How to Act Around People Who Like You But You Don't Like Back
Often times in life you will meet people who like or have feelings for you that are not reciprocated. It can be awkward when these people are your classmates or coworkers, in particular, as you must find ways to interact with them that are cordial and polite without inviting in unnecessary contact. Through monitoring your interactions, addressing the issue and setting boundaries, you can learn to respond appropriately to those who have feelings for you that you don’t have in return.
Restricting Your Interactions
Limit alone time.One way to distance yourself from the person who likes you is to restrict the times you spend with them by yourself. Feelings often develop and progress the more time that we spend alone with someone, but you can prevent this from happening to a certain extent.
- If they ask to go to lunch with you, tell them that you have other plans or invite others to go with you.
- If you are required to work in pairs on a project, try to select a partner as quickly as possible so that the person who likes you doesn’t pick you.
- Hang out in groups. Sometimes, you cannot avoid the person who likes you. Perhaps you work in a small office or go to a small school. In these cases, ensure that any time spent in proximity to the person who likes you is spent in the presence of others, as well.
Be cordial.There is no need to be rude to someone just because they like you unless they have acted rudely or inappropriately. This person likely has feelings for you, so being cordial and polite to them will avoid any unnecessary hurt on their part and will also keep your conscience clean in relation to your dealings with them.
- For instance, if they greet you with a “good morning, beautiful” you can just say “good morning” to them very politely and keep walking to your destination.
Don’t be flirtatious.Even if you do not like this person, it is still flattering to know that someone has a crush on you, making it easy to play into it occasionally. However, such should be avoided as it can cause confusion and produce mixed signals, which will likely cause their behavior to continue and their feelings to deepen.
- Don’t laugh excessively at their jokes.
- Don’t be touchy feely. Avoid touching them unless absolutely necessary.
- Don’t compliment them unless related to work or school. Any other compliments could be misconstrued as flirting. For instance, you could tell them “great job on that project!” at work or school as opposed to complimenting their looks or intellect.
Don’t be overly responsive.Responding to texts or calls consistently and enthusiastically can send the wrong message. If they text you about work or school, reply to their message directly and succinctly. If they text or call you about non-work or school related issues, it may be best to not respond or to find a way to end the conversation.
- For instance, if they text you something like “what’s up?” you could respond by saying “I’m a bit busy right now, see you at work tomorrow!”
Keep your emotions in check.Being around someone who likes you who you don’t like can be stressful. You may feel nervous, guilty, or even annoyed. When you see them, do your best to keep these emotions in check. A person who likes you is looking for an emotional response from you; don’t give it to them.
- Monitor your facial expressions. Don’t frown or smile too broadly when you see them.
- If you feel nervous, take a few deep breaths and sit down for a few moments.
Ask your friends for help.If your friends know about the crush and know that you don’t like the person, they will likely help you avoid interacting with them. If they see the person approaching you, they can intervene by either pulling you away or by interacting with both of you so you don’t have to be alone with them.
- If your friends are not around and you are alone with the person, you can text them and ask them to call you instead, therefore giving you an “exit” from the situation.
Give them some space.Perhaps the person who likes you is someone who you like as well, just not in a romantic way. These situations can be tricky because you still want to see the person but you don’t want to lead them on or cause them to misconstrue your actions. In these instances, give the person some space from you.
- Don’t initiate contact with them unless necessary.
- If your mutual friends are going out and you know the person will be present, take a raincheck for a while. Over time, their feelings may dissipate.
Restrict your social media interactions.If you are not friends with this person on Facebook or if you have an Instagram or Twitter, consider making your accounts private so they can’t see your pictures or read your posts.
- If you are already friends, don’t delete or block them unless they are stalking you or commenting on every one of your posts. You can, however, restrict what they can see on some accounts. For instance, on Facebook in the sharing settings, you can choose who can or cannot see what you post.
Letting Them Down Easy
Pull them aside to have a talk.You may find that simply limiting your interactions with them is not enough. Even if you feel that you have been clear through your actions that you don’t want a relationship with this person, some people need to hear that directly. This will quell any confusion or doubt about your affections on their part.
