I dated my best friend, and now we're not friends anymore
October 24, 2019 2:33 AM   Subscribe

TL;DR: My best friend and I tried dating, and eventually the mixed messages and come-here-go-away dynamic became toxic. I can likely never date him after all of this, but I'd still like to preserve our friendship, which--unlike our dating experience--was secure, healthy, and magnificent. But is that even possible? How can I handle this? Will we ever get back to normal?


I was convinced. I really thought that, being as close as we were, having never really fought about anything ever, this was sure to work out. So sure was I that I even posted in here about potential issues with my parents not approving, etc. But. The answers were right (about rushing in and idealizing the situation), and I learned a huuuuge lesson on this one. I need to sit down and reevaluate a few things about myself and my dating life after this.


We confessed our feelings to each other and tried "dating" sort of, except we never officially "dated." While at first I was okay just trying things out, I eventually began to ask questions about what he hoped would happen between us. The main issue was, there were a lot of mixed messages. On one hand, he's been in love with me for years and always envisioned us being together. On the other hand, especially according to his social media posts but also other conversations, he doesn't want to date anyone right now. But when I pull away and try to move on and just be friends again, he gets upset.

The current situation:

Things went on like this for a while between us, with this sort of come here, go away dance. He'd express how happy he was with where we seemed to be headed, and then he'd push me away and say I was 'smothering' him. Eventually we had a long conversation in which he said that:

Maybe we're just not right for each other.

He can't meet my standards for a relationship right now.

Maybe these feelings we've always had for each other are toxic.

He can't put a date on how long it will take him to get past (issues we've been discussing since long before any feelings came up), and he doesn't want me to wait around.

I was hurt, of course, and I tried to get him to reconsider, but he seemed adamant. He wasn't giving up completely, but we shouldn't do anything right now. So I agreed and said:

"I can't see myself having feelings for you, knowing you have feelings for me, and not waiting around and supporting you through this. If this is what you need, I'll probably need to bury this whole thing for now and we can resurrect it later on, but if I'm out, I have to be all the way out. I'm not too good at the in-between."

I asked again about him still trying to rectify his stuff etc. and he said: "I feel like if I say yes, you'll try and wait for me. The answer has to be no."


So I went my own way, I held an imaginary funeral service for it, and went back to being 'friends.' He came to visit later though, and when the topic of my feelings came up, he said he was confused. He was heartbroken that I had buried my feelings for him, and said he felt rejected for who he was and what he had to offer. We had a long talk that night, because I thought HE was rejecting ME, and both got back on the same romantic page, kissing included. He said he felt seen in a way that he never was before, by me, and that this was a great jumping off point for something more.

But then, two weeks later, when I asked him what he hoped would happen with me ("I talk a lot about what I want and how I feel, and we speak in generalities sometimes, but how do YOU feel about this since that night? What do you hope will happen between us?"), he said he couldn't give me an answer. He said he was still working through the fact that I had broken his heart by burying my feelings that time, and that he didn't know about that anymore, as a result. That I had devalued his emotions before (I said I didn't think he could afford a relationship with me right now because his emotional resources were tied up elsewhere; I apologized profusely for the misunderstanding and comparing his emotions to money and saying he couldn't 'afford' it. It made sense in my head, but I can see how someone else might think it's a bit crass). I expressed my confusion, because to my knowledge it was his idea that we put the brakes on the whole thing at that time, and also because he'd been pushing me away and denying the idea that he wanted to formally "date" me for basically the entire time.

I said: "I don't understand. If I stay, I'm insecure, I'm asking too much, I'm trying to make you into someone you're not, I'm controlling, I'm demeaning you, and we shouldn't do this etc. But if I leave, I'm breaking your heart, I'm abandoning you, you're so upset, and you're telling me that you refuse to 'punish' me for my actions. Then you get on social media and say that your love life stinks, you're not interested in anybody, you never want to date or get into a relationship--or, you tell me you're not ready to go on a date, and then get on there and say you'll date whoever knows you best. Was I supposed to just push my way in? How far was I expected to get when you keep pushing me away?"

At this point, he went back to:

I can't give you what you need.

You need more than I can give.

I don't know what I want.

I got frustrated and just asked him: "Do you want to be with me?"

Him: "No, I don't want to be with you or anybody right now. I just need to be on my own and figure myself out."

Me: "Not 'right now.' At all. Ever. In your daydreams, your heart, in better circumstances."

