July 10, 2017 at 8:07 pm #693300
Hello! Long-time lurker who was hoping that you all might be able to offer me some advice.
I’m 30 years old and have been in the process of obtaining a second bachelor’s degree for the past few years. I’ve been going to community college while working full-time for a few years now, and am transferring to a four year school in the fall. This involves “Ryan”, a 28 year old classmate. He was my lab partner last summer for a summer class. He’s very nice, but we had nothing in common outside of this class, and when we talk, I always feel like I’m holding up the weight of the conversation.
The class ends, he says we should hang out at some point, and I say, yeah, maybe, but I’m really busy right now, I’ll let you know. He then spends the fall periodically texting me “Hey” and trying to have a conversation with me. At first I respond with “Hey, how are you?” but as the weeks continue to roll by, I stop with the follow-up questions. It’s now, “Hey, how are you?’ “Fine.” Not once do I initiate a conversation or ask to hang out.
Then in early January, he starts nagging me about how I said I owed him a drink when we were in class the previous summer. That vaguely rang a bell, so I said fine. We ended up at a bar for an hour and there was a lot of awkward silences. There’s a football game on the TV, and he asks me if I follow football. When I tell him no, I don’t, he starts getting on my case about how I need to follow football. Then he starts in about how unathletic I am. But thing is, that’s not actually true. He’d never shown much of an interest in my life, but if he had, he’d know that I’d been running half marathons and was in training to return to competitive rowing. When I told him how I’d started weight-lifting and had recently hit a PR for dead-lifts, he demanded I tell him what I lifted, and then scoffed and told me it was “grandma weight”. He then proceeded to tell me that I should be lifting with him because he can lift some really heavy weights. The whole thing was pretty off-putting and came across like he was negging me.
The next day, he texted me again with “Thanks for the drinks” and tried to start another conversation. I wasn’t sure how to proceed from here, so I stopped responding to texts all together. He periodically texted me every couple weeks for a few months, but finally stopped texting me in April. Well, I got accepted to a four year school and in June, went to my orientation. He happened to be there. We studiously ignored each other but a few days later, he texted me, calling me out on ghosting him. So I responded and told him my take on the night we got drinks and told him that while I would be nothing short of professional if we had classes together, he wasn’t someone that I wanted to spend time with. He apologized and told me that he was teasing and didn’t mean to offend me. I apologized for hurting his feelings by ghosting him. We left it with, “Are we cool? Yeah, fine, we’re cool.”
Once again, I think he and I walked away with different interpretations of our conversation. He texted me today again with “Hey”. I was surprised to receive this, because I didn’t think we agreed to be friends, merely that we’d be friendly and professional towards each other in class. Which brings me to my question. While he’s a perfectly fine individual, he’s not someone I want to be friends with. Do you all have any thoughts on a way to draw boundaries but also not sabotage the next two years for me? He’s going to be a classmate and a labmate, as well as potentially a coworker, so I don’t want to burn this bridge but at the same time, I don’t want to spend time with him outside of school or foster any type of relationship. I’m generally trying to adhere to the “be a good human” mantra, although sometimes I certainly get it wrong. Thoughts on how to proceed?July 10, 2017 at 11:21 pm #693306
I think you just say to him, “It was my understanding that we were not going to pursue a friendship outside of school. If you need to speak to me about something class-related, of course we can speak at school, but I won’t be responding to any further personal messages.”
That’s the best I can come up with, that doesn’t completely cut him off academically or professionally, but gets the point across that you’re not going to be having any sort of personal relationship with him. Hopefully, he’ll get it and stop pestering you.July 11, 2017 at 3:46 am #693311
Apparently he thought being cool meant going back to how things were before. I like Essie’s idea of clarifying that you had a different understanding.
Another idea though is, if he’s just texting “hey” would be to respond, “Yes? Did you need something?” If he then tries to make small talk you can say something like, “Sorry, I really don’t have time to chat. The rest of my summer is crazy busy with work (or training or unicorn watching or whatever). Maybe I’ll see you in class this fall.”
Then if he tries to pick things back up in the fall, you will definitely be swamped between work and school and not have any time outside of study/lab groups to spend with him (or even texting him) socially.July 11, 2017 at 5:15 am #693314
This might prove helpful for now & in the future: https://captainawkward.com/2017/06/12/977-i-just-dont-want-to-be-your-friend/#more-34136July 11, 2017 at 5:25 am #693315
I don’t think you have to pretend to be busy. You did ghost him originally, but then you explained why, and you set a boundary. Which he’s not respecting because he “likes” you but doesn’t take no for an answer. I would not respond to any texts. And not explain anything, because you already did. If he asks you again in person, repeat what you said before.
