My friend is in love with another friend's sister?
April 8, 2013 9:57 AM   Subscribe

tl;dr: Friend likes friend's sister. Friend is very socially awkward and sister is very scared of him for his "creepy" demeanor (according to her words) and the sister needs to know how to make him stop liking her. Ideas discussed include outright rejection, fake boyfriend, fake pictures, which I had mostly disagreed with, and need advice to sort this out.

Regarding the guy and the sister, they've known each other for a few years (I'm guessing 2 or 3?) but around five months ago, my "friend" (let's call him David) started to act in a way that very very strongly insinuated that she was in love with my friend's sister.
Before I continue let me explain who he is. In the past he's said several things that have offended me (aka personal stuff). He is very socially inept and struggles to have conversations with many people besides his circle of 5 friends. He also doesn't understand social cues and is very oblivious to simple things, and he has a very... awkward demeanor, to be honest. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of his character but he tries to invite himself to things that my friends and I plan - I don't know how he finds out about them but when he's there he generally sits alone without saying many words at all. Because of this I tried to let him off with the stupid things he says but... he's said so much offensive things (because he doesn't understand that they are offensive) that makes it hard for me to keep forgiving him.
tl;dr for above paragraph. friend is very socially awkward with an equally awkward demeanor, has said many offensive things to me but doesn't know it because he doesn't understand social cues
Back to the story; the sister finds out that David is in love with her and she is very weirded out. They used to be decent friends but when she found out it became very awkward and she became scared of her. Oh, and for the record, sometime very shortly after she finds out, the relationship between the brother and David had become much, much more strained.
An important point that I should note is that the brother,sister, another friend (call him John) and I drove up to the university where my other friends attended. We walked around together as a group - me, John, the siblings, David, and other friends from university for a group of 8. While we hung out together several of us talked to the sister, not about David's love for her but just as friends, making dumb jokes and pointing out random things - you know, what friends do. BUT.
When I get back, John received a three paragraph letter from David saying how he was troubled that he couldn't talk to the girl because he was so awkward and didn't know what he could say, and that he often lagged behind the group because he was crying and didn't want anyone to see. He said that he was in love with the sister and that he wants to know how she thought of him. Overall, it was a letter of jealousy and, to be honest, a hint of hatred towards us.
tl;dr for above paragraphs. We (me, friend, the brother and sister) go up to uni to see the rest of our friends that inclues David When we get home there is a letter from David that says he was crying that he didn't have the social ability to talk to the sister and that he was in love
We (sans David) had a conversation on Skype about it, some suggested that she just reject him the next time they see each other so that this can be dealt with, but I feel that's too harsh. Any advice?
posted by JYuanZ to Human Relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The best thing for the sister to do, if "David" actually makes his interest clear to her (which doesn't sound likely), is to let him know in no uncertain terms that she's not interested, period.

The best thing for the rest of you to do is stop hanging out with this weird wet blanket who thinks it's okay to drag the rest of you into his bizarre, inappropriate psychodrama. Seriously. His feelings are not anybody else's responsibility.
posted by trunk muffins at 10:04 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's not love, that's creepy obsession.

The best thing for the sister to do, if "David" actually makes his interest clear to her (which doesn't sound likely), is to let him know in no uncertain terms that she's not interested, period.

Yes, definitely. No excuses, no "other boyfriend", just: "No, I am not interested. Period."

It may be worthwhile too for you and/or one of his circle of friends to sit him down and impress upon him that he's being creepy and obsessive and that he needs to cut that out pronto.
posted by The Michael The at 10:07 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


We (sans David) had a conversation on Skype about it, some suggested that she just reject him the next time they see each other so that this can be dealt with, but I feel that's too harsh. Any advice?

She needs to be honest with him about her non-reciprocation of feelings. Do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, think lying to him is kinder? The sooner he knows that this is not a possibility in an unambiguous manner, then the sooner he can move on.

The same thing goes for you. If you find things he says troubling, then you have to confront him. Be honest with yourself and him as gently and charitibly as possibly.
posted by inturnaround at 10:07 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sounds like a good time to link to the Geek Social Fallacies

In short, it's quite acceptable for her to say "Please stop doing X and Y" (where X and Y are inappropriate behaviours that he has around her). It's also acceptable for you to say "You're being really creepy and should knock it off", and it's acceptable for you not to hang round him if you don't want to.
posted by emilyw at 10:11 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Lying isn't nice. It sucks that David is such a nudnick, but there it is.

