Can/should I be friends with someone I dated or can I end it gracefully?
January 20, 2014 9:41 PM Subscribe
I've dated a man on and off for two years. I shouldn't have gotten involved with him again after the first breakup, but I did, and we eventually became friends with benefits. This was ok for a while because I was dealing with some serious family issues and didn't have much energy or time for a relationship, and we enjoy each others company. He recently decided he wanted a girlfriend and through online dating has found someone. I'm struggling with whether to walk away, or to try to maintain a friendship.
posted by pinkbungalow to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The relationship never had potential to be a good, healthy romantic one for me, so I always tried to keep some emotional distance. It was evident early on that he has many issues he hasn't dealt with and has never had a adult relationship that wasn't fraught with drama, much of his own making. But most of the time we had fun, made each other laugh, and enjoyed time together as good friends would. I know from what he's told me he doesn't have a good relationship with his mother, and it always bothered me to hear him talk about it because he spoke as if he doesn't respect her, and I've also come to learn I don't think he respects women in general. (Yes, one of a few red flags for me.)
In the past 8 or 9 months we've gotten to know each other much better and speak on the phone a few times a week, and get together every couple of weeks. He would open up to me, and told me I'm very grounded and that helps him. Looking back I gave him more support than he gave me most of the time.
He told me a couple months ago he wanted a girlfriend and we agreed we'd no longer be physically involved, but remain friends. He's recently started a relationship, and a few times has asked for advice about how he might change to become more what this woman wants. I've tried to not become involved or give an opinion although it seems like an impending disaster. He's very anxious about the new relationship, and admits he's infatuated even though this woman doesn't sound like she treats him well. He doesn't trust her. I've told him I don't feel it's my job to try to "fix" him, nor do I want to know the details about this current relationship. I didn't really feel rejected until he started expecting me to help him with this. I've told him I can't help him, and when he pressed me I told him I need some time away to sort my feelings out. He's waiting for me to get back to him and resume our friendship.
The current situation feels very awkward for me. I've struggled with abandonment issues in the past and felt like I'd made a lot of progress in that area, but apparently not enough to make this easy. I can't figure out how to handle this. I know I *can* just end the friendship and I'll get over it. But I've developed some good friendships after break ups in the past, and I think I truly care about him. I guess I'm having trouble knowing if this one is worth the effort. This guy is pretty self involved, and tends toward negativity - I don't expect him to change. But about 40% of the time he's funny, patient, sensitive and insightful.
If it's time to end this, I am not sure how to do it. My preference is to not allow this to turn into more unnecessary drama. We have a few mutual friends and are likely to run into each other socially. If it's worth sucking it up to stay friends knowing I'll get over my hurt feelings I'm wondering how to do that as quickly and painlessly as I can. We're both in our mid 40's.