Do guys really mean "just be friends?"
August 22, 2008 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm in my early 20's and asked a guy in my cooking class to hang out via email. The guy said we could but added, "I want to be clear that if we do hang out it will only be as friends." Does this mean I am on the "would not hit it" list? An internet profile say's he's into girls, single and looking for "friendship."
posted by ShadePlant to Human Relations (49 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, that sounds pretty cut and dried to me.
posted by mattbucher at 11:40 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

He could not possibly have been clearer. He has no romantic interest in you.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:46 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree that he probably means what he said.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:47 AM on August 22, 2008

That would be my assumption. That, or the more self-esteem saving but less likely option that you yourself are fine but he is in love with someone else but not dating them due to distance or whatever. And frankly who knows - some people have really specific preferences in who they would 'hit' and cross people off the list over tiny things that are inconsequential to 99% of people. Try not to stress too much. :)
posted by gwenlister at 11:47 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

FYI, lest you take it to mean you're undesirable, it may also mean he is not up for dating, period. Either due to a bad breakup, unrequited love with someone else, fear/inexperience, complications in the rest of his life, etc.
posted by xo at 11:49 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, he only wants to be friends.

But as gwenlister and xo say, it's not necessarily about what list you are on. Maybe you're on the "I would hit this if I hadn't vowed to remain celibate until I enter the priesthood" list; you just can't know. But as for you and him, no chance.
posted by salvia at 11:49 AM on August 22, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, the actual phrasing was, "If we do hang out, it would be as friends. I hope this okay."
posted by ShadePlant at 11:51 AM on August 22, 2008

I'm all for trusting what people say about themselves. In terms of a "would not hit it list," that's a question about your ego--what he said is about the circumstances and not you personally. Circumstances are total killers.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:52 AM on August 22, 2008

That's not to say he wouldn't hit it, however.
posted by box at 11:53 AM on August 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

Hmm. Does your query mean you'd prefer to be on his "I'd tap that" list? What would your intentions be if he hadn't been so straightforward in his response?

While I agree with the "He has no romantic interest in you" sentiment, I think it's taking it a bit far to go from "This guy in my cooking class isn't interested in anything beyond being friends" to "I'm not sexually/physically attractive." (But I could be reading too much into what you've written here.)

As for the "Do guys really mean it when they say they only want to be friends" bit: everyone means what they say, up until the moment they don't.

Okay, minus the snark: not to represent all men, but in my opinion, yes. Take him at his word, don't try pushing the envelope, enjoy whatever happens next.
posted by t2urner at 11:57 AM on August 22, 2008

If a girl proposed "hanging out via email" to me I would recognize it as the girl pre-emptively keeping it kind of standoffish. Most likely I would not have any further interest unless we already had something in common worth keeping an actual friendship over.
posted by crapmatic at 11:59 AM on August 22, 2008

Response by poster: I asked the question specifically about a guy saying "let's be friends" because google is full of anecdotes about girls saying "let's be friends." I was curious about what significance (if any beyond the obvious) that it might have for men.
posted by ShadePlant at 12:01 PM on August 22, 2008

(also "single and looking for friendship" doesn't really mean much... that's what I'd post if I was wanting to date, anything more could give the air that one is desperate or playing the field)
posted by crapmatic at 12:01 PM on August 22, 2008

Response by poster: And I asked him via email to hang out IRL, not hang out "on the intertubes." /\ . /\
posted by ShadePlant at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2008

It's not entirely impossible he's making some hamfisted, ill-advised attempt at playing hard to get (along the lines of "If you're interested in her, don't call her back,") but it's far more probable that he means just what he says.
posted by contraption at 12:03 PM on August 22, 2008

xo has it right: There are many reasons for not dating - might not be anything to do with you.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:08 PM on August 22, 2008

Why don't you ask him? What a waste of time to be wondering. Either find out or stop caring, stop wasting your time.
posted by vermontlife at 12:13 PM on August 22, 2008

