Dear 100 Hour Board,
So, I have this guy friend. We became decently close last semester, and we spend enough time together (getting lunch, watching movies, hanging out during the day and at night), alone especially, that basically everyone I tell about him asks me why we aren't dating. I'm frustrated, because I don't have a good answer to give! I don't really know why. In the beginning of our friendship he was into another girl, but he isn't anymore, and I'm definitely single. I've gotten two types of advice here--either 1) I should make a move because he's probably into me, given how much time he wants to spend with me alone ("guys don't spend that much time with girls they aren't at least kind of interested in"), and he's most likely just hesitant to do anything because he's afraid of losing my friendship; or 2) I should NOT make a move and just focus on enjoying our friendship because it sounds like he only wants to be friends, plain and simple ("if a guy likes you, he'll ask you out").
You know, I honestly probably would go for it and ask him out but for one thing: he doesn't really initiate physical contact much. Or really at all. We have hugged before, but each time I was the one who initiated it. He never actively tries to sit close to me (like, when we watch movies), either. I know that I can give off don't-touch-me vibes because I'm protective of my personal space, but I've tried to seem more open around him? I dunno. We have so much fun together, and we can talk for hours, and he seems to actively want me around--and this is why I end up feeling confused.
Is this cut-and-dry "if he liked you, you'd know" type stuff and I should just forget about him maybe being romantically interested in me, or is it possible that he's just worried about ruining our friendship and doesn't want to risk doing anything that could potentially weird me out? Am I crazy for wondering if he's purposefully not touching me because he doesn't want me to think he's into me? Am I reading way too much into everything?? (I'm sure that last one is true, but I've been in my head too much to know what else could be true as well.) Thanks in advance for reading all this nonsense!
Honestly, both counsels are bad because they both assume that all guys are the same. Some guys might never spend extended periods of time with girls they weren't interested in dating. Others might never pass up an opportunity to ask a girl out if they're interested in them. Still others might sometimes hang out with girls that they aren't interested in dating, but don't always know if they should ask the girls out that they are interested in. You really can't know which of those guys your friend is, so making your decision based on what you think he's thinking won't work very well.
The real question is whether you are interested in dating him. Yeah, you're both single, and you're really good friends, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should be dating. In the past, I feel like I've tricked myself into thinking I'm interested in dating someone just by constantly questioning whether they're interested in me. It's normal, but that doesn't mean you should make decisions based on those feelings. Set aside a few minutes for introspection and really ask yourself if you actually want to date him, or if your friends just incepted the idea into your head.
If you are interested in dating him, my advice would be to talk to him about it. Yes, talking can be awkward, but not as awkward as, say, going in for a kiss and being rejected. Maybe talking is what your friends meant when they told you to make a move, but I wanted to be extra sure, because you never know. If it were me, I'd probably skip any beating around the bush and just ask something like "Hey, what do you think about the idea of us dating?", but that's because I'm not good at that stuff. If you can come up with a better way to bring up the topic, you should definitely do that.
If you decide you actually aren't interested in dating him, and you were just tormented by the possibility (it happens, and it's normal), then I recommend Option 2, not because you think he doesn't want to date you, but because you don't want to date him. Even if he does want to date you, it seems like he's pretty good and not letting it show, so just leave things the way they are if you're fine with them.
P.S. No, you're not crazy for wondering that. If I was in his situation and I wasn't at least 105.7% sure that you were interested in me, it'd take a lot of courage to initiate physical contact, especially if you seem protective of your personal space. Even your hugs could easily be interpreted as nothing more than friendly.
What did I do in the same situation? Agonized over it for a few months, talked to everyone about it but him, listened to every opinion but my own, and tried to kill the whole idea with grit and fire. But, for your sake I decided to perform an experiment. Like you I had some confusion about dating potential with my best friend. In the spirit of honest research I approached him about it until I got answers. My results are discussed in the sections below. My worry is for you, like me, to have the "what if" thing constantly nagging at the back of your head and you interpreting everything he says and does through that lens. Its the worst. Guessing is the worst. Neither option is a big enough deal to be worth avoiding decisive action. If you think the thought will never go away on its own, it's time you addressed the question openly. None of the conversations described below were really dramatic at all. We were both pretty open and comfortable, excepting a bit of initial awkwardness.
