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I don't really know why this has to be awkward.
November 24, 2009 2:38 AM   Subscribe

College freshman drama: After knowing A. for a week, I dated him for two; I was the one who broke it off. A month later, I started dating D. It's been three weeks since that started and things have been fantastic, except A. still refuses to talk to either one of us. This is awkward because we all live in the same dorm. Is there anything I can do to make things smoother?

Yes, this is fairly typical college freshman drama; my apologies, and I'll try to keep things short.

I think that A.'s overreacting, but I did make a lot of mistakes while dealing with him. It was the first time dating for him; I was coming off of a messy quasi-relationship/break-up from the summer, and I entered into this relationship with A. much too quickly (more or less right when we got to college) partially to reassure myself that I was capable of a normal relationship. I broke things off because I was feeling overwhelmed and because I wasn't really into him--I only told him the former. I also told him that I wouldn't be dating D. about a week before I started doing exactly that--oops. It wasn't a lie at the time, but I did change my mind awfully fast. I've apologized to A. about this--the only (short, awkward) conversation we've had since I started dating D. Basically, I acted horribly.

Still, A.'s an interesting person and I miss talking to him, or at least having him greet me back when I say hi; I also dislike feeling like I have to police how I act towards D. in A.'s presence (not in the sense of restraining myself from unbridled makeouts, but in the sense of avoiding couple-y in-jokes and hand-holding, etc.). Neither D. nor I have been avoiding him or actively trying to see him, and I say hi and smile when I see him, but A. doesn't respond and generally tries to avoid being in the same room as us. We all see a lot of each other since we live in the same small (50-person) dorm. These are minor annoyances, but I'd like things to be less awkward if at all possible. Is there any chance that A. and I can have normal conversations in the near future, and if so, is there anything I can do to facilitate that transition? Should I be careful about how I act towards or talk to D. in A.'s presence, or should I just have A. deal with it? I don't want to be any more of a jerk to A. than I've already been.

Again, this isn't a big deal, but thanks so much for all your help!
posted by flawsekno to Human Relations (36 answers total)
 
Just wait it out and let him get over it. He'll talk to you when he feels like talking to you. Also if you try to 'patch things up' before he's really ready it will take longer for him to get over you.

Ultimately if he doesn't want to be friends with you, I guess that's his problem.
posted by delmoi at 2:48 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, that's what I figured. But what I'm having trouble with is figuring out how to act in front of him. Like, would acknowledging that, yes, I'm dating someone else be rubbing it in? Would acting normally be inconsiderate?
posted by flawsekno at 3:11 AM on November 24, 2009


Really quite frankly to him dating D is inconsiderate after that there is damn near no way for you to be considerate of him.
posted by Rubbstone at 3:23 AM on November 24, 2009


He's really pulled out the stops here -- The Freeze is to be reserved only for ex-mother-in-laws or other deeply sinister sorts.

This is not your deal -- you did what you could to amend this situation, he's going to have to get glad in the same pants he got mad in. It's his immaturity or whatever, or maybe where he's from this behavior is called for. This is hurting him more than it is you and your current beau; he's acting like a fussy old church-lady, he looks like a dope and he knows it.

That said, it is awkward to have to deal with this, esp in your dorm; it's like a popcorn fart in an elevator, everyone knows about it, and looking around grievously and wondering who did it. I don't think there's anything you can do to clear the air (so to speak) and I like how you're being considerate in A's presence, not groping D and jumping up and down.

Last. Should this not work out with D, and A and D form an alliance of fussy old church-ladyness, you'll understand why seniors don't date in their very own dorm.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:24 AM on November 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


You could send him a little note, acknowledging that you've fumbled parts of this relationship and apologizing if you've hurt him. You could also say that you miss talking with him.

Be careful not to imply that you know how he feels unless he has explicitly told you how he feels; "I'm really sorry if I've hurt you" is much better than "I know you're hurting right now."

