Love triangle filter: am I being a bad friend?
February 6, 2019 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I met a guy through an old friend, and we hit it off. Trouble is, he and my friend have a bit of history, and now she doesn't want to talk to me. Snowstorm inside.

A is a friend from college. We were very close the first three years, much less so the last, and fell largely out of touch in the 10 years since, due mostly to my dropping off the face of the earth into a depression/shame spiral. (A has also suffered from depression.)

I’ve been working on myself that whole time, and in the past couple of years have found much greater strength and happiness, mostly through outdoor exercise (primarily climbing). I reached out to A to apologize for falling off of the face of the earth, and she said she understood and didn’t take it personally, and I’ve started reaching out to her more regularly, though—adulthood!—still not too often (we text maybe once a month, see each other once or twice a year).

A year and a half ago, A was in my city staying with me for a couple of days. (She lives five hours away.) She reached out to an acquaintance, Z, she had met through a friend, and they hung out for an afternoon and made out. I had a dinner party for her the next day, and she invited him and they hooked up. She was excited about it but not expecting a relationship to develop, given the distance. They stayed somewhat in touch through Instagram and occasional texts.

With A’s knowledge, Z and I exchanged contact information, since he was new to my area and also climbs. Over the next year or so, he and I invited each other on a few trips, but nothing ever worked out, and we didn’t have any contact otherwise.

Fast-forward to this past November. I decided to take a solo desert trip around Christmas and New Year’s, planning to meet up with friends for a couple of days and spend the rest of the time hiking and rustling up partners in the park. The very next day, Z texted to ask if I had any interest in climbing in the same area that same time. I told him I was already going, by myself, and we started to talk about coordinating.

I reached out to A to let her know that Z and I were thinking about climbing together and told her that if it made her uncomfortable, I didn’t want to do it. She thanked me for telling her and said she was totally fine with it, especially since Z had a girlfriend and they were strictly in friends’-only territory. I invited her to come if she wanted (though she doesn’t climb, she lives near where we were going), and she ended up deciding to come for a couple of days in the middle of our trip.

Z and I drove the 10 hours to the desert together without music, because we were so rapt in our conversation. We had an incredible five days climbing, cooking, laughing, talking, tandem journaling (yeah, I know), and I realized I was totally falling for him. (Oh, and he had recently broken up with his girlfriend.)

When A arrived, I told her that despite my intentions and desire, I had a crush on Z. She told me to go for it. I pressed her, sensing that she might be feeling protective (and silly about being protective), but she told me it was fine. The next day, out of the blue, she brought up an analogous situation from college, in which she’d told a friend to go for it with a former fling and deeply regretted it. I asked her if that was like the situation we’d discussed the night before, and she said, “it’s complicated.” We didn’t have a chance to talk further.

That night was incredibly cold, and Z, A and I slept in Z’s van in separate sleeping bags, A in the middle. I heard A murmur a bunch of things to Z, and then I heard kissing, and I just tried to make myself fall asleep.

The next morning, as she was leaving, A tearily confessed that she’d kissed Z, despite what I’d told her. She said “took a hard left turn into one of [her] worst habits,” of seeing something she wanted and taking it. She said she was afraid that we would grow closer and that there would be no space for her, which is a feeling she’s felt before. I asked her what that meant for her about the potential between me and Z. She said, “I don’t want to stand in the way of you two becoming more intimate" and said he was great to kiss.

Later that day, Z acknowledged the kiss and apologized for putting me in an awkward situation. I told him it was even more awkward because I had a crush on him, and he told me that he felt the same way. We spent our remaining three days together much as we had before, but with a little cuddling (nothing more). We both returned to incredibly busy schedules and didn’t really talk for a couple weeks.

Last week I got an email from A telling me that she had had breakfast with Z when he was in her city for the weekend, and that she’d been “blindsided” when he told her that we had discussed potentially dating at some point. She said she wished I hadn’t been honest with her, had “just not” inserted myself into her history with Z, and hadn’t made the whole trip about me. She said she’d been castigating herself for being a bad friend to me, for wanting Z when I was going to get to have him, and that she spent days feeling “shitty and stupid and small” in a way that she rarely feels when she’s not around me. She said the incident brought up memories from college when I “chose” other people over her. She said she couldn’t trust me to be kind to her and didn’t want to talk to me for a while.

