How can I deal with unrequited love with this friend?
May 25, 2013 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I have had over a year of ups and downs with a friend who I have feelings for. We've always become CLOSE to being together but never quite. I still have feelings for him and I don't know what to do to finally resolve this issue. Please help me.

Hey all,

I have a close friend who I fell in love with. He’s three years younger than I and he’s graduating college in a couple weeks. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions ever since feelings happened. About a year and a half ago I started developing feelings for him and he had feelings for me as well. He told a mutual friend that he had feelings for me, but he never had told me directly, even when I mustered up courage to tell him I had feelings for him too. He told me he just wanted to be friends, even though he showed other signs.

I tried cutting him off and ending our friendship, but we’re in the same social circles and we know so many of the same people that it was never something that lasted more than one or two months.

Back in November, he told me he was serious about another girl. He only met this girl in person once, and had spoken to her on skype, phone, text, etc. She lives in TX. I was upset. He said he didn’t understand why I was so upset. I had to spell it out that I still had feelings for him. I tried doing the space and no contact thing with him and it lasted a couple months. But we ALWAYS end up missing eachother and coming back as friends. And this time it was harder to not speak because we work together (he applied to work as an intern in my office).

A few months ago, on Valentine's Day, we had dinner after work (as friends), and he drove me back to my car. We hugged for a very long time. Then he asked me if he could kiss me. I said yes, and we kissed for the first time. It was actually my very first kiss (yes, at 25. I guess I'm a late bloomer). He told me he had feelings for me and our friends were right all along, that we were going to end up together. We were sitting there blissfully and smiling and wishing the night would never end. I was SO happy that things finally came full circle. So happy, especially after all the drama, rejection and heartbreak the past year.

The next day he called me and told me he took it all back. He said he's not ready for a relationship, but one day, when he is...maybe I'll be the one. I was so heartbroken, but I told him if he has issues to work through, that's okay. I understand. I was still really sad, though. Having my first kiss and feeling so happy and then having it all taken back.

A few days later, he called to tell me he was back with TX girl. Of course, during Valentine’s Day they had long fizzled out and were over (he didn’t cheat on her with me). But they suddenly wanted to try again. That was IT for me. I couldn't handle it. I was so upset. We had no contact after that.

Then finally, a month and half ago, we had a meeting with an organization we both volunteer for. After not speaking sine the V-day incident, he had stayed after the meeting to help me clean and we made small talk. He also made a move on me. I stopped him and asked him if he was still with her. He said he wasn't with anyone. He wanted me. I said we really need to talk. We talked for hours about how he hurt me and how this situation has been a messed up roller coaster. He apologized and said he was because he had a fear of commitment. He said if we got together, it could get so deep. He says he can see me and him married and having a fun life together, but if things didn't work out between us it would mess up our social circles, our reputations, friendships, etc, because we're so deeply intertwined. He was afraid. I told him to not be afraid, and we’ll never know if we don’t try. He said he was down to try with me. We made a promise to try it out. And we kissed very romantically and touched a little more. It was pretty intense and passionate.

Next day (sigh, sorry this is getting so repetitive), he called me and told me what a horrible day he had (a lot of things went wrong, he got two speeding tickets, didn't get into the med school of his choice, got in trouble at school, got in trouble with his mother, etc). This time, I said look, if you are having so much stress in your life, maybe now is not the right time for us to start a relationship? He agreed and apologized. He said he really wanted to try with me and wanted to be with me. I encouraged him to focus on himself and fixing all the situations he was in and told him I'm here if he needs me.

The next day, we had another talk about things and he said the best version he liked of me is his best friend version and that he loves me as friend. He says he doesn't see a romantic future between us because everytime there are feelings involved when it comes to us, there is always drama. I told him that the drama is because we always are almost there, but never quite. But I said I respected his wishes and I value him as a friend, too, so I want to try to make it work between us as friends. He was so happy and asked me to tell him ways that he can help be more sensitive to my feelings so I don't get hurt. I told him to just be completely open, honest, and mature about things, and I will too. He agreed.

I was doing well in trying to be happy with just being friends...until last night.

Last night, he told me he misses the TX girl again and still likes her. He said he had to be honest with me and let me know that he wanted to try to pursue the other girl once again. I told him I appreciate he told me. But after I got off the phone with him, I cried myself to sleep. I still have feelings for him. What’s wrong with me? I don’t know why. I think it's because he's my first love.

I don't know what to do. Should I just stay quiet, suck it up, and just be a friend? If so, how? Or should I tell him goodbye, forever this time?

