Occasionally in life, you will meet people who like or have feelings for you but do not respond. It can be awkward, especially if these people are your classmates or work colleagues because you must find ways to interact with them that are cordial and polite while avoiding unnecessary contact. There are ways to manage the issue gently so that no one gets hurt.

1.Restricting Your Interactions:

(a)Limit alone time:

Limiting your alone time with the person who likes you is one way to distance yourself from them. Feelings often build and progress as we spend more time alone with someone, but you can limit this to some extent.

(1)If they invite you to lunch, tell them you have other plans or invite others to join you.

(2)If you are needed to work on a project in pairs, try to choose a partner as soon as possible so that the person who likes you does not pick you.

(3)Congregate in groups: You can’t always avoid the person who likes you. Maybe you work in a small office or attend a small school. In these cases, make sure that any time spent near the person who likes you is also spent in the presence of others.

(b)Be cordial:

There’s no reason to be rude to someone just because they like you unless they’ve done something rude or inappropriate. Because this person most likely has feelings for you, being friendly and polite to them will prevent unnecessary hurt on their part while also keeping your soul clean in relation to your interactions with them.

(1)For example, if they greet you with “good morning, beautiful,” you can simply say “good morning” to them and continue walking to your target.

(c)Avoid being flirty:

Even if you don’t like this person, knowing that someone has a crush on you is flattering, and it’s easy to play into it on occasion. However, this should be avoided because it can lead to confusion and mixed signals, which will likely lead to their behavior continuing and their feelings deepening.

(1)Do not laugh too hard at their jokes.

(2)Don’t be touchy feel.  Unless absolutely necessary, avoid touching them.

(3)Do not compliment them unless it is related to their job or school. Other compliments could be misinterpreted as flirting. Instead of complimenting their looks or intelligence, you could say something like, “great job on that project!” at work or school.

(d)Keep your emotions in check:

Being around someone you don’t like who likes you can be difficult. You might feel uncomfortable, guilty, or even irritated. When you see them, try to keep your emotions in check. A person who likes you is expecting an emotional reaction from you; don’t give it to them.

(1)Pay attention to your facial expressions. When you see them, try not to frown or smile too broadly.

(2)If you are feeling nervous, take a few deep breaths and sit for a few moments.

(e)Ask your friends for assistance:

If your friends are aware of your crush and are aware that you dislike the person, they will most likely assist you in avoiding contact with them. If they see the person reaching you, they can either pull you away or interact with both of you so you don’t have to be alone with them.

(1)If your friends are not present and you are alone with the person, you can text them and ask them to call you instead, allowing you to “exit” the situation.

(f)Avoid being overly responsive:

Persistently and passionately responding to texts or phone calls can send the wrong message. If they text you about work or school, respond directly and concisely. If they text or call you about something unrelated to work or school, it may be best not to respond or to find a way to end the chat.

(1)As an example, if they text you something like “what’s up?” You could respond, “I’m a little busy right now; see you at work tomorrow!”

(g)Give them some space:

Maybe the person who likes you is someone you like, but not romantically. These are tricky situations because you still want to see the person but don’t want to lead them on or cause them to misinterpret your actions. Allow the person some space from you in these situations.

(1)Make no contact with them unless absolutely necessary.

(2)Take a raincheck for a while if your mutual friends are going out and you know the person will be there. Their emotions may fade with time.

(h)Restrict your social media interactions as follows:

If you are not friends with this person on Facebook, or if you have an Instagram or Twitter account, consider making it private so they cannot see your photos or read your posts.

(1)If you already have friends, do not delete or block them unless they are stalking you or commenting on all of your posts. You can, however, limit what they can see on certain accounts. For example, on Facebook, you can specify who can and cannot see what you post in the sharing settings.

2. Establishing Boundaries:

(a)After a certain time, do not respond to texts or phone calls:

Receiving a call from a coworker after work, or after 10 p.m. in general, may send a mixed signal. Instead, if you need to, call them back the next day during daylight hours.

