How do I keep a friendship meaningful when it clearly requires me to distance myself emotionally?
April 12, 2012 4:43 AM Subscribe
I'm seriously stuck about my feelings for my best friend. How do I distance myself emotionally when the feelings of attachment are so intense that I can no longer concentrate enough on myself?
posted by anonymous to human relations (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
First some details: I'm a guy and so is my best friend and I know he's straight. We are both grad students at a university and know each other through a former classmate of mine whom we both share as a friend.
My feelings for him are quite intense. Though we share friends that are part of a group that has recently become increasingly closely, with me being a foreigner he especially has tried hard to include me in social activities I wouldn't have otherwise felt comfortable to attend were it not for him. In fact, I feel a sense of ease whenever he's in the same room that I don't feel with other people. Our shared daily lunch routine are often the highlight of my day at a university setting for which I don't feel completely at home with.
This past year has been particularly hard for me to concentrate on my thesis. I think my obsessive behavior in thinking about him prevents me from functioning normally (i.e. constant thoughts of his whereabouts, sometimes feeling melancholic when he's away for a week or more, etc). On top of that he's had a half year of ups and downs that I've been privy to because he trusts me enough to share.
Recently I was invited by him to visit his family home for the holidays which before going I felt a bit ambivalent about because I already wanted to start distancing myself a bit emotionally. But, I ended up accepting his invite, and a series of events has made my task of distancing myself more complicated:
-I grew more emotionally attached to him after learning more about him through his other family members to whom I got along with so easily and felt at home with. He told me how much of an impression I made on them.
-But of greater impact was that his girlfriend broke up with him when I was visiting him and his family and I was his only friend there for him during the last days and the moment in which their long (5 years+) relationship unravelled. The situation is still a gaping wound for him because there is no real closure for him yet. I feel even more obligated to be there if he needs me in these tough times ahead.
That is the role I need to play as a dutiful friend, to be around if he needs company and support. But my question is, what if those feelings on my part have certainly advanced beyond the point of friend and I feel the need to distance myself because they are of a limerant nature (but how in light of current events)? (when) Do I talk to him? He doesn't know that I harbor these feelings, but I do believe he knows I care deeply about him and sometimes stumble or bend over backwards to hide this fact somehow.
I'm not thinking straight and have been losing a lot of sleep over this and would appreciate any detailed ways of help. Telling my friend in his current predicament seems of particular bad timing and selfish. I don't know anyone else I could talk to in person about my current predicament. Thank you for reading.
A previous thread I found relevant and gave me the idea of putting some time and distance between us: