How to Stay Friends With a Guy Friend That Asked You Out

Four Parts:Preserving the Friendship After a RejectionDetermining Why You Don’t Want to DateSetting Boundaries If He Won't Take No For an AnswerSending the Right Signals

So you're good friends with a guy—maybe even best friends. Then he asks you out, and you don’t feel the same way. You don't know what to do; of course you want to stay friends with him, but is that possible? Don't despair! There are ways of maintaining a friendship after romance is suggested. You just have to be more careful than before.

Part 1
Preserving the Friendship After a Rejection

  1. 1
    Tell him clearly how you feel. In order to preserve a friendship with a guy whose affection you don't return, both of you should know clearly why you are saying no. When you explain to him why your feelings are different, it may be easier for him to accept.
    • If you don't know exactly why you are saying no, you won't be able to tell him, and he might get his feelings hurt even more. Spend some time figuring out why if you don't immediately know why, and then come back and tell him (if you needed some time after he asked you out).
    • Honesty is an important trait for friends to have.[1] If you want to maintain your friendship with this guy, then being honest about how you really feel is important.
  2. 2
    Be kind. While you are telling him no, make sure that you are kind and gentle. Don't laugh or be sarcastic--he is being serious, and you should respect him by also being serious. You want to keep your friendship intact, and laughing at him may push him away.
    • Don't bring up that he asked you out in a group setting. This is not only embarrassing and awkward, but he might interpret this as making fun of him. Let him decide whether or not to talk about it in front of others.
    • Try to have some empathy for what he must be feeling. This is an important quality for friends to have.[2] If you were in his position and liked someone who did not like you back, how might you feel?
    • Keep in mind that it can be easy to accidentally lead him on again if you are too kind. Be kind but firm, maintaining your decision not to date him.
  3. 3
    Maintain your favorite activities. The best way to go back to being friends is to resume your activities from before he asked you out, as though nothing has changed. You both might be able to forget it ever happened this way.
    • For example, if you used to study together on the weekend, then continue to do that. Or, if you and some friends used to go out for coffee together once a week, keep up that commitment. Try to treat him the same way you did before.
  4. 4
    Change the subject if people try to get you to talk about it. You will likely experience some awkward moments after turning down your guy friend, especially if other friends know about it and bring it up in a group setting. Instead of acting embarrassed or trying to walk away, just change the subject. Loyalty is important among friends, so it is important for you to avoid gossiping about your friend or making fun of him behind his back.[3]
    • Try saying something like, “I don’t feel like talking about that. How was your weekend?” After a while, people will lose interest in the subject.
  5. 5
    Let him know it's OK if he needs space. If a guy friend is wanting to date you but you don't feel the same way, he may need some time to get over you. Let him know that this is OK with you because your friendship is more important than getting to talk to him every day.
    • Don't get upset if he decides not to talk to you for a while. Be aware that even though he doesn't tell you that he needs time away from you, this doesn't necessarily mean that he is angry with you. He just needs time to figure things out.
    • If he continues to ignore you after a long period of time, you may want to ask if he'll sit down with you and talk about it. This will help both of you gain closure if he has decided not to be friends anymore, or may help you get your friendship back.

