There are so many questions we have as young people about relationships, dating, being “just friends” with the opposite sex, and so much more. For the next weeks, we’re going to dive into what I have titled “50 Practical Do’s and Don’t for Relationships.” Will this take 50 weeks? I’m not sure. For now, please read with an open heart and a perspective to learn, comment, discuss, and grow.
If there is any doubt on where you two stand, clarify. Nothing can ruin a friendship like undeclared interest or miscommunication. In most friendships, this clarification may not be necessary but if the two of you spend an extensive amount of time one-on-one, if rumors start going around about the two of you dating, or if you start receiving questions about the status of your friendship, take the time to clarify with each other. This may seem like a hard or potentially awkward idea, but taking a little time to look at your relationship will help you assess where you really are. Perhaps you two need to become an official couple, or perhaps you need to reevaluate your time spent together in order to make a more appropriate adjustment.
Clarification between you two may be as simple as saying, “So, So-and-so asks me the most ironic thing yesterday. He asked me if there was something going on between you and I.” “And you said?” “Well, no … of course… because we’re not dating or anything. I guess I was just wondering how you would have responded if you were asked. Where do you see us as friends?”
Realize that by the time one of you has heard the rumors, the other has probably heard them as well. Un-clarified friendship in the midst of rumors makes it awkward for both parties, so “embrace the awkwardness” and rid your friendship of it.
Guys, if she has heard the rumors and she’s not backing off, then there’s a very good chance she is interested. In that case, if you are interested, clarification will most likely lead to a relationship or at least in that direction. If you’re not interested, then clarification will help save your friendship when you do ask out the girl you really like. This leads to the girl’s responsibility.
Girls, if you’re hearing the rumors or getting asked about where you and your guy friend stand in your friendship and you know you’d say no if he asked, then slowly back off and stop giving others and perhaps him, the wrong idea. A good friendship with a guy is a wonderful thing … until you break his heart. By backing off slowly, you are telling him non-verbally that you’ve heard the rumors and you were not thinking of your friendship in a romantic manner. Realize that if you don’t back off, you are essentially telling him that he has a chance at winning your heart.
Backing off may mean inviting a girlfriend to join you two if you’re planning on doing something that would normally be one-on-one. It may be shortening your phone/texting/instant message conversations gradually from 45 minutes every night down to only talking once every other night for a few minutes to catch up on each other’s day. It should include refraining from teasing, any physical contact, or anything that could encourage the rumors or communicate that you would like to take your friendship to a deeper level.
If you’ll notice, I’ve used two key words in discussing the girl’s responsibility in dealing with rumors: “slowly” and “gradually.” It’s a woman’s tendency to back off very quickly – to make sure he knows how you feel – but that is one of the most hurtful and friendship-damaging things you could do. Definitely, continuing to lead him on to think there’s a possibility of your progressing from friends into a relationship is a wrong and hurtful action; but you can just as easily make him understand your lack of romantic interest without rubbing his face in the fact.
By backing off slowly, you are showing him that you still value his friendship but you are not dependent on being or communicating with him daily, that you are independent of him, and that he is not needed as your only friend and knight-in-shining-armor.
Do not show him your lack of interest by flirting with another guy in front of him. Remember that up to this point, things have been undeclared between you two. You have given others the idea that there was possibly a relationship forming and he has definitely thought over the issue. Your flirting with another guys shows a selfish, disinterest in the friendship the two of you do share despite a lack of romantic possibilities.
What happens if you don’t back off? As has been previously stated, by not backing off, you are giving him the go-ahead. You are telling him to try for your heart. Think about the rumors. Other people are thinking you two are together or are soon-to-be. Obviously that rumor has not been based off only his actions but also your responses to him and the time and commitment your friendship displays. If you are not interested and continue to play with him as if you are, you are selfishly saying that you would rather enjoy the interest he is showing you than guard his heart from being broken. If that is so, you are too self-centered and undeserving of the love he would offer.