Fuming because a friend ghosted me. Again. How to cope?
February 25, 2021 6:57 PM   Subscribe

William (I had an AskMe about him in December) is at it again. More under the fold.

So I asked about William and the whole Christmas Eve saga. I was very hurt, but thanks to the very helpful advice of many here, I decided to heed the advice and let it go for the time being, and reconnect this year.

In February, I did just that. Sent him a text and stated I had some news to share (a new job I got), and hoped he was doing well. He responded in kind, seemed happy to hear back from me. We agreed on a FaceTime session for a Sunday.

Sunday came and went. Nary a response.

Monday, he followed up in a flurry of apologies, we agreed to do it on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a nice FaceTime session. We had a really nice talk. It turns out he's moving out of state (I also am moving, so could relate to that). He took the initiative, not me, to ask if I wanted to get together. Of course I did. I said I would look at my calendar and get back to him.

Texted him a suggested day. He agreed.

Said day came up, he had something come up. Suggested another day. We agreed on another day.

On said day, he stated he pulled his back, so didn't feel like going out that day. I suggested he stop by later in the week (today) to say his farewell quickly in person, and he was very receptive to this idea. Even offered to bring over some food. All good.

Today - nada. No response, nothing, nothing, nothing.

I AM FUMING. Apologies in advance. I do recognize it's stressful to move, it's stressful to have your back thrown out, but... what happened to the art of communication? William is an adult, I am an adult. Is it that hard to send a fucking text saying "hey, dubious_dude, I'm really sorry, but today ended up not being as ideal as I thought it would be the other day. I wish we could have connected before I moved out, but we'll definitely keep connected!" or something like that? I may be dense, I may be out of touch, but that's basic kindergarten manners, wouldn't you think? If something comes up for me, I'm always immediate to communicate right away if plans need to be changed/cancelled. Always. I know I can't always hold my standard up to everyone else, but come on.

I know this is moving quickly into ranting territory, but the reason behind this Ask is to ask... how should I cope with this? Obviously, process, reframe, etc., but I'm not sure if maybe I just need to block him? We had some good memories, but he's moving out of state anyway, and all that happened had really hurt me. It's opened up old wounds and insecurities I have about myself, my appearance, thanks to trauma points from bullying in my childhood and strained family relationships. Should I share my feelings with him?

To be honest, I feel so lost about this friendship. I have no idea what to do. I don't understand it. Why did he take the incentive on FaceTime to ask me to get together, then keep blowing it off with (valid or bullshit) reasons? This isn't making any sense to me, and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this. It really hurts being ghosted, and I would really like to see what suggestions you have (in addition to the great suggestions in the December Ask).

I'm not in the best place right now, but I'll be okay. I wish my therapist wasn't on leave right now, though, but I'm definitely journaling this to bring up to her when we restart our sessions.

Thank you.
posted by dubious_dude to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I’m sorry, it sounds like he’s not a good friend to you. It also seems like he has personal stuff going on that makes him just not a good friend to anyone.

I think you need to cut him loose and just stop initiating, and lower your expectations and invest in new friends. It’s up to you about whether you want to do the slow fade or be explicit. This sounds painful. I’m sorry. Take care of yourself!
posted by pando11 at 7:07 PM on February 25, 2021 [21 favorites]

William is not an adult. He might be dozens of years old, but he’s not being an adult in your friendship.

He’s not providing good times anymore. Maybe he changed, maybe your standards of communication did. It doesn’t matter, you’re not compatible anymore.

Stand up for yourself and stop initiating contact. If he reaches out (which seems unlikely), only put in effort that feels good—match his investment level.

It’s not easy, and it takes practice, but after you’ve gotten accustomed to holding boundaries and not letting people treat you like a toy, it can be validating to have a similar encounter in the future, hold to your values, and not get spun out or upset if you have to part ways with a friend.
posted by itesser at 7:08 PM on February 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

You have to stop asking yourself why he acts this way and instead spend your energy focusing on the fact that he is clearly, repeatedly showing you exactly how he operates. His style of friendship does not work for you, full stop, and that's what you need to work to understand. Not the why of it, or how to express yourself in a way he'll understand, etc. etc. He does not operate in a way that makes you happy or that makes you feel appreciated as a friend. Having a friendship with a person whose friendship style does not mesh with your own is pretty much impossible.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:10 PM on February 25, 2021 [53 favorites]

What a sucky thing to do and experience. I'm sorry.