Part 2
Determining Why You Don’t Want to Date

  1. 1
    Figure out if it’s because of chemistry. Knowing why you don’t want to date a guy friend will help you in many ways when he asks you out, from feeling less guilty to helping him understand and back off. One reason you may not want to date is because you don’t feel any physical attraction or chemistry. If you don’t feel any physical attraction or feelings for your friend, tell him.
    • Be aware that you will feel some chemistry with guy friends; otherwise, they wouldn’t be your friend. But it’s not chemistry that will go anywhere. For example, you may feel drawn to a guy because he is funny or shares one of your interests, but you don't want to have sex with him. Being sexually attracted is a defining feature of chemistry that will lead to dating.[4]
  2. 2
    Decide to keep your friendship intact. You may want to turn down your guy friend when he asks you out because you don’t want to ruin your friendship. Even if you feel something that is more than friendship for him, if you are concerned about losing him as a friend, you may want to say “no” to dating.
    • Be aware that this reason for not dating may not hold out for either party; if a guy senses that he has a chance, he will most likely keep trying. If you are a little bit attracted to him, you may end up dating anyway.[5]
  3. 3
    Point out that you have a different sexual orientation. If you are of a different sexual orientation from your guy friend, this is obviously a reason why you should say no, and one that will most likely keep him from pursuing you further. However, make sure that you are comfortable telling him about your sexual orientation. If you do not feel comfortable sharing this information with him, then you do not have to. You can just continue to be firm about your decision not to date him.
  4. 4
    Choose not to date coworkers. Dating someone in the workplace is never a good idea. For one thing, it is usually against the rules of an organization. For another, if you break up, this creates a stressful environment not only for you and your guy friend, but for everyone around you.
    • This is another scenario where if you do have feelings of attraction, the guy friend might sense it no matter how many times you say “no” just because he works with you every day. In these cases, it can be difficult to stay out of a romantic relationship, so you need to practice good boundaries.
  5. 5
    Decide not to date someone older than you. If you are in a situation where someone is significantly older than you, saying “no” is socially understandable. This is especially true in high school, when dating someone older than 18 is not only ill-advised, it can get you in trouble with the law. Turning down a date because of age is a good idea when you’re a teenager.[6]
    • Age for statutory rape varies by state in the US.
    • Sex with someone who is considered underage (less than 12 if you are 16 or older, for example) can land you life in prison in the US.
    • As people get older, age difference matters less and less, so this reason for not dating may not last very long after high school.
  6. 6
    Decide that he’s not good for you. Even if you are attracted to your friend, his reputation may stop you. If you know that your guy friend parties on the weekends, is excessively clingy or possessive with his girlfriends, or any number of red flags, you may choose to say “no.”
    • You don’t have to offer a reason for your answer, which is a good idea to avoid hurting his feelings.
    • If a guy knows that you would date him if he didn’t do a specific activity, he may try to change for you. Keep in mind that this should not be a reason to date him; most people do not truly change in a short period of time unless there is a dramatic event attached to it—an event that evokes a lot of fearful and apprehensive emotions.[7]
  7. 7
    Look at his relationship to you. On TV, people might date within their group of friends or family circle, but in real life, this exchange of partners is not so comfortable. Not only can this strain your friendship with someone if your guy friend is their ex, it can make familial relationships awkward if you date his brother or cousin. Not to mention that your relationship with this relative or friend may be negatively impacted.[8]
  8. 8
    Say you are already dating someone else. If you are in a relationship with someone else, the obvious answer to your guy friend is “no.” Don’t lie about this—if a guy is your friend, it will be pretty obvious if you’re not really dating anyone else—but having this excuse can make it less awkward to say no.
    • If a guy friend knows that you are dating someone else before asking you out, your boyfriend or girlfriend will probably not like this very much, and strained relationships among your friends may ensue. Be careful how you handle this.
    • For example, if you know that your boyfriend will be upset, tell your guy friend that you need some space after he asks you out.

