Question:

I have been friends for two years with a guy I volunteer with in the community. I told him (in a roundabout way) that I wanted to be more than friends. He then avoided me for almost two weeks and said he's more interested in developing himself as a person.

When he told me this, I accepted that he just wanted to be friends. But now, he seems to avoid me or approach me with kid gloves. Do I let him continue to treat me this way until he sees from my behavior that I'm not devastated by his lack of romantic interest?

Answer:

If his interest in "developing himself as a person" didn't completely stanch your ardor, then surely the follow-up dance of adolescent avoidance did. Maybe this guy is a stealth-relationship genius.

Yeah, OK. He's probably trying to be sensitive to your feelings, by being careful not to "encourage you" or "send the wrong message" (picture these as air quotes). But treating your feelings as if they might be contagious "sends the wrong message" of a different sort.

If I take your version of events at face value, I think it would be perfectly appropriate to say, in a non-roundabout way, "I'm OK. If you're tiptoeing around me, you really don't need to." Real quotes here, not air.

If, on the other hand, you either overstated your status as his friend, or understated the aggressiveness of your romantic pitch (for a roundabout proposition, you did get a pretty straight answer) - then maybe his avoidance dance is the kinder alternative to his saying, "Please leave me alone."

If you have any reason to believe that's the case, or if you don't know what to believe, your plan to go merrily (but not forcedly) about your business is the safest bet either way.

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