I don't want to rush her but the bottom line is that I'm completely in love with this girl.
August 28, 2007 4:41 AM   Subscribe

This last June I picked up the phone and called a friend I went to high school with... I literally hadn't seen or spoken to her for 12 years (since 1995). We went out for drinks and since then we've been spending time together about once a week (maybe a little less), having dinner together and things like that. A little over a month ago I told her that I really like her and asked if there’s any chance that maybe she felt the same... here’s what she wrote back to me in an email:


I am still a little bent out of shape from the last break up (which was in May) and I am probably not ready for any type of commitment right now. I know that we don't know one another that well, but I do enjoy spending time with you. So for now, I would just like to enjoy one another’s company and get to know one another better. If all goes well, I may be in a better place to like someone and be in a committed relationship.

But you don't have to be sorry for asking that question or wanting an answer. I think that you deserve to have an honest answer and that is really the best insight that I can give you right now. As you know, life goes in crazy directions all of the time and perhaps things could change tomorrow.

Well, let me know what you are thinking about my thoughts and your thoughts and maybe we will come to some type of understanding.


I wrote her back telling her (among other things) that I completely understand and said that for now I'll just take her last email as a solid "maybe".

Since then we've talked regularly through email and on the phone. We've had dinner together a few times at her house and mine, once with my dad and step-mom who flew in from out of state. I also went out of town about 2 weeks ago and she offered to drive me and my 5-year old son to the airport. When she picked us up the next day, she even had a snack bag ready for my son to take on the plane. When I was out of town, I had flowers sent to her at her work. She emailed me saying "They are beautiful, Thank you". And just last week she accompanied me to my mother's house on my birthday.

Anyway, I was talking to her a few days ago on the phone when out of the blue I asked her if she'd thought anymore about what we'd talked about. Here's what she said:


"You mean where I'm at? I really don't know where I'm at, I'm still mad about my last boyfriend, I just want to kick him... I'm not sure if that's the answer you were looking for?"

I simply responded by saying "Fair Enough" and proceeded to change the subject.


So based on the email response she sent me, the dinners, the very recent phone response, and everything else... I'm really at a loss as to what exactly is going on here. Are we dating? My gut instinct tells me "not exactly" or "not yet". I've picked apart her emails trying to read between the lines but I'm still unsure of how she feels.

I really don't know what do at this point. Should I just relax, not make any moves, be very patient and wait it out? Or possibly, the next time I'm with her (which will probably be in a few days) just take a flying leap and tell her I want to kiss her, gauge her response and do it? Or maybe smile and ask permission to kiss her? Something else entirely?

I'm getting very mixed opinions from everyone I've talked to about this... some say that I'd better make a move before it's too late... others say be patient, do nothing, let her make the first move, and so on. The thing is, and I could be wrong here, but she doesn't strike me as the type that will actually make the first move, and so far, the only physical contact has been a few hugs here and there.

I don't want to rush her and I'll wait as long as it takes but the bottom line is that I'm completely in love with this girl.

Any Suggestions, Thoughts, Insight or Advice would be greatly Appreciated!

posted by wiseduck to Human Relations (55 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I suggest you listen to her and stop asking other people's opinions. She is very recently out of a relationship and doesn't sound like a candidate for a rebound. Be friendly, don't push. Wait for her.
posted by Carol Anne at 4:50 AM on August 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

You are climbing the friend ladder. Opinions differ as to the best way to get over to the lover ladder, or if that is even possible, but climbing further up the friend ladder is only going to get you ... friend. As in just friends. As in "Wiseduck, I want you to meet my new boyfriend, John! John, this is my friend, Wiseduck."
posted by LarryC at 4:53 AM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

I suggest you listen to Carol Anne.
posted by flabdablet at 4:58 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think you can pick apart her emails and try to see what you want to see in them. However, as it is, from the two direct quotes that you've given of what she has said, I would say that she's been pretty clear in that she is not ready yet.

I think you seem pretty level-headed about it all but understandably want to progress things forward. However, sometimes by rushing them, you bring it to the boil too quickly. You don't want to be an in-betweener/friend and end up losing out because you have come on too heavy.

