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Friend wants to date, but is kind of a bad friend


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I've been close with this guy for around two years now. Let's call him Nathan. We're both in high school, but he's a grade above me and around two years older. Nathan and I are both honors students. At this point, I would call him my best friend.


Nathan, however, is pretty emotionally absent--the two of us both have histories with mental illness, and while I reach out to others for help, he stays quiet about his issues. Whenever I come to him with a problem, or explain to him that I'm really down on myself or feeling like I may relapse into something that I've overcome, he shuts down almost completely. We text a lot, so if I'm telling him this over text, he'll send me a simple "ouch" or "that sux" or "sorry about that" and nothing else, even after I've poured my heart out to him. If we're talking in person, he'll get quiet and uncomfortable and maybe pat me on the back a little bit. Over time I have learned to go to others and not seek him out for support, because he's utterly useless in that department. And this is sort of alright. I have other, more emotionally capable people in my life that I can talk to. It's not necessarily even his fault that he can't support me emotionally. He has a lot of problems of his own, that he won't even really talk about, and I imagine that adding my own issues to his veritable mountain of issues would simply be too much.


And this arrangement of just-fun-no-deep-emotional-stuff would be okay, if he didn't want to date me, but he does. I've seen it coming for a while now. He's pretty physically affectionate, he's often the one to text first or make plans. We've kissed once, but I found it weird. I could tell he was pretty thrilled about it, though. Recently he's told me that we need to talk about our relationship and whether or not we could become romantic partners. I'm not too excited.


I know that I need emotional support from a romantic partner. That's not something that I'm willing to sacrifice. He's only wiling to receive emotional support from me, though, not give it. He only wants the fun parts of me--he wants to take me on dates, kiss me, hang out, call me his girlfriend, have sex, take me to prom, but when I show my ugly side or present him with some of the terrible demons that I deal with on a daily basis, he turns and runs. How stereotypical is that, of a guy, huh? That's Nathan.


Anyways, I know that I don't want to date him. I'm not particularly physically attracted to him, anyways. But how can I tell him this, during our "talk", without hurting him? I do care about him deeply, and I know that I have the potential to crush his heart. How to I explain to this guy that he's the equivalent of a toothpick when it comes to supporting me emotionally without wrecking him? He is quite sensitive. Perhaps so am I. Also--how do I make sure that this talk doesn't affect our relationship? I simply want things to go on as they have been. I want to be able to date other people. I feel like getting through this talk and accomplishing all these things is impossible. I feel like if I don't meet his expectations here, he might leave me completely. It will probably happen soon, too. Within the next few days or the next week, at most.


Thanks in advance to anyone who reads and replies.

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Well... you probably can't get through this talk without out it utterly changing the relationship. That's unfortunate but it happens. Don't tell him about the emotional thing. The truth is you don't want to date him because you aren't attracted to him. If you tell him "this is a thing that you could change" he might hear "if you get better at this relationship skill than we can be together".


Let him know you don't feel the same way. He is really young and it's pretty normal not to know how to tackle big emotional things when you are still in your teens. He is not bad or stuck. In time he'll figure it out. Right now? That info would be at beast extra crushing and at worst a false hope.

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