A friendship ending unexpectedly
February 8, 2016 9:31 PM   Subscribe

A friend who has meant the world to me has ended our friendship because...well, I'm not sure.

I'll try to keep this brief, but I have a feeling it might get rambley. I have a friend, let's call him A. We went to the same university, but met through a mutual friend six years ago. He had a long term crush on me that wasn't reciprocated on my end, but as a result our friendship always had a weird tinge to it. Anyway, long story short: he moved closer to me, but started dating a friend from his hometown, and ended up moving in with her. I had met her twice, once by myself, and once with my now ex-boyfriend. It has been verified by other people- she hates me. I've never had anyone act so coldly to me, not have I ever seen A so blinded to someone true nature- he's normally a good judge of character.

Fast forward to a couple nights ago, o went to a mutual friends birthday party. A and his girlfriend were there, and I made a point to talk to her ( mostly frivolous conversation about food, wine, and guys). A never left her side, and there were no side conversations. Right before we left, another aqua instance was talking about "stories he heard of what happened between myself and A" and made it sound really sexually suggestive. I truthfully denied that anything had happened, and he back pedaled. A asked me what happened, and I repeated it verbatim, in front of his girlfriend. She was so upset, that she went to go start something with him, and as we were all leaving, she went back for a second talk. I texted A that I had to get home, but to let me know if everything was okay. I honestly didn't see the need for the drama that was unfolding, and needed to extradite myself. Anyway, I had an uneasy feeling as I left the bar that night. The next day, I awoke to a text that said "it's not okay. I heard what you said to my girlfriend. I don't think we should talk anymore". I haven't the faintest idea what I could have said, mind you he was in earshot of her the whole time, that could even possibly be misconstrued as anything to be upset about, let alone end a friendship over. I'm not going to give him the satisfaction of reaching out, whatever he meant to me (and he did mean a lot to me) has been steadily going downhill in the year that they've been together.

Can anyone help me get over the guilt that I did something wrong, or make sense of this from another perspective? I would really appreciate any advice you could share with me. Thanks in advance.
posted by Champagne Supernova to Human Relations (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
So, a few thoughts.

I think the phrase "blinded to someone true nature" says a lot. This woman has a boyfriend who had a long-term crush on you, and she feels insecure about it. You having this contempt for "her true nature" - she can probably sense this, and it probably does not make her feel super-safe and secure in her relationship.

I think repeating what acquaintance said verbatim to your friend also probably came across as insensitive to the girlfriend. Honestly, you repeating that probably added fuel to her insecurity, and I honestly think you're being a little disingenuous if you say you "didn't see the need for the drama that was unfolding" - you were a major contributor to it!

I'd give him some space. You're not supportive of this relationship, which is your prerogative, but if I were his girlfriend I'd want him to have some space, too.
posted by superlibby at 9:41 PM on February 8, 2016 [72 favorites]

She was threatened by you. She found an opportunity to compel him to choose her over you. He chose her. You probably won't hear from him until after they've broken up.
posted by quince at 9:43 PM on February 8, 2016 [22 favorites]

It's generally just a bad idea to be close friends with someone who has a crush on you. This is why.
posted by quincunx at 9:44 PM on February 8, 2016 [36 favorites]

A is attracted to you, and you're never going to reciprocate. It's not weird that his girlfriend doesn't want him to hang out with someone he's attracted to. It sucks, but I think you need to back off and let him have a romantic life. It may be that this friendship is healthy for you but not for him, because he will always want something more, and you need to respect him enough to let him move on. I'm sorry about that. It sounds difficult for both of you.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:47 PM on February 8, 2016 [14 favorites]

It sounds like from his girlfriend's perspective you said some sexually suggestive stuff about you and her boyfriend. It doesn't matter that you were just repeating what someone else said or you were getting to the part where you denied it; to someone else that could come off like a power play. Especially to someone who already might feel competitive towards you. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, but to offer another perspective.
posted by bleep at 9:53 PM on February 8, 2016 [13 favorites]

She was threatened by you. She found an opportunity to compel him to choose her over you. He chose her. You probably won't hear from him until after they've broken up.

This, exactly. I've been in a similar situation to you. It was horrific getting a phone call saying that my friend had chosen his girlfriend over me (in my case, I had the crush on him which didn't help). But it is what it is. I picked up the pieces and moved on. Years later I bumped into him and we chatted and it was.... eh...whatever, I'd moved on. You will, too. It just takes time. I'm sorry, it probably doesn't help to hear that right now but it is true.
posted by kitten magic at 9:59 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've never had anyone act so coldly to me, not have I ever seen A so blinded to someone true nature- he's normally a good judge of character.