Maybe try and get a bit of space between the two of you. It will give you both the opportunity for reflection to see if this could work.

Best of luck.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 5:02 AM on August 28, 2007

I suggest you listen to Carol Anne, too, but with one addition. Let her know that you're not trying to push things along and that you'll wait for her to make a decision. Once you say that, don't bring it up again, no matter how hard it is. Instead, use your actions to remind her that you're still interested. Continue doing what you're doing in that area (flowers, meals, birthdays, family, etc.).
posted by yellowbkpk at 5:02 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

You need to decide what you want. If you want a sexual relationship, this doesn't sound like the gal for you. Most women I know are pretty sexual beings. They know when someone turns them on. They may choose whether to act on that feeling, but they know what they feel. And you'd both be feeling it. Chemistry is undeniable. And essential.

So . . . it sounds like she doesn't have mojo for you. I'd bet that a friendship is what you've got here, and all you ever will. If you want something more, you'll likely have to look elsewhere.

One more thought. Sometimes making yourself scarce will turn on a woman's drive. I happen to find that sort of gamesmanship a huge turnoff, but it may have a place as an experiment. I wish you all the best.
posted by pammo at 5:06 AM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

After a bad break-up maybe all she wants right now is a friend.

You want her to be much more than a friend (sending flowers to her workplace, dinner with Mom, your birthday at your Mom's)

You are better off with her as a friend than as someone who doesn't want to have any contact with you because you are wanting more. Why the big rush? You've managed OK for the last 12 years, so slow down and see what happens.
posted by worker_bee at 5:09 AM on August 28, 2007

Doooooooooooood. Been there. She's telling you the truth. You say you're in love with her? Then wait her out. Don't suffocate her, keep the discourse going, and when she's ready, you'll be ready. Making a move right now is not a good idea. I'm assuming you don't know what happened with the old boyfriend. Maybe he was a pushy jerk who wasn't able to listen to his girlfriend. Don't be that guy. Be the awesome guy. Do your things on the side, keep going out with other people, and when there's an opening, you'll know it. And, no offense to LarryC, but please don't listen to people who use phrases like "friend ladder". These are people who typically need books and things to get/keep dates - and there probably isn't a chapter in those books that deals with your completely unique situation (as all relationships are).

On preview, I agree with the people who are suggesting that you create a bit of distance. Keep asking her to do stuff once a week, but in the meantime, try to do other things - go out with other friends, go to the gym, work on projects, etc. At some point, if she brings up the two of you, as in, "so, what do you think about what we talked a few months ago," then you know you're in.
posted by billysumday at 5:10 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with Carol Anne too. I do think that she's been pretty clear with what she's saying. The one thing I don't think you mentioned is her physical behavior. Is she flirty with you? Physical? I guess what I'm getting at is, right now, assuming she's not sending you green light signals with non-verbal communication, (i.e. touching you when speaking, curling up beside you while watching a movie, etc.) I think she's really enjoying your company, and feeling safe since her last breakup.

I don't know how to help you get off the "friend ladder" if one exists, but from my perspective, you do need to respect what she is actually saying.
posted by Richat at 5:10 AM on August 28, 2007

If I were this girl (and I'm not, so YMMV), these would all be indications that she likes you a lot but is not as attracted to you as she would like to be (or has been to other men in the past, such as that no-good ex). This could go either way. Either she could decide that the relationship is positive enough that her relative lack of passion isn't a barrier, which is not as bad a basis for a long-term partnership as some people would have it. Or she might decide that as great as she thinks you are, she can't get past it. My guess is that she's still trying to figure out which of these it's going to be; she sounds honest and unmanipulative. You could hang on for a long time and not get what you want, or you could luck out. I don't think pushing the physical side of things is going to affect that much one way or the other, but it could possibly force her to decide sooner rather than later. Women are usually pretty good at conveying their attraction non-verbally, so if you can't tell, chances are it's not really there for her. But she could warm to you over time.
posted by Lauram at 5:12 AM on August 28, 2007

just relax, do not make any moves, be very patient and wait it out

sound familiar? it's not the answer you want, but you said it yourself!
posted by white light at 5:13 AM on August 28, 2007

You're doomed pal. She has you wrapped around her finger and if she wanted you as a boyfriend or even just as a lover, you'd be in already. If you want to turn things around, you need to make her realize what she's missing out on by visibly dating other chicks. Right now, she can have you so she doesn't want you. If you make yourself unavailable to her, she'll change her tune.
posted by knowles at 5:19 AM on August 28, 2007

She sounds *awesome* in that she wrote you a very candid and seemingly honest letter in which she says she likes you as a friend and lets you know that there is a chance for something more in the future. As a woman, I would read this as saying that she reckons she'll be ready later, but you need to slow down.

