Sacrifice friendship, or endure constant pain?
May 15, 2006 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Should I (male) stay friends with someone (female) who I love uncontrollably when there is no reciprocation? Messy story and a lot

I professed my love to an extremely close friend about 6 months ago. She is/was my closest friend. I was rejected and she decided to cut off all communication until about a month ago (she felt betrayed). In the meantime, I was hurt deeply, yet managed to move on after a healthy period of mourning (couple of weeks). This past weekend, we met up and spent the entire weekend together which was essentially the first meaningful contact we've had since I spilled my guts.

It was immediately clear why we had been such great friends in the first place (we share similar world views / make each other laugh / have similar baggage/ like the same music / enjoy the same activities / communicate well / work through our differences in opinion). It is uncanny and nearly twilight-zone material. I really miss and appreciate the priceless connection that we share (which in hindsight, I had been taking for granted since day 1). But it was also immediately clear that my feelings for her could easily be surfaced despite any wall of logic that I could use as potential defense.

My questions are listed in order of importance below:
1.How does profession of love = betrayal (from her point of view)?
2.Should I cut off contact permanently (and will this feel liberating or just plain shitty)?
3.Is this really a lose-lose situation? On one hand I lose a best friend, on the other, I just endure daily agony by lying to myself and her. Am I missing a bright side?
4.Any other pieces of advice?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I've been in the girl's position on this one and it's a rough one to be in. It can certainly feel like a betrayal to hear that someone you confide in and trust as a friend has been harboring other feelings. This gets even worse when other parties are involved (my best male friend confessed his love to me AFTER I got married).

What has worked for me is establishing a friendship, but keeping a safe distance to prevent that shitty feeling from happening. The friend who loved me and I are still good friends, but it would have been torture for both of us to be as close as we once were. We talk all the time and there's still the same level of trust, but there's a certain distance required to keep the relationship sane for everyone.

There really is no bright side until time passes, you meet other people, and you and your friend go back to being just friends.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:10 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Having been in a similar position before, I would sacrifice the friendship, or at least give it a nice long break (long enough for you to find someone else to direct your affection at). It's just going to cause you more pain than you'll want/be able to deal with on a daily basis.
posted by dead_ at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2006

What kind of "friend" calls it a betrayal to fall in love with you? It's not a capital crime. Either work that angle or escape from her spell.
posted by Kirklander at 8:18 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

1. She possibly feels she would never have shared the sort of info you share with a best friend with someone who was romantically interested in her. I think her use of the word betrayal is overly dramatic myself.

2. & 3. I would cut off contact, although I know it would feel shitty for some time, but that's better than indefinitely torturing yourself and "lying" to her. You will get over her & you will find a new best friend. Sticking around may cause you to miss other relationship opportunities, while you watch her fall in love with someone else, get married, have babies, etc. Don't do that to yourself.

4. Nope, other than mentioning I'm 20 & haven't suffered much in the area of romance so wtf do I know.
posted by zarah at 8:19 AM on May 15, 2006

Is she getting back in touch with you because she wants to be in a relationship with you now ?

If not , get out.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:19 AM on May 15, 2006

Here is a possible bright side, but it's also kind of a bummer depending on how you look at it: If you had got together in the first place it would not have worked because, as you now know, she doesn't have the same kind of feelings for you. Now, on the bright side, you never formed anything romantic so you can remain being friends instead of having to go from romance to friendship - which is a difficult transition. Yes, it will be different, but definitely better than it would be under a variety of other circumstances.

Plus, she now knows how you feel so you don't have to be secretive about it - but of course don't be extremely open about it either. She knows and she won't forget so don't constantly remind her.
posted by travosaurus at 8:22 AM on May 15, 2006

If you were best friends with her, then you should be able to eventually get over the 'crush' aspect....This happens alot in close male/female friendships....One usually always falls for the other...Yeah, it is awkward, and maybe she felt betrayed in that she figured the only reason you wanted to be such close friends with her, was to eventually win her heart as well.....If you too mean soo much to eachother at friends, then you should be able to overcome it...

