Friend bugs me for advice
July 9, 2011 8:11 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I had a very brief fling a long time ago. To this day, she informs of every single romantic advance a man makes toward her and it's starting to annoy me (longer than I thought).

Background: Close friend and I hooked up many many years ago for a few weeks before having to part ways to different cities. None of us had the courage to outright propose an LDR or communicate any sort of potential relationship terms, but my expectations were different from hers: for some reason I thought we could keep something special going and maybe try to grow the relationship long distance naturally by way of sporadic visits etc; major jealousy and bitterness ensued on my part when she quickly found a boyfriend the second she moved. I should mention we were still college-aged and I was pretty immature and didn't know much about relationships.

There was a big blowout fight but we eventually made up, and slowly and carefully we became very close friends again. It's been about 4 years since our "fling" and our fight. We have both dated different people throughout our friendship and it's been fine - any longing or intense attraction I have felt for her is pretty much gone. We really are Just Friends.

Here's the issue: Right now we're both single, her for the first time in about 1.5 years. She feels the need to text me every single time a guy hits on her, which is quite often. It is usually along the lines of "a random guy is hitting on me at this bar, I feel so awkward!" or "a boy at this party is hitting on me, what should I do?" or "a guy gave me his number last night, what should i do??" She'll either text me while it's happening or tell me the next day that it happened. A big fact I should include is that sometimes she'll eventually end up getting together with or going on multiple dates with these men, despite her sounding weirded out when she tells me, so I don't feel like I need to "rescue" her or anything. She dates/hooks up way more than I do by a scale of about 4 to 1.

I initially thought she did this as a "I feel like I can tell my friend anything and get his advice" sort of thing, so I would try to converse with her and say things like "well, is he cool? tell me about him". But now it's getting to the point where she's done this at least 20 times in the past few months, and it's really getting irritating. I keep wondering why she's doing this, especially given our background - it's not that it's particularly painful to hear these things from her, but it just leaves me curious as to WHY. Is she actively trying to make me jealous? What does she mean, "what should I do?" I'm pretty sure she knows exactly what do to, especially since she's so experienced. She also has her own girlfriends that she divulges WAY more personal information to, so I don't know why she's telling me.

Frankly I really want to ask her straight up why does she tell me these things so often, what advice does she expect from me? I want to tell her "I don't know dude, do whatever you feel like doing" but she'd probably take offense and pull the "I thought I could tell you anything!" card and possibly even think I'm being jealous. And I'm not - I just don't care for this information, and on top of that I have no real advice to offer because I'm way less experienced and she knows this, and it sort of irks me out how often it happens especially given our background.

I guess my questions are, what are the reasons why she might be doing this and how should I respond when she does?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I guess my questions are, what are the reasons why she might be doing this and how should I respond when she does?

Because you respond, giving her something entertaining to "do" while involved in these situations. Only respond to what you feel like responding to. She probably wouldn't get offended if you don't respond. She doesn't care that much about your opinion-- her texts and your responses are just background music to the personal story she's constructing: it gives these encounters with guys additional drama and better pacing.
posted by deanc at 8:18 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're having an imaginary conversation with her in your head, trying to predict the outcome. Don't waste your time on that. The next time she does it, write back "Why do you always text me every time a guy pays attention to you? What do you expect me to say?"

Questioning someone's behavior, especially if it's frequent behavior directed at you, isn't confrontational. If she gets defensive or whatever, that is a consequence of her bothering people and then being called on it. Her reaction is not your responsibility, it's 100% hers to deal with.
posted by hermitosis at 8:19 AM on July 9, 2011 [9 favorites]

Does she have any other "friends"? If so maybe she is trying to make you jealous. What else do you get out of this friendship apart from this?