Honestly, I think it will only be further crazy-making for you to try and understand this behavior. People are not rational, though they are good at rationalization. Instead, it's time to grieve the loss and let time help fade the hurt.

Good relationships rely on reciprocity of kindness, effort, consideration, and more. If someone isn't reciprocating you can take note and make moves to dial back the efforts you are making. Invest that extra time and energy in people who do reciprocate your friendship.
posted by brookeb at 7:11 PM on February 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

how should I cope with this?

Tell yourself, "this was probably not personal or about me." And then tell yourself that 100 more times (kidding, sorta).

Is it that hard to send a fucking text saying "hey, dubious_dude, I'm really sorry, but today ended up not being as ideal as I thought it would be the other day.

A year ago, I would have completely agreed with you. But I dunno, this past year has taken some sort of mental toll on me for reasons that are obvious (and likely some I haven't quite confronted yet). I mean, I've ghosted on some professional commitments, have an email from a good friend I've not replied to yet from September- none of that is good behavior on my part, but none of it is at all personal either. So, I'm sorry you're feeling hurt, but it's quite possible William's ineptitude had nothing to do with you or how he feels about you.
posted by coffeecat at 7:13 PM on February 25, 2021 [26 favorites]

William is an adult, I am an adult.

Feels like that's your answer. He - an adult - made some decisions. Now you - an adult - need to make some decisions.

You could tell him how you feel, and see how things play out. This seems like the most adult thing to do.

You could decide his friendship is more important, and live with it. This doesn't strike me as a particularly adult thing to do, but sometimes there are things we just endure.

You could decide his friendship is not more important, and stop contacting him. This also seems like an adult thing to do, but not as adult as being open with him. As you said yourself, "what happened to the art of communication?"

As an adult, do less "coping". Do more concrete actions that make a difference for you.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 7:15 PM on February 25, 2021 [8 favorites]

I’d just assume he was overwhelmed and not great at managing his time, wouldn’t take it personally.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:18 PM on February 25, 2021 [9 favorites]

I wouldn’t take it personally but I also wouldn’t bother reaching out to him again either. If he’s always making you feel bad, that’s not a friendship. Some people are fine having others waft in and out of their life. It’s obviously not your style so wish him well mentally and let him go, leaving space for people to come in who will treat you better.
posted by Jubey at 7:24 PM on February 25, 2021 [45 favorites]

I would absolutely also feel terrible about this in your shoes and completely spin out about it (at least for a while).

But I also am a person who just blew off, for three weeks in a row, one of my closest friends, because I am just ... not coping right now. Pandemic isolation and pandemic parenting and supervising distance learning is hitting me hard. I cancelled zooms last minute three weeks in a row, and then would take like more than 48 hours to respond to her texts. Sitting there KNOWING I was The Worst for doing that. And I knew it would be super-good for my mental health to talk to her! I wanted to talk to her! But I was just ... such a grey blob of sadness I could not manage it.

And she, bless her, just reached out to me by text once or twice a week to say, "I know shit's tough, I'm thinking of you, I hope you're doing okay, zero pressure, text me when you feel up to it." And when I started to pull out of grey-blobdom a little bit ago, I made and attended a zoom date with her (yay me, for completing the literal minimum required of a functioning human being in the world!) and I was like, "I am sorry I am a sad grey blob, you are amazing, thank you for being amazing and putting up with my grey blobdom."

I don't think you have to be cool to William or reach out to him. But maybe it will help to hear about someone (me) who WANTS to be a good friend and knows she is fucking it up but is just struggling with a lot of outside shit.

