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Ask Jono: How To Let a Guy Down Gently

Ask Jono: How To Let a Guy Down Gently

Dear Jono,

I have a problem! You see... there's this guy. He happens to be in three of my classes during the day, and we've sort of talked a couple of times, not about anything serious but just, ya know, Star Wars and Doctor Who, no big deal.

That was pretty much the extent of our interaction, then he randomly asked me to go with him to the Winter Dance. I was a little freaked out because, it was really, REALLY out of the blue, I mean, I'd only talked to him twice! I really wasn't planning on going anyways, so I fell back on the old "Oh sorry, my parents would rather me not go to the dance!" :/

Since then, he's been saying hi to me EVERY time I pass him in the hallways and when I get to class he's CONSTANTLY trying to start a conversation with me, even when I'm already in the middle of one! Honestly, I don't know what to do! He's nice and pretty much a genius, but he's starting to freak me out a bit. He hasn't outright said that he's interested, but he's ALWAYS looking at me in class and offering to let me copy his homework and review sheets (which he guards like MORDOR! :[ ). I'm starting to think he wants to be more than casual friends, but I'm just not interested in a relationship.

He's very persistent, and I've been trying to get the point across that I'm NOT interested for nearly a MONTH now, but for a genius he's a little thick. I hate ignoring him and giving monosyllabic answers to his questions, it makes me feel like a bad person, but he's starting to become quite annoying! How can I let him know that I'm definitely not interested in a relationship, without hurting his feelings? Is that even possible?!? Please help!!!!!

Oh boy. Of course he wants to be more than casual friends, and your Ignoring The Guy approach probably won't work on him. Normally, I think this is a totally viable strategy, if a little bit cowardly (but I once told a girl I had to go meet my girlfriend and then walked across the room and stared off into space, so cowardice is not unfamiliar ground for me). But this guy is trying to express his interest in a way that I have recommended. If he's thinking like me, he's too dense to take a hint. You're probably going to have to be painfully direct with him.

For the record, here are some approaches for establishing that you're not interested (including the one that's currently failing for you).

Ignoring The Guy/Giving Monosyllabic Answers
Examples: "Yes."
"I can't hear you because I am really paying attention to this bird outside for some reason."
Pro: It's non-confrontational. If you're shy, this method means never having to reject some poor schmuck directly. You can just keep acting cold, or humming and looking out the window, until he takes the hint, instead of having to go "NO. BAD," and smacking him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
Con: There's a high risk of failure with really derpy guys, which covers roughly all high school guys. The guy may very well just keep yakking away as you hum to yourself louder and louder, until soon you're going "hmm hmm HMM HMMMM" and he's going "BLAH BLAH LOL," and the two of you are completely ridiculous, and nothing is ever solved.

Examples: "I have a space boyfriend."
"I am only romantically attracted to robots."
"I can't date right now because my space boyfriend was abducted by robots."
Pro: It's an easy method, if you have no scruples. It has a higher rate of success than telegraphed indifference, and doesn't imply that the person you're rejecting sucks and is bad. This method also serves as a good quick out if you find yourself backed into a corner.
Con: Well, lies are
lies. You could argue that lying to spare someone's feelings is okay, but in this case you're only lying because you're trying to avoid doing the right thing, which is usually being direct. Besides, if you rely on this strategy too much, eventually you will be caught up in your own web of lies, when your space boyfriend returns home and is like "I defeated the robots!" and you're like "Well I'm dating Jeremy now," and he's like, "Noooo."

Feigning Interest In Someone Else
Examples: "Wow, look at Someone Else over there! He is so dreamy, I love how he... has... arms."
Pro: You can set this up so it's not technically a lie, just an extremely misleading truth. Also, it can't really be argued with; if you say "I love that boy over there," your problem gentleman can't be like, "No you don't!"
Con: It won't necessarily work
if the guy just believes that he can win you over anyway. All he has to do (he may conclude) is bug you even more, and badger you more incessantly, and look up more animal verbs to employ against you.

Being Direct
Examples: "I do not like you that way."
"I do not like you in any ways."
"I do like you! Smiley faaaace! You are a great person. I'm just not interested in you that way, and think we should just be good friends."
Pro: The last example is the best way to do to spare the guy's feelings (but use something more direct if you're dealing with a creepypants). Look, no rejection ever feels nice; even the nicest rejection is sort of like if someone lets his dog poop on your carpet and then calmly lays a dollar bill next to it. But this way, you at least leave the dude with something positive, so he can think to himself, "Oh, I'm not a literal blob of failure, she just doesn't want to date me."
Con: It's not the easiest thing to do. Also, if you do it too nicely, it might not take, and he'll think it means,
"I like you as a friend, so hit on me even harder, and then I will also like you to make out with!"

For all its faults, I advise Direct But Nice here, since he's clearly not understanding your Ignoring/Monosyllables approach. The important elements of this rejection are: 1.) Say something clearly positive about him; 2,) Clarify that you only want to be friends and not anything more; and 3.) add "I hope you understand!" or something else affectionate that sounds like it ends in a smiley face. I know it's hard to say, but it's really the only thing that will firmly establish how you feel and spare his feelings as much as possible. If he gets out of this without feeling like you just called him a shambling sewer creature, you've been much nicer than many people are, and good for you.

Topics: Life
Tags: awkward situations, advice, guys, ask jono

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