Ask Annie: Friends or More?

Dear Annie,

Recently I’ve been having trouble with a guy friend of mine. Basically, he acts like we’re dating, even though we’re not. He’ll walk around holding my hand, be really physical at parties, and send me really long texts that sound like he’s really interested in me. But, at the same time, he’ll be texting other girls or bemoaning about how hard it is to meet people to date. What do I do? I want to date him, but he’s never done or said anything truly “romantic.” Help!

-Friends or More.

(Audrey Jang • The Student Life)

You guys are friends. And, I hate to break it to you, you could probably find a better one. Either he’s going about trying to date you in the most confusing way possible or he’s simply using you to fulfill an emotional need whilst satisfying the physical side from another angle. Chances are, it’s the latter.

Listen, I’m all for females and males being friends and even being touchy-feely. But, there’s a line to be drawn, and it sounds like you’re aware that he’s crossed it. Regardless of whether or not he’s done anything overtly ‘romantic,’ he’s obviously acting in a way that makes you believe he’s interested.

If you’re aware of his actions, then he probably is, too. Sit yourself down and ask yourself if it’s worth it to start something with someone who goes around dating you (if that’s his intent) in the most confusing way possible. Are you really sure you want to date this guy? Because, regardless of his own feelings on the matter, it sounds like he’s really pulling you around. Also, someone who acts really emotionally connected while being physically absent isn’t really going to change his behavior patterns if you actually did wind up dating.

So, let’s say you do want to date him. Approach him and discuss your feelings. There’s no other way to get a clear-cut answer, especially when his actions are contradictory. Create a game plan of what he has done and how it makes you feel. It never hurts to be prepared. Clearly outline how you’ve been feeling and ask him what his own thoughts are. If he says that he’s interested in dating, then congratulations! Go from there.

If he doesn’t acknowledge how his behavior is confusing, though, and actively starts to deny your claims, then stick to your guns. You are the only person who can dictate how his actions make you feel. At the end of the conversation, clearly outline the ways in which you expect his behavior to change—and it should change. You cannot continue with the emotional duties you seem to fulfill as his pseudo-girlfriend.

If necessary, take a step back from the friendship. Reevaluate how you guys can re-navigate your boundaries and get to a better place where you aren’t feeling so confused about his intentions or feelings for you. Remember this, though—take him at face value. Don’t twist yourself up overthinking that he may be into you if he continues the same trend of being overly touchy with you. Restate how you don’t appreciate his behavior and re-establish clear boundaries. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong. We’ve all been in friendships we wish would evolve into more. But, it’s more realistic to accept that it won’t happen and move forward. It’s healthier in the long-run.

I wish you luck, Friends or More. It’s always difficult to figure out whether a friend’s feelings have deepened, especially when there’s a history of closeness in the relationship. But, don’t devalue your feelings; if you’re feeling as twisted about this as it seems, you only have to benefit from a simple conversation about your feelings. And if he’s as good a friend as you think he is, he’ll respect you and your feelings regardless.

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