My advice? Continue as you've been doing. When *she* is ready, she'll let you know. Quit asking her if she's thought about what you talked about - that's the quickest way to get her to turn off you entirely. Quit looking for a way to kiss her or whatever. She needs to decide for herself; she knows where you stand. Give her space and time and in the meanwhile enjoy the time you do spend together.

I sense that you're obsessing a little, and that'll ruin it if you continue.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 5:30 AM on August 28, 2007

The most likely outcome is that you two are not going to get together. Stop wasting your time.
posted by grouse at 5:34 AM on August 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

I guess I didn't make it very clear, I'm not totally bent out of shape over her responses... this is a 30 year old woman who over the last decade has turned down over 5 marriage proposals from 5 different guys. Some of whom she'd been with for more than 4 years.

So despite all of my insecurities, clearly this is a girl that takes her time. And I have picked up on a few things like a few rubs up against my shoulder, a quick hand pat here and there... all of which contradict what she's saying verbally of course.

Also, at the start, I had been one calling her... but lately I've been wanting to see what happens when I stop calling or emailing her, and sure enough, when I don't call... she does.
posted by wiseduck at 5:38 AM on August 28, 2007

I can't really say whether you should make a move or not. But before you kiss her, try holding her hand. Take it and look into her eyes. If she doesn't absolutely melt, then forget it, it's not going to happen.
posted by desjardins at 5:50 AM on August 28, 2007

this is a 30 year old woman who over the last decade has turned down over 5 marriage proposals from 5 different guys. Some of whom she'd been with for more than 4 years. So despite all of my insecurities, clearly this is a girl that takes her time.

Clearly, this is a girl who has lots of practice breaking hearts. Do not assume you will be different. I would not put all your eggs in her basket, if I were you. (Well, if it was ME, I wouldn't put any eggs in her basket...)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:52 AM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

So despite all of my insecurities, clearly this is a girl that takes her time.

Or she's a woman that likes attention disproportionately to the amount that she gives it. My advice is to think about how you'll feel after the different possible outcomes from this scenario. I'll admit I've been on your side of slow-moving pseudo-relationships before and, in my case, it has NEVER turned into a real-deal "okay now let's take it to the next level" situation. The one time I took it to the next level myself, it didn't work out the way I wanted it to.

In some cases, this was not a bad thing, I had a companion for some life events that I appreciated and I'm still dear friends with the guy to this day. In another situation, the guy who was in forever-hand-holding phase with me was actually sleeping with someone else, he just thought that he and I had potential for something more... I don't know, more long-term than a roll in the hay that he was currently having but I was a little cheesed off at his lack of communication and we drifted apart because it seemed like the tension was a lot of what was keeping us together.

So, think of yourself a few more months down the road. Obviously if she turns out to be like "Okay I'm ready!" then you're set. But what if she's never ready? What if this goes on for another year and you keep flirting without positive feedback? In the same way it's okay for her to want to wait, it's also okay for you to want an actual partner now, or soon, or someone who is into you the same way you're into them. What if she starts actually dating another guy in a few months without so much as a notification to you that that's what is going on?

Some women, certainly not all, don't see an obligation to be forthright with a guy who likes them more than they like them back. This happens with both genders obviously, but let's look at your situation.

You: give flowers
Her: they're lovely

And they are lovely, but you meant them as a statement of "I'm into you" and she may take them as a nice gesture from a dear friend. Same with the airport ride, etc. I don't know how long she was with her ex but it's easy to get into a pattern of being attentive and caring that you can shift to another person even when your heart isn't fixed on them as a love interest.

