So I became friends with this guy in college about a year ago. He's not a very social person - I don't know any of his other friends, he doesn't share personal information easily, and is barely on talking terms with any of my friends (even though we all lived together in a dorm for 2 years). I do like spending time with him - he's very smart, and a good guy, but he's also a little too ... intense to spend too much time around.

Ideally, I would see him for 1-2 hours a week, spread out, and we'd get to hang out in small amounts. The way it happens is that I'll see him for about 4-5 hours at a stretch every three weeks or so, often late at night, when I'm tired (this could also be part of why I don't like spending too much time with him)

I haven't felt too guilty about getting him out of my room so I can sleep/work so far, because we lived in the same dorm. However, I'll be off campus next semester and I'd feel bad about dragging him out there for just an hour or two.

I invited him to someone's birthday party once - he showed up, spoke only to me, ate some cake, and left. I didn't see him wish the birthday girl. I doubt he'd be comfortable at parties.

I can't really say 'let's go get coffee somewhere' because that sounds too much like a date, and I won't be eating in the cafeteria too often since I'll be cooking. He also isn't on any social media and only uses normal text, which is something I barely use and often forget to check/respond to. So far his texts to me have been super short. He isn't big on small talk ("How did your exam go?" "We'll see when it's graded, won't we?"; "What's up?" "A bomb went off in a church in Sri Lanka"). My roommate is actually convinced he has a crush on me since those examples are wayyy more information than he gives anyone else.

How can I continue to hang out with him without those hang outs extending past 3 or 4 hours? I'm sure that if he comes to my apartment he'd spend a lot of time there. I'm not sure that I'd be very comfortable with going to his room.

Alternatively, how can I enforce a time limit on his visits without being mean or rude about it?

  • Is it okay to ask what do you guys do when you get to hang out? What are yours and his general interests besides that?
    – lucasgcb
    Jul 19, 2019 at 8:21
  • 1
    @lucasgcb We're in the same major so sometimes we discuss that. Usually he talks about whatever is happening in politics, sometimes I rant about the same. Generally when we meet he just tells me interesting stuff about politics (we start a discussion) or math theory (goes over my head). We sometimes bumped into each other and then we'd chat until we had something else, but otherwise he just drops in. We don't plan anything.
    – tryin
    Jul 19, 2019 at 8:44
  • Okay, what keeps you two from using instant messaging/live chat? It doesn't require social media presence exactly.
    – lucasgcb
    Jul 19, 2019 at 8:52
  • @lucasgcb he only uses normal text, which is something I barely use and often forget to check/respond to. You're right, I should try to text him, but idk how he'll respond. Can't message him to check his reaction now because I'm in another country. So far his texts to me have been super short.
    – tryin
    Jul 19, 2019 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


Try getting together to do a specific thing. Go for a run or a walk. Play board games or cards, at your place or his: either two-person games or invite him along with some other people. If you have to take your laundry to the laundromat, suggest the two of you go to the same one so you can hang out and talk while the machines do their thing.

All of these suggestions have two advantages (which I've made use of myself over the years with people who talk too long and loud for my liking): they give you something to do other than just chatting, and they have a natural duration: they reach an endpoint. We did our 30 minute run, that was great, see you next week. Or sometimes, we did our 30 minute run, I could do with some lemonade, do you have to go home now or want to see if there's a place near here we can get something icy to drink? (And in that place, when you've finished your drink, well that was terrific see you next week.) When the game is over or the laundry's done or whatever, so is the get together.

Another benefit of these things is that you're more likely to go for a run, you'll be less bored doing your laundry, or you'll see your other friends a little more often at a regular games night. Lots of plusses.

And finally, there's something known as the "triangle" effect. It's often recommended to parents of teens and tweens who won't talk. If you're at the dining room table saying "what are you going to be when you grow up" the kid clams up. But if you're both weeding the garden or doing the dishes or whatever, sometimes they find it much easier to talk. The same may be true of your friend. Perhaps while you're each folding your own laundry, your friend will get chattier and more relaxed. Perhaps over that post-run lemonade you'll see his comfort level rising. So you may enjoy these times with him more than the old "just hanging out" you used to do. But enjoy them or not, the big point is they have an end time and that's really valuable.


I'm kinda torn between answering or leaving this as a comment because it is more like a SR SE post.

In either case, from what I can tell there is little reason for you two to actually hang out in each other's dormitories specifically since all you do is engage in conversations. Inviting into each other's homes specifically might be worse (read: easier to misconstrue) than the coffee shop approach (you'd serve him some coffee for visiting anyway, right?), and you might not want that from what has been described.

With that in mind, I recommend asking them how they feel about a messenger app and if they use any since it'd be easier to get in touch with the newfound distance. My international friends and SO (contradictorily to the topic enough ) use Telegram and Discord to stay in touch, which just require internet connection.

Mind you not being physically present with a highly connected interface might boost chattiness, spending your topics to talk about. So I also recommend looking into more planned activities.

These may be digital. Maybe plugging a documentary or whatever movie that you can find on a tube video sharing place like a private cytube channel once a week so you always have something to discuss and talk crap over voice chat would be fitting enough. And yes, while I also use that with my SO, I also use it with pals from all over the globe and it is always a grand ol' time.

  • These are things that the other person would need to agree to use too, right? There's many messaging apps out there that have both a mobile and desktop version so I'm not sure about promoting a specific one here since it's not SR.SE... In order to make this a more IPS-y answer I'd suggest expanding on how to ask/encourage the friend to use those tools, especially given OP's comment that he only uses texting right now and generally writes short messages.
    – Em C
    Jul 19, 2019 at 15:18
  • @EmC Yeah of course, but as OP acts like they are close friends it really didn't cross me as a point worth delving into. And yes that was my concern but since that is the one app I have experienced to keep contact with distant dear folks I decided to bring it up. The OP suggested in comments they were part of the problem themselves in that regard as they had a hard time keeping up with plain phone text so offering a more ubiquitous solution with more functions (including out of country reach) seemed called for.
    – lucasgcb
    Jul 19, 2019 at 15:31

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