How do I get over a girl who has lead me on/won't commit, but I still like very much?
May 26, 2008 3:21 PM   Subscribe

How do I get over a girl who has lead me on/won't commit, but I like very much?

I'm a mid-20's single male, working/out of college. She is a early-20's single female, recent grad/just starting out.

Encounter 1-
I met her about 2 years ago through a friend. At the time, she had a boyfriend who lived and went to school far away. We were just friends and we hung out and talked often. Things progressed and got more serious over the course of 2 months, but never physically, to the point that we both admitted we liked each other and discussed a potential relationship between the two of us. It ended up that she broke contact off with me and stayed with him.

Encounter 2-
We ended up connecting again after seeing each other 2 times at a gathering of mutual friends, about 6 months later. We began talking again, and then had lunch. Things were not the same. She was still with boyfriend, seemed happy and talked about him quite a bit throughout lunch. I was made thoroughly uninterested and repulsed (she had not openly-excessively talked about him before in Encounter 1, and was most likely unhappy). We do not stay in contact after lunch.

Encounter 3-
Fast forward another year, till about 2 months ago. I re-establish contact with her, as she is single, I'm still single (have been the entire time I have known her). We end up talking again, a lot, and end up going on a date. Date goes well. She tells me 2 days later that we should probably just be friends. We talk on and off for a week. She goes home for the summer, about an hour away. We talk more. We schedule another date. We go on the date, the date goes well, hand holding and touching all night, go home and things get physical. After an hour of being intimate (with all clothes still on), she realizes that shes being intimate, withdraws, makes me take her home. We talk 2 days later and she says we should just be friends. We have only talked briefly since then, and it hasn't been the same. She has admitted that she likes me, and that there are be issues which would interfere with us currently pursuing a relationship, and said "maybe in the future"/it will happen if it's meant to be.

How do I get over this girl, or alternately, what is going on? I like her very much, more than any girl I've met in my 2 years of singleness, and probably having more potential than any of my past romances.

However, I feel like I'm not respected, like my feelings and emotions aren't returned on the same level that they are given, and that I'm being jerked around. At the same time, I can't stand to give up, because I know there are SOME feelings there, and EVERY time we talk on a regular basis things become more than friendly. If she was pursuing me half as much as I was her, then I could stand it, because I feel like eventually things would work themselves out. The problem is, unless things are going really well, which is 10% of the time (when shes open for the idea of dates?), I'm doing all of the pursuing. I hate that. I keep going back, being built up and getting dropped. If things hadn't *progressed* when I went back, I wouldn't want to keep going back. But they did, and I want more.

I feel like there are only 3 solutions (in order of likelihood), which would be 1) for her to somehow repulse me, 2) for things to work out with her, or 3) for me to meet someone who I was more enthralled with than her.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by paultopia at 3:28 PM on May 26, 2008 [4 favorites]

(Addendum to last comment: and then you'll realize that she isn't a goddess. You're putting this girl on a pedestal here.)
posted by paultopia at 3:29 PM on May 26, 2008

I second paultopia; see other women. If you start meeting/dating other women, you may find your interest in this girl begin to wane.
posted by at 3:34 PM on May 26, 2008

If you just want to get over her all the detail is extraneous. This, at its heart, is a one-sentence question.

Here are two things I have done successfully:

1. Find her annoying.

Think of characteristics that you find quirky or endearing, but after years, you would find painfully aggravating, and fixate on them. Say she sniffles her nose a lot. Think about her snotty, moist nose and how kinda gross that is. Do this until you no longer find her attractive.

2. Feel pity for her.

Think of some personal trait that you can find pitiful. Say, insecurity. Shape your empathy into a kind of pity -- for example, you could tell yourself that as an adult she really ought to have gotten over her adolescent self-image problems. Or look at it as a way of fishing for compliments. Whatever gets you to look at her as kinda sad rather than cute.

It has nothing to do with her, really; you just have to take the same facts you have about her and alter your perception of them. The brain's not only flexible but pretty easily led, when you think about it. Use that to your advantage.
posted by loiseau at 3:41 PM on May 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I should add that at the heart of these two suggestions is just deciding to do it. You don't have to already find anything about her pitiful or annoying. Just resolve to.
posted by loiseau at 3:42 PM on May 26, 2008

I think girls/women often are more afraid of hurting another person's feelings and end up saying things less clearly than they really mean.

It might be a lot simple for a girl to say "hey look, you're nice and everything, but I'm just not that into you" or "thanks but you're not my type" but most of the time she's not going to say that.

It sounds like she really values you as a friend, but she isn't interested in you in a romantic partner. It also sounds like you may have misread some of her signals. What you viewed as a date she may have viewed as just hanging out, or being friends.

So, the solution is to start dating more -- go on a few dates with different people and see where you get.

Also, if you disappear for a while she might come back to you if she really was interested. From your description it doesn't sound like she was, but it's a possibility. You'll probably only know for sure if you give her some space.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 3:42 PM on May 26, 2008

I second what Flying Squirrel says. If this girl is truly into you, as much as you are with her, she'll make you a priority. It sounds like she has a physical attraction to you, but that there isn't enough there for her to want anything serious with you. She's trying to tell you this, but because you are really into her, you may only be hearing what you want to hear.

You can't make someone change the way they feel, so your best bet is to just start dating other people.

For the first few weeks, you'll think about this girl all the time, and the fact that you couldn't have what you thought you wanted will cause you some pain and discomfort. Over time, however, you'll slowly forget about her, and eventually you'll find someone else who turns your crank even more. Unfortunately there's no quick-fix easy solution to getting over someone. It just takes time, but you can make the time pass more quickly by distracting yourself with meeting new people.

