Deciding if to turn a "breakup" into a friendship
October 26, 2013 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Someone who I bonded with decided we had no spark, but wants to be friends. I am having trouble dealing with being rejected and my lowered self-esteem from the rejection but I feel like he is such a special person that I want to keep him as a friend. We had an intense online relationship for three months and dated for less than 2 weeks. Reading all these posts on MetaFilter has really helped me deal better with my breakup, but I still feel a inner turmoil about how I should handle my own situation. I don't feel that I trust my judgment I am. Help on the matter is appreciated or just some advice or words would help me get through this.

I'm in my late mid-twenties and was talking to a medical student in his early thirties through OKCupid. He is currently at school far away, but lives 1 hour away from me. We pretty much instantly got along because our family backgrounds (coming from a poor family), careers (I am a nurse), intelligence, personality, love of dogs, and future goals are very similar. We are both serious daters and are looking for someone we can marry. Because he was at med school, we were unable to meet for 3 months, but we were talking every day by text, sometimes, email, and webcam. At one point we it both felt like we were at love online.

The only real big issue we seem to have was his concern about how my face looked because he was a very visual person. At that point, I did tell him I have some acne issues and there may be pores he cannot see on my face in my multitude of pictures. He became a little obssessive and wanted a hi-def picture of me. I became upset because he has so many visuals of me, ie webcam and my facebook account. He ended apologizing and I relented and sent him a hi-def picture of myself to which he told me it did not change the way he felt and that he and I were going to hit it off.

We made plans to meet during his two week vacation late this summer--he promised to spend all that time with me and I took a few days off work. As our relationship online progressed he started thinking me of his lover and he called myself his future boyfriend. While I felt the same way about him, I did not want to say those things when we had not met. When we met after three months, we had a real good time going out and we acted as a couple--holding hands, kissing, and linking arms around each other. You could say I made the first move by inviting him to give me a backrub. I feel that is important to mention because he later mentioned that he had trouble bonding with my face during our time together. I started noticing we were not bonding the same intense way we had online, but thought it was mostly because we kind of meeting in person for the first time. Because we were acting like a couple, we went off on a weekend trip together as planned, and fooled around, but I did not sleep with him because we weren't ready at our point in the relationship.

Though he talked to me just the same as before, he no longer seemed attracted to me. The day before he returned to medical school, I confronted him, and he decided he had doubts about me and wanted to be friends. He said it was not because of my acne; that I was rather cute, but he could not bond with my face. He told me he did not feel like I was a goddess and that is how it should be. He said he did not feel the spark and it should be there from the beginning. He said that my presence online was not the same as in person. He said he thinks we would have gotten along very well, and I was way better than his ex, but we would have ended up roommates. (He was with his ex for 9 years, but they broke off when marriage approached, and she decided he was more like a roommate though he was very committed to her.)

We decided to be friends, but for me to have some time to deal with it. I was not talking to him, but after a week he texted to me and it felt like the way we always used to talk. But because I was still mourning the loss of our relationship some of the topics were why our relationship did not continue on longer, how I felt he mislead me, why would he act like my boyfriend and go on a weekend trip and fool around with me when he decided he had no spark with me in the first few days, and decide later simply it did not work out after all the connection we had online. He admits he was an asshole. After awhile I became very depressed over this rejection, to the point where I felt suicidal, I told him, and he admitted he has hurt me deeply, and since then we decided no contact again till I was ready.

I feel like I dealing better with the breakup now (and I understand I have hard time dealing with rejection because of my distant relationship with my parents), but am unsure if I should keep him as a friend because I question his quality as a person...yet I feel so close to him because of our similarities it would really suck not to have him in my life. It's rare to find that. Has anyone been friends with someone after a similar situation?
posted by LadyAerin to Human Relations (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It really sucks to not have him in your life because he dumped you. He is trying to dump you in a way that makes him feel better about dumping you. "We don't have a romantic thing but we're friends" is not so much a thing you decide to do after break-up but a thing that kind of just happens organically when there's a mutual agreement that a relationship is not happening but you both think the other person is nifty.

