Male friend asked me to go on a camping trip alone with him
August 5, 2017 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Is he expecting stuff to happen?

My friend asked me to go camping. I said yes because I love camping and don't have any opportunities to go. I assumed it would be a group affair. But now I realize he wants to go camping just the 2 of us. He's already booked the campsite. I know he's single and has trouble finding people to date.

He's a friend that I've known for about 5 years and we've become a bit closer over the past year and spent time together outside of a group. At times I thought I might be interested in dating him, but I've changed my mind, because there's a 3 year age difference (he's 26 and I'm 29) and I don't think he's at the same stage of life or maturity level as me because he's never lived on his own. I don't think he's anticipated the ways that this camping trip could turn awkward.

I'm not sure if I should go on a solo camping trip with him. He might be expecting that with us sleeping in the tent together, there's gonna be some funny business. I think this is why he didn't invite anyone else on the trip. I think that would be really awkward because I'm not interested and if I said that, I would still have to spend the next 48 hours with him in the wilderness. Plus, we're supposed to do a 5k together the very next weekend and I don't want that to be ruined.

-- How can I let him know not to expect stuff to happen in advance without making it awkward?
-- Should I just avoid the trip altogether?
-- Or, should I let some cuddling happen but make it clear I'm not interested in more? (I love cuddling and I don't care who it's with)
posted by winterportage to Human Relations (43 answers total)
*turns on megaphone*
*taps mic*
posted by ftm at 8:39 AM on August 5, 2017 [63 favorites]

Tell him you're bringing your own tent so you both have privacy.
posted by metasarah at 8:50 AM on August 5, 2017 [49 favorites]

No way. You already feel uncomfortable enough to the point where you posted this question. Please trust your gut on this, and don't go on this trip, unless there is some way to make it a big group outing. Tell him you won't be able to go, you don't owe him an explaintion if you dont feel comfortable telling him why.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 8:51 AM on August 5, 2017 [13 favorites]

Cancel the trip or bring a friend along to be the third wheel.
posted by toomanycurls at 8:51 AM on August 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

If you decide to go, NO sleeping in the same tent. Bring your own tent. Period. Consider inviting another friend or asking if you can (if he gets squirrely about the question, that's your chance to clarify that this is not a romantic trip).
posted by quince at 8:53 AM on August 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

First, think about whether you'd like to go camping with him if it were not a date. If no, then just cancel. If you'd still like to go but want to head off awkwardness, you can try something like this.

"Hey there when I said yes to the trip, I thought this was going to be more of a group camping trip. I'd like to go camping but I am not interested in this being a date-like situation. So I'll be bringing my own tent. I'm really looking forward to our 5K next week!"
posted by jessamyn at 8:55 AM on August 5, 2017 [39 favorites]

He's younger, less experienced, doesn't have a lot of friends, and is vaguely happy to have a friend as cool and pretty as you are. He has a vague idea that this fun camping trip will bring you two closer to falling in love. But he won't be any more aggressive than he's ever been about expecting sex, because that would be out of character and would ruin your friendship.

Just drop a couple of planning-type comments confirming that the tent will be big enough to have some space between your two sleeping bags, and you'll be fine.

As for your comment (I love cuddling and I don't care who it's with) -- how can that be true? Anyway, don't do it with him, or anything like it, because that's not your relationship.

On preview, yeah, the two-tent solution is practical and elegant.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:02 AM on August 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Oh I dunno. I think the assumptions that he's trying to lure you into a rape zone out in the woods is a bit overzealous. If you think he's the sort that would test your boundaries in any way without your consent, is trying to use being your friend as a method for getting close for more, or even if the thought of being alone with him creeps you out or gives you red flags then yeah maybe you shouldn't go. Maybe don't be his friend either? It's possible he likes you as a person and wants to spend time with you just as you do with him. Maybe if you are as close as you say you can have an earnest discussion of feelings and intent like adults. If you can't, eh, maybe cut this one loose.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:03 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: lure you into a rape zone out in the woods

I never mentioned being afraid he's going to rape me (?!?!?!?) I'm just trying to avoid an awkward situation between friends and let him preserve his dignity in case this is what he's expecting.
posted by winterportage at 9:06 AM on August 5, 2017 [43 favorites]

