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What is this craziness about?
August 3, 2012 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I am a woman and I have been friends with a guy for about a year now, and I'm about to pull my hair out. How do I deal with someone that I don't know where their head is at? Is it me? Is it him? What the hell do I do with this?

I started a friendship with a guy a year ago and I have no idea what to think about what's been (or hasn't been) going on lately. It seemed like this guy was really shy when I met him, which I didn't really understand, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and get to know him.

So, we started to hang out more often, going to hear bands or go hiking and out to dinner. In my estimation, nothing huge. But I really enjoy his company. He told me several months ago that he really enjoys my company too.

Fast forward to the present. I don't really get what's going on with him. I haven't spent all that much time with him in the past couple of months, due to his work schedule and my anxiety about my own life's uncertainties. Anyway, to make a long story short, it seems like he doesn't really want to spend time with me anymore. And this hurts really bad. Strangely enough, he seems to be really concerned about my welfare. Like overly concerned. For example, I have been really sick here lately and haven't seen much of him. But he told some of our mutual friends that he found out I was really sick and he was so worried about me and he was asking them if they had talked to me and he wondered where I was and why he hadn't seen me, etc. I saw him the other day and he practically ran up to me asking me how I was feeling and how I'm doing. Like really protective. Another example is that I asked him if he could take my dog out a couple of times while I was out of town for a week. He agreed to it, which was cool. Then when I was out of town, he not only did what I asked him to do, but he came over to my house every day to check on my dog, took my dog to the river to play, bought my dog a vanilla ice cream cone, videotaped my dog playing in the river, and posted the videotape on his Facebook page. Needless to say, I was shocked and stunned.

The thing is, here lately, it seems like he is afraid of me or doesn't want to be around me or something. I don't know what it is, but I just get this weird vibe. I have talked to several people about this, and they don't get it either. I had one person say that it's like he wants to care about/take care of me, but he doesn't want me to know that he cares about me. WTF? Two other people said that it sounds like he is developing feelings for me and is scared to look at that, so he therefore wants to avoid me because he doesn't know how to handle it.

I don't know what to think, except that it is really painful. Have any of you wonderful MeFites ever experienced anything like this? The reason I ask this question on the "green" is I'm hoping to get some objective input from people who don't know this guy. I adore my friend. I just can't wrap my mind around what might be happening here. Any ideas?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
....Forgive me, but it's not clear -- by asking us "what is in this guy's head," are you asking us if we think he wants to date you?

Also, can you clarify whether you've just asked him, and if not, why not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why you think he doesn't want to hang out with you. Is he turning down invitations to meet up?
posted by sweetkid at 9:13 AM on August 3, 2012


Although you don't explicitly state it, it sounds like you want to have a romantic relationship with this fella and are wondering if he wants the same. On preview, EmpressCallipygos brings up an excellent point - have you asked him what he wants? Because not knowing you or him, we can't really tell you what's going on in his head.

But one thing is for sure...going on just wondering is going to drive you crazy.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:14 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


You should ask him to hang out. If you are confused, ask him how he feels.

Do you have a romantic interest in him?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:15 AM on August 3, 2012


I don't understand; it sounds like he completely drops what he is doing to help take care of your dogs and is genuinely concerned about your welfare. How does this signify not wanting to hang out? Do you ask him to hang out or are you expecting him to make the move?

I think there's a lot you're leaving out of this, perhaps romantic, but the details you've provided sound like a friend who you just need to engage with and actually ask to hang out. People are not mind readers and part of friendship is asking for what you want. You should try that rather than talking with friends and speculating with the internet about what some random guy is thinking.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:18 AM on August 3, 2012


...it seems like he doesn't really want to spend time with me anymore.

What is he doing that is making it seem this way? It seems like you've fallen out of touch (by no fault of your own,) then you got sick, and he got worried because you two used to spend a lot of time together and then you didn't and you got sick.

Also, people like dogs! Although I don't know how good a vanilla ice cream cone is, if this dude does not have a dog and likes dogs, maybe he just wanted to have some fun while he could. My Facebook wall is plastered with pictures of my dog doing considerably less exciting things.

