Female friend zone
February 7, 2016 9:30 PM   Subscribe

I have been close friends with this guy for about 1.5 years. We slept together and had some sort of semi-dating thing going for a couple of months when we first met. Then it fizzled out and I was more hurt by this than I anticipated. As of recently, he is now in a serious relationship. It bothers me. Time to cut the friendship?

After our casual thing ended, he just sort of said that he would prefer us to be friends as he is not ready for the serious relationship. I entered the female friend zone. We talked nearly every day and he was great source of support in my life. Whenever I needed help with something, he was there for me.

I hid my hurt feelings and thought I have moved on. I dated guys and I was genuinely into some of them. He casually dated many girls and it never bothered me. Ever since he "fell in love" which happened just under 2 months ago, he is constantly talking about how happy this girl makes him. I feel terrible and am plagued with questions like "why not me?" "why wasn't I good enough?" It also doesn't help that I am still single.

I feel like I may need to distance myself. Be less avialable to talk and hang out. It's depressing because I don't have that many good friends. But it may be the only thing to do. Thoughts?
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, stop talking to or seeing him. This will make you feel better. There is no upside to seeing him in a relationship if it upsets you. It's human and normal. Just hide him on facebook and social media. If you do feel ready later, you can open those channels.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:40 PM on February 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

If you want to be his lover, and not 'just' his friend, then don't be his friend.

Let yourself move on to someone who can give you what you want.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:47 PM on February 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

You are absolutely right about what you need to do. It doesn't have to be forever. I suspect if you found a great partner for yourself that seeing this guy with the one he loves might not bother you in the least, you might even find you can be happy for him.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:11 PM on February 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yep you are right. It is the only thing to do. This is making you feel bad (which is perfectly reasonable) and you don't need things in your life that make you feel bad. I know it's depressing but eventually it'll get better. It will never get better if you keep hanging around.
posted by bleep at 10:13 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Move on. It is impossible to be friends with someone you could love who doesn't see you that way. Also, this is chemistry, not you.
posted by bearwife at 10:30 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was more hurt by this than I anticipated.

I would tell him this was a little harder than you expected so you're just going to take some time away. This is a totally normal response to your situation and everyone has been there. Unrequited affection sucks. He should kind about this because everyone has gone through it; if he isn't you're better off without him. I'm not joking.

Here's the thing. He dated and you dated but he fell in love first. You will also fall in love! And that's when you will be able to reach out if you are still interested in becoming friends again. Maybe he'll be single by that time. Or married. It won't matter, because the spell will be broken. You might not even care about being friends.

My advice for now: take everything that reminds you of him and put it in a box. Everything. Put the box in the back of a closet. You will continue to find things; put them in the box. You can go through the box when you're ready and keep what you want and toss the rest. That can break the spell, too.

I've been there. I'm sorry you're going through it now.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:02 PM on February 7, 2016 [13 favorites]

Yep, you already know what to do. You're hoping someone here will have some other option for you, but there isn't one. You need to let yourself begin to get over him and move on.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:09 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you're an emotional masochist like me, you'll stick around, trying to be friends and telling yourself over and over again that this is what you really want.

Hopefully it takes you less than five years to realize how unhealthy this is for you, and you'll cut contact for your own sake sooner than I did.

While I think that being friends with exes is a great thing, with some people in your life it's just not possible. So.. take the time away that you need. Maybe let him know something like "I'm truly glad you're happy, but it's a bit much for me, so to prevent myself from starting an unhealthy pattern I think it's best that we cease all contact, starting at the end of this email. All the best."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:26 PM on February 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

If he were with the girl but not actively talking about how awesome she is with you, would that help? Would only hanging out in groups help? Are there any ways of changing the context of your interactions that would help? If so, talk to him and try those, and save no-contact to use if they don't work. (Or explicitly make it temporary, as 641-A suggests.) Right now being around him is causing you pain, but if there's a way to avoid losing an important person in your life permanently, I'd try it... good people can be hard to come by.
posted by metasarah at 4:12 AM on February 8, 2016

Let it go. You can make other friends, you can be with other people. In your heart of hearts, were you really hoping he'd change his mind about you as a couple? That's a horrible reason to move to 'friends'.