Upon a few days’ of pretty obsessive rumination, there are two things I wish I’d done differently:
1) Told A the depth of the connection I felt with Z. I worry I minimized it by calling it a “crush”—like, if I just thought he was hot, there should be no reason to bring it up and make her feel bad.
2) Told A after Z and I shared our mutual attraction. Z regrets sharing telling A that we were thinking about dating, both because the reality was a lot less concrete than that (he just got out of a relationship; we want to prioritize our climbing partnership) and because it wasn’t fully his information to share.

I’m writing to the hive mind because I can’t let this go. I think that though my communication could have been better, I feel like A is reeling from rejection and directing her anger towards me, but I’m tormented by the idea that I’m such a bad friend that I can’t even understand how to be a good friend.

Thanks for reading.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sorry, but A kissed a guy you told her you were interested in WHILE YOU WERE ALL SLEEPING IN THE SAME VEHICLE(!!!) and you're worried about whether *YOU* are a bad friend?
posted by jacquilynne at 12:21 PM on February 6 [117 favorites]


She said she wished I hadn’t been honest with her, had “just not” inserted myself into her history with Z, and hadn’t made the whole trip about me. ...because it should be about her?

A is a lousy friend who wants all her feelings to be your responsibility.

Z seems like he's perfectly willing to be fought over.

I've had both of these friends, but I don't have them anymore. I recommend this course!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:24 PM on February 6 [83 favorites]


This is complicated and compounded by the fact that all three of you seem to be having some trouble accurately assessing the depth of your feelings, owning them, and then communicating them to each other. Which is somewhat understandable... romance and attraction and friendship are complex.

In an ideal world you could just talk it out and follow your groins and everything would be cool... but to be realistic, at this point in time, I think you get to pick ONE of them. (I'm giving them names below, because intials are confusing).

You either choose to be "loyal" to Annie and stop pursing Zack-- which to be honest, may very well make you and Zack see each other as "forbidden fruit" and intensify the attraction til you eventually hook up anyway-- OR, you explore your attraction to Zack and make peace with the fact that Annie probably won't feel ok with it, and will have a hard time remaining friends with you.

This is probably one of those situations where you won't be able to have your cake and eat it too. (Or, I guess you could just embrace chaos and really complexify things by having a threesome? Y'all won't be young forever I guess)
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:24 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


What a hot mess. You’re the only person here who has been transparent about their intentions, so you should feel least bad! A is concerned you’re not going to be kind to her, the girl who told you to go for your crush, then kissed him while you lay next to them in the dark? Wow, with friends like that who needs enemies! But SHE feels shitty about you!

The only thing she feels shitty about it that she tried to make a play for this guy and it backfired in her face, because even after that, he still told you that he likes you. At least she’s right about one thing - she’s a truly crappy friend.

And Z - I love how everyone is giving him a free ride and no one is holding him accountable. This is a guy who likes one friend, but kisses another in front of her while still thinking he can keep her on the back burner and come back later. He’s totally come between two friends knowingly and given zero fucks. What a prize. And both of you are fighting over this prince among men?

Run, run like the wind. I would stay as far away from these two - they’re perfectly suited to each other so leave them to it.
posted by Jubey at 12:24 PM on February 6 [62 favorites]


I consider myself a relationship anarchist, so my response is grounded in that philosophy, but it's very hard to see how you possibly did anything wrong here. You gave her multiple opportunities to veto the relationship (I don't think you should have given her that power, but that's tangential) and she chose not to. Now she's being a drama queen.

