Trying to make unrequited love into mutual love
December 2, 2008 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I fell in love with my best friend; love was unrequited; decided to cut contact with her to try and get over her (hasn't worked); now I want to have her back but only if she wants to date; how do I do this without being a jerk? LONG explanation ahead...

Met her in College; we are both in our early-mid 20's; have been her friend since; she moved away for a year; I hinted at having feelings for her while she was gone, but she would ignore those comments... months after, she had a boyfriend (while she was away), I was her 'friend' but my feelings grew stronger, she then moved back into town and we would hang out constantly (her long-distance boyfriend didn't mind) I never made a move but she knew I had feelings for her; we then got into a fight (unrelated to my feelings) I decide that is a perfect time to de attach; so I decide not to "makeup" and stop contacting her... she calls me out of the blue some months thereafter and says we should be friends again; I tell her something like "I wish you never called back" "I have very strong feelings for you and don't think we should be friends while you have a boyfriend" She doesn't say anything and I don't push for a response because she was in a relationship, and I respected that... we become close 'friends' again..hanging out almost daily... etc. (I know I could have stayed strong in my opinion of not being friends but I didn't) months later they break up she's been single for a year now; I have been 'friends' (friends with 'quotes' because I know it's not really being friends when I want more from it) with her most of this year (strictly platonic); have brought up the subject like 3 times, each time she says she is not interested in me... I finally break like 2 months ago and just tell her that we should hang out less; she takes it in a bad way and we don't speak at all; then some weeks ago she texts me with something she needs help with (very trivial) (I think it was just to spark up a friendship again) I answer it and speak to her and tell her that not only do I think we should hang out less but I should completely cut off contact with her because it will make it easier for me to get over her... Well this went like if I didn't say anything at all; she has tried to contact me twice now, again in my opinion to spark a friendship up again... I have ignored the texts (the texts are of trivial questions like "How's X-mas shopping going? etc... ) I haven't been able to get over her; all signs point to me giving up and just making it a point to get over her but it didn't work a year ago and it's not working now; I really love her and don't want to give up... I have to admit, her still wanting my attention gives me false hope. I want to do something like send her flowers and have her call me and ask her on a proper date but don't want to be friends with her. How do I do this without blatantly saying "I only want to see you if you will date me?"
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I think the only way to do this on your end is, "I only want to see you if you will date me?"
posted by boyinmiami at 3:59 PM on December 2, 2008

Don't contact her. She knows how you feel and if she had changed her mind about wanting to date you, she would've contacted you by now.

It seems to me that she likes having you around (at least in part) because she knows that you're pining for her, and that makes her feel like hot stuff. Just keep that in mind.
posted by kitty teeth at 4:05 PM on December 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

There's no reason to let her string you along, whether she means to do that or not. Just tell her bluntly that you don't want to have any contact with her unless you're dating. If she needs a reason tell her that you don't want to be stuck in the friend zone with someone that you really want a romantic relationship with.

Of course, you don't need to go out of your way to tell her this. Save it for the next time she tries to contact you.

And for what it's worth, I think you're handling this is the best possible way considering that she won't respect your feelings.
posted by theichibun at 4:13 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

Errr she said she won't date you.
posted by xmutex at 4:16 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

have brought up the subject like 3 times, each time she says she is not interested in me...

She's not. She's interested in you being interested in her, but that's as far as it goes. I think you were on the right track when you suggested severing the relationship entirely, because there's really nothing more that can be done. I mean, oh sure, there's plenty of crap you could do if you feel like throwing yourself into a pit of existential sturm und drang for the next couple of years.

Some advice, coming from the wrong end of 30 years old: try and enjoy the next few years as much as you possibly can because they don't come back. If someone told me I could have 20% of my 20's spent in an unsatisfying, unrewarding non-relationship that went nowhere and gave me an ulcer, or I could instead be out meeting people that... I dunno... liked me back and weren't emotionally manipulating ass-pimples... well, I think that choice would be pretty simple.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:17 PM on December 2, 2008 [12 favorites]

I think the only way to do this on your end is, "I only want to see you if you will date me?"

When I did this, it ended with me marrying her four years later.