Also what JimN2TAW said. Sounds like he's being passive aggressive and maybe trying to get closer to you or test your friendship to see if there is more.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:08 AM on August 5, 2017

If you go - and I wouldn't, and I love camping - you must have your own way of leaving. 48 hours in the woods after a realization or stern overt statement of 'no, this is not a date' - is just going to be miserable. If you do go, separate tent, own way out, and no cuddling. This sounds like a guy who needs firm guidelines regarding expectations of friendship.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:09 AM on August 5, 2017 [12 favorites]

Best answer: As a dude who frequently invites people of all genders to go on one-on-one camping/hiking adventures (because camping and hiking are my preferred recreational activities and I am most comfortable in a one-on-one or very small group setting) I say call off the trip. You're uncomfortable, and that's all the reason you need. I hope none of the folks I invite think that I'm angling to make sexy times happen, but I totally know that this is A Thing and that it might be in the back of some people's minds.

Personally, I wouldn't even invite a woman on a one-on-one overnight until we'd been on a couple of day hikes or group trips together and had a chance to build some trust—specifically because of this issue. I worry that even just asking a woman with whom I don't already have a pretty solid wilderness rapport to go one-on-one camping with me would come off as skeezy. Hiking yes, camping no.

I can't speak to this guy's intentions, but your discomfort is totally understandable and you're not being crazy. It's definitely not out of the question that what you're worried about is exactly what this guy is hoping/planning for, and if you're uncomfortable going in then you're going to be uncomfortable the whole time. Even if his behavior ends up being totally irreproachable you're not going to have fun because you'll have this in the back of your mind the whole time. Camping should be fun.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:13 AM on August 5, 2017 [64 favorites]

We could all sit here all day trying to read his mind, but in the end it just doesn't matter. If you're uncomfortable in the slightest, Do Not Go. You don't need to overanalyze the reasons. You have no obligation to make yourself uncomfortable in any way.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:14 AM on August 5, 2017 [10 favorites]

I think it would be a bad idea unless you brought another (female) friend along. Camping alone is pretty intimate, I feel. So if you're not family, or dating, you'd have to be very close platonic friends.
posted by blackzinfandel at 9:16 AM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm just trying to avoid an awkward situation between friends and let him preserve his dignity in case this is what he's expecting.

Why ? If he's interested in you, then at some point that issue will come up and need to be confronted and awkwardness will ensue.

I'd suggest, though, that if you can't have a "this isn't a date, right?" talk with him, maybe you aren't such great friends, and that's really the problem. Good friends can be honest with each other. There's no shame in being clear about expectations.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I don't think you should go, but if you do, NO CUDDLING. Sweet Jeez O' Pete, that would be giving out some mixed signals, there.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2017 [23 favorites]

In case some humor might make it easier to communicate about this:

Tell him you're reconsidering the trip; the situation might be two tents. (get it? Too tense? Maybe you can do better...)

Seriously, I would go for the ungracefully frank but awkward, terrible, embarrassing conversation. At the end of it, you might be alienated from him, but possibly only for a short time. You'd know how mature he was and how he could handle stuff like this, and you might even know him well enough to set him up with a friend or help him find someone to date. At the very least, you'd get an idea of how it would be to be his friend -- if you're going to camp with someone for several days, there are going to be conversations.
posted by amtho at 9:46 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, I have gone on one-on-one camping trips with a male friend who I knew was into me.

I only went because our relationship was open enough that expectations were very clear; there was no question about the trip being between friends and not potential more-than-friends. We could talk about it. He knew nothing would ever happen, and could never happen, because I don't like men in that way.

I'd say "no" to this trip just on the basis that you have to ask what he's expecting. It will be awkward if this is always in the back of your mind (and possibly, his) even if neither of you does anything.

