Why am I not in love with my amazing friend who loves me?
June 26, 2015 7:53 AM   Subscribe

My close male friend is in infatuated love with me – I fancy him and think he’s great. I don’t want a relationship with him or anyone else. We keep on being friends but his love keeps on pouring out of him and it makes me feel pressured. What should I do?

Hello hive mind. Solve my life for me please

Soooo...long time first time. I thought I’d ask for some guidance, suggestions, personal experiences which might resonate and help me.

My relationship background : I’m a 38 year old woman who spent the ages of 18-32 in a relationship. That was a good loving relationship, if a little insular, I ended it. 18 months after that relationship ended I met someone else and proceeded to have an on-off 3 year relationship with them. It was very toxic and very intense (with all the amazing sex that usually goes with that) and he was your classic mr nice guy perma-laidback stoner who underneath the skin was a narcissistic passive aggressive immature reptile. It took a couple of attempts and it really hurt me, but I finally got my act together and left him this time last year and am living on my own for the first time in my life. Which I am really enjoying. The only thing I miss about being in a relationship is sex. I am amazed at how strong I feel coping with life on my own terms and it gets better every day. I still struggle with letting go of Toxic Ex and he works in the same building as me but in general, I’m happy.

Throughout the entire time I have been friends with another guy. He is a fair bit younger than me – 29 years old. He is and always has been a great person. We are very good friends and that friendship has just grown in depth and intimacy over the years. when we met he was in a relationship and so I never ever saw him in a romantic light. But as part of a larger group we often hung around together and he used to listen to my woes when I was going through the mill of Toxic Ex. Fast forward to a point 2 years ago where he drunkenly confessed his love to me. I was shocked and told him I didn’t have romantic feelings for him and he came back to earth and carried on with his relationship. We then rarely saw each other; he naturally pulled away and I rightly didn’t challenge that. I’d like to point out at this point that his relationship wasn’t a standard one in the sense that he was more of a carer than a romantic partner.

8 months or so ago he left his partner. I also realised that my feelings towards him were no longer purely friendly, but neither was I head over heels in love. We discussed this and I explained how much I didn’t want another relationship, or anything that smacked of that and that I cared for him very dearly and couldn’t bear the idea of losing him as a friend. But also, we were both single, I fancied him so we ended up fooling around. Which was nice and fun but also felt dangerous to me as I could see his total love and infatuation for me clearer than ever before. So I then said to him that we couldn’t continue with the FWB thing we seemed to be getting in to because I was simply not over my ex/hadn’t come to terms with what had happened and just wasn’t ready for any kind of intimacy. All the absolute truth but I hated that I had messed him around. I told him if he wished not to see me for a while/ever again, I would abide by his wishes.

I also wanted him to enjoy the single life for a while because he had been in his relationship from the age of 17, had always been pretty overweight, and had recently lost loads of weight and gotten a bit older (no longer boyish looking) and was quite frankly looking darn hot!

So since that initial fooling around 7 months or so ago we have fallen into a pattern. We do a lot of stuff together as friends, sometimes we get drunk at which point he always gets very emotional and starts to tell me again how he feels. I say again that I have feelings too but I just don’t want a relationship and using one of my closest friends as FWB didn’t feel right; especially somebody who was in love with me as it feels like I would be using them. Rarely we might briefly make out.

This happens over and over again.

I feel under significant pressure from myself to make a decision, ‘do the right thing’ and I feel under pressure from him too as he cannot hide his infatuation sometimes. But I do not feel ‘in love’.

So my questions to you, relationship gurus, are

• Am I leading him on by continuing to be friends with him and sometimes caving in to his advances? I feel I know the answer to this...
• Am I being stupid by not trying to at least date this wonderful man – despite the fact he’s still in the throes of a serious relationship break-up and he is my dear friend?
• Why are my feelings not moving? Ie – why have they stayed at ‘fancy and really enjoy the company of’ and not moved to either ‘LOVE!!!’ or realising I was wrong and there are no romantic feelings? Do you have any experience of this?
• Have you ever been in this kind of emotionally-lopsided relationship? What happened?

If you stayed this far, thank you 

TL:DR – my close male friend is in infatuated love with me – I fancy him and think he’s great. I don’t want a relationship with him or anyone else. We keep on being friends but his love keeps on pouring out of him and it makes me feel pressured. What should I do?
posted by mrmulliner to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's not love when it's one-sided. He intensely wants something from you, and he doesn't respect your boundaries, and he's pressuring you in order to get his way. That's not love.