Him: "I can't say what the future holds. I have to say no."

Me: "Okay then. So that jumping off point wasn't a thing. But I want to stand in this moment right now and point out that this is not me 'rejecting' you. I was here the whole time."

We said some more words and went our separate ways. I told him I was deleting my social media for now because I needed space.

"That's fair," he said.

Then a couple days later, I check my social media and he's got all these cryptic posts about how the past can be slaughtered like any animal, and how he can restrict access to him for any reason necessary, and there's a whole string of comments cheering him on with no idea of any of the context. I was livid. And then I was panicked. I was about to lose my best friend. I took a moment to calm down and then I sent him a message to say how I felt:

"Dating might not be for us," I said, "but I hope we can go back to being best friends. I don't want to lose our friendship over this."

He read it, but didn't respond until 30 minutes later; "I want that too, but I think I need a break from how close we are."

I said I understand.

I'm really concerned about all of this. I thought at first that I had found my soulmate, but this is a new side of him that I had never seen before. These subliminal messages pointed at me, and the whole thing about pushing me away and being upset when I leave makes me wary of other negative behaviors. It seemed like a catch 22, if I stay I'm a problem, if I go I'm a problem, but he doesn't want to be with anyone, but I broke his heart, but he doesn't want to be pressured, but he's in love with me, but but but.

I just want my friend back. How should I handle this?
posted by Socolime to Human Relations (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to say this, but speaking as someone who recently lost my best friend to a similar dynamic -- there were key differences but boy does the push-pull thing ring a bell -- I think you have to accept that at least for the very long-term, you've lost your best friend.

There's too much emotion right now for either of you to go back to friends. Getting back what you had is an impossibility. Your best bet is to go no contact for a long while, wait till you both have thoroughly moved on, and then try to get in touch again. But you actually have to go no contact and it actually has to be for a very long time.

I'm so sorry. I thought I found my soulmate too and instead it's all just gone to shit. It sucks terribly. But honestly, there's nothing else to do from here other than mourn and move on.
posted by forza at 2:50 AM on October 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

If you’re ever going to be friends again, you need to take a long break from each other. Date other people. Be happy being with other people and be ok in the idea that he’ll be doing the same. When you think you can see him with a girlfriend and go out on a double date or hang out with them at a party and be genuinely happy for them, then you’re ready to be an actual proper friend again. (Doesn’t mean he ever will be, but all you can speak for is your own feelings.) This may take months, years, or never. Until then, wish him the best and go live your own life.
posted by Jubey at 2:51 AM on October 24, 2019 [12 favorites]

Why do you want your friend back? What you've described does not sound appealing in any way. He's been playing with your head and heart in a fairly gaslighty way.
I think you may want want to consider that he showed you who he really is, and that's not particularly nice. I think if you take a nice long break, you'll wonder what you ever saw in him.
posted by pyro979 at 2:55 AM on October 24, 2019 [48 favorites]

You were communicative and fair.
He was wish washy and selfish and melodramatic.

Take a break from this guy, he has been immature and selfish and manipulative and unfair to you. Not being a good friend, not being a good partner. Step back and cut contact for now!

Maybe you will be friends again later but honestly I bet with some distance you’ll see that the friendship probably also had toxic elements.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:58 AM on October 24, 2019 [13 favorites]

When this happened to me, the relationship was not salvageable. We haven't spoken in nearly 8 years and I still miss him all the time.

I'm sorry.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:28 AM on October 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

If he's been in love with you for years, finally got a bite at the apple, and found it wasn't what he thought it would be after all, I think he's going to need a long contactless break before you can even hope for a friend reset (which you have to accept might never happen). I know it hurts, but it's going to work better to step away and let yourself. heal. Make some new friends.
posted by rikschell at 4:56 AM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nthng that you both need a long break. At least a year. Focus your energies elsewhere for a while. Other friends, hobbies, work, gym, learning. You will have some difficult feelings for a while - those feelings do not mean that you are supposed to be together or that you should contact him. He may try to re-establish contact and you shouldn't let him do that. Whatever it is that pulls him back to you isn't healthy, and it's going to take more than a few months for him to get that sorted out (if he does).

I've been the person who kept changing my story about what I wanted. I wasn't secure and confident enough to walk away from something that wasn't working, so I kept trying to be okay with it. Unsuccessfully. I was very good at lying to myself but not at suppressing my true wants. This is to say - he has some work to do, and it's not work that you can help him with. And it's probably better for him if you're not around for a while, even if he doesn't understand that.

