navigating the post-FWB hookup drawdown
May 5, 2015 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Hooked up with a longtime friend, A. We are both somewhat recently split from LTRs, although A's exit was much more recent than mine. Pre- and during, A was super affectionate, looking ahead and waxing poetic about our as-yet-unrealized future plans. Post-, A has been unusually cool and distant. I'm really embarrassed and way too old for this. What can I do to reassess, re-calibrate, regroup, and move on?

I've been out of the dating game for a long time, since I (unilaterally; my decision) broke up with my last boyfriend, Z. A has been obviously and consistently interested in me in a more-than-friendly way for much longer than that, to the point that our friendship eventually became a long-simmering source of contention in both of our now-ended partnerships: his ex was mad that he liked me, my ex was mad that he liked me. Over the past couple of years, the tone of our conversations had shifted and started to make me feel like A was actively auditioning me to be his girlfriend, but we were never single at the same time, so it seemed like a moot point.

Fast forward to present day: A and I are in our mid-30s, I've been single for quite a while, and A has broken up with his now-ex (unilaterally; his decision). After a month of us both being unattached, we made tentative plans to get together, then wound up hooking up pretty much immediately. We were both very sober and very nervous. It was a surprisingly intimate ordeal... gazing, laughing, smiling, him repeatedly reaching out in the middle of the night to hold my hand or kiss the top of my head, all that garbage. The next day, A, who is friendly-acquainted with Z, said out of the blue that he would feel less awkward running into Z at an upcoming event they're both attending if Z was dating someone. Then he asked outright if I knew whether Z was, in fact, dating someone (he is), I guess so he would be able to gauge the possible awkwardness in advance? At the risk of plummeting down the insane over-analysis rabbit hole, this gave me the very unexpected impression that either A already considered us to be in the process of dating or he saw a point in the very near future at which we would be, because the event is happening soon. For my part, the sense of safety and acceptance this all inspired resulted in me catching some unexpectedly strong feelings and letting myself start to feel really positively about whatever was going to happen next. Which would be fine, except that for his part, he appears to have caught the feeling that he needs to start avoiding me.

My go-to solution would be to meet up with him and talk like grown adults do, but he's made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to hang out with me right now, so I can't exactly ask about it...

While I have no patience for affection-to-avoidance whiplash and no room in my life for anyone who would treat me that way, I'm just as put off by the prospect of setting aside a 10+ year friendship over this one thing, especially considering A has had a lot less time to get over the end of his previous relationship than I have mine. He's my friend and I love him (as a friend), so I would love to be able to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don't know if that's a smart thing to do for my own emotional well-being. I understand that people who are undergoing difficult life transitions will often reach out and complicate other people's lives unnecessarily because they're lonely or struggling - God knows I'm guilty of having done so in the past. But I also don't want to prolong the presumptive rejection process in hopes that it will somehow flip and reverse itself. I like him a lot and I think we'd make a fantastic team but ultimately I'd really like to forget any of this ever happened because it just feels safer and wiser to assume this was a huge mistake and probably the end of the line.

What are you supposed to do when you hook up with a longtime friend and it makes them not want to hang out with you anymore? How do I sack up and get over it as gracefully and expediently as possible?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would chalk up his weirdness to recently exiting a LTR and try to proceed as if nothing happened and you are still friends as you were before. Give him a few months to get his head out of his ass and figure out what he wants. If he's still acting weirdly then, have a frank conversation about his emotional distance. If you've known him for a decade, you know whether he's a sleazeball or if this is atypical behavior for him. One thing I would not do is take this personally.
posted by desjardins at 6:55 AM on May 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm a little fuzzy about the details here and they seem important. How long has it been since you and A hooked up? A few days, a week, a month? Was there just the one hookup or did it go on for a while? How, exactly, did A make it clear that he didn't want to see you? Was he rude? Did he do a slow fade? Did he say, "Hey, you're great but I just need a little space right now?"

If he was openly rude and unkind, you're just lucky that he showed his true colors early. It is not that cool to openly crush on a friend in a way that makes your SO feel bad, so that's also not a point in his favor. If you can stand back and decide he's a jerk (I bet you'll get a lot of advice along those lines) time and distance will heal this. If you think he's just genuinely a confused person going through some tough times, then giving him time is also the only answer. You can send him a quick email just being like, "Hey, I know things are complicated but I'm here if you ever want to talk," and then you just wait for him to sort out his shit, or not. I'm sorry. This sucks. Lots of hugs.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:03 AM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

A's nervousness about running into Z "if Z isn't dating somebody yet" suggests something a bit off ... like A has to feel guilty about hooking up with you. Which is an unfortunate way to look at things since you are not Z's property, and it's not Z's business that you and A hooked up.