I think I'm about 20 years older than you are -- and at your age would have been like "well, great, William, you suck" and I think that's a healthy response to his behavior and I want to be clear that shrugging and moving on is a) fine and b) warranted. But I also, as I've gotten older, have gotten more understanding of the ways people move in and out of my life. I have lifelong friends that I lost touch with for five or even ten years, because our lives fell out of sync, and the disconnect was too difficult as we struggled to find our paths (with jobs and partners and kids/no kids and whatnot). A decade later, when we had settled in, we were able to resume our friendship without hard feelings (even though there may have been hard feelings at the time!), because we had coped with our own shit and it stopped being hard to have a close friend who was facing the same choices but going a different direction. Other friends have drifted away, and often later come back, when they suffered pregnancy loss, or the death of a parent, or a messy divorce, or an alcoholic spouse. Anymore, unless someone specifically ends our friendship by being like, "Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on!" I just assume that they've got some shit going on in their life, and it's not even a little bit about me or our friendship, it's about them trying to keep their head above water.

Personally, if it were me at this moment in my life, as someone 20 years older than you, I'd accept that William isn't able to be a friend right now, feel disappointed about it, talk to my therapist -- but not talk to William about my feelings. I'd assume he's got some shit going on that I don't know about. I'd let him stay connected to me on acquaintance-level social media and/or keep him on the Christmas card list and/or whatever you do to stay loosely connected to people who are loosely/formerly part of your life. But AGAIN I think it's totally fine and appropriate for you to say, "No, I can't deal with William's shit right now, this sucks" (it does suck!) and just mentally declare an end to that relationship. And there are times you DEFINITELY have to do that, especially when you are young and don't have a clear ride-or-die chosen-family around you. These days, I know my first ten calls/texts if my husband were suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor (literally something that happened to a close friend this week, is why I use the example), so it's a lot easier for me to say, "It's okay for flakey friends to flake out." That's a lot harder when you're younger and still building that chosen family.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:56 PM on February 25, 2021 [38 favorites]

Jubey just said what I wanted to say but more succinctly and more eloquently than I possibly could have done, so please do read Jubey’s comment again. Sending you lots of good wishes for your upcoming move! :)
posted by mochapickle at 7:59 PM on February 25, 2021

It is especially painful when friends-with-benefits types of friends say they want to come around and say goodbye and then don't manage to do it. That wasn't cool of him.

Why did he take the incentive on FaceTime to ask me to get together, then keep blowing it off with (valid or bullshit) reasons?

Who knows? It's been an exceptionally shitty year and moving is hard. I think more to the point you're not going to know, there may not be closure here, so moving on in other ways may be the best option you have.

My suggestion would be what I often suggest with this sort of frustrating experience with a person who seems like they're almost-working-out in whatever way but aren't actually. Put a stop to it for now. Work out your feelings on your own or with a therapist when yours is back from leave. Leave a door open for something later but not now. If William can get his shit together and be a good friend to you later, maybe you guys can strike up a friendship again. If not, work on getting some distance with him for now.
posted by jessamyn at 8:07 PM on February 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

....Yeah, I am feeling similarly about certain friends in my life these days. Mostly that I want to be closer to them and they either don't want to or can't be closer to me. One of them has straight up said that she's pretty much nonverbal these days but is still thinking of me, which is the best she can do.

What it boils down to is that you're not going to be able to get the relationship you want to have with William. He doesn't want to, or can't, or...whatever it is. That's hard. I'm still hurting about missing the people that I do myself, but I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I can't get what I want out of them and I feel bad when I try, so I'm not going to try much/at all any more. I still miss them all the time, but then I don't feel so effing mad because I wasn't trying to get them to pay attention to me. I at least have my self respect if I'm not bugging them for attention and then striking out, right?

William could be a flaky ass or he could be pandemic affected, who knows and we can't tell the difference these days anyway. I'm with you, I would fucking say something if I couldn't make it or was flaking out and I don't get why others can't, but they tell me they can't. My therapist is all, "I would do that sometimes, and have done that." Not everybody CAN communicate when they are down the well, apparently.

I think I agree with this: "I think you need to cut him loose and just stop initiating, and lower your expectations and invest in new friends. It’s up to you about whether you want to do the slow fade or be explicit. " And everything that Eyebrows McGee said. You can give up on having contact with him and probably end up with about the same amount of what you have now. That may be best for your psyche to give up all hopes of him as a human being.

