Shut out again. Why?
June 26, 2006 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Why does she get close & then shut me out? What can I do?

A friend & I talked about dating. She needed to figure things out & we didn't date (we had both just gotten out of serious relatiopnships & she's considering moving far away). It was awkward after that, but after awhile we started to hang out like we used to. & again we were in between friends & dating. Timing was an issue for her & again no dating. Now, things are awkward again. I really care about her & it makes me miserable that she's not as comfortable & open with me. Both times when she's told me that she doesn't think we should date, it's been after she's the most affectionate, comfortable, & open.

Why does she shut me out when we're really getting close? Why does she feel the need to?

& what's the best way to address it/her concerns?
posted by eems to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
She likes you as a friend but isn't interested in dating you, and is trying to be nice about it. It hurts, but get past it and find someone who wants you.
posted by bingo at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2006

She's getting, emotionally-speaking, what she needs being your friend. Anything more is dangerous and not even needed, from the sound of it. You are a Friend, and if I may say a bit of a sucker. :)
posted by kcm at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2006

Don't hang out with her, you just can't / won't win this one.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:29 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wait till the next meeting is set up, then don't show. Make some lame excuse.
What's good for the gander is good for the goose.
People want what they can't have.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:30 PM on June 26, 2006

It's sometimes called "The Dance of Intimacy."
Being close, loving, bonded and intimate with a partner is a common human goal and dream. Yet, it is also a state that many people fear and thus sabotage.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:32 PM on June 26, 2006

She's just not that into you.
posted by unSane at 3:32 PM on June 26, 2006

some people in this thread have suggested doing something mean or not very friend-ly. just talk to her about it. good communication is the most important part of a relationship. maybe she isn't telling you something. i suggest you just be friends and enjoy your relationship as it is.
posted by saragoodman3 at 3:37 PM on June 26, 2006

Some people are destined to be just friends. Some are destined to be lovers.

Sounds like she sees the relationship in the former category, and you want it to be the latter. So when you push the issue, she feels (rightly) awkward, and acts accordingly.

If she wanted a relationship with you, timing wouldn't be an issue. If you want something more than friendship and she doesn't, then you either need to accept being just friends, or walk away. Harsh but true. Sorry.
posted by bella.bellona at 3:37 PM on June 26, 2006

I'm involved in a situation exactly like this at the moment. Crazy high's and lo's, eh? One moment you think she loves you...and then the next moment it all plummets. All you can do is, contrary to Meatbomb's advice, is continue being friends if you desire as such and live with the fact you can't get her.
posted by jmd82 at 3:41 PM on June 26, 2006

Not what saragoodman says. She's assuming your friend is like her, and not necessarily someone who craves attention and doesn't mind yanking you around to get it. Look, we've all been that guy before. The sooner you cut your losses and move on, the happier you'll be. There are other girls out there, I promise.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 3:46 PM on June 26, 2006

Read up on Ladder Theory. You're on the wrong ladder, but you can never get to the ladder you want. Move on.

I am writing as a guy who has been on the wrong ladder with one woman for nigh on four years, constantly jerked around and used. I'm with Meatbomb on this one, not jmd82, despite the fact that I'm advising you to do as I say, not as I do.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:05 PM on June 26, 2006

yeah... I figured... friends we are then...
Thanks everybody, it helps to hear it point-blank.

"You are a Friend, and if I may say a bit of a sucker."
I am!
posted by eems at 4:15 PM on June 26, 2006

Get ready to hear "I love you, I'm just not "in love" with you."
posted by Megafly at 4:56 PM on June 26, 2006

Cuddle Bitch
posted by Justinian at 5:52 PM on June 26, 2006

I find that sometimes when I like someone, I maybe project a bit of that hopefulness onto her, and what might seem like general kindness and friendliness on her part (to a hypothetical neutral observer) comes across to me as returned interest and attraction. So I think your situation can happen even if she isn't trying to yank you around and doesn't have some kind of relationship phobia.

This has also happened to me in reverse. You can sort of watch it unfold, watch your friendliness be interpreted as more. It's sad.
posted by kookoobirdz at 6:19 PM on June 26, 2006

Weapons grade's answer is crudely put, but touches on a solution. It is true that if you are always available to her, she will never cross that line. I wouldn't recommend standing her up, but when she calls, always have something else you are doing. Especially if it is spur of the moment. If she is mildly interested, her interest will increase. Some will say this is a mind game and manipulative. It depends. Sometimes, when someone meets you 70% of the way, you can only keep pulling away, you never get the comfort of assessing how YOU feel. Create a vacuum. She will have safety to feel her feelings. When she has space, and she can explore other feelings besides fear, she may very well be able to feel romantic towards you.

I had a female friend who had this same problem with the guy she was dating. Her therapist gave her this advice. They have been married for 20 years now.
posted by joaniemcchicken at 7:45 PM on June 26, 2006

joaniemcchicken: Some will say this is a mind game and manipulative.

well, yes. i will say that. it is a mind game and it's manipulative. it's also a terrible answer - if you have to keep someone you care about at arm's length just to get them to reciprocate, you're bound to be miserable with them.

eems, a lot of the other answers in here are spot on - you're being taken advantage of, and it sucks but how she feels about you is her thing to change, not yours. you gotta move on until this becomes less one-sided.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:54 PM on June 26, 2006

I don't think there's any advantage being taken here, and some of these answers are kind of depressing. Sometimes people can have very deep, committed, emotional connections with friends, she wants to be your friend, and you're very lucky to have a friendship like this. If you can't be friends with her because of your romantic feelings, then you can't be friends with her, but this isn't her problem, it's yours. Stay friends with her, but look for romance elsewhere, at least for now.
posted by biscotti at 8:19 PM on June 26, 2006

Why does she shut me out when we're really getting close?

You're the nice guy, aren't you?

Get out before the cold, gray hooks of cynicism get you.
posted by frogan at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2006

I fear the cold, grey hooks of cynicism (I love that line, frogan) have already gotten many of the people in this thread.

If she doesn't really want a romantic relationship with Eems, thinks she does, thinks she doesn't, whatever -- how is that necessarily manipulative, using him, or feminine? People don't always know what they want. That doesn't make them bad people. And I don't think, despite all this ladder mythology, that women do this more than men.

Joaniemcchicken gives excellent advice. It's not about playing hard to get, it's just putting her on the same footing with other friends -- since, for now, that's what she is. You don't drop everything to see some guy friend of yours, do you?

This approach has an added benefit. Since we all want what we can't have, maybe you want her more than you would if you could have her. Take a step back. Maybe she's not all that great. Is she even a good friend to you? If you're not so busy chasing her, maybe you can see her more clearly.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:10 PM on June 26, 2006

Welcome to The Friend Zone.

Results 1 - 100 of about 70,000 for "friend zone". (0.54 seconds)
posted by empyrean at 10:21 PM on June 26, 2006

Why are we afraid of being "the friend"? Drop any premonitions of a romantic relationship and be the best damn friend you can be. Women make great friends -- they're loyal, help you pick out good colognes, cook delicious food, and introduce you to their (hot) friends. Other women will notice how much of a good friend you are and swoon.

Women can smell a guy's motives, so that may be why it's sometimes awkward between you two.
posted by lpctstr; at 11:03 PM on June 26, 2006

Why are we afraid of being "the friend"?

Because you don't often get to knock boots with your "friends." Because in this context, being a "friend" is the modern equivalent of being a eunuch.

Women make great friends -- they're loyal, help you pick out good colognes, cook delicious food, and introduce you to their (hot) friends ...

... and they're often blissfully unaware (or are they?) that they're crushing hopes and dreams when they treat loyal, male friends like overgrown puppy dogs. Hot or not, we don't really want to bang your friends (although in a pinch, we might). What we really want is to play hide the dolphin with you. We'll never know why you're gaga for this prick.

This is a syndrome. It has a cure. It's called "standing up like a man, announcing your intentions in plain English and be willing to get the fuck out of Dodge if your feelings are not returned."
posted by frogan at 12:15 AM on June 27, 2006

The way to get free from this back-and-forth, pursue-and-flee dynamic is to focus on being true to yourself rather than on trying to influence what someone else feels or thinks. That "Dance of Intimacy" phrase above is a book by Harriet Lerner, worth reading.

Most strategies suggested still fall into the trap of letting your behavior be a reaction to her, rather than a thoughtful, honest stance. "I'll make her want me by acting distant" -- might work, might not, but not worth your energy since you cannot really control her head. "She won't be my lover right now, well she's taking advantage of me, I have to 'get the fuck out of Dodge.'" Hey, if you have to get some distance, you have to. But know that then you're still stuck reacting to her.

As an alternate strategy, you could just feel what you feel, be honest about it, and find a way not to feel like a puppy dog, but still not be demanding or leave if you don't immediately get what you want. To me, that's the stronger and more honest position. Those are the facts, you like her. The more you make your focus about being true to the facts as you know them, your feelings, and less about the outcome / her feelings, the more in-control you are.

Why all this urgency, anyway? You can kick her out of your life immediately, but then you have to live with yourself forever. If she was out of your life, you'd have no one to focus on but yourself. Why not go ahead and focus on yourself anyway, while skipping that step where you burn bridges by putting all the pressure on her to be / feel / want a certain thing? Focusing on yourself could get her interested by making you a more interesting, balanced person. Or it might not. But at least you'll have improved your own life.

Speaking as someone who has made a lot of mistakes lately, I think the best thing to do is just focus on your own stuff, accept that you can't change other people, know that focusing too much on someone else is probably some trick your brain is pulling, just try to live in mutual humility, and slow down and think so you can act constructively from your own true self instead of just reacting to her. (The book explains all this and more, ten times better, I totally recommend it.)
posted by salvia at 2:13 AM on June 27, 2006

Just to be clear, I don't mean that being "stuck reacting to her" is bad because now she's this manipulative person and you have less power. It's not about power. It's bad because it continues this entanglement that has you both trapped now. Focusing on your own issues is good because it frees you from the entanglement and lets you share close togetherness while still being strong, independent, free people.
posted by salvia at 2:17 AM on June 27, 2006

Relationships are hard. If the courtship dance is hard, how much harder will it be to keep the relationship together?

I'm with Frogan. Put it on the table, "If a relationship is about being with your best friend, then lets".

If not, Exit for Dodge, stage right.
posted by ewkpates at 3:42 AM on June 27, 2006

Why does she shut me out when we're really getting close?

You're the nice guy, aren't you?
Get out before the cold, gray hooks of cynicism get you.

*le sigh*
Follow this advice. I know this story well and damn if I'm not a cynical bastard nowadays whereas I was once upon a time the "nice guy."
posted by jmd82 at 8:41 AM on June 27, 2006

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