I need help bringing a messy, inappropriate friendship to a close
August 23, 2014 12:11 AM   Subscribe

A relationship with a friend has spiraled out of control. I have to bring it to an end, and I'm not sure how to go about it. I need advice. Details inside.

I am a woman engaged to a man, R. Recently, I spent more than a month away from home and I got to know another man, E, who is also in a committed relationship. E and I are both writers. We read each other's work and bonded hard over that. He also had my back during a fairly difficult time, for which I was (and continue to be) grateful. For 99% of the time we spent together, my feelings towards E were entirely platonic. During the last few days, though, I started to feel the tenor of our relationship change, and then, on the very last night before we both went home, we got very sentimental (as well as drunk) and ended up sitting very closely side-by-side, holding hands. I knew at this point that E wanted to kiss me, and in retrospect I can see signs that he may have been romantically interested in me earlier than I realized. I also felt drawn to him emotionally, but the physical attraction wasn't that strong. I felt that since I was able to resist kissing him under the influence of both sentimentality and alcohol, and we lived on opposite coasts, we'd danced up to a line without crossing it. I interpreted our relationship at that point as friendship layered over with a slight mutual crush that we both recognized we would not pursue.

After we parted, E sent me a couple of text messages telling me he missed me. I said I missed him, too, and he sent me a few more talking about how hard it was to pretend he was happy he was home when he missed me so much. I tried to deflect these somewhat, purposely not picking up on his more romantic hints and telling him that even though I missed him, I was glad to be home with R (which I was) and that I was sure he'd settle in soon.

For the most part, he took his cue from me, and we entered into a very intense but ostensibly platonic, correspondence, primarily about writing. We exchanged 5-10 text messages a day and wrote each other long emails about everything under the sun. Since I want to be as honest as I can about where I stand with this, I will say that I found this aspect of our relationship almost dizzyingly pleasurable, much more intoxicating than the time we spent in person. I've never had anyone I could talk to about books & writing with like this before; I love R, and we work together as a couple in a way that E and I never would, but writing simply isn't something we share. At the same time, I didn't really have any doubt that E was head-over-heels for me, and so part of the cheap rush was fueled by both flirtation and flattery; it feels great (and is hugely motivating) to have someone who wants to read everything you write, and will exchange pages-long emails with you about your work and ideas, and who is, at the same time, telling you endlessly that you are a genius and everything about you is amazing. I'm susceptible to this, as much as I wish I weren't; after a week or so of this, I definitely had a crush on him, which I enjoyed. In order to preserve it for myself, I kept telling myself that we were on the same page - enjoying the flirtation, but ultimately committed to our separate relationships - for much longer than was actually sustainable.

Now, though, I've (finally) come to the unavoidable conclusion that this is dangerous and unworkable. E keeps dropping hints that his relationship is on the rocks. He sent me a very thinly veiled story about a married man who is in love with another woman that basically sent me into panic mode and prompted this question. I pretended I didn't see the connection, tore the story apart, and then apologized, saying that it had given me "complicated feelings." He said he had "complicated feelings" about the subject too, and then we let the matter drop, but...yikes. He keeps making coded statements that could, in theory, be about our friendship but imply more ("I'm saving this movie for us to watch together," etc.) He's also made plans to come to my city twice in the next month, for writing events. I have played into this, sometimes actively (I've told him I miss him, that I can't wait to see him, etc.) but more often passively, by not mentioning R as much as I should, by listening when he talks about his relationship issues, and mostly by continuing to exchange this a huge volume of words with him.

Initially, I thought I would resolve this by having a face-to-face conversation with him when he came to my city. I had the whole conversation mapped out - I'd tell him how much I enjoyed our correspondence, and that to a certain extent, I felt what he was feeling, but that I was committed to my relationship and we had to bring our conversations back solidly into the realm of friendship if we wanted this to work. I had confidence in my ability to hold the line, in part because physical attraction has only ever been a small part of this for me (although it has, admittedly, mounted.) Now, though, I'm scared to let it get that far. I am afraid that E is going to arrive here under the expectation that we are going to leave our SO's to be together, and that is unequivocally not what I want. (Though maybe that's not really what he wants, either and I'm reading too much into a flirtation. It's really hard to know). The worst-case scenario for me is that we hang out, get drunk, and end up hooking up, and then everything explodes in my face. I truly do wish that we could continue a slightly-more-turned-down version of this friendship, but I'm coming to accept that this may not be possible. So what do I do?

Here are the possibilities I've come up with, along with the complications/questions I have about them:

1. Deal with this directly, by writing him an email and then cutting off contact.

This seems like the advice I'd give if I were answering this question. Here is what scares me. Technically, except for the hand-holding, it's hard to articulate exactly what line we've crossed. There's been a lot of hinting (and that story he wrote) but he's never told me outright he has feelings for me. I'm afraid that, if I don't word it exactly right, he'll deny what's happened ("Of course we're just friends! I'm so sorry I gave you the wrong impression!") and, at the same time, I worry that bringing this out in the open will make it that much more "real," especially if I have to lead by telling him I have feelings for him, which I'm very reluctant to do. The truth is, I'm not 100% sure I trust him to respond honestly, or to stick to any boundaries we try to set, since I think it'd be worth it to him to stay "friends" regardless of how he actually feels. So how do I phrase it? I really, really need advice on this part.

And, if I do this, what should the no-contact rules be? Do we never talk or write to each other again? We are in a long-distance writing group that I really don't want to leave; we have lots of mutual friends, there are all these events coming up where I would probably see him. Going cold turkey - especially without his cooperation, which would mean I was the one who would have to miss all the events, etc. - would be a pretty significant blow, career-wise, for me. I could do it, I guess - and I would have to do it if we ever did end up crossing an unequivocal line, which is a huge motivation for me not to do so - but I would like to avoid it if at all possible. Maybe we could agree not to see each other in person? And talk only to exchange writing? Or is that too much of a hedge?