Maintaining contact, for now, is just going to mean more of the push-me-pull-you dynamic. Cut him off - go no contact - focus on yourself and on other relationships, maybe go to therapy. It will suck but you'll get through it.
posted by bunderful at 5:25 AM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry but i think the friendship is gone. I had something similar happen and i still miss my friendship over a decade later. As friends we were so on the same wavelength, had the same friend circle, had shared interests but aslo enough different interests to expose each other to new things and it just completely went to shit once feelings ramped up, were "suppressed" over not wanting to lose the friendship, and things completely died when he started seeing someone else seriously. We saw eachother at parties and were cordial and chatty but that friend familiarity was gone.
I think you should avoid contact with him through phone, text, email, one on one type things, but dont go out of your way to avoid him at events you might attend with a shared friend circle. I stopped going to such gathering and regret it because i just ended up losing all of my friends and i do think there would have been a small chance of getting maybe half of the friendship back had i just kept showing up. The rest of the friend circle still gets together around the holidays and i do feel like i missed out on having a continuous friendship in my life.
posted by WeekendJen at 5:32 AM on October 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

My advice: don't let this guy know you still want to be friends, because he is using your feelings as a weapon against you. It's emotional blackmail. He knows you are caring and empathetic, and he is emotionally immature. I can almost 100% guarantee he does this with most women, idolizes them, and then when they don't measure up to his fantasies, rejects them.

This is so unhealthy for you. Please stay away from him, for your own sake. Let him post all he wants on social media, block him. You can't fix him, and ask yourself: do you really want several years of uncertainty and pain?

He's already burned you twice. Don't put your hand back on the stove again. Run away, and don't think of him as your friend again, ever. Friends don't treat each other like that. This has all the markings of an abusive relationship, as someone said, gaslighting behavior.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:54 AM on October 24, 2019 [33 favorites]

Even when I thought I could surely go on being friends with someone I had dated (or had romantic interactions with), I was very, very wrong. The only time that's worked was when we had a long period of not seeing each other in between, and then had to work together well after we had both moved on and were dating other people and I was friends with his then-gf (now wife).
posted by DoubleLune at 6:41 AM on October 24, 2019

The problem with situations like this is that they force a lot of growth on everyone involved. If you’re lucky the growth reveals you to be more compatible than ever, but often it just results in people being out of sync and miserable.

The situation can be unwound. The growth can’t.

The friendship you had no longer exists because the people involved no longer exist.

In my own experience, after going your own way for a year or two it may be possible to become friends again — but it won’t the friendship you had before, it will be a new one.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

It is definitely possible to be best friends, date, break up, and then be good friends again (I just officiated the wedding of someone I have this relationship with!), but it's not easy, and it takes a lot of care and communication. Both people have to be willing to do the necessary work to get it back. This guy does not sound like he's going to do that work. He doesn't even sound like he knows what the work would be, or that there is work.
posted by dizziest at 7:25 AM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Friends don't always stay friends, for all sorts of reasons. Friends that do stay friends have friendships in which they are free to change because the friends can adapt to changes in one another. If you guys are going to be friends in the future, you need to stop being even acquaintances now. This isn't happening because of his need to make idiotic digs at you on social media and your inability to ignore that shit. You know how you said you were going to delete your socials and then a few days later you checked your socials? It's a problem. Throw him off your socials if you're keeping your socials. And if you can't throw him off completely because he's friends with so many of your friends, take a real, complete, and sustained break from social media.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:36 AM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am so sorry. I know how much this hurts. I went through something similar and spent a lot of time thinking about it afterwards. For me, I could never get back the trust and love I needed to have in a best friend for someone who treated me so unkindly, because ultimately a real friend shows respect and love. Just because it was his own fear (or whatever else) that caused him to go cold on me doesn’t mean I can just blithely forget it and go back to being best buds. He might love you but he is not showing you love in action.

You’re just at the beginning of this. For now I think no contact is best. You will miss him so much but know that you’re treating yourself with love and kindness by not investing in someone who isn’t giving of himself back.
posted by sallybrown at 7:38 AM on October 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've recently extricated myself from a similar situation and it hurt so, so much to do it. The whole thing broke my heart to a degree that I was not remotely prepared for, I think mostly because this was a really good friend who I'd known for years and spent a whole lot of intimate (not sexual) time with as friends and thought I knew so well and held in such high regard...and who then went on to treat me SO POORLY that I could not at all reconcile it with the person I had believed him to be. We are not currently in contact at my request, including social media. I don't know if or when we'll ever speak again because I just feel so much anger and sadness whenever I think about him, and at the same time I miss him and our previous friendship terribly.