Or alternately, you can either not contact him much or only respond if he initiates, but waaaaaaaaaaay lower your expectations and frankly, with this one you should expect him to flake. It sounds like making set plans with him isn't working because he's 50% flaking on them, so maybe don't make set plans for in person or video. He may be one of those people who may or may not be okay from moment to moment and suddenly sunk into depression come today or Tuesday or whenever.

Anyway....lowered expectations is the key here, as well as realizing that you're never going to have the relationship with him that you want because he can't or won't. Either take him as he is or leave him, but putting all the effort in when he's not doing much isn't working. You have my sympathies, I feel the same way. Especially because finding someone who wants the same relationship as you do is so freaking hard!

(Though ironically, while writing this I just sent something to one of mine, assuming I'd get ignored again, but I guess I hit at the right time and he actually responded for a change. I may faint onto the keyboard here.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:00 PM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would assume that Willliam is feeling very conflicted about meeting you and anyone right now. He wants to put in the effort (so he initiates) but when it's time to do the thing, he can't bring himself to.

Remember the advice pull back and let him come to you? Well, you gave him the chance (and well done, you!) and he blew it. This is him. This is how he is in terms of friendship. He's not a bad person, but he sucks at being a friend, at least right now.

There is nothing you can do to change this dynamic because the problem is not you.

To answer your question, block him if it makes you feel better. I'm a no-contact kind of person,I would block him. You don't need more of that jerking around when he reaches out again.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:27 PM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

how should I cope with this?

Accept that this is about him, not you. And that as you go through life you'll meet lots of people who aren't able to give you what you need, or who can only give you some of what you need, for whatever reasons that have everything to do with them and not you. This will happen again. And that's normal, it's a part of life that everyone goes through, and it's okay.

maybe I just need to block him?

If you want.

It's opened up old wounds and insecurities I have about myself, my appearance, thanks to trauma points from bullying in my childhood and strained family relationships

Then maybe addressing this in therapy would be a good idea. Until then... Have you ever watched The Good Place? There's an episode where Simone is in the Good Place (if you haven't seen it, think Heaven) and refuses to believe it, instead believing that everything that's happening is a product of her own hallucinations. Chidi has to convince her that that's actually pretty solipsistic, to believe that everything has to do with her and be caused by her. William's behavior has to do with William, and maybe he's an asshole and maybe he's overwhelmed/exhausted/depressed and feeling terrible about ghosting you, and either way it's not about you. Believing that everything is caused by you or has to do with you is solipsism. It's not helpful, and it's not accurate.

In your place I'd think "ah, he's one of those", where "those" is people who have their own issues that translate to lack of satisfying friendship; accept my own frustration; and put aside the good memories until I'm less frustrated but (if I'm not too sore) try to remember that he has given me some good things in my life, despite his limited capacity.
posted by trig at 3:09 AM on February 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I find it helps to remind myself that if I'm going to have flakey friends, I can't then get mad at them all the time for being flakey.

This rule works for me because it cuts in both directions when needed. If someone is so flakey that they constantly piss me off, it gives me permission to not be friends with them. But if it is someone I want to be friends with, I find ways to be friends with them that don't require them to be non-flakey: only invite them to group events where their presence or absence doesn't make or break anything or only respond to their invitations rather than issuing my own or other types of limits on how engaged I am willing to be with them.

If William makes you feel this bad about yourself, it is okay to not be friends with him anymore. It doesn't have to be a big thing, you don't have to justify it further than that. The good thing about flakey people is that you can usually stop being friends with them through no effort on your own part. They essentially self-ghost when you stop trying so hard.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:15 AM on February 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Good morning.

Thanks so much for all of your comments. I think the most hurtful part is that instinctually, I know if I stop reaching out, he might never ever reach out to me again (especially as he has moved out). This matches the pattern it's always been in our friendship—I've always been the first to reach out.

That's the most hurtful part of it, because we had such a good bond in person when we got together last year numerous times, and it kind of feels like I've just been swept under the rug, like I never existed to him. It makes me wonder what I did to alienate him. I've had some bad friendship experiences, which has burned me and made me super cautious, and the fact that deep down, I know if I let him go, he won't reach out again and it'd essentially be a friendship lost to the times. I have a feeling he will probably just shrug it off and be "whatever", because he's an introvert who doesn't seem to really reach out to people, and he's moving somewhere remote to "focus on himself".

