Skip

How can I make sure past unrequited feelings never return and just try to remain friends?
October 15, 2012 6:34 PM   Subscribe

I really need help in dealing with a situation of unrequited love with a best friend, to becoming complete strangers, and then back to best friends again.

I apologize if this is quite long, but for an extended period I've gone through a situation with a best girlfriend of mine, and I need advice on how to handle my current situation. She's 22 and I'm a 24 year old male.

A little background on myself and our relationship. I was always a very shy, sheltered person growing up. I never was open to very much and was usually pretty anti-social. Upon meeting her she managed to not only open me up and get me to try new things, but changed my life in ways nobody ever has before. She was the first person I slept with, and someone that always wanted to hang out with me. She's a very special person to me.

We met a little over 3 years ago through a mutual friend and hit it off immediately. We were able to talk easily, flirt, and thoroughly enjoyed each others company. Our friendship quickly escalated. In the months that followed we escalated into becoming best friends, and then best friends with benefits. It was a mutual decision that we both wanted and we had fun in doing so.

But you guessed it, complications started to arise in our friendship, and it was explained to me through my friends that she wanted more (I should have seen the signs but more detail in that later). I wasn't ready for a relationship at the time and although we never really talked about it, we never ended up together. But fate has an odd way of working, and slowly my feelings develop very deeply for her and I asked her out. She turned me down and said we should just remain best friends.

I did not handle being turned down very well. I was so sure we were going to be together that it was the only thing going through my head, and when it didn't happen I became needy, clingy and turned into a completely different person. We managed to remain best friends, but my deep feelings remained and she started to confide in me about other guys she hooked up with and was dating. It was at that point I should have left but I wanted to stay loyal to our friendship. For 10 months I went through what I would call hell, and although we still had amazing times together, I felt like it got to a point I was no longer being a very good friend.

I left, and told her I could no longer be friends with her while I still had very deep feelings for her. She hated me for doing it, but I tried to explain that I needed time and space to let my heart heal so one day I could be a good friend to her again without being fake or thinking there was ulterior motives. I'll admit I didn't leave in what would be considered an ideal way, but I had to do it.

I made tremendous progress in healing. My friends and family noticed a significant improvement in my happiness, and my life was getting back on track. Then 6 months into our silence, my ex-best girlfriend messaged me out of the blue, and asked if we could be on speaking terms and for me to stop ignoring her. After thinking about it very long and hard, I messaged her back and we agreed to meet up and talk. Surprisingly there was no awkwardness between us. We communicated slowly and saw each other a little bit in the beginning. Over time we started getting closer again, and she realized how much I'd changed and how I truly was better off for leaving, and she even told me so. In her words I felt more "real" and she seemed to enjoy my company even more than before. We still go through a few periods of silence, but she considered me her best friend for life again.

Now my current dilemma is that I want to make sure I don't have those feelings return. I'll admit I've had a few days where I can feel my stomach churning again when I think about her, but I'm still in a much better place. I really enjoy her company, and I would not want to go through what I went through before of unrequited feelings. The two things that scare me the most are having my feelings return, or that she'll regret her decision and pull away from being friends again, and both will hurt a lot. I just want to be able to stay friends and only friends.

Can anyone please tell me what they would do if you were in a similar situation? Some of my lifelong friends are pretty disappointed I let her back in my life because of what she put me through.

So any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Also if there's questions or more details needed I should be able to provide, I tried to keep it short enough and to the point.
posted by stonecutters88 to Human Relations (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
In my experience the test of when I am ready to treat an ex as "just a friend" is to picture her excited with someone new, and listen to my heart. If it responds with longing rather than happiness, I am not ready.

This usually takes longer than I want.
posted by ead at 7:00 PM on October 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


gotta be honest, it doesn't sound good. you should probably move on and find a new girlfriend. being friends with old lovers very, very frequently doesn't work out, it's just the way it goes.
posted by facetious at 7:00 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, it depends if you got a scab or a scar at this point, and only you really know what's what. A scar you can live with. There will be flickers; you'll never quite get rid of the flickers. But mostly they'll be abstract --- not so much from being around her, but more when something evokes her for you, caused you to think of her fondly; a thoughtful thing she does, a memory that comes back to you. There will be a little flicker and you'll think, what if things had been different. But. That's because it's so easy to remember your dream of her. The real her, the breathing, laughing, snorting, talking her? It'll be fine. Because she's not the dream and never was and you can feel that absence to; that's what the scar is, a recognition of that absence, something you can rub every once and a while to remember the pain the absence caused you.

