How can I be supportive to a friend under these weird circumstances?
January 25, 2013 6:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm a woman, my friend is a guy, both 30-something. We work together, and recently started having music jam sessions that have gone really well. He's been contacting me a lot, and we've opened up to each other about stuff. It's all been platonic.

Things are complicated. Last summer, he was with a girl who fell pregnant and claimed it was his, but he doesn't know if he believes her. She had the baby yesterday. He never wanted this child and doesn't want to be with her. He wants her to get a paternity test and he is willing to step up if the child is his.

He texted me in the middle of the night saying how unhappy he was. I texted him back and said I'd be around if he needed someone to talk to and he replied "no, things are too weird. I really hate my life."

Looking back at our friendship interactions, I'm seeing signs in hindsight that he may (despite wanting to keep it platonic due to not complicating his life further) have developed romantic feelings for me. That last text of his seems to hint that he's thinking that it is too "weird" to be developing such a close friendship with me when he has to figure out the baby situation.

I am currently in a relationship (though it is undefined and there is no commitment at this point). He knows this. I've never breeched the friend boundary with him. He's attractive and we're really compatible, so it's not like I wouldn't, under better circumstances. We haven't spoken of anything like that, though.

I want to be supportive, but I don't want to cause more complications. What is the kindest thing I can do or say for him whilst he sorts all this out? I don't want to ignore him at work, but if just talking to me is stressing him out I will back off. I don't know what to say to him at this point. We were supposed to get together tonight, in fact. Should I just let him know that I am here for him if he needs me but I understand he needs time to sort things out?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"I'm here if you want to talk" and then respect what he says. You don't need to walk on eggshells at work because you're not responsible for managing his stress.

I've never breeched the friend boundary with him. He's attractive and we're really compatible, so it's not like I wouldn't, under better circumstances.

He's in the middle of a huge crisis and getting involved with you would be a distraction. If you want to be supportive, don't go there.
posted by headnsouth at 7:12 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

You're over thinking this. Be nice and tell him to let you know if you can help in any way or be a shoulder to cry on. Nothing more. He probably won't avail himself of your offer. And if he does, just be a friend.
posted by shoesietart at 7:13 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

His significant other "fell" pregnant? And he's texting you the day after she gives birth instead of stepping up and spending time with her and his probable-child?

This sounds like a hot mess. I'd stay pretty far away.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:21 PM on January 25, 2013 [34 favorites]

The kindest thing you can do is give him some space to deal with this enormous and complicated life event. And for you to keep your distance from it, as it doesn't involve you directly. And you're in a relationship? Why are you asking about this then? What's going on with your actual relationship?
posted by Miko at 7:28 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

You already did the most supportive thing -- you said you'd be there if he needed to talk, and he said he didn't want to. None of the other details in your post matter beyond that point, if all you want to be is a supportive friend.

However, I am getting a distinct impression that you may want more than that.
posted by sm1tten at 7:28 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm, I was in what was from my side a platonic neighbor relationship with X but was apparently from his side a potential budding romance (according to both my intuition and a different neighbor Y after X ended up moving unrelatedly). I believe that I managed to derail X's intentions from ever becoming overt by seeding my conversation with references to my ironclad policy of never shitting where I eat, ie, not dating neighbors/coworkers/etc.

So perhaps start subtly working your I-don't-date-coworkers-really-no-not-ever policy into conversations. Though be prepared, the friendship I thought I was forging with X fizzled out, and particularly after my conversation with Y, I think it was because he wanted a girlfriend or nothing with me.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:08 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

i'd use the "friend" word if you tell him you want to be supportive as in "i just want to be a supportive friend to you" or "i'm here for you if you need a friend". using that word without making a big deal of it helps clarify the boundaries.
posted by wildflower at 9:16 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not buying his "woe is me" schtick, and you shouldn't either. It's entirely self-indulgent, and faintly repugnant, given the circumstances.

It's a brand new little being! His or not, his attitude is... Yuck.

I'm sure he's attractive and charming, but stay away. He's not dating material. I think he may even be turning to you as a distraction. Double yuck.

posted by jbenben at 9:18 PM on January 25, 2013 [11 favorites]

Yeah, I'm with just about everyone above - it's weird that he is texting you when the baby was born YESTERDAY and his attitude sounds like it sucks. Maybe it's legitimate for him to think the baby might not be his, I don't know the whole situation, but he could still be there for the kid and mom at least while this is getting sorted out. The last thing he needs to do is needle you for your attention. I'd steer clear for at least a bit and keep your relationship to the professional.
posted by sweetkid at 9:25 PM on January 25, 2013

I'm not sure I see where he's developed feelings for you. Maybe he just didn't want to talk about it and the weirdness wasn't related to discussing it with you specifically, but about his feelings about having a potential child now.

I've got some stuff going on in my life right now that it seems everyone around me wants to discuss in a juicy-gossip-guised-as-supporting-me way. I've often said, "it's too weird, I don't want to talk about it now" and not once did I have romantic feelings for the person inviting me to talk.
posted by cecic at 9:33 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Saying you're there to talk if he would like the support is the best course of action at this point. Once you make that clear, be warm and inviting but respect his boundaries while he goes through his little crisis and back off. Be careful not to get too wrapped up in it or him for that matter, at least for now. This is actually a fabulous character-test that you just so happened upon before getting involved with him romantically (which sounds like something you'd like to entertain), so observe how he handles this carefully. It sounds like he's crumbling under the pressure, but an unplanned child with a fling would freak anyone out so just quietly observe. See if he comes out on top and does the right thing and if his emotions level out.. Maybe you'll discover that he's a loser, maybe he'll prove to be a great guy who handles his business well. Just don't let your feelings for the guy cloud your perception.
posted by OneHermit at 10:42 PM on January 25, 2013

This guy is a bad person and immature. He has no character. Run the other way.

And be honest with yourself about why you're so eager to support him and be on his side? Are you lonely? Because this guy is not a winner and he won't change.
posted by discopolo at 12:43 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you are reading too much into that particular text. But he may very well be interested.

Not sure why people above think this guy should be happy about his ex-girlfriend having a kid that isn't his, or one that is his that he doesn't want. It's his ex, there's no indication he would even be welcomed there.
posted by spaltavian at 9:58 PM on January 26, 2013

« Older I lik ur profile   |   Bourbon in Scotland Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.