Just friends, or is he interested?

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bigblondewolf asks:
I’m (27F) getting some serious mixed signals from a guy friend (27M) and was hoping to have some input from an outside perspective. Preferably some guys who could explain why a guy might act this way.

We’ve been friends for three years. Talking every few weeks and getting together to hang out once a month or so. Back in March I confessed I had feelings for him. He shot me down saying he was afraid it would ruin our friendship and he didn’t want to risk losing me from his life.

But since then he’s been texting me every day, wanting to hang out, going to movies just the two of us, meeting for lunch on our breaks, I spent a whole weekend with him at his cottage, and now he’s even trying to convince me to move with him when he gets a new apartment and take a road trip together. But he’s still keeping things platonic and won’t make any moves. What gives?

Demetrius says:

I AM SOME GUY AND I CAN EXPLAIN THINGS. There are usually three things people seek out in romantic relationships: Attention, Attraction, and/or Mutual Attraction. Attention is simple, Attraction can either be seeking someone who is attracted to you, or someone you find attractive, and Mutual Attraction is, well, when you’ve got both sides of the Attraction I mentioned earlier. I’ll get back to this later. Your relationship with him is clearly not platonic at this point, so what we have to ask is: what exactly is he looking for?

First let me just say, I’m wary of anyone who is not consistent and this guy is not consistent. Less than 3 months ago he said that dating would ruin your friendship, but then he took you on a weekend getaway, is on contact with you constantly, and is now trying to get you to move in with him AND take a road trip. That just seems like a bunch of things you bring up a year into a very committed relationship, not 2 months after you reject someone. So why would he say those things to you? Why would he reach out and try to get you to do all these things which usually comes along with being in a commitment? Most importantly, why do all those things if he wants things to remain platonic? The answer seems simple to me, he’s seeking attention.

We tend to view attention seeking behavior as a negative in our culture, for reasons I’ll never quite understand. If you do or have something you think is great and try to promote it, whether it’s writing a blog, or just take pictures of your own face, a lot of people will be put off when you try to promote what you do. They’ll complain about your vanity, your hashtag usage, or just  earnestness with which you seek out attention. No judgment on either side of these things, if you’re an attention seeker or someone who dislikes attention seeking behavior, I just bring this up to say that seeking attention can be looked down upon. So it makes sense to me that this guy wants all the attention a romantic relationship could bring, but can’t really express that in an open and honest way. You know what I miss about being in a long-term relationship? Attention during the most mundane times. Texting someone and asking about their day because I’m genuinely interested, and having them ask me and know that they are genuinely interested. The attention we get in relationships can be a big part of the reason we seek out and stay in relationships. If, you were the sort of person who was afraid of failure, especially romantic failure, you might seek out all of the benefits of a relationship that aren’t sexual or romantic, like attention, and perpetuate a situation where you can get that attention on a regular basis. Like, I don’t know, increasing the opportunities to get that attention by asking someone to go on trips with just you, or asking them to move in with you, that sort of thing.

I think that the guy in question enjoys your attention, but is too afraid to risk losing your friendship and that attention to make things romantic. He knows that you’re into him, and don’t plan on dropping him if he keeps things platonic,so everything he’s done since then has been based on that fact. He knows that he can seek attention from you that is clearly romantic, keep things platonic, and you’ll just sort of go along with things. He’s probably interested in making things romantic, but he’s also afraid of losing you, so he’s taking the safe bet for him. The thing is, you’re clearly unhappy with it. You wanted the reason why he’s doing what he’s doing, and now you have it, so let’s talk about what to do next.

You need to tell him that at this point, all the things he’s talking about doing with you feel way too much like a couple, and if he wants to do those things with you he needs to decide what he wants you both to be. If he decides that he wants to remain friends, don’t even entertain the idea of all those random romantic trips, or moving in, which would be a disaster. You need to establish some boundaries because right now, you’re confused, and you really don’t have to be. Press him for an answer and let him know what the consequences of each of those answers might be. If he wants to be platonic, you need to be hanging out with him less, especially avoiding weekend trips, and generally just get out there and work to meet someone different. If he decides he’s finally ready to pursue you in earnest, proceed how you normally were since the texting and weekend trips are fairly innocuous, but do not move in with this dude, that’d be a really bad look.

One word of caution, and I hinted at it when I mentioned his inconsistency. Even if he decides that he’s ready to date you, this guy has shown a clear pattern of seeking attention, which is a neutral thing to do in my book, but he’s done so in a way that is negative. He sought attention from you in a way that you would have wanted him to if he decided to make things romantic, and knew he could get away with keeping things platonic while doing so. I’m always wary of people who do things like that, and if the tables were turned, I’d make those same warnings. Anyone who rejects you to remain platonic, then tries to get relationship benefits from you, whether it’s sex or not, is someone to regard with a certain amount of suspicion. Proceed with caution.

Good Luck Out There.

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