I was in the boat....I never came out and admitted it to her...But as time goes on, she knew....and she gave the silent unspoken hint that she didnt feel the same....i mourned, but realized her friendship meant more to me then anything else....

a little space, but communication. let her know that you'll deal with your feelings, but its important thats the friendship remains intact.
posted by TwilightKid at 8:24 AM on May 15, 2006

1. It doesn't. That bitch is crazy.

2, 3, 4. Like Sgt. Serenity said, get out. Why waste time enduring "daily agony" when you could be out meeting new women, for friendship or otherwise?
posted by greasy_skillet at 8:26 AM on May 15, 2006

Without reading your post / previous comments in detail, the answer is invariably no. She is not your friend, she is not your lover.

Get out immediately, before you can fill your brain with more dilusions; it will happen!

Stay very far away, the sooner the better.
posted by AllesKlar at 8:29 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've been in your shoes and it blows. I don't understand the feeling of "betrayal" either, but if you still have feelings for her (and it sounds perfectly natural since you guys get along so well) the best thing to do is to put some distance between you two. It sounds like she cut off communication hoping you'd get over it or find something worthy of that kind of attention, but you didn't, and you're just hurting yourself hanging out with her now since it's clear she will never reciprocate the feelings.

Remember this: every minute you spend with her is a minute you are keeping yourself from finding something that actually wants you and wants to be romantically involved with you. Walk away, find someone special, and only hang out with her after you've found someone else.
posted by mathowie at 8:30 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Forget about her.
posted by Paris Hilton at 8:36 AM on May 15, 2006

what sarge said
posted by matteo at 8:39 AM on May 15, 2006

1.How does profession of love = betrayal (from her point of view)?

Perhaps she's developed strong platonic feelings toward you while you were building romantic ones. By revealing your love you've forced her to dismantle her existing idea of your relationship. It isn't her fault you had secret intentions. As zarah said, "Betrayal" might be overly dramatic.

2.Should I cut off contact permanently (and will this feel liberating or just plain shitty)?

I'm afraid that as long as she's in your life and you have these feelings, it will hurt you.

3.Is this really a lose-lose situation? On one hand I lose a best friend, on the other, I just endure daily agony by lying to myself and her. Am I missing a bright side?

In the short run, yes, it's a lose-lose. Taking the long view, recovering from an unrequited love may make you stronger as a person and help you develop better relationship skills. Did for me.

4. Any other pieces of advice?

You won't get over her in a few weeks, but don't carry the torch too long. Bury yourself in some new activities that will distract you.
posted by justkevin at 8:45 AM on May 15, 2006

I would say that you most likely should cut off contact, but I have actually succeeded in the past at just "turning off" unrequited crushes when they got to the point where it hurt to be in the same room with the person. In both instances, it was just consciously thinking, "This will never happen, my pining away is screwing up the friendship dynamic because it's making me hide parts of myself from this guy, it doesn't feel good, and it's keeping me from meeting other people. This guy is great, but he's not worth screwing up my life on this scale for, because if he was, we'd be dating. We're not, so there's no reason for me to be this invested, I've just created an illusion here, and it needs to stop."

I'm in no way a proponent of the idea that rational thinking should always trump emotional feelings, but that particular thought process has served me well in the past.

If you can't do that, though, then I do think you need to cut off contact. You said it yourself: this relationship is now making you miserable, and it's made her uncomfortable. That's not a dynamic worth continuing.
posted by occhiblu at 8:58 AM on May 15, 2006 [4 favorites]

Well, not to go against the flow here, but I'm sympathetic to her position (but not necessarily her actions). I don't think 'betrayal' describes the situation, but I do understand it. A good number of women and a smaller but not insignificant number of men have few friends of the preferred gender who they don't feel are trying to sleep with them. I've been in her position a few times and it's just annoying and makes me suspect that all said person wanted to do was sleep with me in the first place. Unlike some stranger at a bar, close friends tend to hold onto these feelings for a long time (as seems to be the case here) and often suspect that an initial 'no' might actually be a 'maybe.' This personally has made friendship hard for me, because while I don't want to be an insensitive person and tell a friend to 'get over it', I also don't like to think this person is hoping that I'll cave, or that I'll see things differently, which I feel is an insult to my agency.

