She keeps tugging at le heart, what should I do?
June 24, 2009 8:30 PM   Subscribe

She just keeps tugging at my heart. What should I do?

She's a friend of mine (I know, I know) and I started having feelings for her, so I told her...last year. Her reaction was positive, said she had feelings for me too, and we started 'going'. Well that was short-lived, after a few weeks she essentially told me that 'we should just be friends'. I was pretty devastated but kept things friendly and we started hanging out friends.

Months went by and an acquaintance of mine started hanging around her more and more often- one night we all ended up hanging out together, and I wasn't as friendly as I could have been to said acquaintance. I wasn't mean or cruel, just not myself. She picked up on this and called me later that night and we had a long talk and I told her how I still had feelings for her (stupid, I know). She didn't reciprocate. Well actually she said she was 'confused'.

At that point, I felt I needed to distance myself from her, so I suggested that we shouldn't hang out one-on-one anymore. She agreed, hesitantly, and we didn't really see each other for like a month.

Things smoothed themselves out and we went back to being really good friends. But just friends.

So it has been months and I feel like an idiot for saying this but I'm developing feelings for her again and I feel that she is too. We are hanging out one-on-one, do date like things, make extended eye-contact, hug each other tightly, and otherwise seem really close. We don't contact each other everyday, maybe a couple times a week.

But I need to know, through everyone's experience, is it worth pursuing this again? I really really like her but don't want to progress backwards. What should I do? What's the best way to go about this? An awkward talk? Should I make a move? Or should I just move on?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For your own sanity, lay it out for her once and for all and tell her to make a decision. Whichever way it goes, abide by it. You're living in limbo right now, and it sounds pretty hellish to me. If she refuses you again, give it up.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:41 PM on June 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

Uh, seems like OP already layed it out once, and it didn't work out so hot (for him).
posted by shownomercy at 8:44 PM on June 24, 2009

Keep her as an arms-length friend, pursue other women. Best case, she's prompted to tell you she has feelings for you and you two go from there. Other best case, you meet another really cool girl and that goes well. There is no worst case.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:46 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've been friends with huggy people who I had feelings for before and it sucks. I've also been the "I'll be there no matter what even if you pick this other guy over me" person and that's not much better. Right now you're one of those guys.

Find out how she feels. If she wants to date then you date. Otherwise get her out of your life. But do let her know what's going on, because just disappearing isn't a good move at all.

You might not like it, but you need to stick with it.
posted by theichibun at 8:47 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

dude, just stop hanging out with her. You're just going to resent her b/c she's not going to reciprocate feelings for you.

If a girl likes you, she'll make it happen. You're the token "nice guy friend" here.

Stop hanging out with her. She'll protest, ask what's wrong, and then that's when you tell her, "look, I really like you, but I realize that you don't like me. I need to protect myself, so we're just going to stop hanging out."

Then, go find new friends. She'll complain, but ultimately acquiesce. Why? Because she doesn't really like you.
posted by unexpected at 8:48 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Remain friends, date someone else. That should help her clear up any confusion she's experiencing.
posted by torquemaniac at 8:50 PM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

For me, you're in or you're out. Any decision must involve an all or nothing point. Either you say no relationship, friends only with no date-y stuff, or you go for the relationship knowing that if it doesn't work out you can't be friends.
Plus, why did she say "just friends?" If you don't know, then you should find out.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:53 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with unexpected. It's not what you want to hear, but it does a good job of summing up the situation.

She probably likes having someone (you) fill the boyfriend role while she's single, but that shouldn't be confused with her wanting you to be her boyfriend. She's not making this any easier by holding back or telling you clearly that her feelings are only platonic because she doesn't want to give up her single girl's security blanket, the adoring male friend.

She might like you, she might like the "idea" of dating you, but she doesn't seem like she likes you enough to date you. You tried it once, she said wanted to be just friends. I have a hard time believing that if you tried it again she wouldn't end it again in a few weeks, stating that she just wanted to be friends.

