That’s just being friendly.

What’s worse, too much unwanted romantic attention or no romantic attention at all?

When a relationship ends, your head and your heart can lead you in a few directions. Take some time out and look after yourself, dive straight into something serious with someone else, or even sleep with as many people as you want to with no commitment offered. Any choice you make is okay for you, but you want to try and make sure that you don’t hurt or lead anyone else on. No rocket science is involved, it’s just making the right decisions at the right times.

It gets awkward though when someone of the opposite sex mistakes kindness or politeness for flirting. You don’t need to ask for, court or invite attention, hopefully if you act as you always do, them people will treat you in a way that we’d all like to be treated. Chivalry isn’t necessarily a choice that every man makes, sometimes you just know what the right thing to do is. Always hold the door open for others. You give up your seat for a lady on a bus or a train, no questions asked. Make someone feel comfortable in your company, always behaving in a friendly manner and never crossing the lines of decency is how things should be. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being courteous.

Always good to have rules, especially with your closest friends, right?

If your job means that you have to wear a shirt and tie, your tie must be darker than your shirt, otherwise you will be called out on it if you end up looking like a waiter, no offence meant to hospitality professionals. No three-piece suits are allowed, you don’t play snooker for a living. No birthday cards are ever sent, shit, you’ll be lucky if we even remember that you’ve just turned a year older. You will be bought alcohol if someone reminds us, it just won’t be on the day. If we’re all together and it’s looking like we’re about to run out of beer, rock paper scissors will be played to decide who heads out for more. It’s also automatically understood that if any change is leftover, it stays in the pocket of whoever went. Sadly, sisters of friends are out of bounds. No moustaches will be grown unless it’s for Movember, a fantastic cause. If you get your hair cut, it won’t be commented upon, unless it’s ridiculous and you know that picture of it is being shared freely. No one expects an unanswered call to be returned, we’ll see you again at some point, you can just tell us then. No voicemails ever. Skinny jeans and turtlenecks are a no. If you invite people out for dinner, you always pick.up the bill, regardless of how many people are there. If you’re lucky enough to get a girl to go out with you, she never ever pays. Ever ever.

Do all of your rules apply though with someone you don’t know?

I’m a boy and she’s a girl. A tweet gets posted about a thing and she slides into my direct messages to ask if I’m doing okay. I respond politely, thanking her for her concern and wish her well. She chooses to keep the conversation going by asking more questions, and stupidly I answer them. My replies are always respectful but her messages start to go in a direction that I should beer away from.

I’m not sure if I should read between those lines.

Mistaking someone who’s being nice to you as being flirtatious is dangerous, especially if you’re emotionally vulnerable. If I’m accommodating and thoughtful with you, that’s just being friendly. Sure, sometimes a friendship can develop into something more but not if you start sending unsolicited things that you know you shouldn’t. The decision to hit the block button is an easy one but the courtesy remains as far as everyone else goes.

An email arrives a while later from someone I never knew existed. Clearly, we’ve never interacted, spoken to each other, far less met, but he wants to know how I know his girlfriend. Uh oh. It’s okay to be unhappy in a relationship but don’t you try and remedy that first either way, before looking for validation or an ego boost elsewhere? Do I reply, do I tell him?

What am I supposed to do?

@TheSamMcLeod

Maybe you’re listening.

There are times during certain situations when words escape you, when you don’t always know what to say. Maybe someone you know has suffered the loss of someone close to them, or is going through the heartbreak that can come with the end of a relationship. Maybe someone has asked you a question and it’s thrown you completely. Sure, you know plenty of things, but your world is filled with a lot of other stuff that you don’t know anything about. The right words to say can be one of those things. Not always being able to say the right thing, at the right time is confusing, but it’s something that happens to all of us now and again. You can nail it, you can know in that moment exactly what you need to say, but then, on occasion, you have the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Aren’t there so many times in your life when an email, a phone call or a text just won’t cut it? You need to have an actual conversation. Some of us find it easy to open up, whilst some of us are emotional hand grenades. Every day of your life involves you answering questions. No, yes, I’m not sure. Some questions are clearly more difficult than others, but the answers even more so. The ability to say yes or no is easy for some, but can be so difficult for the rest of us.

