Auntie SparkNotes: My Friend Asked Me Out and I'm So Stressed
Dear Auntie SparkNotes,
Today my friend asked me out. I know this doesn't sound like a problem, but it's an extra stress factor that I REALLY did not want or need right now. I'm a senior in high school working through the end of the quarter at school and college applications, and barely finishing the majority of what I need to get done for school has kept me up past midnight every night for the past month.
The thing is, I have no idea whether or not I want to date this guy. He's perfectly nice and we have a lot in common, but I don't think I really like him as more than a friend. On the other hand, I haven't been very assertive about turning him down when he tries to ask me out on date-type activities that he wants to do "as friends." My go-to response is "I'm busy," but that's not really it. I could make a date fit into my schedule; my problem is that the idea of dating and being someone's girlfriend terrifies me. My first thought when he said that he meant it as a date was "how can I get out of this?"
I still want to be friends with him, but we've been close friends for so long that it would be awkward to move beyond that. I've been the girl that he goes to about girl problems for three years now, and I feel like he should have asked me out at least two years ago if he had wanted us to date.
In addition to this, there is a super nice and funny guy on my swim team. I don't think we would actually wind up dating, but if I did go out with the first guy, I know I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about swim team friend. I have never been on a date with anyone before, so I don't really know how to navigate this situation.
What should I do?
You should repeat after me, Sparkler. Ready? Here goes:
"I love having you as a friend, and I'd love to keep you as a friend, but I'm not interested in dating you."
And once you can say those words (or type them into a text message) in that particular order, let them fly in your friend's direction—and marvel as all your stress and angst magically melts away! Such is the awesome power of just freakin' asserting yourself, already. When your first thought upon being asked out is "How do I get out of this?", the obvious and immediate answer is "By saying no."
Which is hard, I know, in that it's never fun to tell someone what he doesn't want to hear, let alone to do it so directly. But as you've discovered, tiptoeing around the issue and saying everything but no is a great way to ensure that you'll be asked the same question again… and again, and again, until your head bursts into flame from the effort of scrambling to find an as-yet-unused excuse for why you can't go out this week. ("You're shampooing your cat? Again?") Yes, it's easier in the moment to say "I can't" than it is to say "I don't want to"—but "I don't want to" is an answer you only have to give once.
So, assuming that's true (and let's be real, if you wanted to date this guy, you wouldn't be describing his overtures as "an extra stress factor that I REALLY did not want or need right now"), then all that's left is to work up your nerve and say the thing… and to keep your fingers crossed that he'll be cool about it, though that part is ultimately beyond your control. But if saving the friendship is a priority for you, then being honest sooner rather than later is in your best interests—because if there's one thing that increases the chances of things going sour in an unsalvageable way, it's letting the guy waste his time hoping for a romance that you knew all the time was never actually going to happen.
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