Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


So, are we uh like, a thing?
August 1, 2012 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Is it assumptive for me to bring up a DTR at this point in our lovey-dovey friendship?

I'm in a real weird (as far as I see it) situation right now. I have made an amazing friend this year, we became pretty close friends pretty fast. I basically had a crush on him from the first day I met him. And at some point along the line I fell in love, like this is the one, twin flames, soul mates, I want to have his babies really in love kinda thing.

From the very beginning, I tried to avoid being on the "friend track." Ha, didn't work out super great though. Right now we are sorta like best friends. Well, he is my best friend. Not just currently, but he is honestly the best, and closest friend I have ever had.

A few months ago I made a straight up declaration of love. It was probably an overly gutsy move, but I was glad I did it. His response was pretty funny, basically he hardly responded. We didn't avoid the topic, just acknowledged that it happened and our friendship stayed about exactly the same.

Since then I have made my feelings clear multiple times. My cards are completely on the table and I think he should have no doubt that I'm head over heels into him, and really serious about it. He on the other hand seems to be the master of the ambiguous signal. I know that some will say He's Just Not That Into You, because we didn't like start dating or kissing or something after I delivered him my romantic epistle. But, the thing is, he hasn't sent a bunch of strong "go away" or "I'm repulsed by you" sort of signals.

The other day I was telling the whole story to a friend and she agreed that his picture surely must be in the dictionary next to mixed signals. So some of the positive signals he has sent include inviting me along on a vacation, being very snuggly-huggy (even though we've never kissed or anything - I have kissed him on the cheek). He wants me to go to the same grad school as him, and the other day he said that me, him, and some other friends who will be there should all get a house together. In a lot of ways - and one of my friends even said this - it seems like we kind of already are dating ... sorta.

We don't spend a ton of time hanging out with other people. And whenever we are alone, or just with his family, I feel like we are getting really close. Lately I have felt like there might be something there that wasn't there before.

But then we will hang out with other girls he knows and all of the sudden I feel like everything that I took to mean we were something special is present in their relationships too. I don't think he is asking any of his other friend girls to go to grad school with him, so I guess that's something different. But he takes all of them on dates, I don't know if that's what they'd call them, but I mean doing stuff alone going out, that's a date right? Also he's really physically affectionate with all his friends, so anything about cuddling that made me feel close, I kind of realize isn't any kind of romantic indication that I can count on.

So this past week, I had got to a place where I was like..."It's just a matter of time before we get married. We are so close and have such a magical connection and are going the same place in life." Then at the end of the week we hung out with a couple other girls and I was just totally deflated because I felt really unspecial. I kind of am feeling like Mary Hatch when George Bailey comes over to her house, and she thinks they had all this magic, playing Buffalo Gals and with her little George lasso's the moon poster - but then she gets real confused and frustrated when he acts uninterested.

So... this brings me to actually asking a question. I am not even expecting anyone to be able to tell me what is going through his head or what's really going on here, (I would be entertained to hear your guesses though). But what I want to know, is if there is anything to loose with just talking to him about this, and asking where things are with "us" as far as he is concerned. I really just want to let him know that I was starting to think there was something developing, but I keep getting mixed signals and my heart is on a bungee cord going back and forth.

If I bring up a DTR like this (I'm not even asking him to make an in or out decision, wait, or I'm not sure yet is ok, I'm not trying to push him into something he doesn't want) and he's not sweet on me, is this going to kill things that may be developing? I was asking my family for advice, and they all think it's a horrible idea to talk it over with him. They think, "he knows that you're in love with him, you told him straight up...If he was crazy about you he would let you know. But he might slowly be falling for you, you just need to give him time and space." They might be right. It may be that he is more of a normal person than me and hasn't fallen all at once, and needs time to develop his feelings one way or another.

But can it really hurt to talk about? I mean, if he is completely uninterested (which actually, I know for a fact that he isn't completely uninterested... maybe in dating or marriage, but there is some level of interest in me... I'm sure.) he sure has been gracious about not getting awkward about my repeated confessions of love. So if I bring this up am I just pushing things, and will I damage our friendship? He has never done anything to directly say that he is interested, or sees me in a romantic way, so it might be a little embarrassing to bring up the status of "us" if we are absolutely nothing in his mind.

Also, an important part of deciding if I should say anything is this: I am almost positive (I know this is all very limerance, oh sure..., kind of thing, but I'm a grown woman and pretty sure of myself when I say this) that he is the only man I will ever love from this point on. I know I can't say that for sure. I can say for sure that it'll be years before I'm even remotely interested in other guys if he does reject me. That being said, the fact that he is this grand true love of my life whether he's into me or not, makes me not want to do anything that would totally kill the affectionate friendship that we have right now, because I would rather have that than lose him completely. But just one more wrench in the monkey works....I would have thought that sending a crazed love letter to a guy whose not into you would be a sure friendship killer, but our relationship has only gotten closer since then, so keep that in mind.

So what would a normal, healthy young adult do in this situation? Say something? Patiently act like you are never jealous of his other female friends and also act like you are in no rush to know his feelings?
posted by chocolatemilkshakes to Human Relations (92 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
But what I want to know, is if there is anything to loose with just talking to him about this, and asking where things are with "us" as far as he is concerned.
Your friendship. I saw this happen with two of my friends. While they are still technically friends, and enjoy being around each other, that great, awesome, best-friended-ness is totally gone. Because she confessed that she loved him, and he could not reciprocate in kind, and felt uncomfortable continuing on in a super close friendship with her. I don't know how old you two are, but my (male) friend was an emotionally mature guy of 30; I think younger guys wouldn't know that they should distance themselves in this situation. If he's not going to take the step to distance himself, like he should, this is going to get really messy and ugly.

he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.
You know this is complete crazy talk, right?
posted by peacrow at 8:46 PM on August 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


A normal, healthy young adult would say something like "Are you gonna kiss me, or am I barking up the wrong tree?" And if said young adult got rejected, young adult would then look elsewhere and maybe not worry so much about being friends for a bit.

For what it's worth--and this is free advice from the internet--he's not interested. Otherwise he would have kissed you or kissed back. Find someone who is interested, and one day maybe you and original boy can be friends again.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:47 PM on August 1, 2012 [35 favorites]


People hate the game.

BUT

You have to play it. Have to. The game exists as a cultural meme because it is effective at helping humans deal with the OVERWHELMING hormonal agony associated with crushing on someone when you don't know what the hell is going on with them.

Rule of the game (there is just one!): put in exactly the same amount of energy as he is, down to the number of characters per text.

Right now you are losing. You've told him you like him, and he's not interested. You must attempt to balance out the score, but it will be a longboat. Back way the hell off from this guy and figure out where to redirect all this angst. Act cool about it, do not mention you are doing it, but just slowly, slowly retreat. This has the benefit of making you look like you're just a happenin' gal with plenty of things to do, which is appealing to him, while also (I hope) giving you time to actually pick something that is a good investment to focus on.

Your brain will try every trick in the book to get you to act on these bullshit "he's the only one ever" feelings, but you have to recognize that it is just some weird emotion based drive that you need to assess with something other than your lizard brain. We have all been there. You can do it. BE COOL, MAN.
posted by skrozidile at 8:49 PM on August 1, 2012 [33 favorites]


he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.
You know this is complete crazy talk, right?

You should have read the letter I sent him. This is nothing compared.... :p :D
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 8:50 PM on August 1, 2012


Are you sure he's straight?
posted by lewedswiver at 8:50 PM on August 1, 2012 [68 favorites]


Patiently act like you are never jealous of his other female friends and also act like you are in no rush to know his feelings?

To this internet stranger, who is not one of your friends or family members, it sounds like you DO know his feelings. He is not in love with you. He doesn't want to be your boyfriend.

If he is completely uninterested (which actually, I know for a fact that he isn't completely uninterested... maybe in dating or marriage, but there is some level of interest in me... I'm sure.)


Yes, he wants to be your friend, snuggle with you, maybe even live in a house with you and a lot of other people. I think what might be tripping you up is he wants things in a friendship that lots of or maybe even most other people only want with their significant others. So the fact that he wants those things with you, those things that are normally an indication that someone wants something romantic -- are an indication that he wants something romantic with you. But no, he doesn't.

But just one more wrench in the monkey works....I would have thought that sending a crazed love letter to a guy whose not into you would be a sure friendship killer, but our relationship has only gotten closer since then, so keep that in mind.

He probably gets something out of having women be in love with him. Maybe it's an ego boost. Maybe it's self esteem. Maybe it makes him feel attractive or secure. Maybe he is a narcissist. That doesn't mean AT ALL that he reciprocates.