Sometimes it works to make friends later after everything's cooled off, but take some time off from being in contact with him, see if you actually feel like being friends (and only ever friends) with him a year from now or something, sure. Now? No. Be kind to yourself and take the time to get him out of your system and move on.
posted by Sequence at 10:19 AM on October 26, 2013

Why would you want to be friends with someone who treated you this way?
posted by tabula rasa at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2013 [23 favorites]

in general, it's a bonus if you can salvage a friend out of a busted relationship. my last gf is now engaged to marry a guy who shoots rockets into space for a living, and i'm very happy for her.

in specific, when a guy tells you that he does not feel like you are a goddess (wtf?), that's an exception to the general rule stated above. dtmfa.

we are all gods and goddesses.
posted by bruce at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2013 [16 favorites]

Be sure that you aren't thinking of a friendship with this guy as a placeholder in case he changes his mind about you as a romantic partner. It sucks to be dumped, and sometimes the dumpee wants to keep the friendship with the "amazing and wonderful" ex-partner in an unconscious, or not so unconscious, way of getting their amazing, wonderful ex back. The ex will wake up and realize how good the dumpee is, just like in the movies.

It hardly ever works out this way. No contact is best until you've gotten rid of all your hurt feelings and any romantic longings toward this person, and you stop idealizing him.

This guy doesn't sound that awesome to me, frankly. He treated you badly. And agreed with bruce that someone calling you a "goddess" right when you first meet is a red flag. Too intense, too quickly, without knowing you as a person. These types tend to be more in love with love than with an actual person.

The world is full of amazing and wonderful people who would make good friends. It's okay to go no-contact with this man for a time.

P.S.: A solid wall of text with no paragraph breaks is very hard to read. Breaking your post up into paragraphs makes it so much easier on the readers.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:25 AM on October 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

No, you should not be friends with someone like this. He wants to feel like he's not the bad guy right now and you deserve better. Move forward and cut all contact. Do whatever you can not to give in if he tries to persuade you otherwise.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:33 AM on October 26, 2013 [10 favorites]

I was rather cute, but he could not bond with my face

Translated: "I wouldn't mind having sex with you, but I don't want to be seen in public with you." (Seriously: "bond with [your]face"??? WTF?)

This guy is a shallow, superficial jerk. Ditch him and don't look back.
posted by Janta at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2013 [35 favorites]

Being friends with someone from a failed romance that never really got going is fine. Being friends with this guy is not advised for anyone.

We people of the internet think this after reading what you wrote. You know even worse things about him.

Move on.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:42 AM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

The fact that this is a two-week online based relationship where you live an hour from each other causes me to lean towards just being friends. I have some close friends who I met via fledgling relationships that didn't take off.

That said, wow, that is one serious wall of text, there. You clearly have a lot of feelings. And sometimes the best way to protect those feelings is to go no-contact.

Also, just for future advice: it almost always turns out that the person you bonded with strongly online, you don't bond quite so strongly with in person. I don't know if I would say that you should avoid months-long OKCupid relationships (it sounds like you are LGBT and, if you live in a remote area, I can see the pull of forming strong connections online), but you should definitely be aware that a lot of online relationships don't survive the transition to IRL.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Anybody who's obsessed about categorizing people as "gods" and "goddesses" and bonding with their faces (what?!) is not a person who is going to be able to treat any person like a friend. The things he told you are not just hurtful, they're hurtful in an incredibly bizarre way that sends up all kinds of red flags.
posted by schroedinger at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2013 [28 favorites]

I have never seen you, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with your face. The right person will find it perfect, and even most random people find it perfectly fine. What kind of normal, decent person demands to scrutinize hi-def photos and tries to "bond" with your face? This dude's fixation is weird and troublesome and you are well rid of him.
posted by ohkay at 10:54 AM on October 26, 2013 [16 favorites]

This guy sounds like a superficial jerk, and a workaholic to boot. (I know med school's rough, but driving an hour -- or a half-hour! Or having you go to him so that he doesn't have to drive at all! -- for dinner is not at all a big commitment.)

I would just write him off.
posted by jaguar at 10:56 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would suggest taking at least a six-month break from any interaction with this guy. You need time to mourn the loss of the fantasy relationship, move on, and then re-evaluate whether you even want to be friends with this chap. You might want to ask yourself what value he really adds to your life, and if he might be blocking you from finding someone who loves and respects you exactly as you are -- as the real woman you are, not a "goddess" or a "face" to "bond with" (WTF).