Like others said, remain friends and date someone else. If you can't develop feelings for someone else because you're still hung up on her, you've got some decisions to make about the friendship.
posted by necessitas at 8:58 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're kidding yourself. Contacting each other "maybe a couple times a week" doesn't indicate that she's catching feelings for you; it sounds like a normal friendship. Don't force her to deal with your feelings all over again. Not only will it not make her fall in dewy-eyed love with you, you'll potentially lose a friend. It sounds like you have a decent friendship going - keep it.
posted by logicpunk at 8:59 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

She cares about you and she doesn't want to hurt your feelings, so instead of saying "I am not romantically interested" she says vague things like "confused". Hopefully this is something she'll learn not to do to people. She also probably likes flirting with you and hugging, and would be happy to stay in limbo as long as possible. She likes limbo with you. She's having the relationship she wants to have with you. But you're not having the relationship you want with her.

Do yourself a favor, put some space between you, and give yourself time to get over her. For some people, nothing speeds up this process like dating other people.
posted by juliplease at 9:01 PM on June 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

We are hanging out one-on-one, do date like things, make extended eye-contact, hug each other tightly, and otherwise seem really close. We don't contact each other everyday, maybe a couple times a week.

See, to me that sounds like dating. Maybe the physical intimacy you are searching for isn't there right now, and I think that is probably a good thing. Because it would probably confuse her again if it were there. And it sounds like you might let the jealously monster out of the cage were it to happen again.

Enjoy your platonic dating buddy, and most certainly ask out the very next woman you meet that you want to ask out. Ask out a bunch of women. Date, then date, then date some more. Enjoy many relationships like the one you are having with this woman with many women. You will be more likely to find someone who isn't confused with sharing the physicality for which you are hunting.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:04 PM on June 24, 2009

Here's something that's not cool:
A: Are you in love with me?
B: I'm sorry, but I'm not.
A: That's ok.... can we be friends?
B: Yes! (acts friendly....)
A: OMG - you ARE in love with me!

If you want to declare yourself again, go for it, but there's absolutely no way on earth that she doesn't know how you feel because you've told her a bunch of times.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:04 PM on June 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

Geez. Metafilter relationship advice cynicism has finally gotten to me. Why would you sacrifice a good if awkward friendship by ceasing contact with her or keeping her "at arm's length"?

You like a girl and she doesn't like you back (or maybe she does? who can tell. maybe not even her). You have liked her and been her friend for a long time. It sounds to me like maybe it will turn into romance.


There is nothing you can do to make it happen. Telling her again (and trust me, she already knows) isn't going to help.


Cutting off a deep lasting friendship, as others have advocated, isn't the way to go either. It will not make you feel better, it will just make you feel less. There are times when a person makes you crazy to the point where that makes sense, but I don't think this is one of those times.

Finding friends who you really connect with is special. Don't ditch that just so your life can be a little easier. Keep being friends, keep feeling how you feel and don't try to feel any different because it's not going to help anyway. One of two things will inevitably happen:
a) she will develop reciprocating feelings
b) you will get over your feelings for her

or, more likely, first b will happen, and then a, because that's how the world works sometimes. Go with it.
posted by mai at 9:08 PM on June 24, 2009 [9 favorites]

Oh, and please try not to:
1. Be a jerk to other friends who like her
2. Focus solely on her to the detriment of finding someone else
posted by mai at 9:09 PM on June 24, 2009

I was in this situation. I thought I was going to lose my goddamn mind. It's best to leave for awhile until you get a grip on yourself. There's nothing like the hell of wondering "Why?!" and the ONLY reason you're still friends with this girl is because she's not dating anyone else. It's not cynical to say that everyone enjoys attention, especially when there's nothing at risk.

You have to decide some things for yourself. I broke with my friend...a year and a half went by and we were able to resume a friendship. But even now, ten years after the break, I orbit at a polite and friendly distance.

Sometimes you don't get what you want. Move on...
posted by black8 at 9:22 PM on June 24, 2009

This does not sound like a good situation. It does not sound like it will end well for you. It is a waste of your valuable time. I would recommend ceasing contact with this person as soon as possible and trying to meet someone else.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:53 PM on June 24, 2009

Then, go find new friends. She'll complain, but ultimately acquiesce. Why? Because she doesn't really like you.