I can't tell from your question how much you have reached out to A, but I think you should. And I think you should be candid about it and say that you are bothered by his reaction and you want to continue being friends and can he not worry about Z?

I dated a woman who knew my previous ex quite well, and there was, initially, some weirdness between me and the new woman about that. But with a little bit of time it stopped being weird.
posted by jayder at 7:09 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you were as close as it sounds, my feeling is you probably won't lose this friendship, in the end (although it could happen), barring some unexpected drama, but you don't sound like someone who'd contribute to that. I agree with desjardins - I think it'll just take time for this to play itself out. In the meantime, there's not a lot you can do, other than just feel what you're feeling. Stay busy during the day, and see friends (or listen to sad songs) at night.

A's nervousness about running into Z "if Z isn't dating somebody yet" suggests something a bit off ... like A has to feel guilty about hooking up with you.

I have to say, this is kind of what I thought, as well. Hard to say what that could be about, though. Maybe it was only a short-term thing for him, fueled by loneliness, curiosity; maybe he feels conflicted about your history as friends and things having gone in a sexual direction, or just doesn't know what to think or feel. If he's confused, talking to him now won't be that helpful, imo.

I once hooked up with an old friend (but with none of the buildup or feelings you're talking about - it was a drunken one-off, really). We never discussed it, and both kind of pulled back for a while, and it's like it never happened. We're totally cool with each other, things are as they always were.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:28 AM on May 5, 2015

I know you like A, but he sounds VERY immature. (he's known you 10 years? WTF does your ex bf have to do with you and A hooking up? Who says that after a great night together??) You seem wise and grounded.

It really would have been helpful to know how you found out A changed his mind/went silent/whatever it is he is doing. It's hard to gauge how big of an asshole he is being.

In general, this friendship is over, and you need to mourn it. He's treating you very shabbily. You have to be able to trust your friends! Now you can't trust him! He won't even talk to you!!

I know you don't want to be mad at this guy, but maybe you should let yourself go there for a few minutes? He owed you at least a conversation. Trying to be understanding while he figures himself out is not going to magically erase his bad behavior towards you in the long run. You just found out he is an immature selfish person and you dodged a bullet by never dating him. This happens. I'm sorry.

My position is that he was weird to bring Z up after sleeping with you, and there is zero excuses that justify his radio silence. Drop kick him out of your life and don't waste another ounce of your precious effort trying to mitigate the self-work he needs to do to join his peers in relationship maturity.

I'm sorry this happened and you have to deal with it. It's not your fault.
posted by jbenben at 9:52 AM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

It sounds like he has been carrying a torch for you for quite a long time. My one and only experience with finally sleeping with a friend who had carried a torch for me for years beforehand is that he promptly turned into an A #1 asshole. Although we talked marriage, the reality is he barely saw me, took to not telling me when his day's off from work were so he could go hang out with other people, would basically drop by my house on his way to work to fuck me and leave (drive through sex -- would you like fries with that?). After a few months, I dumped him and our friendship ended. I think I basically became a notch on his belt and it was a means to assuage his hurt ego for all the years he felt "not good enough" in my eyes and he really turned into a douchebag.

So I will suggest that he is someone incapable of interacting with a woman as if she is really a person. He longed for you because you were friends and he saw you more as a whole human being than his usual fucktoy approach to relationships and now that you have fucked him, he has no idea how to reconcile a clash between treating sex partners as mere sex objects and treating you like a human being because you were friends without sex, so he had to relate to something other than your vagina by default. I will suggest that the most likely outcome is that you will be consigned to fucktoy status in his mind and lose all personhood in his eyes and the sooner you determine whether or not that is the case -- and then dump him if it is -- the less painful this process will be.

So ask yourself this: If sex had not happened, is his current avoidant behavior anything he would have ever done previously when you were friends? Is it anything you would put up with if sex were not part of the equation? Is it anything you would tolerate in a female friend? If your answer is that his current behavior is simply not acceptable for any of your platonic friends, then it shouldn't be acceptable merely because sex happened.
posted by Michele in California at 11:53 AM on May 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

« Older Long car rides and family get-togethers   |   I was diagnosed with herpes this weekend. Please... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.