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questionmarkDear Mark,

How do you know for sure a guy likes you? I’ve been flirting with this hot guy at starbucks for weeks. We see each other every Saturday morning and smile at each other. The other day we exchanged a few words and had lingering eye contact. I really am attracted to him and would like to ask him out but don’t want to get rejected. I guess I’m not sure of my next step. Hooking up with guys is easy but asking one out on a date is kind of riskier I guess. He’s always with a group of friends but doesn’t look like he has a boyfriend. How do you think I should proceed. -Questioning in Wilton Manors

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Dear Mark,

I’ve been friends with this guy for about a year now. About 6 months ago, his relationship of 14 years ended. It was a traumatic break up for both and my friend has been having a tough time. We’ve spent a lot of time together processing his feelings and just getting to know each other. Over time, I’ve begun to develop feelings for him. I sense that he has some feelings for me as well but has been too wrapped up in his own stuff to acknowledge them.

About 3 weeks ago, we went to dinner and then for a walk on the beach. It was very romantic and at one point, I leaned over and gave him a kiss. Nothing passionate. . .just a tender kiss. I thought it was well received. We continued the night as if nothing had happened. The next morning I received a text from him saying he liked me very much but that he wasn’t ready for anything more than friendship. He said he enjoyed spending time with me and, even though he can’t see into the future, wouldn’t rule out a possible dating relationship with me at some point. I texted back and apologized and told him that even though I had begun to have feelings for him, friendship would be fine for now. Since then, he has avoided my texts and has been ‘too busy’ to spend any more time together. However, I keep obsessively checking his Facebook status and it looks like he is going out all the time with other friends.

What should I do? I’m torn up about this. I’m mad at myself for pushing my agenda. I’m also very upset that he seems to have written me off. It went from us spending 3-4 nights a week together to now, where I haven’t seen him in almost 2 weeks. I feel like I want to go over to his house and explain myself. I keep thinking that if I explained to him I was willing to go at his pace he would let me back into his life. But I keep second guessing myself.

Signed, Desperate in Delray

Dear Desperate,

My sense is that you may be more invested in this connection than he is. It seems as if he has a lot on his plate right now. He is grieving the loss of his relationship. Everyone grieves differently. Some people go into seclusion. Some go out and party. Some get into relationships right away. I can tell your feelings are hurt right now. And I can understand your motivation to want to engage him in a conversation about your feelings. Perhaps your best bet is to follow his cue. Give him some space. Honor his request to ‘go slow’. As difficult as it may seem to see him out having fun with other people, this could be a great learning experience for you. Your ability to not jump into the fire and ‘fix it’ for him will give him a chance to understand his feelings and begin to fix it for himself.

Under the heading “if you love someone let them free, if they come back it was meant to be”, this space that he is taking may be the thing that leads him back to you. Of course, you don’t know that he will come back to you. But, in my opinion, you should look at this as a viable risk to take. Pushing someone into a relationship they are not ready for rarely works out. Go live your life. Anticipate the next time you run into him. Think about what you will say. Focus on your feelings rather than resolving the issue. Go with something like “I haven’t heard from you in a while. Is everything ok?” vs.”Why haven’t you called? Can we get together for dinner so we can talk?” This could be a great learning moment for you. Good luck.

Sincerely,

Mark Rutherford LCSW

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