Your friend's sister should tell him, "I don't like you like that, your attention makes me uncomfortable."

David should get some counseling, since the way he's going about things is not yielding him the results he wants. Perhaps some behavioral therapy can lead him to actions tht will make him more integrated in the group.

This stuff is heartbreaking, but no one HAS to love you back, no matter how much you might want them to.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: This is all very teenaged and angsty, to be honest with you.

This woman needs to email or text and be utterly straight with him, but also kind because this man doesn't sound all that stable to me. Telling him he's weird is really negative; saying something that doesn't place the blame on him or imply there is anything he can change about himself will be more gentle, though he's going to take this really badly. Because this is not a breakup and out of compassion for that I would not do this in person but rather let him cry in private.

"Hey David, I'm getting the idea you may be into me and just so there's no awkwardness, I just need you to know it isn't going to happen. I'm just not attracted to you, and there is nothing I can do to change that, it either happens or it doesn't. I hope we can be cool about this. Thanks for understanding."
posted by DarlingBri at 10:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [29 favorites]


What DarlingBri said, but I just want to emphasize you/she pay attention to the language she uses: no "sorry, but..." no "you're a great guy, but..." nothing but "this will not be happening, and there is nothing you can do about that."

Why? Because with a dude who falls in "love" in this fashion, anything that isn't the cold, hard "no" is a little ray of hope to which he will cling and continue to be weird.
posted by griphus at 10:19 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Is David autistic? His "social awkwardness" and insensitivity to others' feelings suggest the possibility. Could his parents find treatment/programs for him?
posted by Cranberry at 10:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


You already know he doesn't understand social cues, so dropping hints will not work.

As hard as people in this thread are being on David, he is at least saying what he thinks, how he feels, and what his problem is in clear language.

In most cases I don't recommend passing messages between friends, and I usually recommend that the crush talk to the crushee directly. I don't think this case is an exception, so far.

In most cases I don't recommend pre-emptive rejection. I do think this case is an exception to that. Give her DarlingBri's script and tell her not to deviate from that, not to say anything in any kind of language that makes him think there is hope for the future, and to be prepared for an emotional reaction. You may want to rehearse this with her a few times. If David pushes back she should say "I've said all I'm going to say. I am not attracted to you and I'm certain I never will be. Now that you know this I expect that you'll put your attention elsewhere, because that is what I am going to do." And then end the conversation firmly.

I don't think it's fair to write David off as a "weird wet blanket" who doesn't deserve your consideration. He certainly is being a weird wet blanket, but then if you were as socially sophisticated as you wanted to be, you wouldn't be here asking us this question. I don't say this to be harsh, only to point out that there are things that all of you are still learning.
posted by tel3path at 10:30 AM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


DarlingBri has it. I think she needs to address it head on in an honest but gentle and kind manner. She needs to email (do NOT do it over the phone or in person, allow David the chance to be hit with this in private) him and let him down. Firmly, clearly, but not meanly. Griphus is right that any apologetic or wishy washy sentiment isn't going to help him, it is only going to confuse him. No "I wish I did but" or "You're a great guy but". Just clear, "No, I don't share your feelings." language. No matter what she says he is going to get upset, but that can't be changed. Having these obsessive love feelings for someone who will never return them is way more upsetting, so pushing him towards getting over it and healing.

I would write something like,
"David, I've been getting sense that you are having feelings for me that go beyond friendship and it has been making me increasingly uncomfortable. I feel that I really need to tell you that those feelings are not reciprocated and that they won't be. I know that I am being blunt and that this is probably upsetting for you to hear, but I don't want to risk leading you on or allow you to harbour hope that I will feel the same. I don't return your feelings and I know that this will not change. I am hoping that this message will help you to move on from your feeling for me so that you can redirect them to someone who will share them."



Also, agreeing that this guy sounds like he has more going on than just awkwardness. His inability to pick up social cues points to his being on the autism spectrum, and he just doesn't sound well.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:42 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


some suggested that she just reject him the next time they see each other so that this can be dealt with, but I feel that's too harsh.

It's not "too harsh" to say, "You've been acting in a way that suggests you have feelings for me, and if that's the case I need to tell you that I'm not interested and your behavior makes me uncomfortable." He's acting in ways that make her uncomfortable and it's totally appropriate for her to tell him to back off.

Yeah, it sucks to have a crush not reciprocate your feelings, but that's part of life. She doesn't owe it to him to tolerate his making her uncomfortable just to spare his feelings.

