More than friends, ug! I hope not
May 24, 2007 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I think a long time friend may want to be more than friends... and I don't... What do I do?

I recently returned to my late teens / early 20s home after being gone for 3 years. I've visited during those times and kept in contact with a friend from those days. She and I met about 3 1/2 years before I left town and were pretty good friends, hung out weekly, basically she and I were club / activities & drinking buddies. We met because her friend thought I was cute and wanted to get my number, her friend and I didn't work out like that but we all 3 hung out as friends.

Twice during that 3 1/2 years we got very drunk... and fooled around. Ok Ok more than just fooled around, we had sex ... hot, slightly drunk sex. We continued to hang out but did not continue those activities.

Now that I am back and we are hanging out again I'm picking up signs that she is interested in me, though she has a BF of 2 years now. I know she’s not 100% happy with that situation from the things she has told me (mostly centering around commitment issues). We continue to hang out and go out on the town and shes attempted to even match me up with one of her friends but I still get this lingering feeling that she wants something... sex, relationship... both, I'm not sure.
What I AM sure about is that I don’t want these things. I just want to continue to be friends and enjoy that friendship (I don’t have many in the area since I just got back).

What do I do? Can I save the friendship? Should I ask her about it? Pretend I don’t notice anything?

There was already one event were I opted to sleep on the couch after going out one night even though we slept in the same bed back in the day without anything happening (well, for the most part).

UG, this is long because its anonymous. HELP ME! As an adult, do I talk to her about this, ignore it, or another option that I haven't thought of.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

What are you doing sleeping in a bed with someone you're not interested in? Duh! Cut that shit out.

There's no good way to confront someone in a relationship and tell them you think they want you. Nope, no good way. She has a boyfriend, so you must totally ignore the situation. Deal with any issues as they come- if I were you, I would just continue to turn her down whenever she seems to come on to you.l
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:40 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

well, it doesn't sound like she's actually pushed the point so why are you stressing out about this?

if she does at some point, just explain to her that you are flattered but that you don't feel the same way and that you hope that doesn't make things awkward since you enjoy your friendship with her. and then don't let it be awkward.
posted by violetk at 2:46 PM on May 24, 2007

Since you didn't mention what she's doing (if anything) that makes you think she wants to be more than just friends, it appears that this is all in your head.

Perhaps there is a chance that you are projecting, here? Or misinterpreting her actions?

I wouldn't press the issue, since it doesn't seem like she even brought it up.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:49 PM on May 24, 2007

You can save your friendship if you start sending the right message, because to me your current actions are sending her a very loud message of: "I'm interested in picking things back up where we left off". From what you say about her re:boyfriend, she's very willing to ditch him for you (as in, I wouldn't talk smac about my current boyfriend to a past and-quite-possibly-future lover). You're coming on to her -- thus propagating her come-ons to you -- just as much as she is to you, despite what you're saying in this summary.

If you don't want to have a relationship, maybe you should start by, well, not sleeping in the same bed with her?
posted by Meagan at 2:58 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

OK, what ever you do... MAKE SURE YOU TELL HER HOW YOU FEEL. (that is, tell her that you're not interested in being more than friends).

Nothing sucks more than being into a friend and have them casual confirm your feelings or return them just because they dont want to hurt you then later on find out the truth This happened to me very badly, I thought I was in love with her, I thought she was in love with me, but she was just too 'nice' (I say that, because really she wasnt) to tell me honestly.

There is life after infactuation, most definetly. Just dont let her harbour those feelings, because they only get stronger with time unless you actively deny them.

But also since you haven't mentioned what those 'signs' are it could all just be in your head.
posted by chrisbucks at 2:58 PM on May 24, 2007

It sounds like you need your own relationship and should stop thinking that this old fuck buddy of yours actually wants you.

Or maybe she does and the fact that you actually give a rats ass kind of makes me think that you want her more than you'd care to admit. Let it lie until she actually does or says something. If she's just flirting with you, it might just be simple flirting. Just because a girl flirts with you doesn't mean she actually wants you (I hate to shatter that perception of yours if you still actually believe that). If she flat out tells you she wants you, then go "um. no thanks." Problem solved.
posted by Stynxno at 2:59 PM on May 24, 2007

It seems like if it ever came down to it, you could nicely turn her down by pointing out the boyfriend that she already has.

