DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I need some platonic advice:
So, I’m moving away in a few months (I’m living in Taiwan and am returning back to America) and recently a female friend reached out to me wanting to throw a party for me before I leave. Super nice sentiment and all that, but some issues:
– We were kinda seeing each other last year. Nothing serious and far from really anything just spending most of the weekend together and she wanted me to sleep over her place (I insisted on the couch because I didn’t want to cross a line) when we hung out and we kissed a few times. But, the moment another guy she wanted to get with got back into town she ghosted on me for months. I eventually got over it, but still kinda stings, so this is kind of out of left field.
– We have no friends in common, and the friends of hers that I have met I suspect don’t care for me.
– She’s younger than me (23 vs 30) and still parties really hard while my blackout drunk days are behind me.
My question is this:
How do I turn down her party idea politely and suggest maybe we do something else like just go get drinks and grab dinner or something just the two of us without coming across as having any kind of romantic overtures to the idea?
I legitimately just want to have a platonic hang out and I’m worried that if I turn down a bigger party with lots of drunk people I don’t know or really like in lieu of a situation that means more to me like “how about just the two of us” will seem like I’m trying to make a move.
– Kautious in Kaouhsiung
DEAR KAUTIOUS IN KAOUHSIUNG:
I think I need a little more information, KiK. My first question is “how close are you two?” The way you phrase things makes it sound like you haven’t seen much of each other since you had your brief flirtation. That alone raises a few questions for me. But the fact that you also have no friends in common or overlapping social circles is what really makes my Spidey-sense tingle. I don’t think she’s planning anything untoward or malicious, but it’s a little weird to want to throw a farewell party for you when you haven’t exactly been seeing each other in months. I suspect that this is less of a “party” and more just excuse to see you before you go. Maybe she wants to make up for having ghosted on you for so long. Maybe she just really wants a last chance to hang with you before you’re gone for good. Who knows?
That having been said, I don’t think you really need to worry about her taking things the wrong way if you suggest an alternate plan. As a general rule, there’s really nothing wrong with saying “Hey, I’m not really feeling like a party, maybe we can just get dinner instead?” While it’s possible that she would see this as an attempt to make a move, that’s not really your problem. You can’t really control how people interpret what you say; no matter how clearly or explicitly you say it, some people will always hear what they want to hear, regardless.
So if you don’t want a party, just tell her you don’t want a party and suggest some other ideas instead. Then just relax and enjoy this opportunity to see your friend before you leave, instead of getting hung up on “what if she thinks I’m trying to make a move?” Either she’ll recognize that this is a strictly platonic-hang-out from the jump… or she’ll figure it out when you, y’know, don’t hit on her.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I recently moved to a new city in a new country, where I don’t have a great command of the language. I’ve taken some language classes to help me get by as well as meet some people. They have been a success on both fronts. I also met a girl. We hung out a couple of times, both in a group and one on one. We get along well, have similar interests and I was infatuated, so I figured I needed to ask her out. It was honestly a big step, as I’m generally the type of person who prefers to silently pine for someone. However, putting aside my fears of awkwardness (my mantra was “if you don’t treat it like a big deal, then they won’t treat it like a big deal.”, thanks by the way), I asked her out. She said no. I didn’t treat it like a big deal. She didn’t treat it like a big deal. She said, “I’m not ready for a relationship right now, however, would you like to get that drink as friends”. I said “Sure, why don’t we invite some of our mutual friends”. It was a surprisingly good (and not awkward) night, we all went out, had a few drinks as if nothing happened.
Fast forward a month or so, and it’s as if nothing happened. We’re still hanging out, sometimes one on one, and I’m back to silently pining. I can’t move on. I know I can’t ask her again, I’m not about to be the guy who pesters someone to date them. I also don’t want to be hanging around in the hope she changes her mind, as tempting as that seems right now. Back home I think I know what I would do, I’d cut back. I’d stop seeing them as much until I’d found someone else to pine for. The only issue here, in this new country, I’m fairly friend-poor at the moment. It would mean reducing my group of friends by about a 1/5th. Not to mention the person with whom I get on best in this whole goddammed city.
So what am I to do? Doctor, I think I might be coming down with oneitis, do I remove the source of infection or let it simmer knowing it will pass?
Lost in Translation
DEAR LOST IN TRANSLATION: The best way to avoid getting Oneitis is to start seeing more people. If you’re spending all your time around your crush – even as you insist you’re cool with being friends – then you’re not really giving yourself a chance to get over her and realize that there’re other folks out there. The more options you present yourself with, the easier it is to realize that while this one person is very nice, there’re plenty of other people out there who’re just as nice… or possibly even more so.
Now, in your case, you’re dealing with an artificially limited population. Since you don’t speak the language well yet, you’ve been sticking mostly to the folks in the same boat as you – expats, workers from the home country, etc. While that’s totally understandable – it’s remarkable how much even just a familiar accent can be a relief when you’re dealing with culture shock – it means that you’re seeing the same folks over and over again.
So what do you do?
Branch out a little. I can almost guarantee you that if you start poking around online, you’ll find meet-ups and webforums for other fellow travelers; get to know them. You might also want to hop on Tinder or Bumble or other location-based dating apps and send up a flare for folks – locals and otherwise – who might be interested in dating a visitor to their fair country. Not only will this give you an excuse to practice your language skills, but it’ll remind you of just how many awesome women are out there who are looking for relationships and also dig what you have to offer.