Scabs are different. If after you part you find yourself angry, at her or at the world for not loving you back, if it still seems cruel --- well, then you got a problem. You got to at least be at Bonnie Raitt for it to work at all. But assuming you're past the Bonnie Raitt threshold then I think you can make it okay.

The only cure, of course --- and the scar will stay no matter what --- is finding someone else.
posted by Diablevert at 7:04 PM on October 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'll admit I've had a few days where I can feel my stomach churning again when I think about her, but I'm still in a much better place.

Not better enough. I'm sorry, but you really can't be friends with her until you'd be ready to meet her new boyfriend and be thrilled about it. If you're not there, you're not really her friend.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:20 PM on October 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't think you need to stop seeing her as a friend, but it does sound like you need to figure out what kind of friendship you want this to be. From what I gathered the way it was wasn't good, so how is it going to be different this time? Don't fall into stagnate relationship that benefits neither of you.
posted by Fishstick3000 at 8:09 PM on October 15, 2012


Whew, this is hard, and I've been through something similar. What is your gut telling you when you've had a good conversation with her and then part ways? What if the conversation were to go back to her confiding into you the guy she has a crush on?

I agree with what some of the others said that you might need some more time still. This person was an integral part of your life and molded a lot of your experiences...defining what this special friendship is now is important. But in the meantime continue to cultivate your current friendships and be aware of setting appropriate boundaries. Best of luck.
posted by wallawallasweet at 2:05 AM on October 16, 2012


"I left, and told her I could no longer be friends with her while I still had very deep feelings for her. She hated me for doing it, but I tried to explain that I needed time and space to let my heart heal so one day I could be a good friend to her again without being fake or thinking there was ulterior motives. I'll admit I didn't leave in what would be considered an ideal way, but I had to do it." (emphasis mine)

Ding Ding Ding

If she can't respect your feelings when you are heartbroken over her, she is just going to stomp all over you again.

You are not ready to be friends with her - you may never be ready - and she's not ready to be your friend either (maybe she never was).
posted by jaimystery at 5:06 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're not ready yet, and you know you're not but you love being with her so much that you'll do whatever you can to convince yourself that you're ready.

Ask someone else out. Be open to more people and more experiences. She's a known quantity, and to some extent comfortable even when it's uncomfortable. If you are going to keep her in your life, and I think you are, you need to broaden your horizons some and make her less significant.
posted by mrs. taters at 5:58 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


what jaimystery said. quite apart from how ready you are (and you aren't, i'm sorry) -- it sounds like she isn't either.
posted by michelle lightning at 6:08 AM on October 16, 2012


You two met when you were very young. You're still young. Sometimes it might not seem like it, but before too long there'll be another amazing girl to have a complicated relationship with. And then another. And another. Life's really good at tossing people together. Leave her in the past and enjoy the memories you have.
posted by item at 6:24 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


We met a little over 3 years ago through a mutual friend and hit it off immediately. We were able to talk easily, flirt, and thoroughly enjoyed each others company. Our friendship quickly escalated.

I think the tricky thing is to accept that any friendship you have with her now will, by necessity, not resemble the friendship you had before. That was a prelude, and the energy and excitement you both felt was based on the fact that it was escalating. I think you can be friends with her if the flickers you mention are truly flickers, and you'd be happy to see her with someone else. If you aren't there yet, then you aren't ready yet.
posted by juliplease at 10:04 AM on October 16, 2012


jaimystery, I think you are missing the part about him not ending the friendship well. She would be totally right to hate him if he was a dick about it, regardless of the situation of him having feelings for her. If he did it graciously, that would be a different story.

I think you two were just not out of each other's lives for long enough to have a genuine friendship. It's going to get complicated and messy again if you guys think you can just jump back into your friendship the way it was before either of you expressed any feelings for each other.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 2:34 PM on October 17, 2012


« Older RebusFilter: on the left, the ...   |  Moving with nothing, where sho... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post