Finally, leave the ball in his court. Don't imagine that you're entitled to his friendship just because you've offered an olive branch.
posted by jon1270 at 3:43 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's not much you can do to make this less awkward other than leave the dorms entirely. You know you messed up, and the damage has been done. Don't rub in your new relationship, but don't hide it either, you don't want A getting any ideas. Act around A as you would around anyone else.

As for normal conversations, that's entirely his decision. There's nothing you can do other than be polite to A and hope for the best. Between your mistakes and the fact that it was A's first time dating, I wouldn't hold my breath. In the eyes of someone who's dated, he's overreacting. In the eyes of someone who's never dated, being treated like this is quite harsh.

One question for you. Were A and D friends before you met either of them?
posted by Saydur at 3:44 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Saydur: We're all college freshmen, so we all met at about the same time. A, D, and I were all part of a five-person embryonic card-playing/friend circle, and then A left that once D and I started dating.
posted by flawsekno at 3:48 AM on November 24, 2009


I would act normally with D., even in A.'s presence. I mean, you dated A. for two weeks. Why baby his pouting by changing your actions? Just be yourself, don't worry about "transition," and if/when A. grows up a little, he'll forget all about this.
posted by Houstonian at 3:50 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a really normal experience. It's so normal that I think if you choose not to view it as "drama" and just as part of the college experience for many, many, many, many people, it'll be easier for you to deal with.

In all reality, it probably won't be smooth sailing for you and A from here on out. In general, how many people stay friends with people they date even for a short amount of time? Really, if you had just met A out at a party at another college one night and you went out on a few dates and he broke it off, would you want to be friends with him? No, you'd probably be back in your dorm room commiserating with some of the others and calling him a stinky jerk face. I imagine this is part of what A is doing, but the issue for you is you happen to live in the same dorm.

Well, it won't always be that way. Freshmen dorms, especially those filled with all freshmen, are special (and if you think 50 is small, you should try the 20 person dorm I lived in!)because your thrown in with a bunch of people and you don't know anybody, but neither does anyone else. Attachments are formed almost instantly because people like to connect and like to know where they stand and like to make sense of their environment. And stuff like this happens in them all the time as a result of the odd social situation that is the freshmen dorm. You should shrug your shoulders, don't let it interfere with how you behave, and say, "Yeah, I dated that guy very briefly and it didn't work out. Oh, well," and move on with the rest of your college experience. Hopefully he'll come around to doing the same.
posted by zizzle at 3:57 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you've never dated before, dating for two weeks can be a huge deal. I think his reaction is completely understandable.
posted by martinrebas at 4:00 AM on November 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


He'll find another girl/guy and move on. Over the course of my 4 college years I fell in and out of innumerable relationships and went through period after period of "C isn't talking to me, I;m not talking to D, what's up with E?". It'll come and go.
posted by GilloD at 4:05 AM on November 24, 2009


Okay, if A and D weren't friends beforehand, it wasn't a complete meltdown disaster.

As I said before, it's a matter of perspective. It's silly to you, I think he's only hurting himself, but I can completely see why it bothers him so much for the moment. He'll likely get over it by the end of semester break. If not, you can just write him off as too troublesome.
posted by Saydur at 4:20 AM on November 24, 2009


You don't get to dictate how someone handles a break-up or how he feels about it. You dumped him. Sure it would be great if everyone and their ex can be friends, but it looks like it's not possible now and it may not be possible ever.

Leave him be. Don't alter how you interact with D., but don't make any real attempt to contact A.
posted by inturnaround at 4:35 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's nothing you can do about it. Some people are capable of being friends with those who have dumped them. Others aren't. It's just the way they're made.

You shouldn't have to change the way you and D behave - it's A's problem. If he can't deal with it, it's his responsibility to stay out of your way, not your responsibility to police how you behave around him. But you will probably have to give up any chance of having a civil relationship with A, at least until he finds somebody else.
posted by davetill at 4:45 AM on November 24, 2009


Leave A. alone and let him be standoffish for awhile.

Sooner or later he'll meet F. or P. and his attitude will brighten up again.
posted by rokusan at 4:56 AM on November 24, 2009


Neither D. nor I have been avoiding him

Why the hell not? Don't be around A. Don't talk to him, don't send him a note, don't do anything with him.