I know I might sound like a real idiot, but this is my first love. I know I'm not a teenager, I'm in my mid-20s, but I don't have much experience with relationships. I need help and I don't know the best way to go about this. I would really appreciate any help and experience you all have. Thank you!
posted by impactsmoothie to Human Relations (55 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh God. He's not into you, he's into Texas girl, and you're the ever-available emotional backup for him to run to when he needs an ego boost or a shoulder to cry on. You need to stick up for yourself and put some major distance between you and this guy. Stop being there for him, it isn't going to make him love you; it's just going to get you hurt worse.

So yes, you need to cut him off. No dramatic goodbye speeches, no ultimatums. Just don't be there. When he wants to hang out, be busy or go do something else. Don't hug him. Don't touch him. Treat him like a casual acquaintance if you happen to run into each other, and if he presses you on why (which would be fairly idiotic, since he would know exactly why) you say "I think you need time to yourself, as we discussed." End conversation. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then SPACE.
posted by celtalitha at 10:29 AM on May 25, 2013 [46 favorites]

And NO do not try to "suck it up and just be a friend." You're being used. I'm not saying he's the devil, because I know you're gonna mentally jump to his defense there, but intentionally or not he's using you and it's not kind or fair or friendly. He's not your friend. Be your own friend.
posted by celtalitha at 10:31 AM on May 25, 2013 [15 favorites]

What you need is space. I know this because I'm in a similar place right now, I haven't been able to get any distance for other reasons. But it's the same deal, you can't move on when they're constantly around. It genuinely sucks, but it sounds like he's not going to be the one to be mature about this and give the space even though as celtalitha points out he clearly doesn't have romantic feelings for you. You need to make the space yourself by finding things you enjoy doing which he's not involved in.
posted by fearnothing at 10:34 AM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Gah, I'm familiar with this sort of situation. If there's one thing I've learned, is that guys like this are just immature; they don't know what they want, and so the wind blows them this way and another with their emotions, 'cause they're just not very good (generally) at processing their emotions and therefore with being consistent in any way, shape or form. Maybe I'm totally wrong, but I think you've demonstrated that this guy is inconsistent, believes contradictory things about his feelings in rapid succession, and yes becomes no at the drop of a hat with both you and another girl. On top of that, he's easily stressed and distracted by unrelated things, and easily dissuaded from previous decisions by others' input (yours, when you told him maybe this wouldn't work 'cause he's too stressed). A person you could depend on emotionally would at least try to argue, because the opinion he held would be a little bit more ingrained in him. Anyway, the obvious conclusion (to me) is that basically don't be surprised to see him fluttering like the wind, 'cause that's just what he does; if that's too much for you, you may need to take drastic measures to drop all contact with him. Alternatively, simply don't expect better from him, and give yourself time, time, and more time to get over it (and don't believe him if he changes his mind again).

Further, you need more relationship experience yourself, and one of the best ways to get over this is to have a bunch of open-ended dates. This is where OKCupid (and so on) may be helpful. Meet new people, even as friends. Meet people that are specifically into demonstrating consistency, self-sufficiency, honesty, and self-motivation, even if they're less sensitive than this guy. Sensitivity (in younger males) often demonstrates itself as ineptness in relationships to the point of screaming in frustration, so don't do that to yourself. It may seem like they're ready to listen, to apologize, and to change, but this generally doesn't translate well into action. The fact that your friend tried to pick you up-- even once!-- after you'd decided to just be friends shows that he has severe problems following through on his emotional decisions. This means that the problem isn't your relationship (or its 'drama') and not you, but him. The problem is him, and your inexperience which makes you tolerate his behavior.

Note, I'm sure he's a great guy. But he needs something like 10 years (probably) before one could depend on him for a halfway stable relationship. I know it sucks, 'cause that happy-glowing feeling he gave you was pretty awesome, and you like him rather than some other, theoretically superior guy. But any crush will give you that glowy feeling, while other people won't necessarily jerk you around and try to look nice and sensitive as they do it.
posted by reenka at 10:35 AM on May 25, 2013 [11 favorites]

Best answer: He says he doesn't see a romantic future between us because everytime there are feelings involved when it comes to us, there is always drama.

The "drama" seems to consist of him taking advantage of your feelings by pretending to reciprocate them, then taking it all back the next morning. Repeatedly.

Seriously: he's "not ready for a relationship" but then literally the very next morning he suddenly is ready for a relationship... with someone else? I'm not sure if he's just being dishonest with you about his feelings, or if he's being dishonest with himself and with you, but either way you can't trust a word he says.

You can do better. Date around. Get some perspective. Pretty soon you'll wonder why you ever wasted a thought on this kid.
posted by ook at 10:39 AM on May 25, 2013 [16 favorites]

Let him graduate and move away so you can move on from him. I hear you on not being able to get away from him being in your friend group and not get that space, but timingwise, you'll be able to soon.

