Q: There’s a guy at my school who’s making it obvious that he has a crush on me. He’s always joking and flirting with me, and he just invited me to join him at his friend’s birthday party! The thing is, I’m not into him. I think I need to tell him the truth, but I don’t know how. He’s a super nice person, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I don’t want to keep feeling awk around him, either. HELP!
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A: Crushes can be so exciting and fun. However, they’re called “crushes” for a reason. Mostly because one person is usually “crushed” by the outcome. Ugh. It’s never easy to reject someone — especially if you’re an empathetic, sensitive soul like you sound to be — but sometimes it needs to be done. You don’t want to lead someone on if you know you’re not interested, so the sooner you’re able to be honest with your feelings, the sooner your admirer can move on.
First thing’s first: Know your truth. Be 100% about your feelings — or lack thereof. Are you not interested because you’re scared of being in a relationship? Is it because you’ve never considered being in a relationship with this person before? Or is it because you really know you’re not into him and nothing romantic will ever happen between you? Helping a crush realize you’re seriously not interested is knowing you’re seriously not interested.
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Next: Speak your truth. Arrange a time when you two can meet up and talk in a public place. A local park or coffee house are both good options. Don’t laugh off your crush’s feelings. They might not be real to you, but they’re real to him. Chances are, you’re the most important person to him in any room — and that’s a big deal. So it’s worthy enough to be totally honest and direct with your crush, but also be gentle and kind. Try something like: “I’m really flattered that you like me. I think you’re a cool person, so if you’re interested in me, then I know that’s such a huge compliment. But I don’t share the same feelings as you.”
Depending on your situation with your crush, it’s a good idea to implement some boundaries. If you are in a relationship, tell your crush and be clear about it and your need for space. If you wish to continue a friendship, say so — but don’t offer a friendship if you really don’t. Remember, being friends with your crush could give him a sense of “false hope,” which you don’t want to do. However, the revealing of a crush doesn’t mean the two of you need to maintain distance from now on or pretend that nothing happened. Just be aware that things might be a bit awkward for a little bit, but over time, the awkwardness will dissipate.
However, if you don’t think it’s a good idea to hang out, that’s totally okay. Being kind doesn’t mean that someone can disrespect your boundaries or what you want. If you have to avoid certain social situations, do so. Your level of comfort is super important.
Above all, don’t feel guilty for not sharing the same feelings as your crush and letting him down. You’ve done him a huge favor — now he can refocus his attention and admiration on someone who will feel the same.
If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.