So she was not in a great place with this. I don't think cutting off communication was the way to go, but you can't change the past. If you feel this happy after spending time with her, for the love of God, ignore the other posters and rekindle your friendship with her. Just don't ever, ever bring your romantic intentions back up again; respect her enough to just back off 100%. We tend to valorize our libido and passions to the point where it seems like we will never get over this, but it happens.

To me this is win-win. You can get your friend back and get on the road to finding someone who is interested in you as well.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:01 AM on May 15, 2006 [2 favorites]

There is nothing wrong with you for being attracted to her, and you did nothing wrong in telling her your feelings. It is also perfectly natural for you to continue to be attracted to her. You are a heterosexual man. Welcome to the way that life is. Her sense of 'betrayal' is stupid; have the guts to admit that to yourself, and accept that it's a sign that she is less than perfect and that you actually don't understand each other as well as you thought. Then move on. Cutting off all contact for the rest of your life is not necessary, but cutting it off until you are in a place where you really couldn't care less is a good start.
posted by bingo at 9:27 AM on May 15, 2006

How does profession of love = betrayal (from her point of view)?

I've been in her shoes. My experiences may or maynot apply here. None of us can know for sure what she's thinking. Why don't you ask her?

In my case, I was engaged at the time and he was in a serious long-term relationship. If we were both single, I still don't think I would have been interested, but I wouldn't have been offended and hurt by it. But in our situation, it really bothered me because it demonstrated a complete lack of respect for my relationship with my husband-to-be, and it wasn't honourable to his live-in girlfriend either. I lost a lot of respect for him that day. Up to that point I'd been planning to have him stand up with us at our wedding but I changed my mind when he proved that he wasn't supportive of the relationship. Our friendship never fully recovered.

So if she was in a different relationship at the time, I can understand why she might feel betrayed.
posted by raedyn at 9:28 AM on May 15, 2006

Is this really a lose-lose situation? On one hand I lose a best friend, on the other, I just endure daily agony by lying to myself and her. Am I missing a bright side?

You will gain dignity, self-worth, and self-respect by cutting off contact on your terms. You may be surprised at how good this feels. "Hey, that's right - I do deserve better!".
posted by teleskiving at 9:28 AM on May 15, 2006

In the meantime, I was hurt deeply, yet managed to move on after a healthy period of mourning (couple of weeks).

Say what?
posted by Neiltupper at 9:35 AM on May 15, 2006

I've been in a position similar to yours a fair number of times. As my boyfriend once put it, you meet someone of the opposite sex who you think is awesome and, if you find that person attractive too, growing closer can slip into romantic thinking, because that's what you do with someone of the opposite sex who is awesome. It's the most worn thought-groove. But it doesn't really have to be, and I think you can stay friends. In my case, eventually the feeling went away, though it took time and effort. In this way, I think it can be win-win. But that assumes the other person is okay with waiting the awkwardness out, and in this case, she may not be. I guess you'd have to ask. But if she's great, she's worth staying friends with.

Caveats: I am often loath to cut off contace with people, even when other people would say they deserve it. I am also one of thos people who consider romantic relationships to be just friendship + physical intimacy. Some people put them in different categories and if you are one of those people, this may not work.
posted by dame at 9:36 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

What has worked for me is establishing a friendship, but keeping a safe distance to prevent that shitty feeling from happening. The friend who loved me and I are still good friends, but it would have been torture for both of us to be as close as we once were. We talk all the time and there's still the same level of trust, but there's a certain distance required to keep the relationship sane for everyone.

Quoted for emphasis. Grapefruitmoon nailed it. I've been through a similar kind of experience (except we ended up together. And then apart. And then together...) The distance makes it easier for both of us. We're still close, but being apart (physically) has helped both of us move on to other people/friends.

I could never have 'left her and never looked back' that seems to be the popular choice here. That's not how I'm wired. Just to let you know that there's no one easy solution to this.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:38 AM on May 15, 2006

Response by poster: 1) What allen.spaulding said. It's very comforting (for women, especially) to have a close friend who you think is not trying to get into your pants. Especially if that friend is normally attracted to your sex. The feeling can be so novel you may treasure that friendship especially. She's now left wondering whether you ever had any friendship at all, or whether you just wanted in her pants.