2. The slow fade

God, I am so tempted to do this. Writing back to only half his texts, instead of all of them; mentioning R more; drawing a bright line for myself with the flirtation, refusing to pick up on any more hints. Going to the event (and maybe bringing R) but avoiding meeting him one-on-one. Making sure we're never drunk together. Bullying myself into holding the line by imagining all the horrible consequences if something did happen. The appeal for me is that I wouldn't have to lose out on any of the friends, or the writing group, or the events and that maybe someday in the future we could be friends again. The downside is, what if I'm fooling myself about my inability to hold the line? If I don't have the willpower, this will only make everything worse. I feel like I'm anticipating a lot of AskMe answers shouting DON'T DO THIS, which is maybe what I need. What if I told R? Would that help? Again, I'm not sure how to phrase that conversation (and we don't usually tell each other about our crushes, even though we've both had them in the past) but I'd do it if everyone thinks it's a good idea.

3. Some other alternative...

Call E on the phone? Postpone doing anything until we meet in person, when a lack of physical attraction might solve this whole problem for me? Wait and just have that conversation I initially planned out? Email him but suggest we stay in touch as long as we both agree not to cross the line again?

Writing this out has made it clear that I'm pretty confused about how much of this is my problem (I have an inappropriate crush on a friend) vs. his problem (I'm afraid my friend is in love with me). The truth is that I feel like I can handle my feelings; his are the ones that really freak me out. But maybe this is the bullshit at the heart of the issue. If so, how do I sort through it? Do I treat this as entirely my problem, ("I have a crush on you, and so I need to stop talking to you?") and do my best to ignore the fact that he may also have much more intense feelings for me? I feel bad for him, and for his girlfriend, and for R, and I feel like I've done a lot of stupid, selfish things to get us into this position, and I really, really want to get us out.

Thanks for all your help (and sorry for the length.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You have been having an emotional affair with this man. He wants and expects more. The only thing to do is to write him and say, "I've given our friendship a lot of thought and I realize now it is completly inappropriate. I'm sorry but I have to cut off all contact with you. Please don't respond to this email or contact me again. Best of luck, me." He doesn't deserve anything else from you. You should also seriously examine whether R is the right guy for you. But if you're sure he is, do this right away and never mention it to him or anyone. Some may think you should tell him, but if you fully recommit yourself after nearly destroying your relationship, I think it will shock you how much this never happened. So to speak.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:40 AM on August 23, 2014 [60 favorites]

Agreed. Cut off contact - you need to. And please don't mention that you have a crush on him, that will just give him hope for something that isn't going to happen. It's not your problem or his problem alone, so don't treat it that way. I like PA's wording. You don't have to get dramatic and talk about never again seeing one another, but for now and an unspecified period of time into the future, you need to go no contact.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:10 AM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Potomac Avenue has the right of it. Follow his wise typing.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:15 AM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am a writer. Number 2 and telling R would be my approach. And find some other writing groups. He's not helping you as a writer if he praises everything you write because he wants to get into your pants. I am in a writing group and I make a point to thank people who critique my writing fairly and tell me how I can improve it.

Please email me at margaretcorvid@gmail.com or PM me here so I can invite you to a women's writing group I am in.
posted by Mistress at 1:47 AM on August 23, 2014 [14 favorites]

I was once in a similar position.

I made the wrong choice.

I read a good comment here recently in a thread about leaving a wife for a shiny new woman from work. It said: You have what so many of us wish we had: the ability to not fuck this up. It's like you have been given a time machine and you've gone back to the point before you made a bad decision. Use that wisely.

You're playing with fire. You don't owe this guy anything. The man I left my stable relationship for? We worked together. When I finally got the strength to leave him, full of regret and a shell of my former self, I took a significant - significant! - hit to my career. Much more significant than I would have experienced if I had just said "hey I'm sorry you're not happy with your wife but I can't help, good luck with that" and then never spoken to him again and avoided things like the reading group we both attended for work at the time. The blowback from that would have been so trivial comparatively.

Find a new writing friend. It's hard to write. It's easier when you have a friend. But find a friend with whom you have zero sexual chemistry or interest. That clearly is a danger for you and you don't need this again.

As for E, tell him, "hey dude, I've enjoyed this but I have to focus on myself and my life with R now," and then do that. You have some serious thinking to do about you and R and your life together and your own life. You really do. That's ok. E provides a yummy distraction from doing the hard work that is to come but that's all he is: a distraction. He flatters you and makes you feel good and of course you want his to never end because it feels good and nothing really bad has happened yet anyhow, you rationalize. You haven't kissed or touched or ...

I would be devastated if my boyfriend had the relationship you describe with E with some other woman. I would feel betrayed and cheated. An emotional affair is still an affair.

I'm sorry you're going through this. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. This is tricky stuff and you're doing the best you can. Get E out of your life and start thinking about what you want your life to be. Ask yourself where and how R fits in. And be kind to you as you do this. It's rough stuff.
posted by sockermom at 1:48 AM on August 23, 2014 [32 favorites]

And Mistress makes a great point about E's actual utility to you as a writing friend. Writing friends have critical eyes and sharp tongues and they don't always want to read your stuff no matter what it is or when they get it.

Talking to just exchange writing is not just a hedge. You are getting much less help with your writing from E than you think. There are plenty of other writers who need buddies out there. I'm a writer without a buddy myself. MeMail me if you want a writing friend who will actually be helpful and give you honest feedback. E can't see your work clearly and you can't see his feedback clearly either.
posted by sockermom at 1:56 AM on August 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

I respectfully but strongly disagree with the suggestion by sockermom that you don't owe E anything. He is your friend, and in my opinion friendship creates obligations of care. I think that you would not be fulfilling those obligations if you sent a cursory e-mail attempting to end your relationship with him and foreclosing even the possibility of a dialogue along the lines of Potomac Avenue's example. It would be clean -- if he didn't reply, which I think it's likely he would -- but not right. If you decide to take option one, I think that you should explain your thought process and feelings as fully as possible, while being clear that you have definitively made up your mind, and be willing to listen to and respond to E's reaction before stopping contact. You will not have to worry about giving him false hope by telling him you have a crush on him, as was suggested above, if you write your e-mail to him as clearly as you wrote this post.

As for which option you should take, if you are indeed committed to your relationship with R, I think you should decide based on what option he would most want you to take and would most dispose him to forgive you for your emotional affair if he knew about it, not which option has the best or most comfortable outcome for you individually.

