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FWB: Can I save this friendship from my own regret?
June 4, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Ex-FWB: I really want to be friends again, but I'm too disgusted, and it's not his fault. What now? A follow-up to this question.

Thanks for all the great answers to my last question. A day after it was posted, I told M that I couldn't continue hooking up with him. He asked why and I told him I just wasn't into it anymore because of my orientation. He took it well, and for most of the rest of the semester we were less intense, platonic friends. I felt so much better, self-esteem wise and just in general.

Then the last night of school, I was at a party. He called me so I could let him into the building. When I came to the door he was very drunk and started kissing me and groping me. I figured, it's his last night (he's a senior, I'm a junior), so what the hell. When we left the party we went back to my room and talked for a while. I suggested that he call a different girl that he'd hooked up with a couple times because she'd almost certainly fuck him. He agreed that it'd be easy, but said he didn't want to. I apologized for not having been able to continue with the FWB thing. He said it was OK but kept inching closer to me on the bed. Told me I was "special". Had a pleading look on his face and brought it really close to mine. I started making out with him because I felt bad for letting him beg--also, why the hell had I let him come to my room if I wasn't gonna fuck him? He left to go to the bathroom and I started chugging alcohol so I could make myself blow him when he got back.

So he came back and I blew him. He practically begged to go down on me (I know, good man), so I let him. And it was awful. He wasn't bad at it, but I just wasn't into it at all. So I just moaned at what I thought I should be feeling so it would be over sooner, and so he wouldn't feel bad for something that wasn't his fault. Then he asked, in a really pleading tone, if I would ever consider having intercourse with him. I said I didn't have a condom (true), but if he'd had one with him, I probably would have gone along with it and regretted that night even more than I do now.

Which is a lot. Whenever I think back to it, I feel icky all over. I feel like I gave him a little piece of myself that I wish I had back. And then I feel bad for being so drama about it, because everything was consensual and he's not a bad guy. Honestly, I am a little mad at him for acting so persistently pathetic, because I think it means he knew I didn't want to, but wanted me to do it please him anyway. But I'm a lot more mad at myself.

It's affecting our friendship. We were hanging out last night (we live close) and half of everything he said pissed me off. He said the other girl he'd been hooking up with is great in bed, but that her personality is awful and he'd wished he could put a paper bag over her head while they did it. This annoyed me because not only did it strike me as cruel, but (and I'm aware this is going to make me sound like a bitch), I'm significantly better-looking than he is, and he and she are about the same looks-wise. Like, "you decide who to fuck based on physical standards, but I fucked you because I thought you were nice?" So I passive-aggressively replied, "you've got pretty high standards." He looked hurt for a second, and then said, "Really?" I immediately felt bad and said maybe he just had different standards than me. He said, "Maybe I do have high standards. Just for the face though." He also enthused that when the other girl gives head, she just keeps going until the guy comes. I have bad TMJ (he knows this) and I have to take frequent breaks and just use my hands. Even so my jaw was sore the day after the last time. So I said, probably with audible anger in my tone, "yeah, not doing that. Ever." I also made a contextually relevant comment that I should probably stop doing things I regret while drunk.

How can I save this friendship? Seeing him reminds me of being weak, of giving in, and I hate it. Even considering the occasional passive-aggressive remarks I've made, I'm not sure he knows anything is wrong. And I don't know whether I should bring it up with him--I mean, how exactly do you say, "I regret having sex with you, since the message didn't stick last time, it's never going to happen again"? Maybe things would be better if we just didn't talk about sex. We'd still have our shared senses of humor and nerdy interests.

I miss our friendship. I miss feeling comfortable around him. But I don't really know how to get over my resentment. (Also, in general, I'm having a hard time forgiving myself.)

(I really don't think he was trying to make me compare myself to the other girl with the blowjob thing. We have the sort of friendship where we talk about exes and love-interests frankly, because there's nothing romantic between us and we share an interest in women. And he doesn't see women exclusively as sex objects--he's friends with lots of them, including his exes, and including ones he doesn't find physically attractive.)

Throwaway email: sapphicsniveler@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Honey, are you in therapy? You really need to examine why you don't believe you have the right to set boundaries. When everything is telling you that you don't want to do something, you are actively taking steps to shut your inner voice down. Why?

Don't worry about saving this friendship. This friendship is like, #959 on your list of things to worry about. Worry about being an advocate for yourself. Don't beat yourself up, don't feel ashamed, don't be angry at yourself - that's just going to keep you where you are.

When you hear yourself saying "I was weak, I gave in, I hate it" - turn that off. Say "I don't want to feel like this! How can I truly get myself to a place where I feel good about my own behavior ALL of the time?"

Take baby steps. Commit to treating yourself with kindness. Please make no mistake. Treating yourself with kindness does not mean doing something you feel uncomfortable with and bad about and then choosing not to feel bad about it later. It means recognizing that you are being cruel to yourself, and deciding to examine why so that you can stop. I have a feeling some people are going to come here and try to give you some tough love. If you start to feel shame, stop. The mistakes you've made are in the past. The only way to not make them again is to believe in yourself, to remember that you are ALWAYS in control of yourself and you never have to do anything you don't want to do. You deserve to be comfortable in your own skin. You do not need someone's desire to be worthy.

These are just words until you really believe it, and there are no answers here on mefi for you to make you really, REALLY feel that. You should talk to a professional. It is going to take time.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2011 [48 favorites]


Um. Sorry to sound flip, but you can't be friends with this guy.

Seconding therapy, work on yourself, etc. I'm pretty sure most lesbians don't enjoy performing fellatio, even on their friends. Don't do shit that makes you feel like shit. The situation with this particular dude has gotten out of hand, and for your own mental health, you need to take a break. It's not personal, exactly. It's just how this stuff sometimes unfolds.

