dear sharideth: he asked me out, but i’m not interested.

Dear Sharideth,

I need help. One of my guy friends asked me out to ‘coffee.’ I’ve been made aware by others that this guy has a crush on me. I do not reciprocate. At all. However, he is a nice guy and a friend, and I have no real reason to turn him down for actual coffee, but I do not want to go and lead him on. But I also don’t want to tell him that I’m not interested when he hasn’t actually told me he is, because then I’ll appear to be the girl who thinks everyone is in love with them and delusional. Any advice? Am I just over thinking this? Should I just woman up and tell him I don’t feel that way? Any reader advice?

Thank you!

P.S. I did turn him down for this week, because I’m leaving the country, but he said we should get some ‘coffee’ when I get back. I want to be prepared if there is a next time, because leaving the country is a rather expensive excuse.


Not Interested

dear NI,

if you already accepted for when you get back, then you have to go.  especially since he’s your friend.  those are the rules.  i don’t make them up.

who am i kidding?  of course i make them up.  that’s my job.

since he hasn’t straight up asked you out, friends getting coffee is just friends getting coffee, ya know?  so feel to take that at face value for this one.

just be on your toes.  if you are as sure as you appear to be that he’s into you, he’s working his way up to a real live date.  which you will have to politely decline.  but i wouldn’t hit him with a preemptive strike.  you’re right, that would look douchey.

when the time comes, give him an honest reason why you won’t date him.  no lame excuses.  a friend of mine once got turned down by a girl who claimed she just had too much laundry to do.

yeah, that happened.

she thought she was being clever and no feelings would get hurt.  he knew she was copping out and actually lost some respect for her.  i thought she was kind of an asshat.

honest is best.  rip that bandaid off.  then just keep moving forward with the friendship as though the date thing never happened.  he’ll be relieved when you’re not weird about it afterward.  if he’s at all human, that’s probably his biggest fear.



oh so sincerely,


any other advice for our friend?

which side of this have you been on?


25 comments on “dear sharideth: he asked me out, but i’m not interested.

  1. I have never been on either side. I can’t help but feel the guy especially is putting them both in an awkard position though. Or, the chatting everyone else is (are?). I think your advice is very solid, although the guy should get some advice in my opinion. I don’t think you should use a foot-in-door technique to get into dating someone. Should the writer say yes to another friendish low-key date when the guy is aiming for lots of coffee until they magically fall in love?

    Maybe the writer should keep in mind that he has (most likely) calculated risks by asking you out for coffee, and thus is both in a vulnerable place, as well as calculated you to turn him down somewhere.

  2. Jason says:

    The other thing to do in the interim is to add people to your two friends getting coffee.

    If it is two friends getting coffee it won’t make a difference that it is 3 friends getting coffee, but if there is something more then it will also help draw that out.

    I’m not saying this as a way to be mean or manipulate things, but it would help change something from being a date in his head (while it isn’t one in yours) into just hanging out with friends.

    • That doesn’t help solving the question one bit. Her problem isn’t gone, you (from the point we all take here) force the guy into finding yet another trick of getting her ‘under the radar’ and next thing you know we’re discussing whether she should go see a movie with him, or suggesting she’d take a third person to a Sunday afternoon picknick. If this wasn’t a layered situation, a third person would be more than welcome, but in this case inviting someone else wouldn’t answer the question posed.

  3. becca3416 says:

    I have a terrible problem with not wanting to hurt people’s feelings, so I find doing this extremely difficult. Even though I know you are right, I can never bring myself to just be honest. I’m an avoider! Must work on this.

    • the number 1 thing you have to keep in mind is that they always know you’re not being honest, always, and that actually hurts more.

    • I am the same issue. My way around it is to still be honest but simultaneously feed my need to be nice: I play up the friendship. I’d go get coffee, but tell them that it’s nice to get to make time for friends, or that their friendship is really important. Mentioning “friends” as many time as possible is my method of letting someone know they’ve been friend-zoned without having to make them feel bad. Also, if they choose to still ask you out for real, you sort of have a built in excuse that even though you think they are a great person, you don’t see them as more than a friend.

  4. G Fresh says:

    Well seeing as how you used me as your example for “don’t use lame excuses” I guess we know on what side I’ve been. 🙂

    For my first rejection back in high school I got, “I’d like to, but my parents said I couldn’t date until I was 16 so I’ll have to ask them first.”. Then she avoided my occasional phone calls over the next two weeks during Christmas break to find out what they had said until eventually my 16 year old safe got the hint and gave up. Then she started dating the dumb-as-a-brick basketball captain shortly after getting back from break and well before she turned 16. Pretty sure she didn’t have to ask her parents permission first either. *smh*

    I’ve also gotten on several occasions, “I’m sorry; I just don’t feel that way about you, but what’s up with your cute friend over there? Is he single? What kind of girl is he into?”. That one is just ouch. Really?? Stop that ladies. So. Not. Cool.