(1)Do not respond to drunk texts or phone calls.

(b)Remain firm:

Don’t let your feelings for them cause you to backtrack on your promise. Remind yourself of your conversation with them. It is rude to feed into their emotions if you do not share their feelings. Show them kindness by keeping your word and sticking to your promises.

(1)For example, if the person calls and asks you to reconsider, remind them firmly that you do not have feelings for them in that way. They need time to recover from you and giving them false hope will not benefit either of you.

(c)Give yourself permission to do the following:

Don’t let your guilt over unrequited feelings consume you. Your feelings are valid, and it is acceptable to dislike someone. Remind yourself that not everyone is out to get you, and instead concentrate on your own happiness.

(1)If you are unhappy with your decision, try to put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone to accompany you out of pity or guilt? Certainly not! Maintain your focus on yourself.

(d)Do not reject them:

Though it may be tempting to avoid this person at all costs in order to avoid uncomfortable situations, doing so may hurt their feelings and drive them to seek you out even more. If you see them approaching, greet them and keep moving.

(1)However, not ignoring them does not obligate you to linger. Maintain a low-key conversation while still acknowledging their presence.

(e)Do not disrespect them in front of others:

If this person is annoying, mean, or continues to make advances toward you, it’s easy to want to spread rumors about them to others. However, instead of adding fuel to the fire, concentrate on continuing to show them kindness.

(1)Pay special attention to not disrespecting coworkers; doing so will cause you even more problems if you work together.

3.Taking It Easy on Them:

(a)Take them aside for a conversation:

You may discover that simply limiting your interactions with them is insufficient. Even if you believe your actions have made it clear that you do not want to be in a relationship with this person, some people need to hear it directly. This will clear up any confusion or skepticism they may have about your feelings for them.

(1)You could start the conversation by saying something like, “I have a feeling, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you might have a crush on me.” I’d like to let you know that, while I’m flattered, I’m not interested in the same way you are. I hope you get what I’m saying.”

(2)Be quick! If the person expresses an interest in you, don’t let their feelings stay. Contact them as soon as possible.

(b)Be truthful:

It’s easy to revert or sugarcoat during these conversations in order to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. This, however, will not be beneficial in the long run. Be completely honest with the person and avoid telling any white lies.

(1)For example, many people make the mistake of avoiding unwanted contact from someone else by using the excuse “I’m dating someone.” Regardless of your marital status, you should make it clear to the person that you are not interested.

(2)Avoid being overly dramatic. Even if they like you, if they are appropriate, they will understand. Also, even though you are endearing, this is not the end of the world for them.

(c)If necessary, accept responsibility:

Consider whether you have previously led them on, if you have spent excessive time alone with them, accepted gifts from them, or flirted in any way. When you speak with them, say sorry for your part in the confusion.

(1)For example, when you reflect on your relationship, you may realize that you were flirtatious in the past. You could say something like, “I know I’ve flirted with you in the past, and I’d like to say sorry.” I can be flirtatious at times, but I realize I must have given you the wrong impression, and I apologize.”

(d) Make use of “I” statements.

Rather than focusing on what you don’t like about them, explain why you don’t want to be with them. While still conveying the message you want to say, “I” statements sound less argumentative and often result in the other party feeling less aggressive than when using “you” statements.

(1)For example, instead of saying “You act strange to me,” you could say “I just don’t have feelings for you in that way.” It’s not necessary to make them feel bad about themselves.

(e)Offer friendship:

Offer your friendship to this person if you genuinely like them as a friend. This will allow you both to proceed politely and kindly but in a non-romantic manner.

(1)You can say something like, “even though I am not interested in being in a relationship, I believe we could move more towards friendship with each other,” and see how they respond.

(2)However, you must be prepared for them to decline your offer. Their feelings for you may be too powerful for them to accept friendship. Thank them for their candor and respect their wishes if they tell you this.

