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It seems more and more evident that a fellow student (we are in the same engineering year) of the opposite gender tends to avoid me because she seems to fear that I am somewhat interested in her. This is the result of several big mistakes/ misunderstandings, which were however never intended in the sense that she seems to have understood.

In the past we studied together for the first year exams. I basically "tutored her for free" so that I could better grasp the concepts. There seems to have been no misunderstanding about that. What happened next however: after exams she regularly texted me, and also came to me in real life just to chat "to become friends" (with the obvious goal that I would again help her in the future). She even called me through telephone to ask me how I did, etc. Seeing that, and not having many "friends" at university, I also began to "treat her like she treats me", and that's where things get hard.

  • At the beginning of the semester, having not many people to eat with, I texted her regularly if we could eat together. The first few times, she accepted, but, over time, her text answers became more and more annoyed, until I finally stopped asking her.

  • She offered me and another student a small cake as a gift. Three weeks later, I gave her a small bag of candies as a gift, because when someone offers you a gift, I thought it was polite to give one to. But when I gave it to her, she smiled in a really "hypocritical" way.

  • She, me and another student were walking on the road while leaving the campus during evening. She and the other student were talking together. I was in the middle, so I decided to walk on her right so that both are next to each other (so they can talk to each other). She looked a bit "perplex" when I did that.

  • We were studying with 4 other people together. She was asking a question, and I did not understand it, so I asked her if she could repeat it in a more precise way. While she did that, I basically stared at her and she gave me kind of a dirty look. I was actually focused on trying to understand what she was saying.

  • She invited me to a study event, probably because I had helped before (like to show that she is grateful or whatever). That, I was punctual. But she came more than 10 minutes late, and came with someone else. I was already in a bad mood due to an exam. I felt a bit "disrespected" that a), she could not tell me a bit earlier that someone else comes, and b), they arrived late. I thus became really angry internally, and tried to hid it. But she noticed it.

  • At one time, while the animator was explaining something, I was staring at the ground thinking about the exam. She was then just next to me, and I noticed from the side of my eyes, that two times she looked at me with a really "perplex" face (like "wtf is this guy doing, why doesn't he listen but stares at the ground").

  • While leaving the event, another participant asked me which bus I take to go home. I said I had no idea, currently I'm just following the two people next to me (she and the person she came with). She obviously heard it.

  • At the bus stop, the 3 of us were waiting for the bus. I noticed that her face was full of fear, like she really was afraid of something. She and the person she came with originally planned to eat together after the workshop. She then indirectly told the person she came with, that she finally doesn't want to and left. Wanting to go home, I finally told the other person that I think I will also leave. But for that, I needed to take the same bus as her. While I was preparing to move, having overheard the conversation, she looked in my direction, with a face again full of fear. I thus stopped moving and decided that I should take the next bus (so to not be with her).

  • A few weeks later, I saw her in the canteen. She hid her face when I walked pass her.

Is there a way, be it in real life or through message, I can realistically communicate to her that I'm not interested in her whatsoever without causing even more misunderstandings?

Thanks for your help !

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    There are people who prefer to first become friends before determining whether they're interested in someone. There are others who mock that strategy to attempt to appear like they feel value for what the other person is like to compensate for them having difficulties expressing respect for their partner. But what feels missing to me is how you're certain that she's avoiding you because she thinks you're more interested, versus she's avoiding you due to embarrassment over having misread you and being more interested than you as a result. – Ed Grimm Jan 26 at 18:38
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    let's set aside "what happened" for a moment. Why do you want her to know you're not interested? Is it so she will stop avoiding you? Why do you want her to stop avoiding you? How does that mesh with having no interest whatsoever? Do you want forgiveness for what you might have done, do you want her to tell you that you're ok, or is there some other reason the avoiding is a problem for you? – Kate Gregory Jan 26 at 19:56
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    @KateGregory I don't want to get a bad reputation, that's why I want to make it clear – user27486 Jan 28 at 9:55
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    @KateGregory I mean this is all due to several misunderstandings. If there is a way to correct that, why not do it ? – user27486 Jan 28 at 14:31
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    @Ryukyu - I also see that you've already accepted an answer, but I honestly don't understand what he wants you to do. Therefore, I'd really be interested in what steps you plan to take. – Tim Jan 28 at 18:16
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People are complicated. What is platonic to some can be the beginnings of a major relationship for others.

How things got to be the way they are tends to be a really important thing to understand before you can worry about how to fix things. This is, unfortunately, difficult to do when the person is avoiding you.

  • You can talk to other people that know both of you and see if they have any clue that they're willing to share about her perspective.

  • You can talk to somebody else from her circle of friends, and try to communicate through them as an intermediary.

  • You can ask someone else to talk to her on your behalf, but if they're not someone she already interacts with, it's likely that won't go too well. Alternatively, asking someone from her family tends to go worse - that's frequently seen as a fairly intimate intrusion, unless that family member happens to be someone in your social circle.

  • You can talk to someone who presumably knows more about relationships than you do. This is, of course, kind of what you're doing here, though the Internet has a well-deserved reputation for being kind of random about this stuff. However, for such a person to be able to be helpful, they need to know more details than I'm comfortable asking someone post online.

  • You can bide your time and see what happens. If you're right that she's concerned you're interested in her romantically, demonstrating a lack of interest could possibly help cure that notion.

None of these are really great answers for generic situations. Unfortunately, none of the other things I've heard of people doing in this situation really respect her boundaries. I will admit that there are some people who are OK with a little boundary crossing if it means clearing up a misunderstanding with someone. But for most of us, the crossing of such a boundary could be a worse issue than the current misunderstanding you have.


I tend to be a pretty friendly person, so I've been in the situation you've found yourself quite a few times. Most of the time, I didn't tutor the person for free for a semester, but that element has been there in a few of these cases. All of these cases were pretty distinctly different from each other, and they're difficult to generalize.

  • Sometimes, I said something that was misunderstood. We all have communication difficulties, but I've had some pretty spectacular epic fails.

  • Sometimes, they were talking about our relationship with somebody else, and that person gave them bad advice that triggered the situation. Once, the advisor was simply confused, once the advisor thought I'd be a good match for them and thought the suggestion would lead to such a relationship, and once was ill intent. I'm sure there are many other possibilities, these were just the ones I encountered, as far as I can remember.

  • Sometimes, they had been interested in a more serious relationship with me, and when they figured out that wouldn't work like they thought, they broke it off claiming they thought I was in to them. One of these people was later verified by the person who became their first (for all I know only) significant other as being demisexual. The other just couldn't apparently show respect for other people well and was attempting this as a way to cover for it.

I've also had additional experiences that matched this profile, but either I can't remember the details well enough to talk about them, or they didn't follow patterns I've since learned are common. There's probably others that would match if they came to mind right now, but they're just not.

It's probably important to note that most of these situations were not resolved to a renewed friendship. In the majority of the cases, the woman was looking for a romantic life partner, and I wasn't interested in that. Further, as many men find their significant other having other male friends threatening, they were expressly not interested in having a loyal male friend who had no chance of becoming their significant other.

Without interest in an actual platonic relationship on both sides, having such a relationship with both parties understanding that it is that and only that and will only ever be that is just not possible. I'm not attempting to say that your friend falls into that category, just that it's possible they do.

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