Real Live College Guy: Is He Flirting or Just Really Friendly?

We all need a little guidance now and then, so whether you’re stressed about a fling gone wrong, a recently wrecked relationship or how to handle a stage-five clinger, Real Live College Guy Dale is here to help you navigate the college dating scene.

During the first week of college I met this really nice guy, and we've been good friends ever since. I knew right away that he had a girlfriend, so I knew that friends was all that we could ever be, and I was completely fine with that. The other night we were sitting alone in the common room watching TV when all of a sudden he put his arm around me and started stroking my arm. Then he walked me back to my dorm room and I quickly said goodnight. It all felt a little too intimate for comfort. Should I be concerned, or is he just being friendly? –Not a Homewrecker at Northwestern


Northwestern,

This is tricky territory. If he was trying to initiate something even though he had a girlfriend, he’s obviously not a great guy (unless they have an open relationship, but that’s a stretch). If he wasn’t, it’s totally possible that he acted subconsciously because he’s used to doing the same with his own girlfriend.

Generally, I don’t throw my arm around a girl and stroke her arm (which sounds super weird now that I’m actually typing it) unless I’m actually into her. I also haven’t done that if I’ve been seeing someone else. Additionally, I think it’s a little strange that he’d walk you back to your dorm room from the common room (it can’t be that far, right?), but that’s because it’s not something I see regularly from friends. However, it’s totally possible he just wanted to make sure you got home safe.

I’ll be honest: Without the full story, I don’t know if I can give you a perfect answer. That being said, I don’t think he really meant anything by it. Like I said before, I believe the most reasonable option is that he got comfortable with you and — like he does when he’s comfortable around his girlfriend — his subconscious took over.

Regardless of whether or not he meant to do anything, I would double check with him. It might be awkward to do so, but it’s better to cover your bases now so you can avoid further awkwardness in the future. A simple, “Hey, when you put your arm around me the other night, did you…” would suffice.

If he says that he did want to do something, well, like you said, you’re not a homewrecker. You know that you can only be friends. Your best bet at that point is to tell him that you aren’t comfortable hanging out with him if he’s going to act like that behind his girlfriend’s back, and then move on with your other friends.

If he says that he didn’t mean anything by it, you’re good to go. Maybe remind him that you aren’t his girlfriend, but I see no reason why you to wouldn’t be able to continue hanging out.

Best of luck, Northwestern.

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