Also: when people are young and relatively inexperienced, sexually speaking, it's the blind leading the blind. People are going to get bumped. That is okay, you guys haven't done anything wrong, but you just need several steps back.
posted by pupstocks at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Perhaps he is a great guy and lots of fun, but I think you have all the right in the world to be mad at him. It certainly sounds to me that he got drunk and then guilted you into having sex with him, even though you clearly told him you didn't want to do it again. I find that terrible and I can see why you feel tramatised about it.

Also, I can see why you snapped at him regarding his comment. Putting a paper bag over her head?! That is horribly disrespectful. If he doesn't respect her, he shouldn't be having sex with her, no matter what 'skills' she has.

If you want to save the friendship, you really need to communicate with him that his behaviour really upset you and that you are adament that sex is completely off the table. I would also suggest that the both of you stop talking about your sex lives with other people - at least for the time being. It sounds like he is not over you and you are comparing yourself with his other hook-ups, which must be painful for you both.

And finally, you can say no to sex at any time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, 'Sorry, I don't feel like it.' or 'This isn't working for me. We need to stop.' Inviting him or any guy (or girl) into your place does not contractually obligate you to have sex with him (or her).
posted by brambory at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


How can I save this friendship?

It sounds like the kind of friendship that, if it's salvageable, will be salvaged by time and distance and not by actively trying to save it, since that's really not working out for you. And honestly, it barely sounds like a friendship.

Take a break and learn to be friends with yourself for a while.
posted by holgate at 9:57 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you do hang out again, absolutely tell him in no uncertain terms that you regret hooking up and that it will never happen again.

That said, I don't think you should hang out with him. Right now, you shouldn't be trying to salvage this friendship. Maybe down the line, I don't know. But you need to take some time for yourself, and honestly, you need emotional space from this jerk.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's not a friend. He's not friend material. I think you might take some time being good to yourself and staying away from alcohol completely. You don't need to tell him that you regret the sex, the BJ, whatever.You can find others who have great senses of humor and nerdy interests.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid the best way to restore the friendship would be to talk to him about it using phrases like "I had said I wanted to no longer do things like what we did. I am angry at myself and at you that we did it anyway." The goal is not to yell at him or be mean, but to share the impact of this event on you so that you can have an honest presence in your friendship.

I think you should do that also because you are so focused on others' feelings. You say you didn't want him to feel bad about ten times. Well, your feelings have a reality too. They impact the relationship too. They deserve their own place in the spotlight. Overriding them has consequences. This is not only your problem alone, it is also a problem for your relationship. You can't do things you dislike for the other person's sake because it creates this other kind of problem for your relationship with them. Speaking your feelings out loud and hearing them be the subject of discussion may make all of that more real to you.
posted by salvia at 10:17 AM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


First off, I don't think you necessarily need therapy unless you think you need therapy. I think this is no fun at all for you, but it's how we grow: Before, you didn't really grasp in an emotional, immediate, way, why it's not usually a good idea to have sex with someone just because you feel sorry for them, or because it seems less awkward at the time. Now you know, through experience. I don't think you have a personal problem unless you keep on doing it. Then if you find yourself repeating behaviors that you now know make you feel bad, that's the time I'd say therapy would help.

I also don't think he's necessarily a creep or a bad person, or even inherently a bad friend: he was drunk, he was engaging in wishful thinking, and I doubt he really understood how it was going to make you feel.

But...

I think right now, he's a bad friend for you. He may have feelings for you, and he's apparently not too good at respecting boundaries. If you were in a confident place yourself, you might be able to balance a friendship like that. But you're not. So, I think now it's likely to be too much of a strain. Time and distance and fresh start sometime (and I mean years) down the road might be possible, but I think now, you're better off to steel yourself to reject his pleas, and tactfully, but honestly, tell him you don't think you can sustain a friendship at this point in time.
posted by tyllwin at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


This guy doesn't seem like he's on the same page about being friends. He sounds like he has some kind of crush on you that he's working out in really fucked up ways - putting down the other girl and then putting you down (implicitly via the TMJ thing). Plus, seriously, pressuring you to sleep with him was wrong and no amount of drunkenness or crushing or lust on his part or consent on your part excuses it. He passively-aggressively got you to do something you really, really didn't want to do, when he knew that you didn't want to do it in general and could almost certainly tell that you didn't want to do it in specific. He pushed you to sleep with him, a man, when you had told him you only wanted to sleep with women. That is, frankly, the act of an asshole. He is not acting like a friend, and you need to evaluate whether he's capable of being a friend to you. You may miss the good parts of your friendship, but he may not be capable of providing those good parts any more.

Honestly, we're not in the same generation so I'm not quite au courant on this "you should call [other girl], she'll fuck you at the drop of a hat" thing, which sounds a little messed up since it's like you were suggesting that she pinch hit for you rather than suggesting to your friend "hey, buddy, maybe you're not getting lucky tonight"....but I am really, really shocked and sad that you weren't in a position where you felt okay saying no. I've done that "disassociate myself so I can have sex I don't want to have" thing when I didn't want to say no, and it's terrible. No wonder you feel bad!

Please talk to someone - an older queer mentor maybe, if you can find some older friends through queer groups or communities. If you're anything like me (and I can totally see myself doing what you did), you should nip this in the bud now before you waste years of your life neglecting your needs at every turn. I know you're an internet stranger, but it makes me so sad that you've had this experience!

(Oh, good for you for telling him you wanted to stop the FWB thing - I think it's great that you were confident enough to do that, and it bodes well for your future.)
posted by Frowner at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, gosh. You know this already, but for your own sake, please don't let yourself feel guilted into sex again. No one wins that game of pretend.

I once dated a guy who I only liked as a friend, and because he liked me a lot, I felt guilty. I'll be honest, it's 7 years since we broke up, and I still feel uncomfortable around him. Seeing him reminds me that I've made mistakes that hurt, that I burned a friendship, and that at one time I believed making other people happy was more important than making me un-miserable. Seeing him sucks.

I never explained this to him, because like in your situation, he's a good guy and he really didn't do anything wrong. I could never successfully dis-associate seeing him from remembering my own crappiness.

