Developing feelings for a 'friend' - did I do bad?
March 11, 2014 3:48 PM   Subscribe

I started a postgraduate course 3 months ago and there was a girl who stood out a fair bit. There were various issues that stopped me from considering dating her so I went down the friend route. She seemed interested in me at first - we ended up being alone together twice on nights out with others from the class, walking around London and the river, but I, not interested in any kind of intimacy, kept these meetings platonic. It's only recently that I've gotten myself together mentally, gotten to know her better and decided I like what I see - am I too late? What should I do to move from a new friendship back to that stage of 'initial attraction'?

When I started on my 3 month course (back at the end of January) this girl was there who was pretty cute. I was having a fling at the time that was dying down - I broke it off about two weeks in. In the meanwhile, the girl from my class and I had been chatting away on Facebook and we ended up going for a meal with others on Valentine's Day (the day I ended my fling) - I was pretty confused at the time as A. I'd just ended a short, but intimate association B. This girl, for all her merits, struck me at first impressions as pretty immature and self-centered: She had a tendency to talk about men who'd flirted with her on the Tube that day, or dates people had asked her on... it felt like she was trying to prove herself (my poor self-esteem alarm was going off).

Anyway, we ended up going out with others a fair amount and again, ended up alone and walking through London - like before, I kept to myself; pleasant company, I even opened up to her a little more than I would normally (I told her about a friend I lost earlier this year... maybe I got a bit too vulnerable when I admitted I don't have anyone to talk to anymore). But, despite a lot of touching on my part (and I mean the platonic friendly kind), namely taking her shoulder when I was making a point or something, we didn't do anything outside of what friends normally do.

Anyway, since then, I've taken her on other walks during the day and met with groups at bars and things. I think she might have lost any interest she had - she started telling me about a guy she liked back in America and asked for my advice, etc. (friend zone signs!) But over the time we spent together, I saw that she wasn't as immature as I thought - she's actually pretty deep, confident and intelligent.

I cleared out my own house and discovered these new feelings for her - I'd say I arrived at the 'I want to date this woman' phase last weekend.

Anyway - I keep trying to make plans with her but she's suddenly no longer available. I'd hoped just to get her alone again and say something along the lines of 'You know, I'd like to take you on a proper date.'

I'm really bad at expressing myself emotionally, even to those I'm close to - I'm quite bottled up. So I think anything along the lines of 'When we met I didn't know where I was emotionally, but now I'm cleared up and I've come to appreciate you more and more as a person' wouldn't quite get delivered as I'd like it.

But does anybody have some advice? I fear she sees me as a friend... I don't think that should deter me from making a move (I'd rather end a budding new friendship than suffer from not speaking my feelings) but it's hard to pin her down and I worry that she might have 'gotten over' her attraction for me, if it was there to begin with.

Thanks for the read/any help :)
posted by Henners91 to Human Relations (14 answers total)
Anyway - I keep trying to make plans with her but she's suddenly no longer available. I'd hoped just to get her alone again and say something along the lines of 'You know, I'd like to take you on a proper date.'

But does anybody have some advice?

What advice are you looking for? You pretty much make it clear that you're going to wait till you feel she's available and say what you said above. Good luck, though.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:57 PM on March 11, 2014

You know that's a fair point. To be honest I guess I'm looking for testimonials and encouragement - which hardly constitute advice at all.

I suppose that I, like many people, may have just reached out to the internet for an endorsement of actions I've already decided upon! :P

Hell, usually people sort of know what they *should* do but never actually write it all out logically like I just did. I assure you that in my head this seems like some infinitely complex issue.

But is it fair enough on my part, or somewhat normal, that I wasn't interested at first but now I am? I just worry it looks a bit schizophrenic.
posted by Henners91 at 4:00 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tell her that you weren't in a good position to date when you first met but now you are and you're wondering if she'd like to go out some time. Don't stress about it, you're allowed to change your mind. Now she might not actually go for it, but at least you will have tried (and, erm, you might learn a small lesson about not making snap judgements about people before you get to know them better. Just sayin')
posted by Jubey at 4:11 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me, I've never been convinced by the whole "friendzone" thing. If anything, I've often become *more* attracted to someone, not less, as I've gotten to know him as a friend and admired his character etc. If I'm not attracted to a friend of mine, it's not because he's my friend that I'm unattracted to him - I never was attracted to him in the first place. All this is to encourage you, in the sense that I don't think there's any evidence that you've blown your chance with this girl, if you ever did have a chance with her.

