Delayed Text Message Responses from Friend
December 22, 2019 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I am engaged, and have feelings (though dwindling) for a friend who recently moved to another state. My fiance and I have had extensive conversations about these feelings, but my friend is (possibly) unaware of my feelings, and knows that I am engaged. Since my friend has relocated, I have texted them a few times, with responses either delayed or nonexistent. Was I being forward in my messages?

Without revealing too much specific information about the situation, I began training to earn a license in something that I am passionate about in early July, and my friend was originally my instructor. During lessons, everything was kept professional, but we ended up developing a natural friendship outside of the lessons. I am engaged, and my fiance has met this friend. We all have gone to dinner together, and have engaged in various activities with and without other friends present.

I began developing further feelings for this person around September or October of this year. I felt that he may have shared (or still may currently share) these feelings, and we have flirted lightly in the past. My fiance and I have had extensive conversations about this, and he understands that this is something that I need, and is open to doing the same with others outside of the relationship. However, my friend is not aware of any of these conversations between my fiance and me, and therefore may have panicked/been put-off by the situation. My fiance did feel that my friend was making prolonged eye contact with me when we went out to dinner, though, and noticed that we had an obvious connection.

Recently, my friend received a job offer in another state, where Wifi service in general is a bit sparse. This job has been a dream of his for a long time, and so he quickly pursued it, and began the drive to this state in early December. I had texted him to see if they needed any help packing/with transportation before the move, as he had needed to get moving quickly. He responded within a couple of hours, letting me know that he was already on the way to the new state, but really appreciated my offer. We both reciprocated the feelings that we would miss one another (as is normal in any friendship), and he stated that he was looking forward to seeing me at my upcoming wedding in June.

I had texted him a few days later just to check-in, and he responded the next day, apologizing for the delay since there was little-to-no service in the area he was in. I checked-in again about one week later, as I hadn't heard back from him. He had originally stated that he would let me know when he made it, and would send me his address so that I would know where to send the wedding invitation. He didn't respond to this text, so I waited another week to send a follow-up text. In it, I wrote, "Hey, just wanted to check in and see if you've made it safely? Sorry if I'm bothering you (please let me know if this is the case!)." He responded within a few hours again, and stated that I could never be a bother to him. He wrote that he was very busy with the new job and relocation, told me about the frigid weather conditions in the state, and sent me a few pictures of the area. He also asked if I had started training with a new instructor, and I wrote that I had. I stated that our lessons were interesting so far, but didn't make my heart sing the way that the lessons with he and myself had. I had also asked him a few questions about his new job/living conditions in the same text.

At the moment, I have not (yet) received a response to this most recent text. When he still lived in the state that I live in, his text responses could be anywhere from within minutes to 1-2 days. I sent this most recent text this past Thursday, and it is now Sunday evening. What are your thoughts on this? Did I scare him off? Was I too forward? I spoke with my fiance about it (we communicate openly and honestly about everything), and he said, "I would think he either shares the feelings that you have, and doesn't know what to do about them, or he doesn't share your feelings, and doesn't want to respond." I personally believe it's the latter. On the other hand, I also want to believe that he's simply very busy, and since I am only a friend, I am in no way a top priority for him. It does hurt, though, to feel ignored (whether or not this is actually the case).
posted by Jangatroo to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The question is: do you want to devote your life to your fiance? If yes, then stop reaching out to this remote person. What good can it do any of the three of you?
posted by tmdonahue at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2019 [48 favorites]


I doubt he's ignoring you. Three days without a text is not much when someone is moving and starting a new job, especially around this time of year.