    Mostly though I get, “I just don’t feel that way about you.” which still sucks, but waaaaay less than the alternatives. Honesty is definitely the best policy.

    • G Fresh says:

      Or 16 year old *self*.

    • When I was 13, I had a girlfriend who wouldn’t kiss me at the movies. She wasn’t over her hamster dying earlier that evening (if I could make this up, I’d be rich), but after she dumped me two days later, she was clearly over both me and her dead hamster, snogging another guy at a school party. I then realized the hamster might have not been the whole reason.

  5. I just gave this advice to a friend of mine:

    A simple “I’m flattered, thank you, but not interested.” is all that’s needed. And stop over-thinking it, or thinking you have some better way that’ll hurt him less. It’s not true, it’ll only make it worse.

    Once he asks, of course. Until that time, you can’t assume anything (unless you want to.. well, yeah.)

    And don’t fib it. Giving no reason (none is really required) is better than lying.

  6. Agreed! Honesty is definitely the best policy. I have watched several guy friends go through the online dating scene and I have to say, some of the excuses the ladies give are really strange and don’t make a whole lot of sense. Granted, having these guy friends has helped me in my own dating life (or lack thereof) by being super honest with dudes. And like Dominic said above, a reason is not really required and an honest, “I’m flattered but not interested.” works a whole lot better than women might think it does.

    I wasn’t always that way, though, unfortunately. I hid behind the “I’m not allowed to date until I’m 18” excuse. And then (sad to say) once I turned 18 I started wearing a ring on my wedding finger to avoid being asked out. (That didn’t always work though.)

    The part I struggle with now is knowing whether or not I’m interested. Sometimes maybe you don’t know until you have the coffee. I guess you just know. Once I know for sure I let them know, it’s just sometimes the getting to the knowing part that’s tough to figure out.

  7. I’m pretty sure the post title says what needs to be said. Don’t make a Rube Goldberg machine out of your answer.

  8. Emily says:

    Good advice. I’ve been on the girl’s side of this one though, and get ready for the “To Be Continued.” I went to the coffee thinking it was just coffee. Then to ANOTHER coffee that was just coffee. Then to a lunch that was just a lunch meet-up. Then ANOTHER lunch that was just a lunch meet-up. When the guy never frames the question, it’s hard to answer it. I mean, why wouldn’t I grab lunch with a friend?

    After SIX almost ask-outs, I went ahead and ripped off the band-aid without a real question. Gotta hate that. WIsh he had framed a real question so I could have just given a real answer!

    • janakaye says:

      Been there, too. A string of casual coffee or lunch “meetups” that aren’t really “dates”…at least, you are trying to take them at the face value and ignore the blaring alarm of your feminine intuition out of a dislike of being douchey, as Sharideth put it.

      Until suddenly they ARE dates, and you get hit with “well why did you go out with me if you weren’t interested?” Oh NOW they are dates?! why the face!

      As much as I like coffee, after a few of these experiences where taking things at face value led to me suddenly having to break up with someone I never thought I was dating definitely has me on the hop and avoiding coffee or lunch with the opposite sex at all!

      Honesty goes both ways.

      • I have advice for the other side of the coin as well:

        If you like a girl, man up and ask her out.

        If she says no, gracefully move on. If she says yes, then party!

        If you don’t like her, don’t let it get to the point where she wonders about it.

        – d.

  9. Chad Jones says:

    For myself, I’m almost 43 years old, & have been married for over 21 years–so I haven’t been there, you know?

    The rejection I deal with is more of the “not tonight, dear” variety. 😉

    That said, I would like to know how Tobias Fünke would answer the questions. Anybody know?

  10. Matt Paulsen says:

    As a guy, I have done the just test the waters by just asking out to coffee rather than having the courage to actually ask out on a date.

    My friend knew that I was interested but made some reason for why she couldn’t do it. Eventually I got the hint, but there was still some glimmer of hope since she never actually told me she wasn’t interested(since I never told her I was interested).

    Fast forward a couple years, I ask her out for real that time and she tells me she’s not interested this time.

    Fast forward 8 months and she asks me if my offer was still open(the day after I had asked out someone I’d had a crush on for years btw).

    We end up dating for 3 months and then she breaks up because of a lack of spark.

    I say, if you are pretty sure just do the preemptive shut down. Of course, I had the opposite situation where I was pretty sure a gal was interested in me and I did the pre-emptive shutdown and she totally blew up at me for assuming such a thing.

  11. Regan says:

    Was I your friend?? I can’t believe how much that sounds like me…. I know it’s not me… is it me?

  12. asoulwalker says:

    My favourite rejection went like this:

    Me: Do you like me?
    Girl: (Pause)… probably not the way you are hoping.

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