I guess my question is, how can people do that? Just fade and never talk to a friend again? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around that. I guess I'm coming from a different planet or dimension or something, because in my world/universe, I don't believe in that. While it's okay to fade out or stop talking, I would at least do check-ins every once in a while, or slowly fade with people I never had a deep connection with (unlike William). I thought William cared deeply about me (as he showed when we were in person), but his actions has proven otherwise. It's just really confusing and off-putting to me.
posted by dubious_dude at 6:28 AM on February 26, 2021

The majority of my (adult, with good manners) group of friends right now are maintaining relationships via a constant cycle of making then canceling then remaking then ghosting then remaking plans. Everyone wants to want to maintain bonds and be a good friend, and we all know that we care about each other, but day to day are various types of too overwhelmed. We all take turns sending each other gracious (and genuine!) responses nearly verbatim to Eyebrows McGee's friend above, "I know shit's tough, I'm thinking of you, I hope you're doing okay, zero pressure, text me when you feel up to it." Being able to do that feels good because it validates the strength and trust that we have in our friendship even in stressful times when no one is at their best.

So in terms of how to cope, I encourage you to internalize that William's behaviour isn't personal -- this is just where he's at and how he's dealing with it, and he would behave this way towards any friend. You might even try to take that one step farther and consider that his behaviour isn't even objectively bad. His behaviour hurts your feelings, which you don't deserve at all, so it absolutely makes sense to stop being friends because he is a bad match for you. But in my friend group, his behaviour would not come across as devaluing the friendship, and wouldn't make us feel bad or require a lot of apologies -- it could be that's just what he's more used to.

I say this to try to defang the feelings of being devalued that are bringing up those old insecurities, the "Why is someone treating me like garbage? There must be something wrong with me to deserve being treated this way," narrative. Not only does William's behaviour have nothing to do with you as a person, but also in some circles it's not a bad way to treat a friend. That isn't at all to say that you should therefore not want to be treated differently -- it's just to say that his behaviour is no reflection of your value.
posted by Pwoink at 6:39 AM on February 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Some people are very charismatic and they are able to create the feelings of deep connection in person without necessarily 1) having the feelings for real themselves or 2) being able to maintain them over time and distance. It's not (always) "fake," in the sense of "done to manipulate." It's just how they are with people.

Since you mention you think this is about how attractive or not you are, I'm guessing this has a romantic component or sexual component in addition to the friendship? Yeah well good sex has a way of making folks think that there's more to a thing than there is. It also has a way of making the "clean break" rather than a slow fade seem like a good idea.

Ultimately this friendship was never gonna work for you. This guy is zero percent nada never going to become a reliable person who makes and keeps plans and answers all texts and emails in a timely fashion. Keeping this connection up is just bashing your head into a wall endlessly. But like all crushes, we just do that until we don't. Hang in there!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:42 AM on February 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Two thoughts:
(1) Some people hate saying no. They feel like any time they are saying no, they are being a bad friend. I've had it explained to me by such a person that they feel they can't disappoint someone in the moment. As such, this type of person over extends themselves quite often and can never keep the commitments they make. The result tends to be disappointment all around.

(2) Some people can't handle the concept of plans -- there is an HBR article that I read a few years ago that gets this across quite well. They find plans, as a concept, overwhelming. They may tend to resist making them and/or never keep them, as they don't see the point. Plans will probably change anyway due to unforeseen events, so why bother making them?

Either of these types of people don't make for dependable friends for people who like clarity and planning. As someone who likes both, I tend to let these friendships fade out, or keep them on the birthday party or "I'm in town, let's get dinner" list, but otherwise put in very little effort from my side and expect none from their side.
posted by chiefthe at 6:54 AM on February 26, 2021

I guess my question is, how can people do that? Just fade and never talk to a friend again?

I have both kinds of friends in my life. Friends where we've been friends for a very, very long time. And friends where we were intensely friends for a shorter period of time. Sometimes the second category was based on shared something like proximity or a shared experience that, after it faded, turned out to influence the length of the friendship.

