after I asked her out.

The first night we hung out after I asked her out she invited me over to meet a new pet she got, and then after a while she suggested we get dinner, completely her initiation and idea. That’s what really surprised me and started this whole process in my head that maybe I still had a chance, or she might change her mind. It felt like we were on a date, and I got seriously thrown for a loop. If it weren’t for my horrible luck – two friends of hers just happened to be in the same restaurant and came running over and asked to join us – we would have been having dinner together at a candle-lit table.

Before I asked her out, I was initiating a lot of our meetups and interactions. Now after having asked her out, she is initiating much more than me, on a regular basis. And it’s confusing the hell out of me because it almost seems we are getting even closer since I asked her out. She is not acting obviously flirty, but she just seems to be coming after me with invites, comments on social media with inside jokes only I would know, etc.

I’m so, so glad our friendship is not ruined, and it’s not like I want to cut off contact with her or drop her. But I’m seriously confused by her behavior since it seems to be the exact opposite of what I would do if a friend asked me out and I declined.

So I guess I’m wondering how to proceed, because it’s slowly making me crazy. I feel like I’m back in the same mental rut I was in before I asked her out with all the second guessing and sign reading I’m doing, wondering if I should contact her and looking at my phone all the time hoping she'll contact me. The way she phrased it when she turned me down plus her current behavior is preventing me from moving on. In my mind it feels like she likes me but there’s some arbitrary reason she doesn’t think we should date (drama? Friends of ex’s? in the last year there was definitely some drama with her and some of my friends. At first I was wary of pursuing anything with her because of all that drama, but over time I just ended up falling for her. And no she isn't the ex of a best or good friend. There could be a long story here but I'll summarize and say; yes there was drama but this is the microcosm of lesbian dating and it's hard to find someone who is completely removed from your friends group.)

I would have written her behavior off as her just making sure everything is cool, but after two weeks she continues to initiate a lot of contact (meeting up, social media comments/interactions, etc). It hasn’t been all her, I have initiated here and there because obviously I still like her. But I definitely backed off on how much I had been doing before the rejection.

To be fair, most of my friends (and even my psychologist) thought I had a good chance and this girl was into me. That’s why this is hard for me to deal with. I’d be attempting to cut my losses and moving on from her and distancing myself, but obviously that’s hard when the other person is pursuing you to hang out and you REALLY want to be with them. So now I’ll go hang out and have a great time with her…and feel so empty and confused afterword.

On one hand I’m SO GLAD I asked her out. But on the other hand, I almost feel like I am back to where I started and it’s frustrating the heck out of me because things seem far from clear right now. I guess the ball is in her court now, but I'm wondering what to do with myself in the meantime, and I keep wondering if there's something I can do to make her come around.

So, do people ever change their minds? Do I have a chance and should I continue to stick around and see what happens? Is she just into me as a friend and has no idea about the signals she’s sending? Do I need to give up and stop seeing her and talking to her as much? I welcome any and all ideas and anecdotes.
posted by christiehawk to Human Relations (50 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
She might be hanging out with you more because it was obvious you wanted to go out with her but she was uncomfortable and didn't know how to tell you she wasn't interested. Now that she's told you, she might feel like that tension is gone and be more comfortable hanging out.

If you're 'sticking around' because you're hoping she'll change her mind instead of because you want to be her friend, that's pretty sleazy. You should really stop hanging out with her.
posted by Jairus at 10:34 AM on February 19, 2013 [33 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe she does like you but doesn't want to date for some reason unknown to you. Maybe she isn't into you and feels the air is clear now that she expressly said no, so she feels free to hang out with you more. Who knows what she's thinking, but the healthiest thing for you is probably to either accept that you are just going to be friends, or if you can't, cut down on seeing her for a while.
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:35 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm sure that it happens, both for good and very bad reasons (attention seeking, admiration, etc.).

However, that's just a red herring. When a person tells you that they don't want to date you, the right thing to do is honor their request. Whether that be by dropping the acquaintance or re-framing it in a less intimate manner.