Seriously, he's jerking you around like this and that's mean of him.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:39 AM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Xingcat's rule: You only get one, "I think we need to just be friends" conversation ever in life. That goes for lovers and friends. If you have that conversation with anybody more than once, you can't be lovers OR friends.
posted by xingcat at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2013 [14 favorites]

I think you need to stop framing this as being in love with him. You're hung up on him, in part because he's giving you just enough positive reinforcement to keep it going, but real love is reciprocal. This is just addictive drama.

You're letting this person take up acres of real estate in your head, which is space someone worthy could be using. Why? What are you getting out of it? Why don't you want to free yourself up for something you can enjoy?

Answer those questions and you will find his power over you diminishing. Go as no-contact as you can until he's gone.

And when people tell you they have a fear of commitment (and also show you the same thing), believe them. This isn't a condition you can fix, not even if you are the goodest bestest most awesomest pretend girlfriend ever. You work on you, let him work on him.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2013 [14 favorites]

Girlfriend, move on. You're both young and immature. He's jerking you around cause he young, clueless and thoughtless. And you're young, inexperienced and ignoring the obvious. There are other guys; go find one of them and stop this needless drama.

Do some online dating, join some new groups, develop some fun hobbies. Don't limit yourself to your current social circle.
posted by shoesietart at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Gah, I found this so hard to read, because I have been in your situation more than once myself. And, speaking from bitter experience, the first answer nailed it, as did all the ones that follow. If this guy was into you, you would be together, and you are not. Full stop.

Now, mourn for a bit and then start thinking about what you really want out of life, including relationships. I'll bet that when you do that, this kind of drama and disrespectful bullshit will not make the list.
posted by rpfields at 11:09 AM on May 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, dear. I'm very sorry that this is how you're experiencing your first run-in with love; you can and will do so much better in the years to come! I kind of want to puke all over myself for even typing something so clichéd, but: when the other person loves you back, you'll know.

Your decision, then, isn't "stay quiet, suck it up, and stay friends" vs. "DTMF," it's "DTMFNow" vs. "DTMFLater." You can decide when to pull the bandage off, but it's going to have to come off either way. Moreover, you don't owe him anything.

In my experience, men who pull this nonsense are:
1. not really into you, but not NOT into you, either, and
2. doing the whole "love love love/wait let's just be friends/wait let's make out/oh no let's just be friends" thing to test you. They are testing to see what sort of behavior you are willing to forgive, how long you will wait for them, if you still accept them into your arms while knowing they are more interested in someone else, and what you are willing to withstand during your secretly (to you, not to them) eternal wait for them to deign to bestow you with a romantic relationship.

This is clear boundary-testing behavior: First, he measures how far he can push forward with you while the other woman is presumably otherwise engaged -- note that he has increased the proverbial ante with each of your subsequent encounters, from overlong hug/first kiss to hours-long talk/makeouts to saying that he could imagine being married to you. Oy. After he decides he's done enough damage, he gauges how much of the 'progress' he just made with you he'll need to reel back in once the other woman starts returning his calls again. And he needs to do all of this while not being so forthright about his machinations that you end up never speaking to him again, because that would permanently deny him the attention he so desperately craves.
Sound exhausting? Trust me, it is! And it doesn't get less exhausting if you stay "friends." This man is not your friend; friends do not treat each other's feelings with such cavalier disdain.

When a dude says that he can't be with you because your non-existent future pairing would create too much DRAMA, that is usually his way of telling you that he is planning on continuing to jerk you around for the indefinite future -- for as long as you'd let him, really. The "alas, for we have no future!" spiel just means that he's starting to feel kinda bad about hiding some important truths from you: that he will not be your real life partner because he prefers breathlessly playing a long-distance low-stakes game with the woman in Texas, that he could not support you in your times of need because he is too selfish, and that he would not be able to treat you as a respected equal because he has already used and abused your trust, kindness, and goodwill for so long.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you for having any of the feelings you're feeling right now. Inexperienced/young heartbreak is some of the most bitter medicine on the planet, but each instance can be enormously instructive. This experience can be part of a larger lesson, one that everyone needs to learn eventually: People who toy with your emotions like this aren't worth your tears, your torn heart, or your time.

Go no contact -- he doesn't deserve an explanation, and you deserve more than he'll ever give you. I hope you feel better soon!
posted by divined by radio at 11:14 AM on May 25, 2013 [15 favorites]

He's an awful human being. I have A LOT of relationship experience, and I have NEVER seen a man like this grow up and treat others well. Never. Ever.

Hon, he doesn't even see you. It's just an act. He's no friend, he's a calculating narcissistic piece of garbage. (and I'm being nice about him right now.)