My experience with women is that they never actually want advice even when they seem to be asking for it, often the giving of advice causes annoyance. With that in mind I would offer tongue-in-cheek suggestions like "ask to see his 3 most recent bank statements", if she gets shirty about it then sound hurt and say "but I thought were asking for advice"

I am not a relationship counsellor but hell, how hard can it be?
posted by epo at 8:20 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would ignore it altogether. Whether she stops or not provides some insight into her motives. If she continues, it's to get a rise out of you.
posted by supercres at 8:21 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is there an explanation that she could give that would make you enjoy these texts more? The reasons *why* she might be doing this seem less important than that fact that you're irritated and annoyed by them. Why not just tell her, "Hey, could you cut back on the late-night hookup texts? It seems like you've got it all pretty much under control."
posted by mauvest at 8:24 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of possible motivations here, but I don't think she's asking for advice. Either ask her, ignore her, or tell her to piss off. Considering you "really want" to ask her what her deal is, I vote for that one.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:26 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nobody can tell you this person's motivations. You've covered most of the speculative ground on the why of this. It's possible she is just engaging in more-or-less meaningless "girl talk" with you.

You can confront her about it like hermitosis suggests but I wouldn't expect that conversation to go well. You seem to be talking about half a dozen or ten texts a month and frankly the question of why you really are so bothered by it seems germane. If it were me I would delete them without comment (because what is there to say, really) and consider the minute or two of my life a month spent so doing to be not of any real substance or concern.
posted by nanojath at 8:26 AM on July 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Frankly I really want to ask her straight up why does she tell me these things so often, what advice does she expect from me? I want to tell her "I don't know dude, do whatever you feel like doing"

Then do that.

Whether or not she gets mad is her problem, not yours. You're already getting mad about it, so if it's bothering you, tell her to knock it off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you want to know why she's doing it, or do you want her to stop? I guess those two things aren't mutually exclusive, though.

Quit responding or flat out tell her to stop, if you just want her to stop. You could challenge her and demand a reason, but she might not even know herself why she's doing it. And it might just upset her. Life would be great if everyone were an Ask person, but some people are Guess people, and require a different set of rules.
posted by Solomon at 8:32 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

She's telling you to make you jealous, and she's tacking the question onto the end of her tales of being hit on to make it less obvious that this is what she's doing.

Possible response: "I don't know, do whatever you want" escalating to "Why do you keep telling me these things?"
posted by tetralix at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I guess my questions are, what are the reasons why she might be doing this and how should I respond when she does?

She might be an extrovert and need to work things out by talking to someone. That's how they roll, they need to verbalize their thoughts, get feedback and then act.

If I was feeling as you do about this, I would start entertaining myself by making outrageous suggestions:

"Ask him if he wants to rob a bank with you."
"Lick your lips suggestively, call him over and tell him you'll loved to strap on a dildo and fuck him."
"Angrily walk over to him and start yelling at him, demanding to know why the hell he waited so long to tell you he had crabs"
"Oh just do making out with him, right there and there"

She may not find this amusing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 AM on July 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

1) She wants you and is trying to point out to you that she is attractive.


2) She is feeling bad about being single and wants to see if she can spark a little interest from you to remind herself she is attractive.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2011 [11 favorites]

I think you are right to perceive a double-bind here, because any irritation you show can be spun into evidence and used against you. That's the object of the game. Your task is to avoid playing her game and, in the process, hopefully discourage her from playing.

I'd go with the option of ignoring it and see if she keeps doing it. Previous posters are right that this will give you insight into her motives.

Saying "do whatever you want" is basically a content-free expression of annoyance, so I wouldn't go with that just yet.

If she keeps annoying you with this and will not shut up about it, you can always say "I don't know, but you always seem to know how to handle yourself in these situations, so use your discretion." This is another way of saying "do whatever you want", but it doesn't sound anywhere near as pissy, and it also points out in a respectful way that she never follows your advice anyway.
posted by tel3path at 9:42 AM on July 9, 2011

Knowyournuts has it

The end result is at least an attempt to be cruel and manipulative but is mostly sad. Not wanting to date you then was the greatest thing she has ever done for you. Seriously if it were me, every time this happened I would remind myself of what an awesome friend she is for not dating me then and leave it at that.