"What If" Relationships: Disambiguation of the male/female friendship
Ambiguous male/female friendships are frustrating, confusing, and exhausting. They are characterized by constant questioning, interpreting, and imagining. Though they hold their own potential, they are often dragged out distractions from other important life goals and potential dating relationships. Communication may be the most accessible and beneficial approach to romantically ambiguous friendships. This experiment explored the communication model as an option for resolving those volatile friendships described above. The participants communicated feelings about each other and the friendship and made decisions collectively. The communication did not result in a dating relationship. However, the active participant reported feelings of relief, accomplishment, control, and greater confidence and self-awareness. Results indicate that communication between mature adults is an effective and positive method for disambiguation in their relationship.
The purpose of this experiment is to provide insight to the action of any person or persons in an ambiguous friendship or a friendship with romantic potential. Though the parameters of this experiment are specific to this study and not universal, the results may assist in the planning, implementation, and motivation that are necessary to clarifying these relationships.
A long-term male/female friendship was selected and determined to be >90% platonic for most of the duration of the friendship. An environment of interested family, friends, bishoprics, etc. was established to place graduating strain on the certainty of the friendship over time. Once the friendship was known to be volatile (measured to be <60% platonic at any point for either individual at multiple sampling times) the romantic feelings were vocalized by one participant to the other for disambiguation. The participant measuring the variables and vocalizing romantic feelings will furthermore be referred to as "the active participant." The remaining partner will be referred to as "the control."
The active participant took longer than expected to develop, understand, and recognize romantic feelings. This extended the duration of the experiment but did not effect the outcome by any significant figure. Once romantic feelings were admitted by the active participant a series of communication sessions were performed. The final session is of particular note as the active participant gave up trying to understand the situation logically and managed to express actual feelings for the control without regard or fear for the outcome. Average awkwardness across all sessions was measured to be about 27% in time duration, but only about 15% in depth. Satisfaction and understanding increased exponentially with each session.
Over multiple communication sessions it was established that the friendship was, in fact, questionable and had been questioned by both parties. The active participant made a logical argument for "trying things out" while the control maintained that, although significantly tempted, it was "not a good idea." Between communication sessions the control continued to hint at the potential of a dating relationship. The active participant therefore continued to question the friendship status and become more confident that she had feelings for the control independent of logical decision making, past or future. A final session included a complete disclosure of romantic feelings from the active participant and a final decision with conditions. The control, now being aware of the magnitude of the active participant's feelings, maintained that he had no interest in dating but also promised to stop being awkward and making off-hand comments about dating interest.
The resulting emotional state of the active participant is in active flux since the advent of the final session. Some negative feelings have been reported by the active participant such as disappointment, worry for the future, worry for the well-being of the control, and listlessness. The active participant has reported significant lost time watching Boy Meets World, listening to sad Blind Pilot songs, and crying into dry vending machine sandwiches. However, a surprising amount of positive feelings were also reported considering the outcome of the experiment. The active participant reports feelings of immense satisfaction, self-actualization, pride, increased self-awareness etc. She has also shown improved communication skills, empathy, and vulnerability.
It is proposed that communicating for the disambiguation of male/female friendships has significant positive effects on all parties. The active party, regardless of result, has participated in an act of honesty, courage, and vulnerability and gains the personal confidence and growth that accompanies such acts. The control party receives the benefit of an accurate understanding of the relationship. This provides the means for the control to act appropriately without hurting, "leading on", or confusing the active party. It also provides the control the opportunity to assess and express any romantic feelings or lack thereof so plans for the relationship can be made real-time.
Any individuals considering "active participation" in their own ambiguous male/female friendship should first establish whether they have romantic feelings for their friend. Determining these feelings need not be done before communication is initiated, as they can be explored in collaboration with the opposite party. Care should be taken to ensure that any acknowledged feelings are organic, appropriate, and persistent. If the active party feels it is necessary to fully disclose their romantic feelings they should approach the conversation with respect and ask questions to understand the opposite party. It is important to remember that the purpose of these conversations is to bring the relationship into a state of stability, sustainability, and balance. Both parties are seeking to resolve questions and settle into a firm reality. Active participants can unquestionably look forward to being agents in their own lives and the positive feelings associated with this status.
