She’s just not that into you

WHY is it so hard to tell a friend the person they like doesn’t like them back? Marcella Purnama weighs up whether being a good friend means lying to save feelings or telling the truth and breaking hearts.

Graphics: Vera Lam

A friend calls you out of the blue and says he’s in love with a girl. He tells you the story of how he met her and that he thinks he can score a goal.

He has high hopes, but then you recognise the symptoms – the girl never looks for him first, never calls, doesn’t get his signals – and you know straightaway she’s just not interested.

You’re about to break the news, but then you see his eyes beaming with child-like hope and the words that come out next, accompanied by a fake smile, are not really yours.

“Don’t give up chasing her,” you say.

“Just keep on trying and see how it goes. Who knows? Deep down, she might like you too.”

Oh boy.

Why is it so hard to tell your friend that the girl of his dreams is just not that into him?

In our young adult lives, love is the norm. Conversations about boy-girl relationships rank high on the list of the most talked about topics among friends. We’re always so excited to hear someone else’s love story, especially from the one doing the courting. It’s easy to recognise the symptoms of unrequited love, but it’s hard to be the one giving the diagnosis.

I wish I had the nerve to tell my friends the truth. It would save them some cruel heartbreaks, especially after they’ve invested so much time and energy into loving someone. But then the question is, do they really want to hear the truth?

Personally I would find it heartbreaking if someone told me he’s “just not that into me”. It’s like being forced to give up before you’ve even entered the battlefield. Wouldn’t I look like a coward? Wouldn’t I look like I’m just playing around with his feelings and that I don’t take things seriously?

Just recently a friend of mine told me about his crush. As he started talking, I reminded myself I needed to be honest with him because I have offered too much “sweet talking” over the past years. I could see the symptoms. It’s harsh, but as a girl, I know when a girl is simply not interested. In other words, she was just being nice.

I tried to form my words and the first sentence I could utter was, “It’s not a good sign”.

But what came next?

He tried to make the situation sound better. Then the excuses began: but what about the time she did this? That means she’s happy with me, right? A couple of months ago, she sought out my company. That means that she misses me, right? And the list goes on…

Then I realised, he might not want to acknowledge the truth at all. He was probably already aware of the truth. He just wanted to hear it from the girl he’s been longing to date.

In the end, isn’t that what we all want? If our heart is going to break, can’t we at least hear it from the person responsible for breaking it?

There’s this unspoken decision everyone has to make when courting someone: If you find out your crush doesn’t like you, you have two choices. You can give up easily and look like a player who doesn’t really want her bad enough or you can keep on fighting for her, even though you know there’s only a one per cent chance that you would succeed.

And then there’s this unspoken decision everyone faces when they have a friend one who’s currently courting someone: Do you tell him that she’s just not that into him or do you lie and cheer him up when he’s feeling down and defeated?

Which hat would you wear? The honest friend or the supportive one?

Well, on that day, I wore both.

I told him honestly that his chances were slim, but it was up to him to decide whether he wanted to keep on going or not. If he decided the latter then I told him I would be there to listen to his stories.

But as I step back from what I thought was the right decision, I came to the conclusion that I had no right breaking this heartbreaking truth to him. That responsibility lies with another girl – the one girl that he thinks about day and night.

Do you think you should tell your friends the truth when the person they like doesn’t like them back? Share your views in the comments section below.

Should you tell your friends the truth when the person they like doesn’t like them back?

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