I don't think Max is a bad guy. He's a guy who believes all the rom-com movies that show men impressing their way out of the friendzone and into love...
But Jennie has also been feeding this by accepting all the favours and gifts. It was wrong of her to do that.
I agree. I think it's bit harsh to describe Max (at this point anyway) as "manipulative" and "disrespectful", etc.
I have been in this position before (although with a guy my own age) and this behaviour flags a massive warning sign to me. In my case, telling a guy I didn't like him but attempting to stay friends with him resulted in a slow increase of manipulative behaviour, from offering little things (that I would expect as friendly favours and return, not whacking great favours or gifts), to being so disappointed when he offered me something I thought was too much so I felt like I had to take it so as not to upset him, to throwing a sulk when I didn't pay him enough attention, to insulting my other male friends, to self harming when he thought I wasn't being friendly enough.
It took me the better part of a year to get out from a hideous situation, all based from the fact that I didn't want to hurt a "nice guy", who took advantage of that and made me feel as though I was responsible for his emotional wellbeing.I'm not saying Max is like that,
but I'm saying it's a possibility, particularly in the short time frame you're talking about (they've known each other a couple of months and she had a boyfriend for some of that, so they can only have been "dating
" for a few weeks tops).
I've had other friends that have wanted more and it's turned into nothing but normal friendship, but Jenni needs to get right away from any possibility of emotional manipulation and that starts by making her feelings perfectly clear and not accepting any more gifts.
She needs to get him alone and say something like
"Max, I'm sorry but I want to make it perfectly clear. I do really like you as a friend but that is as far as it will ever
go. We don't have enough in common and we want different things out of life. I hope you understand that."
then she needs to make sure she puts herself on an even footing with him.
"I like driving, I like the time alone"
"I don't need anyone to drive me, thanks"
"Erm, I'm alright for water thanks grandad"
On a bar night out it's normal to buy a friend a drink, so she needs to make sure she reciprocates to stop feeling beholden to him, and if he pulls the pouty face, she can pull it right back.
"I'll pay for these drinks, you bought the last round. No argument"
"I'm good for drinks thanks. I'll get myself one in a bit"