I do not know whether you should actually tell R about what happened. I think it depends on which model for relationships you prefer, and which you think R prefers -- one in which both parties are permitted to have something of an unacknowledged veil over exterior romantic experiences so long as the intensity and duration does not cross a certain line; or one in which both parties try as much as possible to embody honesty and fidelity in their conduct within the relationship. I think both are legitimate models.

Good luck and best wishes.
posted by Cucurbit at 2:56 AM on August 23, 2014 [12 favorites]

Potomac's advice is very sympathetic to your position, but I agree with Cucurbit that if you do take option 1, then you do in fact owe your friend a proper dialogue, and an opportunity for him to express his thoughts. After all, you were just as much responsible for this emotional affair as he was. Of course, this requires a lot of maturity and self awareness on your part, and you must be able to explain your thoughts concisely but thoroughly without leaving any room for negotiation. You need to be prepared to hear him possibly deny his feelings, attack you, get dramatic, and still be able to let go. If you don't think you can handle that at this point, then honestly stick to Potomac's script, since otherwise it will just prolong the drama and keep E hooked.

You worry about misunderstanding his feelings, or him denying it, but that's beside the point. Tell him that you can only speculate how he feels, but the fact remains that you two had a close emotional relationship, and that was not appropriate and fair to either one of you, and your respective partners.

However, I don't think the slow fade is such a bad idea at this point. You're right that it all depends on how firmly you can stick to this plan though. If you blow hot and cold, that would only get E more and more attached. However, you two have never openly spoken about your feelings or the relationship, and slow fade is a good way to continue showing how you feel without words. If he's on the same page as you, he would acknowledge it.

Finally, whatever option you take, it shouldn't result in you avoiding the writing events, or feeling incredibly awkward. Essentially, what you need to do is set a firm boundary and stick to it, regardless of how far he is or how close he is physically.
posted by snufkin5 at 3:31 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suspect that a clean break will be easier for you. There is a small chance, I think, that if you do a slow fade with E, he will respect that and be sad but not a jerk, but IMO, when someone has been dropping a lot of hints, writing stories, etc, they tend to respond poorly to a slow fade - lots of contact, lots of drama, passive aggression, etc.

E may be a perfectly decent person who is acting badly in the middle of an emotional crisis, but an important feature is that he is perfectly willing to cheat on his partner with you and/or to leave his partner very abruptly for you. Maybe his partner is terrible and he has needed an emotional catalyst to leave, but probably he's just a person who isn't good at resisting temptation, emotional honesty, etc. Someone who hasn't used any of his words and seems to expect that a whole affair is going to result based on no direct communication at all...that's not a good thing in a grown man. Basically, E is bad news - it's okay to make a direct break.

I think it's reasonable to write to E honestly that your friendship has grown too emotionally intense and you feel that because you are committed to R, you need to draw it to a close, please don't contact you, etc. I think it's okay to acknowledge for E that there has been something nonspecific going on - it may even help him spin this to himself in a way he can live with. I think if you do this on the phone, it will involve yelling and hanging up.

I also think that if E were to say "why, you have totally mistaken my feelings!" (which would pretty obviously be a face-saving fib) you would be getting off light. That's the best outcome, because it suggests that E would then want to pretend that everything was normal by treating you like a regular friend.
posted by Frowner at 3:39 AM on August 23, 2014 [21 favorites]

Your instincts are right and you should be really proud of yourself for seeing this so clearly. I mean it. Well done.

Potomac Avenue has it right. A simple email and then cut it off, completely.

And yes, this other man can express his feelings, and as a writer he can express them that way.

He does NOT need to express them to you, and you absolutely should not let that happen. I mean, really, what's he going to tell you? You have it all wrong and he thinks of you as a buddy? Or he loves you and you're killing him? In any and all cases, there's no need for you to hear or read his feelings.

Seriously, well done on reining in.
posted by kinetic at 4:00 AM on August 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think you are feeling entirely too responsible for E's emotional well-being. He's a grown man who's hinting strongly that he's about to cheat on his wife. You didn't arm wrestle him into it. For all you know this is how he gets women all the time: join a writing group and flatter the shit out of the most responsive woman there.

Flattery is nice and so are daydreams but you are about to do something hurtful and damaging to your partner and relationship if you don't end it. Whereas whether E gets hurt or feels damaged is a risk he's taken by going after an attached person - and I think he's done it in a pushy and manipulative way. He has really pushed the responsibility for his feelings onto you, and you're feeling it. Whereas, as adults, we are all responsible for our own feelings.

You don't have a commitment to E. You need to make the break bluntly, decisively and absolutely unmistakeably, in writing by email so you've got evidence in case of fallout. And I think you should try to talk to your partner about what happened and how and why you ended it; that is, if, knowing your partner, that wouldn't be a destructive thing to do. Maybe your relationship with your partner does need some work, you know better than posters here.

On preview, what kinetic said times two. You've been very clear-headed in your question except for the bit where you think you've got some obligation not to hurt this man. E put himself in the way of being hurt and bamboozled you into feeling you're in charge of that.
posted by glasseyes at 4:13 AM on August 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

Write to him, and tell him that your relationship with him feels like it's crossing a line and you are committed to your relationship with R. Phrase it like that, it's "crossing a line." You don't have to specify who is or isn't crossing that line, just that the relationship itself is. Tell him that you really care for him and value your friendship, but this needs to cool way down for a while and maybe just end. Tell him he hasn't done anything wrong, but you want to go cold turkey. No contact in email, text or phone, and you don't want to talk if you see him at gatherings. Again, tell him he hasn't done anything wrong, but this is what you need and he needs to respect that.

Note that he could interpret this as he's gotten too attached, or that you're feeling too much. Both of which are, perhaps, true. Note that you do not put him down, or make him feel like a creep. Note that you don't say anything that could blow up in your face too bad, if it ever got back to R. I suppose you could say it's a little weaselly, because it gives you a lot of easy outs. But it also potentially spares this guy's feelings while firmly pushing him away... and it leaves you open to perhaps renew the friendship at some point when/if it ever feels like a better idea.

You're not asking for anything unreasonable there, and if he starts pushing past any of the boundaries you've set he's officially being a creep and a problem and you can shut him down without feeling a pinch of guilt.