I have no opinion about the "friend ladder" personally, we've seen engouh MeFites say it's nonsense, but my feeling is that if you make a move and she turns you down, it's not because she might not have turned you down six months from now, had you waited, it's because you've never been in a place where she was into you like that. If you're the kind of guy who won't be pissed off and bitter if you find that out six months from now, by all means wait, she sounds like a nice person and a good friend. However if you're going to feel that you've invested time and effort that you can't get back and feel led on, then I'd cut your losses now.
posted by jessamyn at 5:55 AM on August 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

Two things: Do you know why she hates her ex? If not find out, so you'll know if you're that same type of guy. If you're not, then don't do those things.

Second thing: Nagging isn't sexy. It's time for you to be that fun guy she knows she'll have a great time with. Pick a few hobbies, something like hiking or art gallery hopping, something you'll enjoy where another can join you if they want. Then invite her along. If she says no, go without her and if you had an great time, tell her and invite her again. If it wasn't fun, try something else and invite her along. Don't lay it on thick and don't spend most of your time waiting, wondering, planning about her.

Her thoughts still seem very much on the ex. Distract her. Don't ask her about her about a relationship for a while
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Two things: Do you know why she hates her ex?

Her ex slept with a prostitue while she was on vacation.
posted by wiseduck at 6:00 AM on August 28, 2007

Perhaps you could set a time limit on it. Say, four months more? Or six at the outside? Keep on doing what you're doing, and don't push her. If nothing has happened in six months, then it would be time to start dating other people.
posted by orange swan at 6:03 AM on August 28, 2007

Ask yourself how you would feel about this "relationship" if she had plainly stated that you would NEVER be more than a friend to her. This actually might be the case. Adjust your commitment level accordingly.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:03 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

So despite all of my insecurities, clearly this is a girl that takes her time.

...before delivering the inevitable let-down to some poor sod who thought she could possibly feel the same way about him that he did about her.
posted by grouse at 6:03 AM on August 28, 2007

Her ex slept with a prostitue while she was on vacation.

OK. At least you know something about her boundaries :)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:07 AM on August 28, 2007

Her ex slept with a prostitue while she was on vacation.

Ok, new theory. She may still be very into her ex-boyfriend. Sleeping with a prostitute behind your girlfriend's back is not good. Some would say worse than sleeping with a friend, some would say better - it almost hints at a perversion or a pathology. My guess is that this girl is still wondering how to feel about it. Is she angry, and if so, why? As TPS said, this girl is a serial heart-breaker. She may be slightly intrigued by this man who broke her heart, who broke it in such a dramatic way. She may still think she can cure him, free him from his sexual illness. Your original post seemed to suggest that the woman is still in love - however tenuously - with her ex. I would be concerned not so much with how she perceives you and other men but rather in what way she continues to view her relationship with her ex, and whether she believes it is worth the risk to herself and her emotions to rekindle that relationship and grant him another opportunity to prove his love to her and "fix" his problem(s).

Either way, the advice is the same: she knows how you feel about her so you can cool it with the heavy advances and the "let's talk about us" stuff. Be yourself, be confident, do fun stuff by yourself and with other friends, and if she wants to come along for the ride, she'll let you know. The ex is the douchebag who slept with a hooker. You are the new guy who is fun and confident and takes her out to dinner every once in awhile. You can't make her choice for her, but you can try to make it an easy one.
posted by billysumday at 6:19 AM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

I say shut your yapper, quit showing us her presumably private emails, and keep on riding what sounds like a rather nice wave.
posted by matty at 6:21 AM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Her ex slept with a prostitue while she was on vacation.

Something very similar happened to me, only she was the free type of skanky whore. It took me four months to think about dating someone else, and I was still furious at the ex for the first few months of my new relationship (though we had no contact). It was also difficult to trust my new beau, even though he was light years away from my ex's immorality. The new relationship was long distance and every time we were apart I'd have a fleeting thought that maybe NewGuy was hooking up with some skanky ho too. I strived not to take it out on him, but he did feel some tension. If I could do it all over again, I would have waited a few more months before we got serious. My heart was not ready.

forgive me if any of this doesn't make sense. I'm pre-coffee. you're welcome to e-mail.
posted by desjardins at 6:23 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

This all looks pretty clear to me. Yeah, you are in the friend zone. How badly probably depends on how much initiative she is taking in your plans. If you're arranging all the plans and feel you're working to spend time together, you're probably screwed and should back off now. If she's taking initiative and you are spending lots of time together already, then ease off on the pressure and just roll along with things.