Start seeing him for who he really is, and I guarantee you will stop feeling love for him.

The fantasy of who he is does NOT match reality. Get in touch with reality, and move on. Please.
posted by jbenben at 11:15 AM on May 25, 2013 [8 favorites]

If this is a person you can easily avoid for three months, your lives and social circles are not deeply intertwined. He's making excuses, he's hurting your feelings, and it sounds like you can run away with no consequences. Run away.
posted by munyeca at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is the same guy from your other questions, right? All the previously given advice still applies.

BTW, this guy isn't your friend.
posted by sm1tten at 11:36 AM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

This one guy is blocking your view of all the excellent, available, perfect-for-you guys out there.

Get some nice pictures of yourself, put together an online profile, and go forth and date, date, date. Go on lots of dates with lots of guys. Get more experience under your belt (euphemism intentional).

That will help you put this guy in perspective.

Don't pursue any sort of friendship with this guy until you feel nonchalant toward him -- "I can take it or leave it". Only at that point, sit down with yourself and list the pros and cons of getting in contact with him, and what you might gain from it. I suspect you won't find him particularly compelling (and you'll probably have your hands and heart happily full with a good-for-you guy.)

Dude is gum under your shoe. Keep walking (away from him).
posted by nacho fries at 11:53 AM on May 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

You posted this three times. Get rid of this guy.
posted by grobstein at 11:58 AM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's what I saw in your question that hasn't been mentioned yet: No matter how many times you have relationship conversations, you cannot talk him into being with you or being a more emotionally aware person. It seems a bit like you have these big relationship conversations with him and he says what he thinks you want to hear, or what he thinks will get him what he wants.

Sometimes things need hours-long talking out, but I think a lot more often (especially this early in a not-relationship!), one person is thinking, "If I can just explain myself adequately, they'll come to agree with me since I'm obviously right." If you find yourself having these conversations for "hours," one of you is trying to talk the other into something.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:10 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

You're being kept on the back burner, just sitting there marinating. You're too tasty to be put away but not tasty enough to be cooked. So he's keeping you on the back burner where you are still available but slowly going bad.

Listen, he DOES NOT WANT TO BE WITH YOU. If he did, you two would have been together ages ago. He does, however, like having you adore him. Which you do well. He might slightly want you, but not enough to actually want to be with you.

If an adult man wants to date you and you want to date him, it's going to happen. End.of.story.
Stop prolonging your misery and just let him go.
posted by Neekee at 12:19 PM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

Woah, didn't see the previous posts with the same question.

Really, really you know what the answer is here. I'll be the first to say that a lot of life and relationship questions are not always as simple as the answers on this site, or the "DTMFAs" not as glaringly obvious; but while those issues may be nuanced and complicated, this particular question of yours is not one of them. The reason everyone is telling you the same thing is that we've all seen (or experienced) the same thing so often that it's a cliche, and we cringe just hearing about it because it is so obvious.

That said, your feelings are your feelings, and maybe you aren't going to listen. Maybe you will spend dozens or hundreds more hours of your life obsessing or arguing or trying to talk him into wanting to be with you or trying to figure out why he doesn't. Honey, I'm doing that now with someone I have TWO KIDS with and have been with for four years. It's approximately a bazillion times harder. But if you do somehow succeed in convincing him to try a relationship that he's not in by his own initiative, you will be in my place down the line. And it will suck harder. Do you want to be cheated on with Texas girl next year? Do you want to be dumped in 8 months because he decided he doesn't really know what he wants again? No. No you do not.

When I was younger and still had feelings for my (first serious) ex-boyfriend, my ex boyfriend needed a roommate. And I decided to move in with him. STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. Naturally all my friends told me liberally how stupid an idea this was, and naturally I ignored all of them. But one friend, a little older and a lot wiser, only said one thing: she said "I know you're a smart girl, and you're stubborn. You're going to do whatever you're going to do and I am not going to stop you. But I just don't like seeing you hurt, and I think you're going to get hurt when you do this. Take care of yourself." So yeah I did it, and yeah I got hurt, but I think if I had more people in my life like this one friend, I would have been able to get hurt less because maybe I might have seen it a little earlier.
posted by celtalitha at 12:22 PM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

this is called "the friend zone." you told him you like him, he just wants to be friends, so "friend-zoned." you need to stop seeing or talking to this guy.
posted by cupcake1337 at 12:23 PM on May 25, 2013

In my experience, the ONLY way to get past something like this is to start dating someone else. No amount of talking, fretting, praying, meditating, drinking, etc. will do for you what a couple of good dates with other people will do.
posted by Mender at 12:27 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

