Make It Stop: “How Do I Clear The Air After I Told My Friend I Liked Him And He Rejected Me?”

Last month I told my friend Craig I had feelings for him. He turned me down, saying he’d rather keep our friendship the way it was. Although it stung at the time, I’ve since licked my wounds and I’m feeling okay about it. However, he’s been keeping his distance from me. How do I make it not awkward between us and get our friendship back on track?

First of all, congrats on having the courage to put yourself out there. Instead of pining, you took a gamble on love. Good for you. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Unfortunately, his discomfort is part of the risk you took. This is probably the worst case scenario you had in your head and now it’s happening. Not only did he not reciprocate your feelings, but now he’s pulled away too. What a nightmare, right?

I’m sure you want to grab him by the lapels and let him know that it’s okay to start sending each other links to funny Internet memes again, but it sounds like he’s not quite ready for that yet. The good news is that your friendship with Craig is absolutely salvageable, but it all depends on the way you handle these events you’ve put in motion.

First, a word about awkwardness. The key to not being awkward is simple: don’t be awkward. More specifically, Do NOT to do the following:

  • As tempting as it is to address the elephant in the room, don’t make big speeches or elaborate grand gestures towards him in an effort to let him know that you want to resume the friendship.
  • Do not put him on the spot or make him explain himself or his emotions to you.
  • If you see him in a social setting, don’t appear tense, nervous, or angry. I know it’s hard, but be as normal and relaxed as possible.
  • Don’t text or message him in an effort to get his attention.
  • Don’t try to make plans with him right now. Treat him like he’s your best friend’s brother. Just keep it unbelievably chill.
  • This might sound obvious, but don’t drunk text him or try to talk to him when you’re inebriated. It’s never a good idea!
  • Don’t gossip about your situation with Craig to your mutual friends. The quicker you put it in the past, the easier it will be for both of you.

If you’re cool, calm, and collected about The Great Turn Down Incident of 2015, he’s more likely to mirror your behavior. So given that you swear not to be a pushy drunk who tries to confront him before he’s ready (I actually have a PhD in that subject), here are things you can do to put you guys on the path to Friendtown, Population: You and Craig:

  • Be prepared for some temporary radio silence on his part. I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t hear from him for a month or two. That’s normal and understandable.
  • If you see him at social occasions, be friendly and pleasant. Communicate with your body language that look at him as a friend, not a failed love interest.
  • Try to relax. Time and space are on your side here. The more time that passes, the easier this will get, and the sooner he will be ready to resume your friendship.

So when will you know when it’s time to reconnect? If your friendship is important to him, he’ll reach out when he’s ready and not a second before. It’s out of your hands when that is, so the best you can do it to accept his need for space with grace.

Lastly, and this is one of the most important things you can do, it might help if you keep busy and date other people. Maybe when he hears that you’re involved with someone else, he’ll get the message that you’ve moved on. Additionally, I’m sure if he sees you dating someone else, it’ll take an enormous amount of pressure off him, which is a good thing. If you play your cards right, when he’s ready, you’ll be back to being buds in no time. Good luck!

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.