It's time for you to back away. Maybe for a while, maybe forever.

You're not into him all that much. This isn't a thing you can force. Not every human being on the planet is for you, and you can't back-burner another person like this indefinitely just in case you change your mind, it's not healthy for either of you.

Honestly, what normally happens in these situations is eventually things come to a head. Maybe that manifests as a hard end to the friendship initiated by either one of you, or maybe he tries to kill you. Or succeeds. This is someone who already thinks his wants are more important than yours, you have no way of knowing how far that will go.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:02 AM on June 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

There's a lot here, but you need to stop doing anything physically intimate, including making out. It's just muddying the waters. Even if he's an adult who can make his own choices, it's not a kind thing to do.
posted by Aranquis at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2015 [22 favorites]

I think you both might not be making the best decisions. From his end, if he's infatuated with someone who has made relatively clear that they can't reciprocate in the way he wants, staying in that situation is emotionally harmful. From your end, continuing to get drunk and make out with a guy who says he is in love with you is muddying the waters with your actions, even if you're making your feelings clear. But, I mean, that's what happens when people are confused about their feelings and relationships of whatever sort come at awkward times and there's at least some mutual attraction.

To be honest, it doesn't sound like he's going to do anything different than what he's doing, and that's not good for either of you. You can't leave it up to him to not see you anymore because he's in the throes of his emotions for you and once in a while they're just barely reciprocated by you. And it's just enough for him to keep doing what he does in hopes the reciprocation gets to a point where it's even and you feel for him what he feels for you.

If he can't keep his feelings at bay, then you can't be friends with this dude without doing emotion damage to the both of you. I mean that sucks, especially if you're good friends, but you can't make yourself feel emotions any more than he can make himself stop feeling them.
posted by griphus at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it's quite likely, given that you guys have only really known each other whilst one or both of you have been at crisis point in your previous relationships, that he has you waaaay up on a pedestal of his ideal woman in comparison to who he was with, and you're kind of subconsciously detecting this and, very reasonably, putting up boundaries against this usually very transient phase.

I did this, madly crush on someone as a sort of escape from the sadness of your failing/failed relationship. And it can pass super-quick once you start getting your life together.


Am I leading him on by continuing to be friends with him and sometimes caving in to his advances?
No, just firm your boundaries up and stick to them, at least until he gets his life together a bit more.

Am I being stupid by not trying to at least date this wonderful man – despite the fact he’s still in the throes of a serious relationship break-up and he is my dear friend?
No, you're totally right not to, because of those things.

Why are my feelings not moving?
Because he hasn't got to a stable place yet, he's not quite himself, really. Your gut is telling you, this guy is still kind of unstable. Stand at a safe distance until he has unloaded a fair bit more baggage.

Have you ever been in this kind of emotionally-lopsided relationship? What happened?
Yes, on both sides. Boundaries were key, because when you "come to" after this period of all-over-the-place-ness, it's easy to feel really embarrassed at how you acted. Be kind. I'm still friends with a guy who was like this with me, we took some distance for a while and now we're totally cool. Also vice versa.
posted by greenish at 8:23 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

The disparity here is just too great. He's sprinting. You're considering walking.

His level of affection sounds suffocating, it's hard, if not impossible for your own affection to grow under the weight of all that.

If you can keep being friends without any intimate contact that would be the best way forward. If either of you can deal with that I think some low/no contact time is in order. His infatuation is poisoning the well of both friendship and potential romance.
posted by French Fry at 8:30 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it would be easier for you to resist the pull of this situation if you had another outlet for sex-- like a different casual relationship-- while you are trying to disengage. The best thing would be for you to stay away from this friend for a while. Only see each other in group settings and never drink together. Or don't see each other or contact each other at all, if you can manage that.

As to why you don't feel something more, that's just how it goes. Romantic chemistry can't be willed into being, no matter how much we all wish it could.
posted by tuesdayschild at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

Am I leading him on by continuing to be friends with him and sometimes caving in to his advances? I feel I know the answer to this...

You're messing with his head for sure, whether or not that's your intention.

Am I being stupid by not trying to at least date this wonderful man – despite the fact he’s still in the throes of a serious relationship break-up and he is my dear friend?

Your feelings are your feelings. If you don't feel strongly for him or feel overwhelmed by him, then you do not have to date him.