My advice would be to try to do what I never could: sit down, be honest, and clear the air. It may be awkward, but it won't be anymore uncomfortable than what you're dealing with now.

"Look. I really, really can't mess around with you anymore. It may sound girly, but it's messing with my head in a weird way. In fact, that last time you came over has made me feel really uncomfortable around you... not because of anything you did, but because I let myself down. You're not gross, but now I feel gross. So if you're my friend, please don't push it anymore. Capiche?"
posted by samthemander at 11:12 AM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


And, oh yes, I want to repeat what another poster said above: just because you invited him in doesn't mean he should expect to get down. Lots of people in happy sexual relationships (long-term, short-term, FWB, functional or dysfunctional) turn each other down for sex regularly. It's normal, and you should feel OK with doing that.
posted by samthemander at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He sounds like a horrible person who uses people, and you sound like one of those people nobody wants to trust because they are easily talked into anything (and believing anything) by the most recent person to be near them. I think you should take control and work on your self esteem. Learn to say "No" and "Hell No" and only have sex when you want to. See if you can find more considerate and respectful sexual partners, and politely cut them off if they turn out otherwise. Don't be flaky and keep switching your decisions, if you are on the fence then a firm and final "No" is much better than drama and shows you can make mature decisions and stick with them.
posted by meepmeow at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


How can I save this friendship?

Why would you want to be friends with someone who pressures you into having sex, and denigrates his other sexual partners in your presence? What could you possibly have to gain from a person who doesn't respect your boundaries, and rejects your assertions about your sexual identity whenever he feels a stray urge?

You may not believe this, coming from a stranger on the internet, but you can do better.
posted by hermitosis at 11:48 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also:

"I regret having sex with you, since the message didn't stick last time, it's never going to happen again"?

That is a completely fair thing to say to someone. In fact, if you DO want to remain friends, then it's important for that message to sink in. It may sound to you like a cruel thing to say, and obviously he won't enjoy hearing it, but whatever relationship you two have in the long run will be vastly better for it.
posted by hermitosis at 11:51 AM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find myself coming down on the side of, 'you need to cut this guy loose'. Whatever friend he may have been in the past, and whatever friend he may be in the future when time and a healthy dose of removing his head from his ass have worked their magic, he has clearly shown that right now, he does not respect your boundaries - and that is not somebody you need to be around, in any capacity. What he did was wrong, no ifs, ands, or buts, and you shouldn't feel guilty about telling him to just leave you alone.

Looking at the way this is weighing on you, and the way it's making you feel, I also think it would be worthwhile talking to someone, even if it's just to air this out and get some perspective that doesn't come from the internets. If you're in college, odds are you'll have a campus counselor; you can usually get an appointment with one pretty quickly, they're very informal, and you don't have to see them more than once if you don't want to.
posted by sophistrie at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think tillwin has it right. Also, I am not clear on how good a friend he is. If he really is that close of a friend, then you should feel o.k. with telling him pretty much what you wrote in your post so that you can clear the air and not just harbor resentment. You are both young and still feeling your way around all this. Mistakes are going to happen. The grown up part is being able to talk to him honestly and openly and make sure he understands why this can never happen again and get his support in that.

If he is not that good/important of a friend, yeah, just take your lesson and let him go.
posted by Vaike at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2011


You need to work on your self-respect.

Also, guy saying he wants to put a paper bag over his gf's head when they fuck? Gross.
posted by xammerboy at 1:02 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I grant you it's not his fault you had sex with him.

It is his fault that he even asked to use you like that, knowing your clearly-stated preferences. I mean, come on, as a lesbian what would he expect you to get out of it? Except friendship, which is the one thing he's offering that you apparently want. How dismal of him.

It's also his fault that he tells you his girlfriend is ugly. What kind of person does that?

And it's also his fault that he reviewed your technique and found hers better because she doesn't have TMJ. What kind of person does that? And does it as if to make up for calling his girlfriend ugly?

I mean, it's not really very friendly of him, is it?

I understand why you would want to save the friendship, and it used to bother me when people would tell me all the time to drop my friends. I would think they didn't understand.

Now, a long time later, I think maybe they did understand.

If you don't want to lose this guy's friendship, well, okay, but try making some more friends as well. If you have a hundred friends and they're all like him, make 100 more friends who are less like him.

If you want to learn to be a kick-ass boundary setter, and a genius at detecting and responding to the signs of respect and contempt, may I suggest you buy a copy of Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour? Yes I am serious. It's cheaper than therapy and it is very, very funny.

Also, just because you let him in doesn't mean you owed it to him to have sex with him. If I had sex with everybody I let into my house I'd never get the laundry done.
posted by tel3path at 1:46 PM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, I just wanted to add for your future reference - IME, even when friends talk frankly about sex, it is never okay to trash a current partner or to say something that would shame the current partner if they knew it was being said. Ie, if I were sleeping with someone who was a very private person, I would not talk to a friend about intimate details; or if I were sleeping with someone whose personality I didn't care for, I might talk about conflicts we had but I wouldn't trash them; also, if I had a friend who was sleeping with someone they actually had contempt for, I would lose a lot of respect for that friend and maybe not be their friend any more. A FWB arrangement with someone who isn't your favorite human being is one thing, but if you actually dislike someone enough to complain about their looks and character, you shouldn't be sleeping with them; if you're saying stuff about them that would lead them to break up with you in rage and pain if they heard you (and I think "she's ugly and annoying" qualify) then you shouldn't be sleeping with them either. In short, your ex-FWB guy is, to my mind, breaking a lot of the social rules around "how we talk about sex with our friends". It's not just being nerdy or whatever; it's a sign of poor character.
posted by Frowner at 2:02 PM on June 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Let's look again at what happened and take it apart a little bit.

Ex-FWB: I really want to be friends again, but I'm too disgusted, and it's not his fault.

Yeah, it is his fault. He knew you were uncomfortable with the sexual acts he wanted, and he pressured you into them anyway using emotional manipulation (because he probably knows you're susceptible to that) in order to get what he wanted from you sexually.


