Ask the Weekly with Colleen Loranger

I’m studying with someone for a big project and I think they might have feelings for me, and I don’t. We need to get along because of the project and we’ll probably have lots of classes together in the future. Even bigger problem, I don’t even like this person as a friend. What do I do without being mean and without going crazy?

When I was younger, my father always told me how it important it was to spend time around people you don’t like. When I complained about my high school, he reminded me that getting along with people who are different from you is a fundamental part of life.

I don’t know your situation, but this same advice applies. There will always be people you don’t like and that won’t change, but the way you handle them can.

As you’ve realized, you’ll probably have to interact with them in some capacity throughout college. Thus, handling this in a productive manner seems paramount. Navigate the situation with understanding and patience. Don’t let anyone treat you poorly, but conversely, recognize when to let small annoyances go.

Work to compartmentalize your relationship with them. Deflecting their romantic interest will come naturally if you do this. Keep your interactions professional and focused on the task at hand. If they suggest meeting at a coffee shop, let them know the library is more convenient for you. If they ask to exchange numbers, explain you are best reached by email.

There is, of course, a difference between acting unkind, and acting in a way that is polite but reserved. You should, for example, still say hi if you see them around campus, but don’t feel tethered by their desires. Set boundaries on your relationship for the sake of your sanity, and your project will be better for it.