I think the thing most likely to yank you out of the friend zone, however, is;

A) start gradually ramping down the time you spend with her.

B) start dating other women (or see if you can make it look like you are). But do that carefully as you're basically presenting her with an ultimatum, one that's more likely to go in your favor but still may backfire if there's not much chemistry in your friendship. If being cheated on was a pivotal problem in her previous relationship then that would call for extra caution.

And do NOT increase the pressure with the emails you are sending!!! Those will not work in your favor!

You may want to look for some references on the Internet that talk about the friend zone and how to get out of it. But if there is chemistry and you all are spending a lot of time together, then I think this may work it out for itself. Time spent together I think is the true measure of what's going on.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:25 AM on August 28, 2007

I'm getting very mixed opinions from everyone I've talked to about this... some say that I'd better make a move before it's too late...

I don't understand people encouraging you to make a move. What kind of move, anyways? She's already made it clear that she isn't interested in...err- moves.

It seems to me that you are both having a nice time and moving slowly towards a relationship. Maybe she just wants to fall into a natural rhythm with you and feel comfortable and secure before she's willing to use terms like boyfriend and girlfriend. If you are both happy and having a nice time together, does it really matter if you are "dating" or "not dating." It sounds like you have a good thing going on, don't ruin it by trying to categorize it. Just enjoy it and see where it goes.
posted by nuclear_soup at 6:30 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

You need to decide what you want. If you want a sexual relationship, this doesn't sound like the gal for you. Most women I know are pretty sexual beings. They know when someone turns them on. They may choose whether to act on that feeling, but they know what they feel. And you'd both be feeling it. Chemistry is undeniable. And essential.

So . . . it sounds like she doesn't have mojo for you.

This is right on, pammo. I suppose there are thousands of cases of friendship that blossomed into love out there, but I think there are many more cases of relationships getting stuck in the Friend Zone because one party was just not physically attracted to the other.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:36 AM on August 28, 2007

Her ex slept with a prostitute while she was on vacation.

Yeah, don't do that.

Back off. Depending on how long she was with him, she's REALLY pissed and she isn't getting close to anyone anytime soon.

Also, what prompted the sudden initial phone call to someone you hadn't seen or spoken to for 12 years? You holdin' a torch? If so, go very slow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on August 28, 2007

Be careful. Before I read that her boyfriend slept with a prostitute, I was going to suggest that you date other people. Now that you made it clear what the issue was in that relationship, I'm not sure I would advocate dating other women as she may be in some unconcious way waiting to see if you will. I think you have yourself in an unpleasant little catch 22.

If you do date others, be very honest and upfront and tell her, otherwise, she may feel betrayed all over again.
posted by zia at 7:07 AM on August 28, 2007

It's kind of counter-intuitive, but what you need to do is back off, and be the kind of person who is interesting, engaged, and busy. Don't be all focused on her -- focus on your own life. I'd go so far as to say that you should be, if not actively dating, at least out there meeting other women.

As things stand right now, she has you as the comfortable base from which she can go forth and find a new boyfriend; worse, your description of her past (with those multiple refused marriage offers) isn't one that gives me much hope for your chances down the road. You know how in a lot of these questions the answers are all "she just isn't that into you"? In this case, I think it is "she just isn't that into commitment." If you are looking for a long-term life partner, perhaps someone who will take on a parental role for your son, I don't think that she is the person for you. I'm sure she is great in every way ... but her past behavior points pretty clearly in a different direction.

So my real advice is for you to enjoy her as a good friend, just as you do your other good friends. But for romance, look elsewhere.
posted by Forktine at 7:09 AM on August 28, 2007

Some people just have slower timetables than others. Depending on the emotional/psychological impact of her last relationship, it is entirely possible that she hasn't yet emerged from its emotional hangover. If that's the case, then her passion/mojo/feelings for you cannot be accurately measured as of now, because some of her emotional energy is still being used towards processing her last relationship.