You may want us to tell you some arcane secret about how to make your boy turn into a man ready for commitment. We can't because there is no such secret. You may feel that a playmate is better than no boyfriend at all, but the wisdom in this thread is all against that idea. Drop him and look for a grown up.
posted by Cranberry at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2013

Love is not supposed to be this painful or difficult. Quit wasting your time and emotional energy on this guy when you could be spending it on finding Mr. Right.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:42 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's something I've learned recently: if you hang onto an unrequited crush for months or years, you start putting more and more importance on that (mostly imaginary) relationship. That relationship (and that guy/gal) in your head becomes this huge thing, and you start thinking that no one else will ever be able to live up to how amazing that person is and how amazing you are together, even though you're not really together. Which can make you feel like convincing this crush to love you is going to be your only shot at real love. So you hang around waiting for that person to change their mind and waste a lot of time with that waiting.

If, however, you get used to putting your cards on the table relatively early, then you can find out if someone is actually interested in you too or if they just want to be friends. And because you haven't built the relationship into this huge big thing in your head, it is easier to accept "Sorry" as an answer and then move on. And if you really truly move on, then that means that you're more likely to notice when someone else is interested in you and to act on that if you want, because you're not secretly saving yourself for some other guy. Which means that you start discovering pretty quickly that there are actually a lot of really great people out there, and that you'll have lots of chances at love.

Also: it is totally possible to stay good friends with someone you're sort of in love with, but it only works if the other person is a mature, respectful person and not an ass who takes advantage of your feelings.
posted by colfax at 12:42 PM on May 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I tried cutting him off and ending our friendship, but we’re in the same social circles and we know so many of the same people that it was never something that lasted more than one or two months.

Make it last. Get to know some new people. Create some new social circles. People who don't know him. No need to dump your current friends, but if you go to a party and he is there, leave. If your friends are going to a thing and he is going to be there, don't go. Don't invite him to things. When you run into him, be polite and get away.

I know how it is. There are guys I like SO SO MUCH but there's some weird reason they can't really date me properly because they're soooo busy or they weren't breastfed or whatever. The more time I spend with those guys the more pain I feel. Do they ever come around? Does my patience and coolness win them over? Nope. Do I win up feeling more and more obsessed, alone, and sad? Yup.

Recognize you are hung up on him and that he wants to keep you on the hook - he likes being liked by you. It is up to you to get yourself free. Recognize that your warm and gooey feelings are misleading you. I know. They are really wonderful feelings and it is hard to try to ignore them.

Here is what I tell myself: I deserve a man who wants to be with me (now), is able to be with me (now), and has no problem letting me know that.

So do you.
posted by bunderful at 12:57 PM on May 25, 2013 [12 favorites]

You know the announcement that they make on planes "Put your mask on first?" Both of you as people may be fine (I'm not going to paint a Darth Vader or psychopath picture), but his impact on you is just not healthy (i.e. reread your questions from the last several months, all about him). In this case, do what YOU need to stay healthy and well.

There cannot be the type of closure that you are looking for.

Your oxygen mask in this case will be to end this. No conversation, no goodbyes, but you take hold of the reigns. YOU automate your email to send his mails to the trash. Block his number. Block social media.

You may now have free time or feel lonely, but use that energy and time to find new activities and things that would make you happy. Make some of the activities social and have fun meeting new people.

Step 1) block block block every mode of communication and disappear from his world.

Step 2) Make a list of fun things and activities that you want to do and spend your energy re-immersing and doing things in the world that have nothing to do with him.
posted by Wolfster at 1:01 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

He's a self-involved drama queen. I think you should stop being friends with him because you aren't getting what you want and he is immature. This isn't how you treat your friends. He's not the best friend you think he is.

You're attracted to him, fine. But you need to respect yourself a lot more than continuing to hope it turns into something. You don't want to be that pathetic girl.

You want to be his girlfriend, own up to that. Then accept that he's rejected you. Then accept that he's not really much of a friend, and anybody over 15 is too old for this drama. So go date other guys and quit wasting your time with this dude.
posted by discopolo at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2013

Of course, please remember before you have sex with him: he's probably always going to be willing to use your vagina and boobs if you let him, but it doesn't mean anything and it wont make him be your boyfriend/best friend. Even if you want to believe that it will turn into something more because he's supposed to be your friend/best friend, it won't. He'll just use you while wanting the TX girl or anybody else.
posted by discopolo at 1:12 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

this guy can't make a decision and stick with it. it's you, no it's TX girl, no it's you, no her, etc. i have to admit i'm a bit confused why you offered to break up after the last time you got together. i get it he was having a bad day but if you really liked him so much that doesn't make much sense. was that you doing to him what he'd previously done to you?