If you want it to stop, focus your answers on the hotness of women who are not her in gender reversed situations plausibly like hers.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:53 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with Knowyournuts. It sounds like she's trying to get your attention by pointing out "hey, look at all these guys who want me! Don't you want me, too?" Either she wants to hook up again, or she just thrives on people's being attracted to her. And it can be hard to go back to "just friends."

This is the kind of thing that people grow out of, but it can also mess up some friendships along the way.

Maybe tell her, preferably in person, "you know, I'm not very good at giving dating advice. I appreciate that you value my advice, but who you date or hook up with is your prerogative. You don't need to ask me."

If you think she could handle it, or if she doesn't stop, be more explicit: "I get the impression that you're telling me about these boys because you're trying to gauge my interest in you, and it makes me uncomfortable."

On preview: do not follow Blasdelb's advice if you want to remain friends with her. You'll either escalate her "ooh look at all the hot men following me" behavior, or just plain piss her off.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:09 AM on July 9, 2011

My first instinct was what tel3path said: She's playing a game. Your reaction is evidence of... something that she is keeping score on.

I think you need to step back and ask yourself if you're really "just friends." Your annoyance and frustration seems a bit over the top, and the fact that she's doing this at all is also suspect. You even say in your question that your non-platonic feelings for her are "pretty much gone," which is not the same thing as altogether gone.

A good friendship doesn't involve this kind of game playing. It also might not include covering up and ignoring feelings like you're doing.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:13 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think it means what it says! "Help, I am by myself here and someone is hitting on me and it is kind of stressful because I don't know him, I need to get in touch with someone I know because I'm not sure how to respond." She might be texting other friends with the same kind of comments. That's all. "I feel awkward, but if I tell someone who is a friend about how I feel, I might feel less awkward." I just don't think it's a big deal or an attempt to mess with you.
posted by citron at 10:33 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Maybe she's looking for attention from you. Maybe she wants to make you jealous. Maybe she wants to let you know that she's NOT pining for you. Maybe this is her leaning on you as a bit of a symbolic security blanket. Maybe she wishes that you would tell her about your dates. Maybe she's just bored and looking for an excuse to text someone who will text her back. Maybe she sends the same message to fourteen people and graphs the responses on her cocktail napkin.

Who the hell knows? She may not even know. But you can certainly reply with some variation of "I don't know dude, do whatever you feel like doing" without being rude. If she tries to turn that into some sort of offensive jealousy thing, you can kindly say "look, I don't know what advice you expect from me. Of course you can tell me anything, but I don't really understand why you tell me this stuff so often. No offense."
posted by desuetude at 11:27 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

If she texts you as these things are happening, I wonder how the guys hitting on her respond to it. Aren't they put off by her texting some other guy when they're trying to flirt with her? Sounds fishy to me.
posted by Net Prophet at 11:52 AM on July 9, 2011

The problem as I see it is that you don't know your friend's mental/emotional state enough to answer this question, especially if you say she's a very close friend. This may be a gender thing, I dunno, but I see my 'very close' friends as confidantes that I share my feelings with. This includes people I had once been with-- you could say I feel closer to the people I've been with 'cause on some level I feel they know me even more. But it's irrelevant how I feel-- my point is that you could easily find out how she feels if you talk to her about her feelings, concerns, and general emotional state lately. Don't ask about this incident, but ask about how she's doing. I mean, I don't really know how good you are at that stuff, but people who're close to you will open up quite easily if you ask open-ended questions and listen.

Then when she opens up, you can express your puzzlement at her behavior-- not annoyance, puzzlement. I think it's normal to be puzzled by some stuff one's friends do, and to discuss 'oh, so that's how I was feeling, and that's what I thought', etc. At least, this is true between girlfriends. I've done it with exes-now-friends, too.