He on the other hand seems to be the master of the ambiguous signal.

Yes, I do think this guy gets something out of your adoration is is not being VERY UNAMBIGUOUS AND CLEAR with you because he wants your adoration to continue. Not because he reciprocates it, though.

Finally, all of that aside, I would bet my bottom dollar that he is gay. Heterosexual men who display these behaviors would have already slept with you by now, that would be the only difference though.
posted by cairdeas at 8:52 PM on August 1, 2012 [19 favorites]


Are you sure he's straight?

Yeah...but I guess the way he has all these girl friends and the way he interacts with them has made people unsure in the past.
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 8:52 PM on August 1, 2012


his picture surely must be in the dictionary next to mixed signals.

HE IS NOT SENDING MIXED SIGNALS. His signals say very clearly that he does not want to date you.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 8:53 PM on August 1, 2012 [106 favorites]


A few months ago I made a straight up declaration of love. It was probably an overly gutsy move, but I was glad I did it. His response was pretty funny, basically he hardly responded. We didn't avoid the topic, just acknowledged that it happened and our friendship stayed about exactly the same.

If someone declares their love for you, and you hardly respond, you do not have feelings for that person, for one reason or another.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yeah he's not sending mixed signals. He's not interested. He could be gay, but it doesn't matter. Forget about it
posted by Patbon at 8:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey there, ignore your family; you should absoluately have a "Where we at dawg?" conversation - so much trouble in relationships could be avoided if these conversations happened at appropriate times (ie early in the piece).

People don't "fall slowly in love" - at least, not in the form that your family is talking about. There's is a romantic interest that can develop into bigger feelings, but that initial seed of romantic interest is really needs to be there.

And, sorry to say, it doesn't sound like he had that seed - unless he's chronically, painfully shy, which it doesn't sound like he is.

Something else for you to consider - and I don't know how capable you are of taking this on at the moment, but it's really true and important: A good friend, and a good person, will not torture someone who has a crush on them by encouraging their attentions, creating ambiguous boundaries, or doing "couple-y" things. A mature, compassionate person does not do that if they are aware that someone has a crush on them.

You will love other people. Probably lots of them. Probably sooner than you think. Don't end up clinging to this guy like a remora; it will only stop you from getting over it, meeting other dudes, and being happy.

Additionally: Don't, under any circumstances, move in with or for someone you have a crush on. If it goes wrong, the fall-out can be just horrible.
posted by smoke at 8:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [25 favorites]


I have no idea what "DTR" is, but this man does not want to date you, kiss you, or fuck you. "We should be housemates together with a bunch of my other friends" is not a romantic invitation.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:57 PM on August 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have no idea what "DTR" is

Define the relationship.
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 8:59 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


WTF is DTR?

HE IS NOT SENDING MIXED SIGNALS. His signals say very clearly that he does not want to date you.

Ding ding ding we have a wiener!

He's getting all the goodies here -- he's got cute women hanging around, lots of attention, and isn't needing to do anything for it. That's a great deal for him, but no so great for you.

I like the suggestion above of matching his effort. Don't call him more often than he calls you, don't email him longer emails than he sends you, and above all, don't be more emotionally effusive than he is offering. If he's interested, he'll show even one, tiny little glimmering of it; my guess is that, even if he isn't gay, he's not all that interested in you in that way.

he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.

Uh, no. As said above, crazy talk.
posted by Forktine at 8:59 PM on August 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't say anything. I agree with your family. If he is close enough to ask you to go to the same grad school, I would think he would be brave enough to reciprocate if he had romantic feelings. At the very least it would be nice if he could communicate with you in an adult manner. I guess you can continue to frame it as nice that everything is honky dory and nothing is awkward after your confessions of love, but I see it as a tad disrespectful of your feelings. I think it's unfair that he doesn't communicate honestly with you. To me, it sounds like he likes you as just a friend. He loves your company and loves you as a friend but doesn't have the balls to talk with you in a honest way.

Does he have actual girlfriends who he has sex with? Does he have actual romantic relationships that you know of, or is he a cuddlier or woman?

You say it will take years to love again. You have been pining, dreaming, and romanticizing your friend for a long time. You are crazy in love, or think you are. All of that pining can drive a person mad. My gut feeling is that this guy doesn't want to kiss you or marry you. What are you going to do about that? Are you going to continue to pine away for this guy and be closed off to other people? There is no reason why you can't continue your "affectionate friendship" and see other people.
posted by Fairchild at 9:00 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's already defined the relationship. You're the only one who doesn't see it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:00 PM on August 1, 2012 [38 favorites]


If he is straight, he's treating you very, very poorly.

The decent way to react to someone declaring their love to you is either to a) reciprocate or b) turn down gently and then pull away so that the declarer can get over you. The not decent way to react is to string you along, neither confirm nor deny the romantic feelings, and leaving you twisting in the wind. And here you are.

Honestly, he sounds like a closeted gay guy, and the fact that multiple people who know him in real life also have the same thought should make you wonder. (i.e., how do you REALLY know he's straight?)
posted by lewedswiver at 9:01 PM on August 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


How to Break Your Addiction to a Person, by Howard Halpern, is a useful self-help book. You will need it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:03 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


or is he a cuddlier or woman?

that should read a cuddler of women.
posted by Fairchild at 9:03 PM on August 1, 2012


You've already made your feelings clear, no? You'd both know it by now if he shared them. Not sure what is left for you to say. He seems to be getting what he needs from the relationship in its current form.
posted by isogloss at 9:07 PM on August 1, 2012


Does he have actual girlfriends who he has sex with? Does he have actual romantic relationships that you know of, or is he a cuddler of women?

He's got a moral thing about saving sex for marriage, as do I. But he has no official girlfriends, to my knowledge, I'd be out like a flash if he did, because that would definitely be screwy if he hadn't told me. There are a handful of girls, who like me, are in close friendships with him. And other people could easily mistake them for a couple if they didn't know them well. Same for me and people. One guy we know asked if we were dating. I'm pretty sure there are a few people at our mutual organization where we met who assume we are dating.

or is he a cuddler of women?
This, definitely this.
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 9:09 PM on August 1, 2012


Is it assumptive for me to bring up a DTR at this point in our lovey-dovey friendship?

And to directly answer this question, it is never assumptive (or presumptuous) to clarify a situation or to express your needs. Obviously, the other person isn't obligated to play along, but it is not inappropriate for you to say, "hey, I feel this way, and I would like to understand how you feel."
posted by Forktine at 9:09 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Same for me and people.

Sorry, should say same for me and him.
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 9:10 PM on August 1, 2012


Chocolate, one thing that may be happening is that he is using you to gain social status with other women. When one person is openly pursued by multiple people of the opposite gender, they gain social status... which can sometimes be parleyed into getting with the person they really want to be with. It's a dick move, but people do it all the time. I bet this guy looks pretty popular with all the women flocking around him and trying to interpret his mixed signals, am I right?

This is not to say that he's definitely using this approach, but if you truly want to keep an open mind about this, it's something that you should at least consider. I know you have a really strong crush on him and you don't want to hear anything like this, but I'm just concerned that you may be suffering from a wishful-thinking type of cognitive bias, where you reject information that doesn't fit what you want to believe.

In any case, I wish you the best of luck, and will cross my fingers in hopes that you get what you need in the long run.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:12 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, feel like I should add this in, not sure why I left it out before. His barely response to my declarations of love are almost always along the lines of "I'm a rebel Dottie..." .

I'm always like, you don't have to like me. But you don't have to say that you aren't good enough for me. I think it's just a way of letting me down easy. But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that. Instead of saying: you should like someone better than me...
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 9:14 PM on August 1, 2012


You know what? Keep having define the relationship talks with him. Maybe he will have the compassion to stop stringing you along. Then you can move on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:14 PM on August 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have been in your shoes. Heck, I've owned entire closets full of your shoes. They are the best shoes ever, if only they actually fit properly instead of pinching in that one place.... ok, I've completely beat that metaphor into the ground.

The point is: you deserve someone who adores you and is willing to be completely clear about that, not someone who is vague and uncommunicative with you. Even if we give him the entire benefit of the doubt (which, I agree with others above, is probably not the way to go here), you would still have someone who thinks you're great and wants to be with you but is incapable of showing/telling you this, even when you've asked him for clarity in the past. You deserve better.
posted by judith at 9:15 PM on August 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


I know you have a really strong crush on him and you don't want to hear anything like this...