What this means is that you might need to wait for a bigger chunk of time (one month for a slow processor is NOT a big enough chunk, I can tell you) before expecting anything to have changed for her. And the risk exists that she could find that the extra emotional energy that's released when she's "over" (or "enough over") the last relationship is directed towards you, or that it isn't. As jessamyn said, you need to decide whether you'll be bitter or resentful, feeling like you wasted a lot of time, if things don't go in your favor.

Frankly, I think your re-contact timing (~1 month post-breakup, afterall) was really unfortunate, because now this dynamic of you wanting more and her being hesitant and uncertain is well established, and it sounds like both parties have already started over-thinking things that ideally would be flowing more naturally.
posted by tentacle at 7:10 AM on August 28, 2007

I'm surprised that no one mentioned that it is not kind to permit a man that you know has feelings for you to keep fawning over you when you aren't returning that sort of affection.

I have known people that enjoy having friends that like them more as friends. Such a woman would be perfectly comfortable receiving "I'm into you" flowers from a man she wasn't trying to bed. And that's pretty much the exact email she'd send as a response -- vague, noncommital, but not enough of a rejection to stop the attention.

If a kind and thoughtful woman received "I'm into you" flowers from a man that she was not trying to date, she would realize that it was time to reestablish some boundaries and to clarify the sender's crush. To permit and encourage unrequited love is insensitive at best, and selfish/narcissistic at worst.
posted by letahl at 7:22 AM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

nthing the idea that you should date other people. Dont' flaunt it in front of her, but don't hide it either. If possible make it clear to her that you're not trying to rush her into making a decision about anything.

The fact that she's hanging out with your parents, making your kids snack packs, etc. makes me think that she wants more than a friendship but clearly isn't ready for it.

If you date other people it gives her a little more incentive to take the next step with you if that's what she wants. But you may make her feel like you're screwing with her emotionally so be aware of that as well.
posted by PFL at 7:27 AM on August 28, 2007

Speaking from personal experience.

You are in the friend rut. Don't let her think that you will be her BFF. Give her lots of time, lots of space, but never let her think that you guys are only friends.

My personal experience? I was the girl, and I ended up marrying the guy.
posted by ms.v. at 7:50 AM on August 28, 2007

Guy, you have just posted her emails on the internet, you are soliciting strangers for advice on the internet.

First admit to yourself that you ARE obsessing over this.

Second, never mention your feelings about this to her again. It's clear from her letter that she'll let you know.

Third, deal right now with the fact that there will most likely be nothing between you. Don't spend the next year or two turning down other opportunities because you perceived her letter as a 'maybe'. It's not a maybe.

Best case scenario: She was letting you down easy. Staying friends with her you might eventually get some drunken friend sex at a weak moment from her. She will regret this the next day.

Worst case scenario: She likes having you as a backup, a safety option. She'll keep you around to feel good about herself.
posted by poppo at 7:54 AM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

And I have picked up on a few things like a few rubs up against my shoulder, a quick hand pat here and there... all of which contradict what she's saying verbally of course.

Did you mean "none of which necessarily" instead of "all of which"? Because just brushing against your shoulder or patting your hand is not a huge signal at all.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:55 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

If this were a 1930s screwball comedy you (played by Cary Grant) would feign indifference to her and arrange to be seen dancing at the Ritz with another woman, a stunning blond thing who you actually find annoying but pretend to be madly in love with in public. This would jolt your intended to her senses and she would go all-out to win back your affections and would never take you for granted again.

If this were a 1930s screwball comedy.
posted by LarryC at 8:10 AM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

I've been in a few situations similar to this. It seems like you are taking her friendly emotions and combining them with your romantic interest to create this image in your mind of what you could be together, and sustaining it by your continued attraction, and her friendlyness.

In a strange way, the ability to sustain this mental image, while still "just friends" is seen as a proof of the deep and altruistic quality of your love for her. In fact, it speaks more to your own deep desires for a relationship, that gives such deep energy to imagine sustaining the relationship even for six months while she sorts things out, and then enters the relational image your attraction is built around.

