A woman from New York City asks:
There is this clingy guy who keeps text messaging me and calling me asking me out. Sometimes I don’t even respond and then I feel bad and that I’m being super rude. The times he has asked me out I have told him days ahead of time I can’t, but he still calls me the day he wants to go out and keeps insisting, and my answer does not change I still say I can’t. My friends tell me to just ignore him completely but I feel maybe I should just tell him I’m not interested, because he doesn’t seem to get it. He texted me last night and I did not respond. He now texted me again asking me out for dinner which I don’t want to go to. What’s the best approach? My female friends say ignore him and my male friends say “friend zone” which I’m not even sure how that works. Wouldn’t he still be hoping for something even if we are just friends? Anyhow I’m more inclined to tell him I’m not interested. As horrible as it sounds is it better to be done over text? I hate the idea of texting to blow someone off but I don’t want to see him. As a man of experience, what do you suggest?
Around 6:00 I answered his dinner invitation and told him I was still at work and I had just eaten which is true. Then he asked if I wanted to go out for drinks and I didn’t respond and he just texted now asking if I’m still at work. Wow!! You’d think we had sex and that’s why he is so persistent but we’ve seen each other 2 times. Oh and he said he missed me, yikes!!!
Practical Happiness answers:
I find this question somewhat ironic because of of common the complaints about flaking are this day and age. Most people, and especially girls, have no problem ignoring or at least not being very prompt about responding even to the guys who they are interested or might be interested in. It’s nice to hear that there are women out there that have such strong personal conscience and such high expectations from their own behavior. But… back to your question –
Simply ignoring the clingy guy is really not a big deal. You don’t owe him anything and you are certainly not in customer service in this case, so you don’t have to respond to his texts of e-mails. Most guys will “fade” after being ignored for a while. If you are in the mood to be a little more forward, you can text him that you are not interested or, to avoid the risk of “negotiations” of why you are not interested, just text him that you met someone you really like and you have been seeing each other. “I have a boyfriend” is the best response to any guy who asks you out and who you are not interested in, whether by text, by phone, or in person. Here, the longer you text him back with vague refusals, the longer he will linger, bugging you and hoping that you might just change your mind.
“Just friends” is out of the question when it comes to dealing with any clingy guy. In this case, this kind of solution would come from a wrong place – from a desire to please a guy rather than from where actual friendship comes – your own desire to see him and to spend time with him because you like him as a friend. And of course, as you point out, being “friends” in light of your recent interactions and him pursuing you so persistently would only give him hope that if he continues pushing, there will be more than just friends. It’s nice for an ego to have a friend who you know likes you and is attracted to you, but the downside of the awkwardness associated with having him to reject again is greater than the attention you will get from him until that happens.
Remember, as noble as that might goal might be, you are not supposed to please every person and you certainly don’t owe anything to any clingy guy who you barely know. Often, rejecting someone will make you feel guilty, and it’s perfectly normal. There are things that cannot be done 100% cleanly without raising any negative emotions, including divorce, breaking up, firing someone from their job, and rejecting someone who is interested in you.