I suggested that he call a different girl ... He agreed that it'd be easy, but said he didn't want to.


Catch that? There are other things he could have done, he just *didn't want to.* In this situation he is all about his wants.

I apologized for not having been able to continue with the FWB thing.

One thing I think you should really work on with a therapist - not apologizing when you haven't done anything wrong. Like many, many young women, this was probably socialized into you. You can socialize yourself out of it too. It's incredibly poisonous and one of the reasons that women end up shortchanged and fucked over in life.

I apologized for not having been able to continue with the FWB thing. He said it was OK but kept inching closer to me on the bed.

He said "it was OK" so that means he heard you and understood you didn't want to continue getting physical with him. He inched closer to you on the bed after that, so that means he is willing to completely disregard and trample all over what he knows your wishes to be, when they conflict with his wants.

Told me I was "special". Had a pleading look on his face and brought it really close to mine.


Emotional manipulation and pressuring. Terrible of him to use that to get what he wants from you.

I started making out with him because I felt bad for letting him beg

I'm sure that he knew you would be susceptible to it and that's why he did it. Please internalize that you're not responsible AT ALL for anyone else's behavior. You're not "letting" him to anything. You're not his parent, boss, jail warden, or in any position of authority over him whatsoever. He's a fully grown adult MAN who makes his own choices as to how to act. If he chooses to beg, that's his problem not yours, and you are in no what whatsoever responsible for it. I'm telling you, manipulative people will take advantage of you the rest of your life if you continue feeling responsible for the actions of others. You'll find yourself in all sorts of bad situations. They suss that out about you and have absolutely no compunction about exploiting it.

-also, why the hell had I let him come to my room if I wasn't gonna fuck him?

Uh, because he deliberately and aggressively manipulated you into doing so? And even if he hadn't, let me ask you this straight out. Do you truly believe that if a woman lets a man into her room, and if a man begs for sex, then that woman owes that man sex? How far does that go? Like if I let a repairman into my house and he tried to have sex with me, would I have been a horrible tease for letting him in my house with no intention to have sex with him? If I wear a short skirt out, and someone rapes me, would I have deserved it for being a horrible tease wearing sexy clothing? You know, this line of thinking goes all the way to the extreme. There was a time in the USA where, if I had shown my bare ankle, some people would have said I was inviting sex. There are people in this world who believe that if a woman isn't veiled at all times, or talks to a man she doesn't know, or even leaves her house at all, she is inviting sex -- after all, why would she have done those things if she wasn't out for it? I don't think you really believe this line of thinking.

You absolutely, in no way, invited sex here. And even if you had invited sex, even if you were completely naked and he was ready to go at it, it would still be your right to change your mind and say no, and have that respected. It wouldn't make you some kind of mean, bad, liar. And any guy worth your time would respect that, and not try to manipulate you. There are millions of guys out there who would respect it and wouldn't think badly of you at all, I promise!

He practically begged to go down on me (I know, good man)

Out of everything you wrote, this is the clearest example that someone has been giving you warped and bizarre ideas of what makes someone a "good man," good partner, good in bed, or any of those things.

The idea that going down on a woman makes someone a "good man" is based on the ASSUMPTION that *the woman wants it.* So the idea is that the man cares about the woman's pleasure, not just his own.

Going down on a woman who DOES NOT WANT IT, as in your case, does not make someone a good man at all. It makes him 1) extremely fucking selfish, since he's still only doing things that please him 2) a really fucked up individual, since that's the only type of person who pressures others into sexual acts that he's well aware they do not want.

Whenever I think back to it, I feel icky all over. I feel like I gave him a little piece of myself that I wish I had back.

That is completely understandable and valid. You had an unpleasant, unwanted sexual experience that you felt unable to stop. I really, really hope you'll consider going to therapy because you don't deserve to go around feeling this way.

And then I feel bad for being so drama about it, because everything was consensual and he's not a bad guy.

It was "consensual" but it was a situation that he deliberately created in order to get what he wanted from you in a highly manipulative way that I think he was well aware you'd be susceptible to. We don't have to demonize the guy, label him, call him an evil person or a bad guy, but the fact remains, you don't have to be a "bad guy" to do something fucked up.


Honestly, I am a little mad at him for acting so persistently pathetic, because I think it means he knew I didn't want to, but wanted me to do it please him anyway.


Bingo! I completely agree with you.

But I'm a lot more mad at myself.

I don't think there's any need to be mad at yourself for a trait that's been socialized into women for generations -- being afraid to hurt feelings, or "deny" someone what they want, even when that person is hurting you and denying you what you want. Please, please go to therapy and ask about working on this. This is something you can definitely change.

How can I save this friendship?


I really think this friendship is dangerous and bad for you until you've done some work in therapy and developed skills in standing up for yourself, setting boundaries, and not having as much guilt around people-pleasing.

Once you've developed those skills, I think you can come back to this friendship in a much healthier way. You may find, when you are surrounded by people who don't pull the sort of awful selfish manipulative shit that this guy does (which kind of happens organically when you do have good boundary-setting skills) that you don't have much interest in going back to it anyway.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:02 PM on June 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


From the OP:
Wow. Thanks so much for your insights, everyone (especially Frowner and Ashley801). Some clarifications:

We've been pretty close for about a year, and aside from this drama it's been pretty awesome. We're both huge biology nerds and we get each other's jokes even when no one else does. We hung out one-on-one for months before the original FWB thing, when he didn't have much reason to believe such a thing would ever happen.

He's told me on multiple occasions (usually when drunk) that he feels I'm the only person at school who cares about him on more than a superficial level. (Unfortunately, I can kind of see this, if only because our school friends are kind of self-involved and he's introverted.) Some of his drunken "I'm glad you're my friend" stuff has almost certainly been him hoping for sex, but I do think he also means it.

I know what he did was manipulative and shitty, but he's got his own self-esteem problems too and despite what might have come across in my original post, I do care for him.

