A delicate situation

A friend told me today that she had gotten into a very unfortunate conversation with a guy. He had given unmistakeable signals that he was attracted to her, so she had sent him an email saying that those feelings weren’t reciprocated.

What ensued was a big blow-up. He denied ever having sent her those signals in the first place, and they got into a big argument about it. She asked me for advice.

I told her that the most emotionally evolved person I know has a great way of dealing with these things: She never suggests that she knows what anybody else is thinking. Rather, she makes sure to be clear about what she is thinking, and assumes that everyone else will take similar responsibility for themselves.

Applied to this situation, what my friend should have done was simply tell the guy that she was not interested in anything beyond a friendship, without suggesting that the guy is into her.

Of course this is not so easy to do. The very fact that she is raising the subject could be seen as implying that the guy is into her. So the wording needs to be delicate.

But the principle is clear: When you are dealing with a person who is in an emotionally vulnerable position, do not ever act as though you can read their mind (even if you can). They’ll just get angry at you.

Especially if you’re right.

2 thoughts on “A delicate situation”

  1. Your friend could also have backed off the need to be right after getting his response to the email. I don’t know the details beyond what you’ve said, but it sounds like she could have responded with something like “I’m sorry if I misinterpreted your intentions. How embarrassing. I’m glad we’re on the same page.” It sounds disingenuous perhaps but if you’re authentically going to come from the position that you don’t know what other people are thinking then you have to consider that maybe that’s true.

  2. I know many women who assume that all men want to sleep with them. I got in touch with a dear friend who I had not seen for a decade and told her that I wanted to see her for lunch or whatever was convenient. Eventually she said, ok, but realize that this is just lunch and that is all it is and it is not going any further, and I thought to myself, what did I do to deserve such abuse?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *