Hey, I am all for player sexuality. And while I really do appreciate that Larian makes our companion come to us instead of "forcing" us to pick romantic options in order to trigger future romances, I really do wish there would be more obvious "friendzone"-options early on. Some dialogues that very obviously are meant for those who do not want to pursue romance with that particular companion - AND PLEASE, LARIAN. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't wait until the game has the character standing there in front of you with flowers in hand.
If I had to pull an example, I'd bring DA:O to the discussion. I'll say that I absolutely loved the way one could handle Leliana - she hinted at liking your character physically, and you could just give her some responses that were so obvious friendzoning and her approval rating would move from the romantic flags ("interested" etc) to friend ("warm"), yet there seemed to be no harm done. She seemed happy with it and honestly, she seems a bit ... Spectacular to hide feelings if there were any so I don't believe I got deceived. Nor did I lose any approval rating (quite the opposite, I gained approval). Everybody walks out happily!
... HOWEVER, when it came to Alistair... Oh dear god, it was a fucking disaster. I thought of him as a silly brother so I got kinda weirded out when he started flirting. He started dropping romantic hints and I had no way to turn them down without being mean, so I picked as neutral options as possible - and well... Then there finally was the time when he came there asking for more and neutral options lead to kissing and intense music. I struggled for far longer than I am willing to admit to attempt to find a way to shut the romance down without being a dick - but honestly? It seems like it just wasn't possible. In the end I had to just tell him "yeah no, we're just friends" as he asks if he believes I could ever develop feelings for him (with the saddest puppy eyes I've ever seen in a game), ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS - NOT JUST ONCE (and this MUST have been a bug). I am not sure what went wrong with my play-through, but I just kept getting romance scenes with Alistair through-out the entire night when I was playing and I felt so horribly bad for shutting him down over and over.
Honestly - one could OBVIOUSLY argue that "but that could happen irl too so it is only appropriate" but Hells... That experience was nothing short of unpleasant, imo. And I might be overreacting, but I cannot even think of the game without feeling awkward and sad for not being able to stop the romance before it got that far (if you think I am reacting out of proportion now, then you should have seen my chat history with my brother who urged me to play DA:O while I was having these struggles - half of the conversation is in caps). I really did not want to hurt Alistair by turning him down the way I had to in the end - but I couldn't find any brakes to the development in time to stop it from being basically a full on proposal decline (and I looked REALLY hard from the beginning since I already had made my mind up about my character not wanting to tie down - especially not with a human, but rather just return to her clan one day). I still cannot start my saving in DA:O without severe feelings of regret and disturbance, so now I am wondering if I should just trash my current save and start-anew with a companion that *could* be an appropriate romance for Alistair, but that is not gonna be anytime soon considering my current feelings for the game...