Results indicate past performance and do not predict future returns.
posted by incessant at 4:17 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

Invite her out for a _date_. Say, "Would you be interested in going with me to __________ event, on a romantic date? I will [bring you flowers], [rub your feet], [read you poetry], [stuff _you know_ she'll like because you know her], and _show you_ why I will be the best boyfriend you could ever imagine."

If she says no, you can try once or twice more after some time -- weeks -- has passed.

If she still says no, tell her to call you if she's interested in asking _you_ out.

Be strong and show yourself and herself, through your attitude, that you're worthy.
posted by amtho at 4:35 PM on December 2, 2008

If she says no, you can try once or twice more after some time -- weeks -- has passed.

I like the idea of actually asking her out. Not whingey whiney "let me tell you yet again that I like you." Ask her out, using the word "date," and sufficiently directly that you are asking for a yes/no answer.

But if she says "no," or blows you off ("I dunno, but hey, how's that Christmas shopping going?") then you have your definitive, final answer. Don't drag yourself or her through the embarrassment of asking again, and again. That's crossing the line from "person who is confident enough to ask her out" to "guy who is acting like a stalker.

And given that she's 99% likely to say "no" or ask about your shopping, start thinking about how to move on and find someone who actually, you know, likes you.
posted by Forktine at 4:55 PM on December 2, 2008

Well, I stopped reading halfway through that impossible paragraph, but she said she's not interested in you. That seems pretty definitive. If you want it more definitive, call her up and ask her out on a proper date. However she responds, that should make it pretty clear where you stand.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:39 PM on December 2, 2008

Or, what forktine said.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:39 PM on December 2, 2008

End it. You'll never be happy. You tried, but she said no. She'll continue to string you along, if you let her. Find a new girl. One who says YES YES YES.
posted by whiskeyspider at 5:50 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

love was unrequited
she would ignore those comments
each time she says she is not interested in me

Exactly how many more goddamn clues do you need?
posted by ook at 5:51 PM on December 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

I really love her and don't want to give up...

Actually, you don't love her. What you love is an imaginary version of her that wants to be your lover.

The sooner you can learn to make the clear distinction in your head between the real person that you are attracted to, and the imaginary person who will take your hand and skip joyfully into your shared future that you are in love with, the sooner all this drama will go away.

You're attracted to her. She's not attracted to you. You're in your early twenties. This won't be the first time you find yourself in this situation. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Find one that wants to hook you.
posted by flabdablet at 5:51 PM on December 2, 2008 [12 favorites]

She likes the benefits of someone interested in her mundane existence. If she farts funny, gets fired at work, or shoots a man in Reno just to watch him die...she knows there's no rejection from you.

You're feeding her monster. She's so disrespectful, that she won't respect your feelings. After all, why should she? You're her ego drug.

Stop trying to convert her. The worst thing that could happen is that she starts to sleep with you. Every day you'd be wondering if she was going to leave.
posted by filmgeek at 6:29 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

I went through something similar but not identical. Had feelings for person X, we got very close to dating, things didn't go right, we were friends, he told me he was starting to date someone else. That was when I said "I'm sorry. I can't be friends any more. At all." and I *walked away*.

He got angry and resentful, didn't get it, thought it was unfair, sent the text messages, the passive-aggressive behavior. i was desperate for the contact, thought he'd change his mind, you know the drill. a few months later i got into a new relationship and so it made a lot of things better.

but this was A YEAR AND A HALF OF BULLSH*T. dear lord, I don't know how I had that kind of time. The things I didn't do because I couldn't extricate myself and wasn't strong enough to just tell him to go to hell (and to be fair, it was because he was paying me off for something expensive. again, every payment required playing sides 1, 2 and 3 of "Tommy". nothing was simple)

Don't go through that. She's using your affections. She knows you like her. You don't need to be upfront or strong or show her anything. Trust me that SHE KNOWS. Either she likes you and doesn't have the ovaries to stand up and give it a try, or she really doesn't like you in that way. Even if it's the former (and I hate writing that because I don't want to give you any hope), there is NOTHING you can do to make her see the light, renounce her fears, and leap into your arms. NOTHING. Not asking her out bluntly, not telling her you can't be friends with her because you have feelings for her (she'll find sixteen different excuses why you should, or how you're terrible for depriving her, or how if you'd just give her a chance that you could, etc etc etc)

You deserve to be treated better than this by a friend or a girlfriend. There is probably a woman in your circle right now making eyes at you and you don't even notice because you are tangled up in this web.

