Walking away?
November 29, 2011 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I think I need to tell my ex-FWB that I can't hang out with him anymore. I do, right? How do I... do that?

We were friends, and then we started hanging out alone and drinking, and then we started hooking up, and then he said he couldn't anymore ("timing"). I said that I was okay with that, we were out of contact for a week, and then we started up with the hanging out alone and drinking again (at his instigation). And, oh, we also live really near each other and have some mutual friends and common activities that mean we'll see each other occasionally in group settings, indefinitely.

Long story short, I've realized that I'm not okay with it. I have strong feelings for him. I have fun while we're hanging out, and then come home alone and feel miserable.

I'm assuming that if he felt the same way about me, he wouldn't have called off whatever we had going, and I really don't want to be the girl who waits around forever waiting for a guy to change his mind. But I think that he honestly thinks that I'm okay with going back to being friends (and why wouldn't he-- I said I was). I should tell him that I need to cut contact for a while, right? But... how? Every time I've started a conversation like this, it's been after tons of drama that made it pretty obvious to both of us that we shouldn't be around each other anymore. In this case, everything's been totally smooth on the surface. Just ignoring his calls sounds mean. I don't even know how to initiate a talk like this. Do I wait for the next time he calls and say "I need to talk to you"? Take the initiative myself? Or is going AWOL the better option? If you have experience in productive tie-cutting conversations/actions, please hope me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"Hi dude -- look, this isn't easy for me to admit to, but I'm kind of having a hard time going back to us just being friends, and I really think what will help me do that is for us both to keep our distance from each other for a few months. I know you've made up your mind that that's what you want, and the only way I can do that is to just recover a bit more. It'll be for the best in the long run, I think. So I'm gonna stop calling you to hang out, and can you do me a favor and also do the same? I'll call you again when I think I'm ready -- do me a favor and sit tight and don't call me until then unless you're in a hospital or something seriously major has gone down. I know this kind of sucks, but I think it'll be best in the long run. Thanks, I appreciate it."

Initiate it yourself, just pick a time and do it. And then, do it -- don't call, don't email, nothing until you really are ready. And then when you're ready, call him again to "catch up," and there you are.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 PM on November 29, 2011 [13 favorites]

We were friends, and then we started hanging out alone and drinking, and then we started hooking up, and then he said he couldn't anymore ("timing").
If it worked for him, why can't it work for you?
posted by kavasa at 6:30 PM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

You have no obligation to initiate a talk like this. Not even another "timing" excuse as kavasa suggests. Unless you want to.

Seems like it would be find to just go AWOL and stop taking his calls.

Alternatively, you could set for yourself the boundary of not drinking with him and/or not hanging out with him alone, only in groups where you might be less reminded of the hook up past and more able to focus your energy on talking and laughing with the other people in the group.

I'm not that worried about it being rude considering that he didn't want to hook up anymore but still now wants to go drinking alone with you. If you find that he calls you and presses you about it, just remind him how unpleasant that drama was, which I'm sure he won't argue with.

And you might say something like "I'm still thinking about the past, so I can't see you right now. Let's get back in touch sometime down the road in a month or two (or however long)" If he's contacting you again after you made clear you don't want to talk to him or hang out with him, just ignore that sh*t.

Congrats, you are a smart lady/gentleman for realizing that cutting off contact right now is a good idea.
posted by zdravo at 6:31 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

If I were you I'd stop responding to all his calls, etc., but it sounds like you may need one more interaction to get at least the modicum of closure you feel you need. Since your in-person conversations about this haven't gone well, if I were you I would write him a brief email, just a few sincere sentences, *very few* and leave it at that. He knows how you feel after all already, this is about not seeing him anymore, not a rehash of your issues. Going no contact afterward will help you heal your heart and move on, so do that, also.

Avoid him as much as possible IRL, not like a coward, but with the attitude of someone who's prioritizing her emotional well-weing over all but the most critical social events/interactions. This may also help you begin to make new friends outside your social circle, which will help minimize the chance that you'll run into him when you're out and about.
posted by devymetal at 6:34 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Every time I've started a conversation like this, it's been after tons of drama that made it pretty obvious to both of us that we shouldn't be around each other anymore. In this case, everything's been totally smooth on the surface.

I believe the OP means that conversations have gone badly with other guys, but this one has been drama-free.