I think it's been implied, but I'll say it: You may be on his "do not date" list, but the odds are pretty good you're still on his hitable list. Probably nothing to take personaly, sounds like he's got other things going on.
posted by piedmont at 12:14 PM on August 22, 2008

For guys, friendship only means no relationship, but it does not necessarily mean no sex.
posted by randomstriker at 12:23 PM on August 22, 2008 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry I worded things poorly but randomstriker answered the question very succinctly. That's exactly the clarification I was looking for.
posted by ShadePlant at 12:26 PM on August 22, 2008

Note that "guys" are not monolothic, and that for a great many a "friend" is indeed someone they specifically do not intend to have a sexual relationship with.
posted by contraption at 12:31 PM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

I ran it through Google Translate and came up with this, "Hey notice how given the choice between dating and friendship I specifically excluded dating? And notice how in the e-mail that I specifically said that I only want to be friends with you? Yeah I know you noticed because you're a girl and you're not like guys where we kind of assume that anything but a rape whistle means no. But seriously, I might want to date you and I might want to have sex with you. Who knows, but right now I don't want a relationship. There could be a bazillion reasons for this, including that I'm already kind of seeing a girl in a non exclusive way. Or perhaps I want to do things and not include a girlfriend in everything I do and want some independence. In any case if you're looking for someone who is going to drop everything to be with you, or not go to that concert because it is your best friend's birthday, you're looking at the wrong guy. Also if it is obvious that you really want to date but are just playing the friend thing, yeah I'll notice and kind of look down upon you. If you're cool and interesting and aren't crazy, yeah sure I'd love to hang out. And it isn't like I'm a fucking priest, I'm not celibate for life, I'm just not interested in dating as of right now. Also please don't get freaked out of I end up dating someone who is not you. Remember when I said I was just looking for a friend. Thanks"
posted by geoff. at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

Although this would be an incredibly rare approach to getting sex.
posted by scarabic at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Or maybe not... It seems to have increased his importance considerably.
posted by scarabic at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

randomstriker has it. it's the best generalization and the most useful as well.
posted by Stynxno at 12:40 PM on August 22, 2008

contraption, hence my inclusion of the *not necessarily* clause.
posted by randomstriker at 12:43 PM on August 22, 2008

I think you're clearly on the "do not hit it list," but more importantly to me would be the somewhat degrading way in which he mentions this. I mean, is it so rare to want to hang out with someone for its own sake that one has to dispel any chances of romance or sex before even once hanging out? It comes across as such egotistical behavior that I wouldn't hang out with the guy because of it, even (or maybe especially) if I'd never had an ulterior motive to begin with. Honesty's a great thing, but it is easily nullified by gross presumption.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:46 PM on August 22, 2008 [10 favorites]

Yep, he just wants to be your friend. But, if he's willing to hang out with you, it sounds like he's actually interested in being your friend. "Let's just be friends" can sometimes be code for "I'm not interested in you but I don't want any beef with you," but that's usually in the context of after the first date and before the awkward not-calling-again.

This says absolutely nothing about your attractiveness, if that is a concern of yours. It doesn't say anything about whether or not he'd Hit That, and in fact your presence on any Would Not Hit lists doesn't really say anything about your attractiveness.

Unless you can't imagine or don't want a platonic relationship with him, is there any harm in becoming his friend? Platonic straight guy friends are great.

Generally in relationship matters, it's best to take things like this at face value, and to communicate clearly and succinctly, in block letters. Not everyone communicates that way, so it's not foolproof, but assuming friendship until you hear "HEY DO YOU WANT TO DATE" is quite a bit less stressful than reading too much into clues that aren't really there.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:47 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

80% chance this means he's currently dating someone else, and wanted to make sure you didn't have false expectations. 20% chance he's not currently dating someone else, but isn't physically or emotionally attracted to you.