Cut the cord. Get some friends to help. Change your phone number. Change your email addresses. If you get a text delete immediately. If you get an email delete it unread, and then empty the trash immediately. Change her number on your phone to read DO NOT ANSWER, EVIL and then when the phone rings, pay attention to the caller ID. Don't go places you know she's going to be. Don't listen to music that reminds you of her. Don't go to her neighborhood for any reason.
posted by micawber at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

Run Awaaaaaaaaay!

Life -- in particular, your 20s -- are way too short for this kind of thing. There are 6 billion people in the world, and you've already met one you think is right for you: odds are distinctly in your favor that there will be another one out there.
posted by tkolar at 6:46 PM on December 2, 2008

Not really sure why everyone assumes she's stringing you along...true, she hasn't been completely respectful of your wishes because she continues to contact you, but you've not been entirely respectful of her either because you keep insisting that you want a romantic relationship when she does not. I think she likes you and desires your friendship, and thinks you'll eventually feel comfortable in that role. It's okay that you DON'T want to be in that role though...tell her once more that you want no contact with her, and then do not reply to her any more.
I think if you push and give her the option of seeing you but only on a date..she might fold and go on the date, but that won't be because she loves you, it'll be a bid to keep your friendship. The song is corny but can't make someone love you.
posted by kattyann at 6:49 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was in this situation a while ago, more or less. My general notion with this is that, if she hasn't been interested before, she's not going to be (truly) in the future. However, that's not always the case. Time away from you may very well make her realize she's lost something dear to her.

In the meantime, though, go out on dates, if you find someone you want to do that with even slightly, hang out with friends, etc. Enjoy your life separate from her. If she calls or texts you, the best thing to do is ignore her right now, I think, as others have stated.

If you absolutely must talk to her, tell her you don't want to do the small talk stuff and say that you're only interested in keeping contact with her if she'll date you. Explain that it's because you feel like you're getting dragged along, otherwise. If she says she's uninterested in that, tell her that's fine, but you want to move on and won't be seeing her. Ask her not to text or call you.
posted by metalheart at 7:01 PM on December 2, 2008

Tell her:
It really hurts when you contact me, because I'm not over you, and everytime you contact me, I fall all over again, and it's just stringing me along...
I know it's my emotions, and my problem, not yours, but it's really hard for me.
I haven't gotten over you in all this time, not when I was hanging out with you, not since then, so, if you are my friend, I really need you to help me by not contacting me.
I can't think of anything else that will work.

Alternatively - take her flowers, and ask her out on a date somewhere she likes.
Not entirely romantic flowers either, unless she really, really likes roses.
If she looks uncomfortable, or says no - then pull out a card with something like the above written on it, with a note at the bottom saying
"The flowers are to thank you for the being the wonderful friend you have been.
My sincerest and best wishes,


But, if she's not into you, then if she tries to 'make it work' anyway, which she may be tempted too, you're just looking at a half-hearted relationship and a drawn out breakup. :/
posted by Elysum at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

Have you considered just keeping her as a friend, and moving on? Maybe she is not just stringing you along.

I had something similar in my life, almost 18 years ago. It ended because I wanted something she did not. Then we got back in touch, and again it ended because I wanted something she did not. We got back in touch again.

Now I just have a very good, very close friend. It did take a long time to reach the point where I was okay with that, but I was not happy with the alternative.

The hardest part is understanding that no matter how much you might want someone, they might not want you. You cannot make somebody love you. If you are okay with her leaving your life if she won't date you, then do that. But if she is truly important to you, just live your life and see what happens. Maybe she will suddenly want you, maybe she won't. If I were you, I would be more concerned if she suddenly became attracted to you if you were dating someone else.

If you become unavailable and she makes a move, then maybe the entire thing has been a game. If you become unavailable and she is fine with it, maybe she was just your friend all along. Either way, you are not going to change her mind. She has already made up her mind, you just do not know what she is thinking.

You could always try asking her exactly what you asked us.

I used to be in love with my best friend. Now I just love her. It is much healthier, and I regret the many lost years.
posted by bh at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2008

The Ladder Theory.
posted by Restless Day at 7:41 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

I know a girl in her mid-twenties, right now, who is going through this--maybe even your girl--and I've heard her side.