I must admit, I feel kind of clever for coming up with all this, like I cracked a tricky human relations puzzle. Perhaps I'm wrong, but usually I pretty much suck at dealing with humanity so LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:31 AM on August 23, 2014 [71 favorites]

Do a partial slow fade. Say you have work on your own life, both personal and creatively. Then do that.

You are not some helpless person who can't control her actions and will succumb to the incredible power of his pelvic sorcery. Be an adult and set the boundaries and keep them. If you really don't want to take this relationship further, then don't.

This way, you don't have avoid the public meetings, leave the writing group and create awkward occurrences with the circle of friends. Keep it light, say hello every now and then while seeking other writer friends etc, etc.

What he feels is up to him and not your responsibility.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:04 AM on August 23, 2014 [11 favorites]

If you want to end contact with him, you should, but I disagree that it's necessary. It sounds like he is an important person in your life and someone worth keeping in it. You do need to re-draw boundaries, either explicitly or through your actions.

Option 1: write to say that you're afraid he might be seeing romantic potential in you, apologize for subtly encouraging it by reveling in his attention, and clarify that it will never happen because of your relationship with R.

Option 2: if you don't like to be that direct, tell him you're excited for his visit, that you're looking forward to him meeting R, and that you and R will be available to see him at x times if he's free.

I think you should warn R before his visit that you just realized this guy has a crush on you, you worry that the amount of time you've spent writing to him may have been leading him on, and that you have it in hand so you don't need to worry. Bringing it up yourself will end better than if he sniffs out something he finds suspicious.
posted by metasarah at 5:04 AM on August 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Regardless of what you've said to each other, you're having an emotional affair. You have to decide whether you want to be with E or R and proceed from there. Staying in contact with this new flirtation while you're supposedly in a relationship with someone else is cruel and unfair. Whether you decide to be with E or R, you have to cut all contact with the other one.
posted by Diag at 5:22 AM on August 23, 2014

As an addendum to my previous comment, I'll say that I think you really, really need to cut off contact with this guy if you want to stay in an exclusive relationship with R. This relationship with E truly is crossing a line, especially if you're worried that if you happen to fall back into physical proximity you'll actually hook up with the guy.

You seem like a good and intelligent person, but good and intelligent people can talk themselves into doing stupid, awful things and even think up smart-sounding ways to justify why they hurt other people. Don't.

It is no crime to have feelings for more than one person. It's no crime to shag multiple partners at once, if everybody is on board with that. But it is wrong to cheat, and you are damn close to cheating already. Don't tempt yourself. Don't fool yourself. There is the very real risk that you will screw up something good, with the person you most want to be with. If you are having issues in your primary relationship and they're causing you to seek attention elsewhere, deal with those issues. But please don't cheat on anybody, ever.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:25 AM on August 23, 2014 [11 favorites]

You know that you've been giving out mixed signals. But you can stop that right now. He's not going to let you do a slow fade so you have to put your big girl panties on and cut this off.

You can join a writers group, where you can engage with other writers if you want that connection, this guy is NOT the only writer in the world.

Send a short email explaining that you're committed and happy with your partner and that for the good of your mental health and your relationship that you're cutting off all contact. Then block him from contacting you totally.

You've been through it once, now you know how it works. Don't let an emotional affair happen to you again.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:41 AM on August 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Good lord, you are using this guy like he was a toy off a shelf. Stop leading E on. Stop using him. Quit trying to figure out a way that makes using him safe and convenient for you.

Cut off contact with E. Reconsider whether you ought to be engaged to R.
posted by mattu at 5:49 AM on August 23, 2014 [9 favorites]

be willing to listen to and respond to E's reaction before stopping contact.

Absolutely the wrong thing to do, because this opens up doors to negotiations, demands for explanations, and promises to change that will never actually happen. Do what Potomac Avenue suggested and if E responds against your wishes, ignore it and block every means he has of communicating with you.

It's nice to pretend that everyone in our lives is a mature adult who will respond appropriately to our wishes, but in cases like this it just doesn't happen. Cut it off, clean break, sever, et cetera. Just end it and forget it. I can promise you anything else will result in pain.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:07 AM on August 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

Friends don't throw out signals that they're interested in you romantically when you're in a committed relationship. Friends don't text you about how much they miss you. They don't tell you they're pretending to be happy around their spouse, and they certainly don't tell you that they'd rather be with you right now than with the person that they married. Friends don't make you feel dizzy and intoxicated with their contact. Friends don't make it clear that they are head over heels for you if you're both not single. They don't drop hints that their relationship with their spouse is on the rocks; they don't say things using coded messages. They don't try to get what they want from you without caring how it affects you and your life. That is not a friend.

I think that you might reframe this relationship in your mind a bit, because of course true friendship does carry at least some obligation - and that's why you feel like you owe him a visit while he is in town or that you owe him a discussion where you tell him how you feel and why you need to stop your relationship with him.

But E isn't your friend. He hasn't acted like a friend here. He has not behaved in a way that engenders trust, which is why I wouldn't recommend trusting him with the information that you have a crush on him.
posted by sockermom at 6:34 AM on August 23, 2014 [15 favorites]

Your history of mixed signals with this guy means you can't do a slow fade or a dialogue. It won't work, he'll sense it and try to talk you out of it, and it seems like that might work with you/

I'm afraid that, if I don't word it exactly right, he'll deny what's happened ("Of course we're just friends! I'm so sorry I gave you the wrong impression!")

Good! Him saving face like that would be a great barrier to you two, and then you could be more confident he won't try to break the no contact. The fact that you are even worried that he might deny your connection is a sign of mixed signals: you want to not see this guy again, but you want it to be confirmed how much he wants you.

This is why you can't do a slow fade or talk to him. One e-mail, then no contact forever. The people telling you that you have some responsibility to explain yourself are answering a different question than you asked. They're telling you how to spare E's feelings. They're not telling you how to bring an inappropriate friendship to a close.

They're also being ridiculously naive about E. We can't always control our feelings, so I'm not saying he's a monster, but he's knowingly courting you while both of you are in committed relationships. It's not like he's be confused and shocked by you ending it. He'll be hurt, but nothing will prevent that. When you develop feelings for unavailable people, you get hurt. If he really is so silly that he doesn't know that yet, know is a good time for him to learn. For you as well.

