Herbert13 asks: I am 13 and I have had lots of boyfriends but this time I don’t know what to do! There is this boy at school that I find really annoying and today he asked me out. At first I thought he was joking but then when I properly looked at him I saw that he wasn’t. I don’t want a boyfriend and I don’t have feelings for him, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings. I tried asking my friends but they just joke about it. What should I do? Please help.
Hi Herbert13 –
The simple job you’re after is to Let Him Down Easy. It’s a common problem, and one that’s been around forever.
There are a lot of ways to do this, and most are just awful! Telling him you want to be friends (when you don’t) just sets him up for more disappointment. Trying to avoid the topic and wait for him to move on will leave him hanging in pain. Harshly rejecting him will make him feel ashamed for having dared to approach someone.
Instead, the answer is to be kind, simple, direct, and clear. What you’re saying to him is that you don’t feel that connection with him. That’s it. It’s not that there’s something wrong with him, or that he’s not good enough, or that he’s made a mistake. Smile, and kindly say “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that connection with you. Thank you for asking, though. I’m very flattered.” Don’t even mention that you’re not looking for a boyfriend now, as that might make him think he should wait till you are!
And then… LEAVE IT ALONE! Let him go lick his wounds, and he’ll be able to deal with it soon.
And the coolest thing is that he’ll like you for it. Believe it or not. When someone approaches someone romantically, they’re so vulnerable to shaming and hurt that a nice kind cutoff is about as good a reaction as they can conceive (other than you bursting into tears and saying “Oh I’ve been waiting for this all my life, yes I love you madly!” of course). You probably will, in losing a suitor, create a fan.
But be sure to give him the space he needs to feel that. Again: Kind, Simple, Direct, Clear.