Get on with your life, date whom you want, let her take whatever space you need, and if she comes back again, don't apologize.
posted by metasarah at 12:26 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


I wish the best of luck to you and Z, that would be an interesting ride even without this additional complication.. A's behaviour seems troubling to me, that isn't necessarily the type of folk I want to be around, or at the very least, not the sort of person I'd like my consideration for dictate anything in my personal life. A got some issues and it seems unfair how it's turned around to affect you, especially for what seems like a pretty low-obligation friendship.

Yes, all parties involved would have fared better if everyone had been open and honest about their feelings. Whether it's you admitting your romantic feeling for Z, A being honest about whether or not she'd be okay with you and Z's relationship success or if it would change you and A's dynamic. None of that happened though so you got to just deal with the cards dealt. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably cool it entirely with A, the friendship now has more disadvantages than benefits, if college baggage is popping back up for A, it's probably in her best interest to cool things with you as well.

I don't think you've been a bad friend so much as everyone involved didn't clearly understand their own feelings on the matter and certainly did not communicate them effectively. You should still be free to pursue relationship/friendship with Z, regardless of the A situation.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:26 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


She said she’d been castigating herself for being a bad friend to me, for wanting Z when I was going to get to have him, and that she spent days feeling “shitty and stupid and small” in a way that she rarely feels when she’s not around me. She said the incident brought up memories from college when I “chose” other people over her. She said she couldn’t trust me to be kind to her and didn’t want to talk to me for a while.

She's absolutely right to feel bad about what a shitty way she behaved to you, and she is a total piece of shit for pretending that means she can't trust you. Give her time to grow the fuck up and if she ever gets back in touch with you, be aware that she might still be stuck in college.

I hope Z 'acknowledging the kiss' came with a bit of "I cannot believe I did that, I was so unbelievably rude to do that, like, what a total jackass move that was, oh my god".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:42 PM on February 6 [13 favorites]


(A has also suffered from depression.)

She said the incident brought up memories from college when I “chose” other people over her. She said she couldn’t trust me to be kind to her

This is not normal "I feel somewhat put out that my friend is potentially dating someone I like" behavior, to be actually attempting to get physical with that person in the middle of it. And that stuff about college indicates that it's not really about this at all.. I really think, whatever happens with this, you should read up a bit on borderline personality disorder. BPD or other problems that present similarly do not automatically render a person a bad friend, but these patterns of behavior and thinking in someone who doesn't recognize them and isn't trying to do better are not a combination you can ever be a good enough friend to fix. Ever.

It might have been less complicated if you'd never had much to do with this guy, but the kind of betrayal she seems to be feeling here is just not warranted for the kind of relationship you actually have with her. Or for any of the behavior you've actually described. She might genuinely be feeling all these hurts, and she might not be doing any of this out of malice, but you can't replace her ability to cope with negative emotions. Especially when relationships are involved and she's already talked about a history of reacting with impulsive sexual behavior. Let her go. Wish her well. Patching stuff up with someone who does this kind of splitting and isn't putting real effort into dealing with that is just a recipe for everything getting dredged up again the next time she feels slighted.

Z, on the other hand... if that guy doesn't know well enough not to say this kind of stuff to a woman he'd previously made out with? If he doesn't know well enough not to make out with a woman when a third party is right there? Seriously time to reconsider what kind of a catch he is.
posted by Sequence at 12:46 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


A isn't ready to be your friend. If you stick with it and gloss over all of her bad behavior, you'll be rewarded with more of the same. This is what toxic friendship looks like and it's because of her behavior, not yours.

You may get along well with Z, but his gross mismanagement of the situation which he punctuated with telling you he also had feelings for you is a red flag. It's beyond the pale for him to have been romantically kissing someone else while the 3 of you were packed into a van to escape severe cold. It's incredibly rude and inconsiderate to subject you to that when you had LITERALLY NO OTHER PLACE TO GO TO ESCAPE.

Even your list of things you could have done differently is built around trying to manage the bad behavior of others, which isn't something that works. You managed everything more than well while A and Z have behaved terribly. You sound like a nice, kind, considerate person. Go find friends who are like you in this way and it'll be like breathing free to not have to try to clean up the messes made by others at your expense. Both of these people are not demonstrating that they can be good or even decent friends to you. I'm sorry because I know this is hard, but there's always a great reward in letting go of people who can't or won't show you basic respect and consideration.
posted by quince at 1:02 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


A is a mess.