since he can't make a decision and stick with it you are going to have to. i know it's difficult and you really like him but he is going to continue playing hot and cold with you if you let him. he doesn't know what he wants and can't commit. you have to get out of your romanticized notions of what this could be and deal with the stark reality. no, it isn't fun but if you don't you are going to be even more heartbroken and this might affect your future relationships and ability to trust. start doing online dating or sign up for salsa dancing or something like that even if you don't feel like it. when you meet some other guys and see how great they are i think you'll move on just fine.
posted by wildflower at 1:16 PM on May 25, 2013

Something I haven't seen touched on by the other responses:

Next day (sigh, sorry this is getting so repetitive), he called me and told me what a horrible day he had (a lot of things went wrong, he got two speeding tickets, didn't get into the med school of his choice, got in trouble at school, got in trouble with his mother, etc). This time, I said look, if you are having so much stress in your life, maybe now is not the right time for us to start a relationship? He agreed and apologized. He said he really wanted to try with me and wanted to be with me. I encouraged him to focus on himself and fixing all the situations he was in and told him I'm here if he needs me.

I think, as everyone has said, that this guy is pretty crummy and your chances at a relationship with him are pretty much nil. However, at this point you were dating and he called you up to talk about his day. It was only after you interpreted this as it being "not the right time [to start] a relationship" did you draw away and did he say he thought it was too much drama. People in even healthy relationships share hard times, and I think it's weird that you pre-emptively rejected him based on this. For future relationships, if you want to be with someone, go for it, and don't look for a million little signs that they must not be into you.

Like I said, I think his behavior is hella immature and you should cut off contact. But the above interaction sounds just kind of weird.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:44 PM on May 25, 2013 [9 favorites]

He wants Texas girl, but doesn't like a LDR. He also wants you, but not as much as Texas girl. You are second choice. Don't be someone's backup second-choice local hookup.
posted by corb at 2:36 PM on May 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

He'll have sex with you if you let him, but he isn't going to be your boyfriend. For you, this is a no-win situation.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:47 PM on May 25, 2013

Ok, we've all told you repeatedly that this guy isn't your friend, he's not into you and you're wasting your time. Ouch!

You need to do a ritual to get this guy out of your system.

Get your friends together, write a nice ritual, burn some stuff, write down on paper what your ideal boyfriend would be like. Drink.

To put it in perspective, what do you want for yourself? Do you want to be in the exact same place next month, next year? Pining for some dude who's playing you like lotto? What fun is THAT?

Wouldn't it be better to out in the world, available for someone who is going to love and cherish you, just as you are, with no reservations or conditions?

I'd rather be alone than all tangled up in this nonsense.

So, for the love of Christ, let your brain run your life for a bit. So what? So you love this guy? It doesn't matter, love is mutable. Take a class, get outside your regular melieu and get over this yutz.

I promise, this time next year, you'll have a great new love in your life and you'll wonder why you were ever wasting your time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:48 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: PhoBWanKenobi, just to give more context and clarify--he didn't even want to talk about his day. I told him I wanted to hear all about it and we talked for 5 hours, me trying to make him feel better about his day. He basically that bad things were happening to him because cosmically they were 'signs'. That's when I told him that I thought maybe now isn't the right time and I'd be okay with him working on his own things if he needed the space.
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:55 PM on May 25, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone for your responses. They are truly helpful.
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:58 PM on May 25, 2013

I should have clicked over to your profile page and glanced at your other questions. Is this the fourth time you've asked about this guy?

Look: it sucks when you're not the one, but you're not. And nothing you can do is going to make you the one. Not for this guy, and that's an important distinction. You're never going to be the one for this guy, but you can be the one for someone else, and someone else can be the one for you.

This guy? No.
Someone else? Definitely.
You're wasting your time with this guy.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:59 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

So, I've had a few people do the "I like you and want to be with you but I'm not ready for a relationship right now" thing to me, and then end up with someone else a short amount of time after. It was confusing and hurt like crazy the first few times, then I realized... When someone says that, what they really mean is I'm not ready for a relationship with you, and I never will be. Think of it this way... when he met Texas girl, did all that complicated shit matter when it came to dating her? No. If he was interested in you enough, it wouldn't have mattered with you either and you would have been together a long time ago. Ignore any advances he might make or anything he says about wanting to be with you, ignore flirty behavior, attempts to reconcile, whatever he might pull out in the future. He might very well think you're the love of his life and it's just not the right time - but his actions say that when he's truly interested it really doesn't matter what else is going on in his life.

Also, you deserve better than "Oh hey, so now that this other chick I was totally into and I are on the fritz... Let's be together! Just kidding, she and I have made up, let's not. Just kidding, we really haven't made up, let's be together!