I think you dodged a bullet here. Consider it a prickly blessing that he opted out. The universe just cleared the way for you to find a proper partner.
posted by nacho fries at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here are some things that are true:

1. Being friends with an ex is great, but it ONLY works after both parties are well and truly over the other. The test of this is not "do you like them so much that you'll value a friendship even though you really want more?" but rather "how would you feel upon walking in on them having enthusiastic sex with a new, hot, committed partner?" If the answer to that last one is anything other than "totally unbothered" then no, you should not be friends.

2. Getting to know someone online is not a representation of who they really are

3. Just because someone says they want to be friends with you does not mean you owe them that opportunity.

As for you, no, trying to have a friendship with this guy will not be a good thing for you, it will hurt and give you nothing of value.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:03 AM on October 26, 2013

am unsure if I should keep him as a friend because I question his quality as a person...yet I feel so close to him because of our similarities it would really suck not to have him in my life. It's rare to find that. Has anyone been friends with someone after a similar situation?

Yes and no. The yes cases almost always ended up being overly dramatic and frankly not worth it. I get the impression that you have a hard time connecting with people, which is why you want to cling to the idea of him as a friend, because he seems unique and you had a special connection. Thing is, the sooner you distance yourself from him, the sooner you'll put yourself in a position to meet other people that you'll find have their own special qualities and hopefully treat you better than he did. You might also find that the things you found essential about your connection with him might not be all that important, like both of you coming from a poor family or being in similar fields of work. Similarities like that can make it easy to talk to someone in the beginning, but they are no indication that that person would be a good relationship partner or friend.

I know that advice probably sounds hollow at this point, but in my experience it has been true every time. It may not be the next person you meet, but there is nothing so special about this guy with how he treated you that you can't find someone better suited to you and that won't leave you feeling awful about yourself.
posted by wondermouse at 11:03 AM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

you need to keep this guy out of your life. he's clueless and damaged at best or cruel and manipulative at worst. you will click with other people. this guy will constantly assault your self worth and he'll cover it by saying he's just brutally honest with everyone. this is not a friend you need.
posted by nadawi at 11:17 AM on October 26, 2013 [8 favorites]

Dr. Jerk wants a trophy wife, arm candy. You are better than that. Get over him.
posted by Cranberry at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

I can't stress enough how unhealthy this person is for you. This is not your fault, it is his fault. He isn't treating you well, and you're so nice, you don't see this yet.

Quality people don't toy with the emotions of others the way this person continues to toy with your emotions.

I wish you could see through this guy. He's playing every one of your insecurities against you to keep you enthralled, meanwhile, he gets away with giving very very little to you.

This guy isn't offering you friendship. Stop interacting with him. All he does is hurt you, and that's not friendship.
posted by jbenben at 11:35 AM on October 26, 2013 [9 favorites]

He wants to bond with someone's face?! How? Like this? What does that even mean?*

Really, this guy sounds utterly ridiculous. I'd bet money that if you cut off all contact and let your self-esteem and limerence recalibrate, you'll be happy that you got away from him.**

*also, what exactly does a goddess look like? Couldn't she look like anyone?
**also, you sound pretty awesome, so this guy is really losing out.
posted by Shouraku at 11:36 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

This guy is not "visual," he is shallow. Bond with your face? He's concerned about your pores? No. Don't be friends with him. This is just going to string you along, hoping it will be more, and frankly, he is clearly an asshole.
posted by catatethebird at 11:42 AM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Bullet: dodged. This man sounds shallow, insecure, and immature. Consider this a life lesson, break contact, and move on to someone who is kind and doesn't bring a boatload of ridiculous baggage with him wherever he goes.
posted by mynameisluka at 11:45 AM on October 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Wow, you dodged the proverbial bullet there. What a turkey butt!