Sooo it turns out someone can hate you but still be a good person. Like there isn't a formula that says if one person hates another person, one of those people is a bad person. But what I get from this is you are contemptuous or otherwise negative towards his girlfriend. He picks up on that, trust me. She does too.

So yeah, she no doubt knows he had something for you for a while, and she thinks maybe he still does, and she jumped on the chance to get you out of the picture. It happens. Don't fret it too much and don't feel guilty. People will come and go from your life for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Maybe your friend will come back if and when his relationship dissolves.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:02 PM on February 8, 2016 [18 favorites]

This sounds like one of those situations where exact wording and tone are the key to answering your questions. Your telling will be skewed toward you being innocent because you don't think you did anything wrong. The same story from A's girlfriend's perspective may tell a very different version of the story.

I'm sorry to say that the best you can do is sincerely apologize for causing upset and walk away (no false apologies like, "I'm sorry if I did something that upset her"). He has made him choice for now. Going on the defensive will just confirm he's made the right choice.
posted by cecic at 10:51 PM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

Yeah, repeating verbatim what was said just played into the girlfriend's insecurities when you could have said 'eh, nothing, x was just being a gossip' or something to that effect. It seems a bit tone-deaf and button-pushy on your part, if not outright aggressive.

Are you sure you're not secretly upset that A won't be pining for you anymore?
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 11:00 PM on February 8, 2016 [33 favorites]

He had a long term crush on me that wasn't reciprocated on my end, but as a result our friendship...

Wasn't really a proper friendship it was a crush squeezed through friendship like silk pants through a clothes wringer.

...always had a weird tinge to it. - Exactly.

It has been verified by other people- she hates me.... Probably cause it's super obvious her boyfriend has a crush on you and has done for years. She may also be insecure and jealous, but like, her not loving you makes quite a bit of sense.

I've never had anyone act so coldly to me, not have I ever seen A so blinded to someone true nature... Forgive me, you sound a little jealous - not of the relationship, necessarily, but her claim to emotional availability that you'd long staked out as yours.

..."it's not okay. I heard what you said to my girlfriend. I don't think we should talk anymore"... Honestly, this is the mature and right thing to do for a serious boyfriend to do. Good on him, and soon good on you for leaving this drama and getting some healthier friendships, for reals.

He should never have pursued friendship with you when he was interested in more; and once you've been around the traps a bit longer, you yourself will recognise how unrewarding these kind of friendships can be for you - and also kinda tortuous for the useless clod who is crushing on you. They so rarely shake out into genuine friendship in my experience, not when the dude is holding a torch for literally years, maybe brief crushes, otherwise forget about it. It's good he's moved on - recognised how unhealthy the friendship was and probably embarrassed about it whenever he sees you - and it'll be good for you to move on as well.

With careful friend selection, this kind of thing tends to disappear by time you get to your late twenties, give or take. Best of luck.
posted by smoke at 12:23 AM on February 9, 2016 [32 favorites]

Best answer: This happened to me, once. I was in a situation where a girl was jealous of me and really insecure. The insecurity caused her to intercept some (very private) correspondence which she read, and then attacked me for, going through it line by line insinuating things about my motivations and character that were both ridiculous and untrue. If anything, my intent had been to withdraw gracefully-- not steal her boyfriend. Afterwards, she continued to hound me occasionally and vilify me to all who would listen to the story. Any defense or explanation I made just escalated things and added to her drama. I know that guilt, too. It makes you second guess everything. But it lies. It's a lose-lose situation and there's no solution but to wash your hands of it.

So yeah, she is/was severely threatened by you, and that's why she hates you. It's not rational. I know it sucks to be hated for just being you, but it happens all the time. Obviously she's not very emotionally mature, or secure in herself or in the relationship. If she was, she'd not take out her insecurities on you, and instead self-reflect. But on the other hand if your 'friendship' has always had a weird vibe, there might be something there to be insecure about. Again, this isn't necessarily your fault. If he was your friend hoping to get something more from you, then as long as you made things clear to him, then the onus was on him to take care of his own needs.

Moreover, it's not weird for you to not like her back and it doesn't mean you're jealous or what the hell ever, necessarily. It's pretty difficult to like someone that treats you coldly and obviously really dislikes you and has issues with you. It's difficult to respond warmly to someone who is jealous of you. If anything it's commendable you even tried to be inclusive and talk to her and be her friend at the party. I'd have just avoided her and him.