Take meeting someone new that you like, for example, isn’t all that you want to do is to enchant, impress or surprise them? Your reply to every question they ask you, is usually yes. It takes courage to say no though when a part of you wants to be saying yes. There’s no point in saying maybe, if you feel like you should say no. If you’re at a loss for words, isn’t it better to learn to keep your mouth shut? If you can’t find the right words, if everything you might say could be wildly off the mark, perhaps you should remind yourself that this could be the right time to listen? No is a complete sentence though. Don’t you have a right to say the n word without having to explain yourself? Maybe you say no to a lot of things, just so you can say yes to the one person or the one thing that you know you want. We all have different hopes and dreams, but don’t some of them go on hold if someone says no to you?

No one ever intrinsically really wants to hurt someone’s feelings if they ask you something important, and you can’t say yes. You might not always want to care too much, but you do, don’t you? The problem is knowing how to say no.

The ninth letter and the sixth letter of the alphabet. I and F, if. When someone asks you an important question, doesn’t so much weight hang on that one word? There are so many things we feel we should do or say that we really don’t have to. Sometimes we do have to though.

If I was asked a difficult question, I’d like to think I’d know just what to say.

It was a Saturday night and a friend is having a housewarming party. It’s always nice to get invited to things, so obviously the response is yes. I’ll know next to no one there, but there’s a fun element in meeting new people and having conversations about different subjects that I’ve maybe never had before. He’s super popular with everyone, a cool trait to have. There are so many people of so many various creeds, faiths and nationalities in his place, that Benetton could rock up to film a new advert, and no one would bat an eyelid. Wine is opened, there are a ton of beers in a bath that’s filled with ice, there are so many spirits and mixers on the go, you could make pretty much any cocktail that you want to. New people are met, conversations are had, and there is so much laughter. Pretty much a perfect evening so far. It looks like everyone is having a good time, people who have never met before add each other on Facebook and Twitter, because connections have been made. Numbers are exchanged.

The kitchen is the best place to be whilst at a party, right? A side effect of this, is that you end up opening beers for people or topping up their wine glass, but that’s okay. Standing next to the one bottle opener and corkscrew is my own fault, but it’s cool, always a good conversation starter. A girl that I’ve never met or even noticed yet, is looking around confused. I ask her if she’s okay, and she replies that she is, she just needs more wine. It’s lucky that someone is stood in the same postcode as a corkscrew. I ask which colour she would like, and I duly oblige. We start chatting, and she tells me that she’s Canadian and is travelling around Europe before having to go back home to start a new job in a month or so. Her conversation is on point, she’s clearly clever, and the time that we chatted with each other was enjoyable. As is the case at most parties, you get speaking to other people though, and your conversations move on.

I live in the city, so I know that I’m headed home alone, but his place is huge and a lot of people will be staying over, because they’ve travelled to see him and they don’t know the city. She’s one of those people. We bump into each other again later on in the night, clearly she needs more wine, and we chat once more. She asks for recommendations of things to see and do, and I scribble down the best attractions and the things that she shouldn’t miss, I’m not just a guy with corkscrew skills. One of the things I mention is the beach and she seems super excited to see it, and asks me if I would like to go with her, some friends and grab a coffee or an ice cream tomorrow. Given that coffee is always best enjoyed on a Sunday morning, I agree, and we arrange a time to meet back at my friend’s place, and then I can show her and her friends around.

I return at the admittedly early arranged time, but it’s only her standing there, everyone else is too hungover, it seems. It’s cool though, a couple of hours at the beach is always good, whether alone or in company. I point out things on the way, she takes plenty of photographs, of the buildings, of the beach, of the dolphins that we see swimming in the harbour and we grab coffee. It was fun, I walk her back, we hug, say our goodbyes, and I head back home. Not at any point has anything romantic ever crossed my mind, I was just being nice. If someone is nice or polite to you, it doesn’t always mean that they’re flirting with you.

A couple of days later, I get a message asking if I’d like to go and visit her, have dinner, drinks and stay with her? Maybe I could join her on the next part of her trip and we could see more things together? How bad are men at reading signals? The dots begin to connect, but everything has changed in that moment. Too many things are in the cons column for it to even be a possibility. I’m going to have to say no to her because I still want to be saying yes to someone else.

Maybe I don’t know anything anymore. Perhaps the silence, between that message coming through and me still not replying, is only awkward because I don’t have any confidence in it. Don’t you have to decide who your priority is without feeling guilty? I don’t want to hurt you, but it’s not fair to say yes, when I need to say no.

I write because I never know just what to say.

@TheSamMcLeod