October 26, 2012 - submitted by Bella, United Kingdom

There is a boy in my class who tells me through email that he is in love with me. We are both 9th graders. I do not know how to respond to this. I don't feel that I like him back in this way and I certainly do not want to hurt his feelings either! How do I handle this?! Please help.

The Oracle replies:

It's a tricky one Bella but how nice you care enough to not want to hurt his feelings. For me, the longer you drag it out, there's a danger you may but that's not your fault.
I'd suggest you let him know as soon as you can and gently. I don't know how well you know him which could change the approach but all you need to do is say thank you and add that you like him but not in the same way - just as you have told "us".
Without knowing how you do feel I can't advise you to say any of the following things unless they are true:
You don't know him well enough to have any other feelings than you do.
You think you're both too young right now.
You could say whether you're flattered, if it made you smile, if it was a lovely thing to hear etc.
Maybe tell him something you do like about him to help let him down gently.

If you do know him well you could say you'd prefer to stay friends and take it from there.
Over to you.

From experience I would let him down and tell him that you're flattered, but are not interested at the moment. Because if you don't tell him, he'll just keep wondering might get stressed out because if most guys tell you indirectly, then they're probably scared to tell you face-to-face to just give them a holler You don't have to like him, but be nice to him and love is a fragile thing. Plus you're in 9th grade so there's still a lot you have to learn coming from an 11th grader. Just be nice and courteous and all will be fine I promise.
Billy N.

It is kind of you that you don’t want to hurt the boy’s feelings, but it will not work without this completely, when you don’t feel back and are not interested at all. Effectively you can make it short and less hurting. You can answer the mails, but not several times, this could mean only a false hope for him. For myself I probably would ignore them and wait for a face to face situation. Then tell him the truth, don’t try to explain, no discussion, no excuses like “I’ve got a boyfriend”. Be respectful and polite, but then straight and firm. If he’s not reasonable then you should tell the situation to someone you trust in. Best wishes. L.Q.

First it's so nice to see how much respect you've got for his feelings, is very sensible from you.
I understand what you say and my thought is: don't be rude but try to be as clear as possible!
Write an e-mail, a message... a kind one (if the situation if friendly) but don't hide the fact that you don't feel the same.
Even if he may be hurt I think it's it could be a good way to create a new friendship in the future.
I deeply believe that sincerity is one the most important thing in every kind of relationship. Good luck! MC - Italy.

You have to talk to him. I really don't want to push you, but when you think about it, that's the only fair solution. Walking around pretending like you haven't read the e-mail will either give him hopes that you actually haven't read it yet, and he'll be waiting for the reaction, or he'll be really hurt when he realizes that you're not going to do anything about it.
More than a week has passed now, and if I were him, i'd start to regret sending the email, and think was a big mistake. Maybe next time he's in love he won't tell that person how he feels.
You have a great power over him right now, and the best thing you can do is tell him that he didn't do anything wrong.
You can talk to him, it doesn't have to be a big deal, but you tell him how you feel and say something nice to him. It probably took him a lot of courage to send the email, and he deserves some respect.
Love from A, Sweden.

It's much better for you to tell him right away and risk letting him down a little, then for him to get his hopes up. If you’re not interested in him that way, he deserves to know, so don’t worry about coming off as mean or insensitive because you won’t as long as you are kind and let him down easy. I think it’s really nice that you're so considerate and I totally understand that you’re afraid that it will hurt his feelings. However, I honestly believe that you would be hurting him more if you didn’t let him know. So my advice would be to just tell him as soon as possible. Sincerely, Medina.

The more I thought about your question the more I realised that quite simply, in love (as well as in life) I think that it’s important to always remain true to you, and to your heart. If you don’t like this boy in ‘that way’ then simply, gently, tell him (either through email or to his face - I think whichever you feel will be easier for both him and for you) Perhaps tell him that you value his friendship & that you hope you could remain as ‘just friends’. He might not be able to accept that, & you might lose his friendship which would be sad. Or… his feelings might be hurt, his pride a little wounded, but then you both are able to continue in school & life as friends! Sometimes it can be a little tricky trying to find that balance of being true to self while at the same time not hurting others, & I love that you are sensitive to his feelings, but it's my opinion, that although in the moment-of-happening truth & honesty can often seem the hardest, they are the best. Good luck, love Cali.

Answering this helps me to get a bit over my own grief at the moment, because of the death of our beloved cat.
As for your question, on how to respond, and looking at how you describe your own feelings, my suggestion would be.
Simply don't.
And if you are a polite person, politely reject whatever he is offering.
It's completely normal that you don't like him back, because the mail is definitely not the medium for giving away these kind of emotions or feelings.
Another thing is, it reads also more like some sort of fanmail, and that is of course something you can enjoy. Why not?
Being loved, isn't that what we all want? (Sad) greetings from Rames.

You should always do what's best for you, 'cause in the end it'll be what's best for you both. If you want you to stay friends, then I'm sure that in a short matter of time he'll accept it. If you want him on a distance, then it's totally ok, just remember to show respect while moving away from him.
Love from Jennie, Sweden.

Thanks to all those who replied to this week’s question. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's, and send us your answer.