For myself, I've come to appreciate all the kinds of friendship as part of the joy of friendship. I think of words like passionate friendship, the kind where it's suuuuuper unsustainably intense. There's the quiet kind that grows on you over time where maybe initially you didn't like that person. There's the kind where you share an interest and you can go so deep into that one thing together. There's the kind where it's that you go through so much together (work friends, new parent friends).

Right now I'm on the beach every morning and there's a person I just exchange a few words with but that's a meaningful part of my day. And I chat with my two best friends every day and that's meaningful.

So I guess I want to say that I think you're over-valuing longevity. William was a great friend to you. Now you will have space for new friends. Maybe you don't have confidence you will make new ones? But I bet if you look long-term you will find you have made new ones over and over.

I thought William cared deeply about me (as he showed when we were in person), but his actions has proven otherwise. It's just really confusing and off-putting to me.

I think that's one possible interpretation but I think it's also possible that he is not valuing longevity of friendship the same way that you are, but valued all kinds of other qualities.

Regardless, it's absolutely okay to grieve (which includes anger!) the shift in this particular friendship because it is a loss to you.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:12 AM on February 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I thought William cared deeply about me (as he showed when we were in person), but his actions has proven otherwise.

You have to stop framing this as being about you and how William feels about you because that is just killing your soul. Some people are just flakey motherfuckers. It's a them thing, not a you thing.

Even if that isn't true, even if the reality is that William could and would consistently show up and act in a responsible manner if he just liked you a little bit more than he does, well, so what would you do differently? You can't make people like you. You can't make them act a certain way. Treat it as a him problem and stop taking the emotional burden on yourself. It's a hard mindset shift to make if you're used to being all up in your own head, but it's mentally a lot healthier, I think, to realize that other people's motivations are rarely so you-centered.

Also, this:

I guess my question is, how can people do that? Just fade and never talk to a friend again? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around that. I guess I'm coming from a different planet or dimension or something, because in my world/universe, I don't believe in that.

Comes across as harshly judgmental toward the people in this thread who are trying to help you. No one here is a cruel, unfeeling alien, but sometimes, we have to take personal responsibility for our own mental well-being and stop expecting other people to act in our best interests and act in them ourselves.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:15 AM on February 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Comes across as harshly judgmental toward the people in this thread who are trying to help you.

So sorry, was never my intention to be judgmental at all! I was speaking in reference specifically to William's behavior, and more of my own internal thought train, but definitely not intended at all to be judgmental or hurtful towards anyone here. Everyone has their own reasons for doing things. :)

All points well taken and has been very helpful, trust me. This is part of the processing timeline for this situation.
posted by dubious_dude at 7:26 AM on February 26, 2021

Best answer: William offered to get together with you and then ghosted. A good way to examine the ethics of this is in terms of consent.

If William asked for fifty bucks to have sex with you and took your fifty bucks and disappeared he is a thief that owes you fifty bucks.

If William asked for fifty bucks to have sex with you and took your fifty bucks and then changed his mind and gave you the fifty bucks back he is exercising his right to withdraw consent.

If William offered to have sex with you and you told him you would rent a motel unit for the encounter and get a Brazilian wax, and you did, but he was a no show leaving you bald and out the cost of the motel he is a jerk. But at this point he owes you an apology because he set you up. Whether he owes you half or all the cost of the motel can be debated. If William didn't want to meet at a motel and was too inarticulate to say so, and ghosted on you because motels are tawdry and turn him off, he maybe doesn't owe you the full cost of the motel. He's still a jerk because he ignored the consequences to you. Maybe he is a forgetful jerk because he forgot about you, or an inarticulate jerk because he couldn't tell you he hated motels and that would make it impossible for him, or a malicious jerk because he is snickering about the thought of you bald, or a depressed jerk because he is sitting at home desperately playing Call of Duty to avoid remembering that he set you up and is an utter failure for not at least calling. Still a jerk.