"Let's have sex/be in a relationship."
"What? No, you have a boyfriend already."
"Well then, I'll leave him!"
"Don't do that, I don't want that on my conscience. You've been together for two years. Can we remain friends?"
posted by tepidmonkey at 3:00 PM on May 24, 2007

Play it off legit. Don't ignore it, but let it run it's own course. If it does rear up, deal with it then. Chances are, if she is interested, but you are not sending out signals, nothing will actually happen.
posted by Elmore at 3:00 PM on May 24, 2007

Don't talk about it directly. It won't go well. Think of every way you could say it; none of them would be any good.

Don't wait till she brings it up. Imagine the best possible ensuing scenario; it still won't be good.

A guy friend once said to me in the midst of a very enjoyable evening: "It's so great that we can be friends without any boyfriend/girlfriend stuff." I (female) felt the same way, but if I had been harboring "feelings" for him, I think I'd have understood that he didn't share those feelings, and I wouldn't have been embarrassed.

My point is that it's something that real friends sometimes say, so it might not sound contrived if you came out with it. And even if it doesn't sound like you, she can take it at face value and not assume that you're assuming anything.
posted by wryly at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tell her how great it is to just be friends with someone, and how wonderful it is that the two of you have avoided adding any sexual/romantic complications that would get in the way of that. Do this before she comes onto you too strong.

She might not be interested, after all -- I've gotten the above bit from guys that I was only interested in being friends with.

Avoid sleeping in the same bed with someone if you don't want to have wild, hot sex with them, unless it is very clear to both of you that there is some other reason why you are sharing that bed.
posted by yohko at 3:27 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice so far. I want to add that things will get awkward if you flat out tell her you just want to be friends, because if you misread her it makes you look silly, and if she really was interested in you it is embarassing for her. You do need to make it clear how you feel to avoid seriously hurting her feelings, but you should not just blurt it out. I like Wryly's
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:48 PM on May 24, 2007

I agree with those who suggest that you shouldn't talk about it. AS IN, you don't set her aside to do the whole "I've been getting a sense that...blah blah" No matter how it's worded and what kind of bow it has on it, rejection isn't good especially if she's shown interest in you whether she means or not (as in just flirting/exploring based on her unhappy relationship). You should leave some space and make a conscious effort to do so. For example, leave a block of time between your activities with her, don't enjoy those activities just with her, if you do then do it in a public place where you can meet other people. Don't spend the night, if you do, make sure she's in her bdrm and you're on the couch. And find a woman to date. If she's a blonde, even go as far as show an interest in a brunette. I don't know if that makes any sense. But good luck and behave yourself.
posted by icollectpurses at 3:53 PM on May 24, 2007

I totally agree with wryly, and I've done the same before. "I'm really enjoying being good friends with you, without having any of the messy romantic stuff getting in the way. I'm super happy that we could be just friends now that I'm back in town." Subtle, yet complimentary, and you have made your feelings abundantly clear.

On behalf of anonymous, I also wanted to point out that he did NOT sleep in the same bed with her, as some have said. He said they used to do that "back in the day", but that he spent the night on the couch this time.

(If it was me, that part of the answers would be driving me crazy, so I had to point it out. Sorry.)
posted by gemmy at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2007

Look, just give her the constant obvious signals that people are supposed to give in this ambiguous situation. Talk about other girls you're into, drop lines like 'it's so good you're here to talk to about this stuff, you're my dating guru,' or lines like 'I am so glad we're friends and don't have any of that -ick!- sexual tension.' Of course, work this stuff in in a way that's organic to whatever you're talking about, be smooth about it or whatever, but if you do this enough she'll get the idea on her own.