The girl may think it's a betrayal not just because of that, but because she's afraid everything will change between you two. She's not attracted to you, you are to her. She's your friend, not a crazy bitch--she's worried about hurting you. She probably has the uncomfortable feeling no matter what happens she'll hurt you. Can she hug you? Can she kiss you on the cheek? Can she talk about boyfriends or even date anyone? What will be seen as encouragement of your love? What will be taken as a deliberate slap-in-the-face? She's upset and confused, she wants your love to go away, so she cuts off contact and hopes you'll get over it.

2) For you? If you want to stay friends, you must cut down contact and start dating other women. For both your sakes. I've been in your position, though our friendship was never as deep as yours. You just have to keep meeting other ladies and hope the feeling goes away at some point. It will be shit.

3) One of my friends said a tender, accepting relationship can develop between someone who is loved and the person who loves them, when the love is only one-way. I am pretty sure he is full of shit. Yes, the situation is lose-lose. She doesn't love you. Any time you love someone and they don't love you, it's going to suck. You gotta get over it.

4) I bet she misses the friendship as much as you do, that's why she's rekindling contact. But you gotta do what's best for you. She wouldn't want you in "daily agony", and it's only going to lead to a breakdown that's going to hurt both of you again.

posted by Anonymous at 9:45 AM on May 15, 2006

It's funny, I didn't even have to read the [More inside], though I did anyway.

Your experience is not particularly unique, and most guys have been there at some point.

You cannot maintain a friendship. You will try, you will feel your soul getting slowly ground up, and then at some point in the future you will realize you cannot let yourself slowly die just so you can have a good friend. You will move on, feel shitty for a long time (up to several years, maybe), and then you'll move on and meet a woman who will love you and you will be happy.

You can push for a relationship again, and if she wants it, great. If not, you must cut your losses and move on. You're in a crap position. Make sure you don't repeat this mistake again. Let her know how you feel much earlier next time.

Feel shitty now or feel shitty later, but the sooner you get over her the sooner you'll meet someone new.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 9:50 AM on May 15, 2006

Oh and if during that weekend if she mentioned recently being dumped or that she's into some guy that doesnt know/is unavailable - RUN AWAY.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:03 AM on May 15, 2006

Why don't you just see how it goes? Make up your mind to take care of yourself and protect your feelings, and then be true to that. That is -- later on, if you find it difficult or painful, then back off somewhat... or completely.

Right now, you're doing okay. You seem to have enjoyed the weekend the two of you just spent together. There's no need to push it by letting her confide in you about other guys, or by getting physically cosy. Just move forward and see how it feels. You can adjust things as you go along.
posted by wryly at 10:16 AM on May 15, 2006

Response by poster: Um, please, please don't push for a relationship again. That'll really mess things up. If she wants a relationship she'll initiate it. Otherwise you'll come off as a desperate cringer at best, a scuzzbag at worst.
posted by Anonymous at 10:22 AM on May 15, 2006

1.How does profession of love = betrayal (from her point of view)?

She may have felt this way because she thought that you were hiding a part of yourself from her, ie, misrepresenting yourself. I personally wouldn't have felt this way myself, but I can understand how someone might.

2.Should I cut off contact permanently (and will this feel liberating or just plain shitty)?

Imagine a scenario in which she meets the man of her dreams. Do you think you would be able to bear listening to her talk about him and how happy she is with him? Could you meet him? Could you be happy for her? If the answer is "no," then you might want to consider parting ways now, while there are still good feelings between you.

3.Is this really a lose-lose situation? On one hand I lose a best friend, on the other, I just endure daily agony by lying to myself and her. Am I missing a bright side?

The bright side is that time does work to dull acute feelings of agony; also, if you remain friends with her and REALLY DO GET OVER HER, as opposed to fooling yourself that you are over her, then you will eventually find a reciprocated love, and that will take a lot of the sting out (I am speaking from personal experience here; it IS possible to remain friends with someone you were madly in love with and move on and find new love at the same time).

4.Any other pieces of advice

Be very very honest with yourself.
posted by tentacle at 10:26 AM on May 15, 2006

Oh, I've been in her shoes a few times. Translation: You didn't betray her, you betrayed the friendship. Because now there's this element of awkwardness and pain for both of you tarnishing something that was awesome. (It hurts to be on the other side, too, from personal experience.)

