General Etiquette > Dating

I guess I'm going to have to be blunt, aren't I? (Long)

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Raintree:
BG:  Years ago, I had this guy in my life. Let's call him Steve. We were platonic friends at first, but I liked him and wanted a relationship. Then I let him know, and we had a relationship. It was off and on. This went on for years. After a break of several months, we started doing stuff together again as friends but he didn't indicate in any way he wanted a relationship again, and my interest had waned by then anyway. Then I met someone else; before I started dating the new person, I asked Steve what his thought were on us, and he said he was happy as friends. So I went off to date the new person, guilt free and soon after, Steve stopped contacting me as he had also met someone new. 14 years passed and I didn't see or hear from him. I occasionally wondered what he was up to over the years, and always figured if I ran into him I'd be interested to chat and catch up, but that's as far as it went; I moved on. [End BG]

Well a couple of months ago I did run into him, out of the blue. We had a short chat and I was interested to hear more, but I was on my way somewhere else, so I gave him my number. He did call and he came over for coffee, and we chatted all afternoon about our lives, our parents, what's happened in the last 14 years, and so on. We are both single.

It was a good visit; he wanted to come visit again. On the second visit he was talking about how incredibly happy he'd been since we started talking again. He began talking as if we were about to embark on a relationship. I told him flat out, I was not interested in a relationship, I just wanted to be friends. He seemed to accept this. But the more he talked, the more apparent it became that he was head over heels for me. And very needy. And, while I like the guy well enough, I have ZERO attraction for him now, and began to see why I stopped dating him.

Soon he was calling every day, sometimes multiple times. I don't really enjoy talking on the phone in general, so I only picked up if I felt like it. He then asked if he was calling too much, and I said, yeah, I find the phone kind of intrusive and I don't really like talking on the phone much. He then asked if I could see us being together again, or, "Do you like being single." I said, "I like being single." and he said, "OK."

One time I was home cleaning; he'd asked if I wanted to go out that day, and I said no, I was cleaning. While cleaning, I looked out my window and there he was, looking up at my window. When we were dating, I was overjoyed when he did that, but this time, meh, not too enthused, but I let him come up for tea. (I know, in retrospect I should have said I was busy). When he left I gave him a friendly hug, as I do with all my friends, and he said, "I kind of wonder if I should kiss you or would that be inappropriate?" I said, "No, I think that would be inappropriate."

He asked about my week ahead and I said I was really busy all week (it was true). Wednesday is my busiest day every week; I go off site for work, it's a long drive, and I don't get home till 8 PM, and I never make plans for Wed night as I just want to collapse in my own space.

So he knew this, and Wed night there was a knock at my door. I was just about to settle into my much-needed dinner when the knock came. I answered and told him "sorry, this isn't a good time" and that I was eating dinner. He said he didn't mind coming up and waiting till I'd finished dinner. I said, "another time; I'm not up for company." So he left, and though I did nothing wrong, I felt terrible.

He kept asking when we could get together, and I thought, "Well I guess I'd better talk to him about this once and for all." So I said if he came over Saturday, we could go for a walk.

On the walk he asked if I was mad at him for the kiss comment. I said "No, I'm not mad, but I don't want to go that road with you as I only want to be friends." I told him I wasn't interested in us having a relationship again, and that really, I'd have been happy to just catch up occasionally, but I didn't want to see him all the time, as I have other things going on and I also like my alone time. I also told him I don't like drop-ins. I want some warning if someone's coming by. (Ever since that time I saw him looking up at my window I've felt on edge wondering if he's going to randomly show up again and I don't like that).  He claimed that he was cool with that, and glad we'd cleared it up because he'd wondered if he was getting mixed messages, but now that he knew, he said, he would go with whatever I said, and he'd never show up unannounced again. (And he hasn't, to his credit).

A week went by and he called and offered to come by and bring me dinner. I agreed to that, but as the time grew closer I realized I was really only tolerating his visits now, instead of enjoying them. I didn't really feel like having him over at all. But he was on his way with dinner, so we had dinner. He asked what I was doing Saturday and Sunday, and I said I had plans with girlfriends. He then made reference to some Scrabble we'd played years ago; it wasn't a suggestion, mind you, but he commented on some words I'd played in the game, way back. I shut that one down with beandip and he didn't try to redirect. But now I am totally squicked out. I am just so unattracted to him now that talking about Scrabble games of long ago just mortifies me. That was last night; he left after dinner, and has called twice today; I did not pick up either time.

You're probably all wondering why I am having anything to do with this guy after it became apparent how much he wants us to get back together. Well, we did have a long history of friendship, apart from the relationship aspect. I knew him very well. We had fun together. He was a good soul, but really not relationship material. And as much as he's sounding like a stalker as I write this, I knew him enough years to know that he wouldn't harm a fly.  He's very sweet, socially awkward, and not really all that bright (which was a factor in my decision to move on eventually). In short, I'm about to crush his feelings, because, here is my etiquette question:

I've told him three times I am not interested in a relationship, not including the time I told him I didn't want him to kiss me. I've not returned phone calls for days, I've told him not to drop by. I now realize it's a mistake to engage him at all. If it can't be kept to an occasonal (like once a month or less) "Hey, do you want to have coffee?" like I do with my other friends, then I want to cease the "friendship" altogether. I know you're all going to tell me to grow a spine. So help me with wording. How about this:

"Steve, I'm starting to think this whole thing is a bad idea. I was interested in catching up and finding out how your life is going, but I think now you're showing that you're more interested in me than I am with you. That makes me uncomfortable, and it's not fair on you if I keep seeing you because I don't want what you want. I think we need to stop seeing each other." I might even throw in there that I want to date others, because I do, and it's awkward if he's calling and visiting all the time.