(And for God's sake don't tell her she looks beautiful or hot, don't take her on any long walks on the beach at sunset, stay away from anything that could be considered romantic (ie no watching Casablanca on the couch late at night,) and you'll be fine unless she's really oblivious. Oh, and don't drink with her, why tempt fate.)
posted by np312 at 4:38 PM on May 24, 2007

The one that's always worked for me is to encourage and give your best wishes for the relationship she's in. Tell her you're glad she's found a great guy and you hope she can work though the commitment issues he has because if she's into him it's worth the effort, and you think they have a real future together.

That's a very clear signal you're not interested in her, without ever having to reference the situation between the two of you. Trust me, no one whose ever interested in a potential partner would say that. She'll get the message and there won't be any embarrassing feelings. Maybe then you could drop in a detail about a girl that you like, or whatever.
posted by Jubey at 5:36 PM on May 24, 2007

Thanks gemmy for the last comment, that was starting to really annoy me too.

Jubey has also got it right: try to take any of the (possible) attention off of you and put it back where it would be better focused: on her relationship with her boyfriend. I'm not suggesting becoming her therapist, but if you two are good friends you might be able to do some good by helping her find what she needs to do to be happy in that relationship again, or if she would be happier out of it (though, obviously, not out of it and with you).

Good luck!
posted by liverbisque at 6:19 PM on May 24, 2007

As billions of prior questions attest, most people want fairly clear signals before they are willing to take the risk of attempting to convert a friendship, since it's bound to be awkward unless both parties are really on the same page.

In your case it is a little more likely she could assume a potential because you have a sexual history. (If she presumed or hoped for a deeper romantic bond with you back in the day, which you might not know about, the probability increases).

Now it could be, she just has a sort of charismatic bond to you that reads as romantic attachment and if you just keep your boundaries clear it will never be an issue.

It may be she is not necessarily that interested in a relationship with you but is consciously or unconsciously looking for a quick way to tank her current unsatisfactory relationship. It would hardly be the first time someone attempted to stumble into a pointless sexual entanglement rather than just confront ending a relationship head on.

It could be that she is suffering from a sort of comparison crisis: with the current beau looking the pig "the one that got away" (you) looks more shining with potential and you're picking up the vibes of this little fantasy. She might not act on such an impulse, and get over it as her current boyfriend situation resolves one way or another.

Or she might be genuinely interested in a relationship with you, at which point whether she will make a move depends on how obtuse she is towards the negative signals you are no doubt broadcasting pretty clearly.

Keep the boundaries clear: things like opting for separate beds are good, better planning to avoid having situations where you end up sleeping under the same roof are better (not the least of which, because you may become a factor in her current relationship woes if her boyfriend picks up on you two being particularly close). Curbing your drinking around her might be helpful. Obviously don't give into drunken lust and actually get physical with her.

If they are true, talking about how you are interested spending some time out of relationships entirely and speculative plans that include leaving town send a pretty clear signal. Dial things back to a more neutral level when conversations get intimate. Fill intimate silences with inane chatter. You will probably soon feel any romantic impulses fade.

You only have to get into the awkward "I'm not into you" conversation if she makes a move, so why not avoid it. If worst comes to worst, well, I have a couple of close friends I made passes at back in ancient history, before there were internets or such wonders, and the friendships managed to survive these embarrassing moments. Clear, unambiguous but sympathetic indications of complete disinterest settled these exchanges and the weirdness faded. Good friends are hard to find: everybody needs to cut everybody some slack.

And the one who gave the tricky, gray area signals, never quite shutting the door, but always drifting a few steps ahead of me? Well, I married her. You be careful out there.
posted by nanojath at 7:34 PM on May 24, 2007

Be frank with the poor girl. Jesus.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:56 AM on May 25, 2007

"What are you doing sleeping in a bed with someone you're not interested in? Duh! Cut that shit out."

No doubt! It's like "I just want to be friends, so I'm only going to put the tip in."

The traditional remedy for this has always been a slip of comparing someone to a sibling. "Just like a sister" means "I don't see us fucking," (even though you have fucked her, and presumably not fucked your sister).
posted by klangklangston at 6:43 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

If she's good lookin', you might as well try to abscond with some poonani. Everything else will sort itself out in the end.
posted by Caper's Ghost at 9:28 PM on May 25, 2007

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