No, you don't need to be friends with this person. You deserve much better.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:02 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's ok to not be attracted to someone because of the way they look. It's not ok to make a hurtful comment and let them know that's why they are not attracted. He did this. He wasn't looking for a potential friend on OKC. You might have been - - but he's looking for a subservient brood-mare who will tolerate his insensitive comments. I guarantee that's not all you will be expected to tolerate. He sounds like a total, unmitigated, grade-a, top-shelf dickhead. You are going to be used by this man. Cut him loose. He won't care and if you do care, you will get over it.
posted by brownrd at 12:11 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Right now you don't feel like he's a friend. That's all you need to know or say about it -- it's not a decision to put him out of your life forever. I'm guessing that after enough time goes by that you're no longer feeling hurt and rejected, you'll also realize that your strong connection to him had to do with romantic feelings on your part and his, and that there's probably no friendship there. But why decide now? Just honor what you're feeling now. You can tell him that it's better for you if he doesn't contact you -- that you'll get in touch with him if/when it feels like a good idea.

What makes it much worse is that he was imagining you as unrealistically wonderful and perfect for him. There's no way any woman could turn out to match his imagination, even in an in-person "love at first sight" scenario. He might think he couldn't "bond with your face," but that's probably not it at all. You just turned out to be the real you, and the woman he was in love with was his idealized vision -- what he wanted you to be. It's got nothing to do with your face.

I blame him for taking absolutely no responsibility for any of this. He thinks you were a different person on line than in person, and doesn't see that, in large part, he created that gap. Clearly, he wasn't revealing his true self during the months before you met -- otherwise you'd have been less enchanted with him. He's thinking the problem is you -- I think that when you're able to forgive him, you'll realize you don't want to be friends with someone like that.
posted by wryly at 12:27 PM on October 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

By the way, I've got large pores and some acne scars too. So do lots of people. If you start talking to someone again who places so much emphasis on what your skin looks like up close that this stuff comes up in conversation as if it's a dealbreaker, drop him. His obsession over your appearance and making you feel so self-conscious about it, despite the fact that he had already seen several pictures of you, gave you a preview about what he is really like.

You would not have enjoyed being in a relationship with him in person as opposed to online, I promise. Any man looking for a "goddess" is not a man ready for a relationship with a human woman. This guy is so not worth feeling suicidal over.
posted by wondermouse at 12:36 PM on October 26, 2013 [16 favorites]

Any man looking for a "goddess" is not a man ready for a relationship with a human woman. This guy is so not worth feeling suicidal over.

I can not nth the two last sentences of wondermouse's comment enough.
posted by jbenben at 1:25 PM on October 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

Requesting a hi-def photo? Commenting on your face (to your face!) in a negative way?? Saying he couldn't "bond" with it??? As said above, WTF!

This guy is a jerk. Even if he didn't feel a spark with you in person, there are approximately 1 million ways he could have communicated that to you without insulting your appearance or making you feel bad about yourself. He chose to do that, so he's either socially clueless or just cruel.

This guy is not worth being friends with. There are many other people you will find things in common with (that aren't jerks!), so don't let superficial similarities or coincidences trick you into thinking this is a unique special relationship you can't repeat.
posted by janerica at 3:40 PM on October 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow. I am amazed by the number of responses and what everyone had to say. I really had to hear what had to be said. I won’t be responding to every comment, but I appreciate that someone read the long post and shared their thoughts and insight.

From an objective view it sounds like if I were to continue a friendship with him, it is ok as long as found it worthwhile and gave myself the time to truly be over it. However, it seems that the general idea that this guy is no good and therefore should be avoided as a friend and romantic interest. People of the internet, you have spoken with good sense, and I will rethink these words when I’m feeling weak.

There is truth that rings in the words out there. Yes, I hold on to some hope things may work out between us. He has some mixed signals like saying “I am afraid if I continue dating you, I’ll just end up with you” and for myself, I don’t want to let go of what we had online. Sadly, online does not always translate to offline and I admit I’m in denial when it happens to me. There is still the fantasy. I think it’s true that once I have enough time passes by I will be able to see if I want to be friends. He was a seemingly good friend when he was here, driving 100 miles to bring his dog to my place and then back that distance. But who is to say if that’s part of his dating process? Just what I know is it skews with my ability to write him off.

Thanks wondermouse for sharing your experience and insight. And yup, I tend to be an introvert and while friendly, connect deeply with few people. It does hype up his specialness after all the time I spent talking to him.

