“Help: How do you friendzone a guy—without hurting his feelings?”

Dear Sarah,

I’m 20 and in college. There is this guy in my English class who seems like he wants to be more than friends. Recently, after class, he asked if I wanted to hang out. That seemed innocent and fine, but then his vibe and the type of questions he was asking (“Do you like kids?”…“Do you have a boyfriend?”) felt like more than the usual just-two-people-getting-to-know-each-other-type convo.

When I said I was happy and single, he replied that he was single too. To be honest, I have zero relationship experience. I’m very focused on my studies right now, and I’m not into having a random fling. That also means I have little experience fielding guys’ flirtations. How do I put someone down nicely and let him know I’m not interested without seeming presumptuous or rude?

Nice…But Not Into It from California

Dear Nice,

Sometimes we (and by we, I mean girls and women), worry too much about hurting other’s (and by other’s, I mean boy’s and men’s) feelings. Not to get all gender-y here…but it’s really OK for a guy to crush on you and for you to be like, umm, it’s not happening for me.

Does that sound harsh? Well, it’s not. You know that slightly annoying phrase, “he’s just not that into you”? It goes both ways and it’s fine. You can’t force infatuation. If he asks you out again you can politely decline or say you are busy—you really don’t owe him a big explanation. Trust me, after one hangout session you won’t break his heart. Way worse is feeling like you have to be super sweet and avoid messing with his ego and then going on a few dates out of guilt/pity. Then you do risk hurting him.

As with many issues related to non-mutual attraction, ripping of the Baid-Aid early and quick is actually the kindest move.

You are a good person and it will be OK.

Love, Sarah

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