When she says she just wants to be friends, she really means it. She does not want to date you. She can't handle all the relationship stuff with you, the neediness and the clinging and the drama.

But she misses the friendship, so she keeps trying for that, keeping it light with the, "So, how's the Christmas shopping?" stuff.

We all told her it can't happen, she can't keep trying for the friendship because you need more.

Maybe, maybe, a long time from now, you guys will move on, each find something else with someone else and then the two of you can be friends, but not now, no way.

You have to cut this off. Don't call her, don't text her, and don't take her calls, either.

It's hard, but it's just the way it has to be.
posted by misha at 8:10 PM on December 2, 2008

In a similar situation I once wrote "I'm in love with you, still. Maybe that's not realistic, but neither is your hope that we can be friends. If you don't want to talk about that, then let's just not talk." Never heard from her again.
posted by Now I'm Prune Tracy! at 8:19 PM on December 2, 2008

I see bh's POV too.

The girl's perspective. I have had (probably like every girl on earth) really dear friends start to feel strongly for me in a way that I didn't feel for them. It sucks to be in this position too, because you often lose a friend you badly wanted to keep through no fault of your own. Too many times have I tried to keep things platonic with a guy I cared about deeply as a friend, only for them to say "It hurts too much that you don't want me the same way I want you" then to reject my friendship when I have given them no false hope along the way. It's really painful, and can sometimes feel like extortion. It's not a given that she's stringing you along, or needs the adoration for her self esteem - maybe she just likes you and isn't attracted to you or want to date you. She's probably texting you because she misses you, her friend. It happens.

I think you said it eloquently enough the few times that you declared your love/pain/discomfort already, and she didn't take you up on it. The best thing to do now is to be a good friend to this girl by dropping it, and for your own sake finding someone else. I'm not sure that this should be set up as the false dichotomy that you have in your mind. If you do move away from her altogether, will you regret not at least being having a friend in her? I promise with the perspective of a new girlfriend, you will feel badly if you just ditch her if she doesn't see things the way you do.

Sure, this hurts you, so if it were me, I would try these steps:

Step one: Try to get a little bit of space from the girl, while not cutting her off completely (as a friend, has she deserved to lose you?), explaining why in a well-considered letter perhaps detailing that you need a little distance, but she can still count on your friendship. Ask her to respect this so that she can have the friendship from you that she clearly wants. A platonic one. Tell her you'll be back after you've got these feelings under control.

Step two:
Make a super huge effort to find someone new to adore. You need to make a big mental shift which won't be easy, because you've already got the girl in your blood somehow, but trust me, there is more than one girl for you and one whois into you is preferable by a long shot. Once that's accomplished, you can be friends and get on with life without tossing people you have grown to love to the side. Win-Win?
posted by lottie at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't call her, don't text her, and don't take her calls

until you have come to terms with the facts that (a) she's not that into you and (b) this is acceptable.

It may help you write this out a hundred times:

Courtesy is expected. Respect is earned. Friendship is shared. Love is given.
posted by flabdablet at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

Cut contact, get over it.

She's only special because you know her. Get out more, meet some more girls. Most of them are nice. Some of them will call you back.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:13 PM on December 2, 2008

I was in a similar situation to you, both before and after. My relentless pursuit of things not only did away with our love, but then proceeded to do away with our friendship and then with our respect for each other. I recommend just staying away, as hard as that sounds. Nice, easy ways to let her down include short, monosyllabic words in your sentences, being slow to return messages, etc. She'll get the hint shortly once you start this.
posted by squorch at 9:14 PM on December 2, 2008

Cut contact, get over it. [continue repeating Afroblanco]
posted by jeffburdges at 9:36 PM on December 2, 2008

by the way - I gave the above advice, but you're still being a bit of a dick, regardless of whether you meant to or not.
I started getting a little bigoted against just making friends with unattached straight boys.

Because, after building a really good friendship, they kept announcing they had 'feelings for me' then trying to manipulate me into going out with them - do you know how desperate you can get, and how ridiculously self-deceiving you can get that you might be able to 'make it work' with someone for whom you have absolutely no chemistry with, when they're you're only friend/social contact in a town?

And to have this happen MULTIPLE TIMES?
Dropping friends like that is pretty shitty.