So... move on, if he makes a move on you, ignore it. I'd suggest not talking to him for awhile while you heal from this, if possible. I think I read somewhere in there that you work together, and if that's still the case just treat him as you would a coworker you barely knew - as a professional and that's it.
posted by Autumn at 3:00 PM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

Wait, you talked on the phone for five hours about how terrible his day was? Then offered to give him some space to 'work on himself'?

Girl, you are being a total doormat here. And I say this as someone who doesn't have the best track record for setting boundaries herself: this is bullshit. Take all that caring and compassion and energy and save it for someone worthy, because he is not. I promise you this.
posted by Salamander at 3:15 PM on May 25, 2013 [9 favorites]

sorry for wondering if you were trying to get back at him. it sounds like you were worried he was going to dump you again so you decided to pre-emptively give him the out to do it. i get it. you were scared of getting dumped again but next time, please don't do that. you are worth so much more than that. if he wants to break up let him break up with you on his own initiative. don't put ideas into a guy's head to mistreat you when he hasn't even gone there.

unfortunately, this guy has really messed with your head with all this hot and cold behavior. it sounds like he's also messing with the other girl's head. he is just bad news for both of you. he's probably not doing any of it intentionally but he is doing it nonetheless.
posted by wildflower at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2013

I know people in their late twenties, early thirties who have relationship experience who still struggle with this.

You deserve better.

Listen to people when they tell you who they are: he doesn't see a romantic future with you. Mourn this loss and move on.
posted by RainyJay at 3:44 PM on May 25, 2013

You can tell him "I'll be your friend, but I'm not interested in hearing about girls you are dating, because I have feelings for you."

Just because you agree to be "friends" doesn't mean he gets to talk to you about whatever we wants, and completely disregard your mutual history. He still should be considerate of your feelings - and I think that's why everyone's telling you he's not even a friend.

So yeah, be his friend only in ways that bring benefit to you. If it's too hurtful or too confusing for you, then don't even try to be his friend.

And yes. Go find some other guy to be friends with and see what happens. There are so many of them out there.
posted by Locochona at 4:04 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound like you have ever been close to being together.

It sounds like he knows about your feelings for him and uses it to jerk you around. People who are good friends, who truly care about you and value you as a person do not do that to you.

That whole "not ready for a relationship, but maybe when I am you will be the one" is a lie, it's a way to manipulate you into being his backup plan if things don't work out with the other woman.

Even if he was interested in dating you, he doesn't sound like he would be good for you.
posted by inertia at 4:21 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think people of all ages have issues with this when Person A is romantically interested and Person B isn't. It sucks when you're Person A.

Don't see him anymore, pour everything into another interest. I'm not going to suggest you fuck the pain away because it's not a great thing to do when you're vulnerable. Go and find something to do that will make you happy. Focus on you. (And cut off contact with him).
posted by heyjude at 4:22 PM on May 25, 2013

He says he can see me and him married and having a fun life together, but if things didn't work out between us it would mess up our social circles, our reputations, friendships, etc, because we're so deeply intertwined. He was afraid. I told him to not be afraid, and we’ll never know if we don’t try. He said he was down to try with me. We made a promise to try it out. And we kissed very romantically and touched a little more. It was pretty intense and passionate.

You're being way too nice here. It sounds like he's giving you a lot of waffling about how important you are to him exactly and you're being very, very, very patient with him. He's not your one shot at love, and you need to not put him on a huge pedestal. It sounds like he does want you on some level, or that he's choosing between you and Texas girl and really milking the situation to take his sweet time with his choosing. It may be off-putting to him to him that you're willing to essentially be his doormat, though he seems happy to take advantage of the situation. I don't know if you really want such a waffly sort of guy to think of you as wildly sexy and desirable, but he probably will be more likely to do so if you set some clear boundaries about what treatment you expect and deserve.

Also, stop having long talks and comforting him if he has a bad day. You need to be getting something out of the arrangement too besides just accommodating his whims.
posted by mermily at 6:55 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I try to be a little tolerant of young people being confused romantically, not knowing quite what they want, and hurting others inadvertently.

This goes way past that. What he is doing is shitty. Once is one thing. Over and over, this guy is a shit. Sorry, but he is.

You're going to have to break off the "friendship" and make it stick. It's a really awful position to be in, because this guy is too much of a shit to help you with it. He'll undermine you instead. (I expect he'll want to cry on your shoulder about TX girl, if not something sooner.)

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that if you blow it this time and take him back as a friend or almost-lover or whatever, you'll get another chance to get it right, cause he'll do you again just like he's been doing you. (I would really, really recommend not sleeping with him if you do backslide.)

