From a 20something female reader:
I am trying to figure out what to do about a male friend who emailed me today asking me if I’d like to go for hot chocolate with him next week! (To be clear, I am not interested in him!)
My roommate and I have just had a discussion on whether this is a date, and what I should say in response. This is especially tricky, because this particular guy is not actually a Christian and set foot in a church for the first time a couple of months ago–where I met him and invited him to our Bible study. So now I am wondering if I was too friendly…but also don’t want to be rude…
My brother’s advice: This is a date, and since I am not interested, I must clearly reject him.
My roommate’s advice: There’s no way of telling whether it’s a date or if he just wants to be friends, so I should either 1) go for hot chocolate briefly and say I have to go somewhere else soon afterwards
or 2) go, but bring a couple of other people from Bible study along (even though she admitted that another man we both know says girls should never do this!)
I actually agree with you and think my brother is right (my roommate–yes, female–would debate both of you, though!) 1) I had a little suspicion he was interested in me and 2) He and I are sort of friends, but more just because I was the first person to get to know him at church. He’s a nerdy engineering type who apparently graduated at the top of his class, but socially he acts younger than he is/doesn’t have very good verbal communication skills. I do like him as a person, but I don’t think we even communicate well enough to be actual friends! And he’s not asking me to “hang out” as a friend or do any specific activity–he’s asking me to go for hot chocolate?! It just sounds too date-like.
So yeah, my problem is not really that a friend is asking me to hang out and then acting like it’s a date. It’s more that someone I’m friendly with/spend a lot of time with in group settings is asking me to do something that sounds like a date (but especially over email, I can’t be 100% sure. Or so says my roommate. I’m personally about 95% sure!). And while I want to keep being his “friend” and definitely want him to keep coming out to group social things, I don’t want to encourage any romantic interest if it’s there.
Anyway, I replied to his email with something to the effect of, sure, maybe he and I and some other people from small group could go for hot chocolate sometime. And I had references to “friends” and “group” in there about three times. I’m embarrassed now because I feel like I was almost too obvious. Gahh, I’m not good at this stuff! :(
Maybe your male commenters will have some sage advice.
Hear that, readers? Someone thinks you have sage advice!
Anyhow, to recap: Reader is a 20something Christian female who was nice to a socially unattractive non-Christian engineering nerd. As fate typically has it, said nerd now has a crush on her and asked her out for “next week” via email. Reader consulted her brother, who gave good advice, and her female roommate, who gave FREAKINGLY AWFUL advice. Reader did not want to crush NCEG’s ego, so she tried to give hints that she is not interested by agreeing to see him…WITH A GROUP. SOMETIME. (Who wants to take bets that NCEG will not get the message?)
As obvious as the situation is, in practice it’s very difficult to hurt someone’s feelings when you don’t want to (i.e., when the person has put you in a difficult position where the only truthful option is to cause pain). I probably would have reacted similarly to Reader despite knowing that I needed to shoot down NCEG. Alas, we are trained by society to kill any impulse of bluntness, and it is a hard habit to shake, especially in a church setting, and even more so when dealing with a non-believer.
So, I’m opening the floor to the readership. (Men, your egos may now swell.) One, what should Reader have done, if you think she responded wrongly? Two, what should Reader do from here on out? Three, I’m not above taking predictions for NCEG’s next move. Pride points to the winners.
On a side note: As hopeless as NCEG’s case is, I must give him props for at least taking a step, as beta-ish (OVER EMAIL?** NEBULOUS TIME FRAME?) as it was. Your typical Christian guy would probably have waited another six months, hoping that he could friend his way into her heart.
**+1 for not using Facebook. Email is a bad way to try to get dates, but Facebook is even worse.
Oh, and P.S. to Reader: YES, IT’S A DATE. He wants to spend one-on-one time with you drinking a beverage. Would you prefer a singing telegram deliver the news? Or are such outings not typically recognized as dates in your neck of the woods?