Honestly, I think he would be very upset to know how this has affected me. He once got really upset when he (mistakenly) thought he'd hurt/offended me, and this seems many orders worse.

I don't think he has a crush on me. He's fucking other people, he's tentatively interested in one of his exes, and in any case, he's really not the type to get stuck on one girl.

The paper-bag comment... he was half-joking-ish, but still, ew. I think he thinks of other people's physical features as acceptable to blithely judge, which is a little cold but not really evil. He might also feel a little ashamed about having sex with her because her personality is terrible. But showing THAT level of disrespect? Fucking someone you actually feel CONTEMPT for? Totally not cool, yeah. This is actually the number one thing swaying me against being his friend. Not sure what I'm going to do yet though.

Boundaries: yeah, I gotta work on them things. I'm still pretty sexually inexperienced (this was only my fourth encounter), but you live, you learn. So long as he didn't give me an STD (very unlikely, but possible), I think I'll be just fine.
posted by jessamyn at 2:25 PM on June 4, 2011


"I think he thinks of other people's physical features as acceptable to blithely judge"

You're paying a lot of attention to what he might be thinking and what his intentions might be, but the fact is, it is a very hostile act to talk about anyone else this way.

I have to ask: do you think he doesn't talk about you this way?

"Honestly, I think he would be very upset to know how this has affected me."

If that's the case, I think you should tell him. Let him be upset at how he has affected you. Don't help him with the fact that he's upset.
posted by tel3path at 2:30 PM on June 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


He has a crush on you beyond the platonic. It really doesn't matter that he sleeps with other girls - he has a crush on you.

Now, that doesn't mean he's handling it well at all - because he's not. He's being incredibly selfish - although I don't think he sees it that way - if anything, there is probably an element of 'romance' to it - but also that if you were really uncomfortable you would tell him to stop. This is not so easy to do when the person who is doing this is someone you care about. On some level he knows that, so his behaviour is manipulative and controlling (although not in the pre-meditated way) - it's not that you're an easy target, it's just that he knows has an in because he knows you do care about him.

So, here's what to do - and it will take time and practice to do it - you're going to have to tell him no. When he does something or requests something, you're just going to have to say no. Also, do not engage in the baiting ego-driven pissing matches that the two of you are engaged in. It is okay to tell someone when they say or do something that offends you - and it's okay if it hurts them - that's a large part of what relationships of any kind are about - letting other people know when they've stepped over the line but doing it in a non-passive-aggressive way.
posted by mleigh at 2:57 PM on June 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


What this guy did to you isn't unique its the kind of thing that happens a lot and I'm sure many women reading this thread have gone through similar things. Its a really unfortunate symptom of the way sex is handled in our society.

I don't think its helpful to try to understand why he did this, he's a person and people are complicated and for all I know he has a ton of hangups and difficulties with his own sexuality/concepts of women's sexuality, its important for you to understand that his actions were unacceptable and that you're not responsible for his sexual fulfillment.


I'm a straight woman and for me learning to deal with this kind manipulative shit and being straightforward and firm with my boundaries was, unfortunately, a big part of becoming a sexually healthy and mature adult. Saying no can be hard, its so easy to fall into the - i'll just kiss him, just ___ so as not to hurt his feelings/disappoint him but thats not good for you - or in the end for him. Saying no is really hard in the moment but it gets easier every time and is easier when you internalize that what he did was bad and unacceptable and that you're allowed to say no and not offer any reason, explanation or substitute (the other girl). It doesn't make him a bad person, or even a bad friend, but in this case what he did was not acceptable and I think Ashley801 laid out really nicely why.

Your sexual experiences should be happy ones that you leave feeling good, you're an intelligent, thoughtful young woman who deserves to be treated with, at a very minimum, a basic amount of respect and consideration.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 3:11 PM on June 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry for writing so much I also wanted to say that if you do stay friends you should avoid situations where you may feel the pressured by this guy. Don't have him over to your room alone or go to his and avoid him when he's been drinking. You should make it easy for yourself to set the boundaries you need to.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 3:12 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you're approaching this in awfully legalistic terms. You're trying to parse out whose fault it was, who's to blame, how honest you can get away with being about your own feelings. I think that may be a counterproductive way to look at it right now. I mean, stuff like this...
Some of his drunken "I'm glad you're my friend" stuff has almost certainly been him hoping for sex, but I do think he also means it.

I know what he did was manipulative and shitty, but he's got his own self-esteem problems too and despite what might have come across in my original post, I do care for him.
...Look, you don't owe this any special treatment just because "he has problems too." However easy or hard his life is, however popular or unpopular he is, however sincere or insincere his pick-up lines are, you have every right to tell him "dude, that one thing you did really fucking sucked for me."

And I'm guessing that intellectually, you know that. But maybe it hasn't sunk in all the way, becuase you're still worrying about whether you've earned the right to tell him the truth, whether you're justified in setting real boundaries, all that stuff. Fuck that. Just take this as axiomatic: You're always allowed to speak up about your own feelings. You don't need to earn the right to say how you feel. You don't need to find some perfect turn of phrase that will convey those feelings without stepping on anyone's toes. In a pinch, it is always permissible just to say "I feel ________."
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's told me on multiple occasions (usually when drunk) that he feels I'm the only person at school who cares about him on more than a superficial level.

I know what he did was manipulative and shitty, but he's got his own self-esteem problems too and despite what might have come across in my original post, I do care for him.

This is actually a theme that comes up a lot across different kinds of human relationship questions. "My sister is lying and stealing from me, but she's struggling with an addiction to drugs." "My dad makes horrible nasty judgmental comments to me, but he's got a personality disorder." "My mom is very unhealthy and refuses take care of herself, and I end up shouldering the burden, but how can I walk away?"

The bottom line is that you have to take care of yourself first. The answers I see over and over are that even if someone is struggling and you care about them, if they are behaving in a way that's detrimental to your well-being, you need to protect yourself. And them having problems doesn't make it okay for them to treat you badly, and it's not a justification for you to be understanding to the max and put up with it.

