FWB didn't work out, how do I deal?
February 27, 2010 2:13 AM   Subscribe

I recently started hooking up with a good friend I'd known for years, and it didn't work out. After a fight, we haven't been on speaking terms for about two months now. I've tried to contact her, but got no response so I stopped. How do I make this suck less?


The fight itself was over something I hoped wouldn't happen - I got in over my head and started having really strong feelings for the girl. She didn't like the way things were going, I got butthurt and did progressively more outlandish things. The final straw was when I started asking her friends about it. Let's just say she didn't like that. To this day I'm not sure why I thought it would help, but the brain is not logical sometimes...

One complication - she's abroad now. I've received much advice from friends to the effect of "just let her go", at least until we're in the same country. This makes perfect sense to me, especially given why we fought in the first place. But it's pretty damn hard to accept. I guess my greatest fear is not so much never hearing from her again, but actually reconciling and finding out that things are now too distant, awkward and baggage-laden to ever return to our former closeness. I realize this isn't very reasonable. How do you get out of this sort of negative thinking?

Secondly, I've quit bothering her with emails after two of them went unanswered. I'm pretty ok with the fact that I need to just let this sit on the back burner for a while. Still, I feel like I want to reach out to her again *eventually*, say if she returns from abroad. Is this just holding me back from getting over it?

Lastly, most of our mutual friends have no idea all this is going on. I'm inclined to just limit the drama and keep it to myself, but it's somewhat awkward to deal with when we start talking about her. What to do?

Thanks, anonymous internet strangers. It's nice to get guaranteed objectivity here :)
posted by wonnage to Human Relations (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: you get out of the negative thinking by not dwelling and finding someone new to cuddle with. this is one of those things that time will help - but it'll only help if you don't sit and stew.

if you want to try to get back to hook up stage again, you're probably out of luck. if you want to get back to being friends - we really need more details of what "I got butthurt and did progressively more outlandish things" means before we can even hazard a guess.

and the last part? part of fooling around with friends on the down low is keeping all that shit to yourself. if you go blabbing now i can pretty much promise you won't find yourself on the good side of this woman ever again. don't make up stories, don't overly participate in conversations about her, don't say mean things about her, just let the conversations happen naturally and try to steer them towards something else.

and finally - some people can handle friends with benefits, some can't. some think they can but they're only lying to themselves to find the closeness and relationship they crave. there is nothing wrong with you if FWB isn't something you're equipped for, but use this lesson.

i said it somewhere else recently for someone going through a divorce, but it means just as much here as it did there: relationships aren't graded by how long they last but by how you deal with yourself in and out of them. learn this lesson now and try not to repeat it in the future. that's the best you can hope for from any interpersonal situation gone bad.
posted by nadawi at 2:33 AM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Do not hound a girl who has made it clear she doesn't wish to talk to you, in real life, or over the internet.

If she returns, you probably see each other at mutual friends' gatherings, by which time hopefully either one or both of you will have moved on, or at very least gained the distance to speak politely. I wouldn't reach out if I were you; you have already made your feelings and wishes clear in two emails.

Don't mention it to your friends; Talk about her like you are still her friend, which is after all what you say you want vis a vis the former closeness (though I don't believe you, I think you want to get back together).

If it's weird, it's weird. You cannot be responsible for someone else's emotions, only your own. Don't make it weird by hassling her, or acting weird. Be cool.
posted by smoke at 2:39 AM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Still, I feel like I want to reach out to her again *eventually*, say if she returns from abroad. Is this just holding me back from getting over it?

Seriously, there is a level on which this is reading "Still, I feel like I'd like to start stalking her again when she gets back..."

She has made herself very clear. She does not wish to communicate with you. Assume that will not change, do not attempt to communicate with her, do not add fuel to the fire by discussing what is private business between the two of you with other people, and let it go.

You guys moved from friends to friends with benefits to unrequited love. The chances of you returning to friends, especially with the interim pushiness on your part, is very limited. Assume it will not happen, and begin coming to terms with that - probably by fishing in other seas.