I secretly liked some of the comments out there and they validate the part of me that thinks I should avoid him—“he's clueless and damaged at best or cruel and manipulative at worst.” Yup…that’s what he is… yup. Yeah…right now I’m not feeling friendly. Perhaps that's a good thing. Thanks for permission to honor it.

I felt deeply weirded out when he mentioned a goddess woman, yet I justified his view. He stated he was only being brutally honest. I needed to hear that it's not okay to say that.

Wryly, you’re right. I think we both fell in love with what could be than what actually is. And his true self does not seem that pretty. I truly was shocked when he said my online presence was different, because I made no move to misrepresent myself.

With all this said, it’s easier said than done, or easier thought of then felt. What I do feel is that I can be better focused on how to approach this rejection. I do feel kind of silly for allowing myself to mope over such a guy that many people had the ability was a “rotten egg” and will mentally give myself a kick in the butt now. I will let time pass and recalibrate my feelings of self-worth.

PS: Sorries for that block of text and thanks to whichever moderator that broke my post into paragraphs. ☺
posted by LadyAerin at 4:16 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


You are doing the right thing by listening to wondermouse and other great comments to help you understand your situation objectively.

Good luck.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:48 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take a second to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine your ideal guy.

Got him in your head?

Does he say things like, “I am afraid if I continue dating you, I’ll just end up with you”?

I fucking hope not.

This guy, as labeled above, is cruel, no matter if it's intentional or not. Please love yourself enough to stay away from him.
posted by jaguar at 6:22 PM on October 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

i'm so glad you were able to approach this with an open mind and really take in what must have been a lot of hard comments to read. i think it's awesome that you're stepping back, for now at least, from the idea of being friends. i think you're going to be so happy about that choice later. having said that - i want to touch on two things.

first - He stated he was only being brutally honest.

this is a lie that jerks tell as a cover for them being jerks. brutally honest would have been telling you the second your eyes locked that the spark wasn't there, if that was the truth and was so important to him. instead he led you on and engaged in intimacy that you might not have engaged in if he had said there was no future. he led you on and then when you called him on it, he insulted you while wrapping it up in "honesty." don't buy it. being honest and being an asshole aren't the same thing.

secondly - I do feel kind of silly for allowing myself to mope over such a guy that many people had the ability was a “rotten egg” and will mentally give myself a kick in the butt now.

please don't feel like this! i would wager that a majority of the comments here were so strong because we recognize this sort of dynamic from being part of it at some point or another. i can say with certainty that's where my advice came from! it's easy to gloss over things online because there's a separation. we've all ignored less awesome things about partners, hoping that the pay off would be worth it. it's easy to hear the whole story and figure out that he's a jerk, but it's a lot harder to see that in the day to day. instead of beating yourself up, i encourage you to think about times you were uncomfortable, and how you were proven right, as an exercise in trusting your gut.
posted by nadawi at 6:49 PM on October 26, 2013 [10 favorites]

When someone says something so thoroughly degrading like, "I am afraid if I continue dating you, I'll just end up you," PLEASE train yourself to see that for the Red Flag that it is.

What a harmful and hurtful statement for you to take on board. Statements like that are the very definition of "emotional manipulation/abuse" and people who say them do not love you.

It's heartbreaking that he says things like this, and you don't immediately see how toxic his demeanor towards you truly is.

Please choose yourself over him.

I think you might seek therapy, too, because I fear this won't be the last predator you'll come across, and I want you to be prepared the next time someone like this comes into your life.

Upon preview, I want to echo nadawi's sentiment that you shouldn't feel foolish! I was taken in by a jerk or two just like this back in the day. It was painful, and I want to save you the pain I went through over and over again until I "got it."
posted by jbenben at 7:08 PM on October 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think that a lot of people giving you answers are unfortunately making you out to be the victim of someone else's cruelty. This is unfortunate because the only cruelty you've described is brutal honesty, and it sounds like there's a good chance that brutal honesty is understandable given the situation and both of your inexperience.

You described “I am afraid if I continue dating you, I’ll just end up with you” as a mixed message. This is a very clear message that he doesn't want to date you in the long run. How do you want him to be more clear without being even more brutally honest?

