Help me fight the war between my head and heart.
January 2, 2013 3:00 PM Subscribe
Please help me make sense of a romantic situation, involving a co-worker, lots of mixed signals, confusion and a desire to remain best friends. Very very long explanation inside, sorry I kept it as brief as I could.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! to Human Relations (20 answers total)
I'll try and keep this as short as possible, though I'm afraid it's a bit complicated so it may get long.
Basically a co-worker, W I've known for over three years asked me if I wanted to start a writing project together in September. I said yes and we ended up spending a lot of time together. One evening I discovered he was ticklish so I started to try to get him to beg for mercy. It ended in us kissing each other.
Now I'm 33yrs old and female, I've only had 3 relationships before W, two when I was 14 and then my ex from the age of 21 to 26. I can be a very intense person and have never really wanted to date casually, prefering instead to be single so that if the right person comes along I'm available. Also if I'm honest I didn't think anyone would want to date me while my ex was still living with me.
W was 40yrs old when we started dating. He's lived in the same house his entire life, never moved out, his parents still treat him like a child at times and for a lot of his life has suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. He's spent a lot of his life feeling like no one would ever want him and could never imagine a future for himself. However just over a year ago he's started feeling much happier. I know that from what I've written he doesn't sound like much of a catch bless him :-) But he truely is a wonderful person and we get on like a house on fire. I understood that he'd be on a very steep learning curve, however I don't think I realised how big a learning curve it would be.
Anyway we started dating each other and it was wonderful, we had four amazing weeks together and for about two weeks we spent every night together. Then one week various things happened, he did something that triggered a painful memory from my last relationship, I tried explaining it to him but he thought I was upset at him. I'd told him early on that I was childfree but it didn't register how phobic I was about babies etc until the fifth week. Then he was ill and that in conjunction with a lack of sleep made him get grumpy and withdrawn. Previous to this week he'd been very happy and when he smiled it was alook of true happiness and contentment.
However due to this week he split up with me on the Saturday. Then on the Monday he told me he'd made a mistake and wanted to be more than just friends but that he really wanted kids. I tried to give him time to think about if he would be happy not having them, but after two weeks of uncertainty and experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath I knew I needed an answer sooner. The answer was that he didn't think he could cope with not having kids so we agreed to be just good friends.
However I still had strong feelings for him and there were a lot of body language signals that implied he wanted more. We got carried away a couple of times, at this point I told him I couldn't do that as I had strong feelings for him still. So I clarified that we were just friends who held each others hand and hugged. We were both doing fine with this and I was managing.
Unfortunately just before Christmas we started to get more flirty with each other. I stupidly tried to express how I felt about him without saying it directly as I felt ashamed that I'd not gotten over him already. I hoped that if he didn't feel the same way he'd say so so nothing would happen. We ended up sleeping together and I asked him what he wanted, he said he hadn't really thought about it, despite him saying earlier he knew I had it bad for him. So I spoke to him about it on Christmas Eve. We agreed that it'd just been a misunderstanding, we both thought the other was giving signals, to be honest we both probably were. So it was agreed we'd just go back to being friends.
We met up last Thursday and went out together during the day, then in the evening we eneded up in the local park blowing bubbles and chatting. Nothing happened that night and we left it as seeing each other at work today. Though on Monday he texted me to see if I was doing anything yesterday. I wasn't so we arranged to meet up yesterday. Apparently on Monday night he'd decided he wanted more (he didn't say this to me until yesterday evening). So come yesterday morning we ended up holding each other and kissing, eventually leading into more. Afterwards I asked him if this meant he wanted to date me again. He said yes. Then a bit later I asked him about why he'd changed his mind. He said that he'd realised he couldn't afford children, wasn't ready for the responsibility as he wanted to live his life first and he didn't think he'd find anyone else (he admitted today it was a stupid thing to say and he didn't mean it the way it came out). So I was doubting his feelings by this point.
So today after work we had a chat and he said he didn't intend for it to go as far as it did yesterday and that after he said he wanted to date me he realised he still wasn't sure what he wanted and wasn't ready for a long term relationship. He said he didn't want to mess me about any more than he had done. So we're back to not dating now.
I understand from what I've written that he doesn't sound very good. I didn't fully understand just how intense his learning curve would have to be. We're still very good friends and although I know it'd be easier for me to just walk away I don't want to lose his friendship as he's the best friend I've ever had, and he truely is a really great guy. He's just a little (well ok a LONG) way behind everyone else in figuring how to handle relationships.
Now the trouble is that I've always been a sensible person, I've always sought to control my emotions with my intellect, yet for the last few months I've been unable to do that. I've been at war with my own mind and emotions. Part of my mind says to run a mile, the other part sees all the wonderful qualities he posesses and says he's worth fighting/waiting for and my heart is saying fight for him as I believe he's a soul mate. I want to be sensible as I've always prided myself on that but I'm struggling at the moment.
Then tonight I've had what is probably a terrible idea. I've never dated casually and can be very intense, this is something I need to work on and I thought perhaps a way to do that would be to enter into a casual relationship with W. Would this be the worst thing ever and destroy our friendship or could it be good for both of us? We'd get to hang out and have fun times, he'd gain experience and I'd learn to relax and not take life so seriously. Or I could end up getting in too deep and ending up hurt again.
Please give me your opinions as I'm still at war with myself and am struggling to see what would be for the best. As writing this the grown up sensible part of my mind is saying walk away and the other part is telling me not to. So I really need other peoples opinions to help me, as I'm finding it so hard at the moment.