You know though, actually it's kind of nice to have a few logical explanations that might actually make sense. My brain is kind of about explode from not making sense of things. Even though, as you say, I don't believe he's that big of a jerk.
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 9:18 PM on August 1, 2012


But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that. Instead of saying: you should like someone better than me...

I'm not not sure how to say this without being patronizing (sorry!) but, um, sweetie, he IS being clear. He's being clear because he's saying "you should like someone OTHER than me." It doesn't matter what the actual adjective is (better, smarter, funnier, nicer, whatever)...what it actually means is "different".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:19 PM on August 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


in the scene you linked, Pee Wee is pretty much telling Dottie he is not interested. He walks away giggling after his dramatic "I'm a rebel" speech, IIRC.
posted by isogloss at 9:20 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that. Instead of saying: you should like someone better than me...

it's been said here a million times, but here's one more: always listen to what people tell you about themselves.

also, you should not be confused: if he was interested, he would have said so. it really doesn't matter how he tells you he's not interested, they all amount to the same thing.
posted by facetious at 9:21 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


But he takes all of them on dates, I don't know if that's what they'd call them, but I mean doing stuff alone going out, that's a date right?

Best friends tell one other about their love lives. I'm mystified as to why you don't know if he's hooking up with other girls or not. You can just ask him, you know.

He's got a moral thing about saving sex for marriage, as do I.

So, is being gay maybe discouraged in your system of morality/religion? I'm just saying, most people would find it unfair, uncomfortable, and unhappy to leave a "best friend" hanging with such a huge unrequited crush, unless they were trying to hide a bigger secret.
posted by acidic at 9:21 PM on August 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


He may really like you, but he doesn't want to fuck you, marry you, or knock you up. Anything other than an enthusiastic yes to your confessing your feelings is a NO. He does not like you like that. You are looking at everything he does through rose-colored biased goggles of wanting to see that he is secretly in love with you, but you've already declared your feelings--if he had any back, and is single, why would he hide them or hedge? It's not logical.

My mom's best guy friend is like this. If you saw them hanging out together, you would sooooo think they are a couple. But they are not, because he doesn't feel sexually about her. And even married someone else.

I think you need to start working on getting over this guy. Which unfortunately means that you need to pull back from this friendship, or perhaps even drop it entirely until you don't think he's the only man for you any more. Because he's missing one crucial element: sexual attraction to you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:21 PM on August 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


[chocolatemilkshakes, maybe a little less threadsitting? This is more of a "ask questions get answers" not "I want to have a discussion about my relationship situation" Drop us a note if you have any other questions. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:22 PM on August 1, 2012


I am almost positive that he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.

Girl, get that idea out of your head right now.


To echo some advice I've given previously, please take a moment to consider the possible outcomes, should you choose inaction:
On the other hand, if you do a "DTR" now (I had to look this up to figure out it means "Define the Relationship"), consider the following potential outcomes:
Please get your answer NOW so you can either get together with this guy or stop wasting your time on a (thrilling, wonderful, and destructive to your sex life) crush.
posted by homodachi at 9:23 PM on August 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think it's just a way of letting me down easy. But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that. Instead of saying: you should like someone better than me...

He is letting you down easy. It's crystal clear.

You are young and since I'm going to 40 next month and I'm a mother, I will give you some motherly, girlfriend advice: Do not waste your youth "loving" unavailable men. Practice loving yourself more instead of chasing a fantasy. Crushes will inevitably happen. Unrequited "love" is happening now. Pull yourself together, trust that you are worthy of a real relationship, and you are capable of being happy and loving another.
posted by Fairchild at 9:26 PM on August 1, 2012 [35 favorites]


HE IS NOT SENDING MIXED SIGNALS. His signals say very clearly that he does not want to date you.

Sorry, I didn't mean to yell there. It's just like man, I've been there. I've so been there. And I'm projecting a bit because current late-20s Me really wishes that I could yell this at early-20s Me (and even *cough* mid-20s Me if I'm being totally honest with myself).

Don't listen to people trying to explain why he's acting like he is. Maybe he's gay, maybe he's a narcissist, maybe he's cripplingly shy, maybe he just straight-up likes your friendship the way it is. Doesn't matter. What matters is that you like him, he's not returning the feeling. The "why" doesn't matter. Spending time thinking about the why is time spent not getting over him.

You've played your cards. You have no moves left. Your choices are to be his friend, or not be his friend. That's your choice. (Seriously, those are both legit options that you should consider).

Don't have another talk with him. Odds are he'll either reject you or find a way to keep stringing you along. He's a grown-ass man, and if he falls in love with you then he'll tell you. And if he falls in love with you and doesn't tell you, fuck him -- you had the stones to say it, and you deserve someone who'll say it back.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:30 PM on August 1, 2012 [25 favorites]


And if it's not clear, I actually have much respect for you for telling him how you feel about him in the first place -- most people don't get that far, they just wallow in friend-crush self-pity.

The next time you like someone (and believe me, it'll happen sooner than you think) you should tell them too. And pretty soon someone's going to say it back, and that'll be awesome.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:33 PM on August 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


I wrote: You press him for his feelings, he only thinks of you as a friend (or gives you a wishy-washy answer), your heart breaks, and you find someone else whose love for you is as powerful and as unstoppable as a freight train.

But on preview, he has already given you a wishy-washy answer. An answer that means, "I don't like you that way." Stop hanging out with this dude; he is a distraction that is draining your emotional energy, and he knows it. You need to use that energy for finding someone who loves you back. You will find one.
posted by homodachi at 9:35 PM on August 1, 2012


And if it's not clear, I actually have much respect for you for telling him how you feel about him in the first place -- most people don't get that far, they just wallow in friend-crush self-pity.

Completely agree with this. As someone who did wallow in friend-crush pity in my early twenties, that experience was a lot more miserable than the times I have told people I loved them and not have it reciprocated. As heartbreaking as it can be, it's also something to be proud of in the end. Don't let this experience force you to hold back your feelings next time around.
posted by peacrow at 9:45 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, is being gay maybe discouraged in your system of morality/religion?

And if so, how vehemently is it discouraged, I wonder.
posted by cairdeas at 9:51 PM on August 1, 2012


If he were to straight out tell you, "I don't want to date you, and I never will," then you wouldn't be willing to cuddle with him anymore. You wouldn't hang out with him. You wouldn't dote on him and kiss him on the cheek. If he were to flat out give you an answer, he would lose all of this. Furthermore, he clearly does care about you as a friend, and he knows that you'd be crushed if you knew he wasn't interested. If he told you, he'd be leaving you feeling awful, and he doesn't want you to feel awful. So, if he doesn't want to date you but also doesn't want to stop getting no-strings-attached cuddles, what motivation does he have to tell you flat out how he feels?

On the other hand, if he did want to date you, or if he thought that was a possibility, he would be losing out right now by not saying anything. Instead of just being friends with you, he could have more, with greater emotional and physical intimacy. If he was interested in a relationship with you, he would have nothing to gain from not telling you. Yet, he isn't.

Look at those two separate possibilities. One explains his behavior perfectly well: it is quite clear why he would act as he is, assuming he is not interested in dating you. The other provides absolutely no explanation for his behavior: it makes no sense at all why he'd act as he is.

So, here's a good conclusion to draw based on the evidence: he doesn't want to date you.

The sad thing is how common his kind of behavior is. After you said you told him your feelings and he didn't respond, I was able to guess everything that followed -- his attitude towards you is downright cliche, in my experience. This is a normal thing for people to do. And it's also a jerky move (though often done by people who aren't jerky, just aren't really emotionally mature yet to deal with rejecting others). He is stringing you along because, that way, he gets to avoid doing something that hurts you (which he thinks is a good thing, although, really, notice how much pain you're going through, being strung along!), and he gets to continue reaping in the benefits of your continued attraction and friendship. It sucks.

Please, whatever you do, don't plan grad school around this guy. Don't plan your life around him. Find the strength to say, "I'm sorry you don't share my feelings, so now I'm going to go live my own life." And do it. You can't win his love by following him to grad school, being as near to him as possible. You can't win love, in general. All you can do is try to live your life so it is best for you.
posted by meese at 9:51 PM on August 1, 2012 [36 favorites]


Guy here, and yes he's given you his answer. Which is no. But he likes hanging out with you and being your friend, so why mess with that?
posted by Sebmojo at 9:59 PM on August 1, 2012


You are way, way, WAY too invested in this. I am astounded by how invested you've allowed yourself to become -- you're utterly blind to the fact that this guy is categorically not interested in being in a long-term relationship with you. You must come to grips with the fact that, regardless of his sexuality, he is a player, and he has played you every which way but Tuesday.

You've got to get yourself out of this quagmire because you've literally lost yourself in this guy and he is NOT WORTH IT. Let go -- and let the right person find you instead.
posted by Hello Darling at 10:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Like many of the commenters in this thread, I have been in your shoes. I spent several years of my late teens-early twenties hanging onto every word of my best guy friend, to whom I declared my love. Unlike your guy, he actually said, "I love you" back. Except he didn't, not like I wanted him to. I came back from some extended time away from him, from a correspondence-based relationship that led me to believe he finally wanted a romantic relationship with me, and... the first time I saw him again in person he introduced me to his girlfriend.

The point I'm making is that whatever he says, whatever conversation you might have with him to define this morass of a relationship is essentially meaningless. People say you should believe what people say, but I say you should believe what people do. Actions are key here. Yes, he cares about you. That's why he's trying to let you down easy. But he doesn't reciprocate your feelings. If he did, well, he'd try to kiss you.

What he doesn't realize is that by stringing you along he's causing you more pain than if he just gave you an unambiguous, "Chocolatemilkshakes, I love you as a friend, but I'm not in love with you." I concur with other commenters that you need to pull back, way back, in an effort of self-preservation. Respect yourself more than to let him allow you to wallow in false hope. You will love someone else, and more importantly, he will love you back, and love you enough to tell you -- and show you -- how he feels.
posted by redfishbluefish at 10:16 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think, yeah, have another define the relationship talk with him. It's painfully clear to me that your crush is unrequited and he doesn't and will never want to be with you. But it's possible that he'll turn you down in a way you're willing to listen to. I doubt it -- I expect he'll be vague and ambiguous and keep stringing you along -- but it can't hurt.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:17 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


One time I gathered up my courage to ask a guy out...only to have him say maybe. Which really infuriated me because, come on, if I had the bravery to ask, at least he could have had the decency to give me a clear answer. Your guy is kind of pulling the same thing. You've already had the talk, as others have said (and as you have said yourself, i.e., "I have made my feelings clear multiple times"). Unfortunately, if he didn't say yes, that means he doesn't like you that way.

Also, I'm with the responders who wonder if he could be gay, or at least questioning his sexuality. I had a dear friend (different from "maybe" guy) who I had a crush on, who never dated any girls and was quite religious and...yup, gay and conflicted about it. That's not a romantic situation you want to get involved with, I promise. You deserve a date who's into you unambiguously. It's hard to find one, but they are out there.
posted by mlle valentine at 10:17 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that.

I know this is a good way to rationalize things ("Wouldn't it just be easier if..") but no, it wouldn't. You know why? Most people -- apart from very well-adjusted people -- will not say this even if you twist their arm and dunk their face into a tank of rats. People HATE saying this. They will use every euphemism in the book first. I'm speaking from plenty of personal experience as both people in this equation, unfortunately...

Here's the thing: the reason you enjoy hanging out with him right now, and the reason you don't want to jeopardize that, is because you've got a narrative going that is taking up 98% of your brain. In this narrative, he's slowly falling in love and it's like you're in a movie and it's so romantic and every nice thing he does is indicative of his falling.

But he's not falling, because no person ever actually behaves like that when they're falling in love. When you have romantic feelings for someone -- even beginning, inkling romantic feelings -- you jump on that, because it's exciting and intriguing and you want to pick at it. And he isn't unaware of his feelings, because you put it out there, causing him to consider his feelings. He definitely knows what he feels. And it isn't romantic.

It's fun and bearable and everything now because you're perpetuating the alternative narrative that he's in love with you. The longer you allow yourself to perpetuate it (and trust me, I know manufactured bliss can almost be like real bliss, so it's tough to part with), the more entrenched you will get in this. It sounds like you're already pretty deeply entrenched. The deeper you dig yourself, the more work it is to get back out.

What you have to do, and it's a bit of work, is force yourself to deal with the unpleasantness of reality. Tell yourself that he doesn't have feelings for you, again and again, until you believe it. Seek out new and different company. If you need to have him rip the band-aid off directly, confront him and force him to say, word for word, "I don't have those feelings for you."

And then get away from him. Sometimes the pain of sadness can be weirdly satisfying in itself. Feel free to luxuriate in sad songs for a while, and mope. You'll get over him eventually, because eventually thinking about it will get old and stale, like chewing gum for too long, and you'll want something new and different and fun. And real.
posted by aintthattheway at 10:24 PM on August 1, 2012 [19 favorites]


You don't have a lovey-dovey friendship. You are being strung along. Maybe not consciously on his part, but strung along none the less.

Eventually he's going to start dating someone and you are going to be completely and entirely crushed and despondent.

You really really need to pull back.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:30 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do not dwell on the longer answers here, as you will be able to find (or force) nuance in(to) them that does not accurately reflect the reality of your situation.

He does not want to be in a romantic relationship with you.

You presented a chance to change the character of your relationship; he declined. He did not wish it to change.

He is content to be in a platonic, affectionate relationship with you.

You are not content with that.

You need to come to terms with the relationship on his limited terms, or end the relationship completely.

If you continue to ask where the relationship is, you will never get a satisfactory answer, because he does not wish to explicitly state that he in only interested in a platonic relationship. This is because he knows it will hurt you. He does not wish to hurt you. Others might say he has a responsibility to be brusque, but he has already been clear about the level of intimacy he desires.

Do not pursue a romantic relationship any further. If you cannot be his friend, you need to terminate the relationship.
posted by samofidelis at 10:35 PM on August 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


By the way, it's totally OK for you to come to terms with the fact that he doesn't want to be romantically involved with you and then completely walk away from the friendship. If it hurts you too much to remain his friend, then don't. I've done it in similar situations, and ending a relationship you enjoy is completely heartbreaking, but it's far, far less heartbreaking than staying in a relationship where your feelings are not mutual and you are putting more into the relationship than you are getting from it.
posted by peacrow at 10:53 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, sometimes you meet the perfect person, and it doesn't work out. Sometimes you find a complete relationship later with someone else. Sometimes it still doesn't fix the part of you that hurts about the one that got away. That is OK. I hope so, for my own sake.

Time healing all wounds is bullshit. Time does, however, help you to figure out how to walk without showing a limp. You might get over this guy; you might not. You might meet someone who makes you forget his name and his broken nose and his ugly sweaters; you might not. I think part of being brave -- and you are -- is flinching, and gritting your teeth, and going on; it's realizing that you can go forward even though you will never know what will happen next.

I wish you good luck. It can be very hard.
posted by samofidelis at 10:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I know this guy. Boy, do I know this guy. There seems to be a certain type of guy (especially in college, it seemed), who just loves to get really close and emotionally intimate with a girl, encouraging her to confide in him, trust him, tell him everything. The guy hangs out with the girl and they act exactly like they're dating. But he never actually talks about a relationship, so when she suggests that there's something romantic there or that they talk about commitment, he can claim complete ignorance. He'll act mystified and have no idea where she got the idea he was interested. And I've found that among Christian guys (which I'm assuming you are), it can be even worse.

All that to say, this sucks, it really does. But it's time to believe what he told you about himself. And back away from him.

You'll be okay. I promise. At some point you'll look back and roll your eyes at how he acted in all this.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 11:09 PM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.

You could ask every single person in this thread to raise their hand if they've ever felt like this. That is, in fact, exactly how everybody feels the first time they fall in love. You are hit with a veritable truck of emotion; you are completely convinced nobody has ever felt as intensely for another as you feel, and that you can never feel that for anyone else. Both things are incorrect, but that doesn't lessen the impact.

I have no idea what's going on - he could be gay, he could be shy, he might not be into you, who knows? But the point is that you have approached him clearly, honestly, vulnerably and with an open heart, and he has not reciprocated. No partner could ask more of you, and you should not partner with someone who meets you with less in return.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:12 AM on August 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Okay, props on the Peewee reference, but that reference alone should tell you everything you need to know. "Look, Dottie, I like you. LIKE. I LIKE YOU."
posted by salvia at 12:16 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that.

I know this is a good way to rationalize things ("Wouldn't it just be easier if..") but no, it wouldn't. You know why? Most people -- apart from very well-adjusted people -- will not say this even if you twist their arm and dunk their face into a tank of rats. People HATE saying this. They will use every euphemism in the book first. I'm speaking from plenty of personal experience as both people in this equation, unfortunately...