Why are my feelings not moving? Ie – why have they stayed at ‘fancy and really enjoy the company of’ and not moved to either ‘LOVE!!!’ or realising I was wrong and there are no romantic feelings? Do you have any experience of this?

You just don't have the chemistry? You feel overwhelmed by the intensity of his feelings? If he wasn't so nuts about you, would you go on a few casual dates and see if your feelings deepen?

I think the best thing for both of you is for you to back away from him. I know he is a dear friend but this situation is hurtful to both of you. He's an adult and should've pushed you away a long time ago for his own mental health--but at the same time what you're doing is not kind. At the very least stop drinking and making out with him! The kindest thing to do would be to put the friendship on hold until he has moved on.
posted by schroedinger at 8:46 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

No doubt on some level his adoration appeals to you and the fact you can always count on him for sex is a bonus in your situation where only the sex is missing for you to be happy.

However, you are not interested in giving him what he wants, and spending time together in any form hurts him, so if you care for him as a human being you should terminate this relationship, such as it is.
posted by Dragonness at 9:30 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Neither of you is behaving kindly, fairly, respectfully, or maturely.

Stop kissing and sleeping with him if you don't want a relationship. Some of us have been taught that being physical with someone = being in mutual love. That's not the case here, so yes, you're sending him mixed messages and IMO leading him on.

He needs to leave you alone once you stop sleeping with him. The best way to ensure this is enforced is by not spending time together for a while. IMO you probably can't remain friends after this given both of your inabilities to set and respect boundaries.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:41 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was this guy in a very similar situation recently -- someone I was friends with and with whom i'd been physically and emotionally intimate with off and on for a few years recently ended their long-term relationship. I hoped we could date. He feels very much that I am not worth dating but I'm worth fucking when he can't get anything else. Thankfully, he accepted it when I told him I can't accept the crumbs he has to offer, and we're not in contact. It sucks a lot, but being in touch with him would just bring me more pain... just like this dude you're friends with.

He apparently isn't going to be able to cut things off with you unless you stand firm and go no-contact with him for a while. And that means NO CONTACT. Yes, I'm sure the attention is really nice. But taking the attention from someone that you KNOW has feelings for you is really unethical if you don't have the ability or the intention of reciprocating. It's going to be hard, but you have to remove yourself from his life for a while and let him move on from his feelings for you. Sticking around because you don't want to lose his friendship isn't the right thing to do -- frankly, continuing to be physical with him IS leading him on, and that's already colored the friendship. Let him go, block him on social media for a while if you have to, but don't have any contact with him. Maybe in the future you two can try being friends again, but right now... no.
posted by palomar at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

I want to repeat what Lyn Never said: This is not love. He does not love you. He certainly thinks he does, but if he actually loved you, he would not be treating you this way.

You are not being stupid. Your feelings are not moving because sometimes feelings do not move. We do not really have much control over our emotions and our feelings - they are what they are. It is what we do with them that really matters. So: You feel like - and therefore, you know - you don't want this relationship with this guy. What are you going to do about that? Slow down the amount and intensity of contact, don't do stuff alone, don't give in to his advances, etc. You might have to stop seeing him entirely eventually. Who knows. What you do know is that the situation you are in right now is not one that feels good or that makes you feel good.

I have been in your shoes, sort of - I was dating a guy who wanted to move way, way faster than I did. He kind of missed the boat with me because there was a time in life when I would have moved just as quickly as he wanted, but I am no longer like that. I felt totally smothered by him. He basically wanted to spend every waking moment with me. He was co-dependent. When I broke up with him I felt a mixture of sad (why couldn't I love him like he loved me?) and elated (I stood up for myself and said enough was enough!) Now he is with another woman who is much more suited to his codependencies, I hear, and he's over the moon happy and is finally working on his depression, which was another issue I had with him (he was really depressed, drank like a fish, and never did a darn thing with his non-work time other than moon around and wait to hang out and watch TV or play videogames with me. The weekend before we broke up he fell asleep on the floor next to my desk because he was just lying there waiting for me to finish work, and that was real wakeup call).

And this story illustrates part of my point: A good relationship gives you the space necessary to grow. We are all changing, all the time, and a healthy relationship - one that works for both people - allows for that change to happen in a supportive environment. And I could not support that man the way he needed, nor could he do that for me.