You can help by doing the following: if she asks for advice on what to do, encourage her to set explicit boundaries with him. If she says she's scared of him and seems creepy, encourage her to trust her gut around him (i.e., don't make excuses for his creepy behavior). If you see him acting toward her or speaking about her in creepy or possessive ways, call him out on it ("David, when you say things like that, you sound like a creep.")
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:50 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I get back, John received a three paragraph letter from David saying how he was troubled that he couldn't talk to the girl because he was so awkward and didn't know what he could say...He said that he was in love with the sister and that he wants to know how she thought of him.

I think John should tell David that either David needs to write a letter to the sister herself telling her this, or else he (John) can ask her how she feels and report back. (Which is really teenage, yes, but you guys are teenagers, right? Or nearly?) Whichever one David picks, the sister or John can then give him the unambiguous rejection he needs.

I don't like pre-emptive rejection as a rule, not because it's too harsh but because it's REALLY difficult to do, much harder than saying no to a request for a date. Not just difficult as in awkward, but potentially messy and confusing too. I think the sister would feel cruel delivering it as strongly as she'd have to in order for it to be clear, plus I'm not sure if David, with his questionable hold on social appropriateness, would even get it. It's completely fine if she wants to do it, I'm just thinking when I was in college no one I knew would have had the maturity do it properly, especially to someone who behaved in a scary/creepy way. If she does want to do it, PuppetMcSockerson's script is quite good.

And don't do the "fake boyfriend" thing. That won't stop him from liking her. Even people with great social skills and understanding don't automatically "stop liking" who they like as soon as that person starts dating someone else.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:08 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cranberry Is David autistic? His "social awkwardness" and insensitivity to others' feelings suggest the possibility. Could his parents find treatment/programs for him?
and
Puppet Also, agreeing that this guy sounds like he has more going on than just awkwardness. His inability to pick up social cues points to his being on the autism spectrum, and he just doesn't sound well.

It sounds to me like he has Asperger syndrome. (See Wiki). This is a high-functioning form of autism.

My cousin has it and acts very similarly toward women. He comes across as very creepy, even to me - as his cousin. My dad had to explain to him when I was younger to give me space and not be touchy. He would do things like play with my hair and such. He also isn't really allowed around my step-mother as he cannot stop staring at her chest and followed her around the house like a puppy dog even when she tried to avoid him. He is a 25ish year old adult.

So when people have said he seems childish and teenager, it's probably because of this. Know that it's not his fault, but you need to set up boundaries.

Having a Fake Boyfriend or something similar would make his obsession worse. People with social issues tend to cling onto all the information they can get. When I last talked to my cousin he complained that I didn't post on Facebook enough- creepy. (I have since blocked him from almost all posts.)

I also think it's not your place to do much of anything. It seems you have been pushed into the middle. If he creeps her out, she needs to say something. It needs to be clear. If he does have Asperger syndrome then he won't get social cues like her avoiding him.

I say they should keep their distance socially whenever possible, but be clear if she feels uncomfortable. Again, you may get pushed into the middle, at which point it may he useful to send a message along from the friend that he needs to back off, but again I suggest to support your friends, but stay out of it.

If she (they as siblings) aren't willing to be clear with him, then it won't stick. It may not even stick if they are clear with him. Again, be support but you don't have to referee.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I once went to party hosted by a good friend, which included our social group of the time, and (unusually) a group of her friends from college and before. One of these friends decided that night that I was fantastic. I got a phone call from my friend the next morning, making sure that I was aware of his interest and did not reciprocate, with a small amount of "and if you were interested in him we'd probably be talking you out of it because he is so not ready to date a girl", and then they went and sat down with him and explained to him that if he was expecting their help in getting together with me, he'd better think again because there would be no "coincidental group outings", none of them giving him my phone number, etc. because they genuinely did not think that we would be a good match. They may have even gone so far as to suggest that he work on a few of his particular social graces. All I know is, I dind't have to deal with him lurking around me, nor did I have to wait through that "I wish he would just ask me out already so that I could say No without looking presumptuous" period, nor did I have to have a confrontation with him at all. They understood the situation, and they took care of it.
"David, I know you've been really upset over Diane, but she does not feel that way about you. You need to understand that you cannot ___, ___, ___ around her, and that the more you ___ the less comfortable she will be even going out as a group when you're around."