But when someone hates you for emotional reasons like this, they're just waiting for the opportunity to out you as the person they've been vilifying in private to their partner for ages (and believe me, they are talking shit about you to A all the time); so they pounce on your miss-step and treat it like it's abhorrent, and like it's proof. Proof you want in on it. Proof you're not a nice person. Proof you suck. Like, you repeated something someone else insinuated about her and her boyfriend? How ridiculously disrespectful and inappropriate of you! It's not okay to even mention that, ever and obviously you have an agenda regarding her boyfriend and are creating drama. (Note, I'm being sarcastic, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's what they're really thinking). Again, it's not rational, it's a pure emotional reaction.

But you didn't really do anything wrong in repeating what your mutual friend said, because those are the facts. Sure, maybe you should have given the abridged version. But the mutual friend said those things; he painted it suggestively, you shot the notion down, A asked what was said, and you told him. That's it. That's what happened. If anything, this couple should be pissed at the guy friend who insinuated sexual crap about you and A that wasn't true in the least, not you. Furthermore, healthy adult and relationships should be able to say, "Oh, X insinuated this and that, and I said it was total bullshit" without imploding all over the place and starting world war three. You shouldn't be attacked just because your repeated the story someone else told. Their relationship should be stronger than that. Remember, nothing has actually ever happened between you two, either. You know, once, I stumbled on a piece of paper in my fiance's space that I thought was a poem. I read it without thinking. It wasn't a poem. It was a loose diary entry from before we were together and was basically an ode to his ex, lauding her traits very intimately. Like, really intimately. It gave me a bit of a jealous twinge, but ultimately, I was secure enough in my relationship and his love for me, that it didn't bother me much at all. We did discuss it, he did reassure me, and I don't think anything of it even now. And this was someone he was with for years, someone he could see a future with. I had every reason to be insecure about it. But I trusted him, and I knew that this was his past. This is how they should be reacting to you, and your past with your friend. It's the past. He's with her now. He loves her. Lastly, even if the girlfriend was that insecure about it, she should ask her boyfriend in private if there was any truth to the sexually suggestive claims-- and she should be mature enough to believe him when he says no. There should be no reason to attack you. After all, you didn't make him get a crush on you.

If anything, I wonder about this info your other friend had? Like, why insinuate something like that in front of you or A's girlfriend? What was he trying to start? I feel like A told him this info. I feel like A fed your mutual friend a version of your past interactions that wasn't quite the reality. Could it be he re-interpreted past interactions as false hope and told your mutual friend? "Oh man, she was totally into me, this and this happened," It's... weird this guy would tell "stories he heard of your past," and get it so wrong. Who told him these stories? Kinda suspicious. It would explain why he's so defensive, too.

But believe me when I say, this was inevitable. It would have happened sooner or later. When someone irrationally hates you, they kind of scrutinize your actions to knock you down a peg. If it wasn't 'you shouldn't say those things in front of my girlfriend! You suck!' they'd have pounced on something else you had said/did that was disrespectful or whatever. She doesn't like you and feels threatened by you. This is her way of coping with the unease of those feelings. Like I said, it's lose lose.

It sucks and it hurts, but it happens. It's problematic to ever be friends with someone where the friendship is lopsided like that. Whether you're the one with the crush or the one being crushed on, it almost always causes some kind of issue. Unfortunately, the best thing you can do is just let your friendship go and not contribute to the drama. Was he really the world to you if he's willing to throw you under the bus like that? Moreover, there's nothing you can really do to 'fix' it-- she hates you, he loves her, he is of course going to take her side, even if she's being unreasonable. It sucks, but he's gotta make his own mistakes; eventually if they continue to have these issues they'll wind up pretty unhappy, or break up. As others have said, this becomes less of an issue when the person is out of their early 20s-- when people become more secure in themselves, although some people are just insecure in general. Now you can find better friends.

Best of luck.
posted by Dimes at 2:59 AM on February 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

A and girlfriend's attitude is silliness at his best. Do not dignify his SMS with an answer as you're better off moving on and away from the friendship. Then again, it seems you already have.
posted by Kwadeng at 4:48 AM on February 9, 2016

I think the new girlfriend might think that the OP strung A along because it's fun and confidence-boosting to have a guy around who thinks you're super hot, and that was painful and unhealthy for a guy whom she cares about. We don't have the new girlfriend's perspective on this, but I don't necessarily think she's an evil ogre. Sometimes there's interpersonal conflict where nobody is really in the wrong.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:10 AM on February 9, 2016 [18 favorites]

It was very tactless of you to repeat what the acquaintance said, verbatim, in front of A's girlfriend. That's fuel on the fire -- definitely contributing to drama.