You may be able to save the friendship, but it'll take some work for both of you and some time and a lot of both of you taking the high road. And you have to get find some way to get over her, romantically, for real.

[Alternate scenario: She freaked out because she has feelings for you that she, for whatever reason, is not willing to entertain. This can cause a whole new set of problems, should you two salvage the friendship.]
posted by desuetude at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2006

You can't help who you fall in love with, so you did nothing wrong, nor did you betray her, or the friendship, for that matter. But if she does not love you back, don't waste the time trying to make her feel something that she obviously doesn't feel. The two of you will have to try and understand that whatever it is you both want from the other, it wasn't meant to be. Move on.
posted by Roger Dodger at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2006

1 - 3: I tnd to agree with schroedinger's thoughtful advice.

4: Join the Air Force, see the world, meet new people, check in once in a while (that's what I did....)
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:57 AM on May 15, 2006

Unlike some stranger at a bar, close friends tend to hold onto these feelings for a long time (as seems to be the case here) and often suspect that an initial 'no' might actually be a 'maybe.' This personally has made friendship hard for me, because while I don't want to be an insensitive person and tell a friend to 'get over it', I also don't like to think this person is hoping that I'll cave, or that I'll see things differently, which I feel is an insult to my agency.

Thanks. I've had similar problems with two friends in the last year, both female, but had been (until now) completely unable to put it so succinctly.
posted by fake at 11:16 AM on May 15, 2006

Cut her off. Its the only way it works.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on May 15, 2006

Cut her off (politely, with regret.) Meet other women; have other relationships. You can try to resume a friendship after you're over her (but that ship may well have sailed.)

Keeping her in your life, watching her go out with other guys (and complaining about them to you, her friend) -- that's just a recipe for perpetual heartbreak. Be kinder to yourself than that.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2006

1. It could have been perceived as betrayal in that you were not truthful with her from the start. But she could have just been saying that she felt betrayed because she felt uncomfortable.

2. Until you fall in love with someone else to the extent that you are in love with her, you should maintain a superficial friendship with her. Maintaining a close friendship with her will just keep you infatuated with her rather than looking for other romantic possibilities. After you are head-over-heels in love with somebody else who loves you back, you can have a real friendship with her. But you might not want to at that point.

3/4: Don't think of it as a lose-lose situation. Think of it as a growing/learning experience.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 2:03 PM on May 15, 2006

Cut off all contact.

Since you ask whether it can feel liberating or just shitty, you're already aware that the answer to this question is uncertain. The answer depends solely on what you choose it to be, my friend.

The other questions and answers are irrelevant. Stop thinking about them; stamp them with a large red mental stamp labeled "CONSIDERED HARMFUL" and put them out of your mind.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2006

It's not hard to imagine why she feels that profession of love == betrayal. Look at almost every single response here: cut off contact. Get away form her. Stop being friends. She's dead to you now.
I have been the girl in this situation and it SUCKS. This guy, whom you have become very close to and care about a lot and really enjoy spending time with suddenly decides to profess his undying love for you after a long friendship (at least, long enough to become close friends). Wha? And when you say, I'm sorry but I don't feel that way about you, he almost always cuts you out of his life completely because he can't stand to be around you anymore and be taunted by his feelings.
Look, you acted like an asshole. Unintentional asshole, maybe, but an asshole nonetheless. If you are a single guy, and friends with a single woman to whom you are attracted, you ASK HER OUT. You do not wait months and months and let her think that you two are solidly friends (and let's be honest here, if she has let this go on for this long without making a move on you, chances are good she is NOT INTERESTED in being more than friends). Maybe you go out a couple times and it fizzles, or she isn't interested and says so from the beginning, or hey maybe it works out. THEN you can be friends with her, having settled the romantic question. But it is totally callous to sit on your feelings (letting them grow to really unreasonable proportions) and all the while let her feel like she has this great friend in you, only to pull the rug out from under her with a declaration of love and a subsequent cutting off of contact.
You fucked this one up, and yeah, you probably have to cut off contact with her. Sucks to be both of you. In the future, don't be a dick: if you want to date her, ask her out sooner, rather than later.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:25 PM on May 15, 2006 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, ch1x0r, that's exactly what I wanted to say but didn't know how to.