Z is enjoying all this waaaaaaaaay too much.

I vote with the "choose neither" crowd. To be honest, both of them seem to be evoking college-age behavior and/or feelings from you and each other, and we all grow up past college-age behavior (and at least learn to manage college-age feelings!) for a reason, right?
posted by praemunire at 1:12 PM on February 6 [21 favorites]


No, you *have* a bad friend. Jury is still out on the guy, it could go either way.
posted by stormyteal at 1:36 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


So you and Annie (cheers to using regular names instead of letters) went to college together, weren't in touch for many years, and then she came to visit your town and hooked up with an old acquaintance, Zack, who lives in your town. This was a year and a half ago. At the time, she was crushing a bit, but said there wasn't potential because of the distance (if she didn't mean this or didn't correctly share the strength of her feelings -- that's not on you to know). They kept in touch, sorta, but not in any serious way.

At this point, you and Zack have become friendly through a shared hobby in the same town. You went on a trip together, but gave Annie veto power over that trip (why? Did she somehow get to call dibs on him?). Instead she says it's fine and decides to join you for a few days. You and Zack hit it off and seem to be crushing and you tell Annie this and she's supportive... but then Annie and Zack make out in the van where you are present and not sleeping. That's kinda gross behavior on his part and her part . Was this performative? Was she doing this to show you she could? Was he doing this to show you he could? I feel like if I was in this situation and wanting to make out with someone, I would hop out of the van. Maybe I wouldn't it if it was cold.

But if we're talking dibs (which is also gross, but okay): at this point, you had shared your feelings with Annie, and she was supportive, and then she made out with him anyway. Ick. Why did she end up sleeping in the middle? Did she wrangle that?

Anyway, if the question is if you are being a bad friend -- the answer is no. She seems to have a lot of emotional garbage leftover from things in college that really have no bearing on this current situation. She seems to be creating drama by supporting your crush on Zack and then making out with him in front of you (!).

Also, this whole thing where you have discussed dating in the abstract: I get that he's recently broken up, but if you're going to date, then date. There seems to be a lot of not actual dating but a lot of talking about maybe wanting to date but not dating? Are you all in or are you out?

I would stop worry about managing Annie's emotions. If she really has such strong feelings about this stuff from college, she should probably be working through that via journaling, therapy, meditation, etc.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:42 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I can't really get past the kissing in the van with you right there part. On Z's behalf. To echo the above comments, he is almost actively promoting this drama, which is probably why it's reminiscent of college. You may 'win' and not be 'in the wrong' but....I would have a real problem with forming that connection, having a crush, then being next to him making out with your friend. On both their parts. I can't see this ending well but I guess maybe it will be fun in the meantime, but no you probably don't have to worry about being a bad friend.
posted by bquarters at 1:53 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


I can't help suspecting that if you said "A & Z, you two deserve each other - I'm out" that they would then lose interest in each other.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:58 PM on February 6 [28 favorites]


Last week I got an email from A telling me that she had had breakfast with Z when he was in her city for the weekend, and that she’d been “blindsided” when he told her that we had discussed potentially dating at some point. She said she wished I hadn’t been honest with her, had “just not” inserted myself into her history with Z, and hadn’t made the whole trip about me. She said she’d been castigating herself for being a bad friend to me, for wanting Z when I was going to get to have him, and that she spent days feeling “shitty and stupid and small” in a way that she rarely feels when she’s not around me. She said the incident brought up memories from college when I “chose” other people over her. She said she couldn’t trust me to be kind to her and didn’t want to talk to me for a while.

I was much more sympathetic about all of the drama and questionable behavior on everyone's part (including the kissing, even!) until you got to this part. Oh boy. She isn't ready to be friends with you. Her martyrdom, revisionist history, and guilt-tripping here are totally inappropriate. She doesn't want to talk to you for awhile? Fine. Great idea. Let her go.