What it sounds like is that you are clinging to a personal dream of dating this guy and his brutal honesty is his best way to "shake you off".

With more experience, both of you should be able to avoid such situations in the future (by for example meeting long before you develop that level of intimacy), he will learn to be more clear without being so brutal, and I want to suggest that you might learn to really listen to other people rather than just your own dream. A lot of your story foreshadows the ending of your story. It's possible that you're ignoring obvious signs because you're infatuated with your own fantasy. But, the real world can only be ignored for so long — it always come back to meet us and so it's best that we see it as soon as possible.

And it's with that sentiment of seeing things as they are as soon as possible that I am commenting: I think it's unfortunate to present you as a victim of his brutal honesty when it sounds like you are as much a victim of your own, let's say, fanciful solipsism. It's something to consider.

As for your question of being friends. Don't ask strangers about how something ought to feel. If you want to chat with him do it, but this time I humbly suggest that you be honest with yourself about what you're hoping for and how that squares with the reality in front of you.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:31 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

"A sufficient level of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

Repeat that over and over again until it sticks. When someone treats you badly because they are too stupid or incompetent to do better, that is still malice. This person treated you badly. You ended up hurt. Remove him from your life and ignore.

This guy sucks. You are correct that he is not a person of quality.
posted by htid at 9:18 PM on October 26, 2013 [10 favorites]

Long distance relationships are hard. Meeting someone in person for the first time who you've spoken to online a lot is strange for anyone who has done it. But this guy is an asshole.
posted by mike_bling at 9:20 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anyone who says “I am afraid if I continue dating you, I’ll just end up with you” isn't sending mixed signals. It's one, clear, awful signal.

You deserve better than this. You deserve not to be in contact with him. You deserve a friend who isn't a completely awful person.
posted by RainyJay at 10:08 PM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

He just seems extremely immature. Basically, he doesn't think you're a goddess and he wanted to be friends with you after you wouldn't sleep with him (is that right?).

Just because he's a med student in his 30s, doesn't mean he's in any way an adult. Move on. Don't be friends. He doesn't deserve any of your attention at all.
posted by heyjude at 11:26 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: espirit de l'escalier, I am appreciate that you see that it takes two to get to a point and do not view me as a victim. I'll like to think I am the maker of my own life and actions as well. If the only cruelty I experience is brutal honesty, then I would have to say a lack of it was also cruel. (Thanks for commenting on that nadawi.) If thinking it could still work out because we matched well in spite of his comment about my acne, then yes, then sure I was infatuated with a fantasy. The end point is that someone got hurt, someone got disappointed, and we both learned. From this, he decided to discontinue his OKC profile till he could meet people in person right away. We surely should have met earlier, but it was not possible. Definitely in the future, I'll handle any long distance, prolonged online relationship differently; perhaps avoid them altogether.

Also, you are right that I should not let strangers decide on how I should feel because only I can know that and what they are getting is probably a biased side of the story. It is because I fear that I will cut him out of my life due to my oversensitivity to his brutal honesty that I am here. From what I got, I am not overreacting to things he said, and should see those things as signs, but I did fall prey to my own folly/inexperience. I accept that. Seems like it's enough that he said those things, no matter how nice he might have seemed. After some reflection, the me who will decide on the friendship is not the present me who still holds on to this guy. The me who will decide about the friendship without feeling victimized or angry is someone at least 6 months from now. I think I got from "strangers" what this current me needed right now to push myself forward. And also the acceptance of having been there. It is true that once in awhile I will think of the possibility of having a relationship work out between us, but then that is a fantasy. Holding on to it is bad, but realizing it is a fantasy means it's not a reality. I want to let go and stop fantasizing.

I suppose "I am afraid if I continue dating you, I’ll just end up with you" isn't a mixed signal after all. It was the last time I talked to him that he said that. It does seem quite ominous and degrading. I think what I meant more by mixed signal was one week after he broke up, when he said "I still get hard when I talk to you" and that he still felt like he was very attached to me online, but it isn't the same offline. Anyways, I don't want to date him anymore...and I don't think it's fair to talk to him while still ruminating relationship... I just want to decide if I should be friends and part of that involves my judgment on what kind of person he is. I guess I don't have to decide now. And when I do, I will keep in mind what was said here.

