How to Turn Down a Friend When There’s No Mutual Attraction
Attraction isn’t always mutual, and one of the hardest (or at least most delicate) situations you can face is when a friend says they’re romantically interested in you, but you don’t feel the same way. Because you care about your friend and presumably value your relationship, you can’t just brush off the advance. You also can’t enter into a relationship with someone you’re not attracted to just because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. So how do you gently turn down a friend who wants to date you?
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Here are three tips for letting them down gently:
The easiest thing to do in this situation would be to ignore your friend’s feelings or advances. However, the easiest route is rarely the best one. Rather than pretending the words weren’t said or the move wasn’t made, the adult (and appropriate) thing to do is to address what has happened. And you need to do it when the situation arises—not down the road because it seems easier. It won’t be any easier to turn down a friend than it is right after they make a move and you don’t want to lead your friend on, letting them think you’re considering a romantic relationship with them when you really aren’t.
It takes a lot to put yourself out there and face rejection for the sake of romance. Your friend took a huge leap, knowing what they could be risking and they’re willing to face the consequences that come with rejection. You need to be just as bold and gently turn them down right away. It’s the kinder thing to do.
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Acknowledge Their Feelings
Your first inclination may be to assume your friend’s feelings are a passing thing—and they may be just that. Or you may jump to the conclusion that they’re deeply in love with you—when they’re really not. Whatever you do, don’t assume you know how they feel. Just listen to what they have to say and explain honestly that while you care deeply for them, there are no romantic feelings on your end. It sucks to say it. It’s going to hurt them. But gentle honesty when you turn down a friends is the only chance you have of salvaging the friendship.
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Take Time to Adjust
Finally, odds are good that once the matter has been addressed, you’ll want to go right back to the way things were. However, that could be selfish and might not be possible. Even if your friend seems cool with picking up right where you left off (before they shared their romantic feelings for you), it may be because they’re hoping one day you’ll change your mind and they want to stay close to you until then. You should give them some time and space and let them resume the friendship when and if they’re ready. A lasting friendship will do just that—it will last if it’s meant to do so.
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