I'm all in favour of people with unrequited crushes trying to front up sooner, rather than later, especially because they usually have a better chance of nipping it in the bud, rather than building up a little one sided unsupported edifice of attraction (and such an unbalanced scale of attraction nearly always makes it much harder to conduct a relationship).

Still, I tried to give you the advice to handle this in the most stylish manner I could think of, most conducive to attaining your goals.

Except for maybe - getting over it. It's a lie, time does not get you over things, it's the things you do during that time that get you over things. Even just the 'not thinking constantly about this thing'. You have to nurse a grudge, and an attraction.
Taking time out and still doing all the same crazy things in your head - telling yourself it could work etc... won't work.
Are you willing to be just friends with her? Being just friends with her if you were able to drop the idea that she could be your girlfriend? Or if you actually *had* THE perfect girl, as a girlfriend, would you bother with this 'friendship'?
If not... well, lucky you're anonymous. It'd be pointless to call names.

If she's really not into you... you're not going to have much better luck than trying to get your sister to fall for you. There's no attraction.
posted by Elysum at 9:53 PM on December 2, 2008

Every day that you spend trying to figure this out is a day that you could have been learning something new or meeting someone new. Move on, life's too short.
posted by davejay at 11:29 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're on the friends ladder, but you want to make the leap to the "guys she would date" ladder.

How good are you at jumping?
posted by jhighmore at 5:46 AM on December 3, 2008

love was unrequited
she would ignore those comments
each time she says she is not interested in me

Exactly how many more goddamn clues do you need?

I think the OP fully understands this. I think he's looking to communicate something he wants without causing too much of a ruckus.

I'd not spare her feelings. When she contacts you, please tell her to stop, because you need to move on with your life and if she respected you, she would stop. She may try to minimize your feelings. If she does that, tactfully say that you wish she would not minimize your feelings and that you are certain that if she thinks about it, she'd agree that you know what is best for yourself and that your decision should be respected.

If she says no, the next move is a restraining order.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:29 AM on December 3, 2008

she's not into you.

I was in a very similar situation in my younger years, the only thing that cleared my mind was taking her out of my life and building a new chapter for myself.

In many ways its the same as a breakup [well, getting dumped to be more specific] and should be approached in the same manor.

I'm all about being friends with people of the opposite sex, but these things happen, men and women were meant to be attracted to each other. Sometimes it just doesn't work out in your favor.

And something to remember, grasping and pining away for someone isn't healthy and it isn't being in love.
posted by mattsweaters at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2008

Actually, you don't love her. What you love is an imaginary version of her that wants to be your lover.

The sooner you can learn to make the clear distinction in your head between the real person that you are attracted to, and the imaginary person who will take your hand and skip joyfully into your shared future that you are in love with, the sooner all this drama will go away.

Holy jeebus, if only I could favorite this a thousand times. Having recently come out of a very similar situation, the only thing you can do is step back and realize you're dealing with two different women - the one you love with all your heart, and the one that's actually there that happens to share some of the same characteristics (name, appearance, some personality traits).
posted by FatherDagon at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

You might be her backup ( the guy who makes her feel wanted when her boyfriend might be busy or pre-occupied). You'll never be her number one though. Don't let her do this to you.
posted by anniecat at 7:06 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay, dude, sorry to tell you but she doesn't want a relationship with you and made that very clear. You told her you don't want to just be friends and you don't want to hang out with her because it makes things easier on you.

That's where you should leave it. She's not going to change her mind.
posted by Nattie at 11:25 PM on December 3, 2008

Been there; done that. Your fellow MeFites are correct. She's made it clear that she's not interested in you romantically. Any evidence you see to the contrary is either (a) your mind interpreting things to mean what you want them to mean (an infatuated mind is amazingly good at this), or (b) her stringing you along, consciously or unconsciously, for whatever reason.

If you were truly willing, and able, to remain "just friends", then that would be an option. However, you've indicated that you aren't. There's nothing wrong with that; that's just how it is. So the best thing to do, for your sake and for hers, is to let the relationship go.

And whoever said that you don't really love her is correct, as bizarre as that may sound. You are infatuated. She's stated repeatedly that she does not want to be your girlfriend—if you really love her, then respect that.
posted by greenie2600 at 7:44 PM on December 8, 2008

« Older Unhappy at college - Help me figure out what my...   |   Gadzooks! My non-retracting foreskin! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.