So I guess what I am saying is that this situation isn't good for either of you. He needs someone who is not you, and you need someone who is not him. It is going to be kind of crummy to stop seeing him, but that will pass and you will be happier. Trust me.
posted by sockermom at 9:50 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

You've explained where the line is drawn and he keeps crossing it. Sounds like you need to put some distance between you or he'll continue. Being drunk is no excuse really.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2015

I've been in your friend's shoes in the distant past. I think you are being over-careful about possibly hurting his feelings - he's 29 years old, he really doesn't need you to 'protect' him from yourself.

When he has a few drinks and tells you how much he loves you and all that - it does not speak well of men that they sometimes act like this, but it's not at all unlikely that he's just saying that stuff because he's horny. To be blunt: it seems like you're worried that if you have sex with him, he'll fall totally in love with you and you'll break his heart. I'm inclined to think that perhaps this isn't as big of a hazard as you imagine it might be. And even if you do break his heart - he'll live. Honestly, what I've noticed down the years is that unrequited love is the real heartbreaker.

He probably does love you in some way. But is it really the full-blown kind of love that leads to marriage and kids and growing old together? My guess - based purely on statistics - is probably not. And it wouldn't hurt him at all to have an occasional opportunity to really think it over in the clear light of a morning after. It wouldn't hurt for you, either, if you're stuck at wondering why your feelings aren't moving.

What I got out of your letter, really, is that you and he have the potential makings of a really sweet FWB-like relationship here. If you're happy being single except for the lack of sex, and you two are friends enough that you can go out together and have a good time (and also, it sounds like neither of you has been catting about, so you can both get tested and then move quickly to enjoying that special kind of sex were you aren't worried about STDs) - I think you should accept that he's an adult and he doesn't need you to make sacrifices "for his own good" and give it a go.

Here's a thought: you say you occasionally go out with him and end up making out? The next time this happens, look him in the eye and tell him "let's go back to my place - just this once!" And you can say "just this once!" as many times as you want.

Of course, it's entirely up to you what you choose to do. But I'll add one final observation: it seems to be remarkably rare for people to find themselves in this kind of situation, where they're free of obligations and enjoying life. By pure random happenstance, both of you happen to be at this place at the same time. It seems a shame to waste such an opportunity.
posted by doctor tough love at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

As long as you're not interfering with relationships he may pursue with people who actually WANT to be with him, then it may be mutually beneficial in a way for now. But don't string him along too much, otherwise he'll eventually resent you for his lost time and sunken effort. This is true even if its his choice to keep trying, but we rarely make sound choices when matters of the heart are in play.
posted by Young Kullervo at 11:57 AM on June 26, 2015

You are not attracted to him, end of story. You need to tell him that. If you were, your feelings would be similar to those you have for the toxic ex, who you remain attracted to. No matter how nice he is, you are not required to be attracted to him. You cannot negotiate desire.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:45 PM on June 26, 2015

I gotta disagree with dr tough love here. Yeah, this would be a sweet deal if you guys were both down with FWB. But (and I agree he doesn't really "love" you totally unselfishly in a spiritual, deep way) it's totes possible for a dude who thinks he loves and neeeeeeeds you to become way too attached after sex. Yeah, despite the Evo psych and the stereotype. He'll show up at work, or find out you dated someone else and explode and call you crying at 3AM, or come knock on your door at 10PM, you get the picture. Dudes do this all the time- albeit, usually inexperienced, lonely dudes who spend a lot of time in their head. But he totally could be one of those. Real love or infatuation "love" it doesn't matter. A lot of dudes reaaaaaallly want a "Girlfriend" (TM) and the social perks, comfort, etc. that come with one. And he sounds like a LTR type with zero experience playing the field.

Steer clear, Will Robinson.
posted by quincunx at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

This needs to end. Your friend should end it, it's really his lookout, but he's hanging on in hope (and probably, in fear of loneliness and change). You're the dominant person in the relationship and your head is clear. Do what's needed. Be resolute.

Imagine your little sister, or niece maybe, stuck for years on an older man who likes her, but isn't serious about her and never will be. He thinks more about his ex. What would you want to happen there?
posted by mattu at 5:21 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

You've tried dating him or at least making out with him. You have ... so-so kinda warmy feelings toward him, but aren't in love. He is madly over the moon in love with you. This is not going to end well. You are leading him on, and the more he gets physical with you, the more he thinks you love him. Meanwhile you send him all these mixed messages and no wonder he thinks you love him. I'm with Hermione Granger on this one.

