I don't want to be your lover, I just want to be your friend
June 9, 2013 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Did I just unintentionally agree to a date with someone of the wrong gender?

So there's this new girl I work with who is close to my age. I really like her as a person and would love to be friends with her. She's funny, smart and we have good rapport. Also, I'm low on female friends at the moment. She friended me on facebook the other day and posted a link to a song she thought I'd like on my wall.

Today at work we were bantering and having a good time as usual. I realized in the course of the conversation that she is definitely queer, which I had already suspected. She told me that she would be interested in dating some woman if this woman weren't engaged. I've talked before about guys I've dated in the past, so I thought she assumed I was straight (which I am).

We got on the subject of the L word and I mentioned that one of the actresses on it was pretty. At some point in the conversation she asked me and this guy we were working with if we'd like to come over to her place after work for drinks. I was excited because people I find cool rarely consider me friend material. That said I knew I was going to be wiped out after work so I asked her if I could take a rain check and hang out with her later in the week.

This is when the weirdness began. First of all, she was pouty that I didn't want to hang out with her that night, but in a cute, self-deprecating way. Then she kept saying, "are you SURE you want to hang out? You don't have to if you don't want to." She was making it into a joke but I could tell that she was genuinely insecure about it. I assured her that yes I'd like to hang out. Then she pulled out her phone to check her schedule and asked me which day. She said at this point, "I'm always too eager, that's the story of my life." I said, "I'm too eager with people too." She said, "What--you're the one who is saying you're too busy to hang out tonight!" This was followed with questions about what I wanted to do. I said I didn't really care, we could just chill at her place if she wanted. It was probably a mistake to suggest that.

It just seemed like this was becoming way bigger than I intended it to be, and I started to wonder if I had given her the wrong idea.

There were a couple of other things. When we were talking about what to do she said that she is really indecisive and I said so am I and she responded, "well, we'll get far."

Before she left work she made me promise I wouldn't flake on her. I told her I'd text her and she said, "OK, I'm not going to text you because you told me you'd text me."

So now I have no clue what just happened. Did I just agree to some sort of date or hookup? I don't know what to do because I do want to be friends with her, and the idea of going to her place and having to awkwardly reject her is awful. If I did just give her the wrong idea how can I right that?
posted by timsneezed to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
She sounds just sort of hyper and flaky, which leads to communication weirdness. You didn't agree to anything other than hanging out.

Whether or not she likes you That Way is hard to tell - it's certainly possible. But she also may just generally be insecure, which is equally possible. You are going to either have a very passive-aggressive conversation in which you talk about how you're not into girls, or just say, casually, "Just want to be clear, I want to be friends with you but not romantic-type friends, I don't swing that way." Which is awkward but she'll get over it. If she's not used to it yet, she will be.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

I would just agree to hang out in a public place, keep your body language distant and maybe (if possible to do so un-awkwardly) bring up a male recent date, or desired male of some sort. Don't go to her house, definitely too much potential for misconstrued signals.
posted by bquarters at 6:45 PM on June 9, 2013

maybe (if possible to do so un-awkwardly) bring up a male recent date, or desired male of some sort.

Just to be clear - that doesn't work. Bi women exist, plus the OP says she's already talked about dating guys.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]

At the very least she seems like a person who is quite insecure, so whether she has sexual or platonic designs on you, it's time to set some boundaries. A good place to start would be making sure she know you're straight.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:51 PM on June 9, 2013

We got on the subject of the L word and I mentioned that one of the actresses on it was pretty.

This is pretty flirty, as is the rain check on the group date and asking for a solo date instead. It sounds like she was maybe picking up on your lack of certainty about the whole thing, hence all the "are you sure?" I wouldn't go to her place alone, at least. Because it sounds like you might be leading her on just a bit? There are some mixed signals there from my reading.