As for Z, I'd advise putting the brakes on. If you're both still interested after the miasma of drama and intrigue has faded, take it slow and assert some high expectations around communication skills.
posted by desuetude at 2:10 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Good Lord. Find a C, D or E ASAP.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:25 PM on February 6 [35 favorites]


This isn’t even reminiscent of college - it feels more like middle school. Z was totally NOT cool when he’s making out with someone else in a shared space. As said above - he’s loving this attention. I would highly re-examine your crush because that’s incredibly immature and frankly unattractive behavior. A definitely isn’t a friend and you should move onto an entirely new group.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:14 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


With possible context, I'm willing to cut Z a little slack since it sounds like nobody verbalized that you two had a connection before the kissing? And also depending on how long and um, kissy the kiss was.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:29 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


“That night was incredibly cold, and Z, A and I slept in Z’s van in separate sleeping bags, A in the middle. I heard A murmur a bunch of things to Z, and then I heard kissing, and I just tried to make myself fall asleep.”

This isn’t a remotely ok thing to do to someone. You guys are what, 35? I remember shit like this happening when I was a teenager and thought it was horrifying then. These people are gross, spiteful and childish.

“A tearily confessed that she’d kissed Z, despite what I’d told her. She said “took a hard left turn into one of [her] worst habits,” of seeing something she wanted and taking it.”

A is an immature mess. It also sounds like she can’t stand you:

“She spent days feeling “shitty and stupid and small” in a way that she rarely feels when she’s not around me. She said the incident brought up memories from college when I “chose” other people over her. She said she couldn’t trust me to be kind to her and didn’t want to talk to me for a while.”

Good! It sounds like you should do her the favour of avoiding her like the plague, forever.

Well done for working so hard on yourself and mending bridges. You might have been out in the cold so long you’ve forgotten it’s ok to expect certain things from people. So as a reminder, you deserve relationships with people who show you basic kindness, respect and decency.
posted by Dwardles at 4:01 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


I’m not prepared to cut Zack any slack on this one. He may not have known OP was into him before they spoke about it, but he knew his own feelings about her and still chose to make out with someone else in front of her, to what, make her jealous? Show how in demand he was? Have two girls fighting over him? Whatever. The whole thing is just gross.

But the upside to this, is that it is the kind of thing that happens when you’re young, it’s pretty common. Unfortunately most of us learn about how to treat other people from making mistakes like this and as you get older you pick how to spot potential drama and avoid it. Figuring out how to navigate relationships is a skill like anything else and so far you’re waaaaay ahead of your ‘friends’. Now you just have to learn when to leave things well enough alone...
posted by Jubey at 4:22 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


The next day, out of the blue, she brought up an analogous situation from college, in which she’d told a friend to go for it with a former fling and deeply regretted it. I asked her if that was like the situation we’d discussed the night before, and she said, “it’s complicated.” We didn’t have a chance to talk further.

what further talking would you need to do? this is clear as communication can be, unless for some reason you wanted to pretend it was ambiguous. she told you how she felt in a way that gave you permission to ignore it, so you did. bad for both of you: she can't complain that you did what she technically permitted, and you can't seriously pretend you didn't know she'd mind.

you have both done the same thing to each other several times over at this point. the only thing you particularly need to do is not pretend that you are the only one who is capable of downplaying their feelings about this guy by calling it a mere "crush" instead of whatever magnificent passion it is. if it's misleading or dishonest or petty drama when she downplays her own feelings to you, it can't be any different when you do it to her.

neither of you know this dingdong very well and neither of you are in a position where you can be accused of stealing the other's boyfriend. not that this guy seems worth stealing, even if he were a responsibility-free object who just got handed back and forth to be kissed at dramatic times. which he isn't.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:26 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I agree with others who have said that you should dump both of these clowns, pronto.

You were transparent about your feelings to both people, and both people assured you that they were totally okay and unencumbered by your admission....and then they decided to make out with each other while you were two feet away. And then one wonders aloud whether you’re a shitty friend, and the other reassures you that don’t worry, his making out with other women right in front of you doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you.