I'd dial it back and let him contact you when he resurfaces. If you don't hear from him before the New Year, it might be a sign that he's focussing his attention elsewhere, but it's way too early to jump to conclusions now.
posted by rpfields at 4:32 PM on December 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


Nobody here can tell you how he feels or what he's doing or if he's too busy. I would suggest, though, that "open and honest" isn't the same as "not doing damage to the relationship". A lot of friendships thrive only in close contact, this might be an opportunity for you to step way back and reconfigure your boundaries from something that doesn't sound healthy for you personally or for your primary relationship.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:35 PM on December 22, 2019 [25 favorites]


One of the dangers in practicing polyamory is a kind of triangulation - you and your fiancé are making all kinds of decisions and assumptions about this third party without the respect of checking in with him. So my advice is stop treating this guy like you were dating. You weren’t. If he gets back in touch and you have more communication, that’s when you could bring up your relationship configuration (open) and even ask him about it. But in the meantime you really would be better served not to sit with your current partner and get wound up about long looks.

So you didn’t have a question here. But I would say, yes, this is normal for a friendship of this sort.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:44 PM on December 22, 2019 [53 favorites]


I mean, does this person know you're poly or in an open relationship, if that is the case here? Typically if I have friends who are in relationships, even close ones, I tend to believe they are busy with their SOs or are just sort of being polite and don't prioritize texting them. This was definitely the case when I first moved to a new city. That time is chaotic as it is, and you don't know where his head is, and he might just be neglecting communication in general while he settles.

If he does know you're in a poly/open relationship, then what's the harm in discussing your feelings honestly?
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


I would dial back your communication with him. He has no idea he’s a point of ongoing communication between you and your fiancé about your feelings for him. If I were in his shoes, I’d feel like you two were using me for titillation or experimentation somehow, in addition to being frustrated and confused about why someone who’s engaged is flirting with me. He’s clearly trying to respect your relationship (reminding you that he’ll see you at your wedding).
posted by sallybrown at 5:07 PM on December 22, 2019 [42 favorites]


Plan A- Do you want to hook up with him before or immediately after your wedding? I think this probably isn’t a great idea (for whatever a stranger’s hunch is worth) - it sounds like you and your partner are quite new to polyamory, which can be destabilizing to a relationship, and added to the stress of planning a wedding- it might not be a great time in your relationship to be putting energy outside.

But ok, if you are interested in having an encounter with this guy before your wedding, say “hey I just want you to know, Jamie and I are interested in trying polyamory and I am interested in seeing you again, with his consent. Would you be into me visiting for a weekend?”

Plan B - If you are not interested in having an encounter with him until after the wedding (probably a better idea in my opinion), just hit pause on the communications, send a meme or a brief hello every few weeks, and do Plan A a couple months after the wedding.

Also, as I said polyamory can really damage a relationship, or it can go really well. It tends to work better if you have read about it and figured out your parameters before starting. Sounds like you and your fiancé communicate openly, and he’s not the jealous type, which is a great start. Thinking about what the rules are, what would count as cheating, what is allowed, or what would be uncomfortable, is a good way to prepare for the extra complications poly can create.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:15 PM on December 22, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what your question is here: are you hoping for some kind of romantic relationship with this person? Your mention of "dwindling feelings" says no, but everything else you've written (extensive conversations with your fiance about this guy's text messaging patterns? asking internet strangers about this guy's text messaging patterns?) says yes.

As someone who's been in the open relationship game for 20+ years and learned many lessons the hard way (as most of us do), I've found the best way to approach situations like this is to think about how this potential relationship could benefit HIM, rather than how much fun it would be for you. You say your fiance is OK with you having outside relationships, and it's great you're checking in with him, but I don't see where you're considering other guy's feelings at all. How would he feel about dating an already-partnered person? Does he have experience with this? Is he comfortable with it? What would you be offering him in terms of time, support, affection, energy? Does he even reciprocate your feelings at all?

