Aside from graduation, going to your prom is a huge high school milestone, and there is a lot of pressure leading up to it.
Teen Redditor "youthie32" had plans to ask his high school crush to be his prom date, but it was derailed when a friend with a disability asked him out first—with much fanfare—in front of the entire class.
Not wanting to embarrass the both of them, he reluctantly said "yes," and asked AITA (Am I the A**hole) for later reneging on his agreement and making her cry.
The original poster (OP) began his subReddit thread by describing the unexpected promposal as being "quite traumatic" for him.
"I'm a high school senior (18M) and promposal season is currently in full swing."
"I was in my AP chem class when suddenly an entourage of people entered my classroom with a disabled girl (she has cerebral palsy) that I know."
"I first saw the posters and the bouquet of flowers she was holding and thought, 'aww that's sweet of her.' Then they revealed the posters and I read my name and was completely taken aback."
"I literally almost had a f'king anxiety attack. I didn't know what to say at all and the entire class was cheering and people even started filming."
"I was straight up frozen for a minute and I could feel myself burning up with embarrassment. Of course I wanted to say no, but since it was so public and everyone was waiting for me to say yes, I did and hugged her. Everyone clapped including the teacher and I was mortified."
"One of my buddies asked me if I was okay afterwards since apparently I looked like I was gonna burst into tears and I told him I literally did not expect that at all and I didn't want to say yes."
"He suggested that I go find her after school or something and explain that to her and I agreed."
"Now, this girl is really nice. We had a class together last year and sat next to each other for a majority of it and talked quite a lot."
"I would say we were friends then, but we haven't spoken more than two times this school year so we've definitely drifted apart."
"That's why I was completely shocked when she sprung the prom asking on me; usually, people have their friends make sure that the other is at least aware before doing the asking to prevent situations like this."
"I was contemplating if I should just bite the bullet and go with her, but decided I just couldn't because it is my senior year prom and I was already starting to plan my asking."
"There's this girl that I've liked for a couple of months now and I recently heard from my friends that she likes me back so I was gonna ask her."
With his mind already made up, he forged ahead to deliver the bad news.
"So I ended up going to the special ed classroom after school where I found her and asked if I could speak to her outside. I told her everything and how I really, really appreciated the gesture, but I was already planning on asking my crush to prom and she was CRUSHED."
"She started crying really loudly and asked me why I couldn't of just said no and I said that I didn't want to embarrass the two of us in front of all those people."
The OP felt remorseful after a teacher's aid admonished him.
"At this point, one of her aids came out to check on us since she could hear the crying and the girl told her aid what happened and she straight up glared at me and said, 'That's not okay.'"
"Now I feel like absolute sh*t. AITA?"
Rejection is unpleasant for everyone involved, and it is is easy to vilify the person executing it.
However, this Redditor—who has a daughter with a disability—empathized with the OP and commended him for how he handled being put on the spot.
"Oh my heart; as the mom of a daughter with a disability I want to state very clearly, NTA."
"You were put in a difficult situation and in that moment handled it the best way you knew how. I applaud you going to speak to her privately and letting her know immediately."
"It will be a difficult lesson to have learned, but she will be okay in the end."
"You weren't cruel to her. You handled it very well by what you wrote. It would have been far more awful to have gone when you really didn't want to attend with her."
"All I ever want for my daughter is to be treated just like everyone else and sometimes that means being disappointed when things don't work out like you wanted. You did nothing wrong." – gwacemom
Having a disability is no excuse for assuming everything will go according to plan.
"I'm disabled too."
"I would NEVER ambush someone like that. WTH"
"You're not the a**hole. You handled that with grace and maturity." – Expert-Dress
"NTA. I'm disabled too and for her to ambush you like that just wasn't fair."
"I never would've done something like that too a guy I hardly knew. She should've talked with you beforehand."
"Remember, it's your prom too and you will want to look back on it fondly. You did what you needed to do." – pennypickles
"NTA. Disability or not, that kind of public proposal of any kind unannounced and unexpected is never a good idea as it puts the other person in a very uncomfortable and pressured position in front of an audience."