Also, w.r.t. preserving his dignity: It's not undignified to be into someone who's not into you. Unfortunate, but not undignified. If you approach a conversation about it with empathy and respect (and yet still firm boundaries) no one has to have their pride hurt. If he's the type of guy who would have his pride hurt because you're not into him--again, don't go.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:48 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

-- Or, should I let some cuddling happen but make it clear I'm not interested in more? (I love cuddling and I don't care who it's with)

Oof... Does he know that last bit? 'Cause there is a very real possibility that this guy genuinely thinks you're *already* in an honest-to-gosh relationship, and frankly I don't think he'd be entirely off-base for leaping to that conclusion. One person's "spending time outside of a group" is another's dating, especially if there's been cuddling involved.

At times I thought I might be interested in dating him, but I've changed my mind

You need to communicate this to him in no uncertain terms ASAP.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2017 [15 favorites]

Why ? If he's interested in you, then at some point that issue will come up and need to be confronted and awkwardness will ensue.

"At some point" does not have to include "when stuck together for 48 hours in the wilderness with no separate roofed spaces to retreat to."

From the way you've described this guy, I'd imagine he may not even have a clear idea in his mind as to what might happen, but he almost certainly nurses Vague Hopes. Either don't go, or mention in advance you'll be bringing your own tent.
posted by praemunire at 9:58 AM on August 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

In my younger days, I might have done something similar, as praemunire said, nursing Vague Hopes. A simple, straightforward explanation of your expectations and boundaries would clear my mind immensely.

However, I advise against Just Friends Cuddles. Too many mixed signals, and not really fair to hopeful pining people. Some people are mature enoughto handle friendly cuddling, but many aren't. And you sound mostly suure you don't want to fan any flames.
posted by Jacen at 10:32 AM on August 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Agreeing with others that the vague signals you're giving "as a friend" as likely to clash with his vague signals as a possible prospective boyfriend. At the risk of sounding harsher than I mean to (because I've had to learn to follow my own ensuing advice here...): "grow up" and learn to communicate directly about what you want.

Start by holding yourself accountable for the mixed signals in intimacy (e.g. "cuddling for fun") you already perceive as harmless in making towards others. How is what you're doing different than when guys string along girls with similar "empty" gestures that generate a false sense of closeness for the purpose of getting their own need met at the expense of the other?

(Again, sorry, this is still probably worded too harsh -- I don't sense you have bad intentions here at all. For the sake of others who read this question though, I will still post this hoping it's worth saying to improve dating awareness for others overall. Good luck with your situation!)
posted by human ecologist at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

You don't offer anything more than it is just the two of you going as your basis for your worry, so maybe you are totally projecting his feelings? You don't mention anything else he has done to express interest in you (cards, phone calls, texts, other hints or behavior). I think you, and others here, are making a really big leap about what his intentions are based on what little you've said.
If you don't want to go, don't, but like others have said, if you think this friendship is veering into territory you're not comfortable with, you need to deal with that separately. One thing I do to make sure guys know I'm not interested is treat them like a "girlfriend" - and tell them other guys I might be interested in and ask what his opinion is. "Oh my gosh, Jeff in accounting, so handsome, do you think I should pursue that?"
That is a definite signal to a guy that he is destined for the friend zone.
posted by NoraCharles at 10:46 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


-my 25 year old daughter
-my 23 year old daughter
-my 19 year old son.*

* I raised smart kids.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2017 [16 favorites]

I never mentioned being afraid he's going to rape me (?!?!?!?) I'm just trying to avoid an awkward situation between friends and let him preserve his dignity

I feel like it was construed that way to deliberately sound ridiculous/make the idea seem silly, but even though I understand you're not worried about that, it's not silly -- this is how people get boxed into unpleasant and unwanted sexual situations that they blame themselves for afterwards. You don't have to be afraid of a crime or of him in order to be afraid that it'll be so incredibly awkward to reject him that you end up saying Yes to something without wanting to. which is an awful experience and in some ways harder to talk about than an actual crime.

so I think just if you can't reconcile yourself to saying No to him directly, no matter the awkwardness and ideally in advance, back out of the trip to avoid the situation entirely, or else pressure him to invite a third person or unilaterally do it yourself.

and if you're worried about his dignity for god's sake don't tell him the cuddling wasn't personal because all warm bodies are the same and who it's with doesn't matter. it doesn't obligate you to anything and it doesn't mean he's reasonable if he thinks it made him your boyfriend. but jesus.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:30 AM on August 5, 2017 [24 favorites]

Is there any chance you're interested in him? He's extended an invitation, which I would recommend you cancel, but he's interested, and you may want to assess whether you have any interest in him.
posted by theora55 at 11:44 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh yes you should definitely call off the trip.