Talking about how Shane (or whoever) is hot is a pretty good "hey, I'm a bit interested in ladies" sign. So I might avoid that in the future with queer women.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

This is pretty flirty, as is the rain check on the group date and asking for a solo date instead. It sounds like she was maybe picking up on your lack of certainty about the whole thing, hence all the "are you sure?" I wouldn't go to her place alone, at least. Because it sounds like you might be leading her on just a bit? There are some mixed signals there from my reading.

Talking about how Shane (or whoever) is hot is a pretty good "hey, I'm a bit interested in ladies" sign. So I might avoid that in the future with queer women.

I know...I realized later that I was sending her mixed signals. I'm not very socially smooth and this isn't the first time my attempts at friendship have come off as flirtation.
posted by timsneezed at 6:55 PM on June 9, 2013

i would just suggest going and doing something instead of hanging at her place. i doubt she'll mind at all since she has trouble making decisions and is probably more flexible with plans. just say let's go see a movie, shopping or dinner or whatever and make sure you don't give off any more vibes she could interpret as romantic interest. yes, talk about some guy you are crushing on so she knows you are interested in someone who is not she.
posted by wildflower at 6:59 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps I'm missing something obvious. If you are absolutely not interested in having a romantic relationship with this person you should clearly state that. It might seem awkward, but oh wow, it will be way less awkward now than it will weeks from now after you've gone to the movies and had some drinks and chatted about cool stuff outside that restaurant...

There's just no reason not to clear this up right away.

Again, unless I'm missing something obvious, like you may be interested in a relationship, in which case different stuff.
posted by odinsdream at 7:11 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

You aren't leading her on. Discussing the attractiveness of other women isn't being flirty. It's common enough banter among straight women.

I wouldn't sweat it. Enjoy getting to know her. If she starts sending sexual/romantic signals, just be frank with her. Same as you would with a guy you weren't interested in "that way".

For all you know, she may just be a bit socially-awkward when it comes to making friendly overtures; or like many of us, a bit anxious about being rejected in general. Hence her twitchiness.
posted by nacho fries at 7:17 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

You could take the route of casually telling her you were thinking back about what you'd said (about the L word actress) later and just realized that could have been misconstrued but that you're actually straight. Phrased correctly it's just a point of clarification (there are other reasons it'd be useful for her not to have a mistaken idea about your sexuality other than wanting to date you) and not a rejection, or at least it's a bit less awkward than some other ways this could go.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

If she was sending any signal to you with the initial hang out invitation, it seems like it was a "friends" signal since she invited two people and it's a mixed group. Maybe she does feel a little flirty toward you but she's trying to reign that in -- many people think it's unwise to date coworkers. Then you suggested a one on one get together. So, maybe she's just feeling slightly socially awkward about the whole thing. Just go do something hang-outy and neutral and wait until you have actual reason to think she likes you and needs a conversation about that before you go off on assumptions.

Also, she heard you when you said you like guys. That doesn't mean that she doesn't enjoy flirting with you. You're safe in that way. Be a friend but don't feel bad if you need to maintain a little distance.
posted by amanda at 7:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

You aren't leading her on. Discussing the attractiveness of other women isn't being flirty. It's common enough banter among straight women.

Er, the L Word is kinda like softcore girl on girl porn (I have watched, um, a lot of it. For this reason. Shane!). It's not just that timsneezed said an actress was hot, it's the specifics of the conversation.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Queer lady here. I think you unintentionally sent some mixed signals, which is not a big deal, but worthy of correction. Though not knowing whether something is supposed to be a date or just friends hanging out is really common, actually, at least in the circles I run in!

I would find a way to tell her that you are straight before you hang out. Worst case scenario, it's super awkward, but it would be even more awkward if she thinks you are on a date and you think you are not. If she's been out for a while, she's probably encountered this kind of situation before, and will be able to roll with it.