Go no contact. It's the only way you can hope to get out of this cleanly. Don't tell R, but you need to seriously consider if you are ready to be engaged, both to him specifically and at all. You should have never let this get to this point; so figure out why you did. Ambivalence about R? Immaturity? Figure it out soon, or you'll screw up other relationships too.
posted by spaltavian at 6:44 AM on August 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm going to take a slightly different tack, as I agree with the answers that you should go no-contact and not engage in a dialogue with this guy, and point out that this:

But maybe this is the bullshit at the heart of the issue.

is absolutely true. It really, really doesn't matter for the purposes of resolving your question who should own/ own more of this problem, or who can be trusted to do what. You've made some inappropriate choices. As you said, you don't actually know what he's thinking - you have suspicions. However, you do know what you're thinking, and that you have an inappropriate crush. That is a problem that is entirely within your power to solve.
posted by sm1tten at 7:02 AM on August 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Could you lay out the entire relationship with E, everything you've done and everything you've said, to R and feel good about it? Regardless of whether E likes you more than you like him, you yourself have gone way beyond what I suspect you would feel comfortable with your own partner doing and saying. If R was you in this story wouldn't it break your heart? That's why I'd break off contact completely with E. I think you're deluding yourself about how easy it would be for you to scale this back to a totally platonic friendship. You're actively enjoying the rush you get from your relationship with E and trying to find any way to hang on to that while still maintaining plausible deniability that you're doing anything that would hurt your relationship with R. If you really are committed totally to R, then E's got to go. Anything else is playing with fire.
posted by MsMolly at 7:11 AM on August 23, 2014

be willing to listen to and respond to E's reaction before stopping contact.

Nope. That is what people in relationships do and if your assertion is that you don't want to be in a messy relationship with this person then you don't have a "let's talk about our feelings" conversation where you try to reach some sort of consensus. At some level it doesn't matter if all the heavy hinting that E is doing is in your head or not, it makes you uncomfortable and your feelings are valid. You may have found it appealing at some point and now you clearly don't. That's OK, you are allowed to draw these boundaries and if he comes back with some sort of "Oh what, I am just being friendly, why are you being so cold to me?" then, well, you can decide to take that as back-pedaling or you can take it as what was true all along. The point is that the actions he took made you, at some point, uncomfortable, and you would like them to stop.

You can decide if you want this to be more unilateral (no contact) or more equivocal ("I'd really like to be friends with you but this pseudo-romantic-flirty stuff has got to stop and it has to stop NOW"). You can apologize to E if E had the feeling that you were going to leave your respective spouses based on what you said, but you still have agency to say or do whatever feels right to you. Making some bad choices in the past does not mean you owe this guy anything at all. If you want to continue a friendship then it's a kind thing to explain yourself, explain what has changed in you and decide how to move forward and maybe dealing with some "But I thought..." stuff from him. It does not mean taking on this guy's emotional well-being as your own responsibility. If you want to work it out with R, rewrite this question in your head as one that makes working it out with him as your main priority and figure out through (hopefully) having a real conversation with him what the right path is for dealing with E.

Things got a little out of hand and you got caught up in this but it's not where you want to be. You have to make this right. If he can't handle his feelings that will become pretty clear and you may have to make this a two step process.

Also, if you want to wrap this up, leave the "I have feelings for you" out of this discussion unless you want it to be a potential wedge issue with this guy. You feel what you feel, but your actions are going to be "We are just friends and if you can't work with that, then we're not even going to be that" right?
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 AM on August 23, 2014 [11 favorites]

ended up sitting very closely side-by-side, holding hands.

You're a writer - look at the passive way you stated this. You didn't "end up" holding hands, you chose to sit close. You chose to hold hands.

This is a classic emotional affair, down to every detail. You are not in a unique situation - this is textbook. If you are committed to R and don't have an open relationship, then you've been crossing line after line for a long time and you need to be honest with yourself that you have made every selfish choice that has led you here.

E is not your friend. He's someone you've been having an affair with. You only have two choices here - end the affair with no further contact, or break up with R so you can pursue a relationship with E.

There is no middle ground or cushy path that allows you to skate off without causing one of these people pain.

I think you should warn R before his visit that you just realized this guy has a crush on you, you worry that the amount of time you've spent writing to him may have been leading him on, and that you have it in hand so you don't need to worry.

This is a pack of lies, don't say anything like this to R. Don't lie to R, what has he done to deserve that?
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:31 AM on August 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

Oh my, what a sad state of things.

While the headline suggests you are looking for ways to end this relationship, the text does say you are looking for solutions that may turn down the heat on this and perhaps save the true friendship here.

I would also like you to examine where this relationship sprouted from: your work, and a true supportive friendship. It has just been recently, and with the support of alcohol, that your end of it has gotten out of range. It sounds as if his feelings have been growing for a while. I think that this original, true friendship is probably quite valuable to both of you. We do not find many people in life that are significantly important, and it sounds as if this man is significantly important. I think it would be a real tradgedy to lose someone that you are connected to, and someone that has proven himself to be supportive. However, the crush aspects of the relationship are troubling to you, and are telling you this friendship has the capability to blow up much of the rest of your life.

I find the no contact idea to be quite sad. To punish yourself, and E, and remove any possibility of a fruitful friendship from your life.

I also think the purposeful slow fade to be a cop-out, and will lead to many uncomfortable situations, and still has the end goal of removing an important friendship from your life. Very sad.

The part of this relationship that is a problem is the romantic aspect. Many, many men and women in friendships have at least some romantic or physical attraction aspect in their relationships, and it is a matter of managing that. In the vast majority of cases, as the friendship matures, this romantic angle will fade and in a year or so you will both be embarrassed that you ever felt that way.

The crush and romantic angle is surviving and growing because it is not in the light of day, and it is not recognized that a romantic relationship between the two of you is not what you want, and is in fact a teenage-style reaction.

Bring the crush to the light of day.
The best manner to do this is in a lighthearted way. Show that you are not serious about the romantic intentions, and make a huge farce of it while exposing R's tender feelings to everyone.
Will it be slightly harsh? Yes. Will it cure the crush? Absolutely.
If E really values you as a friend, he will see how ridiculous the romantic prospect was, and will return to friendship.

Tell R that E has a crush on you.
"R, I have finally figured out that E has a crush on me! Of course it is ridiculous, and feels very 8th grade, especially in the light of the strong relationship we have. However, I think he's a great person and I still want to spend time this week with him. So, I am hoping you can be with me when E is around this week."