As far as what other people say? Ignore what other people say. Seriously, the grapevine is the absolute last place you should be turning to to figure out what is going on with a person. Between ignorant assumptions, drama addicts and inveterate gossipers, you have very little information and a lot of bullshit.
posted by griphus at 9:18 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't find it, but there was an ask.me where the answer was "just kiss him."

You have a big crush on him, as far as I can tell. He's shy, be obvious. I say this as someone who is terrible at it.
posted by theora55 at 9:20 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


You should use your words and talk to him.
posted by Justinian at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


Sounds like he was shy, then not shy, and now he is shy again. It happens.
posted by milarepa at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2012


...and he wondered where I was and why he hadn't seen me, etc.

So he doesn't know where you are, and you're asking why he doesn't spend time with you? And when he does find out -- by spotting you on the street -- he goes out of his way to connect with you again?

Seems to me he's quite a concerned friend. And your illness and dropping out because of your 'anxiety about life's uncertainties' is complicating things in a way which isn't buddy's fault.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:22 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


There exists a possibility that he is sitting and home thinking the very same thing about you.

"We used to hang out all the time and, around the time my work schedule changed, she disappeared. Then she asked me to look after her dog, but didn't ask me to stop by to see HER. Ugh! I like her, but why doesn't she want to hang out with me anymore?!"
-Dramatization
posted by inturnaround at 9:29 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


This doesn't sound like craziness to me, so I'm wondering what you're leaving out. You were "shocked and stunned" when he took such good care of your dog and posted a doggie video to his FB page? What was so shocking about that? I'm also confused by the idea that you've been sick and had personal issues so you haven't been able to see him, but you're wondering why he hasn't wanted to see you lately.

I think if you give us some more specific details, and a clearer question than "where is his head at?" we would be able to come up with more helpful advice.
posted by blurker at 9:33 AM on August 3, 2012


I think you're projecting your own desire to get close to this guy (or perhaps to avoid him) onto him. Decide what you want and then go for it instead of displacing it all onto him.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that one way or the other, for your sanity, the only option is to say "I have enjoyed getting to know you as friends. I would like to go on a date with you. Would you like to go on a date with me?" If not, you need to decide whether you can keep being just friends with no desire for something more. If not, you need to give yourself some space until you no longer have feelings for him.
posted by anonnymoose at 9:46 AM on August 3, 2012


I feel like you're leaving out the heart of the story.

If you want to know what's going on with him, ask him. If it turns out that he has unreciprocated romantic feelings for you, better to address it so you both can move on. If he's avoiding you because he worries that you have unreciprocated romantic feelings for him, that will be a slightly awkward conversation if you don't; if you do, better to address it so you both can move on.

But maybe he's been busy. Or depressed. Or ill. Or, I don't know, writing a screenplay. The thing is that we don't know, but he does.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe he's genuinely busy. Maybe he's confused why you've pulled away from him during the past few months. Maybe he doesn't know how he feels about you or has other personal things going on.

Do you want to date him? Figure that out first. If you don't and just want to be his friend, that's cool. He may not want to date you, either. Or he might. But at least from your description, that's not what this sounds like.

Here's what I'd do: Send an email (or whatever) saying "Thanks for taking care of my dog! It was fun to see the video you posted of him while I was away!" (provided that this still in the recent enough past that you can say that without it being weird) and add "I've really missed hanging out with you lately. I know we've both had other stuff going on and I hope all is OK with you, but I always enjoy it when we get together. Let's grab dinner some time next week if that works out."

It's not something you can do in every situation, but I've become a fan of telling people how I feel about them & what they mean to me. I say thank you to my friends for little things. I tell them they're awesome and how much I value them. I think we'd all be better off if everyone did the same.
posted by darksong at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


My big question is: why haven't you TALKED to him about this? Maybe you have, but that is not at all clear from your question.