You need to break off the friendship entirely. No more sexing, no more flirting, no more hanging out until he's over you, preferably when he's infatuated with someone else. He's not going to get over you as long as you're hanging around in his vicinity looking awesome.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:01 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I really think you need to go no contact here and let this burn off for him on its own. What you're doing is pretty much textbook leading him on, and i really do think you're setting up a situation in which he completely flips out and acts "crazy"(which wont be your fault, but milking it to that point will partially be).

I've seen otherwise reasonable guys act like shit in situations like this, because he's taking any positive sign as a big green go signal(and you're giving him some pretty serious yes-signs despite what you've said) and basically getting confirmation of his feelings being reciprocated.

You need to be up front to the effect of "Hey, this isn't going to work, i'm not just into this the way you are, i think we shouldn't hang out for a while".

And yea, you might already be at 3am boombox territory. This should have stopped way earlier and you guys shouldn't have been making out and shit.
posted by emptythought at 9:34 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much to you all for your insightful comments. Interestingly – the two sides of the argument represented here really reflect my internal struggle on this (stop over thinking it! Just enjoy yourself and let yourself have fun with him VS you are an evil older siren-temptress lady who lures good men to their fates so avoid! Avoid!)
Thanks again and I will give everything written here serious thought
posted by mrmulliner at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2015

He is an adult, this is his choice, and he is a big boy who should make his own decisions.

However, part of being a good friend is looking out for your friends when the decisions they're making are not healthy or good for them. Say you're a bartender and your friend is a serious alcoholic who is attempting recovery. Say you enjoy his company when he's drunk. Say most of the time he won't beg you for drinks--but sometimes he really bugs you about it. Would you break down and make him drinks anyway? It would certainly be within your right to--he's an adult and his alcohol consumption is his choice. But I think most people would agree the most supportive thing to do is say "Look, right now I don't feel comfortable giving you alcohol. You can get it from somewhere else, but not from me." And if he kept bugging you, you'd stop spending time with him in any situation that involved alcohol.

I don't think it makes you an "evil older siren-temptress lady" to keep getting drunk and making out with him. But I also don't think it is very considerate, kind, or supportive. If you had a good female friend who was hopelessly into a guy, he knew it, and he didn't want to date her but kept making out or having sex with her, what would you think of him?

I think if you truly care about this guy as a friend you will look out for his own interests, and those do not involve ongoing drunken makeouts. They may not involve hanging out with you at all.
posted by schroedinger at 3:15 PM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: ... you are an evil older siren-temptress lady who lures good men to their fates so avoid! Avoid!

Yes, yes! Exactly this! Except for, you know, the "Avoid! Avoid!" part. 25 years ago I moved to Austin after my first marriage broke up. This was before match.com and Craigslist - I played the Austin Chronicle personal ads. I had some fun dates, met some people, went to parties ... And it wasn't long before I myself fell under the spell of an evil older siren-temptress lady. It was great. I was 30yo and 'innocent'. Okay, not really, but I was quite inexperienced and naive. She was 43yo and looked like an older, hotter version of Lara Flynn Boyle. Make no mistake about it: she used me to satisfy her base, carnal urges. And I was okay with that. Even more than okay. I could tell many stories of how she widened my horizons (but modesty forbids me).

Of course, nothing lasts forever. We generally got along well, but had certain issues (I just couldn't deal with her job as a "Relationship Astrologer") so we broke up, I felt terrible for about a day, until one of her friends called me and wanted to get together.

But my point is that this was an extremely positive experience for both her and me. I didn't turn into some kind of stalker. I was quite fond of her the entire time, but if anything, intimacy made me more realistic about my feelings. Of course, it would be different for him and you - for one thing, you come off as rather less selfish and evil than my older siren-temptress lady.

Of course, I don't know the nature of your relationship with this fellow. Although I did actually read your letter, which is something that I do not think everyone can say. Speculation that he might show up at your work, or call you crying at 3AM - this could happen. He might also turn into a werewolf, or you might accidentally discover that he is Thomas Pynchon. Someone wrote "You are not attracted to him. End of story." but what you wrote about your feelings towards him being "no longer purely friendly" would imply that yes, you are attracted to him.

So again I say: go for it. Treat him like an adult. Don't try to "save him from you" - he doesn't want to be saved. Have a little naughty fun with him, be his "evil temptress". It won't last forever, but you will have helped him grow and he'll have fond thoughts of you for the rest of his life. And so will you.
posted by doctor tough love at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Monterey vacation with a toddler   |   Seriously, everyone on the web is scripting... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.