Continuing to stick around to "see what happens" or hoping that she will "change their mind" is not acting in good faith. It's creating a veiled deal that only you know about, one where you're hanging around in trade for the chance to manipulate the situation to your benefit.

Don't be that person. You're better than that.
posted by Shouraku at 10:35 AM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]

She likes the attention and knowing you are into her and willing to indulge her. She's not into you though. Move on, for your own mental well being.
posted by fshgrl at 10:35 AM on February 19, 2013 [29 favorites]

Best answer: I think the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to assume she's not reconsidering and work on moving on. Who knows what she's really thinking but down the road you will likely regret the time you spent being hung up on her (and the pain that only gets worse the longer you hold out hope for any one person).
posted by houndsoflove at 10:36 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My guess is that's she's initiating more in hopes of proving to you that she's not rejecting you as a friend, only as a romantic partner. In other words, the increased invitations are a signal that she does not want to date you, but does want to remain your friend. There is absolutely no sign in anything you've described that she has changed her mind or that she wants to be with you romantically.

If you have romantic feelings for her, however, you are not her friend. You are a person with a crush on her who is hoping she will return your feelings. That's not friendship. You need to spend some time apart from her. You'll know if/when you're ready to be friends with her again when you would be happy for her if you heard she had started dating someone, or when you have no urges to ask her out again. Until then, you need to minimize or eliminate contact with her. And definitely don't spend time alone with her; it will only make you feel worse. You can tell her that it's just too painful for you to be around her right now, but that you'll let her know if/when you're ready to be friends again in the future.
posted by decathecting at 10:36 AM on February 19, 2013 [27 favorites]

She rejected me by stating that she “didn’t think we should date.”

That sounds pretty clear to me. Believe her.

Do I need to give up and stop seeing her and talking to her as much?

Yes. Go spend that time finding someone to be with who actually wants to be with you, without any of the jerking around.

If you were a dude, I'd say you were pretty clearly being friendzoned, and not to be surprised a few weeks down the line when she asks you to come hang out with her new boyfriend. I have no reason to expect that it's different just because you're both chicks.
posted by phunniemee at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2013

Do people ever reconsider after rejecting someone? Or is that a pipe dream?

Generally speaking, no, people do not reconsider after deciding they do not want to date someone. Generally speaking, yes, it is a pipe dream.

I hope someone comes in who has been in her position and tells you all about how it feels and "what she is thinking" throughout this whole process, but as someone who used to be in YOUR position from time to time, let me tell you, the most likely situation is that she likes you as a friend, was trying to be very polite when you asked her out in order to avoid ruining your friendship, and now she is trying to be relieved that that difficult interaction is behind her.

Is she just into me as a friend and has no idea about the signals she’s sending? Do I need to give up and stop seeing her and talking to her as much?

Yes, she is into you as a friend, frankly the "signals she's sending" are mostly in your head, and yes, it may be wise for you to stop seeing her as much. There is no reason to stop being friends or engage in any dramatic "I can't hang out with you anymore!!" moment, but yeah, start spending time with other friends.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

he way she phrased it when she turned me down plus her current behavior is preventing me from moving on.
No, you are preventing yourself from moving on. If hanging around her is holding you back, don't hang around her. It's your problem. Move on, move on, move on.

You're asking the same question as this guy, basically. "How do I ignore the big person words she was mature enough to use with me and pretend she's a clueless little kid who doesn't know what she wants and I can bring her around?".
posted by jacalata at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2013 [20 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, she might have initially said no, but then you became more attractive to her for some reason. Unfortunately, a lot of times that reason is simply that you expressed an interest, which can be appealing to someone with low self-esteem, even if they would actually prefer not to go out with you.

On the other hand, now that she's shut you down she may have deemed you "safe" for buddyhood, without regard for your feelings. You need to open your mouth and make word sounds come out about this, because that is your only chance of this not being something you're going to be pissed about later. "So, your attitude toward me has changed pretty dramatically after I told you how I felt. What's going on?" should suffice.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you feel you need some space or to spend less time with her, then you should talk to her about that. Don't approach it from the angle of "You said you didn't think we should date and now I wonder if you do want to after all", but say "Under the circumstances, our spending so much time together is making things difficult for me. Could we spend less time together for awhile?" That leaves her room for saying, "Oh, sorry, I was just trying to show you I am still your friend, and yes of course I'll respect that you want some time," or "No, wait, I have decided I am interested," instead of you setting yourself up for another refusal.