Agree with everyone else above that the friendship is, if not over, at least on serious hiatus, and that a long stretch of no-contact is the best path forward for now. I'm so sorry. I know just how painful it is, and will be for a good long while.
posted by anderjen at 7:49 AM on October 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

This man has a lot of growing he needs to do, and I think you know that it will be much healthier for you to step away from him while he does it.

Change disorientates people, he will try to cling to you even though he needs to let go while he figures himself out. Gently pry his fingers off you (metaphorically, and physically if necessary!) and go on with your life. If your friendship is destined to survive, giving it this space will allow it to do so.

I saw a very similar dynamic to this play out with a couple of friends, years ago. It turned out that the man involved, who identified as on the straight side of things at the time, was more gay than he thought - once he had embraced that and come out, they were able to resume their friendship very happily.
posted by greenish at 7:51 AM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, give yourself permission to mourn the friendship + romantic side of things. It might seem like no big deal because it was short in duration but you lost a very significant thing and it’s normal to feel the size of that loss. There is so much stuff out there about best friends finding love (the whole When Harry Met Sally thing, all the people who post about “I’m marrying my best friend,” etc) and you just want to shout “YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW!!” I felt so angry, like, we both could have been happy and instead we’re both devastated because he got cold feet, and I didn’t even get to choose. There is no rational way to understand it, so you just have to accept it. It won’t ever make sense.
posted by sallybrown at 7:58 AM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your friend was never your 'friend' because he was in love with you.

People who do this aren't really 'friends'... they have an agenda-- you. So you can't keep something that was built on false pretenses anyway. Your previous ask says you were friends for a decade, but you had started dating when you first met. Who initiated that? Was it him? Maybe it was you, but I have a feeling it was him, and you weren't in the right headspace then to really consider him. But he sat there and bided his time for a DECADE... to what? "wait for the day you two would be together," Is that really a friendship if he was doing that? Writing that out makes his behavior for the past 10 years feel super gross and somewhat deluded, to me.

Also he wasn't really in love with YOU-- if he was, he'd be trying his hardest to make this work. He was in love with love. Or an idealized version of you, maybe, or the concept of you two together. Whatever he was building up in his mind, wasn't reality-- it hasn't been reality for 10 years. That's why his behaviour makes zero sense right now. He wants 'you' but he wants the 'you' he built up in his mind. He wants this soulmate person while he builds castles in the sky, and when he hits reality, when he sees the real you, well, you don't fit in to decade-old fantasies. It's why he simultaneously mourns your relationship, while pushing you away at the same time.

That, to me, is super alarming. This person isn't on your side-- he has never been-- and I know that's so awful to hear, and I know that you wanna cling to the comfort you two had as friends, but believe me-- you don't need 'friends' like him.

And I have a feeling your 'friendship' probably pushed a lot of boundaries on closeness over the years. I might be wrong, but I think part of the reason its SO hard to let go of the friendship is because you (or at least him) tried to dance a faux couple dance together (of closeness, maybe flirting, telling each other everything etc) and when you separate from someone that is SO entrenched in your every day life, it's just really hard.

But this person was not your friend because he wanted something from you. And now that he doesn't.... it can't ever go back to the way it was. And that sucks so bad-- it's hurtful. I know because I've been there. But it's a good thing, truly. Because you don't need that in your life. And better to find out now, before you waste any more time on this guy. And taking a big step back from this guys friendship frees you to find someone that isn't toxic and manipulative. Which is awesome. And make friends. New friends. Better friends.

Mourn this relationship-- and this friendship-- but try and get as much distance as you can. Don't read into his drama-- yeah it makes sense to him, but the guy is lying to himself, and you-- and reading hope into his actions is ultimately just going to wound you.

I promise you, once you have hindsight you'll see things much much clearer and it will feel much much better.