If he has problems making close friends, if he has self-esteem problems, that's on him to work out in a healthy and productive way, ideally with a therapist. Not to just bop around acting horribly, causing pain in the lives of other people, and having a hall pass from ever examining his actions and words or being held responsible for their effects. He's still responsible for being a good human being in the world and treating others well.

I just have to say --

He said the other girl he'd been hooking up with is great in bed, but that her personality is awful and he'd wished he could put a paper bag over her head while they did it.

This is gross, immature, judgmental, cruel, and a disgusting thing to say about another human being, much less someone who's intimate with you in any way. I would think that even if I didn't know anything else about him. My friends and I have been talking about our sex lives for like 10 years now, and I don't know anyone who talks like this. This is like what you expect to see on 4Chan. Even if you believe this comes in some way from his poor self esteem, (which I don't think I do, it just sounds like plain ol' arrogance and callousness), this is not an okay way for him to work out his self-esteem problems.

We're both huge biology nerds and we get each other's jokes even when no one else does.


It can be hard to walk away from a friendship or any kind of relationship where there's a lot of good, even if there's also a whole lot of bad. I do think there's a possibility that you could salvage it if you can assert yourself and he's willing to respect that, I'm just worried because I know it can be tough to do that.

I think it will be really hard to assert yourself enough to protect yourself while you're still as worried as you are about his feelings. And I seriously think he knows that and uses it to control his interactions with you. Every last time you've mentioned that he's acted hurt or pathetic, you've said that you then back off.

Example:

Like, "you decide who to fuck based on physical standards, but I fucked you because I thought you were nice?"

(Which I think you were completely right about)

He looked hurt for a second

Which is how he controls you --

I immediately felt bad

Then you back down.

I'm not sure he knows anything is wrong.

I think he knows perfectly well he does things to hurt you, and that's how he controls you and gets what he wants. And he believes that no matter what he does, he can rein you in again by acting hurt and pathetic. So really, it doesn't matter to him whether anything "is wrong" since he can easily sidestep it with manipulation and make you feel bad about there being something wrong.

So when you say this:

Honestly, I think he would be very upset to know how this has affected me. He once got really upset when he (mistakenly) thought he'd hurt/offended me, and this seems many orders worse.

Given his other behavior, I can't help but worry that this is manipulative too, like if he'd get so upset when he thought you were slightly/hurt offended, he'll be a million times as upset if you are majorly/hurt offended. Then you will be hesitant to ever call him on anything.

I think the bottom line is, the only way to move forward here in a good way is to really fully stand up for yourself and stop letting the fact that he is "hurt" prevent you from doing that.
posted by Ashley801 at 4:39 PM on June 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm going to be kind of blunt here. I think you are very justified in being mad at yourself because you really did not do a good job of protecting yourself. It's fine; it's how everyone learns, but I think you should work toward an awareness of your part in why this happened and not jump immediately to forgiveness until you get assurances from yourself that it won't happen again. 

Don't take the easy out of blaming only him. Yes, he was manipulative, and yes, you might well stop being his friend. But there are many people in the world like him. It's like blaming panhandlers for taking your money -- there's another one around the corner.

As someone who once thought like you, I worry that you will put yourself in danger again until you change some of your beliefs and habits. So, what is there to learn from your post about how you let this happen?

...started kissing me and groping me. I figured, it's his last night, so what the hell.

Reason 1: "what the hell." what does that mean? (I am honestly curious.) Is it "why bother defending myself; the suffering won't be that bad? It's his last night, so I'll only have to endure it once more?"  

I started making out with him because I felt bad for letting him beg

Letting him beg... How did you "let him" beg? Was it your job to prevent him from begging? And why? How is that possible? And was there no way to stop him from begging (or deal with having already "let him" beg) besides giving him a BJ? Could you have just said "dude stop begging, I feel guilty when you do that?" or "dude stop begging, it makes me sad to see someone I care about act so pitiful?" or "dude stop begging, it's really annoying?"

Is Reason 2 that you wanted to protect him? From feeling embarrassed, from having begged to no avail, from experiencing rejection? Why would that be so bad? Why can't he deal with that?

Or is it Reason 3, you have something he wants, and you felt guilty at not sharing it? You give others what they want even at your own expense? Saying no would make you a selfish person? You're not sharing your toys vagina? :)

also, why the hell had I let him come to my room if I wasn't gonna fuck him?

Reason 4: Not realizing that you have the right to change your mind at any time. In your mind, since you didn't cut it off early, you had somehow forfeit your right to say no? When exactly would you have had to turn him down? (Now not just before you let him beg but before he came to your room?) And if the easiest out was to say "no" early, then that makes me revisit what happened at that easiest first moment, when you said "what the hell?" 

What do you honestly believe about when you have the right to say no? How does your unwillingness to let him beg (and his proclivity to do so) interact with your ability to exercise that right? What were other outs for you -- were there acceptable ways you could've said no, even late in the game?

It's interesting that your one key strategy was to try to distract him with wanting someone else. Do you live in a world where men deserve to get whatever (sex) they want, where the best way to avoid having to blow them yourself is to convince them to want someone else? Frankly it worries me what else could happen to you if that is the rule you live by. (But like Ashley801, I don't think it truly is.)

I think you might learn a lot by going back through the event moment by moment, and figuring out all the ways that you, with your various self-imposed restrictions (which we all have), could've averted this experience that left you feeling so badly. Then see whether you can discard any of those restrictions to give yourself even more options. 

I started chugging alcohol so I could make myself blow him when he got back.

This was the point in your story that most terrified me. I thought, oh god, next we're going to read about her being in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. It seems like a point of violence toward yourself where you decided (a) to force yourself to do something you didn't want to do (and why???) and (b) to put an end to the internal battle by silencing/sabotaging/poisoning the part of yourself that wanted to defend yourself. That's the part that is rightfully pissed. What's interesting is, why didn't that self-protective part of yourself stand up against your own self

He practically begged to go down on me

Sounds like Reason 2 again. I guess this guy has your number; you can't stand to see people beg. (By the way, I pitifully beg you to send me $1000. Pleeeeease???)

