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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » How to let someone down gently?

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Author Topic: How to let someone down gently?
dylan19
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I am looking for some advice that I think is a very common problem. I have been out several times with my friend and my cousin, to cafes, restaurants and bars..and also my cousins friend. She makes flirty comments with me, makes sexual references in a joky way and gets close to me physically, I think trying to get things to 'lead in a direction'.She is nice enough looking and seems an ok person but I dont feel a connection to her and I dont feel any sexual interest for her. My Friend was hassling me for not 'taking her'..ok not a biggie I can argue with him or just ignore his comments. The issue is, I am not sure if there is a best way to play this out? I feel like I have been rude so far, avoiding eye contact, giving the cold shoulder, cutting off my reactions and trying in any way to discourage a feeling than i am 'returning the vibe'. I do not really know this girl very well at all, so it seems having a 'heart to heart' would be too heavy. I dont want to lose this little group of friends, its the only social circle I have right now, but it seems that this lady is a part of it that will stay no matter what...so what can I do??
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Sam W
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Hi Dylan,

So, in this instance, unless she explicitly asks you something ("want to go out/make out/get coffee"), I would say continue to treat her in a friendly manner (or at least a polite one, depending on how close you two are as friends). If anything she's doing is making you uncomfortable, you can say something along the lines of "hey, could you not do x?" It sounds like you're not 100% in to how she's behaving around you (which is okay, you get to have boundaries and preferences). Am I reading that right?

If she does get more explicit, then the simplest direct route is likely the best. You can say some variation on "I'm sorry, but I don't really feel the same way." or "no, I don't want to. Thanks though."

Also, I would continue not lending weight to the opinions of the friend you mentioned. As we've discussed elsewhere, some of the folks in this friend group don't have the greatest views on dating/women.

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dylan19
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'I would say continue to treat her in a friendly manner' I would like to be able to do this without leading her on or giving her false hope etc
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Karybu
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I'm not sure why you're assuming that simply being polite or friendly - in the same way that you'd act towards anyone else you don't know particularly well - would be 'leading her on'. Men and women can interact in a friendly way, and do all the time, without any romantic/sexual interest being presumed by anyone. People of different genders acting friendly towards each other isn't always an attempt to demonstrate sexual or romantic interest.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Heather
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In a word, being kind to someone is not an agreement to any kind of relationship, nor the suggestion of any sort of specific interest. It is just common courtesy.

I think, Dylan, it is a good thing you find yourself in this spot, honestly. Perhaps it can help you see that people not sharing or wanting to continue a romantic or sexual interaction with you are probably feeling the same way you are here - just not interested, rather than making some sort of indictment of your worth or character. Too, perhaps you can see different ways of coming to taking a pass on dating someone, and doing so kindly, and do better witht hat than it sounds oike a couple of folks you have had interest in have. [Smile]

[ 06-23-2014, 09:36 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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dylan19
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I would be interested if any straight men no the forum had experienced the anxiety of being polite, engaging, friendly etc towards another person who was interested in them, the anxiety that this person may take this as a 'sign' and attempt to escalate and the dread of the guilt of this, and feeling its going to be difficult to upset them and break the bad news. Maybe guys feel more guilt?
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Heather
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I can tell you with absolute certainty that feeling bad about someone liking you in a given way you don't like them back, or wanting something from you you do not give is not unique to any one gender or orientation. People of all genders and orientations have experienced feeling this way.

But again, it's not on you to somehow only interact with someone in ways they interpret, always, as you mean them. We cannot control how people interpret our words and actions besides doing our best to be clear in what we are communicating to them.

Treating a person with kindness rather than cruelty does not communicate that we have a specific kind of interest in them, only that we think of them as human beings worthy of kindness. If you want to be clear you don't share a romantic or sexual interest in someone, the way to make that clear isn't treating them poorly, it's letting them know, clearly, with your words, you don't share that interest.

And any of us can say something like, "Hey, I feel like you're flirting with me, but I just am not interested," kindly and politely. If we do and someone doesn't or won't hear us in that, then we may need to do things like ask them to please stop flirting with us, but again, we can do any of this stuff with kindness.