You will also need to call E out on the crush, in a very matter-of-fact way, and yet you can be a bit affectionate and playful about it. Tell him that you plan to tell everyone else about his crush, too.
"So, you were hoping to spend time alone with me because of your huge 8th grade crush on me, right? Because you know we are friends and nothing will ruin our friendship faster than that, and I will not risk our friendship or my relationship with R. You know that R will be at dinner too, right? You know that he knows about your silly crush."

You may also want to do some similarly middle-school shaming and taunting of E on this topic. It may be gossipy and perhaps controversial, but will likely get E to straighten up quickly. He will be embarassed.
"Well, writing group, E is praising my work only because he has a giant crush on me, but we all know that's never going to happen."

You need to get the crush out into the daylight. The ridiculousness of it all will take all of the air out of it. You will feel very 15 years old for a few weeks.

If E's intentions were only ever romantic, he will likely never be close to you again. If he is a real friend, he will straighten up quite quickly and return to a more normal friendship.

My best wishes to you that you may preserve this valuable friendship. You can never go wrong with open and honest communication, it is only when feelings and intentions are secret that things become troublesome.
posted by littlewater at 8:45 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you're going to end up having to go no-contact so you might as well do it now. And leave the writers group while you are at it. This has just gone too far, and no matter what you say, he is going to think he still has a chance, and he may be right.
posted by BibiRose at 9:20 AM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I f you want to go no contact, fine, but breaking up by email is cowardly, I think. If you talk to him, he may be angry and rage at you, and you know--you can listen. I think this emotional entanglement is a two-way set-up, with as much fault on your side as on his. Call him up, tell him the truth and take your lumps like a grown woman. Then, you can filter his emails, change your phone number o on your sadder but wiser way.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:22 AM on August 23, 2014

You've been horribly emotionally unfaithful to R. Honestly, you could have nipped the whole thing in the bud by just telling R what happened immediately after you returned from the one month trip. It's easier to allow flirtatious like these to spiral out of control in secret. If you share such things with your partner from the get-go, you can maintain both perspective and emotional fidelity.

Before you speak with E, talk to R. He should be part of this discussion. Maybe even share this askme. Be unsparingly honest and think through next steps as a couple.
posted by Gray Skies at 10:11 AM on August 23, 2014

Come on. This is really not the monstrous thing half this thread is condemning it as. And yes, friends do text each other flirty things sometimes, E is not a monster, he's a guy who's looking to cheat on his relationship, but remember he thinks you would enjoy this because he's projecting his own relationship dissatisfaction onto you. You don't have to be evil to harbor infidelious thoughts.

You have been engaging in a flirtation. It was inappropriate. It felt good. Now stop, because if you keep going down this road, very bad things can happen. But they haven't happened yet. This is not hard to solve - yet.

Email E. "Interesting thoughts about [the book, or whatever his last email was about.] E, there's something that's been on my mind and I need to act on it. I feel like our correspondence has been crossing the line into inappropriate territory. I've enjoyed it and I own my part in creating this awkward situation, but I'm calling myself out on this now and I need to take a step back and concentrate on my work and my life with R. It's best if we stop corresponding. I wish you the best in every way; goodbye for now." If he responds, you don't need to answer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:37 AM on August 23, 2014 [12 favorites]

E is not your friend. I agree he's been looking to cheat.

There is no friendship to save, since E has been pretty forward about his intentions from the beginning. The underpinnings of this "friendship" are spoiled.

If you don't want to be a Lying Liar Who Lies and Cheats, then for fucks sake, write a short email and go no contact.

This guy knows what he's doing is wrong and a betrayal of his relationship with his partner.

His relationship problems are his problem, you owe him zero explanation. Cut him off today and you won't have to worry about this drama llama and his bullshit invitations to cheat any further.

We live on planet Earth, actions have consequences. Moving on to another writing group is the consequence of getting involved with this guy. Be a mature adult and accept this consequence with grace.
posted by jbenben at 11:20 AM on August 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think it depends on which model for relationships you prefer, and which you think R prefers -- one in which both parties are permitted to have something of an unacknowledged veil over exterior romantic experiences so long as the intensity and duration does not cross a certain line; or one in which both parties try as much as possible to embody honesty and fidelity in their conduct within the relationship. I think both are legitimate models.
This is diplomatically phrased, but I can't agree that making assumptions about what your life partner wants is as legitimate as actually, you know, talking to them.

Talk to R. Hopefully he's already aware of E, but perhaps not fully aware of how close you've become. Talk about what you think appropriate boundaries are for the two of you, not being too swayed by what your friends, family, or internet strangers think are appropriate boundaries. It's your marriage; it can be whatever you two want it to be.

Recognize that this may not go well. Consider some possibilities (by no means exhaustive):
- R does not believe straight married couples should have same-gender close friends. Or same-gender friends. Or close friends.
- R is jealous of E, but is willing to manage that jealousy because E is important to you and because you're comfortable with R having similar friends.
- R is okay with you having this kind of relationship in the future, but because you weren't honest about E, he wants E out of your life.

When you know what you and R want, talk to E. Thinly-veiled stories are junior high bullshit, but we live in a culture where extra-marital friendships are over-dramatized as "emotional affairs," which makes people hesitant to clearly communicate. That said, if E can't talk to you like an adult, or if he is critical of your relationship with R, a friendship won't work. And if his own relationship isn't going well, your friendship may be too much complexity for him to handle.

I've been in your shoes a number of times. I'm still happily married, and I'm immensely glad to have had caring relationships with other people along the way. But it can indeed be complicated, and it puts you in a minority.

Lastly, if you choose to end the friendship, you don't owe E a detailed explanation, but be clear and be kind. You won't regret being a decent person.
posted by orangejenny at 11:55 AM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

For whatever it's worth, my opinion is that you should not talk to R about any of this. Let sleeping dogs lie. You'd only be asking for trouble by spilling the beans. (Dogs? Beans? I think I'm mixing metaphors or something.)
posted by alex1965 at 12:08 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

"So, you were hoping to spend time alone with me because of your huge 8th grade crush on me, right? Because you know we are friends and nothing will ruin our friendship faster than that, and I will not risk our friendship or my relationship with R. You know that R will be at dinner too, right? You know that he knows about your silly crush."