And for what it's worth, expect a declaration of romantic interest from him to follow pretty soon. I think you're going to get one and be relieved you cancelled.

What I'm saying is he wants you up on that mountain for other reasons than looking at the leaves.

And queenofbythinia put it perfectly. You could easily end up in a situation of not being attacked maybe, but have to put up with someone going "are you sure you don't want to take your clothes off? Please? Pleaaaaase? Just a little bit. Here. You don't like that? Why don't you like that?" That's never a good scene and you honestly don't know.
posted by benadryl at 12:29 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

So I am a person who hikes and backpacks with people of various genders and tbh never once have I gone on a camping or backpacking trip with just me and the guy where there weren't at least some vague hopes from the guy about something more happening. I learned after the first round or two that I just needed to be clear either way. So, if you have ruled out romance, say it. If you are wondering if he thinks this is a date, ask. If you want to share sleeping bags, ask what side his zips on.*

If you want to go as just friends, don't cuddle! and make it very clear ahead of time that you're bringing your own tent and are not romantically interested. I like jessamyn's sensible script for that.

*Reader: I married him.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:34 PM on August 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Well, the simplest and easiest solution is to cancel, certainly.

If you actually want to go camping, I would go for the awkward conversation. "I thought this was going to be a group thing. Now that I see otherwise, I need to make it clear that there are no romantic possibilities here. None at all. None. Still want to go?"

I think having a separate tent would be weird. Like going to a movie with somebody and not sitting with them. If you're uncomfortable enough to want your own tent, probably best to just cancel.

Other people make a good point about being stuck out there if things get awkward. A pretext for bringing your own car makes a lot more sense to me than your own tent.

For god's sake, don't cuddle with the guy. Cuddling with a lonely guy that you are definitely not interested in is just cruel. I know you don't mean it that way, but it is.
posted by mattu at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

Why don't you just ask him? If he's really a good friend, he'll understand your concerns.
posted by fritillary at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

-- Or, should I let some cuddling happen but make it clear I'm not interested in more? (I love cuddling and I don't care who it's with)

I can't believe I missed this.

So, I want to echo what someone else said upthread, before I continue: Cuddling with someone doesn't obligate them to more from you.

But you should be aware that it is normal for many (most, possibly) people to reserve cuddling for people that they are especially intimate with--family members, lovers, and sometimes very close friends. Cuddling with someone when desires/expectations aren't clear between you is a really, really bad idea.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:23 PM on August 5, 2017 [20 favorites]

Have you been cuddling with this person before? Because if so, the camping alone invitation makes more sense.
posted by Jubey at 2:41 PM on August 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

for all those saying go and just tell him not to expect sexy times, i'll just share that i did that very thing and was lucky to get away without being raped. when i reminded him of the boundary i had set before the trip, he said, You didn't think i really believed you, did you? that's just what women have to say.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 4:39 PM on August 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

You aren't comfortable, don't go. End of story. Tell him you thought it was a group thing and something at work popped up or whatever. No bigs.

I just want to chime in here for the awkward people of the universe that it shouldn't be weird or abnormal to invite someone you've spent significant time with on any sort of event or trip even if you are different genders.. like, some people don't have two friends who get along or it's just less anxiety to invite only one person. I feel like some of the comments are sorta harsh here.
posted by love2potato at 5:04 PM on August 5, 2017

For what it's worth I agree with love2potato in general but in the specific case of one-on-one camping trips, the experience described by probably not that Karen Blair just above is unfortunately pretty common. That's why as I said above I wouldn't invite a woman to a one-on-one camping trip unless there was already a lot of trust between us. I feel like she would probably be concerned that I might at very least put her in an awkward situation where she'd have to reject my advances, and that it could easily become really dangerous for her. She'd be right to be worried, unless she knew me well. It's a pretty legit concern, sad as I am to say it.