If she is interested in you, and knows you have dated men, she's probably very clued in to anything you imply regarding your sexual orientation, so you probably don't need to say "I'm straight and won't date you" - just bring it up in conversation. There are lots of options, you could say something about how someone thought you were gay because XYZ but you aren't. You could say something about how you're hoping the Supreme Court DOMA decision comes down correctly, because it makes you uncomfortable that as a straight person, you have rights that your queer friends don't. Just bring it up, it might be a little awkward, but I think it's worth it.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

I don't know, this just sounds like two awkward peoole being awkward. If she overtly hits on you, clarify your position. Otherwise, just be friends and don't bring it up. Making a point of how you don't want to date someone is kind of super-uncomfortable if it turns out they were not interested in the first place.
posted by windykites at 7:36 PM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

Yeah, sounds kind of awkward and she's probably wondering, so best to clear it up with as little drama as possible.

Can't tell if you have actually made plans or not. If you have, and the current plan is to go hang out at her place, text her and say something along the lines of "hey, I know we were going to hang out, but I just heard about this movie/event/exhibition/whatever I would really like to go to. Can we do that instead?" That way you're not flaking on her but it's a less intimate situation than hanging out one-on-one at her place.

Then, as others have suggested, find a way to bring it up in conversation that you are straight. I like insectosaurus's suggestions. Ideally this could happen at work, before the hanging out thing.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey! If she does hit on you - so what?!

Listen, from my reading, she would be presuming A LOT if/when you hang out, if she then hit on you.

It's OK if you decline but want to start a friendship! She'll be OK, too!

Experience tells me so.
posted by jbenben at 9:37 PM on June 9, 2013

Like Athanassiel says, text her and suggest some activity outside her home. I would phrase it with more confidence though: "Hey NewGirl, how about going to play ping pong on Wednesday? We should invite CoworkerGuy as well! Will be fun."
It's fine to change plans and invite other people along if this makes you more comfortable.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:16 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ideally don't want to come off as a jerk here, but I'm runnin out the door to work in a couple so I won't mince words.

This screams of gay panic to me. Yeah, she may like you. But she may just want friendship. She spoke about being interested in someone else, right?

She is socially awkward. That's all you really know. Chill out and hang out. The idea of not going to another woman's house to be friendly because she is gay and might hit on you is nearly as offensive as not changing at the gym for fear there is a lesbian among the others in there.

If she does hit on you, demure. Let her know that you think she is awesome, but you just aren't wired that way. That's way better than presuming and telling her awkwardly. It always pissed me off when a straight girl did that. And worse? The incessant "my ex boyfriend" or "this guy I went out with last week" comments. I get it. Lets move on.

Don't be that person. Just be you.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:42 AM on June 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

Hahahahahaha, welcome to lesbian dating hell. This is a common enough situation from the other side (ie hoping it's a date, fearing it's a friend thing) that there are articles about it all the time on queer women's websites. I think you are well advised to be cautious, not because it would be awful for you if she hit on you, but because it would be a bit of a shame for her if she expected one thing and got another, especially since she sounds like a bit of an anxious person. At the same time, she has probably been in lesbian dating hell many times before, so she may be more prepared for it than you. You should definitely not do anything that you wouldn't do with a platonic guy friend - so probably no going to her house, and probably another person needs to be present at first. Maintain really, really clear physical boundaries - straight women will often snuggle up to each other, touch each others arms and so on, but you really shouldn't under these circumstances.

God, I hate being a lesbian sometimes.

In future, please be aware that The L Word, Buffy etc are sort of shibboleths queer women use to identify themselves to each other. Avoid avoid avoid unless you're simultaneously making really clear how straight you are.
posted by Acheman at 4:32 AM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Why don't you propose going out someplace public. Then you drop the "I'm straight and not curious" conversation clues and you both can say goodbye and smooth over any difference of expectations.

The conversation you describe really sounds like someone who's sexually/romantically interested in you and is interpreting everything in her favor. Especially you suggesting just hanging out at her place. I think most of us have been prone to do this on occasion, regardless of sexual preferences.