Without asking any of these questions before pursuing this, you could be setting him (and yourself) up for a lot of hurt eventually.
posted by DeadliestQuack at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2019 [12 favorites]


I stated that our lessons were interesting so far, but didn't make my heart sing the way that the lessons with he and myself had

Is this a very loose paraphrase or did you say it more or less like this? because if I were an affianced person's ex-instructor and got a text about singing hearts, you can bet I would not be replying. this is basic instinctual self-preservation and drama avoidance, whether they like you that way or not.

for ethical people who are not looking to get involved in someone else's relationship, or who do not even know that the relationship is open/such things are possible, a subtle flirtation with an engaged person is a brief and pleasant interlude with a natural endpoint. It has a short lifespan and the intensity does not keep building. it is not the prelude to unsubtle flirting such as he may or may not have perceived you to be starting. I would say also that even people who are perfectly comfortable with dating someone coupled would not usually feel comfortable starting something during that person's engagement period. It would feel like an intrusion in a way that seeing one half of a long-married couple would not.

plus, he's really busy. he said so.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:22 PM on December 22, 2019 [64 favorites]


Whatever you want to happen here, it's not going to happen over text from out of state. I'd put him back in the friend bucket til your paths meet again. Although to be honest it's a little creepy to me that you & your fiancé are basically already considering yourselves in a relationship with him without his knowledge or consent. I'm not sure someone can even be a decent friend to someone once they decide to go after them sexually. I'd say let this guy come to you, or leave him alone.
posted by bleep at 6:29 PM on December 22, 2019 [9 favorites]


this is basic instinctual self-preservation and drama avoidance

My money is on this as well.
posted by STFUDonnie at 6:36 PM on December 22, 2019 [12 favorites]


Yeah if this were me (as the instructor) and i had not gotten explicit communication from you that you had an open relationship situation, I would definitely be either ghosting or slow-fading at this moment. Because for most ethical people, low-level flirting with someone in full view of their SO is a different thing than getting flirty texts from a person after you've moved a state away.

And it's not always the default to presume that someone is talking about their interactions completely openly with their SO. In fact in many cishet relationships the opposite is true (i.e. if a guy is flirting heavily with you there is a good chance his partner does NOT know).

So I guess I'd be in the same "What are your goals?" camp as many others. If you are trying to maybe start something with this person because you and your SO are poly and that is a cool thing you'd like to do, then great. I think your next step is letting your ex-instructor clearly know that because otherwise continuing to flirt with them is creating a confusing situation unless this is just how you are and how the people in your social group are.

However, if what you are looking for is a gradual reduction of your feelings for this person, stop overthinking this. This person just moved, just started a new job, said with words that you're not bugging them, but is also busy and just your friend, not someone you are or were dating. Not having their text response occupy your mind is a better way to let feelings fade.
posted by jessamyn at 6:52 PM on December 22, 2019 [10 favorites]


As a single person even if I had some feels for a person in a relationship and was open to polyamory with them, they'd have to be clear with me way up front that that's what was happening. And even if I was open to that, right after moving to another state for a new job would be a rough time to start something.

I'd let this go to the back burner for now and try to focus on other things. If it's meant to be, they'll resurface in your orbit.
posted by bunderful at 7:19 PM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


However, my friend is not aware of any of these conversations between my fiance and me

relationshipwise and friendshipwise, there are few things on earth creepier than having poly people make overtures to involving you, a casual friend or acquaintance, in their relationship, without them first openly and clearly discussing their intentions with you. this is the sort of thing i write people off forever for and feel extreme relief at having dodged one hell of a bullet.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:26 PM on December 22, 2019 [52 favorites]


Literally nobody knows why he's not responding. He could be busy with his new job. He could have picked up on your feelings and be understandably unsure of how to proceed, so he's taking a step back. He may not have great service. There may be something funky happening to his messages to you. None of us have a way to know. We DO know that your anxiety about it is enough to make you seek answers about why from both us and your husband, answers we cannot give.

I think you need to really think long and hard about what you want to accomplish here. It's wonderful that your husband has been so understanding but this is a complex situation with the potential to impact your current relationship in a way you may not want.

Think about what you want here and what you want in your relationship going forward--do you WANT to be open? Or do you want this to be an isolated occurrence? Do you consider yourself polyamorous? Looking forward will be productive and help open you up to more fulfilling relationships going forward. Worrying about his texting habits will accomplish nothing. TRUST ME, I've spent hours upon hours upon hours obsessing over a man's texting habits. It's unproductive. Really.

