I recently confessed my romantic feelings to a very close friend and, alas, he doesn't return them. I want to get things back to "normal" between us as quickly is possible. How do I go about doing this, and am I fooling myself into thinking that it is possible to return to "normal" right away?
So, a couple of months ago I submitted this question
. After a few more months of unproductive agonizing, I finally bit the bullet and had “the talk” because my frustrations were outweighing everything else and that is no way to live. Well, things went about as I expected they would—he doesn’t return my romantic feelings. I got the whole host of clichés—you are too important to me to mess it up with something romantic, I don’t want to think about you in that way and, of course, the knife to the heart “you’re like a sister to me.” Of course, all of this is bs—if you want to be with someone, you want to be with someone. (And I wish I could kick myself for not pressing him to answer me honestly during the conversation because, like all of us, I really, really want to know WHY, and, well, that window of opportunity has closed.) I do believe, though, that he does value having me in his life and I am important to him, whether or not he wants me in his life as his girlfriend.
My problem is where to go from here. I know everyone deals with these situations differently and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but for others with this experience, are there any best practices? I have already started the process of looking to meet other people (threw myself into the deep end of online dating) and finding hobbies and ways to keep busy, but that doesn’t really address how I should deal with him and having him in my life… or not. If this were a break-up I think in some ways it would be clearer. Clean break, the relationship is over. But we are, everything else aside, friends and have been extremely close friends for the better part of the year (and were just friends before I started to develop these messy and inconvenient feelings). We have a degree of emotional intimacy with each other that we don’t have with other people. He’s a huge part of my life and the idea of that piece being missing makes me sick to my stomach. During the course of our conversation, he told me that any solution that involved me not being a part of his life anymore was unacceptable and that he “refuses to lose me,” but I am realizing that decision isn’t really up to him.
I guess what I am asking is am I fooling myself in thinking that we can just return to “normal” now that all of this is out there? I’m thrilled that it is, because it couldn’t continue to fester, but it has created a whole new set of issues and complications. Yesterday, I was feeling bored and restless and contacted him to hang out because I was missing him and I did think that if I reached out and played it casual it would help us get back on normal footing more quickly. It was a weird feeling of still enjoying being in his company and having fun conversations, but with an undercurrent of tension that I imagine can fade with time. However, am I just delaying the inevitable? Would it be best if I just cut him out of my life, at least for the time being? As I said, the idea of that makes me sick and I hate the idea of losing him entirely because we do click really well as friends. I also worry that in the back of my mind I’d be using it as some sort of passive-aggressive punishment—you don’t want me? Fine, then you can’t have me at all! And then I’d wait for the “I miss you” text or call that never comes and torture myself all over again until I finally break down and contact him (sadly, while I can delete him from my phone, I can’t unmemorize his number or email address). And, to be clear, he was very direct in telling me that us being together romantically was something that would never happen and I fully believe him and accept that.
So, if you were me, what would you do? I can’t keep having state of the relationship talks with him, but I’m in a tizzy and keep going back and forth about whether I’m conflating what I want with what I actually need. I do know that I don’t want to lose having him in my life and would like to get back to our normal hang-out friend mode as soon as we can, but is that possible if there isn’t a little distance first? (And I’d love to tell that to him, too—I just want to get back to normal—but I sent an ill-advised email to him a couple of hours after the talk saying things needed to change and we could only spend time together in groups, etc. etc., but that was born out of the moment than clear reflective thought, but nobody likes constantly having state of the relationship talks and I don’t want to push him away by belaboring the issue, but maybe it would be helpful for him to know that I just want to get back to normal?)
Sorry for the length on this one—this is all swirling and muddled in my head, as is probably quite apparent.