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December 8, 2013 4:05 PM   Subscribe

I haven't had a remotely sane romance for 10 years or so and have taken big chunks of time out from it all (sometimes involuntarily) and spent a lot of time reflecting and in therapy. I rekindled an old friendship with a male friend a while back and we have grown quite close. I always found him quite attractive though when we originally worked together he was married and I was dating, so it was a no go.

As we have got to know each other more a calm and sane seeming attraction for him has slowly and naturally swollen. We are now both single and have both been burnt in the past.
He has a slightly asexual feeling, but maybe that's just a disinterest/emotional unavailability vibe..

When we last met up we wound up in a long embrace.. perhaps two or three minutes and as I moved in for a gentle 'kill' he pulled back and said we were like each others therapists. I thought we just had some deep conversations... I said I sometimes felt this pull to him in 'that way' he said he'd 'considered it to, but didn't want to put something as precious as the friendship at risk. I responded respectfully to this.

This is is the first time in a long time I've felt drawn to a guy that's not a tool and I'm sad and confused. If and when he starts dating I don't know how that's going to feel :( but certainly I value his friendship.

Not sure how to handle this and what, if anything, any of that means? Bottom line is he's not available.. right?
posted by tanktop to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He said no. Whether the reason is true or not - he's simply not interested in a romantic relationship with you. I've been there and I know it hurts. I'm sorry.

The only way I've gotten over something like this is to pull way, way back. Call other friends when you want to talk or hang out. Do not spend time with him alone or rely on him for "deep conversations."

Once you are largely over the attraction, you might be able to see him again as a friend. I wouldn't push it too quickly, though.
posted by snarfles at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2013 [12 favorites]

He is not available to you.

I think he was pretty clear given the circumstances. Sounds like a good friend.
posted by French Fry at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

He said he "didn't want to put something as precious as your friendship at risk." I'm thinking that in pretty much all situations that sentence also means "please don't try to make out with me again."

Sounds like you guys have a nice little thing going on, but I would try to cool any romantic feelings for the guy. The vibe of disinterest you've felt combined with him saying you're "like each others' therapists" pretty much spells doom for any romantic moves you may make right now. Enjoy the friendship for what it is. Maybe one day he'll open up more, but let HIM make that move. He obviously knows where you stand.
posted by johnpoe50 at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, but it sounds like perhaps he is not available to you right now. I totally respect your bravery though. The fact that you actually told him that you'd been feeling the "pull" towards him takes a lot of guts. And also the fact that you responded respectfully when it sounds like he let you down gently. If you've had a lot of difficulty in your past relationships, then well done for doing so much work on yourself that you've got to a place where you can be drawn in a sane way to a nice man, and have the ability to bring that out in the open with him. It is just a real shame that it seems like this isn't going to develop into a romantic relationship. I say that because if you were in an embrace and he pulled back when you went to kiss him (I'm assuming that's what you meant by "gentle kill") then it seems like his feelings for you aren't "that way".

The good news is that you can now take all the great parts of this that he has helped you develop - a healthy attraction, an openess etc - and move forward. There will hopefully be someone you meet who will feel the same way back, and you can consider this man a kind of "practice" in helping you realise what you want from a relationship, and what you're capable of. Don't spend time stressing about the "what if" of him dating - just worry about yourself and take it one step at a time. If you value your close friendship with him then continue to do so, but just try and maintain the friendship boundaries and keep your heart free for a person who can give you back what you need. Good luck.
posted by billiebee at 4:19 PM on December 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

He's not available.
posted by heyjude at 4:27 PM on December 8, 2013

He's not available.

But take heart: You've found one person out there that you are healthy enough to recognize that you like and trust and know isn't a jerk, which means that people like this are OUT THERE. They exist. This is a good sign.
posted by mochapickle at 4:39 PM on December 8, 2013 [15 favorites]

Nope. If he wants you, he'll pursue you.
posted by PJMoore at 5:21 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are feeling like it would be hurtful to witness him dating, then it is perfectly OK to ask him for some time apart (no contact) while you re-calibrate your feelings toward him. If he is a true friend (which it sounds like he is), he'll understand, and give you time to adjust.

I think if you continue to spend time together having "therapeutic" deep convos, it will be hard to disentangle your feelings of attraction.

And yes, he's given a clear "do not cross the line" message, and you are a good egg for respecting that.
posted by nacho fries at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh dear. I'm so sorry, this must be very difficult. No, he is not available, perhaps to you or to anyone. If it helps, things would not look this way right now if he did not care for you very deeply, and indeed he might really be very conflicted. Whenever this situation has cropped up in my life it has meant that for whatever reason, deep love/affection is just not enough, but one of us was smart enough to see it and strong enough to act accordingly.

Know that he is trying to spare you from something EVEN MORE confusing and hurtful for everyone, get some distance, and nurse your wounds. It will sting when he dates someone but I would bet that if you have that distance, you will eventually observe his relationship and think "no, he was right, that would not have been good for us."
posted by like_a_friend at 7:57 PM on December 8, 2013

He's not available to you.

It sucks, it will continue to suck for a while, but eventually it might suck less and even stop altogether.

Value his friendship, but pull back. If you're acting as each other's therapists, you might be having a little bit of transference going on.
posted by RainyJay at 9:23 PM on December 8, 2013

mochapickle: "But take heart: You've found one person out there that you are healthy enough to recognize that you like and trust and know isn't a jerk, which means that people like this are OUT THERE. They exist. This is a good sign."

Seconding this, loudly: Until I returned to therapy around age 40, I almost hadn't had a remotely sane romance ever. And then, after a certain amount of work recognizing my unhealthy patterns, I began going after well-balanced, emotionally secure women... leading to romances with the same. I've only had one lover since that I would call "emotionally manipulative", my former moth-flame.

Celebrate that you felt attraction to someone who isn't bad for you... even if he's not interested. That's a BIG step. The next is to be able to find more healthy men who are emotionally-available/interested in you romantically.

From here, that looks like a long distance, and your crush is sooo close. From ten years in the future (if you keep working in the right direction), he will look like a tiny stepping stone towards a new life.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:44 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

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