This whole guessing game (either confusion or making an educated guess yourself) is something people do when they either aren't that close or are in the initial stages of dating. What is the point of it? Even expressing discomfort-- while ok-- isn't what I'd expect of a friend. I'd expect curiosity and concern-- which you're showing-- to be translated into an actual open-ended conversation and shared feelings. Even if the girl is having some sort of ulterior motive, every female I've ever come across reacts positively and is disarmed by genuine interest and sensitivity shown to her in conversation, at least on a level more advanced than 'what's up'.
posted by reenka at 12:04 PM on July 9, 2011

My experience with women is that they never actually want advice even when they seem to be asking for it, often the giving of advice causes annoyance.

Your "experience" is wrong, and by spreading this kind of stuff, it's damaging to the perception of women and leads to our being dismissed when we are asking for what we want. It's this kind of misinformation that helps led to the confusion the OP is experiencing.

And that's why I'd trust her. If you guys are close friends, OP, then there is not really a certain line as people who have slept together before. You each define the boundaries of the relationship, and it seems like maybe you have more conservative ones. It might be a case where your feelings aren't as gone as you think they are. I have a really close friend who is also an ex. We discuss our relative relationships, we discuss all sorts of things. Are you perhaps her closest male friend? She may be looking to you for advice to decode "guy".
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think you see this behavior as being partly about you and your relationship, but I don't think it is. If she does this with all her girlfriends, my guess is that it's just how she is with friends, and you're her friend, ergo this is how she is with you. I know a few women who do this with all their friends, and I could guess at why they do it, but that might not be the same reason that this woman does. But bottom line, I would not take it personally if you know she does this much or more with her other friends.

I would be careful with the suggestion to ask why she does it, because it can read as implied criticism and put someone on the defensive. Nobody ever asks "why do you sleep eight hours a day?" -- asking why implies it's odd. If you don't like it, just say "hey, I care about you and all, but I don't need to hear every time someone hits on you" or "flirt back if you like him, blow him off if you don't. And next time you don't need to ask - the advice will always be the same!" Of course, ask "why?" if you really do simply just want to know why ("well, it all started when I was eight and all the girls at the slumber party made a pact..."), but include some language about "I'd just like to understand," and "I'm not criticizing it or anything."
posted by salvia at 1:48 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, I have had friends who do the same thing, despite the fact that we are all heterosexual females who have never been romantically involved with each other, so while she could be trying to make you jealous, that's not necessarily it.

Honestly, it just sounds to me like she wants to brag about all these guys hitting on her because it makes her feel desirable. But, one can't really say, "guess how many guys hit on me last night, aren't I awesome." So, she couches it as "asking you for help."

I think she's just trying to get that attention from you. I think if you stop giving her what she wants, if you stop really responding (either completely ignore it when she tells you these things and don't reply, or give a disinterested reply like "that's too bad") then she will eventually stop doing it.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:24 PM on July 9, 2011

Possibly she is using you and her other friends as decoys to make herself look more attractive to these guys. If she sends out a provocative text, several people reply, her phone keeps going off.. "Wow, I guess I'm just popular tonight!" Virtual wing-men/women, if you will.
posted by anaelith at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

A bit more charitable of an interpretation: since you are a friend she respects and also a representative of The Opposite Sex, she may be "asking for your permission" in a way. If she wants to hook up with random guys but feels guilty because of societal mores or what have you, you are an easy check in to validate her course of action. This can be more pronounced if she has some degree of residual crush on you.
posted by ropeladder at 4:14 AM on July 10, 2011

This is probably wrong but: maybe she's in love with you and doesn't realise it, and every time sex or intimacy comes in close proximity, she thinks of you, who she'd rather be with... unsconsciously maybe she would rather be having those interactions with you.
posted by Clotilde at 5:36 AM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think I'd try something like:

"I'm never sure why you ask me about these situation :) maybe one of your female friends can help?"


"I'm sure you will think of something"

But just not responding, or not responding until a couple of days later. "got your text but I've been busy. You ok?" should create some boundaries.
posted by bunderful at 1:29 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree with Knowyournuts, leaning heavily towards the second explanation of their answer.
posted by the foreground at 1:42 PM on July 10, 2011

confront her. you have every right
posted by dreamsofhorses at 8:18 PM on July 18, 2011

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