Good luck.
posted by Amy93 at 7:39 PM on December 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


People who have made a move to a different state are generally focusing on building in person networks and not prioritizing people in their old location. Particularly if it’s a permanentish move. You are a much less important person in his life, and it doesn’t sound like he’s pining away after you. Let it go if you want to preserve a friendly relationship.

And take poffin boffin’s advice above to heart. There’s a reason many people back away from poly people, and it’s because they’ve had one too many interactions like this where it turns out they’re secretly being pursued until the surprise reveal. He may be backing off because these vibes are creeping him and he doesn’t want to engage. He’ll get in touch when he wants to.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:54 PM on December 22, 2019 [9 favorites]


Thank you all so much for the responses. Although difficult to read, I find myself nodding as I do so, as clearly these comments are what I need to hear. I wanted to post this thread on here, as I do not know anyone personally, and therefore they couldn't possibly have any background knowledge that could make their response biased in any way.

Just to clarify, my fiance and I are not looking for a polyamorous relationship, although we have been discussing the idea of an open relationship recently. The question of, "What do you want to accomplish with this friend?" is very eye-opening. I find him attractive, have fantasized about intimate situations with him, and do have feelings beyond just a friend for him. However, the comments about it being creepy to speak about this with my fiance, without said friend knowing, really resonated. Thinking about how that would feel if the shoe were on the other foot, you are absolutely right.

I will leave him alone, and let him contact me if he chooses to do so. Ultimately I would like to talk to him about these feelings (which are already passing, as stated above the cut), even if it means that he wishes to sever all ties. But for now, I will leave him be.
posted by Jangatroo at 8:59 PM on December 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


Okay, so you’re not pursuing this because you want to date him? You want to see if he likes you and wants to date you? But you want to stay with your partner and not be poly? This is quite confusing then. There aren’t a lot of good reasons to share your feelings with him. Like, just because we like someone doesn’t mean they need to know. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do with this information. It sounds like your partner is being quite supportive, but how far do you want to push this?

Let this guy go and get into therapy and see if you’re trying to self-destruct your relationship. Lots of people in long term monogamous relationships develop feelings for other people. If it becomes an obsession like this, it’s healthier to back away if you really want to preserve your relationship.

Why are you walking down this path so close to your wedding?
posted by bluedaisy at 9:59 PM on December 22, 2019 [35 favorites]


I disagree with the folks who imply that this degree of interest is only appropriate in a poly relationship. There's nothing wrong with excitement about someone you don't plan to get romantically involved with, and no need to pull back from such relationships to protect a romantic relationship.

If I were in this dude's situation I would be mentally preoccupied with my move/ the holidays and devoting less energy to long distance friends. I'd have to actually see what you sent to have an opinion on whether you are likely to have scared him off, but his nonresponse is evidence of nothing.
posted by metasarah at 2:59 AM on December 23, 2019


If your friend loves you but cannot be with you in the way he wants, every contact with you hurts him a little bit.
posted by amtho at 3:30 AM on December 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


Just a point to add here, some people can be made... uncomfortable by open relationships, or at least by the dawning awareness that they're the third. That this guy has met your future husband in a context that was intimate enough that your fiancé noticed him giving you long looks, it's in the realm of possibility that this guy is feeling like a possible mutual relationship is, at best, going to be as a side piece. "you make my heart sing—cant wait to see you at my wedding to someone else" is a sentiment that understandably may give someone pause.

That said, it's the holidays, he moved, maybe take his explanations at face value for now and be patient?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:02 AM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


What do you want to accomplish with this friend?" is very eye-opening.

And conversely, what are you offering him in exchange? From my read of the initial post, you were interested more in a flirty relationship that makes you feel attractive than an open relationship. If that's true, that's fine, those can be great, but only of both parties are on board with that. Having your heartstrings played with by someone that's not giving you full information sucks.

And they're also typically the sort of thing that drop off at a distance.
posted by Candleman at 7:33 AM on December 24, 2019


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