Don't stick around waiting for her to change her mind. It'll just frustrate and hurt you, and it isn't good for a friendship either. If you really aren't happy just being her friend, then back off until you are.
posted by orange swan at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Assume she's not interested in anything more than friendship, regardless of the amount of initiation or type of hanging out, unless at some point she specifically says, "You know, I've thought about it and I've changed my mind - let's date!" ...or something along those lines.

Then you need to consider if you can relax if she's not interested but still wants to hang out in whatever type of scenario comes up. Yes? Then just hang out, be a great friend, and relax. If this somehow over time changes her mind, then that's a cool new development. But it's better to treat the situation as if she won't ever.

No? Then take that space. But be prepared to have to gently explain at some point that although your feelings of friendship did not hinge on getting into a relationship with her, the feelings that developed once you got to know her better now need some time to get sorted into a more appropriate, comfortable form.

I've had this confusion before and wish you luck in getting through it. You will, one way or another. Best to pick the option with the best ethics and least drama.
posted by batmonkey at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2013

My guess is that she's relieved that you cleared the air and you can now get on with being friends.

However, I could be wrong. What's not open to interpretation is that she has turned you down and is now doing absolutely nothing to indicate that she didn't mean what she said.

It's very common to tell someone that you hope you can stay friends after they reject you, and then decide that by being friends with you they're giving you mixed signals.

Sometimes people suggest that the woman is "enjoying the attention" at your expense. I am aware that this happens, but it shouldn't be the default assumption. After all, you are enjoying her attention too. You probably have other friends whose attention you enjoy and who enjoy your attention. That's kind of what having friends is like. It doesn't equate to her leading you on.
posted by tel3path at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

In my mind it feels like she likes me but there’s some arbitrary reason she doesn't think we should date

The 'arbitrary reason' is that she likes your personality but doesn't want to see you naked. I'm sorry.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Hang out with her if you feel like it. Keep trying to date her for as long as you feel like dating her. You have a right to your feelings and to pursuing them, but have the courage to flirt overtly — like a man. I've seen more than my fair share of nos turn into yesses. If you get tired of rejection, hang out with other people. One way or another, you'll either give up on trying to be with her or she'll give up on hanging out with you. Why accept intolerable friendship?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:48 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

You have a right to your feelings and to pursuing them, but have the courage to flirt overtly — like a man

Cough "this is the microcosm of lesbian dating" cough
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You asked her out, she said no. Anything else is just you trying to find things to read into, and looking for hints.

I'm not going to tell you she will never change her mind because I have no idea. What I will tell you is that spending time and energy in the hope that she'll reconsider is a bad move, and one you should probably bail on.

It may help to stop think of it as "signals she's sending" and start thinking of it as "signals I want to hear." If you look for signs of something - reinforcement of what you already want to see and believe - in a person's behavior, you will always always always find them, regardless of whether they're actually there or not. You're looking for the logic behind her saying she didn't think you should date - you're trying to find a way that she could have meant that she totally wants you but there's something in the way of that. There isn't.

Maybe she likes the attention. Maybe she's into playing head games. Maybe she's initiating more because she doesn't want to date you but she's compassionate and doesn't want you to feel badly. I don't know, you don't know, and she probably wouldn't be able to give a straight answer on it, either. No matter what it is, the current situation is not a great one.

My advice to you is to scale back the time you spend with her. Spend more time with other friends. Feel free to be like, "Hey, listen, I just need to take a little time and space - I was kind of into you and I don't want to make it your problem or make things weird. Just give me some time and I'll be back to normal, okay?" Don't make it a Big Important Talk. Be chill about it.

I think this is a good idea because your perceptions are thoroughly colored by what you want to hear, and you'll just keep twisting yourself into knots if you interact with her under these circumstances. You're saying that things seem far from clear, but they're very clear indeed: She said no. I'd think differently if the two of you hooked up and then she said no but then kissed you or whatever, but she didn't. She said you shouldn't date, and then proceeded to act in a way that is indistinguishable from friendship.

