When She Wants to Be "Friends"
Q: I know I'm probably a little young and I still have my whole life ahead of me but a while back I started to have feelings for a girl who I've known since 5th grade (I think we're more acquaintances than friends). I'm shy, so I wrote a letter telling her that I like her and maybe we could go out for coffee and maybe a movie or other fun activity. I told her to call me. She called and told me she would like to be friends for now. Does this mean she would be considering it later, or was it a B.S. excuse? If it was the latter, I don't want to continue to associate with someone who can't be truthful and would rather use some cop-out excuse. What do you think? -- Brent, 19
Dr. Susan: Yes, you're young, so let's get started off on the right foot here. I understand your shyness and why you wrote a letter. As a shy person myself, I would have treated your letter with the same respect as a verbal invitation. And this girl did think enough of you to pick up the phone, rather than ignore you. What you need to know is that it's very hard to reject someone! As hard as it is the be the one who has to ask, it's also hard to say no. Good people don't want to cause hurt. So women have learned over the ages to say no as gently as possible. The old standby is, "I think of you as a friend," and that's actually the truth. It means they're not romantically interested and don't want to take the relationship further for any number of reasons. Often the chemistry isn't there. It would be nice if every female were open-minded about such things, but we've all had experiences that make us act the way we do. Sometimes a girl has her eyes on someone else, or another type of person entirely. She added "for now" to soften the blow, not to get your hopes up or as a B.S. excuse. Cast your net a little wider. You'll have feelings for plenty of women before everything clicks just right for both of you.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.