And speaking from more than a few more years down the line, there will also be those who will say this, and clearly "Yes, there's chemistry between us but its not romantic" and then will proceed to keep acting more and more intimately with you, rather than pulling back in anyway or drawing new boundaries now that the DTR has been had. I suspect it happens because of this,

Do not pursue a romantic relationship any further. If you cannot be his friend, you need to terminate the relationship.


They know that the only sane course for a healthy person is to terminate the relationship and if there is any reason whatsoever that benefits them to keep the other person around from taking that last step out, they will continue behaving in "mixed signals" ways *and* claiming injured innocence when called on their bullshit.


Time healing all wounds is bullshit. Time does, however, help you to figure out how to walk without showing a limp. You might get over this guy; you might not. You might meet someone who makes you forget his name and his broken nose and his ugly sweaters; you might not. I think part of being brave -- and you are -- is flinching, and gritting your teeth, and going on; it's realizing that you can go forward even though you will never know what will happen next.

This is true. You are brave and young. Walk out towards your own future, you are the only one who can make the decision that "its over"... from what it sounds like, I have no expectation that your friend ever will.
posted by infini at 12:19 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.

I hit this part, and I rolled my eyes really hard... not at you, but at my past self. I have thought this about a few people over the course of my life, and after removing myself from the situations in question, that thought has always turned out to be wrong.

So, you declared your love and he didn't explicitly reject you or refuse further friendship. I think you're creating a false binary by assuming this means there's some interest there. There are other options in between. Maybe he's gay, maybe he has kind of a narcissistic side and enjoys having his ego stroked by stringing girls along. But, maybe he's just a really passive communicator who enjoys the friendship as is and hopes if he ignores or deflects your declarations, you will take the hint and things will die down and continue as they have been. Maybe he's just totally oblivious to the damage this could be doing to you.

Like I say, I feel for you... I've been there, done that. But, trust me, after I came to my senses later, the prevailing feelings are embarrassment that I had been so loopy over someone who, for whatever reason, didn't feel the same, and regret over the time wasted. My advice would be to rip the band-aid off and stop hanging out with him for a while... spend an evening or two weeping and eating ice cream (or whatever you do) if you need to, find some other folks to hang out with, focus on you for a bit, and then put yourself out there for dating other people who are just as into you as you are into them.
posted by scandalamity at 3:04 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read this and was reminded of a female friend in a similar situation, where she didn't realize her new BFF in grad school was gay. In this instance, after a few weeks, she said he was madly in love with him and he responded with something positive like "I am mad about you too and wouldn't it be nice if we could get married and have babies, but alas." The friend was from another country, did not pick up on a huge signals about his sexuality that were clear to everyone else (and weren't a secret, he was out) and yet they're still friends after the dust settled. And I can see that friend misinterpreting her BFF jokes about not sleeping with other girls because he "didn't believe in it."

I bring this up b/c his responses seem similar. He is telling you that this will never happen, for whatever reason, but he still cares about you. And I don't know if he's gay, nor does it matter. It just reminded me of a related situation. Ultimately what seems to be the message he's communicating is this: a relationship is off the table for whatever reason, but he cares.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:47 AM on August 2, 2012


He wants me to go to the same grad school as him, and the other day he said that me, him, and some other friends who will be there should all get a house together.

This has already been said, but it bears repeating: never ever ever live with someone you have an unrequited crush on. This goes a thousandfold for any decisions about education; grad school is already a dicey enough investment. None of us were there for the conversation, but I'd bet the above was meant as a daydreamy wouldn't-it-be-cool-if scenario and not as an impassioned request for you to follow him.

A lot of us have been there, and it ended well for none of us. Start weaning yourself off of him right away, and keep in mind that this sort of intense prolonged crushing isn't actually how true love goes. You will absolutely find someone else who you love more, and who loves you back, and when you do, there won't be all this ambiguity and wondering.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:50 AM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no such thing as mixed signals. He does not want to date you. If he wanted to date you, you'd be dating. You can have a DTR convo, but it will be that you are friends.

He likes you, he cares about you as a friend, he enjoys having your adorations heaped upon him. That's it.
posted by Kololo at 5:02 AM on August 2, 2012


I don't know what's going on with him, but I did want to echo McPuppington the Third about a certain kind of person who really seems to get something out of this pseudo-boyfriend dynamic, and say that in my experience also it's more common in religious guys and/or people still working things out around their sexuality (not just 'gay and in denial', but a wide range of other things too). So that's maybe worth keeping in mind as a possibility.

As for what to do, though, I think the best approach might be reframing the questions you're asking yourself. Instead of "Is he interested in me?", try asking "Is he interested in me in a way that's good for me right now?" You can work out the answer to the second one a lot easier than the first, and it's also more directly useful to you. In your case, the answer to that second question sounds like a definite 'no' - regardless of whether or not he's romantically interested in you, he doesn't want to change the kind of relationship you have at the moment, and it doesn't matter whether that's because he just doesn't see you that way or because he's sworn an oath to the Illuminati to stay out of relationships in exchange for the secret of eternal life.

But what I want to know, is if there is anything to loose with just talking to him about this, and asking where things are with "us" as far as he is concerned. I really just want to let him know that I was starting to think there was something developing, but I keep getting mixed signals and my heart is on a bungee cord going back and forth.

I don't think it would be a bad idea to talk to him about this, but I also doubt you'd get much useful resolution out of framing it this way. People don't usually respond well to being told they're giving out mixed signals, whether or not they actually are, and he's already shown you that he's very, very reluctant to give you a direct answer on this issue. What might be more useful is telling him that you value his friendship, but your feelings for him go beyond friendship and it's getting painful to be around him when he doesn't seem to want the same, so you need a bit of space from him now to get past that and hopefully you can be friends in the future. Nobody worth your time or your friendship will object to you saying that.

Also, I'd cut down on the 'maybe I just don't understand how normal people act' talk you do in your question. You're unlikely to be as abnormal as you think - humanity is pretty varied, really - and distrusting your own emotions is a recipe for getting walked all over by other people's.
posted by Catseye at 5:06 AM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Aw. This happened to me several months ago. Met a guy through a shared hobby, he was really cute and down-to-earth and kept on giving me sweet eyes, found out he was single, mutual friends noticed his interest, we set up a double date, he friended me on Facebook and recommended all sorts of neat things related to my interests, we hit it off about animals, music and such...

... and then he told our mutual friends that "he wasn't looking for a girlfriend" because it "wasn't part of his spiritual path". But he still wanted to go on the date. And he kept approaching me in our hobby to chat and commenting on my FB more than anyone else.

I let him drop; cancelled the date. Still chat with him as a friend, but my body language sets clear "knock it off with the sweet eyes and flirty touching" boundaries. This may sound drastic, letting him drop and cancelling a date with a potential interest, but see, this was not the first time it had happened to me.

Here's what has happened since, in the past several months: a string of women have declared their love for him on his FB page, about one every two months. He "likes" their post and says, "I love you too." People start congratulating them on being in a relationship. He says it's "soul love" and hopes that it will underline the importance of "loving the world." As no one can argue with that, the poor, confused, heartbroken women continue posting that, no, they really love him, they think he's sweet, generous and touching, and what's going on exactly? He "likes" their posts, says he loves them too, rinse and repeat until the women taper off, and then he keeps telling them how wonderful it is to "share his <3 with true loved ones"!!

He's from a very authoritarian, conservative family, who only just barely accept the fact that he's Buddhist – "at least it's a religion". My gay friends are convinced he's closeted, and it really does seem it could be that. In any case, he's clearly in need of working through something on his own.

This could/would explain why your friend is so ambivalent. He may not be able to conceive of having such strong feelings for the opposite sex, and so doesn't realize that the signals he's giving could be heartwrenching. He reads your declaration of love and interprets it through necessarily platonic eyes.

Whatever his reasons for disinterest are, nthing that his signal is indeed clear. You're a friend to him. I'd suggest privately mourning the romantic relationship you desired, so that you can move forward into a relationship that better reflects what's really going on. Speaking as someone who's been there – you'll be happier and stronger for it, and better prepared to meet someone who truly cares for you.
posted by fraula at 5:14 AM on August 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


I am sort of like you - I fall in love long before there's sex or dating and I stay in love for a long time. It's not actually a good idea - maybe it worked well in, like, 1793 middle Europe or whatever, but even Goethe was getting some on the side from his mistress while he pined for the younger woman. I spent large chunks of my early twenties in love with a couple of people who were never, ever going to love me back*. In my early thirties I fell in love with another unlikely object and there went another eighteen months. It's worth noting that I have never fallen in this type of "love" with any of the splendid, loving, fun, smart people I've been in real relationships with - which is a tipoff that this kind of love is not healthy, nor is it actually about love-as-it-is-popularly-understood.