It's difficult, if not impossible, to get over a situation while you're still in it. Give yourself a little time and space and you'll be okay. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:50 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Relationships are not cast in stone. There are no rules, well aside from no means NO.

Formal dating relationships may not be her thing. Getting into a committed relationship may have backfired on her before. She could be "getting to know you better" or relieved that the commitment of "official" dating status has been removed.

If you enjoy her company there is no reason not to hang out with her. If you merely want to get in her pants move on.

If you want a lasting relationship, play it by ear. When was the last time you and a platonic same sex friend locked down your friendship in such definite terms? Why should a romantic relationship be handled differently than a great platonic one?

Although showbiz_liz may have a good point.
posted by Max Power at 10:50 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

People do sometimes change their minds but not often and nothing you've described makes it sound like she has done so. You should assume she will not come around. Don't pine for her while acting as her friend. You may need to pull back from the friendship if this is too hard.
posted by Area Man at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2013

Oops. In fairness, I like the idea of women flirting overtly too…
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: While there may be a slim chance with this girl down the road, right now it'll be in your best interest to pull back from her. Who knows why she is being so friendly all of a sudden -- maybe the pressure is off? Maybe she likes the attention? Maybe she really does need a friend? No matter what, though, you like her and that creates an unbalance. I'd pull back if I were you, decline her next invitation and go see what other fish are in the sea. It's up to her if she wants to talk to you about a romantic relationship. By just hanging around, hoping, you miss out on other opportunities and you tell her that you're "just a friend" when, in fact, that's not what you want to be.
posted by amanda at 10:52 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sure, it happens, but it isn't the kind of thing that you should be aiming for or expecting. You don't want to be the sad puppy spending months/years trying to break down someone's resistance until they give in, because even when that works (it is an unfortunately common "nice guy" dating strategy) it generally results in a messed-up relationship. If you are legitimately fine with the idea of being friends and having nothing ever happen, then by all means do so -- no sense throwing away a friend for no good reason, and it can even lead to a stronger friendship. Just don't pretend to be fine with it if you are not, because someday you will have to see them with someone else and be ok with it.

If someday she approaches you, then you consider it then. I've had that happen... but you may well say no when/if it does, because as your friend changes over time, so do you.
posted by Pufferish at 10:56 AM on February 19, 2013

Best answer: One thing to note is that queer women don't always act the same as folks in straight relationships. Lesbians and queer women (and queers of all sorts, to an extent) are often very close friends with ex-lovers, ex-girlfriends, friends-with-benefits, weird crushes, and other folks with all kinds of murky boundaries. There are lots of jokes about this but, in my experience, it's very true. I can't even tell you how many of my queer girlfriends are VERY close friends with their exes. Way more than any of my straight counterparts.

Now, she may be screwing with your mind. She might like the attention. She might be into the drama. Or...she might be operating on the 'queer women protocol' which basically means that there doesn't have to be any weirdness between the two of you. She doesn't need space.

BUT - it sounds like you need some space. So take it! Give her a shout in a few weeks or a few months when the crush has died down. Then y'all can be BFF-flirts again.
posted by barnone at 11:01 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

First off, good for you in asking her out! And also, good for her in being honest. That directness is great on both of your parts.

I would advise you to really continue that directness. After all, if you are really friends then your relationship should be able to handle some frank communication. We can guess all day about what your representation of her behavior might mean, but the only person who knows what she is really feeling is her.

Start by thinking a little bit about what you are feeling. Are you genuinely okay being just friends? Are you confused by her friendliness? Do you feel like she's not being honest with herself or you? Wrap your head around what's really bothering you here and then talk to her.

This would be a really good place to start:

"Hey, I know you said you just wanted to be friends and I'm totally cool with that. However, I feel like I'm getting some mixed signals from you, and I have to admit that it's making it hard for me to let go of the idea of dating you. I wanted to check in and see what *you* were feeling."

Remember that you get a say in how the friendship works too. If she's really not interested in dating, it may help you move on to see her and talk to her a bit less, at least until all those warm crushy feelings have dissipated a little.
posted by annekate at 11:03 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Famous Monster's advice. I spent most of late adolescence essentially in your shoes, and learned these lessons the hard way. Please, pull back from this relationship until you are honestly ready to see her as a friend, and not as romantic prospect -- anything else would be unfair to the both of you.
posted by black_lizard at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

She says she doesn't want to date you. She says she wants to remain friends. Then she does friendly things. No mixed messages here really. Assume she's just being your friend. If it's too confusing for you, tell her you're confused. But you're clearly hung up on her. It might do you well to take a break from the friendship for the sake of your sanity.
posted by inturnaround at 11:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

A long time ago I was amazingly deep in limerence with an incredible woman, and it wasn't reciprocated. However, we were good friends, would hang out and watch movies together, had various common interests, cool talks into late in the night over bottles of wine...

...Anyway, night before she moved in with her boyfriend at the time, out of the apartment above mine, we sat out on a small patch of lawn, shared a bottle of wine, sat and talked and fumbled with our wineglass stems, and at the end of the evening as we walked up the stairs to our respective apartments she raised an eyebrow and asked.

And saying "no, that's not fair to you. good night." was damned hard, but I still, mumbledy decades later, think it was the right thing to say.

Maybe there's a chance, maybe there isn't, but there isn't a chance with you and her in the places each of you are now. Hang out with your other friends, become someone else, let her become someone else, and if your lives come back around to cross again that's great.

If you can hang out with her and not expect to have a romantic relationship with her, great. But if you're set on a romantic relationship, then you're just being a puppy dog and if anything ever does come of this it won't be a relationship that's good. For either of you.

Maybe it'll come around again and maybe it won't, but the only way that that relationship will be good for either of you is if you can carry on right now as if it will never happen.
posted by straw at 11:16 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another lady who has dated ladies here telling you that the chances are that there are no mixed messages being sent, and that she feels like you guys can now move on to being really close friends who are never going to have sex ever.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:17 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sure, it actually happens relatively often for me. That's why one of my standard "terms and conditions" clauses - when somebody turns me down but asks if we can be friends - is that they have to let me know if they end up developing feelings for me so that we can handle it in a mature and adult manner. (They never do, but at least this way they can't say they didn't have fair warning when I'm getting back rubs and dinners from them one week, and then announce the following week that I have a girlfriend so we have to suddenly stop all the physical intimacy.)

That said, I don't think this is what's going on here. Usually when somebody who's turned me down develops feelings for me, it doesn't happen till years later. I think that what's happening here is that your friend likes your attention because it makes her feel attractive and she is using you to gratify her ego. There are ways to test this. For example, if she has any cute female friends who happen to be single, ask if she can help set you up with one of them. If this is an ego-gratification thing, she may initially seem reluctant and a bit confused that you're interested in somebody who's not her (before subsequently pretending that she's OK with this and quickly starting to tell you stories about all the guys who are asking her out). If she's just acting out of genuine friendship, however, she'll be happy at the thought of setting up two of her close friends.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2013

(before subsequently pretending that she's OK with this and quickly starting to tell you stories about all the guys who are asking her out).

Oops, sorry - like esprit de l'escalier, I also missed that this was a lesbian romance. Please consider my gender usage suitably amended.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:32 AM on February 19, 2013

Yup, n'thing the idea that she probably:

-Knew you had a crush
-Kept her distance slightly so as not to lead you on
-Finally cleared the air
-No longer worries that you'll misinterpret "hey let's see Argo" as "I would like to touch your nekkid self"
-Is happy to dive into the friendship. Emphasis on friend.

Spoken as a girl who feels infinitely more comfortable initiating plans with dudes (so ymmv) once the subject of attraction/potential is off the table.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think it's really important to take people at their word. She was clear that it was a no and not a 'maybe someday...' and to me, "didn't think we should date" isn't referring to any specific reason but it's a polite, nonblaming thing that I would say as a way to avoid directly saying that I wasn't attracted to someone and I hadn't had time to think of anything else to say. Even if it is because of some event in the past, it's important and valid enough for her to not want a relationship, and that's totally okay. That's for her to decide. You mentioned almost having a candlelit dinner alone. Even if that did happen, that doesn't make it a date or a relationship because they have to be two sided.

