Dear Em & Lo,
How does one gracefully say “Thanks, but no thanks”? It seems to happen a lot to me: I treat the guy like a friend — meaning I don’t make innuendo (no puns please!) nor banter, etc., I just converse fercrissake! — and a few weeks (or months, or hours) later he’s dropping heavy hints and gazing at me with That Look. I then try to avoid any situations that may lead him on; i.e. refusing a drink together, though I wouldn’t mind having a friendly one. Also, I don’t want to lose friends who suddenly want to move it a notch further than I really want. Any ways to let them down gently?
– Unwilling Goddess
This could be happening through no fault of your own — perhaps you’re simply too gorgeous for guys to take you seriously as a drinking buddy. Then again, perhaps you just don’t realize that you’re flirting (or don’t want to admit it to yourself or to us). After all, male friendship can be quite an ego boost. You get to crack him up, enjoy being his “buddy,” punch him playfully in the arm while pounding cans of Bud, feel good about yourself for being able to hang with the guys — and simultaneously know that he can’t help but notice your tight jeans.
Even if you’re not attracted to him, it’s always nice to be noticed…until it turns into That Look. Also, we have a sneaking suspicion that men are hardwired to misread, misinterpret, and overestimate women’s signals–perhaps it’s some weird evo-psych method of increasing the number of women they hit on, and thus the increasing the chances they have of mating.