That said, I think A has made the right decision. We usually see these questions from the POV of the girlfriend, and the consensus is that "if it's making you unhappy, whatever the reason, your partner should be at least willing to consider cooling the other relationship". And you said you were withdrawing anyway, so this incident has probably just sped up what was happening naturally.
posted by gaspode at 5:28 AM on February 9, 2016 [21 favorites]

It's generally not a good idea to promote a friendship with someone who has a crush on you. It's selfish really. You're getting what you want out of it, and simultaneously keeping the crushing person from moving on in a timely manner.

So your friend HAS moved on, and he's found someone. He may have relayed some things to her, innocently, that didn't seem like anything to him, but she picked up on and cast in an unflattering light to you.

Honestly, just by your telling of the story, to me, it makes you seem self-centered and self-involved.

If someone's new SO didn't like, me, I'd do my best to steer clear. Trust me, if she truly doesn't like you, he knows ALL about it. Also, it may be that when she explained what SHE perceived about what he told her about your friendship, he may have realized that he was treated rather poorly. Especially now that he's in a reciprocal, loving relationship.

Also, it's a bit disingenuous to pretend that relating a nasty story that specifies a sexual relationship between your friend and you, however untrue it was, isn't shit-disturbing. I suspect you knew EXACTLY how she would react. Perhaps you thought it would show your 'friend' her 'true colors'?

Wouldn't it had been better (If in fact the preceding conversation had taken place as you describe) to merely say, "Oh, that guy was being out of line. I handled it." There was no reason to relate the gory details.

Let this relationship go gracefully. Honestly, you've acted rather badly here. This man has a right to find happiness with someone and she certainly is not required to enjoy your company in the process.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:41 AM on February 9, 2016 [40 favorites]

That sexually suggestive comment suggests he may have at some point told a few fibs about what went on between you and him. I have been friends with people who have had crushes on me. One thing I have concluded from such friendships is that those people are not really friends. In their minds they are lovers-in-waiting. Rather than lamenting the loss of your no-so-great ex friend, i'd probably worry about what his girlfriend is going to have to put up with and be glad you're not a part of it.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 6:00 AM on February 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

There are numbers of people here reading all sorts of things into this, but the bottom line is if you don't have a reason to feel guilty, and only you know that, then chalk this off to good riddance and don't worry about it.
posted by AugustWest at 6:05 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

You probably could have behaved better at this party, but even if you were a saint A would still be doing the right thing in taking a break from you. He's interested in you and he has a girlfriend. How can he commit to her if he's still hanging out with you? He absolutely did the right thing and its better that he tells you he needs to take a break from your friendship for the sake of his relationship than ghost you and always leave you wondering. He hasn't handled the situation perfectly, but at least its clearly over.
posted by GilvearSt at 6:15 AM on February 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

2nd ihaveyourfoot - this lady is acting insecure because she's hearing or feeling stuff from somewhere, probably A. How would you feel if your partner had a close friend they'd crushed on for years, and heard about here and there and everywhere, who was still around? You didn't feel the need for drama, but you loom large in her life.

A probably hasn't been acting entirely honourably towards either his partner or you. Odds are you were either naive, or got a little kick out of his erotically informed adoration (maybe unconsciously).

Men and women can be friends, of course; negotiating attraction can be a little tricky, that's all. It was too tricky in this instance.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:53 AM on February 9, 2016

It sounds to me like he made up stuff about your relationship - he said you guys were much more involved, and sexually involved, and he said so to blunt other people's impression of how inappropriate the level of his infatuation was. And then you said it didn't happen, so his only way out was to frame you as a liar. He doubled down by texting you that, so he could wave the phone at her and say, "see?"

It sucks, but desperate people do desperate things. Sorry.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:25 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Sometimes people have to draw boundaries to protect themselves. That is what he is doing because his infatuation is threatening his new relationship, the only thing you did wrong is be oblivious to that.
posted by cakebatter at 8:51 AM on February 9, 2016

I think that regardless of any particulars involving the girlfriend and the party, it is often the case that when someone gets into a relationship, they cool it with friends they've had a crush on. You admit that your friendship with this guy has always had this weird vibe to it relating to his crush on you. Now he's moved on -- so naturally he's not as into this crush-fueled relationship with you. I think whatever happened at the party was probably an excuse to cut the cord, but it was going to happen one way or another if this guy is really committed to his girlfriend.