Kudos on your communication of attraction so far. My problem was that I kept everything internalized.

However, I agree with the folks saying to take time away. Dating other people could create a channel for that relational energy.

...It sounds like your saying, "I love her enough to wait six months," but the subtext seems to be "I love her too much to wait any longer!"

If that is the case, then a big scale back seems appropriate, because of the heavy energy you are bringing into the situation, centered around your own (legitimate) desires.

Good luck! I hope you find a great person, either her or someone else.
posted by bullitt 5 at 8:33 AM on August 28, 2007

So based on the email response she sent me, the dinners, the very recent phone response, and everything else... I'm really at a loss as to what exactly is going on here. Are we dating? My gut instinct tells me "not exactly" or "not yet". I've picked apart her emails trying to read between the lines but I'm still unsure of how she feels.

Don't tell yourself that you're not exactly dating her, or that you're not yet dating her. You're just not dating her at all. Nothing that said about her gives any indication that she is into you at all. Friends go to dinner with each other. Friends give each other rides to the airport. You're just doing friend stuff.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:40 AM on August 28, 2007

Play it out and see where it goes. Meanwhile, be sure that you have your eye out for others. You have no obligation to her to stay free of entanglement. In the end you have to be happy with what you are getting out of this.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:07 AM on August 28, 2007

She's telling you to move on. Ignore her at your own peril.

Do what you like, but she's already made her stance clear. She's not interested in you that way right now, which means that she will never be interested in you that way. Well, it's a possibility at best, but more than likely not.

I have a teardrop tattoo over my heart from a "friend" who played this game with me, and tore my heart out for sport. She loved the attention I paid her, it made her feel wanted, but she led me on in the most harmful way. I ended up devastated. I wish someone would have warned me, so I'm telling you, find someone who wants you as much as you want her.

Best of luck!
posted by dbiedny at 9:32 AM on August 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

If she is indeed a serial heart breaker, this time she may break two hearts at once - yours and your son's. I would not take the risk of letting her get close to your child only to have her disappear from his life when you push her again and she gives you an unequivocal "No. I don't want to be in a romantic relationship with you".
posted by zarah at 9:48 AM on August 28, 2007

Do what you like, but she's already made her stance clear. She's not interested in you that way right now, which means that she will never be interested in you that way.

One person's experience. Not universal. People and relationships are complicated and unique.
posted by billysumday at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2007

First: stop showing us her private emails. Stop it immediately! If this is a girl with trust issues, that is a really bad-- just don't do that. Do you realize how many people read this website?

Second: she's not giving you mixed signals.


She's saying "No, not now." Which isn't the same as "No, not ever", but for right now, it's still a no. It isn't "Maybe", it isn't "Try to convince me", it certainly isn't "I'm playing hard to get, but feel free to misinterpret my friendly pat on the shoulder to mean that I want you bad."

She's also not being manipulative and/or dishonest. You asked, and her answer was: "No, not now, [polite filler]." That's how polite people talk. It doesn't mean that they're not honest or that their later hug goodbye contradicts what they were saying. (?!?)

So if you're comfortable being friends with her for now, JUST BE FRIENDS. Don't try to trick her into a relationship. Chill out. Don't pressure her. (And for heaven's sake, stop sending her emails about how does she want to be your girlfriend yet.)

If you're not comfortable just being friends, than stop being friends with her.

Either way, don't be the guy who's pretending to be your friend, but who is actually plotting to get you alone on the couch so he can Make His Move: that guy is vaguely creepy.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:05 AM on August 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

The first email she sent seemed VERY honest.

If she says she needs some time, give it to her, but keep your hook in the water.