This strikes me as a very cruel thing to say to someone who you're ostensibly trying to keep as a friend. Dishonest, too, given that the OP has acknowledged that she was also getting something from the inappropriate, boundary-pushing points of the relationship.

Ursula Hitler and fingersandtoes have it, OP. You don't need to assign blame, you don't need to spend time parsing exactly what was going on inside of E's head. It's enough to say "I value you as a friend, but this friendship isn't good for me right now, and I need to take a step back."
posted by kagredon at 12:25 PM on August 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

Ursula Hitler and fingersandtoes have it right. Cut this relationship off now with a polite, clear email explaining the relationship has crossed a line. Go no contact. Do not plan to resume contact any time soon. This may not be easy, and you may be hoping for some kind of middle ground where you can keep this friendship, but please believe me when I say this is the kindest way for all parties involved.
posted by daisystomper at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're doing that thing that aspiring artists sometimes do. Create some kind of messy situation and wallow in it, maybe hoping that some of the excitement and drama will deepen them as artists.

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't - but it can get very toxic, very self-indulgent, and sometimes innocent bystanders get hurt.

Pick up your favorite writing utensil and give it a try. See if you can convey the longing, the guilt, the indecision in a short story. This will help you understand whether this is really helpful to your art, or whether you're just distracting yourself with some fun but empty thrills.
posted by jasper411 at 1:12 PM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

He sent me a very thinly veiled story about a married man who is in love with another woman

Fuuuuuck that.

Oh, I know this type of guy, and the dynamic you've created with him. I've had guys mind-meld with me by creating a "nation of two" writers...oh, how special our connection is, and oh, how special our writing is, and oh, how special it feels to have one's writing deeply "heard" and understood and responded to. It's intoxicating. I've had guys offer to buy us twin sailing boats so we can sail around the world in tandem, and write. I've had guys offer to move from halfway around the world to be with me, because they feel my writing speaks so deeply to them. I've had guys willing (on paper) to walk away from full partner in a prestigious law firm, ditch the kids and wife and family home, so we could be together is some sort of ridiculous, romantic writerly fairy tale.

That's not why I write -- to have lonelyhearted men in sad marriages hump my literary leg? Hell no. Gross. It's neither flattering nor inspiring to be someone's muse, or to have them be my he-muse. Writing is challenging (and fun), but that doesn't justify people acting out and crossing boundaries in the name of supporting each other's art.

He is straight-up commiting literary mindfuckery by writing you those wildly inappropriate (and frankly, cliched, banal, unoriginal) "love stories". It's gross and creepy and just plain ewww. He's sliding his grubby wordsmith paw up your mind's skirt. Slap his hand away, and get back to taking your writing (and your real relationship) seriously. He's wasting your time; he's cluttering your mind; he's preventing you from doing your best work. Abort, Delete, Move on. Respect the power of your words, and reclaim them.

You owe him nothing other than a polite exit.
posted by nacho fries at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2014 [44 favorites]

Your relationship with E was a fictional one. You two were probably not as attuned to one another as your description implies. It seems to me that you were experiencing some sort of vacuum, into which he fitted quite well (as far as you are concerned). You don't really know what sort of niche in his life you occupy, and you absolutely are in no position to evaluate his more subtle motives. It's clear that there is a serious disconnect between what you want and what he wants. That's the hard truth of the situation. Your friendship is not as symmetrical as you have described it.

Your choice seems clear to me, and I suspect it's clear to you, but the process you will employ contains whacks at your own complicity in the entanglement you now experience. Some people, above, have noticed that E is not your toy. I agree. Nor are you his. Please don't confuse civility with some sort of emotional debt.

The "let's be just friends" theory of distancing is probably the best way to go. It's sort of tacky, because, usually, the person hearing this would rather you jab chopsticks in his ears than be "just friends." Hearing this is really the death knoll to the relationship, at least it's death to the direction he wishes to take the relationship. E will have to come to grips with his failing relationship with his SO. You will have to come to grips with your relationship with E. If I were your SO I would be pretty uncomfortable with this, although I would necessarily be required to let you take the lead in whatever decision you make. You will have to figure out just what all this stuff really means before you'll be in any condition to have a chat with your SO about it without cringing into a defensive posture.

In truth, a clean break is the best way to go, and a clear statement to E is the best way to do it: "This is hard to say, dear E, but our relationship is on the verge of getting out of hand, and I need to stand back from it now, and reaffirm my normal life with my dearest SO. I hope that, eventually, we can be friends, but even that won't be possible right now. I don't want to see you when you come to town. Please respect my wishes, and leave me alone."

He may wish to get more into your reasons, but I don't see how any rationalizing will make it any easier for either of you. I'm sure you aren't one to open with the old "it's not you, it's me" gambit. That tack leads to craziness. He needs to know that it's you. So do you need to express it that way if you want to own your decision and resist emotional manipulation.

There may be a time down the road when you can discuss this with your SO. Right now you need a while to gain a better perspective on how this has come about. The firmer your actions and the clearer your decisions are now, the easier it will be to touch bases with reality later on.

As regards writing friends & colleagues: I got into a short, intense, and ultimately doomed relationship with the instructor of a writing group. It was great while it lasted, but when the wheels started to come off, it wasn't hard for me to see how much better off I would be when she finally got all her shoes out of my closet.

Writing classes are to develop colleagues as well as insight on writing tactics. Although you may find friendships there, you won't overcome the basic and fundamental needs of a writer: predictable solitude and flexibility. You must learn to write for your readers, not your friends.

I hope this doesn't come off preachy. Good advice usually ends up being a description of some failed experience, voiced by a survivor--but do keep in mind that the survivor may not have gleaned the most useful of lessons from his experience.

You may have dodged a bullet. Good luck.
posted by mule98J at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Trust me. No contact is the only way and you don't owe him anything. Time to move on. While this sounds harsh, anything else will give him openings. It sucks for him (I've been on the dumpee side too often), but that's the best way for you.
posted by learnsome at 7:57 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Before you decide exactly what to do about E, you need to figure out where you really stand with R. Have you stepped back, all by yourself - without any consideration of E - and seriously examined the depth of your commitment to R?