And, as others have pointed out, it's not clear if you have romantic feelings for him. Do you know what you want out of the relationship?
posted by Specklet at 9:59 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes the best way to get over interpersonal anxiety is to just ask. It's like the bandaid question: One quick OUCH! or a series of slow, excruciating jerks? I think your best means of getting an answer here is to pick up the phone & ask if he sees things as having changed. Maybe he'll open up.
posted by Ys at 10:01 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I now realize I was quite vague when I posted this question. I don't really have much experience with male/female relationships, so I feel stunted when dealing with this kind of situation.

I definitely have romantic feelings for this guy and I summoned the courage to tell him several months ago. He seems to have some kind of feelings for me, but he told me at the time that he's "not ready for a relationship with anyone right now". So I've been trying to keep everything low-key out of respect for what he told me. He acted really reserved for a long time now until a couple of months ago. Then all of a sudden, his concern for me has increased exponentially, which is very out of character for him.

I guess I just don't really understand the change in his behavior. The long and short of it is that I'm not used to a guy taking such an interest in my life when I'm not dating them.
posted by strelitzia at 10:32 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


BTW, I'm the OP.
posted by strelitzia at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2012


He really likes you as a friend but is not interested in you romantically. He is concerned for you because he is a friend and friends generally care about each other. Unless he makes a move to date you, which he probably won't, then you should really try to move on and encourage mutual friends to leave it alone instead of passing all of this information along to you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:36 AM on August 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


You'll never understand guys. The sooner you embrace this bit of knowledge, the easier your life is.

Just ask him out already.
posted by mibo at 10:37 AM on August 3, 2012


I definitely have romantic feelings for this guy and I summoned the courage to tell him several months ago. He seems to have some kind of feelings for me, but he told me at the time that he's "not ready for a relationship with anyone right now". So I've been trying to keep everything low-key out of respect for what he told me. He acted really reserved for a long time now until a couple of months ago. Then all of a sudden, his concern for me has increased exponentially, which is very out of character for him.

Thanks for the extra info.

It is possible that he's taking more of an interest in you because his feelings are changing; and they could be changing in any one of a number of ways. but the only way to know for sure is, still, to ask him directly.

You're allowed to ask him about this, I promise!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


"not ready for a relationship with anyone right now"

This translates to "I like you as a friend, but am not interested in more." As to why he's more attentive to you now, maybe he thinks you're over being interested in him romantically and so he's able to relax and just act like a normal friend. It almost certainly doesn't mean he's developed a romantic interest in you. If he had he'd come right out and say it.
posted by MsMolly at 10:41 AM on August 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


The issue with asking him out is that if he isn't interested in you, he will make extra sure to never do anything nice for you again, lest you take it the wrong way. If his behavior has changed of late, it is probably because he thought you'd gotten over him and that he could relax a little bit without you taking it the wrong way.

Once someone turns you down once, asking again is poor form. Some might disagree, but as the recipient of multiple asks...it's frustrating and makes it difficult to continue to be friends with that person.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:41 AM on August 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


You seem like you have your act together and while this guy may be confused and confusing, you have my permission to like him, you've liked many a stupider person.

Why not ask again? You seem to have a great relationship with him. Be casual about it, "Hey Dude, I loved what you did with Fido when I was out of town. I know I've been sick and you've been busy, so it's hard to tell exactly where we are with our friendship. You once said that you weren't ready to be in a relationship. By chance have your feelings changed, because I have to tell you, that whole dog thing pretty much pushed me right over the edge. If you don't want to date me, you're going to have to stop being so fabulous."

See what he says. What's the worst that could happen?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, after your update agreeing that he doesn't see you romantically but feels like you are over that so he doesn't need to maintain distance. He might also feel a little guilty for turning you down so he's making up for it by being an extra good friend.

If him being around is bothering you, it's totally fair game to say "Hey, it's been really great to see you more recently, but I still think of you romantically and seeing you brings that up. If you could give me a little more distance [for x months/I will call you when I'm ready] that would probably be best."
posted by anaelith at 10:51 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Re: the dog scenario: Have you considered the possibility that he really likes dogs?