- You may begin the topic by saying something like “I get the feeling that, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you may have a crush on me. I want to let you know, that while I am flattered, I am not interested in the same way. I hope that you understand.”
- Be swift! If the person is making it clear that they like you, don’t let their feelings linger. Talk to them as soon as possible.
Be honest.During these conversations, it can be easy to backtrack or sugarcoat as not to hurt any feelings. However, this will not be helpful in the long run. Be very honest with the person and careful not to tell any white lies.
- For instance, many people make the mistake of using the excuse “I’m dating someone” to avoid unwanted contact from someone else. You should make it clear to the person that you are not interested, regardless of your relationship status.
- Don’t be dramatic. Though this person may like you, if they are reasonable, they will understand. Also, though you are certainly likeable, this is not the end of the world for them.
Take responsibility if necessary.Think about if you have led them on in the past, if you have spent a lot of unnecessary time with them alone, accepted gifts from them, or flirted in any way. When you talk to them, you should apologize for your role in the confusion.
- For instance, upon thinking back on your relationship, you may realize that you have been flirtatious in the past. You could say something like “I know that in the past I have flirted with you, and I want to apologize for that. Sometimes I can be flirtatious, but I realize that I must have given you the wrong idea and I am sorry.”
Use “I” statements.Rather than saying what you don’t like about them, focus on why you personally don’t want to be with them. “I” statements tend to sound less accusatory and often result in the other party feeling less defensive than when using “you” statements, while still conveying the message you want to say.
- For instance, rather than saying “You act strange to me” you can say something like “I just don’t have feelings for you in that way”. There is no need to make them feel bad about themselves.
Offer friendship.If you genuinely like this person as a friend, offer your friendship to them. This will allow the both of you to progress politely and kindly but in a non-romantic fashion.
- You can say something like “even though I am not interested in being in a relationship, I think that we could move more towards a friendship with one another” and see how they respond.
- However, you must be prepared for them to potentially turn down your offer. Their feelings for you may be too strong to accept friendship. If they tell you this, thank them for their honesty and respect their wishes.
Don’t respond to texts or calls after a certain time.Accepting a call after work from a coworker or after 10PM in general could send a mixed signal. Instead, if you feel it necessary, return their call the next day during daylight hours.
- Don’t answer drunk texts or calls.
Stay firm.Don’t allow sympathy for them to cause you to backtrack on your word. Remind yourself of the conversation you had with them. It is unkind to feed into their feelings if you don’t feel the same way about them. Show them kindness by honoring your word and holding firm to your commitments.
- For instance, if they person calls you asking to reconsider, firmly remind them that you do not have feelings for them in that way. They need time to get over you, and giving them false hope won’t help either one of you.
Give yourself permission.Don’t allow guilt over your unreciprocated feelings to consume you. Your feelings are valid and it is okay to not like someone. Remind yourself that everyone is not for you and focus instead on your own happiness.
- If you feel badly about your decision, put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone to be with you out of guilt or pity? Of course not! Continue to focus on yourself and
Don’t ignore them.Though it can be easy to want to avoid this person at all costs to prevent awkward situations, this may hurt their feelings and cause them to seek you out even more. If you see them coming towards you, greet them and keep it moving.
- Not ignoring them does not mean that you have to linger, however. Keep your conversation to a minimum while still acknowledging their presence.
Don’t speak badly about them to others.If this person is annoying, mean, or continues to makes passes at you, it can be easy to want to gossip about them to others. However, focus instead on continuing to show them kindness and not adding fuel to the fire.
- Take special focus on not badmouthing them to coworkers; this will cause even more issues for you if you work together.
QuestionWhat if the person is younger than me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe age gap between you and another individual should not stop you from acting cordial or appropriate, so it won't matter.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I caused them to break up with another person?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you mean that this person broke up with their boy/girlfriend because they liked you, that's not your fault (assuming you didn't lead him/her on). There's really nothing you can do about, except be nice to everyone involved, and don't get involved in anyone's drama.Thanks!
- Speak to a supervisor if necessary. You may find that, despite taking all of these steps that the unwanted attention has not stopped. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to speak to a supervisor, teacher, or other authority figure about the issue.
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