I don't think the advice about putting more distance between you two is bad, but this part jumped out at me as unnecessarily cynical. She might also acquiesce because she does care about you (though not romantically) and is ultimately willing to let you do what you need to do.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 9:56 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the bit about her using you as a "nice guy" backup is pretty cynical as well. I've been this girl, and it was because I cared about the guy and was idiotically trying to be nice. I felt I was just living up to my part of the "let's be friends" bargain and I treated him the way I would have wanted to be treated in that situation. Unfortunately, I had no idea at the time that this tends to not be a good approach.

So do what you need to do, take care of yourself, but no need to get all cynical about her.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 10:10 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

but I'm developing feelings for her again...


...and I feel that she is too.

Probably not. Remember, you've told her TWICE that you have feelings for her. The first time, she said she reciprocated, and you tried it out, and it didn't work. The second time, she did not say she reciprocated, and you didn't try it out. You're now headed for a third time -- and she probably knows it, and likes the ego boost. If it were more than that, she'd know (from your track record) that she could simply tell you and you'd both be full-speed-ahead.

So stop hanging out with her. Honestly, if you're having this much trouble with these feelings, you probably need to get more friends, specifically more girls, to hang out with/date. Obsessions shouldn't last this long.
posted by davejay at 10:19 PM on June 24, 2009

Jesus...this is the reason so many women have problems have dudes as friends. Its not them, ITS FREAKING YOU!

She has made it abundantly clear she is NOT interested in you (even if she USED TO BE).

If you're the type of dude that will always have your heart "tugged" by can't be friends with her. YOU can't.

Meet some women, and get over yourself.

Good luck and sorry for the harsh (but helpful) advice.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:41 PM on June 24, 2009

Why would you sacrifice a good if awkward friendship by ceasing contact with her or keeping her "at arm's length"?

Because sometimes you need some distance from a dead-end relationship so you can find and pursue a viable relationship.

As long as this friend is lingering in your mind as a possible romance, you aren't really looking for someone new to date. Put your friend on the back burner for awhile, not forever but a few weeks. When she's not there to do dating, hugging stuff, you'll find someone else. As long as you friend is in the way, you're taken (whether you like it or not).
posted by 26.2 at 11:43 PM on June 24, 2009

Present it once, get it over with. Then stop being her friend because you can't handle it.
posted by beingresourceful at 11:50 PM on June 24, 2009

life's tough man.
if you get a chance with someone nice, make the most of it.
posted by edtut at 12:21 AM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Stay friends, stop hitting on her, and date other people. Complain to her about how they are inadequate if they don't measure up. That game that men are often on the losing side of goes both ways.

I find the whole "nice guy" syndrome hilariously tragic, because women will act the same way if you're dating other people and disappointed with the results. From what I can tell, women just don't dig guys that get obsessed with them and refuse to move on. So, don't do that.

Judging from the wording of your post, you aren't totally in unrequited love territory yet or entirely in the friend zone. I know I'll get smacked for saying this, but your best bet if you're interested in her attention is to make her feel jealous. And maybe you'll meet someone more interesting in the process. What I do know for a 100% fact is that if you laid your feelings bare and she rejected that, you can't convince her otherwise.
posted by cj_ at 12:23 AM on June 25, 2009

Confused really means "not interested", just a nice, more um, confusing way of saying it. Lay it on the table (again), of she remains confused, seek fresher pastures.
posted by mattoxic at 12:46 AM on June 25, 2009

I know someone who has a bunch of male platonic friends she refers to as her "brothers" even though they are not biologically related at all. I once asked her why she had so many of them, and what the difference was between a "brother" and a regular male platonic friend.

Her response: when I find out one of my male acquaintences/friends is romantically interested in me, and if I do not reciprocate those feelings, I tell them "hey you should be my 'brother'!" This is some half-baked status that allows for some kind of closeness and intimacy, but that clearly rules out any romantic relationshippy stuff or sexual stuff; because hey, otherwise it would be "incest."