You need to move on from Mister Turd. Try to meet and date other guys. Even if nothing sparks it's a step in the right direction. Turn your thoughts toward any guy but him. Stay strong. Good luck.
posted by mattu at 8:14 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

(OP, I keep checking this thread, wondering when you will update and explain why, after four questions with a majority of answers in the DTMFA column, you still find this guy so compelling. Any chance you'll update?)
posted by jbenben at 5:04 PM on May 26, 2013

Response by poster: I'm going to cut him off starting Tuesday. This is going to be super difficult. But it's the best thing for everyone. I can't handle this anymore. I need to move on. Sorry it took so long for me to realize it, and thank you all for your help.
posted by impactsmoothie at 7:44 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Hey, just saw your update - good for you!! :D

MeMail me if you need moral support. I'll tell you some hair-curling stories that will bolster your resolve.
posted by Salamander at 8:30 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: I actually met him with him Monday evening and told him I don't want to be friends anymore and explained why (I need to move on once and for all, etc). He was pretty understanding although he says he disagrees, but he will respect my wishes and give me time and space. He will not be contacting me unless it's something strictly professionally related.
posted by impactsmoothie at 9:16 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Good - and you need to really, really enforce that boundary if he tries to overstep it. I have a friend with whom there's also been this really insanely strong chemistry coupled with a realization that "HOLY SHIT IT WOULD BE SUCH A BAD IDEA IF WE ACTUALLY DID GET TOGETHER FOR REALZ". Seriously, we'd kill each other.

And he had a bad habit of yanking my chain about this - he'd try to start something, then freak out a short while later and break it off, then would start something again and then freak out and realize it was a bad idea and break it off, and then try something again and then break it off again, and finally I just said "Look, you need to cut it all out if you're not gonna follow through. Either date me or don't - but if you don't want to date me then you are also not allowed to flirt with me. Period." And he's stuck to it, and both he and I are saner.

Figure out what your line in the sand is, in terms of what you can really handle from him - it sounds like you have - but make sure he sticks to it, and give him hell if he doesn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Another update: We only went like a little over a week until he emailed me and said this is stupid and fake, and simply just a way for me to be faux friends with him (since we're not close anymore but still professional). Anyway, we got into a huge fight. He kept saying how he's glad I'm nothing like her (TX girl that he likes) and that she's a much better person that I am. He also said a lot of hurtful things about how I'm a bad friend. We sent long back and forth emails to one another. Eventually we became less hostile toward one another and he emailed back saying that he does think space between us is a good idea and will stay away from me until I move on. He says he'll be around the day I'm ready to start a renewed, platonic friendship where my judgment isn't 'clouded' by my feelings. Now I'm trying to move on, but it's more difficult than I thought. He's on my mind all the time. I hope time makes things better. If anyone has any advice on moving on, please let me know. Thanks.
posted by impactsmoothie at 8:11 AM on June 9, 2013

Eventually we became less hostile toward one another and he emailed back saying that he does think space between us is a good idea

How nice of him to finally acknowledge what you've been telling him for more than two weeks, now. Pity he still seems to think the decision is up to him, though.

You're recognizing that he's being an absolute dick to you at this point, right? Like "why would I ever want to communicate with this guy ever again for any reason" levels of dickishness? I don't know how he managed to reframe the games he's been playing with you as being all your fault, somehow; that's some impressive verbal judo there.

Gah, sorry, I'm just really angry on your behalf now. What an unbelievable jerk!
posted by ook at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Honestly, I would have deleted that email when he accused you of being "stupid and fake," and simply responded by saying "I asked you not to contact me. I am asking you a second time to NOT CONTACT ME." And then if he did after that, just block all his emails until you're ready.

I mean, I totally have made this same mistake, but if you're still getting emails from him, that may be a reason why he's "on your mind" so much. I had to do this kind of "no really I mean it" cold-turkey no-contact thing, and it really did help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:31 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your update suggests to me that you did the right thing by getting this guy out of your hair.

he does think space between us is a good idea

...That's good, 'cuz now he's gonna get more space than NASA, baby!

Advice re: moving on? You might want to spend some time on Natalie Lue's site. She's legit, and funny as hell. Read through her posts on men who blow hot and cold, and I think you'll find comfort and encouragement.
posted by nacho fries at 8:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stay out of contact with him. Any and all contact. Permanently. If you have to talk to him at work, talk to him only about work.

The last time you asked about this guy, I said this:

This dude is an immature little shit. Cut him out of your life completely or keep getting sucked into drama.

This is still true. As long as you're still communicating with him on any level, you're in some part of the cycle that results in things exploding and you coming here and asking about him every couple of months.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:22 AM on June 20, 2013

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