Should she ever choose to speak to you again, make no assumptions, hold no aspirations, and let her lead.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 AM on February 27, 2010 [8 favorites]

Sorry, but good thing this girl is overseas or you'd probably have a restraining order against you: (did progressively more outlandish things.)

Not sure what progressively outlandish means, but here's what you have to do:

#1 LEAVE HER ALONE. No more contact. Yes, it sucks. When she returns, do NOT go out socially with any group where you have an inkling that she will attend. Seriously, leave her alone.

#2 Move on. Most of us have had not only the ex-who-didn't-get-it-was-over but to some extent we've been the-ex-who-wants-to-hold-on-a-little-too-long.

It's okay; I'm not being blase, but time helps. You need to find friends who have nothing to do with her, you need to maybe take a break from dating, just get out there and have fun.

But it's over with her and you need to leave her alone.
posted by dzaz at 4:47 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hey man, sorry about this. Basically, yeah, I think you're holding yourself back by hoping that someday she'll change her mind. I do understand why you want to hang on; we've all been there, and it blows. It's brutal to face losing an important friendship, let alone the embarrassment of all those "progressively more outlandish things" you did.

But there's nothing you can do about it now. It's all over now; she's gone for good. She doesn't want to hear from you, so don't write her or call her, and try not to think about her too much. It hurts now, and it will keep hurting for a while, but one day you'll wake up and it won't hurt at all.

Meanwhile, you would do well to absorb the spirit of this wonderful answer by jellicle, from another awful breakup question years ago:
Like it or not, life is kicking you out of your rut, you're heading off the beaten path, your compass is broken and your map has been eaten by a tiger. Take a good look around, pick somewhere to go, and go.
Learn from this, and do better next time. I know it's hard, but you'll make it. Good luck.
posted by cirripede at 4:55 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

He sent two e-mails, it's a little early to call him a stalker. We don't know what the "outlandish" things were, and my reading of the question lead me to believe that it was when they were still in a relationship, not following her around town after.

OP: Yeah, just leave her alone. You are likely never going to be friends with her ever again. In the unlikely event that you do become friends again, it will not be because of an e-mail or phone call while she is in another country. It will because enough time as passed that she doesn't really care anymore.
posted by spaltavian at 6:33 AM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Friendships lose their closeness for many reasons. Moving abroad is one of them. If she comes up in conversation, all you need to say is "I haven't heard from her." No one is going to think that's weird.

Will you ever be close again? Probably not. You had disagreement that was followed by geographic distance. If you were in close proximity, then you might have more of an opportunity to quickly resolve this. It's harder to heal a riff long distance - particularly if your friendship and communications patterns developed with live interaction.

There's really nothing for you to do here. She's gone. You'd need to find a new friend anyway. Get moving on doing that. If the stars align and you get to be close again it's a bonus.
posted by 26.2 at 7:26 AM on February 27, 2010

Best answer: First, disregard all this reactionary stalker talk here--there's a really BIG distinction between missing/pining for someone and harassing.stalking them. I dunno, maybe you are over the line, but I'm going to assume that you are like most of us here who have been in this situation, and are just heartbroken and probably a little bit desperate.

So the short answer is that now, if you really are in love w/ her, then there's no going back. Never. You're never going to be "friends" again and it'll probably be a while before you can even act civilly toward here. Right now, you've just got to focus on getting over her (note that I said "just" and not "simply"...it ain't gonna be simple).

It's now your job to make yourself as comfortable with all this crap as you can be. If that means that you need to stop associating with people who will randomly talk about this girl, then that's what you have to do. And you definitely should not try to contact her any more--all it does is reopen the wound.

Remember, you are now doing all this for your OWN good, not to pretend that everything's fine or that everything WILL be fine. Forget Hollywood and novels. There's nothing healthy about holding out for someone who very well may never come around.

