Recently, a friend rather unexpectedly told me that he liked me. More than that, he proposed. This is a friend who I have never thought of in that way, nor do I wish to date, much less marry. So it was quite a shock to have him tell me all this. It really came out of left field.
Both of us are living abroad, and we have different home countries. So I could easily avoid him until I returned home in a few months. But to do so means that I will have to almost cut off an entire circle of friends. And I have a few good friends whom I don’t want to lose. Some have become like family to me, while I have been away from home.
How do I move past this awkward situation, so that I can face him? I really hope to move past this and don’t want to have to ‘run away,’ but I just don’t know how to! Please help. — An Awkward Proposal
Wait, you weren’t even dating — you hadn’t even crossed any platonic boundaries — and this guy proposed to you? Like, a serious proposal? Did he have a ring and a speech? Or, was it more like, “Aw, you’re so great. We should get married!” Are you sure he was being serious? People joke around all the time about getting married or asking someone to marry them. You say you’re from different countries, both living abroad; is it possible his intention/meaning was lost in translation?
Well, in any case, whether he meant the proposal as a joke or not, it’s not your place to be embarrassed or feel awkward; it’s his. If I were in your shoes, I’d act as if nothing happened. I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid the guy, nor would I treat him any differently than I had been. I certainly wouldn’t give up my circle of friends just because some guy who hangs around with us made a social faux pas involving me.
But, wait. Your letter leaves me wanting to hear more. Did you give the guy an answer? Did you tell him you’d think about it? Did you laugh? Did you cover your mouth in shock? So many ways to respond! I’m dying to know what your initial reaction was — it would certainly help in advising you further. If you told him, “No,” then no other response is needed. If you told him, out of sheer shock and awe, that you’d have to get back to him, then tell him as soon as possible that, while you’re flattered by his proposition, you not only aren’t interested in him romantically, you aren’t interested in planning marriage with anyone you have no foundation of a relationship with.
Finally, looking ahead to some Friday night years from now when you’re entertaining friends or strangers at a bar with tales of your youth over a round of Jack and Cokes, at least you’ll have a unique story to share with them. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from awkward situations over the years, it’s that sharing them later over cocktails with friends always makes the initial sting of embarrassment worth it. Well, except that one time … but we won’t talk about that.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.