I think guys get this romantic idea that their love will build and build and they'll explode it all over the lady, and despite her complete lack of romantic interest in the past she'll suddenly profess her love for them and everything will be beautiful and sunshine and flowers. Don't work like that.
posted by Anonymous at 5:13 PM on May 15, 2006

Wow, that was really well-said, chi1x0r.

I've had two very deep friendships with guys. In the first one, he had unrequited feelings for me; in the second, I had unrequited feelings for him. Both friendships ended very messily, with a lot of hurt feelings and a lot of anguish on both sides.

I did feel betrayed when I found out about my friend's feelings for me, and I think allen.spaulding, schroedinger, and ch1x0r explained why better than I ever could. In my specific case, at that point in my life I was very lonely and very scared of becoming close to anyone. He befriended me - was pretty aggressive about it, actually - and I came to depend on him and trust him as a genuine platonic confidant and ally. When he confessed his feelings, I not only began to question what his motives had been from the very beginning, but I began to feel terrified of hurting him, and guilty for something I really couldn't control. The safety I had felt with him was gone. We remained friends, but over time he began to grow bitter, and over time I grew both more guilty and more resentful, until he finally, coldly, cut off all contact. It was agony for me, because I did love him - just not in the same way that he loved me. So, yeah...betrayal.

On the other hand, it might have hurt even more had he cut off contact immediately upon finding out I didn't share his feelings - then it would have been like he was just marking time till he had gained my trust, and then had dropped me like a hot coal upon finding out I didn't want to sleep with him. Now that would have been a betrayal. And that's not to say it's not a forgivable, understandable betrayal. Unrequited love just really fucking sucks.

But yeah, I've been on the other side, too, and it was just too painful to me to remain friends, so I had to end it. Thankfully, it wasn't a bitter or resentful "breakup," just a sad one. I can see how he might see it as a betrayal, though, as I ended something that meant a lot to him because, essentially, my feelings were more important than our friendship. Anyway, I do completely empathize with the frustration of seeing so clearly how perfect you would be for each other, aside from that one tiny little snag. On the other hand, emotion can distort one's perspective, and maybe we really weren't all that perfect for each other. Who knows. It's just an awful fucking situation, pretty much, when every good moment you have together is simultaneously a painful reminder of what you're missing out on.

Sooooooo, anyway, cutting off contact might be good if you think being around her will just make you more bitter and resentful. In my limited experience it feels both liberating and shitty. Keep in mind, though, that even if she doesn't have romantic feelings for you it doesn't mean she doesn't love you, and that ending things won't hurt her.

Good luck whatever you do, and I hope you find the peace you're looking for.
posted by granted at 9:03 PM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

In addition to this thread, you might find something of use in yesterday's similar thread.
posted by hades at 10:03 PM on May 15, 2006

Keep in mind I'm writing this before reading anyone else's reply, so sorry if there's duplicative advice here. I speak symapthetically, since I've twice formed deep friendships with women in similar situations.

First, I would posit she felt betrayed because she was a different person to you than she would have been had she known you had a romantic interest in her. There is a persona we present to people who are interested in us, or who we are interested in; there is a separate persona that we present to people with whom we are just friends. Your romantic interest in her probably felt like an unspoken breach, meaning that she presented her more intimate 'friend' persona to you, wheras she would have preserved more distance between the two of you if she had known.

Second, in this particular situation, yes, I think you should stop communicating with her and not speak with her any longer. And if your post-departure feelings mimic my own experience, it will feel shitty for a very long period of time, and not liberating whatsoever. But you confessed your love six months ago, stopped meaningful contact for about five months (if I read you right), and when you saw her again, your love came right on back. That is a sign that you're not going to be able to just enjoy the friendship between the two of you.

Third, it is a lose-lose situation. Love sucks. But the one bright side that I can think of is that by moving onwards, you are going to go on with your romantic life. If you stay in your friendship, you're going to derive a semi-romantic satisfaction from your time together with her, which she will believe will be as friends, and you're not going to be motivated to go out there and actually try to find a newer and more authentic romantic relationship. That is the bright side of ending communication with her.