He’s being manipulative and pushy, and he won’t stop if he gets sporadic responses from you. Explanations about your schedule will only encourage him. I think he’s a very insecure guy whose M.O. with women is to be a pain in the ass to elicit a response of any kind. You have to cut him off. Before, you were unintentionally encouraging him by giving him hope that sometime you wouldn’t be busy and would “let him know,” mentioning a drink, responding to some texts.. now you know he’s the type of guy who grabs onto that stuff, tries to make you feel obligated and bad about yourself… Time to make a clean break.July 11, 2017 at 5:35 am #693317
And does he have to be a lab mate? I didn’t take science classes in college, but in HS I chose my lab mate, a girl I was friendly with and who was way smarter than me at science. If you choose to work with him, are you sending the message that you’re friends? If so, don’t do it. You’d have to be in regular contact, and you don’t want to be with this guy. He’s not just sweet and clueless, he’s not really a nice guy.July 11, 2017 at 6:53 am #693322
Another thing, I don’t think he’s at all on the same page with you about where you two left it, so be careful…
“We studiously ignored each other but a few days later, he texted me, calling me out on ghosting him.”
See, this is what he does, he tries to make you feel bad, guilty, obligated, whatever, to get you to respond to him. Don’t.
“So I responded and told him my take on the night we got drinks and told him that while I would be nothing short of professional if we had classes together, he wasn’t someone that I wanted to spend time with.”
Ok, so you were finally quite clear with him, and that’s exactly where you want to leave it, offering NO further explanation, just repeating that again if he presses you in person. No more texts.
“He apologized and told me that he was teasing and didn’t mean to offend me. I apologized for hurting his feelings by ghosting him. We left it with, “Are we cool? Yeah, fine, we’re cool.””
Here, I think he believes that his apology to you for his behavior and your apology and concession that you’re cool, overrides what you said just before. He thinks he fixed the situation. Don’t let him think that. Stick to what you said about being professional in class but not wanting to spend time with him. No texting. Ever. If he asks you in person to hang, say “no, thank you,” like in Heather’s article. If he keeps bugging you about why, just say you prefer to keep it professional as classmates but not to spend time with him. Don’t explain why.
And again, I’d avoid sitting near him in class or being lab mates.July 11, 2017 at 7:40 am #693328
Definitely enforce your boundaries. When someone pushes and pushes you to do something that you are obviously not wanting to do they never have your best interest in mind. He knows, beyond a doubt, that you don’t want to spend time with him and you don’t want to text. That’s obvious. So he pushes you to do those things anyway. Don’t. Just don’t. Don’t engage. You don’t need to make excuses. You don’t need to let him down easy. You don’t need to worry about his feelings. You just need to be professional for your own sake. He will probably try to push you into doing more. He will probably try “remembering” that you were going to take him for drinks again. Don’t get pushed into any of that.July 11, 2017 at 9:39 am #693348
I think the message Essie is suggesting is perfect. It gets your boundaries across and hopefully he gets the hint. However, I get the feeling he may take this as an opportunity to come up with literally anything remotely related to class as an excuse to text you. Hopefully I’m wrong but if this happens, just block him on your phone. If you have to be in the same classes as him, try to sit on the opposite side of the classroom if possible.July 11, 2017 at 9:58 am #693350
Cut off all contact. He will seize on any attention you give him to pursue more. Block his number if it bothers you to see his texts.July 11, 2017 at 9:58 am #693351
I personally wouldn’t respond. As long as you’re polite and courteous when you have to be around him in person, I don’t think you will have burned any bridges. I think you misstepped when you went out for drinks with him knowing that he likes you but that you have no desire to spend time with him outside of school. It’s not a huge deal, but now he sounds clingy and annoying. (I can’t stand when people only say “Hey” in texts. Like what is that.) You’ve already told him what your boundaries are, and you’ve seen that he’s fairly persistent even when you give him minimal responses, so stop engaging.July 11, 2017 at 11:14 am #693359
Like someone said above, he is definitely not on the same page as you are right now with the “cool” definition.
Just stop responding, unless he comes up with something strictly about school. I’m sure he’ll get the hint.
I have a friend like this, he texts me like I’m Google. “So, do you know what’s good at the movies this days?” Against my true wishes I respond, “I don’t know, Wonder Woman?” He goes and aks “Yeah, what time is it playing?”. Dude really? Fucking google it. I just stopped responding to his texts when they’re like this and he got it.