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How To Tell If He's Just Shy Around You Or You've Been Friend Zoned

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Hey there Nice Guy and Fuckboy,

My question that I need some further insight on is whether I've been friend zoned, or if the guy I like is just that shy.

We met almost a year ago during a trail maintenance volunteer opportunity that he was coordinating for one of my college classes. So his first impression of me was no makeup, hiking gear and the only girl in the group who had the guts to use the impact driver while we built fences. He teased me about how I held the drill, and in my opinion, we flirted a little, but that was it.

I found out the next semester that we had class together. We exchanged flirty smiles across the room at least once a class. Then, at a job fair on campus, he asked to help me with anything I needed since I was in a sling from shoulder surgery. He even sat with me because I "looked like I needed company.”

We'd spend some time together at events off-campus, but only every few months since we both have crazy busy schedules. I asked him to go to a baseball game once, but he was on-call for his job and told me he was busy.

Then, this summer during my internship, I asked him if I could come on a ride-along with him to see what a day as a park ranger was like. He agreed, and we had a fun day despite being soaked from the rain.

One of the park visitors said to us, “You guys are so cute together. How is it going to work every day as a couple?" He's a ginger, so he turns red easily, but I have never seen his face turn that shade of red when she said that. "She's on a ride-along," he replied.

I mentioned to him that if he ever wanted to get a beer or something, I lived close by. He said sounds good.

Finally, we attended a conference for my work together, and one night we got drunk and hung out in the Airbnb with some mutual friends. When we woke up in the morning, I asked if I could borrow a shirt to wear since I had to go right to the conference, and he threw me one.

Then, with no hint of shyness at all he walked right into the bathroom I was in, tried to fix my mascara under my eyes in the mirror and jokingly hip-checked me out of the way so he could brush his teeth.

After I was done working the conference, I went to take his shirt off to give it back to him and he told me that I could give it back when we got back to town. We've been back in town for about a week now, and I haven't heard from him.

For some reason every time I'm around him, I get word vomit.

For some reason every time I'm around him, I get word vomit and say anything to try to keep a conversation going when I may not really need to. Now, I'm not sure if I should reach out to him about the shirt or wait to see if he says anything.

And if I do meet up with him to return his shirt, should I be more blunt in telling him that I do like him? Very confused.

Sincerely,

Um... Riley ;)

Kylah Benes-Trapp/Shutterstock

Hello “Riley,” if that's even your real name.

Good on you for your interest in a redheaded man. As a ginger myself, I feel something of a camaraderie with this dude already. I like him a lot. By the sounds of it, he's a considerate guy who might not be the best flirt.

Redheads aren't used to getting much female attention since we don't meet the standard tall, dark and handsome archetype most women fawn over. So when we do get of attention, we can be awkward or shy, which is something you suggest this guy is doing — so that is certainly a possibility.

Redheads aren't used to getting much female attention.

The most glaring evidence of his fondness for you (at least for me) is when he confidently strolled into the bathroom and wiped the mascara from under your eyes. That's a pretty intimate thing to do, especially for a shy guy. To me, this reads as an attempt to flirt.

On the other hand, this guy sounds a bit older and more established in his career, so he might view this relationship as more of a mentorship. He sees promise in you and wants to lead you down the path to success. But again, that mascara thing reads far more intimate.

So, since you two have never hung out outside of work or school yet, that's the first thing you need to do.

As the aggressor here, send him a text to go out for a drink so that you can "return his shirt," but really, get to know him further. (Shy guys love this, by the way. My fiancee was the aggressor in our relationship.)

Alcohol will loosen the two of you up and hopefully clear the fog surrounding this could-be romance. After you make this move, though, take a back seat and see if he reciprocates the same level of aggression. You don't want to come on too strong.

Hopefully with these drinks, your affection for him will be more evident, and it will give him the confidence to pursue you more actively (if that's what he wants to do).

And then you know what needs to happen? A kiss. That will give you all the answers you need. If he goes in for one at the end of drinks, you have your answer.

If he doesn't, he might not be interested, or he might still be too shy. But you can only give him so many chances.

By asking him out and even leaning in for a kiss, you'll have put yourself out there as much as you possibly could. Hopefully, he'll meet you halfway and plant a ripe, long-awaited smooch on you like you see in those romance novels I pretend I haven't read.

Best of luck! Bobby

Kylah Benes-Trapp/Shutterstock

Riley,

I can't tell you if he likes you or not. The only thing I can say for certain is, he sounds like the kind of guy who won't let you know if he does.

Guys like me need guys like him to keep overthinking and failing to pull the trigger on women like you. So, I'll try to go a little easy on him. For all of his flaws, he at least has utility, and that's something.

Let's operate on the assumption he does like you, but is too timid to do anything. Is that the kind of man you want? Someone who is kind and gentle, but almost so much so that it's to his peril? I'm not saying you shouldn't want that. I'm just saying these are the questions you need to be asking.

If your answer is yes, then I see no harm in reaching out and doing something about it yourself. I don't understand why more women don't take control of their situations and make the first move. Although, I have seen it more as I've gotten older, so maybe, like basically everything else, such courage comes with age and confidence.

I don't understand why more women don't take control of their situations and make the first move.

You know what it doesn't come with? The one thing so many women fear it does: stigma. What is this insecurity inherent in the idea of catalyzing the action in your own love life? What is the benefit in being passive? Why are so many women afraid to be anything but?

Fuck that shit, Riley. Fuck what you think people will say because that's all it is: what you think.

You're in college. Who is snickering at a chick for crushing on a dude and saying so? That never happens past third grade, and for some reason, we're convinced the threat of it is always lurking.

Nobody cares. You're afraid of something that doesn't exist.

I don't think you should automatically interpret his silence regarding his shirt as indifference. There is a very non-zero possibility he doesn't want to reach out in fear of being seen as pestering or juvenile.

Hey, can I have my shirt back? Hey, can I have my shirt back? Hey, can I have my shirt back? This is what he's likely trying to avoid.

By taking the shirt in the first place, you put the ball in your court. You control the next time you two see each other. Because you have to give it back. He's not going to ask... he has plenty of shirts.

And if he does ask, it means he cares more about the shirt than he does about seeing you.

So, just text him! Start the conversation! Text for a while, and then feel it out. You can tell by the pattern and flow of the texts if he's feeling it. It comes on like a wave (you know the feeling).

If you feel it, then slip in an, "Oh hey, I still have your shirt haha." Then grab that beer on your own terms.

(Side note: You should also  wear the shirt, and then wash it so it smells like you. This is an old, dirty psychological trick, but it works. If he ever does get that shirt back, he'll think of you whenever he sees or touches it. His brain won't allow him not to.)

The problem with waiting for other people to dictate your own life is that you'll need to learn to love waiting — because that's all you'll ever do. Maybe it's the man in me, but the things I regret the most are the things I never attempted, not the things I tried and failed.

The problem with waiting for other people to dictate your life is that you'll need to love waiting.

If you make the first move and he rebuffs, at least you know where you stand. And at least you stop sitting there waiting for a call that might never come.

I love it when a woman makes the first move. It's so easy on me, and I give them credit for both 1) being sure enough of themselves to behave like an adult, and 2) taking that burden off me. It's a nice change of pace. All that's left for me to do is decide.

While I can't guarantee what he'll decide about you, I can say with some assurance he'll appreciate you for not only putting the decision in his hands, but forcing it as well.

And if he doesn't respond, you can text me instead.

Unfaithfully yours,

Treez