How do I tell him I only want to be friends?

I have a male friend I’ve known for about 10 years now. We went to college together, lost touch for a few years, then reconnected through Facebook about a year ago when it turned out that we live in the same city and work in the same field.

Since then, we’ve become pretty close and I have really grown to value his friendship. We’ve worked together now on a few projects through our respective companies (we’re in the same field, but work for different companies).

We met up for a work happy hour two weeks ago and I had a fun time catching up with him, but he made some comments that now have me thinking he’s interested in something more. I should probably add that this is the first time since we’ve known each other that we’ve both been single at the same time, so the question of interest has never come up before.

But here’s the thing…I don’t think I’m willing to risk our friendship right now. I do think we could work well together, but there are a few things about him that make me kind of hesitant to think we could ever work out in the long term. That’s not to say that I would rule him out completely, but it just has me thinking that I’d rather not pursue anything.

Well, today he invited me out to go salsa dancing with him, and that feels kind of like a date to me. But who knows? Maybe he does see it as a friend thing. So, I’m not sure how to handle it at this point. Should I say something from the getgo and tell him I’m only interested in being friends? I don’t want to assume anything, since he still may not be romantically interested at all. But all the same, I don’t want to get into an awkward situation.

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3 thoughts on “How do I tell him I only want to be friends?

  1. Dennis Hong says:

    [I feel like you might be jumping the gun a bit here, since you’re not completely sure he’s interested. On the other hand, even if you’re 100% sure, I don’t think confronting him is going to do any good….

    An ex-girlfriend of mine had the perfect term for what your friend might be doing. She calls it a “sneak-a-date.” Basically, it’s where a guy will kind-of-sort-of ask a girl out, but leave it vague enough so that it could be a date or it could not be a date. In this way, the guy can gauge a girl’s interest without risking rejection.

    It sounds like that’s what your friend might be doing here, but unfortunately (for you), there really isn’t a solution. If you confront him, he can easily back off and say, “Whoa, I just thought you might like to try salsa dancing.” And then you’ll look like the presumptuous one.

    So, I’d say to just keep quiet about this and play ignorant. Go along as though it’s a totally platonic thing (which it is for you, anyway), and if it does get awkward… well, at least take solace in the fact that it will probably be way more awkward for him than for you.

  2. EricaSwagger says:

    [I feel like “I don’t think I’m willing to risk our friendship right now” is just a nice way of saying you’re not interested. You’re either attracted to someone or you’re not, and even talking hypothetically, you say you could work well but not long term. Just own it — You aren’t interested. If it grows into something later, that’s great, but right now you’re not interested. Don’t sugarcoat it with yourself or with him.

    I don’t think you should just come out and tell him you just want to be friends, because it’s kind of presumptuous and I’m all about self-preservation. Yes, he did ask you to go dancing which does sound like a date, but assuming as much could be awkward if you’re wrong.

    I think a better way to go about it is say something like “Salsa dancing sounds fun but might be a little too intimate(/sexy/romantic/etc) for friends hahah, maybe we could go to a comedy club instead.” Laugh it off and don’t get too serious, but definitely be clear in mentioning the word FRIENDS. Be lighthearted about saying no, and establish that you still want to spend time with him by suggesting something else.

    If he’s a smart guy he’ll get it.

  3. C.Munro says:

    [1. Rule him out completely. You’re not interested.

    2. Don’t say or do things that are inconsistent with friendship. If he asks you to do things that feel ambiguous, just say, “No, thanks.” You don’t need to offer any explanation beyond that.

    3. If he brings up the issue, simply tell him you’re not interested in anything but a friendship.

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