My recommendation would be to proceed as you seem to suggest. I'd try to meet with her one-on-one, catch up, and then tell her about your changing feelings and ask her on a date. I'm not sure I'd bring in that you weren't sure where you were emotionally before, and that's why you weren't interested. Personally, if I were her, I'd be more receptive if you were to make clear why you were interested in me in particular, rather than making it about you and your timeline. Maybe something like: "You know, I've recently been thinking about how much I enjoy our friendship and the time we spend together, and how much regard I have come to feel for you as a person in the time that I've known you. (Maybe here give some particular qualities or examples of things that you like about her or moments that made you realize you were interested in dating her - if you're going to name physical things that you like about her, don't go for anything sexualized (something like "eyes" or "smile" would be okay)!). I have been thinking about how much fun it might be to explore our connection romantically, and was wondering whether you felt the same. If so, I would love to take you on a date." And if she declines (or says anything other than an unambiguous yes), you should take that as a no and - if you actually feel this way - assure her that you hope to enjoy each other's company as friends. Obviously modify the wording above to suit your style, but I'd make sure that you include something about why after being friends with her you have realized that you want to date her in particular, and I would ask her specifically on a date (using the word date).
posted by ClaireBear at 4:22 PM on March 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

Henners, you say that, "I keep trying to make plans with her but she's suddenly no longer available." This tells me that she's not into you and doesn't want to date you. If she liked you, she would say yes when you ask her to hang out, or suggest an alternate time or activity when she was available.

You tagged this with "friend zone." The friend zone doesn't mean that she has put you in some sort of "friend box" where she is now "thinking of you as a friend" and needs to have a position shift to consider you romantically again. It means she is not interested in dating you, and is only interested in being your friend.

As you just learned yourself, opinions about people can change - so feel free to keep hanging out with her in groups and seeing her around campus, and if she warms up then in a few months you can ask her out again. But for now, she's sending you very clear signals that she is not interested in you.
posted by amaire at 4:28 PM on March 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Certainly don't ever say anything like:

"When we met I didn't know where I was emotionally, but now I'm cleared up and I've come to appreciate you more and more as a person"

It doesn't sound like she's into you, but you could just ask her out to dinner or drinks or something else that is more like a date. If she says no, it means yeah, she's not into you. If she says yes, well then you have a date.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 4:42 PM on March 11, 2014

Don't worry about 'friendzone'. As someone kinda quiet, I tended to be friends with guys I liked and would morph that into a relationship (hopefully!). I never really dated. I was friends first with the guy I'm now happily married to, and there wasn't really any "dating" so I guess it worked! There aren't really any rules here. She may or may not be interested/available, but I don't think you did anything wrong. All you can do is keep hanging out and ask!
posted by jrobin276 at 6:04 PM on March 11, 2014

Just ask her out on a real date, and take it from there.
posted by LonnieK at 7:47 PM on March 11, 2014

Yep, ask her out. Some of her "friend zone" responses may have been her way of respecting boundaries.
posted by calgirl at 9:02 PM on March 11, 2014

Maybe she Likes you, maybe she doesn't. The only way to know is to ask her out on a date. Not ask her to do something; "Would you like to go out on a date to see That Concert, or eat at This Restaurant?"

Also please don't use 'friend zone.' The term is tied up with all sorts of MRA bullshit and the idea that women somehow owe men sex.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:04 PM on March 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

"I keep trying to make plans with her but she's suddenly no longer available."

IF she was interested in you, but it was clear that you were not interested in her, then she may be protecting herself by refusing to hanging around you as "just friends". Or she might have moved on. The latter is more likely, but since there is a chance it's the former, you have nothing to lose by asking her out. On a date (or whatever word/description your social circle uses to indicate romantic interest).
posted by pianissimo at 3:52 AM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like your plan, it's easy and direct. I agree with pianissimo, she may be declining your invite because she still "like-likes" you and she doesn't want to be entangled in a crush situation.

Let her know you want to date her. See what happens.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:05 AM on March 12, 2014

Apologies if anyone genuinely views my use of 'friendzone' as inappropriate - it certainly isn't my intention to come across as some entitled prat.

I merely grabbed for a term I consider pretty apt for describing the dampener a platonic relationship *can* place on attraction (though not always, of course).

We last hung out proper on Saturday when we went to the cinema together (we had to write a film review for our course), just the two of us. It was like I was saying in the OP; I respected my boundaries, was good company, but showed no signs. To be honest in my head I was coming around to thinking 'she's actually a pretty good catch' but I'd by no means resolved to do anything about it.

Since then it's been kind of demoralising I have to say - over Monday and Tuesday I thought I might have been leaping to conclusions/imagining things but she seemed to be actively avoiding me: Whereas about two weeks ago she was making solid eye contact with me when she'd speak in class or laugh at a joke, she was totally blanking me. One of the more surreal moments was when a classmate asked who'd like to go for coffee with her - my erstwhile friend leapt at it but then when I said 'Ah can I come too?' (and was accepted) she quickly bailed with some excuse about actually work is probably better. Again, one could chalk that up to coincidence but I've noted that, in our breaks, she's often removed herself from the room but run straight back upstairs when I've gone to the other one ;)

So I don't know what to think. I think I've had good advice here. The way I see things now, it doesn't matter what she's thinking (and you're a fool if you try to get in another person's head): I'm just going to, when I *finally* get her alone, tell her quite matter of factly that I'd like to take her out on a proper date: I'll leave it at that, answer whatever she might ask and if she doesn't want to, it's no biggie. It's better to get 'rejected' (and lose little - as I said, I already feel like I'm being quite ignored) than eat myself up thinking about what I could have had.

Plus who knows? If she makes it clear she's not interested and I make it clear I respect her space, she may well try to resume the friendship (which is a plus).
posted by Henners91 at 3:33 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Life is full of these dilemmas. You resolve them by asking her out.
posted by LonnieK at 3:39 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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