He's been telling you how he feels (in writing, no less!) because he is hoping that you will help him. By doing nothing to discourage him, you are encouraging him, and doing the sister a huge disservice. He seems to attack you for monopolizing her time, to get you to be defensice, and say empty apologies and seemingly innocuous things like "Gosh, David, I'm sorry you're so upset, I had no idea you wanted to talk with her so badly", which he can then interpret as "and they'll be sure to incorporate me into the conversation next time". You need to explain to him that you will not be helping him, and why.
posted by aimedwander at 11:55 AM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I've been in a situation where someone had a very long-term crush on me, but continually tried to go through other friends to arrange something and never actually talked to me. It was incredibly awkward and hard to deal with, since I knew about the whole thing but didn't feel comfortable talking directly to the guy about it. I wish he would have just talked to me at some point - that conversation would not have been fun (I wasn't attracted to him) but it would have taken my friends out of the "messenger" position they were stuck in and given him a change to move on.

If this situation has gotten to the point where the sister is fearful of the guy, then he has to be told bluntly that his behavior is inappropriate, no matter how sad it may make him. If she does plan to talk to him personally about this, it would be kind for you or her brother to be there so that she does not have to be alone with this guy in what could potentially be a volatile situation.

I like ruthlessbunny's sentence: "This stuff is heartbreaking, but no one HAS to love you back, no matter how much you might want them to." Having a crush on someone DOES NOT mean they owe you ANYTHING (a lesson, might I add, that I had to learn myself during some intensely awkward high-school crushes). If she has made her own feelings clear, than further pursuit by this guy is verging on harassment and he needs to stop. It is not her job or your job to police this guy's feelings - being nice to him should not come before the sister's own feelings of safety.
posted by augustimagination at 12:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


David is behaving very unattractively. The first two rules are 1) be attractive and 2) don't be unattractive. David's friends need to make it clear to him how badly he is failing at #2. He's never even going to get to working on #3 if he doesn't fix that.

If he hasn't even been able to talk to this girl, I don't think 'sister' has any obligation to do or say anything here. Unless he's getting in her face or scaring her - if that's the case he deserves a 'Back off, Creeper!'. No one is responsible for understanding David's feelings but David, especially if he isn't even making them known.

Maybe a friend can take him aside and say that they asked 'sister' about David on the sly, and the response was that when they hang out, sometimes he is creepy and gross. Repeat that sometimes he does act creepy and gross. Make a commitment as his friend to help him not act so creepy and gross, especially around 'sister'.

If David is truly incapable of reading social cues (and it's not just that no one has ever been a good enough friend to call him out for his behaviour)....I don't know, give his two best friends a bunch of red, yellow, and green cards? When he does something suave, give him a green card. When he pulls a creeper move, he gets a red card. If he gets a bunch of red cards in a row, maybe he should go home. If he starts behaving in such a way that one day 'sister' comes up and gives him a green card for doing whatever, you can be sure he'll want to do more of that.
posted by bartleby at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2013


Man, if any of you are over the age of 23 I'll be bowled over. Look, this is a very common situation among young geeks (and young people, period). Nobody wants to be the one to tell David to get lost or cut that shit out because of Geek Social Fallacies ruling your brains. And I'm guessing all the women involved are young enough that the world has not crushed the hope that creepazoids will just go away and leave them alone if they don't actively encourage them.

First: none of you are obligated to hang out with David, no matter how much you feel sorry for him. If you can't bear to cut him loose and you simply must take him under your wing, then be good Social Skills Teachers and educate him. If you guys aren't giving him a heads up when he's being awkward and creepy then he's going to think his behavior is fine and dandy and he's going to keep carrying on with it. Yeah, it's not fun to confront people. But right now your passive-aggressive tolerance of him is making the situation worse.

Second: it is time for the sister to ovary-up and practice the incredibly useful skill of firmly turning down an unwelcome suitor. This dude is not going to take a hint. Inventing a fake boyfriend is not going to deter him. Fake pictures are not going to deter him. These are all namby-pamby non-solutions people want to take to avoid a very necessary confrontation. This will not be the last creepy guy in this girl's life. The sooner she gets to be OK with telling guys to fuck off, the happier and safer she will be. Call the dude up and use DarlingBri's script.
posted by schroedinger at 6:09 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Response by poster: Thank you all for the responses. I have decided to suggest to the sister to use DarlingBri's script. All of your responses, in addition, have helped me realize that I still have much growing up to do and realizing that asking an online community for advice has both its benefits and disadvantages. Again, thank all of you!
posted by JYuanZ at 8:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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