4.Have a Face-to-Face Discussion:

I know it’s a hard conversation to have, and you probably want to avoid it as much as possible, but that may not be the best strategy. Talk to this person in an open and direct manner, listen to what they have to say, and clear the air about how you feel. Forbid from having this conversation via text or phone call because a lot can get lost in translation or be misconstrued.

5.Limit your personal interactions with them:

Because you are aware of their feelings for you and your inability to respond positively, you should limit your time alone with this person. This restriction applies to social media and other forms of communication as well. The truth is that the more time you spend talking or being with someone, the more space there is for romantic feelings to develop.

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7.Don’t give them false hope:

If you’re not interested in dating them, just be honest and direct about it. Don’t give the impression that you might change your mind when you know you won’t. Don’t flirt with them or do anything that could give them mixed signals about your interest. Try to keep things as casual and non-sexy as possible.

8.Do not use them to make yourself feel better:

Even if you don’t like the person, knowing that they have a serious crush on you can be enticing. You might even be tempted to play along now and then for the ego boost that comes with their attention. It is not fair to take advantage of another person’s feelings in this manner or to try to exploit them for your own gain.

9.Accept responsibility for how you may have facilitated their affection for you:

While you are not to blame for someone falling in love with you, you may have aided them in their pursuit by leading them on. Consider your relationship with this person. Have you been flirtatious, accepted random gifts, or spent an inordinate amount of time with them? If you did, you may have given them the wrong impression. Please accept my apologies and do your best to limit them.

10.Ease them down:

There is no reason to be rude, conceited, or inappropriate to someone just because they like you. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them the same way you would like to be treated. Be polite, try not to make them feel terrible for liking you. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like about them, focus on yourself and why you can’t be with them.

11.Don’t let guilt get a hold on you:

It’s natural to feel bad about not being willing to reciprocate someone’s feelings for you, especially if you care about them and your current relationship. But what are your plans? Date someone you don’t want to be with for pity’s sake? That’s insane. Recognize that it is acceptable to dislike someone. Your feelings, or lack thereof, are valid. Remember that you can’t give everyone exactly what they want. They may be upset right now, but it will pass and everyone will be happy.

12.Leave the door open for friendship:

It may be awkward between you for a while, but it is critical that you continue to be nice to them. If you want them to be a part of your life, let them know that friendship is an option. There is no need to avoid or shun them as long as they are willing to accept that being friends is the best you can do. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t like someone back; they can still play a significant role in your life. Make sure it’s something both of you want.

13.Develop and adhere to Boundaries:

Given that you do not have a romantic interest in this person, a good way to proceed would be to establish appropriate boundaries to prevent the situation from worsening. That means no flirting back, no texting or calling them at all hours of the day, and no doing anything else that might irritate their feelings for you.

14.Be kind but direct:

It is necessary to inform your friend that you do not have feelings for them, but it is equally important to do so in a sensitive manner. Remember, it’s difficult to tell someone how you feel and have them not reciprocate, but it’s even more difficult when it’s a friend. You know so much about that person — you’ve been through so much together — and now your friend may believe that the person they care about the most is ignoring them because they aren’t good enough. That is a massive mistake. Especially since it is false! Assure your friend how much you value them. Tell them how valuable their friendship is to you and how you don’t want this condition to jeopardize it.

15.Don’t make it a big deal:

Protecting your friend is part of being kind and maintaining your friendship. If you have mutual friends, they are likely to be aware of the situation. That’s fine; you and your friend both need your friends’ support now more than ever! But, for both of your sakes, try not to let the situation turn your entire group upside down. It is possible to take sides. Gossip has the potential to turn things ugly, or at the very least discomfort. It can be humiliating to like someone who does not like you back, especially when everyone knows about it. If you don’t spend too much time focusing on the situation, it will be easier for you, your friend, and the rest of your group to move on. Seek help when you need it — and understand and accept that your buddy has the same right — but do so in a way that is considerate of your friend.


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