If you feel bad about not sharing interest in someone else, that's something you can work on. I suspect what's happening here is less guilt than it is empathy: you've felt bad when you had an interest in someone they have not shared or wanted to continue. So, you feel bad being that other person, knowing the person on this other side may be feeling like you have. And probably they are: it's a bummer when that happens. But it also is not something anyone can control or somehow manage to avoid. The best we can do is just be kind to each other, even when that's happening.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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dylan19
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Hello Heather,

Once again thank you for taking the time of your day to give a good response. I was trying to think why do I have this rigid idea? That people are trying look for 'hopeful signs' etc. But I think my fear of not being able to handle the situation is coming from a rich background of influences. I am not from a religious family but the family had religious-style approach. Very authoritarian father, strict power difference between kids and adults..so much so that even our choice of music or TV or friends or anything else criticised a lot. Also, a few experiences I had that maybe did not help. When I was about 15, my friends and this other girl, her friends gathered in a circle and forced us to kiss, and not just for a moment. I knew this from before was interested in me, and I thought she looked cute but did not know anything about her. But I felt just horrible during and after and I never saw her again, and never wanted to..because I had been creeped out by being pressured into doing something that I wasnt sure I was comfortable with yet.It makes me feel ill still thinking about it. Maybe im haunted by things being 'out of my control'

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Volunteer Ruth
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I'm sorry that you had that experience when you were 15 - I can understand why you had felt creeped out and horrible, being forced to do things is incredibly unpleasant and you have every right to feel the way you do.

Maybe it is that you're uncomfortable with things being beyond your control - that's a very fair thing to be uncomfortable with, and many people are, and our upbringing and experiences can often affect how we approach things. However, with your perceived inability to handle the situation, the only thing you need to do handle it (to reiterate what Heather said) is just to be kind and respectful to one another.

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Heather
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I wonder, too, if it might help to remind you that you have the right to hold your own lines, even if someone else wishes they were not your lines.

In other words, you can decline interest from others in you that you do not share with kindness, and if, for any reason, they do not respect that, that is on them, not you.

By all means, if they way they respond to that is not kind - like pushing you to be involved with them in a way you do not want - then you may need to be more firm with them, or just get away from them, period.

There is, I think, something about really knowing, in our own guts, that no one is entitled to a kind of attention from us we do not want to give that does tend to telegraph itself well with most people without us often even needing to say anything about it. It is an air of assertiveness, basically, that will tend to shine through. So, even in the event that you run unto someone who thinks you kindly refusing advances with them, rather than being cruel in some way, means you are a pushover, or that they can keep pushing you? You can simply be very clear it does not.

But you probably will not have to. A plain old "Sorry, not interested," does tend to land well with most folks, and most will not want to pursue someone who has told them that is not what they want.

And if some of this is about being in peer circles where you feel unsupported, or have fears you will be pressured again? Then the best answer there is to pay attention to that feeling and start creating different social circles where you DO feel supported, okay?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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IOW, this seems, as other things have in the past, to have a lot more to do with the friend hassling you than with this girl or how you respond to her. It seems to me it is really this friend you are having issues with, and this friend you may need to remind about your boundaries.

If you are feeling like crappy friends is better than none at all? I would personally beg to differ. But we do not even have to go there, because you do have the capacity to seek out and create new friendships. It is not like you have no choice but to only have friends who are crap.

[ 07-03-2014, 09:40 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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dylan19
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Thanks.I am reminded of every time I go to a work party there is a lady there from my floor who keeps slapping me on the back and dragging me to the bar, and then pressuring me into drinking shots so she can....try to get me to be with her in a sexual sense....im totally not interested but your advice might help give me the confidence next time to be more firm.She put so much pressure on me. I am not boasting or bragging, I am a good looking guy, more than average and im well aware of what that means. People think you should be so happy to get lots of attention, but the majority of attention is from people you are not interested in and you get to see your friends try really hard to hold others attention whereas you can get it 'for free' Which just makes you feel guilty. Sorry I went off on a tangent. I will think about what you said about friendships.
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Heather
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Doesn't sound like a tangent to me, sounds awfully related. And everything you said? Agree with you. This is also the broad experience of women all over the world, pretty much all the time. You are right, it is very much not okay.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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