My neighbor is out of town and I am feeding his cat. Per our agreement, I only have to go over there once a day to do it, but I've actually been going over twice a day and feeding the cat and playing with and petting the cat and making sure the cat isn't too lonely.

I am not in love with my neighbor. I just really like cats (and I can't have one of my own anymore, because my husband is allergic). Also I happen to like taking little opportunities to be nicer to people than they expect.

Either way, it's clear that he cares a lot about you because he was so concerned about you being sick. But it's hard to tell from his actions whether he is starting to have romantic feelings now that he's not sure how to express, or is just a good and caring friend who has occasional bouts of shyness and/or bouts of worrying that perhaps he is leading you on.

Maybe you could just thank him for being such a good friend and say you miss hanging out doing fun stuff as much as you used to and would like to do so again now that your schedule is more clear. He already knows that you have a crush on him, so I don't think you need to tell him that specifically again. If he is developing romantic feelings for you, I think he will eventually tell you when he feels comfortable, since you have already made it clear to him that the potential for a romantic relationship exists.
posted by BlueJae at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Two other people said that it sounds like he is developing feelings for me and is scared to look at that, so he therefore wants to avoid me because he doesn't know how to handle it.

I'm an ENTJ personality type, and this is exactly what I would do if I were developing romantic feelings for somebody whom I didn't think "liked me in THAT way." My sentimental side would be all "I must protect and care for her. She's important to me!" but my hyper-rational side would be saying "What the hell are you doing? You're acting weird around her and if she notices how strangely you've been acting, it'll seriously endanger your friendship."

If your friend is anything like me, the best way to deal with this would be to ask him flat out if he's attracted to you and whether that's why he's been acting different lately. He may waffle or understate it so as to minimize the awkwardness, but he'll be honest about it.

Of course, if your friend has a completely different personality type and is totally comfortable with his feelings, then nothing I've said applies and you should disregard it entirely. I think that on the Green we all have a tendency to project ourselves or the people we know into these scenarios, which can be very helpful when there are indeed strong correlations, but can also be misleading if the person we project our values onto is in fact very different from us.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I haven't spent all that much time with him in the past couple of months, due to his work schedule and my anxiety about my own life's uncertainties.

I can live with the thought that the "my...." part of that sentence is something he's (consciously or otherwise) picked up on and is reacting to."
posted by ambient2 at 11:27 AM on August 3, 2012


he told some of our mutual friends
he found out I was really sick
he was asking them if they had talked to me
I have talked to several people
I had one person say
Two other people said

You are both talking to other people too much and each other not enough.
posted by headnsouth at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2012 [13 favorites]


"not ready for a relationship with anyone right now"

I would just respect that he's not ready for a relationship for whatever reason. It could be that he's "not that into you," he's into someone else, or maybe he is being secretive about other unknown issues that are deterring him from entering a relationship.

He sounds like a great friend. If it's possible to do so without much romantic expectation, I would just do whatever to maintain/improve your friendship. In the process you will probably discover a lot more about what is going on with him.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2012


I haven't spent all that much time with him in the past couple of months, due to his work schedule and my anxiety about my own life's uncertainties.

Would you mind clarifying what this means, as specifically as possible?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:48 AM on August 3, 2012


Let me specify: I mean, what does the boldfaced part mean, and how has it resulted in your spending less time with him in the past couple of months? Has the same been true of other people - are you seeing less of them? Or is it mostly him?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2012


More info has really helped here, thanks.

It sounds like there are two possibilities, either he has developed more romantic feelings toward you, or he no longer feels chased, so he is just more comfortable. My guess is that he is starting to think about you in a more romantic way, but it's impossible to know without asking him. If you feel like you just can't stand waiting for him to make it more obvious, then you're going to have to broach the subject.
posted by blurker at 11:59 AM on August 3, 2012


From the OP to FAMOUS MONSTER:

I have been focusing on my professional life, i.e. considering applying to grad school, deciding where I should live to maximize my career goals. Stuff like that. Also, just having general feelings of being completely overwhelmed trying to decide what is most important in my life and what to do about it. He works 60-80 hours a week during the summer and when I'm off, he's working and when I'm working, he's off. Then I got really sick and spent most of my spare time at home, not really wanting to be around people when I couldn't even sit up. So that's why we haven't seen much of each other lately. Hope the clarification helps.
posted by strelitzia at 1:31 PM on August 3, 2012


Oh, okay.

