How long should I wait to tell my friend about my feelings? So here goes (sorry in advance for the very long post, please stick with me). First time around that I ask for advice on any website...
posted by 560fence_cat to Human Relations (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am a 26 year female. I have a circle of a few friends, all of them men between the ages of 22 and 32. We hang out a lot on a weekly basis, and are all very comfortable around one another. They are the most important friends I have in my life and each of them matter immensely to me, in their own unique way.
6 months ago, I was in a serious relationship that started to get rocky and go down the hill (especially in bed). I no longer felt happy and fulfilled by the direction in which things were moving, and I realized that I was losing motivation to make things work between us. Meanwhile, I was also having difficulties with my work. To be brief, I was going through a very unstable time. I had a lot of repressed emotions, mainly due to the fact that I had adapted my personality and day to day lifestyle a lot to better suit the thinking mode and lifestyle of my significant other. I missed my carefree, expressive old self.
As things started silently dissolving in my relationship (in my mind, at first, before I voiced anything out to him), I started noticing myself drawn to other men, only physically and sexually though. This was probably a result of my lack of sexual satisfaction in the relationship (looking for what you don't have somewhere else, classic). Aware of this, I tried to deny these feelings in my head without talking about them to my SO, knowing that it would bruise his ego and he might dwell upon it, so if these feelings disappeared after a while it wasn't worth saying anything. But as time went by, things did not get any simpler. I noticed that one of these men whom I was physically attracted to was one of my friends (mentioned above), let's just call him "XY" to makes things easier to understand. I could not distinguish my sexual desperation from my emotional desperation, and started wondering whether I might have more than just sexual feelings for "XY".
As a result, I ended my relationship (for many reasons I will not explain or this story will go on forever), feeling that I could not be with one man while thinking of others, for me this seemed dishonest. I was tired of relationships, extremely sexually frustrated, completely lost in my mind and my thoughts were messed up and not very clear nor concise. I lost a lot of weight, was not eating or sleeping properly. At the time, I thought that what I needed for myself was immediate sexual relief, a fling. I also needed to ease my mind as to whether or not I actually felt something for "XY", or whether what I was feeling was simply a fantasy I had developed as a result of wanting an escape from my former relationship. Shortly after my break-up (much too soon), I made a move on "XY" and we ended up having sex together. The agreement was that we are friends and neither of us was interested in anything else than sex as a benefit of friendship. This is something I had never done before (sex with a close friend for the sake of sex only). I am someone who is very close to her emotions, so this was a first for me. Quite enjoyable, although extremely awkward at times. Although at the get-go we did not make any plans for this to happen more than once, we did have sex a couple of times, during the course of a month in which I was still an unstable mess. I remember thinking, just before I initiated it the first time: "you know you will regret this, but you need to do it to get this doubt off your mind, so do it".
Doing this DID clear things for me: I did not have any emotional feelings for "XY", as I had wondered. I just needed sex, and it was convenient, simple, and fun with him. Looking back on this now, I probably would have figured this out eventually without sleeping with him, but of well life makes us do stupid irrational things sometimes... even when we can guess the consequences...
A couple weeks later, as I started recovering, I felt guilty and saddened towards myself for having done what I did. Offering up sex for free for nothing else, it felt degrading, I felt like shit and my self-esteem went down the drain. I continued hanging out with my friends as before, and nothing much had changed. The others still do not know that "XY" and I have slept together, we decided to keep this quiet. I worked on trying to forgive myself for doing this to myself, and made myself a promise than I would never let a man have me in this way ever again.
Then time went by, my state of mind cleared, I gained weight again, felt more relaxed, things in my work started improving, and I slowly became a happier person again. I still felt like trash for what I had done, sleeping with a friend for nothing else than sex. A month went by. "XY" moved out of the country, and the rest of my friends all went on holiday. I began opening myself up again to emotion and accepting/believing that I was going to be ok. First by loving myself again, gaining the self-esteem and confidence I had lost through my fling, and then just trying to be a loyal friend to all the guys and an overall good person. I began hanging out one-on-one with another one of the guys from this same circle, let's call him Peter. These past weeks, I have felt some very strong feelings developing for him. A feeling similar to one that I have felt once in my life, 5 years ago, but this surpasses it by light years, even more beautiful now that I have gained more maturity.
I am so very afraid that these are feelings of love. He has shown quite a few signs of interest, but has not voiced them since I have not been explicitly clear that I am interested as well. Since I know I am still recovering a bit and that there is a possibility that my mind may be playing tricks on me, I am not acting upon my feelings, nor voicing them to Peter. First of all because his friendship is invaluable to me, and because I deeply respect him, he is the most amazing man I have ever met (critically speaking from an exterior perspective, I am not saying this purely biased by my feelings). Secondly, because I am definitely not ready to be with a man again, and need to focus on developing myself and being single and independent again. And thirdly (and here is where I need the solid advice), because I feel that he would never want me should he know that I had sex with "XY". I do not want to be "that girl", that sleeps with every guy in the circle of friends (especially since I am the only girl in the circle), even though "XY" was just casual meaningless sex, and Peter is.... well... i feel like a bird. For now, "XY" is out of the country, but he might return and if something has happened between Peter and I, well he might make a joke and lt it slip that I had sex with him... catastrophe scenario... then all the men lose their respect for me at the same time.
As time goes by, and Peter and I hang out more, if this feeling grows as it continues to every day, I would like to let him know at some point (I am taking things slow, focusing on our friendship first and just having a good time with him). Living with this feeling and being in his company provide me with so much happiness, I would sacrifice ever letting him know about my feelings just to keep the friendship and the bond we have. But at the same time, it would break my heart to sacrifice a relationship with such beautiful potential.
So what would you do in my shoes? How long should I wait to tell Peter about my feelings (at least when I'm certain they are strong enough, for sure)? Should I even tell him I have feelings for him, since he might one day find out that I slept with "XY", and this might completely destroy so many things? I feel like he deserves a better woman than me, his happiness matters to me more than our relationship.
And thank you so much for taking the time to read this and answer!