Part 3
Setting Boundaries If He Won't Take No For an Answer

  1. 1
    Keep texting to a minimum. If your guy friend won't stop pressuring you for a date, there are some things you can do to set clear boundaries and send him the message that you aren't interested. Avoid texting your guy friend, since it’s easy to share too much information about yourself over text messages and you don’t have the nuances of body language to show how you really feel. Restrict texting to necessary communications, like where to meet up or if he has something you lost.
    • If he is taking your “no” especially hard, you may want to consider not texting him at all anymore. Continuing to text him when he is sad about not being with you only leads him on, making matters worse.
    • Ceasing texting communications is also appropriate if he begins to harass you about your decision not to date him, or if your current significant other is uncomfortable with it.
  2. Image titled Stay Friends With a Guy Friend That Asked You Out Step 1
    Avoid being alone with him. Going out one-on-one with a guy friend who asked you out can be confusing to your guy friend. Make sure you are clear with him that the outing is not a date, but just as friends.[9] Two, it creates opportunity for romance and for you to accidentally send the wrong signals.
    • If it make you more comfortable, you can restrict outings to group settings so that outings do not seem like dates.
  3. 3
    Avoid being physically affectionate. Physical affection is the wrong body language for keeping a guy friend from wanting to date you. Even grabbing his arm or laying your head on his shoulder tells him that you’re interested, even if you only mean to express enthusiasm or appreciation.[10]
    • Try side hugging instead of full frontal hugging, as this prevents accidental affection or opportunity for it.[11]
    • Don’t have physical contact like making out or sex. This creates a confusing situation for both of you, because if there is enough chemistry to want to do those things, chances are there is enough chemistry to start dating.
  4. 4
    Avoid intimate conversations. What you talk about with a guy friend also can send the wrong signals. If you want to remain friends with a guy after he has asked you out but you said no, avoid having conversations about things that are for more intimate relationships.
    • Some topics to steer clear of include strong feelings (such as fear and jealousy), family problems, past romantic problems or previous relationships, financial struggles, medical problems, etc.
    • Instead, focus on “friend level” topics such as current movies, recent concerts, school or specific classes, recent vacations, things that happened at work, etc.
  5. 5
    Talk on the phone as little as possible. Just like texting, body language is mostly lost over the phone. You do have tone of voice on your side, but that’s about it. Talking on the phone is also spending time one-on-one, and since your communications with your guy friend need to be short and to the point, texting works better anyway.
    • While talking on the phone isn’t advised, certainly don’t talk late at night or under the influence—anything that takes away your inhibitions. You may end up sharing way more than you mean to, creating a bond with your guy friend that makes him like you even more.
  6. 6
    Go to girlfriends to vent or cry. When you feel upset about something, go to your girlfriends instead of the guy friend who just asked you out. Venting and crying means you are going to share a lot about how you feel, and that creates an emotional bond with whomever you are with.
    • Keep away from confiding in him, even if you’re not venting or crying. Sharing secrets creates intimacy, making it difficult to communicate that you don’t want to date.
    • Refrain from making him promises, which can also engender intimacy.

Part 4
Sending the Right Signals

  1. Image titled Stay Friends With a Guy Friend That Asked You Out Step 4
    Watch your body language. One way to avoid sending signals that will lead your guy friend on (make him think that you like him) is to send non-romantic signals with your body language.[12] Body language signifies whether or not you care, are lying, and how much you’re listening.[13]
    • Body language includes eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, timing, and touch.
    • Use this knowledge to send signals of friendship instead of romance, such as maintaining a conversational distance of 3 ft (1 meter), refraining from physical touch, and sitting across a table for lunch or dinner instead of on the same side.[14]
    • Avoid flirting, which is a combination of body language and conversation meant to attract a partner, usually for amusement rather than with serious intent.[15] Don’t make long, deep eye contact, touch unnecessarily, or try to engage in witty banter.
  2. Image titled Stay Friends With a Guy Friend That Asked You Out Step 2
    Keep saying no. Your guy friend may ask you out repeatedly; keep saying no. Even if he doesn’t keep asking you out, say no through your actions by having firm boundaries about when you will spend time with him and how often you will use your cell phone to communicate with him.
    • Restricting time spent and using body language cues will help you to keep saying no even if he doesn’t keep asking.
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    Be kind about it. You want to keep him from being your boyfriend, not end the friendship altogether. Be kind in your rejection. Don’t make faces when he asks you out (such as humor or disgust), and be honest.
    • Try to get things back to the way they were as soon as you can after you turn him down. You may feel weird about him at first, but after repeated interactions similar to the way it was before he asked you out, you will eventually feel more comfortable.


  • If you turned him down because you like one of his friends and not him, don’t try to date the friend too quickly. This will damage your friendship, potentially losing it as well as causing him pain.
  • Make sure that you are sympathetic and kind.
  • Act like nothing even happened after you reject him.
  • If he decides to end your friendship or stop talking to you, let him do this. He is feeling sad about not getting to date you, and trying to make him talk to you will only send the wrong signals and create more pain.


  • End the friendship if he gets pushy. If a guy friend doesn’t like that you said no to him, he may develop dangerous behaviors such as stalking. Nip this in the bud by confronting him (preferably with a third party present) and then taking it to the authorities if he doesn’t listen to you. Perhaps recruit his friends to help talk him out of these behaviors.

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Categories: Friendship Problems