I just moaned... so it would be over sooner

Reason 5: Self protection! Albeit in the manipulative "shift what he wants" way we saw above with suggesting the other woman. 

...and so he wouldn't feel bad for something that wasn't his fault.

Reason 2 again, except now you're protecting him from experiencing a sense of failure or guilt? 

Reason 2 is why I think you should tell him you feel regretful, and that you are angry at yourself and at him. I think it'd be great for you to not only stop trying to protect him from his feelings, and thereby being manipulated by him, but to actually proactively take an action that you know might cause him to feel uncomfortable.

I feel bad for being so drama about it, because everything was consensual

Is this Reason 1 again? Your feelings aren't important, and you can't quite rationally explain them, so what the hell, why not just ignore them?

I am a little mad at him for acting so persistently pathetic, because I think it means he knew I didn't want to

I entirely agree that your anger at him is justified. You don't have to apologize for it or minimize it. 

But to me this also points to a Reason 6: Guess communication culture. He knew you didn't want it. He's not supposed to Ask. He's supposed to protect you from feeling guilty by not asking.

Even considering the occasional passive-aggressive remarks I've made, I'm not sure he knows anything is wrong. 

Definitely Guess culture. Please don't expect that passive-aggressive remarks will give anyone any meaningful information. They are open to a hundred interpretations.  

Seeing him reminds me of being weak

Actually, this is not the case at all. You were very strong. You assumed "what the hell" you could tolerate some groping, you controlled yourself, you even deliberately inhibited the self-protective part of yourself. Then you endured a whole bunch of repulsive shit, you strategically manipulated him to end the encounter sooner, and you have largely protected him from a number of uncomfortable emotions. You were not weak. 

This strength probably serves you in some places in your life. My question is when that kind of strength is in your best interests. To endure an externally-imposed situation? To oppress your own desires? When do you want to use that kind of strength (e.g., an awkward job interview), and when do you want to use a different approach?

If you remember one thing from this comment, I'd suggest that you remember that you erred on the side of too much endurance and too much protection of others. Consider that you might try being "weaker" and more "selfish" (e.g., just say "sorry I can't do that"), and trust others to be strong enough to endure uncomfortable feelings. Relax into being more honest about who you are and what you want. As I've gotten older, I've found that it's that kind of honest disclosure that leads to a more authentic and meaningful sense of closeness with someone, because then you know that they like you as you really are, for your real feelings, not for all the ways you try to be nice or whatever.
posted by salvia at 5:35 PM on June 4, 2011 [25 favorites]


Please read salvia's post very carefully. I like to think that it's what I would have written if I weren't sleep-deprived. Yeah I totally could've written something so incisive and accurate and so very, very likely to help you achieve your goals if you pay careful attention to it.

Print out salvia's words and clasp them to your bosom (better still, read them first then clasp them to your bosom).
posted by tel3path at 5:47 PM on June 4, 2011


Great breakdown by salvia, especially this: "trust others to be strong enough to endure uncomfortable feelings." As women, we are totally socialized to take of other people's feelings and make sure they don't feel bad. We're made to believe that if we don't, then we're bitches. You have to internalize that people who don't respect your boundaries are assholes and manipulative. Don't be afraid to tell people who you are. They will respect you for it. More people will respect you for it than those who don't.

As I was reading your post, I was picturing in my head what I would have done. It would have been something along the lines of saying, "No, no, no," and pushing him out the door, flopping on my bed and taking a moment to decompress from the situation, staring at the ceiling for a little bit, then journalling, which is just my way of dealing with stuff.

I understand that you're mad at yourself, feel ashamed and crappy, but at the same time, you have to acknowledge your mistakes and that you screwed up. When I was 21, there was a period of time when I just felt TERRIBLE because of this relationship that I had with a boy. In time, I was able to look back on it and laugh. We didn't know what the hell we were doing. So yeah. Let yourself feel terrible for a little bit, but you cannot let it consume you. Recognize that you need help to deal with this stuff. You're in school, so you can access these resources for cheap - do it now while you can.

In the meantime, just take a break from the friendship. Don't worry about trying to fix it or save it or make it better. Just don't worry about it. That's too much of a distraction to what you need to do: focus on you. So next time you see him (initiated by you or him, or random chance), just say, "Hey dude, I think I need a break from this friendship. I got some shit to work out. I'll give you a shout when I'm up to it. No hard feelings." If he presses you for an explanation and you really feel like not giving it, DON'T GIVE IT. Again, don't try to make him feel better, and ensure that he doesn't think it's his fault, what he thinks and feels is not your concern right now. This would be a good exercise in boundaries right here. And he's a senior, right? So he's graduating and you don't have to see him around school anymore. Things are going to change to matter what, so I say, don't put the effort into maintaining this thing. Contact him when you're ready if you want, but if you let this one go, I really don't think it'll do a lot of harm. Sounds like he has his shit to work on too.
posted by foxjacket at 6:46 PM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have been in a similar situation. I was with a guy I didn't particularly care for but I wanted to feel wanted. I did things that, in hindsight, I regretted doing. Everything was consensual on the outside but on the inside I really wanted to stop or say no. Thinking back on it made me feel dirty - it still does and that was years ago. I'm still ashamed of what I did and how I handled things but I promised myself then that I would set boundaries for myself. And boundary one was that I would not see or speak to this guy again. I knew I couldn't fix myself with him still hanging around in my life as a constant source of guilt and anxiety, despite how much fun we had had previously.

I'm not sure if this calls for therapy - I hated therapists and knew it would not do me any good at the time - but it definitely calls for some soul searching. It sounds like your self-esteem/self-worth is really low, otherwise you wouldn't settle for someone you're not attracted to, don't want to have sex with and don't even seem to enjoy being around! You need to reassess your standards and figure out what you really want - and deserve - from other people. And honestly, as long as this guy is around you're going to feel that shadow of what you did and worry about it. (In my case, I constantly worried that I would submit again and do sexual things I didn't want to do because hey, I'd done them before, right?)