Do that first - be absolutely certain that being R's other half for the rest of your life is what matters most deeply in your heart. Then, if that's the case, I'd recommend politely but firmly ending contact with E - no discussion, just an affirmation of your commitment to R and a best of luck to you to E. If you choose this way to go, don't mention it at all to R unless you'll feel guilty or you think R will interpret whatever he hears as more serious than it was; if you think your relationship with R could be compromised if you keep it to yourself, then I'd go with making light of it to R with a comment about E having a crush on you and that's not anything you want so E has been sent on his way. This would be a very good idea if R is aware of your contact with E and will notice if that contact stops abruptly without explanation.

If by chance you come to the conclusion that what you and R have is not going to be enough to commit yourself to completely, then that's good to know right now instead of later. Make a decision, but weigh all the options first.

You will have this happen again at some time - when you meet someone who closely shares a major interest of yours. What you do now will determine how you handle these things in the future.

I'd skip the guilt stuff - what you've done is respond to an instinctive delight in another man and his interest in you and your work. It was indeed an "emotional affair" but it stayed at that level and there probably isn't a person alive who hasn't had either an "emotional affair" or something very close to one at one time or another. You've done well to stop it at that level.
posted by aryma at 11:58 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I didn't read all the other answers, but this is what I'd do:

"Dear E, I've been thinking about our friendship and feeling progressively more uncomfortable with it as time goes on. The way we talk to each other has gotten to a point where for me it detracts from my relationship with R, and that is not what I want. I have definitely appreciated the conversations we've had and think you are a good writer [or whatever], but I'm going to pull back now and focus my energies on writing and R.

By which I mean: I'll be friendly if we run into each other at public events, and I maintain goodwill towards you as I hope you will towards me. But I don't think we should correspond, talk or text any more. I hope you can understand.

Take care of yourself. I wish you well. Anon."

Then if he wrote back I probably wouldn't respond. Also, I would tell R. I know you trust yourself to not cross this boundary, but you kind of want to flirt with the boundary-crossing, and I think telling R will keep that bright red line a little brighter.
posted by feets at 3:03 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Technically, except for the hand-holding, it's hard to articulate exactly what line we've crossed. There's been a lot of hinting (and that story he wrote) but he's never told me outright he has feelings for me. I'm afraid that, if I don't word it exactly right, he'll deny what's happened...

Don't talk about what anybody has done that has crossed a line. Instead, talk about how things are for you now, how you feel, and what you want. He can't contradict you about these things or argue about them, because they're your experience, feelings, and wishes. "I'm having a hard time with how I feel about you. I have a strong crush, and I came close to kissing you that night. I feel guilty for confiding in you about things I ought to be talking with R about. I'm not comfortable about how close we've become" (or maybe, "how close I feel to you"). The are just examples and might not fit just right, but you can see what I mean: make it about you. He may say all sorts of things to keep you from distancing yourself. What about our friendship? Are you going to throw it away because of a crush? We're adults and we're mature enough not to act on these feelings. Et cetera. Don't counter any of these. Don't discuss them.

And, if I do this, what should the no-contact rules be?

I believe it's best for you not to see or talk with him again, ever. But if you can't say that, tell him you want to have no contact at all for a specific period of time -- 6 months, maybe. 3 months isn't long enough, because he'll just bide his time hoping to pick it up again ini 90 days. 6 months is long enough that he may actually accept that he needs to find other things to do with himself, other than fantasizing about you. A 6-month period will keep you safe from temptation, and you can get the thrill-craving out of your system. When the phone rings or the beeps, you won't have a hope (or a fear) that it might be him. Tell him that the hiatus is something you need -- something that will be good for you. Again, don't engage if he tries to change your mind. If necessary, repeat what you already said, that you feel like 6 months of no contact of any kind, not even "just to say hi."

I'm not 100% sure I trust him to respond honestly, or to stick to any boundaries we try to set.

You are setting a boundary -- it's not both of you. You can only set a boundary for yourself, since you can't control what he does. You're asking him, reasonably, not to communicate with you -- but your own actual boundary is, "I will not interact with you for six months." If he tries to communicate with you, don't respond.

Also, you're not promising that you will resume contact in 6 months. If he comes sniffing around after that, it would be best to tell him that the silence is working for you and you don't want to resume your friendship.
posted by wryly at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

1. Deal with this directly, by writing him an email and then cutting off contact.

Cut him off, forever. Unless you intend to end your first relationship. This doesn't work out to "we're all friends." Trust me, I've been there.

You have some full disclosure coming with R. too.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on August 25, 2014

I'm on my cell right now so have to keep this short but I want to say just one thing.

This is NOT a case of friendship gone sour.
This has started out as an emotional affair. Messed up from the start. No healthy core.
Plus it's only been a month, right?
It's ok to just cut him off. Kindly.
posted by M. at 12:59 AM on August 26, 2014

I'm In the tell R camp.

For me telling R is about reestablishing your relationship and commitment to eachother. It is about all strengths and weaknesses in your relationship. It is ok to have someone who you can talk about your work or hobby with that is not your partner. It's okay to have feelings. It is not ok to act on them. And guess what? You haven't. Aside from spending time and being distracted to haven't done anything but hold hands and think about kissing. Wow I can't tell you how many times I've thought kissing someone else might be a good idea. But overall in dedicated to my partner and I know her well. She knows me well. You have evalutate your relationship. Maybe you should tell R that you've thought about it and you've spent so much time talking to E that you need to spend more time with him. That you have a writing world you need to talk to him more about. That you care and aren't trying to a sabotoge the relationship because it is the most important thing in your life.

As for E I think that no contact for awhile would be good just so you can focus and spend time with R. If you want to establish later you can and if you don't that is okay.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2014

"For all you know this is how he gets women all the time: join a writing group and flatter the shit out of the most responsive woman there."

Quoted for the people I know who run workshops have seen it hundreds of times.

You did something dumb. So far, no real consequences. If you were driving while tired and started to switch lanes without looking and almost hit another car, the you'd feel dumb and shaken and grateful and try not to do it again. Applies here. Stop doing what you're doing and go back to being a safe driver.

You do not need the added drama of hashing it out with anyone beyond the sympathetic, uninvolved internets.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:08 PM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

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