It sounds like you have become her "brother."

p.s. this whole 'brother' terminology might sound a little strange in English but it makes more sense in Chinese/Asian culture.
posted by nihraguk at 1:44 AM on June 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

She's not interested. Don't push it again. Do you really need to fail the third time to have it drilled into your mind that this train isn't leaving the station? What happens after you fail again and this cycle continues as it has been already? I think you really need to find another woman to be the object of your affection and leave this girl as your friend and nothing more.
posted by Meagan at 4:33 AM on June 25, 2009

I've been in your exact situation, just switch the genders. After months of being "just friends" and hoping for more, and being led on a bit by the dude, things kind of deteriorated: I got terribly drunk in front of him and declared my feelings (yet again), then the dude started dating not one but two other girls and felt the need to hide it from me (because, y'know, I'd take it badly). Eventually it got to the point where I started crying in front of him and being unnecessarily mean to him, and he decided that it really wasn't a good idea for us to even be friends anymore. I was crushed, and he probably thinks I'm totally unstable.

Bad times all around. I really wish I had handled things differently.

If you hang out with her regularly and still harbor romantic feelings for her, those feelings are going to stay there and simmer, and you can easily end up agonizing over every single gesture of hers ("we went shopping at Crate and Barrel! Couples do that! Does that mean she secretly wants to pick out linens with me?"), and those feelings will boil over from time to time. If you two have another talk and the nature of your friendship doesn't change, a few months down the road you will feel the urge to have that talk again.

Your question doesn't mention how many close friends you have besides her. I'd suggest not only looking for other women to date, but looking for other friends to hang out with. Spend your time in social situations that aren't weirdly romantically charged, and you'll find yourself craving her company a lot less.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:47 AM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Believe what people tell you about themselves.

She's told you that she's not interested in anything more than friends. You need to take that to heart and act accordingly.

This means dialing back the hugging and not seeing her quite as often until you can shake out of this infatuation. Maybe it means not seeing her at all for a while - several months, not just one.

You don't need to sacrifice the friendship, but you do need to accept that you need space and time (and social interaction with other women) to be a good friend to her.

That obnoxious behavior towards the acquaintance? That's called being the dog in the manger.

Don't be that dog.
posted by canine epigram at 5:56 AM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

But I need to know, through everyone's experience, is it worth pursuing this again?


I really really like her but don't want to progress backwards.

I really really want to fly in real life just like my dreams but I have been told that is impossible.

What should I do?

Realize that unlike most dudes who pull the "oh I fixed her printer and we went to the movies and we're BFF but we're not having sex" thing, you had a shot. And it turns out she didn't like being romantically involved with you.

What's the best way to go about this?

Accept that this will never happen; date other women.

An awkward talk?


Should I make a move?

Hell no!

Or should I just move on?

posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

I totally sympathize with you as I am in the exact same situation with a VERY old friend. We hooked up a few times in college (10 years ago) and travelled together. I got married and divorced so I didn't see her for years. Now lately we've been hanging out a lot, and as much as I want the relationship to progress, I play out the conversation (where I make a move) in my head, expect rejection, and decide it's better to be friends. At times it's been tortuous. Yes, I'd love to hop in the sack with her, and maybe that will happen someday--but I'm pretty sure forcing the issue and having the "conversation" about our relationship is the best way to ensure that DOESN'T happen. The endgame is the status quo--we hang out and have a lot of fun together. If romance doesn't materialize I still have a great old friendship to be thankful for . . . plus it's always nice to have a hottie on your arm which tends to make the other ladies jealous and interested in YOU because SHE'S hot.
posted by eggman at 6:53 AM on June 25, 2009

If she wanted to be with you, she already would be. This one isn't meant to be.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:12 AM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have to chime in to offer a counterpoint. (I would simply link to my previous post if I knew how others did this, but since I am technologically challenged, I'll copy and paste it below.)

Before I do, I'll admit that my situation is extremely rare...but I wanted to offer it in contrast to those who say this relationship is not meant to be. And to also add the the moral of my story is that you need to find a way to be this woman's friend--truly a friend without expectation of more:

Here's my previous answer on this subject (and if anyone can explain the link process, that would be great):

I agree with mostly everything everyone says...but you never know what can happen. I met a wonderful man 8 years ago and he developed a crush on me. I really enjoyed and liked him (and found him attractive), but I was getting over a recent break up and had other things going on that did not allow me to reciprocate. We did have a few romantic interludes in the beginning, but I just wasn't there emotionally.