If William made a commitment to have sex with you on Thursday but never got in touch with you to set up what time and where on Thursday he was a bit of a jerk, but not a full jerk, because the only thing you did was leave Thursday open, and you are not out the cost of the motel or the Brazilian wax. It's on you if you had the wax done, given that he had no idea you were going to do it. William is not a big jerk because consent rules say that he is allowed to change his mind at any point in the proceedings including well before people take their clothes off. No time was set so the inconvenience to you was small, as you could easily keep yourself productively busy and happy while waiting for William to text you. He's a bit of a jerk, but it is fair to assume that something came up to make him not easily available Thursday and caused him not to be in the mood anymore. He should have texted you "2 tired tonite, sry." That's what he owes you if he changes his mind about sex at an unspecified time on Thursday.

If William made a commitment that 'someday' I am going to have sex with you, it's even less inconvenience to you if he never follows up. Nothing is stopping you from going about your daily life doing what you like. The fact that no time or date is set is a sign that it is not a cast in stone commitment. You both can assume that while he intends to do this, life being what it is there is a chance that things could happen to prevent it. There was no plan made that was strong enough for you to feel certain about the meeting.

What kind of communication does William owe you at this point? Ghosting is rude, so he really does owe you a text. But it might be "Sorry didn't have chance to say goodbye in person." I can't see him owing your more than that. He definitely doesn't have to explain why. "Not in the mood" or "I don't want to" is a given, and won't make you feel any better even if he does say so. "I changed my mind," is hurtful. "Smthng came up" is easy enough to infer. "I forgot" is hurtful again.

The problem here is that you want more from William than he can give and it really, really hurts. It's real and it's tangible. You are fiery, he is lukewarm. You need someone to meet you half way. He's a bad match but he's a closer match than anyone else. You're left feeling unheard and needing. You want just a crumb and it feels indecent that he can put you through such a strong blast of emotions and not help you with them. It frigging hurts!

William said he would like to get together and say good bye. He basically said he would like to be able to help you with your feelings, he would like to be able to give you closure, he would like to feel in the mood, he would like to leave without leaving you hanging and hurting and frustrated. And that, unfortunately is all he can give - the wish that he could leave on a good note attempting to meet your needs. William is giving you a meta message that he believes your feelings matter and that he would like to help you with closure, but he can't. That's the best he can do.

That is something. You know he respects that you have feelings and that your feelings matter. When there is a mis-match between needs and expectations things can end so much worse, with recrimination and mutual revulsion. There's no point hating William because he can't give you more, let alone match your thirst and eagerness, or accept what you have to give. There is no point hating him because he is a bad communicator. You can hear what he is saying. It just hurts to hear it.

I am sorry.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:49 AM on February 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

I just want to call attention to this:

He's a bad match but he's a closer match than anyone else.

Yeah, when there's "not a great match but still better than absolutely NOTHING," you will fixate on this because crumbs are better than an empty table. Especially these days when your table is going to be empty for a long, long time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:58 AM on February 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

I think you are trying too hard. You have a rigid definition of how a friend should act. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to stick to it, this person is not ever going to fit that definition and therefore should be jettisoned from your sphere of friends no matter how much you think you like them or how long you have been friends.

Who knows why they do what they do? Maybe they felt smothered by your persistence. Maybe they are overwhelmed by their move. Maybe they are depressed and just cannot cope right now. Maybe maybe maybe. You can spend a lot of time and mental energy trying to figure them out, but I suggest that no matter how much you think about it, no matter how many people answer this question, you will never know. The most likely outcome here is that you and this person have drifted apart exasperated by the upcoming moves and you will probably never see or speak to this person again. Flag it and move on so to speak.
posted by AugustWest at 9:19 AM on February 26, 2021 [10 favorites]

Hon, he is not going to give you what you want. Ever. He is not the person you hoped he would be. I know this is disappointing. Going forward, don't interact with him at all - it will be in the best interest of both of you. He was just not a good fit for you.
posted by SageTrail at 10:58 AM on February 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I love Jane The Brown's analogy. That really clears it up for me, helps put it in perspective.

All of your answers has been truly helpful, and much appreciated. I'm still processing this, and will need time to heal, but it'll be okay. I do have other people I feel (more) linked up to; I think William was more of a "fun escape" that didn't pan out, and I just need to let it go and chalk it up to a life lesson. I can be rigid with definitions and expectations, though, and need to remind myself that people are human and sometimes need their space.

posted by dubious_dude at 4:49 PM on February 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

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