A is avoiding you because he can't be around you right now. He probably feels he might do something stupid if he is around you two; you really don't understand why he doesn't come the card thing anymore?

You and A aren't friends anymore.
posted by spaltavian at 5:04 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did this. I was A in college. In retrospect, I'm embarrassed about it, because it was all based on me believing the "It's not you, I just don't want to be with anyone" line used to let me down easy. In my case I felt more betrayed by the fact that I had talked to the 'D' in my situation about how in love I was.

Anyway, I agree with the others who say you just have to leave him be. I wish there was a better solution.
posted by umbĂș at 5:37 AM on November 24, 2009


You and A aren't friends anymore.

This. Your brief relationship was a big step in his life and so was you breaking up with him. More so to the point that you told him you broke up due to feeling "overwhelmed" and not for lack of feelings. Then pretty immediately turn around and started dating someone else (which would make more sense if you didn't like A, versus simply being overwhelmed). He got a rather harsh, if unintended, lesson in love. The best thing you can do is leave him alone, and as someone noted, try not to rub in the relationship with D. If he ever wants to be friends with you again, he'll be the one to initiate this change in situation.

I hate the phrase, but this is really one of those you can't have your cake and eat it situations.
posted by Atreides at 5:56 AM on November 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


You could also say that you miss talking with him.

No. no. no. This might make him feel better in the short term, but it's just going to make things take longer for things to sort out. It's like pulling off a bandage, the quicker the better.

If anything, he'll meet some other girl and forget all about you. Don't worry, and be sure not to do anything that could hint, in even the most wishfully thinking mind, that you might dump this guy and go back out with him.
posted by delmoi at 5:59 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't really know why this has to be awkward.

Because he liked you waaay more than you liked him. Because maybe you knew it was going to be a fling from the get go, but he didn't. Because even though it wasn't a lie at the time, "I'm not going to date D" basically looks, walks and quacks like a lie to everyone who isn't you. Because one of the reasons you started dating him was to prove that you could have a normal relationship.

Is there any chance that A. and I can have normal conversations in the near future, and if so, is there anything I can do to facilitate that transition?

I think trying to leave him alone as much as possible is the best thing to do to try and be friends with the guy again. Also, drop the whole notion of "near future": it'll happen when it happens.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:53 AM on November 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think sending A a note will do anything but prolong his anguish. It is kin of weak sauce of you to start dating D a week after Javon broken up with A. Given the circumstances, close quarters, close friends and all that, it wasn't particularly tactful or nice o you. But what's done is done and A is gonna have to find closure his own way. Nothing you say is going to make him feel better. Eventually he'll get over it, possibly at the expense of his friendships to you and D, but that's his prerogative. The best thing you can do right now is be respectful of his space and only engage with him if he equests you to do so.
posted by orville sash at 7:27 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn iPhone.

Javon-having
kin-kind
posted by orville sash at 7:29 AM on November 24, 2009


D is in the clear then from breaking any asshole rules if him and A were not friends. A could take it a lot better and grow up but he still does not have to be your friend after a break up. A is doing nothing wrong. He is young and immature. You are expecting way too much out of the kid. You probably meant a lot to him, breaking it off hurt him and the only thing he said was don't date D. You turn around and date D. Now you think A is overreacting. Me/Rollings eyes! Life lesson: Boys are immature and don't handle things too good. Do not expect them to be your friends after you break up with them.

Honestly I wouldn't give A another thought. Soon enough you will break up with D and date someone else. That is how things work in college. I know Dorm room relationships are easy because you are around them a lot more but try dating someone you meet in class or at the club next time. I'd put your whole dorm in the friend zone if you plan on having normal Hi how you doing relationships with them.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:30 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Still, A.'s an interesting person and I miss talking to him, or at least having him greet me back when I say hi; I also dislike feeling like I have to police how I act towards D. in A.'s presence (not in the sense of restraining myself from unbridled makeouts, but in the sense of avoiding couple-y in-jokes and hand-holding, etc.).