That said, it doesn't mean this sort of thing doesn't hurt. I don't actually think anyone is terribly in the "wrong" here, but all the same it sucks to lose a friend you valued for whatever reason! I would acknowledge those feelings and give yourself time to grieve it just like losing any friendship. Those are real feelings even if this guy and his girlfriend are not evil villians.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:55 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think the acquaintance's actions are a bit weird, and you may have fallen in with a crowd that likes drama, at the very least one of them seems to.

Regardless if its veracity, why was the acquaintance talking about you and A's alleged sexual history? It makes it weirder since it's not true (although previous commenters may be right about A lying to everyone else), but even if it was true why would anyone bring that up when the new, jealous, girlfriend is nearby? That just seems like they're trying to start something.

Yes, you could have tried to just not engage it at all. After you shut the acquaintance down, when A asked what was up, shrugging it off as acquaintance being silly and then moving the conversation on to a different topic may have spared you this round of drama (and may have spared new GF some distress). But that's assuming A just let it drop. If he didn't I could see how that might have incensed GF even more (may have looked to her, and not entirely unreasonably, like you were trying to hide something).

And even if you avoided this mess, between at least one shit stirring friend and the insecure (for possibly valid reasons, depending on how A has been acting all along) GF, something was going to blow up at some point. So I think you were damned if you do and damned if you don't.

So you may want to take an inventory on how people in this group are drama prone, and maybe start fading some people out.
posted by ghost phoneme at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2016

The kind and mature thing to do when A asked you what the acquaintance was talking about at the party would have been to say "I don't know, it sounded stupid" and changed the subject, and not repeated sexually suggestive stories about you and him in front of his girlfriend.

I'm guessing she hates you not only because he crushed on you forever, but because you were unkind to him, and continue to be. Sorry, not saying that to be mean, but you're just not coming off well in this story. It is not kind to feed your vanity by continuing to hang out with someone when you know they are crushed out on you. It is not kind to repeat inflammatory rumors about yourself and them in front of their partner.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:09 PM on February 9, 2016 [13 favorites]

The formula of, "Someone else told me XYZ, but don't worry, I told them it was unwarranted" is pretty much a formula for starting shit while maintaining plausible deniability. Maybe to yourself, maybe to others. I agree, some part of you knew she would not react well to this, and you might have subconsciously been trying to "show him what she's like." When you force these kinds of confrontations, sometimes you lose. Take it as a learning experience, and move on.
posted by corb at 1:53 PM on February 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

he moved closer to me, but started dating a friend from his hometown
What do you mean, "but?" There's no "but" here. He moved, AND he moved on. You rejected him-- he's allowed to date and to put his live-in girlfriend before the girl he used to have a crush on. A good boyfriend does that. Seems like he is finally doing right by his relationship. Be happy for him.

Honestly, you sound a bit sore that he moved on from his crush on you.

Sure, you didn't want him, but you must have enjoyed the attention and devotion, otherwise you would have let him go once you realized the friendship was not going to work. The "weirdness" you spoke of is not weird at all; friendships where one is into the other romantically and the other doesn't reciprocate don't work and it's not actually very nice to keep them going once you realize it's weird. You had the power in that dynamic and maybe he's taken some of it back and maybe you're bristling and looking for someone to take that out on.

She might have legitimate reasons for being cold to you that don't speak ill of her "true nature." If you act as though you have some claim to him, as your telling indicates, then her reason is pretty sound--you don't have to be a crazy insecure mean horrible lady to dislike someone who stakes some weird boundary-crossing claim to your boyfriend. Don't be naive.

Keep in mind, Mr. Wonderful may have been feeding her insecurity all along, too-- mentioning your big important friendship a little too much, playing up your connection, etc. So maybe it isn't that she is insecure and merely "felt" threatened. Maybe you actually were a threat to their relationship.

But hey, even if she is some horrible insane beast and you are an angel, let your friend get over his crush on you and move on with his life and be a good boyfriend, if you care about him so much.
posted by kapers at 2:21 PM on February 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

Consider also the possibility of what he's told her to make her think you're a bad person, and that she isn't insecure - he is. He might not be the friend you think he is and not such a great loss.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 11:32 PM on February 9, 2016

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