P.S. It's bothersome and scary to me how defeated I was by this breakup and I sense it's because of existing underlying issues/insecurities I have. This breakup has made me see things in a different light. I never saw a therapist before this breakup, but insurance does cover it and I have appointment #2 soon. I must admit though, metafilter seems to be more beneficial to me regarding this breakup.
posted by LadyAerin at 2:25 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Brutal honesty my eye. This "Brutally honest" never seems to include any awkward mistakes - the theme is consistently at the service of getting her close enough to do harm but not so close that she has any advantage. There's an outside chance he's not 100 percent aware of his techniques, but other OK Cupids must have called him on this and he hasn't bothered to reflect on his behavior.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:36 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

First of all: LadyAerin, I'm very proud of you for your self-reflection and your decision to continue with therapy. I wish I had AskMefi around when I was in my 20's! I probably would have avoided a lot of painful situations. I think most (all?) of us giving advice have gone through bad dating experiences like you have. It's not any reflection on you, your desirability as a partner, or what you look like. Enough jerks exist, that those of us who do not marry non-jerks as teenagers are bound to encounter one or more in our dating lives.

Second: I agree with Nadawi and Lesser Shrew - "brutal honesty" is horse hockey. I've learned to live by the saying: "Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Don't say it unless it is two out of these three." Pointing out that your skin wasn't perfect is neither necessary nor kind. If someone says "I'm brutally honest" that's like saying "I'm an asshole" as if it's something to be proud of. Run! This person just wants an excuse to be cruel; and if you get upset they'll say, "I told you I was brutally honest!"

Finally, be sure you have enough non-romantic friendships and social connections in your life so that you don't feel the need to keep cruel or abrasive people around because you feel a connection to them. Meet-ups, hobby groups, church or synagogue, are all good places to meet and make friends. (And if you're pagan, atheist, or agnostic, the Unitarian Universalists will welcome you; many UUs are atheists or pagans or "spiritual but not religious" folks who want the benefits of a church without the religion.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:07 AM on October 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

This guy isn't special compared to other potential friends. In fact, I think he's probably a douche. But that aside, the only thing he has to recommend him for friendship (that other people don't) is your romantic feelings for him. That is the opposite of a good reason for you to be friends with him.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:10 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Re "I still get hard when I talk to you" - let me respond to this. At any given time, there are more men willing to have sex with you than there are men willing to marry you (or be in a relationship with you that is on a marriage track). That's not just you, it's true for basically every woman. The threshold for sexual attraction is pretty low, even intense sexual attraction, but when it comes to who someone wants to have a long term committed relationship with on a marriage track, people are more choosy. The first is about your sexual value to a person, the second is about your marriage value. This guy is telling you very, very, very clearly that he would be willing to have sex with you, but not marry you. He even gave a reason, as assholey as it may be - he doesn't like your face. (Protip, this doesn't mean EVERY guy will dislike your face. Just this one. Just like I was once rejected for being the wrong religion by one person, but not by others.)

Where did this guy mess up? It's extremely, callously insulting to tell a girl that her sexual market value is high enough for sex, but her marriage/relationship value is not. He could have broken up with you without stating that. He could have been very clear that he wasn't feeling it for a relationship, without saying, "But you're good enough for sex!" It's insensitive to the point of malice.

Where else did this guy mess up? Harping on your appearance, and asking for high resolution photos, like you're a piece of chattel to be bought and sold on the market, is disgusting. Loathsome, disgusting, sexist, asshole, douchebag crap. End of story. It demonstrates zero sensitivity to millennia of women's history (and struggles) and shows the lowest, rather than the highest, standards for the level of respect between a man and a woman. It's loathsome. It's reason enough to cut someone the eff out of your life.

Re: you're bothered and scared by how defeated you were. Breakups are emotionally devastating for everyone, even after you've had a few. The level at which they are devastating is scary. Like, suicidal thoughts scary. You are not alone in that. That's how human bonding works. It sucks a lot. That's why you have to be careful with your emotions. You're not unusual in this respect - what you experienced is normal. That is why you have to be careful. It's not just you who has to be careful, it's everyone, unless they are in the 1% who has some messed up brain wiring where they don't bond. Based on this experience, you have normal bonding circuitry. The devastation is emotionally worse for women than men (usually) so that is why there is advice for women to take more precautions in romantic and sexual bonding.