In regards to sexuality: so what if a straight girl doesn't return your affections? Find a girl who does. You don't need to settle for a guy if that's not what you want. You have other options - try those out instead.
posted by buteo at 8:25 PM on June 4, 2011


From the OP:
salvia--

Jesus Christ. I never, ever thought that AskMe could generate this kind of clarity. I had to go walk around my block a couple times after reading that, you were just so, so on the mark about almost everything. Hope you don't mind if I respond in-depth.

Chugging alcohol: I have never gotten drunk enough to need medical attention, and I don't think I ever will. I drink significantly less frequently than most of my friends, and when I do drink, I usually drink less/get less drunk than they do. But yeah, this was a big mistake.

Reason 1: "What the hell" meant essentially what you said, yeah. I figured I probably wouldn't hate it that much. I was ultimately wrong, but that was my thought process at the time.

Reason 2: This is absolutely spot-on. I can't stand to see other people hurt, especially people who are close to me, and especially if I can prevent/fix it. I actually have a pattern in my relationships of protecting the other person from my feelings. Oh, I think I'm all emotionally open because I'm so giving and affectionate and interested in understanding the other person, but then when they do something that legit bothers me, my initial reaction is to suppress that feeling. How were THEY supposed to know that Action X was going to bother me? If they knew, they'd probably stop, and that's what counts, right? Oh, it's been months and now Action X is really eating at me? Well, can't make an issue of it now. They'll know I've been annoyed this whole time and feel mortified, and/or (reasonably) trust me less. I end up pointlessly "tolerating" so much for the sake of the other person's feelings that by the end of the relationship I've reached my breaking point. I'm not more than super-casual friends with any of my exes, in part because I never feel like they know me. But how could they? Isn't that the obvious fucking consequence of having hid myself from them?

Compounding this ridiculousness is the fact that I am TERRIFIED of the other person doing this to me. I am hypervigilant to signs that I'm annoying them. The idea of someone doing something sexual in order to please me, rather than because they actually desire me, makes my stomach turn. I think this may be a large part of why I keep gravitating towards hetero relationships/FWB situations even though I can't sustain more than a passing attraction to a dude: I have never had to worry that I'm accidentally pressuring the guy to do more than he wants to sexually.

Reason 3: You nailed it again. I knew I had something he wanted and I felt bad for not giving it to him. He sounded like Oliver Twist pleading, "Please, sir, I want some more," and I didn't want to be the asshole at the workhouse. I realize how ridiculous that is now--I'm not his goddamn sexual caretaker. But yeah, the tone of his voice, the look in his eyes... I can't stand begging. Hopefully this incident will make me find it less guilt-inducing and more just repulsive.

Reason 4: I did actually realize that I had the right to change my mind at any time. If I had told him to stop and he had forced me, there is no chance in hell I wouldn't consider that rape. My issue was with whether I should exercise that right, as in was it the best thing to do. I mean if I was only going to kind of dislike it (instead of hating it and later deeply regretting it like what actually happened), and he anticipated enjoying it enough that he was willing to act like a little bitch for it, and he would probably be really hurt and embarrassed if I said no... well then from a purely utilitarian calculus the best thing to do was fuck him. YES OF COURSE THAT'S RIDICULOUS, I realize that now. I would never want to have sex with someone performing that calculation, and I will never again have sex with someone who seems OK with me performing that calculation.

I can see how it would seem like I thought he was owed sex, and was trying to use the other girl as a pinch hitter. That's... not exactly true. I didn't think he was owed sex. I was trying to say to him that IF was trying to get laid that night, he would probably have better luck elsewhere. It was a last-ditch attempt to make him realize I didn't want it, but then I guess he ultimately didn't care.

Relax into being more honest about who you are and what you want. As I've gotten older, I've found that it's that kind of honest disclosure that leads to a more authentic and meaningful sense of closeness with someone, because then you know that they like you as you really are, for your real feelings, not for all the ways you try to be nice or whatever.

This actually made me cry, it hit home so hard. I have sabatoged every relationship/potential relationship/pseudo-relationship I've ever had by trying to be liked for all the ways I try to be nice.

If this guy and I end up hanging out again, I'm going to tell him that what happened between us actually wasn't OK at all, and why I'm mad at him for it. If I lose the friendship that's fine--I won't have to deal with him much more if I don't want to, and I'm not really his friend right now anyway. I am done protecting people from my feelings, and I am done seeking affirmation that I'm nice instead of risking actually being known.

Thank you so much.
posted by jessamyn at 9:35 PM on June 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


So glad it was helpful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in response. You have a talent for precise self-observation and description. (I laughed with recognition at having done the same "utilitarian calculus.") Best wishes and let us know how it all goes (though only if you feel like it, of course! :) ).
posted by salvia at 11:59 PM on June 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


So good to read your response OP. You DO need some kind of counseling though...more so than AskMetaFilter. You NEED to learn to love yourself and be comfortable with the person you are, regardless of whether someone likes you or not. I have heard that so many times over the years, but until I actually sought out counseling and worked on 'me', I didn't fully understand what an impact loving myself first made in my life.

Good luck to you. You deserve to be happy and not guilted into things that you will regret later. :)
posted by Jayes8ch at 11:05 AM on June 5, 2011


This thread made me cry, in a good way. OP, I agree completely with salvia's assessment that you have shown remarkable strength in this situation. And I also agree that you are very gifted: I am impressed by the quality of your astute self-observations and your ability to translate them into emotionally evocative and lucid prose. These things stood out to me very strongly as I read the question and your follow-up responses. These abilities will serve you well in life if you put them to good use, just as you have done in this thread.

I am done seeking affirmation that I'm nice instead of risking actually being known.

Excellent! You are very much on the right track with this. I want to cheer you on! Please post an update if you are so inclined. Good luck!
posted by velvet winter at 12:37 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


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