If a guy I was really interested in getting to know suggested we hang out at my place I'd totallly understand that as a great possiblity of sexual/romantic interest. Why? Because one's home is private, and so private things can happen there, regardless of what actually happens.

I would do the exact same thing in a situation with a straight man. It's not about being offended or uncomfortable, just sharing time together in a way that is enjoyable for the both of you and the friendship.
posted by Locochona at 4:33 AM on June 10, 2013

I agree with FlamingBore. No need to burn the bridge of awkwardness before you get to it. That metaphor makes no sense, but I think you get what I mean.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:40 AM on June 10, 2013

I think what you're looking for is a script.

"Hey Lisa, I'm really looking forward to hanging with you. I think you're super-cool and I hope we'll be good friends for years to come. I know that sometimes things can be awkward when you're first meeting people, so I just want to go on record as saying, that I'm interested in friendship with you. I'm kind of getting a queer vibe off of you, and I just want to make sure that we're on the same page. I'm all about penis for my sexual preference. Is that cool with you?"

Hopefully you say this over cocktails in a bar, and not the water-cooler at work.

Dating is so hard in the modern world. There are so many different items on the menu anymore. Sometimes you just have to come out and say it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:03 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My guess is she didn't want to have to hang out alone with the guy, and that is why she was bummed you weren't coming. like, if she invited you both, she probably wanted you both to come and wasn't really planning on just one of you. A group dynamic is different than a one-on-one dynamic, especially if you like certain people more than others.

What you've described doesn't at all sound to me like she is hitting on you, and I am a lesbian. If you've mentioned you like guys, the only possibility is maybe she thinks you are "open-minded" or bisexual. Maybe next time you discuss the L Word (lol) you can say, "Well, I'm straight, but I was really rooting for Nikki and Jenny" (again, lol) if you want to make it clear.

Maybe this girl is an awkward person, but I don't think she's trying to date you. I don't know, it sounds like maybe you're overreacting. I'd see if she continues to be too clingy before you freak out... and she may very well be a clingy friend.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:38 PM on June 10, 2013

Thanks for the input guys.

Not sure if this changes anything but a bit of an update. She texted me tonight and pointed out that she had noticed I was working on Thursday night so she was concerned I would be too tired afterwards to hang out. I was surprised she texted me since she had made a point of the fact that she wouldn't text me.

I wrote back that it wasn't a problem, we were still on. She wrote back cool, that we could have gin and tonics at her place. She said, "unless there is something else you want to do?" I stupidly didn't take her up on this (I know). I have this problem--I'm a bit of a people pleaser and I hate disappointing somebody. But I tried to make my intentions clear by telling her that I wouldn't be able to stay late because I have to take the bus home. She wrote back she couldn't wait and I could stay as late as I want.

I wish I had suggested we change plans and meet in public. I don't know why that's so hard for me to do. But I think instinctively it feels like if we met up for drinks somewhere that would be more date-like...at least it would feel that way to me. Anyway I don't think it will be a problem if I only like stay an hour. I've already given her the heads up on that.

That said I'm getting an even stronger vibe that she's interested in something more after these texts. The fact that she's texting me several days in advance the day after we made the plans and after specifically saying she wouldn't is odd...usually with friends it's a lot more casual.

I've thought about it more and I think I can make my platonic interest clear with my body language alone when we hang out. I think it would be more offensive for her if I was presumptuous by telling her in advance that I'm straight. I know that would irritate me in her shoes.
posted by timsneezed at 1:32 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't forget to update us on how it goes. Hope you have a new friend.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:37 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

So we hung out and she did come on to me. She thought I was interested because I had turned it into a solo hangout, which was my fear. It wasn't a big deal, though. I told her I'm not into girls and she took it well. We had a good time after that awkward moment passed.
posted by timsneezed at 3:08 AM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Good on you. Hope you'll have a long and happy friendship. ;)
posted by FlamingBore at 11:54 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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