The other really important (maybe, NOT-obvious) thing you have to do is give up all feelings you may have about her mistreating you. You didn't say this but if you're like me you're feeling them, especially since you started as friends and now she wont even talk to you--what I mean is that it's very easy to keep thinking that she OWES you an explanation or that she owes you her friendship back. Yes, if you really did start out as friends, than in a perfect world she'd show you a little respect and at least tell you what's up and how she feels and that she's sorry that it had to end this way...but just because that would be the IDEAL thing for her to do, don't hold your breath (or a grudge) for her to follow through.

Ok, got it? It sucks. I'll keep sucking for a while. Do whatever you can to make it suck less. And yes, time will make it all better...really...it's amazing what even a few months will do in the way of making the hurt, hurt a little less.

Sorry and take care.
posted by DavidandConquer at 7:39 AM on February 27, 2010 [6 favorites]

It hurts, and I'm agreeing with quite a few people here as well as adding that unrequited love is part of life. Everyone's life. It puts into sharp focus the fact that, while you remain open to people, it doesn't always work out. That's ok. That's a chance that everyone takes. Try to focus on the fact that it's out of your hands. You tried and it simply didn't go the way you wanted. Logically, not everything will. Meanwhile, lead your life. Take care of yourself. For what it's worth it isn't as personal as it feels right now. It's one outcome of many experiences that you will have that can (even when relationships end) go down with you still intact. Simply keep an open mind and when it doesn't work out, move on.
posted by marimeko at 8:18 AM on February 27, 2010

Whenever I've really liked someone who didn't like me back, the only thing that worked to help me "get over her" was finding someone else.
posted by callmejay at 8:31 AM on February 27, 2010

I got butthurt and did progressively more outlandish things.
Still, I feel like I want to reach out to her again *eventually*, say if she returns from abroad.

See the connection here? Stop escalating things.

If you give a crap at all, you won't inflict yourself on her. "I know I shouldn't, but I wanna." is a recipe for disaster. None of us want to read your posting history here when you *eventually* post a question about how all of your friends think you're weird now and won't hang out with you any more because you're obsessing about this girl and [more inside]
posted by rhizome at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2010

Maybe my sympathy has me reading this more generously than some people, but ... If you want to reach out to her in a few months as friends, I don't think that's a bad idea. Maybe after you've seen each other, as mentioned, through mutual friends, you could send her another short email apologizing and saying that you hope that you can be friends again, maybe suggesting meeting to talk if she has been at all friendly towards you. In the meantime, commit to the decision not to contact her until she's back from abroad, and then try not to think about her or how things will be between you. Live your life now, without her in it, without obsessing over whether she will be in it again.

If you are hoping that you will start a romance when she comes back, you should forget about it because it sounds like a) that's not happening, and b) that thought will definitely hold you back and occupy your time in the next few months, even if you don't contact her.
posted by lilbizou at 9:26 AM on February 27, 2010

Your "back burner" thinking will prevent you from getting over this person who has made it totally clear she doesn't want you in her life. Turn off the flame! Your friends have also told you to let this go, as have the overwhelming majority of Mefis.

You need to examine why you keep wanting to reconnect with someone who has clearly rejected that connection. It feels awful, yes, but do not intrude into her future. You must rebuild your own without her.
posted by Elsie at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2010

We've all been there. What you want to happen is never, ever going to happen.

Accepting that and moving on is really the only option, I'm afraid.

People will leave your life just as easily as they entered it. That's just the way the world works, unfortunately.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

the only further contact I think would be appropriate would be an apology. If you know that you did things that were wrong, the best you can do is to apologize, accept responsibility for your actions, promise never to behave that way again, and leave it to her to decide if she wants to contact you again.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it's any consolation, it sounds like this might've been doomed from the start ("something I hoped wouldn't happen - I ...started having really strong feelings for the girl"). Doesn't make it hurt less, but does give you more reason to move on and seek elsewhere for a brighter future.
posted by salvia at 11:39 AM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: Whoa, didn't think I'd get so many replies so fast. Thanks everyone.

I should've clarified "more outlandish things", although this has more to do with my pride than my question. I didn't stalk her down or anything, although I feel pretty creepy about talking to her friends. There was an event after shit started hitting the fan where we were both present, and I pretty much stayed as far away as possible the whole time.