What I wish I'd done in my early twenties? Dated a lot more and slept with a lot more people. (You might want to examine your reasons for holding off on sex - make sure that it's a very thoughtful decision taken with lots of information rather than just an adherence to group norms or a projection about how you wish things would be.) Although I have a wonderful relationship now and have had some great dating/casual things at times in my thirties, it would have been a lot easier in my twenties - more unattached people, more time, etc. And sometimes I regret that I wasted my youthful looks pining and being anxious. I think I really stunted my emotional/social development out of fear, anxiety and some bad received ideas about love. Also by pinning my hopes of happiness on some slight young men who could not bear them up - most people in their early twenties are a bit flimsy and self-absorbed, as I was myself.

This fellow is not interested in you. There might be a hundred reasons for that - you're not physically his type, he's gay, he's asexual, he's got some emotional stuff going on about relationships and sexuality and can't handle either, he doesn't want to be really serious with someone...heck, maybe all this is his problem and he'll look back in ten years and say "if only I had married her but I was too blind". But the fact is that he's not into you now, here. And that wastes your time and messes you up.

I will tell another story from my own past. Back in the mists of time, there was a young fellow who was in love with me as you are in love with him. He was awkward and dorky, but very intelligent and scholarly with a good heart. I was in an incredibly painful, destructive relationship with someone else, very insecure about myself, trying to get over one of my ill-fated "loves"....and instead of dating Mr. Smart and Goofy, which would have been the best choice, I turned him down flat - proximate reason was social gaucheness, real reason was that I was too messed up in the head. I hurt that boy. What did he do? He pulled back from me, set up a routine event for the night that had been our routine hang-out, developed other friendships...it wasn't fun times for him or for me as there was much snippiness, but it turned out for the best for both of us. We both grew up a lot.

You're going to have to act like Smart Boy - pull back from this cat who won't date you, make other plans for your time, stop cuddling him so much. Cuddling him is messing with your head. Structure time away from him. Build new relationships with new people, outside your mutual social orbit. You will be astonished, too, by how he turns into just a regular person instead of a Shining Star of Love once you have more going on. I swear this will happen.



*It turned out - whoa! - that the things I was in love with about them actually were qualities I wanted to posses myself, or represented things I wished I could change about my life. You might want to consider carefully over time - rather than dismissing out of hand - the idea that this guy's fatal allure symbolizes something for you.
posted by Frowner at 5:19 AM on August 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


Sorry to say, but you really are living in a fantasy world if you think this guy is going to just wake up one day and reciprocate your undying love for him. The things you're saying that you feel about him, if he felt for you as strongly then you would already have a wedding date set. Literally. Mixed signals are in the eye of the beholder. He's not confused, he's likely just not wanting to hurt your feelings.

You're chasing an apparition. I'm a man, and please believe me that if a woman we secretly love declares her own love to us, we'll jump all over it, not hem and haw and suggest that we move in together with a whole bunch of other roommates.

Speaking of which, following this guy to grad school and moving in with him? Possibly the biggest mistake you could make. I foresee nothing but tears and heartache in your future if you go down that path.
posted by fso at 5:26 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Comparing this to Mary and George in "It's a Wonderful Life?" Come on... This isn't a romantic movie, this is real. He already knows how you feel and he is not interested in dating you. I've been there before and it only gets shittier. It's also pretty devastating when they start dating someone else and you're put on the back burner or cut out of the picture all together. You need to start getting over him NOW.

A relationship is so much better when you don't have all these unanswered questions and unrealistic hopes for a future together. Rather than wishing this would be what you want it to be, accept that it is never going to be that. You can have all these things you want, but not with this guy.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:01 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


he is the only man I will ever love from this point on.

That's a long time.

I know someone who found the love of his life. She had a heart condition. She passed away from it almost five years ago, leaving behind a young child. Her husband was naturally bereft. But you know what? He found love again. He hasn't forgotten his wife, but he found love and remarried and gave his son a brother.

Matt Logelin lost his wife the day after his daughter was born. In the ensuring years, he too has since found love.

And you know why they found love? In part because, after experiencing and moving through their grief, they realized their wives wouldn't have wanted them to spend their entire lives grieving and pining for what they couldn't have. They'd want them to be happy.

I don't think your friend is necessarily a jerk. I think he is probably an okay guy, and if he is your friend, he will want you to be happy. He knows he can't make you happy. He wants you to move on so you can be. So, move on.

Take the weekend, eat a pint of ice cream, watch some of your favorite movies, wear comfy pajamas, and cry your eyes out. Then on Monday, get up, gussy yourself up, and take on the world as an available person open to new experiences.
posted by zizzle at 6:12 AM on August 2, 2012


I agree with everyone else that he isn't sending you mixed signals. He's sending you very affectionate *friend* signals. I know this will be very difficult to do, but the best thing for you would be to scale this friendship way, way back. No more hugging, no more talk of grad school together. Start hanging out much less, or better yet, take a total break from him for awhile (if he asks, tell him school is really busy right now or you have some family stuff going on, etc).
posted by whitelily at 6:15 AM on August 2, 2012


I know this guy. Boy, do I know this guy. There seems to be a certain type of guy (especially in college, it seemed), who just loves to get really close and emotionally intimate with a girl, encouraging her to confide in him, trust him, tell him everything. The guy hangs out with the girl and they act exactly like they're dating. But he never actually talks about a relationship, so when she suggests that there's something romantic there or that they talk about commitment, he can claim complete ignorance.

I knew someone exactly like this, although it didn't make it that far - he got the impression I was interested in him, freaked out, and never spoke to me again. No phone calls, no emails. We'd been *very* close, I thought - he would come over if he thought I was upset, talk to me about a crisis I was going through, offer to turn up at midnight if I needed someone to talk to. When you get that sort of close, almost co-dependent relationship and then it's suddenly cut off, it is really HARD. Having this kind of chat (I had to look up DTR as well) runs the risk of your good friend turning out to be this kind of guy.
posted by mippy at 6:49 AM on August 2, 2012


I see the two of you going on a date... in the basement... of the Alamo.

I'm sorry to say that he's sending you pretty clear signals that he's not interested. You're reading them as mixed signals, because you want them to be mixed, but they're pretty unambiguous. But don't feel bad about that. We've all been there. Hell, when I was in high school, I mentally reclassified a girl's "I don't like you that way" signals as mixed while I was sending "I don't like you that way" signals to one of my friends and being all "why can't she get the hint that I don't like her that way?"

The real question for you now is, what do you want to do about it? Do you want to be in this close of a friendship with someone for whom you have unreciprocated feelings? Is this friendship holding you back from doing other things? How will you feel when he starts dating someone else? When he gets married? (Hint: people who are actually best friends are happy at each others' weddings).

I suggest you dial back this friendship a lot and take a look around at who else is out there. I guarantee that some day soon you will be shocked that you ever thought this was the only man you could love. At the very least, you really shouldn't go to grad school with him.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:50 AM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm gonna be straight-up blunt here: you currently harbor hopes that he will one day feel the same way about you that you feel about him. This will never, ever, EVER happen. This is no reflection on who YOU are as a person... it is just one of a billion examples of the time-honored, stone-cold truth that "sometimes, love is unrequited".

As long as you're carrying a torch for this guy, you're gonna be keeping yourself in suspended animation. Your emotions and relationship skills will be stunted, your neuroses and insecurities will deepen, you'll spend way too much time self-lacerating and obsessing... it'll get uglier and uglier. I know: I've done it myself. Repeatedly. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

The sooner you can convince yourself - FULLY! - that "as much as I love this guy, I'm not gonna get to have a relationship with him", the better off you'll be.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:50 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


(I guessed from what he said that a very similar situation had happened with another girl before me. I'm sure he didn't mean to confuse anyone, and had the best intentions, but the thought that he might have been leading me on (I'd said nothing about relationships etc. at this point) freaked him.)
posted by mippy at 6:50 AM on August 2, 2012


he is the only man I will ever love from this point on

Before you spin away years on a one-way commitment, seriously reconsider the plausibility of this statement. I say this because a dear friend of mine spent most of her 20s clinging onto a guy who wouldn't give her a modicum of respect and endearment back. I wish I and my other friends could have found the words to persuade her that she deserved a two-way relationship.