Lastly, re: friendship. In my experience as an older person, the strongest friendships are with people where there isn't, and never has been, any undercurrent of romantic interaction. Like, friendships with women. Friendships with men you see as brothers (and vice versa) or who are already in relationships and there is no sexuality between you whatsoever. Though, mostly friendships with women. In this particular case, the sexual/romantic undercurrent was too recent, too unbalanced, and the sexual (if not romantic part) is still getting rudely poked at by him. It's not a good situation for a friendship. It may never be. That is just from my experience over many years and seeing how many friendships work out.

If you cut one bad and draining friendship out of your life, especially while you are as young as yourself, another relationship will take its place. Nature abhors a vacuum. You will be fine. You are best served by getting distance here.
posted by htid at 9:22 AM on October 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

Oh, awesome, an honest guy. What a brave truth-teller, going out into the world and telling it like it is, regardless of the emotional consequences for everyone else.

Listen. There are plenty of assholes in the world. A vanishingly small number of them think of themselves as assholes. My experience has been that the vast majority of real assholes have this conception of themselves: "I'm just brutally honest. Most people are afraid of other people, and so they don't say what's really on their minds. I always say what I mean, and a lot of people can't handle that, but that's their problem."

These people are wrong about themselves. They are not brave, they are not honest, they're just jerks. What they see as other people being too afraid to handle their honesty is, in reality, just other people not liking to be around them. Because they're assholes.

Looks like you've run up against one of these. Run the other way.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:40 AM on October 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Dang. That's some good stuff in all these posts. Thanks for responding and the support. And you guys are right about the things said. Good explanation on the sex and marriage track, never really thought of it that way.

Echoing the sentiment of tabula rasa and others--"Why would you want to be friends with someone who treated you this way?" To that...I don't know anymore. I don't think I can. O_O

Thank you again posters. Your words have really helped. I feel I can let go of this one. The nagging feeling that I shouldn't be friends with him...has more turned into a sense of repulsion now that I see things clearer light.
posted by LadyAerin at 1:41 PM on October 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

There are many different cultures and people on this planet, some are more tilted towards honesty and directness, while others towards diplomacy and obliqueness. It is wrongheaded to repudiate what amounts to a cultural or personal predisposition to one communication style. Each has its time and place.

Direct honesty makes sense when it saves heartache in the long run. E.g., telling someone you don't love them as soon as possible. This may not be one of those cases, but we don't know that because we're only getting half of the story.

It does sound like as he was pulling away, you wouldn't take the hint and so his directness was a reaction to that. It's easy to understand how your inexperience meant that you tolerated such statements, but similarly, it makes sense to accord him the same understanding that his inexperience resulted in a lack of diplomacy.

The sad thing is that we often attribute to superficial physical preferences what is caused by fundamental problems with the dynamic, and so his "brutal honesty" to me reveals poor self-knowledge on his part. A simple "I'm not feeling it" would have been more accurate and kinder.

In general, the urge to divide the world into good and bad people is borne of insecurity to face the complex human causes of behaviour. You probably shouldn't pursue this guy, but I think it's unfortunate that you're concluding that you've been duped into falling in love with an "asshole" rather than recognizing your own humanity and his, and the potential for growth for both of you.

Life is a lot easier and lighter the less energy you waste hating people. (And, to be honest, of all the betrayals of trust, this is extremely mild.)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:17 PM on October 27, 2013

Response by poster: "There are many different cultures and people on this planet, some are more tilted towards honesty and directness, while others towards diplomacy and obliqueness. It is wrongheaded to repudiate what amounts to a cultural or personal predisposition to one communication style. Each has its time and place...

Direct honesty makes sense when it saves heartache in the long run. E.g., telling someone you don't love them as soon as possible.

...we often attribute to superficial physical preferences what is caused by fundamental problems with the dynamic....

In general, the urge to divide the world into good and bad people is borne of insecurity to face the complex human causes of behaviour...

Life is a lot easier and lighter the less energy you waste hating people."---Thanks for that. :)
posted by LadyAerin at 1:50 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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