A better description would be, once things started going downhill I kept trying to bring it up when we talked. We'd be chatting about TV shows or something and somehow I'd turn the conversation to 'what's wrong between us???' Pretty fucking crazy when I look at it now. I have issues.

The whole world seems to be united in telling me to abandon these lingering hopes I have. Brain, why don't you listen?! I've gone back to some old hobbies and friends, so hopefully this blows over in a few months. Again, thanks to everyone who responded.
posted by wonnage at 12:51 PM on February 27, 2010

I kept trying to bring it up when we talked.

Wait, wow, you're blaming yourself for that? So normal! Next time, you can take the hint a tad bit sooner, and it's good to learn about yourself that you err on the side of throwing yourself at someone who isn't interested. (You could very well do it again, honestly, with someone else.) The good news is that you're smart and aware enough to say, "hmm, everyone is telling me to do something different." Some people would disregard the good advice they were getting, and you're here trying to figure out whether to take it, and if so, how.

Maybe as a way of moving forward, if this doesn't sound like too weird of an idea, switch to grieving rather than blaming yourself for feeling and trying? Focusing on what they did do and what they didn't do is sometimes a way for people to take their eyes off of the basic fact that something was never going to work out. So, maybe take a few days to feel sorry for yourself, for this fact that you can't control at all? (Not bitter and blameful towards her, just sorry for yourself.) You really liked someone, you tried to make things happen. It didn't work. That totally sucks.

Your approach now sounds good, to see the lingering hopes you have in your heart but nevertheless, to ask your feet to carry you off in new directions. I can understand wanting to try one last time when she returns, but it sounds like you have received a clear "no" enough times that it's probably not worth wasting your time waiting for her to return, only to hear the same answer again. I'd get your feet moving, and your heart will catch up eventually.
posted by salvia at 4:31 PM on February 27, 2010

I’d like to suggest that first, you take the time to look at your feeling and actions throughout this entire situation, from having feelings for her, your role in “she didn’t like the way things were going” to your feelings of desperation, talking to her friends, and why you thought it would help, and the fallout after all that. (breath) Ye-ah… that’s a lot to think about. At the same time, cut yourself some slack. We all do stupid shit. We do stupid shit that ends up hurting people and that’s what happened here. I get that you feel terrible about all this. How to make it suck less? Instead of getting someone new to cuddle (before understanding your own actions and behaviour and thus, repeating the same mistakes again), talk it out. Talk it out with some close friends. Or write in a journal. Express everything that you’re feeling. If you feel you need it, therapy. Most of all, acknowledge that you’re human, and you screwed up. The worst you could do is not learn from this. If I may be so outlandish, maybe you can even apologize to her friends for talking to them about it. Maybe taking responsibility, owning up to your actions will actually help you feel better. It’ll help with personal growth, that’s for sure. Something like, “I apologize for putting you in that awkward position and for making someone that we both care about uncomfortable.” Do it when you’re ready and you sincerely mean it and their reaction will have no impact on you – what matters is that you have said something you needed to say. Some will think your apology wasn’t needed, some will still think you’re a jerk, some will think you’re a good person for taking responsibility. I like 5_13…’s advice too. But yeah. Welcome to growing up.
posted by foxjacket at 7:03 PM on February 27, 2010

I think at the point a person stops responding to your emails, it's up to them to make the next move. You didn't do anything terrible, but this person obviously wants distance and you obviously need it. Let it be for a good while, consider yourself to be entirely single, and act accordingly. And stop using the expression "butthurt."
posted by nanojath at 7:05 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I feel the need to clarify something here:

I did not call wonnage a stalker, and my comment was not "reactionary stalker talk." My intention was merely to point out that there is a level on which wonnage's behaviour as described in the OP could be read that way. Since everyone - including the woman in question and wonnage - presumably wishes to avoid that, the advice in my post followed.

I think many of us have been in the position of receiving unwanted attention from someone we wish would simply go away and leave us alone. What feels to the pursuer like a very low-key attempt often does not feel that way to the pursuee.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2010

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