Asking for a Friend: Help! My classmate really wants to be my friend. How do I tell her I’m not interested?

  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources you can turn to
  • This week, we help a student who doesn’t know how to turn down offers of friendship
YP |

Latest Articles

Are you ‘social masking’? How to stop hiding your personality and learn to be yourself

Fears of false accusations surround Hong Kong’s new child abuse bill

Horror film ‘It Lives Inside’ has fresh take on immigrant teen story

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us.

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google form. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend,

At school, I’m the type of person who knows everyone but doesn’t really have any close friends or a concrete friend group, so when we have to partner up for projects, I usually just work with whoever will take me.

Recently, one of my partners for a particular project has been hanging out with me a lot, and she seems to want to be my friend, but I really don’t like her all that much. It’s not that I dislike her, either – she’s just not fun to be around. I’m trying to be a good person and not be rude or refuse her offers to hang out, but at the same time, I don’t want to lead her on and make her think that we’re closer than we actually are. Should I just learn to enjoy being friends with her, or should I be blunt and tell her how I genuinely feel?

Sincerely, Someone

How do I keep my gaming friends when I want to spend less time online?

Dear Someone,

It’s good that you’re being considerate and trying not to hurt your classmate’s feelings! It’s natural to feel uncomfortable when someone tries to get too close too quickly, so we understand why you might be feeling uneasy. Here’s a few things you can do:

Politely decline her offers

As you said, you don’t want to be rude. Make sure to say thanks for her invitations and show her gratitude. You can just say, “thanks for thinking of me, but no thank you!” You may be tempted to come up with a fake excuse or activity that keeps you busy at that time, which is fine for a while, but eventually you will run out of reasons and it will become obvious that you’ve been making up excuses, and that will end up hurting her feelings – which you don’t want to do. If your classmate keeps pressing you, maybe you could say that you prefer spending time by yourself? It would be a polite way of saying, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and hopefully put an end to the invites.

It doesn’t have to come to this! Just be honest. Photo: Shutterstock

If she won’t stop, you just might have to say, “I appreciate that you want to get to know me, and I think you’re a lovely person, but I am not interested in expanding our relationship outside of the classroom.” We know you’re concerned about manners, but it’s not very polite of her to keep pressing you after you’ve repeatedly stated that you don’t want to get together outside of class, and this is probably the nicest way to handle the situation.

I told my friend’s secret, and now everyone is calling me a big mouth

Think about friendship

One quick note: you mentioned that you don’t have any close friends – if you’re a person who prefers to be alone, that’s totally fine and we understand that! Some people are more comfortable spending time alone, or having groups of casual friends, and don’t consider having close friends to be a priority. But we just wanted to double check that you’re not intentionally pushing people away because you’re nervous about having someone get to know you. We’re not saying you need to start with this person, but in the future, please don’t totally dismiss the possibility of exploring new points of view or getting to know your classmates better. It could be a good experience!

You’ve got this, Friend of a friend

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy