Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I’m in high school, and I have a good friend who I met a couple of years ago. I’ve been through a lot with him, and we talk about everything. I mean, we’ve talked about each others’ crushes before and other random stuff pertaining to that too, so I didn’t think that he meant for our friendship to be anything more than friendship.
Then one day he told me he liked me, and I told him that I was okay with that, but that I didn’t feel the same.
I did this as politely as I could, I wasn’t mean or anything, and everything was okay afterwards for the next couple days. But now it seems he never wants to talk to me, and is always angry at me. I swear I did nothing to lead him on, no flirting, just talking or hanging out with our group of friends. I also haven’t done anything that could have made him mad at me not relating to that. Everything is my fault all the time, when he does speak to me it’s as if he’s losing his patience with me, and he makes these comments towards me all the time that are sarcastically mean.
It makes me mad right back that he’s been acting like this, and there’s never a point when I can call him out on being such a jerk. I’m afraid to talk to him in private about it because I don’t want to deal with him yelling at me. We’ve argued before and it gets pointless before the situation gets fixed. I just want to know the best way to talk to him about this.
Ooh! OOOOH! I'm gonna ask you to stop right there, Sparkler—and then, if you would, to return with me to the beginning of your third paragraph. Because right there, when you say that there's no way to call him out for being a jerk?
Dude! Of course there is! And it goes something like this:
"You've been really unpleasant to me for the past three weeks. Have I done something to upset you? Because if so, I wish you'd do me the courtesy of telling me directly instead of being sarcastic and unkind."
Which, for the record, is the best way to talk to any friend, family member, or significant other who's acting like a nasty-ass for no apparent reason.
But that's not really what you want to know, is it? You're not looking for the best way to talk to him, so much as the best way to talk him into treating you like a friend again. And that, I'm sorry to say, is an unanswerable question. Because let's be real: we both know why your friend is being so unfriendly, and alas, there is no magic phraseology that'll change the mind of a person who's determined to punish you for rejecting him. And while I can't tell you for sure what's going on his his head, unless he treats all his friends like this, one could make a reasonable guess that this guy saw his friendship with you not as a joy unto itself, but as a stepping stone to a romantic relationship—and that now, you're bearing the brunt of his bitterness over what he considers a wasted effort.
Which brings me to this: it's not in your power to change his behavior. He's going to do what he's doing, whatever his reasons for doing it. What you have control over is how you choose to react — by telling him you're not okay with it, and also, hopefully, by acknowledging that a friend who treats you unkindly, and whom you can't call out for it without getting yelled at, isn't much of a friend. I mean, you don't like the way this guy is treating you... but you won't say so, lest he treat you even worse? No! NOOOO! No, no, no. A relationship where you dread the other person's actions to the point of editing your own is a relationship that's become deeply unhealthy. You know this. I know you do.
And whether you talk to him or not, please understand this: things aren't going back to the way they were. Your friendship with this guy has become something other than what it was, and knowing that you're not a romantic prospect has changed the way he deals with you, for better or for worse. All you can do is decide if the new terms are to your liking, or not. And if not, to respond to any further nastiness with a polite exit... and maybe a not-so-polite suggestion as to where he can stuff his new attitude.
Have you ever had a friend reject your rejection by turning on you? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.