Suggestions on polite spine?

Mel the Redcap:
You've been pretty blunt already, and he's ignoring it because it's not what he wants to hear. 'Mixed signals', my rosy pink-- *ahem!* Excuse me. He said that after you said you liked being single (as opposed to possibly getting together again) and that kissing you would be inappropriate. That's not mixed signals, that's "LALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOOOOU~!" And even though 'now he knows' he's talking about past Scrabble games? Nope. A world of Nope. Okay, he's a nice guy and you don't want to hurt him, but you also don't want to let his dogged refusal to give up on you drag on and on and onnnnnnnnn.

I think your proposed script is still way too gentle. Don't refer to 'this thing', because there isn't a thing. Don't say 'I think', because that means it's opinion and he'll think he can argue. (He probably will anyway, but you need to limit his wiggle room as much as possible!) Don't talk about what you've been doing as 'seeing' him, because that's in-his-head code for 'dating' and you haven't been. Don't make this about wanting to date other people, because that's in-his-head code for 'but if there wasn't someone else, you'd totally be an option!'

(Er. I realise I'm sounding a bit militant here, but I've been reading captainawkward.com a LOT lately, and the sagas of just how long 'sweet, socially awkward' guys can drag out a breakup that isn't really a breakup because they weren't actually in a relationship to start with but boy howdy did they want to be and surely you don't mean it... well, it gets exhausting. I'm seeing a lot of what I've seen there in Steve.)

"Steve, I'm starting to think this whole thing is a bad idea. I was interested in catching up and finding out how your life is going, but I think now you're showing that you're more interested in me than I am with you. That makes me really uncomfortable, and it's not fair on you if I keep seeing you because I don't want what you want. I think we need to stop seeing each other. I've told you multiple times this isn't happening, and you won't listen, so I don't want you coming around any more."

And for the love of cheese, don't hug him goodbye. :P

PastryGoddess:
I'll take a stab at it

"Steve,

Unfortunately, we can no longer be friends.  You are looking for a relationship and I am not.  Your actions are making me very uncomfortable and I'm not willing to put up with that in my life.  Starting today, please do not contact me in any way. "

And then become a black hole.

Let your close friends know that Steve is no longer a friend and you would appreciate them not passing along information to him

Set up a filter in your mail to move all of his emails to either a folder OR trash.  If you use a third party mail program like outlook you may have to log into your actual mail provider to set up the blocking.  Otherwise, it will get pushed to your phone or tablet.

If you can't block his number, set the ringtone to silent

Block him on Facebook/Twitter/Social Media

JenJay:

--- Quote from: Mel the Redcap on February 09, 2014, 07:12:44 AM ---You've been pretty blunt already, and he's ignoring it because it's not what he wants to hear. 'Mixed signals', my rosy pink-- *ahem!* Excuse me. He said that after you said you liked being single (as opposed to possibly getting together again) and that kissing you would be inappropriate. That's not mixed signals, that's "LALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOOOOU~!" And even though 'now he knows' he's talking about past Scrabble games? Nope. A world of Nope. Okay, he's a nice guy and you don't want to hurt him, but you also don't want to let his dogged refusal to give up on you drag on and on and onnnnnnnnn.

I think your proposed script is still way too gentle. Don't refer to 'this thing', because there isn't a thing. Don't say 'I think', because that means it's opinion and he'll think he can argue. (He probably will anyway, but you need to limit his wiggle room as much as possible!) Don't talk about what you've been doing as 'seeing' him, because that's in-his-head code for 'dating' and you haven't been. Don't make this about wanting to date other people, because that's in-his-head code for 'but if there wasn't someone else, you'd totally be an option!'

(Er. I realise I'm sounding a bit militant here, but I've been reading captainawkward.com a LOT lately, and the sagas of just how long 'sweet, socially awkward' guys can drag out a breakup that isn't really a breakup because they weren't actually in a relationship to start with but boy howdy did they want to be and surely you don't mean it... well, it gets exhausting. I'm seeing a lot of what I've seen there in Steve.)

"Steve, I'm starting to think this whole thing is a bad idea. I was interested in catching up and finding out how your life is going, but I think now you're showing that you're more interested in me than I am with you. That makes me really uncomfortable, and it's not fair on you if I keep seeing you because I don't want what you want. I think we need to stop seeing each other. I've told you multiple times this isn't happening, and you won't listen, so I don't want you coming around any more."

And for the love of cheese, don't hug him goodbye. :P

--- End quote ---

^every. single. word.

Anybody who accused me of sending "mixed signals" after I'd been incredibly clear and blunt would find himself on my "does not exist" list. Hanging around outside your house? Calling to ask if he can bring you dinner but, ooops, he's actually already on the way with it so you're kinda obligated (no you aren't, actually, but I appreciate how you felt)? Reminiscing about that special thing you do so well in bed? It's no mystery why this "nice" guy is single. He couldn't be any more suffocating if he had a giant pillow.  :-\

Send him MtR's revised note (don't meet up with him in person) and then drop off the face of the Earth. Don't acknowledge his calls and definitely don't answer the door if he pops over! I understand that you'd like a casual, touch base every now and then, friendship. Unfortunately Steve is telling you that it won't be possible. You can either go on as if you've never met him or you can marry him. One or the other, no grey area.

Mikayla:
I agree with everything Mel said.

The only thing I would state more strongly is in the red below:  "Steve, I'm starting to think this whole thing is a bad idea. I was interested only in catching up and finding out how your life is going. I think now you're showing that you're more interested in me than I am with you. You want to pursue a relationship, and that makes me really uncomfortable. It's not fair on you if I keep seeing you because I don't want what you want. I think we need to stop seeing each other. I've told you multiple times this isn't happening, and you won't listen, so I don't want you coming around any more."

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