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how to shut down a flirter you want to be friends with?

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So I'm in a committed rel, living with my bf and love him. However, I also participate in this very small weird sport -- let's pretend it's curling, like in the Olympics -- and he doesn't. The "curling" community is really small, everybody knows each other, it's not a pickup scene at all, it's very sister-brother and the culture is you are supposed to be nice and friendly and open with Everybody (another reason people tend to date outside the community!)


So at the weekly curling meets there's been this new guy for about six months -- a very handsome, cerebral, sensitive-guy type about my age. He is fun to talk to but he started flirting with me hard. Lots of guys in this sport flirt with me and it's usually totally harmless b/c we all know we can't date b/c the community's too small and incestuous, so after a while it stops being romantic and becomes friendly. So I didn't want to make a big deal and call him out on it, and also, we had a lot more in common than just curling (books, politics, philosophy, travel) so I enjoyed his company more than the other curlers and didn't think I was doing anything wrong by talking to him at the meets.


However, lately the flirting has been ever bolder and making me uncomfortable. I am probably flirting back a little (I mean, I seek him out and we laugh a lot, people tend to think that "means" something). I'd like to be friends with him, but I feel like I'm cheating, especially when we find ourselves together on the curling outings, but away from the group (which is explainable, but kind of contrived.)


Today it got really awkward, so when I had a moment alone with him I finally decided I needed to take the bull by the horns and talk about this. But it didn't come out right at all! I said, "You're very charming and intelligent and I find myself attracted to you, but I'm in a committed rel and I'm trying to figure out the protocol here of how to be friends with you."


I thought I was making an opening shot toward a "real" conversation, but all he heard was the first part about how I was attracted to him, and just totally disregarded everything after "but"! Then some people came up and we had to not talk about it for a moment and then as soon as they went away he said he was floating on air b/c he's had the hots for me for a long time and asked if I wanted to come over to his place afterward!


I was kind of flabbergasted! That is not what I meant! I was trying to GET RID of the romantic charge! I kind of stammered and walked off. Later he sent me an email asking me out for a drink tomorrow (only! says he has friends coming to town) and that I should either say yes, or "Otherwise, write nothing at all. Enduring the exquisite torture of the unknown is apparently something I'm quite good at."


I don't want to meet him, but it seems stupid to just not write back. I don't like torture and ambiguity at all, and we can't stay out of each other's way without it being really awkward for us in the sport. And i thought he was the kind of guy you can talk to about things! When he moved to town it was b/c he broke up with a 10-yr gf and he knows I'm in a rel. Maybe he doesn't know the protocol in our curling group.


What should I do here? Is he basically telling me that he wants to either get laid or not talk to me anymore? Or is there any way I can have a discussion on my original point, which is, "I like hanging out with you but you have to stop flirting with me b/c it makes me uncomfortable"?

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He gave you a choice, and made it easy for you.


In your case, I would not write back.


Could you tell your boyfriend that you were planning on having a drink with one of your curling buddies that you were attracted to? To me, if my sig. other did that, I would take that as a huge red flag.


If you want to convert him to a friend, I'd say let your attraction for him run its course, then worry about being friends.


Shutting down a flirt is easy; just be cold, and offer short answers to his questions.

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I agree with Lost in this. If you are attracted to him, and he is attracted to you, it's bad news trying to be "friends" ... you're playing with fire, in my opinion. I think you really can't be "friends" until you're not attracted to him any longer, and he has gotten past his attraction to you. Just shut the relationship down for the time being to avoid playing with the fire of two people trying to have a non-romantic relationship with each while being attracted to each other.

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I too agree. Being friends after all of that is unfortunately near impossible and I don't know anyone who has ever done it. He mis-read your friendliness and general fondness of him as romantic. Sort of hard to go back to "friends" after that. Sorry for the loss of what sounds like a good friend but I agree that it is easy to stop a flirt by cutting off contact. Even if only temporarily.

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thanks, everyone. I know this can't go on. I know he asked me to just not reply, but what do you think would happen if I wrote back to clarify my intent? "What I meant was I can't go on talking to you if we flirt like this." I hate being misunderstood, it just makes me angry that he took my words to mean I wanted in his pants and now wants me to "put up or shut up"

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The question is: why would you send him that note? If it's because you want to try to be friends with him, that's risky. If it's because you just want to clarify what you meant when you said what you did before, that seems alright, but again you have to ask yourself what do you want to see coming after that ... if you do send him a note I would make it very, very clear, 100% clear, that you can't really be in contact with him while you are both attracted to each other because of your other relationship commitment.


To be fair to him (and not to be harsh on you at all, really) ... it's kind of confusing in a way what you did say to him, because you prefaced it by telling him how charming and attractive you found him ... you're right in that this is the part he focused on, but it's pretty easy for someone to focus on that when he is attracted to you as well (which he apparently is) ... and the rest of it could have sounded like "I'm trying to figure out how to work this into my life, given that I have a committed relationship", even though that's not exactly what you said, and clearly not what you meant ... so it could be that he was confused about what you said (it seems he clearly was).


I guess in future I'd recommend not telling men other than your SO that you find them charming and attractive ... it's just better to leave these things unsaid even if you do feel them, I think. Men who are at all interested in a woman are very easily encouraged by words like that.

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Do nothing. He will think your playing games with him and by going back to him... YOU ARE. You will be telling him what you CAN'T not reply to him and you will be drawn back into the flirt game.


Leave well alone, he will get his answer loud and clear with NO mail from you. Go out with your BF, the man who sits not knowing what is going on, it's time you flirted and had fun with him not this other 'Charmer'. I think you're playing with fire and someone is gonna get hurt if you continue.

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Novaseeker, I didn't realize how much that sounded like an invitation until you pointed it out! Wow, that was a learning experience!


Anyway, we talked it out on email. The next day he wrote me back and apologized for pushing so hard, and I wrote back and clarified that I was trying to ask if we could separate the flirting from the friendship but that I didn't think we could. He laughed at having misunderstood me so much and said he was sorry and agreed that we'd have to not be around each other and said goodbye. And now everything is cool, I feel soooooo much better. Thanks, everyone, for your help!

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