Given that, I'd go with the Empress' talk. It's really okay to say that you realize that your feelings were stronger than they were, and that means that you need to cut way back on contact for a while.

It's okay to have feelings, express needs, and set boundaries. The key is to take responsibility for your own stuff.
posted by endless_forms at 7:09 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Personally, I think you owe him a talk. He's a friend, not just some guy you were hooking up with. If nothing else, you'll avoid public drama by having some honest communication with him.

I think what EmpressCallipygos says would work well, but you could also keep it shorter if you don't feel comfortable with that -- just "I started to have feelings beyond FWB so I think some time not hanging out would be better for our friendship right now."
posted by DoubleLune at 7:10 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh -- and for the talk itself -- either have it the next time he calls, or text him to get a quick cup of coffee with you and initiate the conversation.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:11 PM on November 29, 2011

yea, EmpressCallipygos's talk is right on. Since you live close to each other, and have mutual friends, it might also be a nice thing to add that you're not going to be angry or weird if you guys happen to run into each other, so the two of you won't feel like you have to hide or avoid situations where you might see each other, it's just that you feel like you shouldn't make plans together.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:34 PM on November 29, 2011

I disagree--I don't think you need to establish explicit parameters, for this reason: He doesn't have any. He seeks you at his convenience and you accept. You just need to change the flow. What you do is politely decline his invitations to hang out. If you know a mutual friend is having a gathering, say, "Can't tonight. See you at Lucy's next week? Cool." This makes it clear that you're looking forward to seeing him AT THE PARTY, not IN YOUR BEDROOM. Reinforce this at the party by chitchatting as though nothing has changed and then going home early, alone.

What you want to do is simultaneously bat away any possibility of sexytime while still encouraging friendly occasional interactions. He'll get the hint. If he doesn't, and explicitly asks what's going on, feel free to ell him that you weren't comfortable resuming your fuckbuddy relationship but you have no hard feelings and wish him all the best and looking forward to chatting with you at Darren's birthday dinner next week.

Laying out the parameters is too--formal for such an informal relationship. Just drift apart cordially, no bad feelings. Make it clear you don't mind seeing him in groups and vice versa, and everything will go swimmingly.
posted by elizeh at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

Let me share my experience with you...

6 months into it... Me: "I'm starting to have feelings for you. Should we break this off?"

Him: "No"

3 months later... Me: "Where is this relationship going?"

Him: "I don't know, let me think about it"

3 months later... Me: "Where is this relationship going?"

Him: "I don't know"

Oh yes, it hurt. It's over. I have found a perfectly suitable man to replace him. Depends on what you want... chances are, if you want a long term man, look for a somebody who is available from the get-go, not somebody who is advertising themselves as FWB.

Just sayin'..... please don't waste your time if you have the guts to ask and get responses like these....
posted by icanbreathe at 8:22 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Elizeh has counciled you very very wisely. Take that advice and implement it!
posted by jbenben at 8:33 PM on November 29, 2011

Elizeh's advice seems a bit off; seems to me the OP is not looking forward to seeing the problematic guy, at a party or otherwise. When she sees him -- non-sexually -- this happens:

I have fun while we're hanging out, and then come home alone and feel miserable.

I think EmpressCallipygos has it. Time apart, for the brain to detach. This is not a fun conversation to have, not at all, nor is the cutoff period any fun. But the alternative is far less fun.
posted by ead at 9:13 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm really surprised at the aversion to straight talking in this thread. Freezing someone out who is in your social circle and you're going to see anyway? Immature and likely to produce drama. I agree with elizeh about setting your own parameters, but relying on him "getting the hint" is not only cowardly, but also more likely to produce drama.

OP doesn't and shouldn't make a big production about it, but I think just saying, "Hey look, this isn't working..." like the Empress says is the kindest and most direct route. It might be awkward, but it's out in the open, it lays it out cleanly and ends it. Instead of having to possibly deal with however long til he mind-reads being blown off.
posted by canine epigram at 6:23 AM on November 30, 2011

(and just for clarification, the freezing out bit is in response to a previous poster, not elizeh.)
posted by canine epigram at 6:24 AM on November 30, 2011

Team elizeh here - OP needs to avoid him as much as possible, does not need the drama of a talk (which would probably drama-free for him during and after), and set a structure (for herself) so that seeing him in mutual-friend group hangout situations will be trouble free.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:38 AM on November 30, 2011

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