I would focus on spending time with other friends or hanging out with her in a group. That makes it less likely that you'll overinterpret stuff and gives you a chance to meet and connect with other people. Tell your friend that you love hanging out with her but you need some time with other people to make sure you can enjoy that time as a friend and not a crush. Maybe give yourself another week to be confused and disappointed and then ask someone else out or see if your friends can set you up, so this particular friend can go from being "The One Who Got Away" to one of the ones that didn't work out, or the cool person I liked before I met other awesome person that I dated.
posted by raeka at 12:10 PM on February 19, 2013

If I were your crush, I'd be stepping up the attention post-proposition because I felt guilty for having hurt your feelings and wanted to prove to myself what a good friend I was otherwise. It would mean precisely the opposite of any ongoing sexual or romantic interest.

Take the girl at her word: she doesn't want to date you.
posted by Bardolph at 12:11 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do people ever reconsider after rejecting someone?


Or is that a pipe dream?

posted by valkyryn at 12:47 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Once upon a time, long long ago, I met my first love. Let's call her Bobbi. Loved, loved, loved that girl absolutely and completely. She loved me, too, and we were happy for a time.

Then she dumped me, out of the blue it seemed to me, without much explanation. Not for somebody else, that's beyond dispute. Me: miserable mess.

Bobbi extended the friendship branch. I accepted because I loved her still and I hoped maybe someday perhaps there might exist a non-zero chance she'd change her mind.

Even if that didn't happen I concluded I'd rather have her as a friend than nothing at all. We were in love, yes, but we had grown to become good friends as well so that idiom about babies and bathwater seemed fitting.

It took a lot of growing up on my part but our friendship actually grew over the course of the next two years.

One day she set the stage to renegotiate the terms of our relationship but, being a dense male with the dumbs about such things, I totally missed the clues. That one is on me.

Not long after I moved to a different state, intended to be for a single school year. Near the end of the term I agreed to a multi-year overseas commitment. I wrote to Bobbi about it and she was happy for me.

Except for one thing: she had wanted me to return and get back together. The thing I had never dared believe could be possible had been possible after all. I just didn't know until it was too late. I was committed and I could not see a way out.

By the time I returned Bobbi was engaged and soon married. Not to me.

We run across each other every few years, remaining friends to this day. We both have a couple of grown kids and get along quite well.

The only thing that I know for absolute certain after a lot of life under the bridge, is that nothing is permanent. Things that have never happened before happen all the time. We think the way things are now is how they will always be. In fact, that has never been true.

Is it possible that the entire universe aligns to allow Bobbi and I to reunite and reignite that long-ago flame? There is a greater-than-zero possibility.
posted by trinity8-director at 12:47 PM on February 19, 2013

Best answer: While I won't tell you that there is no chance, because my husband rejected me at first but after a couple of years of being friends, then best friends, we ended up together: the majority of my female friends who have told a suitor that they didn't want to date them, but were willing to go out with them as friends, ended up a few weeks or months later complaining bitterly to me that these rejected suitors didn't seem to get the idea that they just wanted to be FRIENDS. In some cases, the rejected suitor misread the "let's go out as friends" statement and ended up crushed when it became clear that no, it was meant literally, and these outings were definitely not dates.

If you'd like to maintain the friendship, my suggestion would be to accept her overtures, but to find another friend or friends to join you for the outings. That way it changes from "is this a date?" to group hangout and you can distract yourself and maintain a wider social network.
posted by telophase at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2013

Classic friends zone. You don't want to be friends with her, so why did you ask? She isn't lying to you, you lied to her.

You feel glad you asked her out, and that's a good thing. Now ask someone else.
posted by empath at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would hang out with this person less. I had a similar situation, although the person said she wanted to be "undefined." An ex came into the picture and then she was all over me. It ended like an H-bomb.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:29 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm going to buck the apparent consensus here because I said no to Mr. Walla for a year before I said yes. I wasn't playing around - I really did not think we should date. We remained good friends but he didn't give up (although he was always gentlemanly). Now we've been together for a dozen years.