A healthy adult response to this is command his response to your affection and if it is negative move along. As hard as this is to accept, this person occupies the love-interest slot in your life and it crowds out others who you may also love. If he doesn't reciprocate you need him to vacate that spot in your life.
posted by dgran at 6:53 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've gotten a lot of good advice already. I'd like to add that I support McPuppington the Third's observation that this behavior sometimes comes from guys "still working things out around their sexuality." I knew three guys in college who had this same MO - I crushed on one of them, and my other friend fell quite hard for another - and all three came out as gay a couple years after undergrad.

None of the three ever wanted to hurt the women they were "close friends" with. One told me, years later, that he felt he *ought* to be attracted to the woman he was close with, and thought maybe if he kept hanging out with her that the physical/romantic attraction would develop. Never did.

I am not a guy, but my personal opinion is that most guys need that "physical attraction" spark to spur a friendship into a sexual-romantic relationship.
posted by Ardea alba at 7:22 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Guy here. You probably knew you were going to get beat up a little when you typed this:

he is the only man I will ever love from this point on

But I'll pile on too. I was in similar shoes to yours in high school. now I am SO ECSTATIC that it didn't work out. Not because she wasn't a great person, but because I found an incredible woman who is so right for me, and we have a reciprocal, generous, fun etc. relationship that beats the living shit out of anything I would have had with the high school person.

The 'best' that could happen at this stage in your pseudo-relationship would be that lovey-dovey guy turns to you after another of your (admirable, super brave and gutsy) declarations and says 'I have thought it over, than you for giving me a few months to decide which of my girlfriends is the best. I have now picked you and we may kiss and now we will fall in love and have babies." You seem to want this to happen, but there is something WAYYYY better out there.

You will find someone else, or they will find you, and both of you will fall in love with each other and have no choice in the matter. My fiancee and I fell for each other so hard. The important part there is the two-sided 'each other' part. I am a romantic, and often imagined what being in love would be like, and any conception of what I thought a perfect relationship would be from before we met has been blown out of the water by what I have with her. There was no way I could have even conceived of how good it could be, because I lacked the frame of reference of actually being in that relationship.

Unrequited love is not really love. It might have the chemical markers, and drive you a little nuts in some of the same ways, but true love is another beast. If you look at unrequited love from the side it appears superficial and flat, because there is really nothing there but admiration and fantasy. True love is profound - it has dimension. I highly doubt that you can go from superficial-one-sided love to anything substantive with someone behaving the way that lovey-dovey is behaving.

Move on, now. Stay positive, and in a few months or years you will look back on this and say "I really thought I had everything figured out back then, boy was I wrong, but at least I have it figured out now." Then you rinse and repeat every few years, continually surfing a wave of thinking you've finally figured it out and have your shit together.

Start looking elsewhere - not because this guy sucks or anything, but because there is something out there that is one of the most pleasurable, fulfilling and meaningful experiences of the human condition, and you will not find it with him.

You sound like a very nice person, you'll find someone who is a much better fit. Good luck!
posted by amcm at 7:33 AM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Like others have pointed out he is the only man I will ever love from this point on is an issue.

For another perspective on that, even if he loved you back, what if tomorrow he keeled over dead? (I know, that's morbid) - do you really see yourself as alone and unable to fall in love for another half-century or more?

Bleak thoughts aside, most of us do have the capacity to fall in love more than once which is a really, really lovely thing. I would lay money on that in a few years, you'll meet someone that lights your fire way more which is good, because this fella is not into you romantically, I'm sorry.
posted by pointystick at 8:20 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


He loves you he's not in love with you. I am pretty much on the whole he's gay band wagon at this point as I have had a best friend exactly like that who came out to me 3 years into the friendship, though by that point I wasn't really surprised. He is currently getting all the emotional things from you he would get from a "real" girlfriend/boyfriend without just without the sex, the awkward commitment and being in love part why would he want to change anything.

He is not the only man you will ever love, you don't really love him in the way you think now, you can't because you don't have a shared romantic relationship, you have a friendship. You need to pull back a little bit. If he is somehow interested he most just might come after you (my mum told me once men are like terriers they like to chase after things) though don't pull away as a game as if he's not interested it is healthier that you go looking for someone to love you back in the way you deserve.

Another option is that you get it through your head this is a friendship, you let that whole idea of it being a sweeping once only romance and enjoy it for exactly what it is you have a great and super close friend and are lucky to have just that, and expect nothing more from it.
posted by wwax at 8:48 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I bring up a DTR like this and he's not sweet on me, is this going to kill things that may be developing?

No, because nothing is developing.

So what would a normal, healthy young adult do in this situation? Say something?

You've already said something.

Patiently act like you are never jealous of his other female friends and also act like you are in no rush to know his feelings?

You already basically know his feelings - you just don't want it to be the way it is.

He values your friendship and he likes the closeness and attention, but he does not want to date you. He already knows you want to date him. You have said this to him multiple times. Because he likes you (as a friend) and because society doesn't really prepare us to tell people these things, he has no idea how to just flat-out say that he is not interested in dating you.

I was asking my family for advice, and they all think it's a horrible idea to talk it over with him. They think, "he knows that you're in love with him, you told him straight up...If he was crazy about you he would let you know. But he might slowly be falling for you, you just need to give him time and space."

Same deal with your family. It's hard to be brutally honest with someone if you genuinely don't want their feelings to be hurt, so they're throwing in that bit at the end to maybe soften the blow a little.

Since then I have made my feelings clear multiple times. My cards are completely on the table and I think he should have no doubt that I'm head over heels into him, and really serious about it.

Here's the deal.

You've confessed your feelings to him. He knows you want him. He has said nothing. Your cards are on the table, you've told him multiple times exactly how you feel.

If you then turn around and tell him you want to have a define-the-relationship talk, honestly you're going to come off a little pushy and maybe a lot crazy.

Just chill. You have a huge crush. It's starting to be unhealthy. Give yourself a little time and space. There isn't much else to be done for it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:49 AM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


From the little you can get on the Internet, I see nothing but pain in your future if you continue down this road. I firmly believe as long as you try to remain friends you will not be able to move on. If I were you I would tell him you have been honest about your feelings, he obviously doesn't feel the same way, and it is time for you to move on.

Believe me, I understand how tough it is to do this, but in my experience personally and watching others from the sidelines it is the best thing.
posted by Silvertree at 8:56 AM on August 2, 2012


Oh Geez, you are young aren't you?

Sweetie, I'm so sorry. This guy does not love you, but he LOVES that you love him. He might be a nice guy, but you may be as deluded in that evaluation as you are about his "mixed signals".

This situation is a cliche because it's happened to all of us. I'll echo the others who say that he might be closeted gay, but even if he's not, he's just as unavailable to you.

You're going to have to drop him cold turkey.

Say, "I've told you that I love you, and I really mean it, but it's terrible for my mental health to keep seeing you when you don't reciprocate. Clearly you only want to be my friend and right now, for me, that's not possible."

Clear him out of your phone, unfriend him on facebook, go to a different Grad School. If you can get a job that takes you out of the same geographic area, jump all over that. Get the fuck away and STAY away.

You will be in pain. You will be tortured. You'll continue to turn every little sentence he's said to you over and over and over again. I recommend treating yourself kindly. Work out, take walks, eat things that you like to eat. Drink 8 glasses of water a day (as you'll be losing moisture through your tears.) Watch your favorite TV shows.

If, as you suspect, he really loves you, after a short break you'll find him holding up a boom box blasting Peter Gabriel, in the rain.

If, as the rest of us suspect, that he doesn't love you sexually, then he'll be hurt and he'll mope and he'll find comfort in the other girls he's got dangling off of his charm bracelet.

Please trust us, we've all been there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:56 AM on August 2, 2012 [19 favorites]


There is a reason that there is not one person on here telling you to just keep on truckin'.


He is going to be a giant emotional black hole in your life for as long as you continue to let him exist in your life. At this point all of your friends know about it, right? Tell them the truth- your heart is breaking because you know that you can't ever have what you want to have with him, and you need to fill up the time that he has been occuping in your schedule. You can't be around him because you can't get over it while he's got you all gooey.

And please tell him this: "You've told me you do not want what I want, and now I am telling you to respect what I need. I can't be your friend until I am over this. "
posted by Blisterlips at 9:51 AM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I feel so bad for you because I've been there too. Everyone in school thought my roommate and I were sekritly dating because we did everything together, stayed up late nights talking, went to see all the best bands together, finished each other's sentences, gushed about each other to anyone who would listen, were each other's "dates" to events, and met the parents, but when I suggested we actually try dating when it was time to move out, he freaked out and started dating the only girl in school who hated me whose advances he'd loudly spurned for three years and I only found out about it when I got trapped on a weekend island vacation with them as they hooked up. Please do not be me and have to find out the painful truth of his lack of romantic interest the hard way (seriously, there are not enough ear plugs in the world.)