The problem is that you're both making guesses about the other and your guesses are both wrong. You're both dancing circles around each other: Due to the fact that he clearly is fond of you but acts weird around you, you're wondering what's up with him but won't flat-out ask him what's up. Due to the fact that you've been withdrawing lately for reasons he doesn't understand, he thinks you're upset with him about something or other but won't flat-out ask you what's up.

The solution is to flat-out ask him what's up.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2012


So that's why we haven't seen much of each other lately.

Doesn't seem to mesh with: Anyway, to make a long story short, it seems like he doesn't really want to spend time with me anymore. And this hurts really bad.

It seems like there are concrete reasons why he isn't spending time with you. It doesn't sound like there is any contradiction at all, here. I think you are really overthinking this, perhaps because you're really interested in him, and perhaps as a distraction from the very real and stressful changes that you're going through. I know that when I am dealing with heavy shit I make up man drama; it is a distraction and keeps you from making good decisions, and stress reduction in other, more healthy ways should be a priority (instead of trying to figure out what is up with this dude, try exercising or watching a movie with friends, for example).

I also sometimes see friends work really hard to get two mutual friends together and they can really make something out of nothing. Again, if this is adding to your stress at an already stressful time (and it sounds like it is) it might be worth asking those friends to quit playing matchmaker/quit telling you about him.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:52 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know that when I am dealing with heavy shit I make up man drama;

My aunt is a professor of clinical psychology. When I was freaking over a relationship once, she pointed out that obsession is what we do when we don't want to think about something.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:16 PM on August 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Please ask this man out.

(And if he says no, ask very sweetly if you can still be friends.)
posted by nrobertson at 11:12 PM on August 3, 2012


Do not ask him out. Take him at his word. He has turned you down. Do not continue to hold out hope for someone who has told you they're not interested in you. Do not interpret anything he does as a sign of romantic interest he says he doesn't have. Do not listen to your friends' speculation about whether he's lying about his true feelings for some reason of his own, because you only need to pay attention to feelings that are communicated to you directly by the person experiencing them.
posted by tel3path at 1:41 AM on August 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also: do not try to disambiguate the situation by asking him out, and then asking him "very sweetly" if you can still be friends, because you told him your feelings already and he has said he doesn't return them, which means that asking him out will not be welcome.

Asking him "very sweetly" if you can still be friends would be a poisonous thing to do, because you have led him to believe that you are friends, and it will not be in any way "sweet" for him to learn that you have simply been leading him on about that, with the goal of eventually expressing romantic feelings for him again because, the last time you asked him, he gave you an answer you didn't like so you chose not to hear it.

There is no ambiguity or craziness here, other than that which you are generating by and for yourself.

You could always generate more craziness by asking him out on what you think is a date but he doesn't, and then wonder why he would confuse you by choosing to spend time with you on the bizarre and incomprehensible basis that you're "friends". However, I don't recommend that you do this.

If I'm sledgehammering the point home, it is because I want to make sure that at least one person is telling you very clearly that there is no ambiguity here. It is not because I think you are stupid or crazy, it is because I want to counteract any teasing, tantalising messages that your friends or anybody here might inadvertently be giving you. Paying any attention whatsoever to such messages will add to your pain and to your friend's.

If I am somehow mistaken about all this, your friend knows your feelings already and therefore will take action himself if he wants to reciprocate. Being "shy" will not prevent him from doing this. "Shy" is invariably just code for "won't express the feelings I want to project on him", not "too incapacitated to take that which he wants and which has already been offered to him".

Sorry.
posted by tel3path at 4:39 AM on August 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


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