Maybe this is super-exceptional, but in my experience it's not - people sometimes change their minds. I don't want to give you false hope because every situation is different, but I don't think it's a pipe dream.
posted by walla at 1:47 PM on February 19, 2013

Best answer: Three of my relationships have had this friendship-rejection-friendship-relationship -trajectory and they have been quite good or great relationships, but generally nothing has gone along the common wisdom –or my wisdom– in any of them. Reasons behind the change in each have always eluded me and I have probably behaved against each of the given advise here at least once. If you like each other, and can communicate, maybe you can afford to keep it complicated.
posted by Free word order! at 2:17 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Start asking other people out. Start going on dates with other people. Sooner or later her initiating a "let's hang out" request will collide with a planned date. Say "sorry, I'd love to hang, but I've got a date."

This works for two reasons: first, because she's not interested in dating you, so you should be dating other people anyway, and second, because she'll respond in a way that helps you understand that she meant what she said and isn't trying to send signals. Also, she'll realize you're not at her beck and call whenever she wants attention.

yes, there's a small chance she'll respond to you dating other people with jealousy, but then you get to tell her that if she doesn't like you dating other people, then she'd best change her mind and start dating you. Or better yet, "I realize you don't like me dating other people, but you didn't think we should date, and I've moved on. If you can't date me and you can't be happy when I date other people, why do you want me around?" But 99.9% chance that she'll simply send more signals that dating isn't going to happen, and that's what you should be expecting.
posted by davejay at 3:38 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been that girl. ONE time I did change my mind, but I then expressed my interest in dating.

I've also been stupid enough to spend lots of time hanging out with guys after they expressed an interest in me. At the time I had no idea how hurtful I was being. I was young, lonely and inexperienced, and enjoyed the attention and the company of someone who liked me, and sometimes in the back of my mind I was hoping that *maybe* I would start liking them. Eventually those guys all turned into people I don't hang out with very much.

I've also tried hard to be friends with people after breaking up with them because I genuinely liked them a lot, just didn't want to be naked with them. After the breakup I felt the air was clear - sometimes I've been slow to realize that we still weren't on the same page and that the other person's feelings didn't get conveniently redirected just because I explained I wasn't that into them.

And I've clung to a friendship with someone who had already let me know they didn't want to date me - hoping against hope that things would change. That was a lot of extra pain for nothing. Don't do that.

So let her know that you need some space. Lots of good ideas above. I like Orange Swan's.
posted by bunderful at 4:11 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's a few possibilities here.

It's possible she is overcompensating and this is her way of trying to show you she genuinely still wants to be your friend despite the fact that you asked her out and she said no. Assuming you acted like it was no big deal, she may think she is reinforcing that she still likes you as a person and your friendship doesn't have to change or become awkward moving forward.

It's possible that she feels guilty and she wants to spend time with you to validate that you are ok, and things between you are ok, so she can let herself off the hook about it.

The least likely possibility in my mind is she is now interested or seeking attention. Assuming you expressed your desire recently, I imagine she'd feel comfortable backtracking if she really felt like that.

If you don't feel like you can comfortably be friends without hoping or secretly seeking more, you should probably take some space and be honest about that. I doubt she is purposely trying to mislead you or upset you. She doesn't have the same feelings you are having right now, so spending time with you is probably not all that awkward or hard for her. You'll have to be the one to let her know you need some boundaries here.
posted by amycup at 5:43 PM on February 19, 2013

It's not what you want and the odds are almost certain it won't be.

I gave this advice before and will give it again: leave a situation like this, and stay away from it until you can say to yourself -- in complete honesty, not to make yourself feel like you're a fine person -- that you're genuinely happy picturing her hooking up with someone else.

If you picture that, and you feel the little "nope, not really happy about that!" feeling, then you should excuse yourself from the ongoing disappointment of this friendship. Check back in a couple months or years.
posted by ead at 6:49 PM on February 19, 2013

Unlikely, but I did once.