What the fuck with these people? They’re rude assholes who clearly don’t give two shits about being considerate of others. I wonder if he really DID break up with his girlfriend, or if she’s still sitting at home while he “goes hiking with friends” and makes out with one while trying to keep the other on the hook.

You do not need any of this bullshit. At least both of these people showed you exactly what turds they are, before you got more emotionally invested. Sucks that they took advantage of your good faith to triangulate you. Fuck those assholes.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:47 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Drama city. Who needs it? A is behaving like a twit, and Z acts like a smug little bastard that is willing to stir the pot so he gets his ego stroked by being the center of attention. Neither one of them are worth the time. Find adult company without so much turmoil.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:48 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


As a rule, anyone who cares about you and respects you as a person, platonically or otherwise, would never use your shared confidence to humiliate you like they did. I’m disgusted at these people.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:59 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I've known both of these people (not literally), and in spite of how good interpersonal dynamics can make it hard to see (especially in the case of Z), nothing will really stop them from doing terrible shit to you if it's convenient for them individually or together, and the more you invest in them, the more devastating that will be. It hurts to foreclose on a crush that way, but it's way better than the alternative.
posted by invitapriore at 5:30 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Wow, well personally, I'm too old for this level of drama. It seems clear you're not going to keep both of these relationships over the long term. Well, maybe, if you don't pursue Z but why bother?

I'd definitely let A fade away, as she seems unable to communicate clearly, and blames you for how she's feeling despite all your attempts to promote clear, respectful communication. Your #1 and #2 are minor and absolutely don't translate into making her feel shitty and stupid and small, or whatever. These kind of triangles are
definitely hard, but the normal challenges seem really compounded by some issues on her part that she's blaming you for.

Z? I dunno. It's weird how he's equally willing to be into either of you. That doesn't necessarily bode well. That said, he did tell her that you guys were thinking of dating, so that's good. Since you live near one another and have a fair bit in common, it seems like you could go for it and keep your eyes out for other red flags. And he at least seems willing to communicate clearly, which is great. I'd give him enough space to get over his relationship, but beyond that, I can't recommend you "prioritize your climbing partnership" over finding out if this relationship has the kind of potential that your instincts are telling you it has.
posted by salvia at 7:16 PM on February 6


Oh yeah, and the "made the whole trip about you"? Don't forget, it was YOUR TRIP in the first place!

She has issues. Unsubscribe.
posted by stormyteal at 8:32 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]


she spent days feeling “shitty and stupid and small” in a way that she rarely feels when she’s not around me

WOWWWWWWWW. What a thing to say to someone. I mean, how are you supposed to interpret that? Because from over here, it seems pretty clear that this is either a case of "I'm an absolute monster who regularly abuses her friend in traumatizing ways and that friend is so beaten down by me that she can't even tell me this until it's such a problem that she just explodes on me," or the more likely scenario, "my friend is terrible at communicating, may not have enough self-awareness to really be cognizant of her own emotions on top of having an inability to communicate clearly about said emotions, and she tends to lash out in really weird ways to try and hurt other people when she doesn't know what else to do with her feelings." And, were I the person pondering this conundrum, I think I'd arrive at the conclusion that life is far too short, and the world is far too full of interesting people who have their emotional shit together, and I do not have time to spend on a grown-ass woman who emails me little nastygrams displaying the emotional literacy of an angry child.
posted by palomar at 10:25 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


“Been doing a lot of my own thinking too actually.

After your behaviour in the mountain zone, us not talking sounds bloody good to me.

(Seriously, who craps on about how I should go for it with a guy, then snogs him right in my fucking bed?? AND THEN wonders if she’s gonna get kindness from me afterwards? FFS)

Yes, on MY trip, assiduously organised by ME!

Never. Not ever again.”
posted by honey-barbara at 3:42 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


A is not your friend.