Good luck
posted by Dimes at 8:12 AM on October 24, 2019 [19 favorites]

He wanted to break up under his terms, to take all the power back which you had 'stolen' by being grounded and mature and 'killing' your feelings for him. It worked, he got exactly what he wanted. It is also likely that your friendship was also about him getting what he wanted, even if that may not be obvious. Having a friendship with someone he could idealize, with whom a relationship wasn't really possible (you were just friends), whom he could pine for and probably be doted upon by in certain ways... sounds like a dream come true for someone with the kind of attachment issues he seems to have. Adding this to the unhinged-sounding, edgelord-y social media posts he's making... I mean, THIS is a person you want to be friends with going forward? I say mourn the heck out of this and move towards all the better things out there, because this guy sounds like a tragic, gaslighty, sloppy-thinking, responsibility-eschewing mess. Good luck.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:14 AM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

FINAL IMPORTANT THOUGHT SO IMPORTANT I MOVED IT UP TOP: You deserve someone who wants you as much as you want them. That is what a healthy relationship is. Please read this article from Mark Manson on the Fuck Yes rule and take it to heart.


But then, two weeks later, when I asked him what he hoped would happen with me ("I talk a lot about what I want and how I feel, and we speak in generalities sometimes, but how do YOU feel about this since that night? What do you hope will happen between us?"), he said he couldn't give me an answer. He said he was still working through the fact that I had broken his heart by burying my feelings that time, and that he didn't know about that anymore, as a result. That I had devalued his emotions before (I said I didn't think he could afford a relationship with me right now because his emotional resources were tied up elsewhere; I apologized profusely for the misunderstanding and comparing his emotions to money and saying he couldn't 'afford' it.

Just reread this. You are trying to be clear. He's lying and avoiding being clear, he's putting it all on you for having broken some non-existent agreement. He is gaslighting you and actively manipulating you.

This is going to hurt... but you were never his friend, really, and it was never secure. He's going to keep weaseling his way back in, then pulling away and hurting you. It's feeding him an emotional high he can't get with anyone else because he doesn't have another person to do it to.

I hope he grows out of it. It's often a maturity thing. Some people just double down as they grow though and get more toxic. It won't get better until he wants it to get better. And for the record, healthy mature adults are able to articulate their feelings.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:19 AM on October 24, 2019 [17 favorites]

He is ridiculous and dishonest and, don't forget, ridiculous. but if you want -- or if you expect to fall into, despite saying you don't want -- any kind of ongoing friendship with him again, you got to stop monitoring his social media looking for signals and signs and liminal and subliminal messaging. there are plenty enough of contradictions and made-up bullshit in his spoken words without searching for misleading implications in his twitter feed or whereverthefuck, as if his total bullshit output on all channels is one massive essay you're grading for quality of logical connections.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2019 [11 favorites]

I think you may want want to consider that he showed you who he really is, and that's not particularly nice. I think if you take a nice long break, you'll wonder what you ever saw in him.

I can’t second this hard enough. I had a similar best friend relationship that ended a year ago. He cut me off because we were “too close” (i.e. I needed the relationship to actually be a dating relationship if he was going to get his emotional needs met through me, and he wasn’t willing to do that, but he also wasn’t willing to do the work to build healthy boundaries and preserve the friendship).

Losing him devastated me; but at this point I’m so much better off without him, and I can appreciate the ways in which he was taking advantage of me for a long time.

It’s gonna hurt, but ultimately discarding this relationship is going to make you available for people who are actually emotionally available to be in adult relationships.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:02 AM on October 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

also! the reason it didn't make any sense to you when you asked if he was saying to wait for him while he worked everything out, and he said No, I can't say everything will work itself out if you just wait, because then you would wait for me, so I have to tell you not to? and then you said OK, and didn't wait, and then he was hurt that you hadn't waited?

(In theory, because it's hard to conceptualize what waiting and wishing and hoping vs. giving up and holding private mental funerals actually means in physical tangible practice, or what the difference looks like from the outside, or how anyone but you could tell.)

but the answer is that he didn't change his mind there, and he wasn't confused about what he wanted. He never meant that he didn't want you waiting for him, quietly, with infinite patience and no expectation, for the day he sorted himself out or felt ready. what he was saying was he didn't want to ASK for it, because then he'd be the one responsible for asking you to do that. very different thing.

to be "fair" to him, it is very appealing to do a noble renunciation drama so as to be emotionally blameless, but then get what you want anyway. too bad for him he can't write your side of the script as well as his own.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:07 AM on October 24, 2019 [25 favorites]

I agree with alllllll of what queenofbithynia just said.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:42 AM on October 24, 2019

queenofbithynia is indeed wise! In these situations, the person is doing everything possible to not "feel" like a "bad guy". This leads to them doing every possible thing to avoid any sort of commitment or definitive statement. If they do state something, it will be in past or future tense.