Why did you call her after 12 years?
posted by UncleHornHead at 10:34 AM on August 28, 2007

I agree with most of the others about giving her space. I also agree about dating other people, I would also strongly advise against holding out hope that things will suddenly blossom how you want. They may, but they just as easily may not. If I was in your shoes, I would tell her in a light hearted banter something like this: "Hey, as you know, I think you're super hot, but also, you've made it clear you're not ready for anything yet. So, as much as it goes against my nature, I'm not going to follow through on any of my crazy ideas that will drive you to kiss me madly and desire my ripped buff bod. Instead, I guess I'll have to find some lesser woman to bestow that privilege. {insert over dramatic sigh at this point, followed by a wink and a smile} The sacrifices I make for those I care about." Be sure to have in your back pocket some wild crazy idea in case she asks what you had in mind in that regard. You'll know you're golden if she follows up on that angle. If instead she moves to support your decision, and says how these other girls will be so lucky or something along those lines, she's basically yelling "Just Friends" at you.
posted by forforf at 10:59 AM on August 28, 2007

forforf, he might be able to get away with that sweet set of lines if he could honestly commit to them. It's also possible that no matter what, she'd feel manipulated by them. Some women are charmed by this sort of thing, others aren't. Humour + conflicted emotions can be a very uneasy mix.

wiseduck, I'd agree that this would be a good time to step back gracefully, consider how happy you would be with the possible likely outcomes, as jessamyn has said, and give her some space while still making yourself available as a friend if she wants it and if that doesn't make you sad.

Maybe this is a good time to write a bunch of letters to her that you will never, EVER send to her. Get all your thoughts down on paper. See what unexpected things that you may have been hiding from yourself suddenly show up on the page. Put the letters away for a few weeks, then read them again. You may see for yourself some of the naked yearning for this woman several of us have commented on, and this may help you re-assess what you really want and how to talk to her.

Good luck!
posted by maudlin at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2007

She's just not that into you. If she was - you wouln't be here. I've been you and I've been that girl. You're lovely to hang out with and it's flattering how much you obviously like her - why would she cut that off? She's keeping you around until someone better (to her) comes along.
Time for you to get a life without her. Maybe your absence will make her heart grow fonder - but if it doesn't - than it wasn't ever going to happen anyway. Every fake-date you're on with her hoping against hope is time you could be out finding someone who is that in to you.
posted by Wolfie at 12:16 PM on August 28, 2007

I'd tell her you need some space to decide what YOU need.

She's got it made right now. You, meanwhile, need her to fish or cut bait. If there is the possibility of a future, she will realize it when she realizes she cannot tread water forever.

So, take that break!
posted by konolia at 12:40 PM on August 28, 2007

I'm married to the girl who had been my platonic best friend at the time. I think the key to jumping from being friends to being more, is that when one of you makes the move (expressing your interest was (yes, was) the move; you don't have to physicially try to force yourself upon her to have it count), the move has to be received positively. Not neutrally. She received yours neutrally.

If she said, "I would *love* to date you, but I'm still not fully over my last boyfriend. Tell you what, as soon as I'm ready, I'll let you know. I'd appreciate if you were still available, but will somewhat understand if you're not." that would be positive. That's "Not yet." Instead, she said, "Not yes."

If you're that hopeful for her, let her know that you're offering her a reincheck, keep being friends with her, but say that in the future you're going to go on dates. You're putting this out front. She's just getting over a cheater, so coming up and surprising her with your new girl will be seen as you being a cheater, since the last thing she knew you were available for her.

She's a girl who's dated long term and waits to deliver the final no. I don't see how one can take 4 years to finally realize that someone's not keeper material. I had one girlfriend who said that within 5 minutes she knows if she'll fuck a guy, and within two weeks she'll know if he's long term material. She fucked me, but we both knew within a week that we weren't going to wind up together but still had fun for a few months. Maybe she made up her mind faster than most, but I don't think that much faster. I think your crush is very non-commital.

I'm sorry to say, but I think that the "best" prospects for you having a future with her, is she gets scared of the thought of being alone, and settles with you, and you both end up content. But she'll always remember that she settled.

The most important thing I can think of to express to you is in my first paragraph: you already made your move. Heck, you made two moves.
posted by nobeagle at 1:17 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was coming here to post what thehmsbeagle said better than I would have, so go read hers, and pretend I just wrote the same thing. Thanks.

and posting her emails is beyond uncool.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:33 PM on August 28, 2007

I've actually only posted a little part from a single email message out of about 100 back and forth emails I've had with her. The part I posted was relevant to my overall post and does not include any identifiable information about her. So my point is that I'd hardly say I'm posting all of her emails.
posted by wiseduck at 4:58 PM on August 28, 2007

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