As for your last question, this has, as I said, happened to me twice, and the one bit of advice I can give you is to dispose of most -- but, emphatically, not all -- of your various tchotchkes, photos, letters, e-mails, and so on with her. If you totally vacate your life of everything that reminds you of hers, your mind is going to hang on to its memories with grim determination, because that's all you'll have left of her -- your memories. So save a photograph of her and you, and perhaps one or two things of significance. File it away and don't keep it around in daily visible use, but have it. So that when you are feeling miserably lonely for her, you'll have that handy to see her face. I sorely wish I had kept something of the particular friend whom I left, and because I didn't -- because I tossed everything -- my mind keeps poking at the empty spot, trying to keep her mental picture in my mind, visually.

And, for what it's worth, buddy, I'm sorry.
posted by WCityMike at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2006

he's not worth screwing up my life on this scale for, because if he was, we'd be dating

Coming to feel this way is the real trick. It takes serious self-esteem. Literally, you must hold yourself in high esteem. I, personally, have always found a touch of vanity helpful in these situations. If someone really isn't interested in this, then, well, okay, crazy person...!

As for betrayal, there are multiple dimensions:

1) She feels she's already established a nice, safe platonic connection with you, and she's been working under that assumption for a long time. Now that she finds out you feel differently, she blames you for going back on what she considered a well-established agreement. IMH experience, if you don't make a move on a woman within 6 months of having some opportunity, then she assumes you're not interested or at least never going to try. I DO think she's a little bit of a drama queen for blaming YOU for shattering this assumption of hers. But at the same time I can understand that she feels you sprang this on her after sending other signals for a long time. She underestimated your ability to pine for her from afar.

2) She has let you in on an emotional level that she doesn't usually with men, unless she's dating them. There's got to be something special about letting someone in that far without the expectations and obligations and intensity of a romantic relationship. Lo and behold, you eventually DID lay all that baggage at her door. And she was already "exposed" to you when you did it. She feels you let a Trojan Horse into her heart a long time ago and have only now sprung out of it.

3) She has exposed/embarassed herself before you in a way which becomes incredibly awkward in a relationship/sexual context. If she was ever going to date you, she'd never have told you about that infection she had, that crush she suffered through, she would never have farted in front of you that time you went out for jambalaya, etc, etc, etc... She trusted that she could be truly free with you, and now you've gone and put the lens of sex onto everything she ever told you or did with you. She doesn't want to see herself that way.

In short: imagine one of your guy friends suddenly professing love to you, and revealing that he's loved you for some time. You would flip a bit. You would worry that everything you thought about his friendship was a lie, or at least quite distorted. You'd wonder if every time you hung out with him, whether he was only paying attention to you because he wanted to have sex with you. You'd wonder how he could have been close to you that whole time without ever revealing the truth. And you'd find your buddy-buddy, safe, no-obligation, sex-free feelings for him suddenly complicated and corrupted in the most disorienting way. You'd go from having a great and trusted friend to having an incredibly awkward suitor you're not interested it.

Sorry to put it that way, but I think it might really help you understand her feelings.
posted by scarabic at 8:42 PM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

I'm really scared now to do something that's been on my mind to do, which is 'fess up to a really good and long-term friend of mine that I have "other" feelings for him. I had just worked up some courage and then I read all of these posts and got scared!
I've been in the girl's position in this situation too and it is horribly awkward, but I never said I felt betrayed, at all. It wasn't a matter of misrepresentation for me, it was just more of a "Wow, I'm flattered, but I just don't feel the same." What my friend didn't do in that situation was lay off the idea of us dating. I should have been the one to cut off contact, because our mutual friends would accuse me of leading him on when I all I (thought I) was doing was maintaining our friendship. I eventually became more and more resentful because he kept pushing it and suggesting we just "try out" dating for 2 weeks, and if it didn't work out, no hard feelings, etc. I told him that was a crazy notion and would never work.
After he moved on and found a long-term girlfriend, our friendship has finally been repaired. Not to the exact same as it used to be, but close enough for us to both be happy with it.
I don't know if that helps or anything, but hopefully it can give at least some more insight into the female mind.
posted by slyboots421 at 10:22 AM on July 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

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