Z is probably not relationship material. I'd give it about an 90% chance that he's a guy with superficial charm who made you believe there was a special connection there and who is thoroughly enjoying being fought over. Up to you whether you think the 10% chance that he's a decent guy who just doesn't know how to proceed / got caught up in the moment with the kissing is worth finding out about.
posted by hazyjane at 5:13 AM on February 7


She said she wished I hadn’t been honest with her, had “just not” inserted myself into her history with Z, and hadn’t made the whole trip about me.

Okay no. Just no. She's projecting here and the critique applies to her, not you. She inserted herself into your trip and made it about her, and then got upset because she wants Z's attention.

The guy you like who likes you back was kissing someone else while literally laying next to you. This is a bucket of red flags about what his future behavior is likely to be like, starting with inconsiderate, awkward, and unfaithful.

I would be rolling my eyes like mad if you were in high school telling me this. Don't get with Z. Don't spend time on A. There are other people out there who are awesome, hot, and won't subject you to this kind of childish drama.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:48 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


And then A and Z went out to breakfast together when the trip was over! A was probably thinking, “He kissed me, he agreed to go out, guess we’re hitting it off!” And then Z tells her that he’s interested in you.

Z is a player with a capital P. He seems suspiciously adept at convincing each of you that he’s interested, while managing to remain superficially uncommitted to a clear declaration of intent toward one or the other. And this is a week or two after breaking up with his girlfriend? Did he feed her this kind of bullshit too? “Oh, she’s just a friend, she told me she has a crush on me, but I’m trying to preserve the friendship without hurting her” etc.

Sure.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:18 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


A long long time ago I did something like this (details not the same, but a dude and two old friends and some emotions and a "prior claim" of sorts) and while my friendship has somewhat limped along over the years, the dude in the middle is absolutely not in either of our lives.

I was in the wrong, my friend was entirely generous in reconnecting with me, we talked it out exactly once over the last mmm... 20 years? It doesn't feel good, still, and I will never quite trust myself with her feelings again. The friendship has been important to us both, so we manage to be there for each other as much as we can, but it's not much.

I offer it for what it's worth.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:25 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


So this is a lot of toxic drama and I am reticent to say that you didn't subconsciously stir the pot a bit by inviting A along. I'm not trying to victim blame but what was the real motivation there? That's what I'm not clear on. Guilt? She doesn't climb like you and Z, and as far as I can tell, she and Z didn't have anything going on romantically for an extended period of time to warrant you doing anything more than checking in to see if she still had feelings (which, kudos to you, that's what good friends do). So why did you feel obligated to invite her along? Are you that close (it doesn't read that way to me)? It seems like you both were in automatic, animal-brain competition mode over Z, Z went along with it gleefully (because he's a massive prick), and now there is fallout between you and A because I guess you "won" the prize that is Z even after A played her hand.

I only say this because I've seen it occur between female friends (and male friends honestly) who just can't not fight over the same person and honestly I think it's some weird unconscious drive. I've had "friends" try to initiate that garbage with me but I refused to play. I've seen it happen so much that I just roll my eyes at it now.

So don't beat yourself up over it, but yeah, they both acted extremely poorly and you kinda set the stage for it. I'm pretty sure A would have done something similar regardless of whether she went along on this trip just as a power play. But that's also how you know now that it's not a healthy relationship. People who care about you don't easily give in to their shittest impulses and base line animalistic drives before thinking about how it could affect you. They definitely don't exude power over their friends in their most vulnerable moments just because they can. Her projection that you were the damnable party in this situation is pretty obvious that she really only cares about how her behavior reflects upon her rather than how it made you feel.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:31 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I concur with the others above. You haven't even officially dated this guy and there is all of this drama already built in. If this is the fun limerence phase of things, what would this relationship look like when that wears off? Similarly, when you've put in effort to repair a friendship and have gone out of your way to discuss things in an open, transparent manner precisely because you did not want to hurt your friend, and this is the response? I think there are much healthier, kinder, happier friendships and romantic relationship out there in the world for you than these.
posted by goggie at 2:10 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


So the friendship angle is well covered above, I'm just going to say - find better climbing partners! They're out there!
posted by Dashy at 6:30 PM on February 12


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