The odds that randomstriker is correct depends on the guy's age: roughly 100% if the guy is 18, with the probability declining each year, approaching zero somewhere in the 30s.

This comment brought to you by the power of Math!
posted by ook at 12:49 PM on August 22, 2008

ook, I'd venture that the probability of single men being players PEAKS with those in their 30s. More often than not, they are lotharios. They've honed their skills, they've become comfortable with themselves, and they've sorted out their moral qualms (or lack thereof). Obviously kids and family are not happening, so what else are they gonna do besides go out and play mindgames on unsuspecting young damsels?

Dee Xtrovert, the guy is not being presumptious at all if you go by social convention. For most people -- platonic friends of the opposite sex hang out primarily in groups. One-on-one hangout sessions are clearly a prelude to romance or sex. Now if you want to discuss how the other half of the population functions, the half that thinks independently and defies social convention....well then any discussion is just a cataloguing excercise.
posted by randomstriker at 1:04 PM on August 22, 2008

I applaud the guy for being frank.
posted by Ponderance at 1:05 PM on August 22, 2008

randomstriker, I guess we know different kinds of 30-year-olds. Fair enough, though; means my math is off in any case.
posted by ook at 1:10 PM on August 22, 2008

Response by poster: It is cool that he was that candid but I was kind of hoping that it didn't mean what it apparently means. I was wondering if "let's be friends" was secret, generalized guy-speak for something else.
posted by ShadePlant at 2:10 PM on August 22, 2008

I am going to be cranky and say that if he is being this blunt that you, Shadeplant, accept it and actually enjoy his company. Please do not askmefi about whether you can change him, or if you two start hitting it does it mean you're in a relationship or any of the one sided situations that are too familiar on the green. Take the man at his word. It is a great pleasure to be with someone and not have to worry about the subtext.
posted by jadepearl at 2:38 PM on August 22, 2008

I'm with 23skidoo. To me, "I'm not looking for anything serious right now" and "We'll just hang out as friends" have two different connotations. The former means he'd be quite happy to get jiggy with it but doesn't want a relationship. The latter means he's not interested in sex at this time, whether for lack of physical attraction or being in a relationship already or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on August 22, 2008

My take is that if any guy specifically says "it would be as friends", he's frankly saying he does not want to have sex with you. If he said something more along the lines of "We can hang out, but I'm not interested in a relationship. I hope this okay.", then he's pretty much leaving the door open for sex, and may even be saying that he's open to a "friends with benefits" type relationship.

I would hesitate to guess (based only on what you've told us) that he realizes that you are interested in more and wants to nip that idea in the bud. But he's also not a jerk who would not hang out with you unless it meant sleeping with you.

If he liked you "that way" and he was holding off on relationships for some other reason (just broke up, celibate, whatever), I think he would have left the door open for sex in the future. This could come across as "I'm not ready for a relationship now" or "just so you know, I have a girlfriend".

You can look at this as "not on the hit list" or "nice to have it cleared up before any misconceptions and awkward meetings".
posted by qwip at 2:53 PM on August 22, 2008

I think he wanted to let you know that he would be interested in hanging out as friends, but that he did not want to go on anything that might be construed as a date with you.

It sounds like this is disappointing to you, but there are many other fish in the sea.

Also, he may be a bit awkward with the social niceties.

In any case, I'm sure you're on the "would like to date" list of many other folks. Perhaps this guy only likes amputees or something (or if you're an amputee, perhaps he only likes women with shaved heads or something). Someone not being into you makes no statement about anything other than that person not being into you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:20 PM on August 22, 2008

This guy maybe wrote a question on AskMetafilter: "I really prefer not to get into a relationship right now. But for some reason, every interesting, fun female that I want to be friends with ends up wanting to be my girlfriend. And I'[m not even hot! What should I do?" He got 57 answers that were all over the map, and was no wiser than before.

