Being “just friends” when he wants more may be tricky terrain to travel. On the other hand, girl-guy friendships can survive -- even when one party expresses interest in romance -- as long as both people are willing to work at maintaining the relationship and can get over the awkwardness of mismatched feelings, suggests a 2011 study conducted at Boise State University. If you want a friendship and not a romance, start with some honest communication.
Even if he hasn’t come right out and professed his love, you may need to let your own feelings be known. In fact, if you can cut him off at the lover’s pass, you’ll give him a chance to save face and better the odds of keeping the friendship alive. However, if you’ve misread his signals and he’s not romantically interested in you, you’re the one who risks looking like a fool. If you are not interested in treading on that high wire, consider telling him how glad you feel to have a guy in your life who is just a friend. He should get the hint.
2. Just Saying No
You probably already know how to let someone down easily. Adhering to the Golden Rule and treating him like you'd hope to be treated is a good rule of thumb. Use the same polite, but firm technique you would to turn down a date in your dealings with your guy friend. A person sometimes gets so caught up in thinking about how the person being rejected is feeling that she doesn’t do what’s best for her, warns psychologist and self-proclaimed “attraction doctor” Jeremy Nicholson. He suggests a courteous, but steadfast approach when letting someone know you’re not interested “with as little judgment, disrespect and hard feelings as possible.”
3. Positive Spin
If he’s really into you, it may be pretty hard to convince him to settle for a lesser version of what he is imagining. But you have to try. If he can’t have you as a girlfriend, explain the perks of having a best friend of the opposite gender. With sex off the table, your friend gets to be himself – completely. He doesn't have to woo you, pay for your dinner or be nice to your friends and family he doesn't like. Guys are often reluctant to share feelings with other guys; you can be that outlet for him. And you can give him the woman's perspective on dating and even introduce him to some of your single girlfriends when he's ready.
4. Make the Choice
In spite of the evidence offered by the 2000 study published in the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships” supporting the idea of cross-sex friendships being able to thrive, such relationships depend entirely upon the two people involved. Even if you’re on board to have a platonic friendship with the guy, he may not be. Ask him honestly if he can be just your friend. If he cannot, you may need to do the kindest -- and perhaps most difficult -- thing, and say goodbye.
- Science Daily: One-Way Romantic Attraction? Ways to Save Your Guy-Gal Friendship
- Psychology Today: Dealing with Rejection Part 2: Saying No to Others
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: "I Like you... as a Friend": The Role of Attraction in Cross-Sex Friendship
- Men's Health: Platonic Friendships
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images