9

I am female and in a relationship with a wonderful man.

I have an online friend, male and 10 years older than me, who lives on the other side of the planet and just seems to constantly message me day and night (note that our time zones are more or less opposite). He knows I am in a relationship and that I am happy in it, but from a comment here and there, I know he is attracted to me. I shut that conversation down very clearly from Day #1 and been very careful to leave no doubt about that not being even a remote possibility.

I have tried mentioning and talking about my partner in conversation with him at every opportunity, I delay hours in responding to his messages, being sure not to trigger the "read" flag, but it's just constant. The thing is, he's actually a nice guy and I don't think he's trying to hit on me, given I'm not single, 10 years younger than him and on the other side of the planet, there is absolutely no chance and he seems to have accepted that. I think he's just lonely and wants someone to talk to.

My partner is fully aware of the situation and knows he has nothing to worry about. I just want this guy to back off his messaging me all the time. Chatting from time to time is fine, but this is intrusive.

Question

How can I get this friend to reduce the frequency of his messaging me without directly confronting him or hurting his feelings?

Notes and clarifications

  • I normally wait ages to respond, something the following day. The second I respond, he's all over me (sending me multiple messages and questions in a row)

  • When he messages me, he talks often about his girlfriend, how he is unhappy with her. Whenever he makes a comment like that, I always redirect the conversation to be about my partner or about working on his relationship with her. Sometimes about cooking, sometimes about work, but mostly just small talk.

7

I know you ideally want to avoid mentioning this directly.. unfortunately there's no really effective way of communicating what you need without doing so.

I delay hours in responding to his messages, being sure not to trigger the "read" flag, but it's just constant.

The asynchronous nature of messaging like this means that from his p.o.v. you haven't seen his message(s) then when you do, you reply. There's nothing in there that indicates that you are unhappy with the frequency of volume of messaging.

You could read the messages (so the read flag triggers) then wait your aforementioned delay before responding, as indirect communication goes this is perhaps the clearest way of suggesting that you aren't available 24/7 and that someone should wait before sending more.

The problem you have here is that this is a change in your established communication pattern and may cause him to believe (not exactly without cause) that you are ignoring him and are annoyed with him. Now, he might ask what's up and try to get to the bottom of it or he might just assume that he's upset you or that you don't want to talk to him anymore. The he latter leads to his feelings being hurt (which you want to avoid) and the former leads to you having the conversation you also wanted to avoid - only you're having it when he chooses and off the back of you having been passive-aggressive. That's going to make a difficult conversation much harder IMO.

I think he's just lonely and wants someone to talk to.

I think you're exactly correct in this assessment - he's not trying to be difficult and it sounds like you think he's a nice enough person so why not do him the courtesy of talking to him like a human being and say how his current MO is making you feel? Or if you feel that will be too hurtful why not say something like

Life's been pretty busy lately and I realize that I'm often leaving you hanging because I don't have time to talk. Why don't we set up a regular time to chat?

Either way I think you are going to need to address this at least somewhat directly if you actually want things to change. By raising it yourself you are not only being considerate but you are also giving yourself the best chance to prepare and express yourself in a way that's least likely to cause confrontation or distress to either party.

PS:

I'm guessing:

I always redirect the conversation to be about my partner

is an attempt to reinforce that you aren't available to him romantically, but given:

I don't think he's trying to hit on me... there is absolutely no chance and he seems to have accepted that

I'd suggest you stop doing that. You've already had the conversation, you've already shut that down - at this point (given his own unhappy relationship) you're just rubbing his nose in it. Honestly, when you're having relationship troubles the last thing you want to hear about is how freaking awesome someone else's is. Especially if you've been romantically rejected by that person in the past.

PPS: Reading this back I think this might come across as harsher than I intended, I genuinely sympathize with your situation - it really isn't a nice place to be and it really isn't your fault and I know you genuinely don't want to upset him but you shouldn't have to live with the background discomfort of this bugging you.

  • Thanks for your response, this is in line with what my partner and I have been discussing as an approach. I didn't ask for this situation, but it is my choice to try to not hurt someone's feelings and retain the friendship. He is a decent guy and when it's at a reasonable level, I like chatting to him. – Jane S Jan 8 at 22:12
2

First of all, remember that you have to take care of you. If being constantly messaged by this friend and having to respond immediately is too draining, stop answering! Take your time, breath, wait until you feel like answering him, you can always apologize later.

Yes, he might not take it well the first time, wondering why you aren't answering him. But I do that often with my family, they sometimes have to wait one day before having an answer to there text and they know it's how I do things. To this day, none of them have complained about it to me.

Now, this is good, but it doesn't really answer your question about making him text less often and, furthermore, to make him stop sending you multiples questions and messages in a row.


What I would suggest doing here is to use the "I statement" technic. You can find a lot about on the internet, but here is one article who talk about it.

The "I statement" technic is to make things about you, not him. Basically, here it how it works:

When you do X, I feel Y. Could you do Z instead?

In your case, this sentence can be transformed into:

When you send me multiple messages and question at once, I feel oppressed and overwhelm. Could you send your messages only one at a time and then wait for me to answer?

With this way of phrasing things, you are not blaming anyone, so your friend won't feel attacked. And, since you are providing a solution, he will know have to act instead.

  • 5
    Your example "I statement" is a little problematic as it still contains a blameful "you statement (and in fact opens with one) "When I get multiple messages at once I feel overwhelmed. Could you send your messages only one at a time and then wait for me to answer?" would be better. – motosubatsu Jan 8 at 15:10
  • Thank you for your response, there is also good advice here, but I felt that the other answer gave me a little more in this case :) – Jane S Jan 8 at 22:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.