I think he just doesn't really know how to deal with certain sensitive issues. But I give him credit for erring on the side of openness.
posted by wryly at 3:54 PM on August 22, 2008

randomstriker: "For guys, friendship only means no relationship, but it does not necessarily mean no sex."
ShadePlant: "Sorry I worded things poorly but randomstriker answered the question very succinctly. That's exactly the clarification I was looking for."

Perhaps I could clarify randomstriker's generalisation.

For some guys "friendship only" does not necessarily mean no sex. For other guys, "friendship only" does necessarily mean no sex.

Which of these cases applies to the guy you're talking about can best be found out by talking to him. However, for reasons 23skidoo has succinctly summarised, I wouldn't get your hopes up if I were you.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:13 PM on August 22, 2008

Another broad generalization here:

Men tend to say what they mean. When he says "just as friends," he means just as friends, as in, not to date, not to drunkenly hook up with, etc.

If you were hoping for something else, don't waste your time.
posted by emd3737 at 4:15 PM on August 22, 2008

Because the friend word was thrown out so early, I would say there is a very good chance he is putting you on his do not hit list.
posted by El_Marto at 4:34 PM on August 22, 2008

If you were asking him out on a date and don't want to hang out with him as a friend, don't do so. Hanging out with someone and pretending to be their friend in the hope that they might change their mind and decide to date and/or fuck you is almost always a way to make yourself crazy to no good end.

And, yes, someone will post to this thread and say "But that was what happened with me and my wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/sweet babboo."

Well, my Uncle Dick was struck by lightning twice and it didn't kill him, but I wouldn't recommend that anyone else stand under a tall tree in an electrical storm.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:56 PM on August 22, 2008

Best answer: I was wondering if "let's be friends" was secret, generalized guy-speak for something else.

There is no secret generalized guy-speak for anything. Don't waste your time pursuing this guy.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:25 PM on August 22, 2008

It could be a backdoor attempt at making sure there is no pressure. Not backdoor as in he wants to put it in your butt but "if we are hanging out as friends if something happens, great. If not, that is OK too."
posted by Silvertree at 7:02 PM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Not backdoor as in he wants to put it in your butt but

I've never had the opportunity to jutxapose "butt" and "but."

"Hey buddy! Watch where you're trying to put that conjuction!"
posted by ShadePlant at 7:30 PM on August 22, 2008

As the single guy in his thirties, I feel somewhat slandered by some of this advice upthread ;). Some of it is true though...

But here is my veteran advice. I have learned as a 30-something single guy... young damsels such as the original poster often seduce themselves before the man does much of anything, and the male role in that situation is just to stay in proximity. I've found that once you have certain women talking about something that makes her happy and interested, she doesn't ask many other questions and fills the gaps in her knowledge with good things.

A variation of this is happening here... he is trying to say he's too not interested in you romantically in not-so-many-words and you are filling in the blanks with something else.... but its a clear message. Now if you put him in the situation where you happen to go "okay we'll be friends, but oops what happened to my clothes?" and find out that he is sexually attracted to you, you don't have much recourse to be hurt if he gets weird about it afterwards - the young man will think he was upfront with you at the start.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:27 PM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

It strikes me as a bit off that he wants to say that so early on. Kinda like someone constantly referring to 'my girlfriend' in conversation when all you are is asking them is the time.
posted by mippy at 4:05 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can always try the direct approach:

"Oh, that's fine. If you're wanting some worry-free, no-strings-attached sex, I'm game, but otherwise, it might just be fun to hang out."

I guarantee he'll respond with exactly how he feels on that. And/or be astonished.

I mean, worst to worst, who cares? And being a bit "out there" can be thrilling, really.
posted by disillusioned at 3:45 AM on August 25, 2008

Response by poster: Hah. Disillusioned has provided me with the best facebook message comeback ever. Plus after listening to you all and thinking about it more objectively, I don't think I even want to go out with the guy at all!
posted by ShadePlant at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

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