Respect D's need for space. Do not try and make him into you having your cake and eat it too. Because that's what something like this is--part of what makes people like this interesting is their intense interest in you.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:31 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing - You have known A for a total of 10 weeks and in that time you dated him, dumped him, then started dating a mutual friend after you said you wouldn't. Put yourself in A's shoes - he probably thinks you are more or less an asshole. (Not that I agree, but if I were him I probably would.)

You can try to write a short note about how you are sorry about the situation and wish for things around the dorm / card playing club to be amicalble with everyone present whether they are dating, friends, or whatever. Just leave it at that.

The ball is in his court. You should act normal around both A and D and not worry about A being mad that you are doing couply things with D. people break up, it hurts for a while, then people move on.

A can decide when he is ready and over the breakup to be either friends with you and D or to cut you out of his life. Either is justifiable, so you should just let A decide and go with it.

To avoid this in the future, you should space out your dating life a bit more by becoming more involved in studying, various clubs, and intramural sports. Happy camping!
posted by WeekendJen at 7:51 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would advise that you already made your choice. All decisions come with consequences.

"A" is angry now, but give it time and space. People don't "just get over" things as quickly as we all would like. Because he is not getting over things on a schedule that is not convenient for you wanting a friendship with him is something that you have to resolve for yourself.
posted by PsuDab93 at 8:19 AM on November 24, 2009


I broke things off because I was feeling overwhelmed and because I wasn't really into him--I only told him the former. I also told him that I wouldn't be dating D. about a week before I started doing exactly that--oops. It wasn't a lie at the time, but I did change my mind awfully fast.

So, you created drama and broke his heart and now you want him to move past it so you can still enjoy the bits of him that you like and want?

You're being incredibly selfish and immature here. Look you made a mess, own up to it. You lost any sort of rights to him when you broke up with him and then turned around and did what you said you wouldn't do. He has no reason to trust you, none. Yes, he could be handling this better, no question, but ultimately as the one who was broken up with by his first girlfriend and now has to see her around his house with the guy she said she wouldn't date, well, he's got plenty of reasons not to want to be in the same zip code as you.

Let it and him go and learn from your mistakes. Maybe in a few months or years he'll come around, but don't bet on it. Let it go and let him deal with his grief and pain. There's nothing you can do to fix it, he has to go through himself or with someone else other than you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on November 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


A's behavior is reasonable and justified. It may change over time, or it may not. My guess is if he's going to be your friend again it will only happen after he's fully over his feelings for you. This can be accelerated if you know someone you can set him up with, preferably anonymously.
posted by rocket88 at 8:40 AM on November 24, 2009


This can be accelerated if you know someone you can set him up with, preferably anonymously.

No, stay the hell out of his life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:14 AM on November 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Listen, I'm not denying that I have been an asshole to A. It was also my first time conventionally dating, I tried to make my expectations clear, he tried to do the same, we both miscommunicated, I inadvertently led him on, I made a ton of mistakes that I now sincerely regret. (Although I do wish that he had told me that it was his first relationship sooner; I was operating under the assumption that he was more experienced than I was and thus acted much less carefully than I should have.) Much of what I wrote in the first long paragraph became clear to me only during intense introspection after the breakup.

I'm not trying to be his friend again, nor do I really expect to. But there's an atmosphere of tension every time he sees D or I, and I wish I could calm things down. I want to make all this as painless as possible for A. The consensus seems to be that there's nothing I can do.

On another note: was waiting only a month after a two-week relationship unjustified? It was my impression that whatever statute of limitations on relationships had run out by that point.
posted by flawsekno at 11:05 AM on November 24, 2009


Part of having relationships is learning to have relationships. I think you realize that getting involved with someone you aren't really in to just to have a relationship was a mistake and lead to him being really hurt. That tension when he sees the two of you will fade with time, especially if you all can cultivate interests and activities outside of the dorm. Waiting a month actually seems properly respectful, under the circumstances, aside from the telling him you weren't going to date new guy a week before you did. You've apologized. He probably won't want to be friends again. So there's really nothing more to be done but to learn from your mistakes and try to do better next time. Some lessons are just hard learned.
posted by 6550 at 11:35 AM on November 24, 2009


It was my impression that whatever statute of limitations on relationships had run out by that point.