He's telling you though (non-)action. It doesn't mean he doesn't care for you, just that you don't want the same thing out of the relationship. You will fall in love again, promise, and next time it will be with someone who loves you back that way, hopefully, because you've learned stuff. Painful stuff.
posted by *s at 10:05 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dorothy Tennov, the researcher who coined the term limerence and who spent several decades of her prodigious career studying romantic love had this to say about your situation (where one person is experiencing limerence and the other is ambiguous): "Run like hell."

The love of your life is out there somewhere and everytime you touch this PeeWee of a man or declare your undying love for him, you are pushing that true love away.

For some people, you and I are certainly among them, limerence can last for years. Posters on limerence forums have been carrying some of their torches for over a decade. Many are limerent for one person and marry another anyway. One stood out because their spouse had cancer and the poster on the forum secretly hoped that their "limerent object" (gag me) will finally be achievable after the spouse dies... Decades lost. Love lost. Worthy partners treated as obstacles.

I have a friend who nearly had a psychotic break last summer because of a man she once fooled around with 7 years ago.

The good news is that love addiction can be cured in the same way that any other addiction can be cured. Run like hell. Let thoughts of this pass through your mind with no engagement, neither scrutiny nor attachment. Let the obsessive thoughts pass like clouds in the sky and let them go. Spend your time in self-improving pursuits so that you will be the best you that you can be when the real Mr. Right comes around.

But, by all means, have the DTR meta-relationship talk. Make it the Mother Of All Relationship Talks. Tell him that the talk will not end until he says either, "yes, let's be boyfriend and girlfriend and kiss and plan dates," OR "no, I do not want to be your boyfriend and that will not change in the future." Tell him that there is no kindness to you in wishy washy answers: "either you kiss me now or you tell me never." Do not accept any answer other than an enthusiastic "yes" or an enthusiastic "no." Force the issue. Start a fight if you have to. The answer, after much thrashing around, changing the subject, silence and other avoidance on his part will, without a doubt, be "no." Take that "no" to heart, absorb it in your brain until your head and your heart both believe it.
posted by Skwirl at 11:35 AM on August 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sweetie, I'm so sorry. This guy does not love you, but he LOVES that you love him. He might be a nice guy, but you may be as deluded in that evaluation as you are about his "mixed signals".

Agreed. I have crushed hard on guys who are friends but let me tell you, the ones that know it and don't reciprocate don't string me along because they care more about how I feel than how I make them feel. Whatever his motivation is, you've put it out there and he doesn't like you that way. The best thing you can do for you is move on. Do not move into a house with him. Do not hang out with him. As for grad school, DO NOT chase a boy to a Grad school. Get serious about your life and your goals and go to the grad school that is the best choice for your career.

In a lot of ways - and one of my friends even said this - it seems like we kind of already are dating ... sorta.

Let go of this. You are not dating, not sorta, not kinda. Ways you can tell if you are dating someone: you go on dates that are referred to as dates, you call each other boyfriend/girlfriend, you kiss romantically, you celebrate anniversaries. You are not dating this boy if you can't check the first thing off the list.

This is going to suck for you and it sounds like your social cirlces overlap, but you need to distance yourself from him and move on. You two are not a thing, you do not need to talk about it some more, let him know that you have feelings for him, that you get that he doesn't feel that way so you need to stop hanging out with him. And then stop hanging out with him.
posted by GilvearSt at 11:38 AM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's just a way of letting me down easy.

You're right; that's what he's trying to do, while preserving all that's comfortable for him about the relationship.

But it's confusing because it would be much clearer if he said: I'm just not feeling it, I'm not attracted to you, I like you but not like that. Instead of saying: you should like someone better than me...

It would be much clearer, but he's not mature enough or experienced enough to know that that would be that mature and clear thing to do.

Move on! For whatever reason - and you may not ever know the reason, and honestly, you don't really need to know - he's not interested.
posted by Miko at 11:39 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell him that the talk will not end until he says either, "yes, let's be boyfriend and girlfriend and kiss and plan dates," OR "no, I do not want to be your boyfriend and that will not change in the future." ... Do not accept any answer other than an enthusiastic "yes" or an enthusiastic "no." Force the issue. Start a fight if you have to.

You know, I absolutely agree with Skwirl except for one thing. If he is getting anything out of your admiration (self esteem, ego boost, narcissistic supply, whatever), then this will only make things WORSE because "the talk never ending" will not only be exactly what he wants, it will be the situation he has deliberately created.

So I would START with what Skwirl suggested. But if you just find yourself in some weird loop of ambiguity that is not getting resolved, don't let that drag out.

If that happens, you have to do the OPPOSITE thing and tell him you are not going to see him again or be his friend until you get a crystal clear, definitive and final answer either way.
posted by cairdeas at 11:42 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


My best friend was in a very similar situation a few years ago. She kept hoping he would see the light and he kept hanging out with her one on one and sending what she saw as "mixed signals." She spent a long time on a roller coaster of emotions ("He loves me!" "Oh no he treats his other female friends like this") until finally getting her heart broken. It took her quite some time to get over it but she has found a new love.

Short answer: break things off now or ride this out to it's inevitable conclusion: your heartache.
posted by quietta at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2012


As a guy who used to do this: He likes that he likes you. But if he follows through, that means that all those other girls he likes don't get to like him back.

He probably likes attention and doesn't really know what he wants. To spin it negatively, he enjoys having power. Positively, he'd probably laud his ability to bond with members of the opposite sex. He probably doesn't think he's hurting your or the other women's feelings, but he's building expectations, and when those tumble down, people get hurt.

Truthfully, you probably don't want to be in a relationship with this dude. If he's used to cuddlin' up to whomever, that's not going to change with a Facebook relationship shift. It's something he has to work through on his own, and if he's not willing to make that change now, after all your history, it ain't gonna happen with you.

It's okay. He's probably a good person, but not good for a relationship. That's his thing to work through, not yours.
posted by Turkey Glue at 12:17 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes, yes, by all means define the relationship. Do it in person, not with a letter, and insist that he give you a straight answer: is he at all interested in a romantic relationship with you? Don't take "maybe someday" for an answer, if he pulls that out but has no reasonable answer for "why not now" then he just digs having you on the hook. It doesn't sound like the thing has a snowball's chance but you need to have a straight answer so you can move on one way or another.
posted by nanojath at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2012


I'm a guy. When I was younger I thought this was a terrible thing women did to men.

Then I did it to someone else and broke up an engagement and all of that, while never making any moves at all. I loved the attention. I loved that we would say "love you" at the end of our conversations. I loved that I took her fiance's side in almost every argument. I loved that everyone thought we were dating.

All good things come to an end. I rebuffed her flirtations one drunken night and we were never the same.

Run. This isn't healthy.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:06 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had a relationship like this in high school. My friend was from a conservative culture and was deeply in the closet. However, I have no doubt that he loved me intensely -- AS A SISTER!

A couple years later, it all came clear, and when I found out he was gay, my romantic feelings for him changed back to sisterly. We are friends to this day. I have supported him through coming out.

Your description of your friend sounded much like mine, so I'm going to jump on the gay bandwagon here. Although his reason for rejecting you may not matter, if it's because he's gay and in the closet he's probably going to need friends on his side. It's really hard when you come from an environment where you're sure you're going to be reviled and exiled.

If it's another reason, I would urge you to distance yourself from him as others have suggested, so you can get over your unrequited crush and find someone who digs you mutually.
posted by xenophile at 2:10 PM on August 2, 2012


Another thing: Be wary of a relapse. If you tell him "no more, just friends!" he'll probably agree. BUT he may try extra hard afterwards to get you to like him again. I think it's hard to not be flirtatious around someone whom you've recently boundary'd, so it'll be up to you to keep a safe distance.
posted by Turkey Glue at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2012


Thanks for all the feedback. As an update: All your responses helped me come to terms a bit more with the fact that he is not romantically interested. We had a talk were he finally confirmed this in a way that could get through even my thick skull. Now that I've accepted that I'm able to realize what our relationship is: a wonderful friendship - and start appreciating that instead of constantly longing for more that will never be there.

Thanks ya'll
posted by chocolatemilkshakes at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


« Older My girlfriend lost her purse w...   |  I'm getting awful speeds trans... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.