Wait: twice. I probably shouldn't have either time, but, there you go, I did. Time #1 lasted 10 months, until he dumped me, and I was by that time way more attached than he was. Time #2 lasted 3 1/2 years, but I was right, we'd been much better as friends, and the relationship fairly quickly devolved into that, and a romance in name only.
posted by Because at 7:28 PM on February 19, 2013

You know, when a guy has expressed interest in me in that way, and I've been (once again) the asshole who said no, I have pretty much had to drop out of sight and get away from the dude. Why? Because if you hang around someone who has a crush on you, even if you're platonic and said so...stuff like this happens. I felt like I was somehow leading them on by still being in their lives--they wouldn't stop being interested and they were just waiting around for me to change my mind. That sounds like what you're doing.

You need to not hang around this girl. Drop her completely if necessary. Right now, you are not up for actual platonic friendship.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:42 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is unlikely, but it does happen. I have been in your situation and was hopelessly smitten with a friend. After I dropped her off one night after our umpteenth evening out as friends, I mustered up my courage on the way home, returned to her door and flipped over all the cards. She was flattered but taken aback and she waved me off. After a week or two of embarrassment and mild awkwardness, we put it behind us and my feelings for her faded. A month or three later, we were back to the same as we had always been.

We wound up working far apart and seeing each other infrequently for years and we remained in distant orbits. A decade later I had some serious personal setbacks and was feeling pretty glum. Most of my friends had steered clear of me because I was being pretty needy. All except one, who invited me over to bake chocolate chip cookies.

We ended up embarking on a delirious affair that spanned continents and carried us from one millennium into the next. It eventually ended, of course, but it was dizzying while it was going on. And I realized later, looking over some old journals, that ten years to the day had elapsed from the night I knocked on her door to unload my feelings to the night when she asked me not to go home. And in between I fell out of love with her and we often did not see one another for years at a time.

So: respect her decision, be grateful that you did not (apparently) cause any irreparable damage to your friendship. If someday things change, it will be a bonus; if not, you have a good friend who has seen you emotionally vulnerable and has helped you through it with no more heartbreak than necessary, which is no small thing in itself. Do not hang around hoping something will happen -- this is the best way to alienate her.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:47 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good advice all, and thank you for helping me get out of my head. I've read all the replies multiple times, and it will help me step back and see things more clearly. Although I have to defend myself against a couple comments - I think my asking "should I stick around" was a rather poor choice of words on my part. I am certainly not trying to be sleazy or lie to her, that's a little harsh on me. I'm just confused because she's behaving the opposite of what I was expecting. I do quite enjoy her friendship and if I could just turn off my feelings I would. Books and movies are full of people changing their minds in love, so you'll have to forgive the question if the answer seems obvious to you. I'm a novice; I've never been in this situation and I'm late to the party that is dating. Most people did this stuff in middle school and high school.
posted by christiehawk at 12:22 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: christiehawk:
"I'm a novice; I've never been in this situation and I'm late to the party that is dating. Most people did this stuff in middle school and high school."

Exactly! This is going to take time and practice.

"Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment." - Barry LePatner.

...but you don't need to go as far as "bad judgment" if you seek out advice and the learning experiences of other people.

Have you tried watching lesbian-centric films and other programming or reading books and comics that help illustrate the headspace of the culture?

That can be really helpful.

You'll get there! Just keep being yourself and reaching for wisdom.
posted by batmonkey at 9:36 AM on February 20, 2013

Best answer: I am certainly not trying to be sleazy or lie to her, that's a little harsh on me.

I don't think you're sleazy, not at all. The very fact that you're on Mefi asking the questions you're asking shows that you care deeply about being a good person and doing the right thing. Unfortunately, however, many times people do sleazy things without knowing it or realizing the repercussions of their decisions. So I think it would be safe to say that most of the comments here are just warning you of possible pitfalls as opposed to calling you out.

I agree with batmonkey about lesbian-centric media. Might I suggest "But I'm A Cheerleader"? It's outrageously funny and insightful. It will give you a good laugh, if nothing else.
posted by Shouraku at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

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