Fortunately for me, he stayed my friend and we became very close friends--only friends...for another 7 years. He has told me that those early days were tough on him though. We both dated other people during this time and our friendship grew even stronger. About a year ago, we shifted from friends and started dating. We just got married on Sunday and have a (planned) baby on the way. And we couldn't be happier.

I do not tell you this to get your hopes up took 7 years for us to get to the point of dating--and this time I initiated (and did so enthusiastically). It took him a little while before he came around (understandably), but when we decided to do so, it was without reservation. But know that I had a lot of learning to do before I could really "see" him and that I wanted him in my life as my boyfriend and, now, husband. It was a long journey for us and we both recognize that it is best that we did not get together in those early days.

Take care of yourself and if you need to be away from her to heal, then stay away. You deserve that. Perhaps you will find a way to truly love her a just-a-friend (as my husband did), and you will have an amazing friendship (as we did). And perhaps one day that friendship might grow into more (as ours did).

But there are no guarantees. There are so many variables... just living your life as fully and honestly as you can will be the most likely route to finding the love of your life. Good luck
posted by murrey at 2:05 PM on April 7 [1 favorite +] [!]

posted by murrey at 7:36 AM on June 25, 2009

Even if this girl were interested in you, and as others have mentioned that doesn't seem likely, and you were to date or whatever, I think you might find that all of the drama that's gone on before (which seems like a lot) is going to make both of you really paranoid about your relationship.

You're going to be constantly worried that she's losing interest, and she's going to be worried that anything she does will make you think she doesn't like you.

Having been in a similar situation, I can tell you the best thing to do is move on. A respectful, mutual friendship is much better than a weird period of dating followed by no contact at all.
posted by elder18 at 8:09 AM on June 25, 2009

I've been this girl before. In my case we were both single and he started dating before I did. I was a bit jealous and mourned the loss of my self-esteem bolstering snuggle buddy with no attachment and thus no emotional responsibility. Long story short, I reacted badly and it caused some trouble for him. I did get over it and eventually realized that our friendship actually was dysfunctional and selfish on my part. We went our separate ways and are both happier in our independent, relatively drama-free lives.

My advice is to stop with the hugging, date like things, and extended eye-contact. If it takes another month off from hanging out with her, then so be it. If you two have a healthy, workable friendship, it will survive.
posted by Eumachia L F at 8:21 AM on June 25, 2009

As Eumachia L F above me, I have also been this girl before. But I was more physically distant (i.e. no hugs, no extended eye contact), but definetly with the hanging out one-on-one, and doing date-like things. It was a difficult situation because even when I'd said I wasn't interested in any romance, and he was, the closeness of the friendship made it difficult for him to accept that it was a lost case.

I think that getting out of each other's lives would have left both of us feeling worse than how we felt just dealing with the difficulty of the situation. Good friends are hard to come by sometimes.

Eventually, what kind of "solved" the situation was me getting a boyfriend (now husband) and him taking some time to get over the whole thing. We remain friends but not nearly as close now, which I think it's best.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:57 AM on June 25, 2009

Keep her as a true friend and move on - date someone else. Life is too short to keep yourself in a crappy loop. There are so many good people out there.
posted by I love You at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2009

I did get over it and eventually realized that our friendship actually was dysfunctional and selfish on my part. We went our separate ways and are both happier in our independent, relatively drama-free lives.

Eumachia, good for you!

Listen to this person OP. Your relationship with this person isn't healthy. Snap it off. Be friends with women who respect boundaries and don't try to manipulate you and date women who like you. Not that it's her keep falling for it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:28 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

My advice is to go back and read mai's advice.
posted by jimfl at 7:35 PM on June 25, 2009

whatever you do or say to her, just make sure don't act all crazy or loose me, no one will like a person after he or she sees the crazy side of yours...^^"...keep your cool, and just like others suggested here, "she knows how you feel about her, cause you mention many times already". Lay it out and if she said no or maybe or not sure, it's time for you to move on, PLUS, you don't want to be devastate at all time over a relationship, dating suppose to be fun and relax, something makes you happy...
posted by sugerrabbit at 1:52 AM on June 26, 2009

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