How do I minimize awkwardness when I see a couple I stopped being friends with because, in part, I found myself falling very hard for one of them?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total)
I'm super honest all the time, very blunt and straightforward. I've always believed that it's best to put things out on the table so nobody's feeling left out and we can all proceed with respect. When I'm attracted to someone, I tell them pretty quickly, and when I'm not liking someone even as a friend, I try to maintain civility but I don't spend time with them if I can at all help it.
I've been friends with a girl, let's call her Zelda, since highschool. A big part of our friendship was based on how she'd appreciate my honesty and ability to be so straightforward about stuff. We've spent years apart during college and after but then we both moved to the same city a few years ago at about the same time. She's smart and sweet and hardworking and deserving of every good thing she has, but at this point we have very little in common. That's fine, and we've talked about how we both consider each other more on the level of family than friends. We started spending less and less time with each other.
Part of why we stopped spending time with each other was also her boyfriend. Let's call him Bart. Bart's also smart and sweet and hardworking, young and earnest and enthusiastic, and he and I have a lot more in common superficially than Zelda and I, as far as mutual interests go. I immediately took a shine to him, and encouraged Zelda to get closer to him. She would confide in me about Bart, all the various "oh my god, I have a boyfriend, what do I DO??" things that girly friends do. Zelda knows me as the friend she can talk to about sex stuff, too, so I know a lot about Bart in the bedroom. The more she talked to me about him, the more I'd catch myself thinking about how I would be more compatible with him than she is.
I felt really guilty, and to mitigate that I was pretty honest with Zelda, about how I really was crushing on Bart pretty bad, and that I never had any intention of doing anything about it, but wow, I just think she's so lucky to find a guy like him. Zelda is MUCH less blunt than I am. She's generally honest but to use MeFi terminology she's a "guesser" not an "asker" like me. I'm never quite sure if I've upset her or not. Her response to my telling her that I was fancying her boyfriend was something like "haha, well you can't have him!" in a cheerful tone.
As far as I know, Bart has moved in with Zelda and they've lived together for almost a year now. They're happy and in love and working hard to have a good life together. Like I said, I consider Zelda family, maybe like a first cousin, and I would never want to do anything to make her or Bart uncomfortable or sad.
But I haven't talked to either of them since shortly after they moved in together. Zelda extended invitations to some of their casual parties to me, but she knows I'm kind of a recluse and didn't expect me to show up. I didn't.
I don't regret not seeing them for so long. I just don't enjoy my time with them, not really. It feels like spending obligatory "visiting" time with weird aunts and uncles - like I HAVE to be there, not that I actually have any fun doing it. Even when we're doing something we both love!
But this coming weekend is a big event in our city that I know Bart will be attending, and Zelda will probably be there, too. I'm going, and the chances of me running into the two of them is really high.
As far as they know, I stopped spending time with the two of them because our schedules were really hard to find time when we were both free. That's a really fragile lie, because everyone knows I'm not busy at all and if we really wanted to hang out we absolutely could. The real reason was that my simple crush and admiration of Bart was rapidly turning into a fullblown thing for him. I felt extraordinarily awkward around the two of them, and even worse around Bart, because the whole time I would just want to flirt with him. There are smaller reasons - Zelda and I had a weird fight/culture clash about something but we both apologized and called it even, I'm jealous of her drive and dedication and success, she told me that whenever I tried to teach her a skill I had that she admired she would feel awful and useless... Just basic "we've fallen out of friendship" stuff. But it's the boyfriend thing that clinched it for me. I don't know how I feel about Bart now because I haven't seen him in so long, but considering my past history it will all come back right away. I'm single (if that matters) and have had fleeting crushes on other people since, but nothing to the extent I felt about Bart.
How do I handle seeing them? They're going to say the typical "oh wow I haven't seen you forever! What have you been up to??" and I'm going to have to use every cell in my body to hold myself back from blurting "Well, I've been deliberately avoiding you both because I want to marry your boyfriend, who at this point is probably your fiancee!"
What on earth can I say instead? Help me form a nice, believable, few lines? What do normal, polite, not blunt people do in this situation? I feel like by continuing the farce of "oh, we're just so busy!" I'm disrespecting Bart and Zelda. They're not going to pry, because they're both not like that, but they're both smart enough to know that it's a lie. And they both know I almost never lie, so they'll be worried. I don't want to lie to them but I know that this is a situation where I can't tell the truth. How do I act? I want to be friendly with them when I see them, but I'm going to want to run away. This is just such a stupidly juvenile kind of situation and I have no clue how to handle it. Please share your wisdom!