"Of course you had to say yes--what else would you say with that type of public expectation and everyone watching and judging?"
"You did the right thing, and you handled it in the right way. She may have a disability but she needs to learn that she will not always have things work in her favor because of it."
"Also, she needs realize, if she is able to, that it does cross personal boundaries. I am shocked if any adults encouraged this."
"As a teacher, if she would have come to me for advice or help I would have talked ANYONE out of doing that for the public factor of it alone. No, no, no. You do not put other people in that kind of position." – corpusdelectable
The promposal was called out for what it was.
"NTA. OP, you were ambushed."
"As you mentioned, the proper thing to do in this case is have her friends check things out ahead of time."
"Nobody did that, and this was sprung on you in the middle of class with the full intention that you wouldn't say no. I'm sorry for her, and I'm sorry for you." – cyanocittaetprocyon
"The whole public space and audience is very manipulative; it's not just public validation it's a form of control. Romantic advances should be separated regardless of disability, gender ect unless there is consent. NTA." – scoff9
"Honestly, the school shouldn't have even allowed this to happen."
"Ambush-style production proposals are breeding grounds for harassment and coercion for exactly the reason you said yes when put on the spot." – VeryVeryTexan
"Actually, 9 times out of 10, you should already know the answer before you ask."
"I asked beforehand and while the actual promposal's location/time/content was a surprise, the fact we were going to prom was not." – doneanddead
People speculated that this was an exploitative social media stunt.
"Part of the problem is that they made a spectacle out of it before OP was even involved."
"The girl could have just asked him on the side without the whole production and avoided this drama entirely. To me it sounds like someone involved wanted to make a social media post about it." – 011101000011101101
"I might be cynical but it sounds like they railroaded him publicly because they knew he'd have to say yes or risk the wrath of the social media age."
"So manipulative! I wonder if the girl knows exactly what she was doing, she has cerebral palsy, she's not an idiot." – fluffypinkblonde
"Can you imagine how quickly it would have gone viral if a recording was posted of OP rejecting the girl's PromPosal? And that would have ruined OP's entire life; it would show up in every Google search of his name in perpetuity, not to mention the immediate backlash."
"It also would have documented an emotionally crushing event that the girl would have to relive, over and over again."
"OP handled this in the most gentle, thoughtful way possible, given the situation. People, take this as a lesson:"
"Don't publicly ask someone to Prom (or to marry you, for that matter) unless you already know their answer." – Icmedia
Now, about that judgemental aid.
"The aid took part in it makes it even worse, everyone involved put OP in a no win situation, and set that poor girl up for the rejection. None of this IS OP's fault."
"And As said in my initial post, OP you need to report the teacher that was there at the ambush, and the one making you out to be the bad guy when you, went to and were honest with the girl. They are both wrong on every level!!!" – Kittinlily
"it was wrong to get involved. OP would have been justified to tell the aid to stay out of it. He didn't turn her down because of her disability but because he wanted to take someone else." – SalisburyWitch
"The main issue with the aid is that she is trained to handle people with disabilities. So she probably thinks that saying no if you didn't want to go is easy."
"She's not taking into account the fact that you are a high schooler with no knowledge of how to interact with this person in this type of situation."
"And this was a very public situation where saying the wrong thing could be spun to make you look like a bad person even the that wasn't the intention.
"NTA. And good on you for handling this as well as you did. I would not have been as mature about this whole situation when I was in high school as you have seemed to be. Major props to you for that." – KimDamaris
There are no winners in this complicated scenario.
"I'm crushed for this girl, I'm crushed for you, I'm even crushed for the girl you want to go with because she'll get the label 'going with that guy that accepted and then turned down the disabled girl'...... ultimately no one is at fault and you managed it as respectfully as you could."
"NAH and boy this just reminds me school can be brutal." – TheQuietAchiever
Prom is overrated anyway.