In a perfect world it would be totally fine for me to invite a woman to any activity that I might also invite a man to. We don't live in that world.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:28 PM on August 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, nononononononono, don't go. Trust your gut on this one.
posted by sarcasticah at 6:34 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Either set your clear expectations beforehand (not a date, separate tents, all that) or don't go. But for the everloving love of god, if you think he wants something more romantically/sexually, don't do cuddling. That is a one way ticket to the awkward situation you're trying to avoid.

And there's no way to have the 'I'm not interested' conversation without it being at least a little awkward.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 7:03 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please don't go. A tent in the woods is not a good place to have that "But do you LIKE-like me?" conversation.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:24 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

For both of your sakes, do not go. As a guy, if I was interested in you and invited you on a camping trip that was just us two, and we would be sleeping in the same tent(!), I would definitely be expecting at least the possibility of hooking up. Depending on the guy, he may handle being turned down by you stoically, OR, more likely, he may get sullen, angry, dramatic or who knows. Probably the latter since you say he has trouble finding dates.
Also, this whole "I thought I might be interested in him before, but I changed my mind" and "I might cuddle but I cuddle with anyone" attitude of yours is going to be really confusing for him and just won't end well.
posted by banishedimmortal at 10:15 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for you help everybody. Re: the cuddling thing. No, I've never cuddled this guy, and no I never cuddle people that Im not dating, and I would never initiate it. But if someone initiated there would be some situations in which I wouldn't stop them. Maybe just because I have slow reflexes and I would be trying to figure out in the moment whether it bothered me and would probably just let it go since human touch feels nice. Just to be clear for anyone reading,if you start cuddling someone and they don't tell you to stop, it doesn't mean they want a romantic connection with you or give you free reign to assume they want sex. It might mean they just like the feeling of closeness and cosiness. I've always appreciated the few times when men ask before touching me, because they are going out of their way to make sure they are respecting my agency and finding out if we're on the same page.. But very few guys I've ever been around have had the sense to do that. It would air be nice if they did though.
posted by winterportage at 11:38 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry that men not asking permission to touch you has been your experience and has become your expectation of normality, winterportage. For what it's worth, asking permission before touching someone—outside of certain stylized social contexts like shaking hands, and especially if the touch is of a type typically considered romantic or sexual—is fucking baseline-level, expected-minimum politeness. That so many guys don't do it doesn't make it less objectionable, it just means we have a huge problem in our society with how guys treat women.

Please believe that if someone initiates cuddling or similar with you without asking, you don't have to talk yourself into feeling good about it. If you're not on board, you're 100% within your rights to tell the dude to fuck right off. I mean I am a guy and personally, the mere fact of someone not asking would make me strongly inclined to tell the person to cut it the fuck out in very sharp, not-nice-at-all terms even if I had been kinda feeling them up to that point. There are certainly (although not as often as pop culture would have us believe) situations where there's a clear non-verbally-expressed mutual desire for contact and that's fine, but I feel like most people know those when they're in them.

Usually there's at least a sliver of doubt, and asking permission is not just "nice if it happens" but rather "one of the fundamental parts of being a decent person."
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:27 AM on August 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

> I never cuddle people that Im not dating, and I would never initiate it. But if someone initiated there would be some situations in which I wouldn't stop them. Maybe just because I have slow reflexes and I would be trying to figure out in the moment whether it bothered me

I encourage you to not be so passive. Maybe have a plan ahead of time: a mental list of who you would cuddle with and who you wouldn't. Or put the brakes on while you decide instead of letting things continue while you're not sure if you're enjoying it. Or don't cuddle with anyone.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:19 AM on August 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Don't go. Even if you do bring a second tent, he is still going to feel rejected. And I don't care how nice you think he is, if he's in the middle of nowhere feeling rejected, he my feel entitled to act out on that. In my experience, men do not deal well with rejection. You don't want to be managing his feelings out in the woods.
posted by domo at 1:19 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older More running shorts, please!   |   DC-Metro area traffic issues: who's blogging about... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.