Depending on your personality, you may also consider the following as "go for it and have the awkward conversation" motivation:
You're either a) going to end up married to this guy, and in 10 years it will be totally irrelevant that you had an awkward conversation about wanting to date him because you're married or b) you're going to end up married to someone else or still single but very likely not still close friends with this guy and in 10 years it will be totally irrelevant that you had an awkward conversation about wanting to date him because you're married to someone else or because you don't even hang out anymore, or c) you're still really good friends with this guy and in 10 years it will be totally irrelevant that you had an awkward conversation about wanting to date him because you're good friends and you both got over that like 9.5 years ago, or d) you wish you could be friends but in 10 years it's just still really really awkward for both of you so even though you're still trying to hang out it's just awkward every time and nobody else has come into your life who can be your friend in similar ways to him in that whole time period so your whole life is awkward.
Option D: theoretically possible, but probably unlikely.
One of A-C: more likely.
Go for it. Like Babu says above, it doesn't have to be dramatic (but it could end up being very helpful.)
This doesn't really answer your question about the situation, I just wanted to chime in and say that asking him on a date won't necessarily ruin your friendship. I have gone on dates with girls and it didn't really change our friendship in either way. We just went on dates, saw that we didn't want to date each other, but kept being friends. I've also asked some of my friends out and have and been turned down and that didn't really change our friendship. There's a possibility that you asking him out could ruin your friendship, but I think it's more probable that you'll still be good friends. And of course he could always end up dating you.
I also want to throw out there that if you like him enough that you act weird around him, that might strain your friendship. If you ask him out, whether or not he says no at least everything will be out there. If you tell him how you feel you won't have all the pent up anxiety about and that's a good thing. Save yourself the anxiety and tell him how you feel (in a normal non-creepy way of course). Hope this helps!
In the spirit of pessimism, I want to throw out an alternative to Tipperary’s point, because the one time I tried dating one of my good friends, it didn’t go well. I thought he was an amazing person, so I was interested in seeing if our relationship could go beyond friendship. We went on a handful of dates, and spent a lot of time together before I could fully evaluate my feelings, at which time I realized I wasn't interested in dating him.
That led to one unfortunate conversation, because he was one of my best friends and I didn't want to hurt him or jeopardize our friendship. And unfortunately, it did have a negative effect on our friendship. Because I was the one who hurt him, I didn't want to force my company on him by continuing our friendship as if nothing had happened between us. In order to avoid hurting him any further, I allowed him to initiate friendly contact, which meant several weeks without spending much time together. That first conversation happened in March, and we slowly rebuilt our friendship, though I could tell he still had feelings for me.
Then in September, my car situation imploded and it because necessary to shop for a new vehicle. This friend ended up being the only one available to drive up to Salt Lake with me to look at (and ultimately purchase) a vehicle. In gratitude for his help, I offered to buy him dinner, meaning it as a thank you gift. Maybe I gave off the wrong signals, but while driving home he again brought up his interest in me, and I was forced to let him down a second time. That rejection had more serious consequences, and I didn't see him for months, until the week before I graduated and moved away. It sucked to lose one of my best friends and be helpless to fix the situation, but if he needed space from me, I felt I had to respect that. In the case of rejection, the person who does the rejecting has the ultimate responsibility to maintain the friendship, which can easily cause strain.
I tell this story not only to answer your question, but also to bring up the unhappy ending. Just a few weeks ago, this friend passed away. And I really regret the way our friendship suffered, and how intermittent our contact had become, despite living far away from each other. So regardless of how your situation turns out, my advice is to tell the people in your life that you care about them. If you want to maintain your friendship, then make sure it happens; do everything in your power to be a good and loyal friend. Even if dating doesn't work out, you can still be great friends and be wonderful, positive influences in the other's life. Learn from my mistakes.