Uh, you're living in the same dorm as him, with your new boyfriend and he's reminded of that every time he see's either one of you, let alone both of you. This fact probably limits his social network and activities 'cause he understandably doesn't want to be in the same room with you and your fantastic new boyfriend. And all of this in first semester at college, so yeah, he's having tons of fun.

Could he be handling this better? Most def, but there is no "statue of limitations" on his hurt feelings and anger and you're going to have accept that and move and live your life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:35 PM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


On another note: was waiting only a month after a two-week relationship unjustified?

Two weeks is not really even a relationship. He's probably gone longer between laundry days. I don't understand the comments that say you made mistakes, you're selfish, etc. Don't expect anything from him, but don't tiptoe around him either.

It used to be that when a spouse died, the proper thing (according to manners and customs) was to wait a year before courting/being courted. That was a long time ago, and that was for spouses. If someone caught your eye for half a month, and then you decided they weren't right for you, well... at least wait until the next day. Waiting a month is more than sufficient.

In fact, surely he's not upset but just not interested in being friends (those are two different things). You dated him during the first weeks of school, so I guess that's the first half of September. Then you dated nobody until roughly mid-October. It's almost December. I would guess he's not upset with you, just disinterested in being friends.
posted by Houstonian at 5:29 PM on November 24, 2009


It'll be weird for a while, maybe a long while depending on what kind of person A is. He's digging his own hole, and he just has to deal with it. Trying to let people down easy almost always backfires, and getting involved with friends doesn't help matters. Anything more at this point probably won't help matters. Just get on with your life and let A manage his own problems.

But hey, it's your freshman year! Embrace the mistakes and learn how to deal with them. There will probably be more awkwardness! You'll make new friends and in a year and a half from now you might not talk to any of the people you're friends with now (not necessarily due to bad blood, of course).
posted by that girl at 5:49 PM on November 24, 2009


This is not about who is a bad person and who is a good person.* "Unjustified," for example, is the wrong word to use. If it's not about you being bad or justified or immoral or in the clear, what is it about? It's about emotions and how people deal with them, and about being compassionate about that.

He feels hurt or angry or embarrassed. You feel sad not to have his friendship. You feel awkward when he doesn't say "hi." He feels tense and you feel tense. You seem to feel a bit guilty and defensive, and a bit impatient. None of these feelings are pleasant. But you cannot solve them the way you are trying to. In fact, the only way they can be made less unpleasant by accepting them as reality, not resisting them, not thinking you can change them. Just accept these feelings as the way things are and then ask yourself how -- given those facts -- you can make yourself or him more comfortable. (E.g., by not being in the common room on the night that you know his favorite TV show is on.)

By the way, this is such typical freshman dorm stuff that I would try to regard it with detached amusement and compassion for both of you. This sucks now, but by junior year, probably even by March, this will be so far in the past you will laugh about it mattering to you at all.

* The closest this comes to something "wrong" is to say you wouldn't do something and then go do it, but you've acknowledged this to yourself and apologized to him.
posted by salvia at 6:01 PM on November 24, 2009


Now that you put a little bit more light on things:

I'm not trying to be his friend again, nor do I really expect to.

Then why are you complaining for?

But there's an atmosphere of tension every time he sees D or I, and I wish I could calm things down. I want to make all this as painless as possible for A.

Well if you really cared about his feelings you would not have turned around and dating D within a few weeks. He asked you not to and you did it anyways. You officially alienated him from the group. Look at it this way, no man wants to be the beta wolf of the pack. If he comes back to your circle with his tail in between his legs he is going to look like a chump. At the tender age of 18 with people you just met and will be spending time with for the next few years... no one wants to look like the "Milhouse" of the group.

The consensus seems to be that there's nothing I can do.

Congratulations!!! Life lesson learned.

Don't be surprised if he never talked to you again or does not want anything to do with you or D. You did this not him.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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