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LOVE LETTERS

Are we more than friends?

' ... once I got a back rub.’

Love Letters

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Q. How do you know if a guy is more than a friend?

Rewind about six weeks. A guy acquaintance of mine reached out to me via Facebook messenger. He had posted something and I casually commented on it. Next thing I know, he started private messaging me. We met five years ago and became Facebook friends then. Haven’t seen each other or really talked until recently.

He invited me to hang out and we did. We had lots of laughs and we got along real well. We continue to chat almost daily, have had a few FaceTime calls, daily texts to say hi (some flirty, some not), and phone calls while he is driving. We have continued to hang out a few times a week on average. We hang at his place or mine and watch movies. There has been nothing more than warm hugs each time we get together. Except once I got a back rub.

He has been open and honest about a few personal issues he’s dealing with, and I have been supportive and offered encouragement as best as I can. We hung out four nights last week. He lives nearby, so it’s not like there are sleepovers or long drives home. Are we just friends? is there potential for a relationship to develop? Hard to tell if his shyness is preventing anything further from developing or he just needs a warm body to keep him company. It’s important to note that I am shy too and not good at having heart-to-heart conversations. Due to his ongoing personal issues, I am hesitant to cause him pressure or more stress at this time. I need help determining if he’s just a good person and wants to stay platonic or if his shyness is trying to tell me that he is interested in dating. Can you help me decode?

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— Decode

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A. I can’t read his mind, but I can tell you there’s a way to ask for clarity without it feeling like a big conversation.

You don’t have to demand to know whether he’s falling in love with you. There is no reason to give a big speech about your own feelings. You can make the whole thing feel smaller by asking if one of these nights can be considered a date. I know that takes courage, but you have it.

If he says no, that’s OK. You’ll have more information about what you’re doing — and how much time you should spend doing it. This is not a situation where you’ll ruin the friendship (I know that’s a common concern people have about disclosing feelings). If there’s really a platonic relationship worth having here, it’ll help you reset for that.

And if he does want more — or says he doesn’t know — you can let him know that the two of you can take it one decision at a time, and just see how it goes. It’s about whether he wants to try. Just one date. Sort of like what you do any other night, but with romantic intentions. It’s about potential.

For the record, I do believe two shy people can fall into this trap, where they get as far as a back rub and then think, “How did it end there! Again!” I don’t believe that if he wanted this to happen, it would have turned into something by now. Sometimes things just take a while. But you can speed this up — in either direction — with a simple ask.

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— Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

Your letter was all about decoding how HE feels but you didn’t say much if anything about what YOU feel about him. To me this definitely sounds like more than friends, but does it really matter what you call it exactly when you’re spending all this time together? It’s clear the two of you have something special. I guess I’m not so sure it will change anything so drastically on how it’s defined. Maybe just go with the flow and when you’re more comfortable, you can tell him how YOU feel. BKLYNMOM

You don’t need to “decode”; you need to act. HARRISBSTONE

If the back rub didn’t lead to more, one of you isn’t sending the right signal. Might be time to actually talk about it. CUPPAJOESEATTLE

Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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