Ecstatic Kling: Forward Means Direct

By: Rebecca Kling

This is Ecstatic Kling, a sex column for the LGBTQueer community. Written by a queer identified trans* woman, this column will come from a Queer perspective but is open to questions from all.  Whomever needs the answer, be it you, your friend, or “your friend.” All bodies, all genders, all sexualities.

Dear Rebecca,
I met this guy who plays on a softball team that I used to be a part of. He ‘friended’ me on Facebook and we chatted a little bit. He then mentioned that he has a sister who lives in NY and might be making frequent trips in my direction in the future (he lives east of NY and my town). We made plans for him to stop by on his way to visit his sister one weekend and we grabbed coffee and walked around town. He is a nice guy, and I enjoyed hanging out with him, but really just see him as a friend. Today he texted me asking if I was going to be in his direction any time soon to hang out (he lives about 2 hours away). Then he offered his place if I ever needed a place to stay. Then said that he was going to ask a forward question (via text). He asked “Are you dating anyone and/or do you consider yourself available? (Whatever your response, I won’t read it as interest, don’t worry)”
What do I say to this? I am currently single and looking to date, but I don’t know this guy that well and I am not super into distance. Also, I feel like for a “forward question” that wasn’t very forward. Please help.
-Lost in the Datastream

You’re absolutely right: That “forward” question wasn’t very forward at all. This person is dropping (strong) hints that he’s interested in you as a potential dating partner, but isn’t willing to actually step up and say so. How you proceed depends entirely on how you would answer his real question: Would you be interested in dating him?

It sounds like you already know the answer to that question. So how do you respond to his text?

First and foremost, you don’t actually need to give him any more information than he asked for. He explicitly and intentionally didn’t ask if you were interested in him, he didn’t ask your type, and he didn’t ask whether you’re free next Friday. So don’t answer those questions. I have, on occasion, been accused of being overly forward. (Actual-forward, not “I’m going to use the word ‘forward’ and then beat around the bush”-forward.)  There’s some truth to those accusations, but the real explanation for my forwardness is that I don’t like games, and I do like knowing where I stand. Few things frustrate me more, in the context of social interactions, than hiding behind ambiguous or vague language.

So you could answer, simply and honestly “Yes I’m seeing someone” or “No, I’m single at the moment.” End it there, and then he has to actually follow up if he wants to push the issue further.

But you’re also allowed to tell a little white lie, in the interest of keeping things friendly. It sounds like you want to stay friends with him, and being overly blunt or dismissive might not help in that regard. In that case, say something along the lines of, “I’m actually not looking at the moment.” (Even if you are looking to date someone, this is a safe lie; including “at the moment” means you could end up dating someone this weekend and safely say that things have changed since you sent that text.)

That would be a polite, gentle brush off, without commenting on whether or not you’re interested in him. If you really want to pursue a friendship with him, you could even follow up with trying to find a time to get together, or a phone call to see how he’s doing, or asking him what he’s up to this weekend. All of those questions would continue (but redirect!) the conversation. If he continues to push things after that, he’s missing your cues and opening himself up to a final, and direct, “I’m not interested in you.”

Good luck! Let me know how things turn out.

-Rebecca

PS – You’re not interested in him, but (just to be thorough) here’s the text you’d want to send if you did like him:

I’m not seeing anyone at the moment 😉

In the context of flirtatious texts, the winky-face is the international symbol for “I would like to be naked with you.”

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