Really evaluate that. Were you so into him that you were willing to accept the scraps of 'friendship' rather than the relationship you wanted from him? (I've been there!)

Let it dwindle, no sense in being a Drama Llama about it. Just suddenly be unavailable. If he's as into her as he says he is he'll be okay with it. If he asks, it's okay to tell him, "I think it's best for us to have some time apart."

Now you know, if you end up in the friend-zone, and that's not where you want to be, it's better to end it completely than to be friends on unequal terms.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:50 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I feel terrible and am plagued with questions like "why not me?" "why wasn't I good enough?"

There isn't a scale. People are a package deal.

If A is attracted to B more than to C, that doesn't mean B is "more attractive" in any absolute sense. It just means that A, specifically, is more attracted to B; D might well consider C to be the most attractive person ever and not give B a second glance.

Given that attraction isn't consistent, ranking people into some kind of objective attractiveness order is simply not a thing that can be done. There is no standard of "good enoughness". There is only the idiosyncratic and unpredictable chemistry between individuals.

The fact that he's just not that into you says nothing at all about your qualities as a person. Take OnTheLastCastle's advice, then go find somebody that will fall over themselves to be with you.
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you don't want to be friends with him anymore, or it's too painful, then don't be friends with him. But you don't need to "punish" him, he hadn't done anything to you, including "putting you in the friend zone", which is not a real thing.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 6:19 AM on February 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Life is like that sometimes. He didn't do anything to you, he was honest about what he wanted to do with you (remember: people aren't obligated to be with you just because you want them to; they get to decide to be interested or not. 'friendzone' is a word for gross people to use.)

That said, it sounds like this acquaintance isn't doing anything productive for you, and that'll happen sometimes with adult friendships. If it's not working for you, slow-fade. If you have to run into him occasionally, be polite.

But it will help you in your life to understand that "why not you" is because women are not interchangeable replacement parts. He clearly met someone with whom he had huge chemistry from the start, which is great when it happens. I am sorry it didn't happen for him with you, and that's one reason a lot of people won't do that casual "good enough for now" thing, because if the chemistry's not there and doesn't show up within about the first 3 meetings, it usually means it's not gonna happen. It rarely changes course further down the line, and you just get your heart broken waiting around just in case you beat the odds.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:09 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

women are not interchangeable replacement parts

Hear, hear.

If more people took to heart the notion that nobody is an interchangeable replacement part, the world would be better for everybody.
posted by flabdablet at 10:53 AM on February 8, 2016

After our casual thing ended, he just sort of said that he would prefer us to be friends

You don't have to be someone's friend just because they want to be friends. You won't get a medal for showing off how you can stay friends with someone it breaks your heart to be just friends with.

Find some new friends to hang out with, or get in touch with old friends, and put some time into building those friendships. Maybe you'll be able to come back to this one later, maybe not.
posted by yohko at 2:35 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm going to be a smidge of a contrarian because I do, in fact, have wonderful friendships with several exes and other "former crushes". You don't have to never talk to him again. You don't have to tell him you worry about how if he's capable of love why he didn't love you - good lord, what a poisonous thing that would be to say! You want to remove that thought from your heart, not encourage it by repetition. You want to turn this into a platonic friendship, then that has to start in you.

What has worked for me is to find the times you are feeling "not friendship", whether that's giddy over-attachment or wrenching sadness at someone else being good for him when you weren't, and avoid them. You don't have to go radio silent but you probably do have to avoid talking 1:1 intimately for hours. For me I had to stop having tickle fights or wrestling with my friends, for example, because it encourages a type of sexual tension that isn't "good for me" emotionally.

Start finding other things you have to go do when the conversation rolls around to how great relationships are (or tell him that being single makes it hard for you to hear about how good a relationship is and you'd rather talk about other stuff). Find other outlets for some of that emotional energy. It does mean your friendship will become less intimate. But sadly that is sort of the point. The highs come with the lows, in my experience.
posted by Lady Li at 5:44 PM on February 9, 2016

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