Never now tense.

For me, it was an anxiety/depression thing. I was so desperate not to hurt someone and also hedge my bets that I was just not behaving kindly and clearly and doing far more harm.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:44 AM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I made a comment about how you should try dating him, so I am especially sorry to hear it hasn't worked out.

I'm wondering how long he has been your 'best friend'? How long have you known this guy? If it wasn't for that long, maybe you have to accept that you didn't really know him before, and that he is not that great of a person. The way he airs things on social media in cryptic posts that he knows you will see seems especially toxic.

This is also a really good example of how people often think more communication = good, even when the communication is really unclear and confusing. I think you should take a step back from communicating with this guy about this. It is doing no good and you need to get a handle on your own feelings first.
posted by thereader at 11:01 AM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

You were set up. There was no way for you to succeed at a relationship with how he set this up. He waffled around, didn't communicate clearly, wasn't honest with himself or you, took you for granted, and didn't seem to even try to do better? You did exactly what he told you he wanted and at the expense of your own feelings and needs and then he turns around and is angry and hurt that you accommodated his needs so well?! This dude isn't going to be a safe choice for your emotional well-being. He needs therapy and a pacifier. Take a very long break and spend more time with men who are emotionally adult.
posted by quince at 11:07 AM on October 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think once enough time has passed and you get over this guy and realise who he is, (queenofbythnia has his number!) not only will you not want to be friends with him, you won’t want him within 100 miles of you, so the situation will probably sort itself out.
posted by Jubey at 12:49 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

This sounds like a super toxic dynamic to me, and one that it might be best to move on from entirely. I don't actually think he's toxic necessarily. However, the combination of someone who is a bit pushy and intense (you) with someone who is conflict avoidant and bad at saying "no" (him) often ends up in a really, really bad place with a lot of boundary violations and general fuckery.

Also, in the future, consider trying harder to back off when you get a "no," even if you think you can get the person to reconsider or try again by being persistent. It's not worth it. I say this as someone who is very persistent and stubborn. It's not great to direct that particular character trait at romantic relationships unless the other person is actively welcoming it in a "hell yes" kind of way.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:06 PM on October 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

I have lived this dynamic myself and it sucks. You deserve somebody who really wants to be with you, not somebody whose head is so far up his own butt that he has to be cajoled and persuaded.

This guy’s behaviour is not only terrible from a romantic point of view, it sucks from a platonic one as well. He’s not being a good friend to you at all. He’s jerking you around and gaslighting you. Maybe it’s because he’s not capable due to his own issues, maybe it’s because he always had a hidden agenda and this is part of his pattern. At the end of the day, the reason doesn’t really matter. He doesn’t have what you want.

Take a break, don’t tell him you want to stay friends, and go no contact for as long as you can. A year would be ideal, but at least a couple of seasons. Focus on your own stuff, and start by spending time on anything he wasn’t into or you otherwise felt discouraged from doing while you were with him. Consciously go out and broaden your experiences and your social circle. And then see how you feel.

I’d be willing to bet that after you’ve done that, you won’t be interested in this dynamic anymore.
posted by rpfields at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

He may have an avoidant attachment style. He idealizes what he can't have, and can only feel these strong feelings for you when you are far away or he feel like he doesn't have you. He needs to chase, so he pulls you in. Then, once you are there and available, he's not interested because he's scared of intimacy and feels smothered.

Run away, fast, now, because you will never get what you want from this relationship. He wasn't in love with you; he felt like he was because he didn't have you. If he was in love with you, he would have told you years ago.

Take a good long break. Go no contact. Focus on healthy friendships with people who aren't potential romantic partners, and date people who are emotionally available. This guy isn't that.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:58 PM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Agree with mostly everyone, but would like to point out that once you get over this you will see who he really is and want nothing to do with him.

He’s kind of the worst. You will not be able to unsee that in a few months.

In a year, after he’s gone through another woman or five, his social media posts won’t hurt. You’ll roll your eyes and wonder how you fell for it - even just as friends.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:56 PM on October 25, 2019

Oh shit, sorry for pronouns.

Because I’m speaking from experience!!!
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:58 PM on October 25, 2019

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