Good luck!
posted by xotis at 3:52 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Blow her off. She doesn't respect you enough as a friend not to lead you on. What makes you think she'll be any less fickle if/when you convince her to be more? Get out there and meet some new women. And meet new female friends, because this one sucks and I think you need your bullshit meter re-calibrated.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:54 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

There is a huge difference between bring somewhat physically attracted to someone and wanting to be in a relationship with them. I don't see where this girl has "led you on" but I do see where you are not really listening to what she's saying about the nature of her attraction to you. She's sortofmaybe interested in you physically and not at all interested in you as a boyfriend by the sounds of it. Once you look at that realistically I think you'll get over her pretty fast.
posted by fshgrl at 3:56 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Uh, it's not clear from your question how straightforward you've been with her. I mean, obviously she knows you like her, but have you said: 'Look, I like you, there's obviously something here, what's the problem? Tell me. Because if you can't, I'm going to piss off and date other girls. Not to use as levers for making you jealous. Not because I particularly want to sleep around. I'm not hanging on if you're not interested. But I think you're great and I just want to make sure I don't regret walking away.'

Seeing other girls will work fine if you're seeing them for their own sake. If it's in a vain attempt to make her jealous or fill out deficencies in your own self-esteem, it'll just end up leaving you feeling empty and miserable. Just ask her. Unapologetically. The balls-out truth. Then if she says no, shrug and walk away. Honesty is clean, and nothing to be ashamed of.
posted by RokkitNite at 3:58 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I read this three times just to make sure i understood it before I made this remark:

Dude, seriously, just leave her alone. There are simply some people out there that do not know what they want. They'll change their mind numerous times, over and over again, without concern for you. Just because you like her in that way doesn't mean that she has to like you in that way.
posted by damnjezebel at 4:03 PM on May 26, 2008

Stay away from her and time will do the rest. When I was much younger, even if I wasn't into a guy, if he kept persisting, I would give in. Bad for the both of us. It might be that she's like that, so you get mixed messages but it seems she's just trying to let you down gently.

Now for you, get some exercise, get some grooming tips, learn some social skills and go out with other women. Really. It will give you more perspective, and a more fun life. Your question comes across like this is the only woman who's ever let you touch her, and that's why you're um obsessed. Chasing someone who's not interested will bug both of you.
posted by b33j at 4:06 PM on May 26, 2008

There could be a million and one reasons why she is behaving the way she is. She could be afraid to be vulnerable and really likes you. Should could just "not be that into you", she could have brain damage, she could be from another planet, she could be a CIA agent and she just can't get that close to anybody right now.

Here's the thing though, and you already know this: You can't know the answer. Even if she tells you point blank, you still won't totally believe it, because this is terribly confusing behavior.

If someone is nuts about you, and is emotionally healthy enough to be right for you, you feel it. You just feel it. You've put yourself out there and she is nibbling on the bait but not taking it -- and you're trying to figure out why in order to try and make the bait more appealing. It's not you, it's her.

That said, it's really difficult not to try and twist yourself into knots trying to think of that one magical possibility that might be true that will allow you to bend reality to your will. So let's do a little exercise.

She's afraid to be vulnerable but really wants you and can't open up?
Wrong answer: I can save her! I just have to show her she can trust me!
Right answer: Let her torment someone else.

She is just not that into you but doesn't have the stones to tell you upfront?
Wrong answer: Maybe if I play games/change my hair/show her I am awesome somehow, she'll come around.
Right answer: I should not take this personally. I'd rather date someone with a little more integrity anyway.

She's from another planet? That's kind of cool, but you probably deserve to be happy with a human, like the rest of us. She's in the CIA? Call me when you retire.

I say all this somewhat glibly because I just went through this for 8 months and I have been driven crazy. I type at you from the void. I am battle weary, and frustrated with myself. My only comfort is that I have learned a hard-won lesson.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Try your best not to let this girl spin you around. It's best if you just walk away, but sometimes I think we all just have to go through this in order to learn. So whatever happens, at the end of the day, keep talking to your friends about it, keep being honest with yourself, and trust yourself to do the right thing at all costs and you should come out okay.
posted by pazazygeek at 4:08 PM on May 26, 2008 [10 favorites]

I got the same feeling fshgrl got. She's kind of sort of attracted to you physically, but really isn't that into you relationship-wise.
posted by MsMolly at 4:37 PM on May 26, 2008

I keep going back, being built up and getting dropped.

It's like you're trying to reach a really tasty looking muffin on the stove, but one of the burners keeps, well, burning you. But you persist in getting that one muffin, 'cause each time you get a little closer and damn it looks so good!

Meanwhile, there are other perfectly good muffins at the store. In the time you've spent trying to get that particular muffin, you could have had a ton of other muffins. Jesus man, go get some other muffin, you've got to be starving.

yeah, yeah, women aren't food, it's just an analogy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

You feel "like [your] feelings and emotions aren't returned on the same level that they are given."

What makes you think they should be? It sounds like she doesn't want to date you. That's tough, but to get over her you have to accept that and stop scheduling "dates" with her and stop thinking there's some possibility there.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:24 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

She likes the attention. Stop giving it to her. Date other girls. Clearly you are capable of inspiring physical attraction in women, and have the personality to get close to them, so go for it (with women that aren't like her).
posted by fructose at 5:31 PM on May 26, 2008

Dude, you're living your life in slow motion. You've just spent two precious years of your life pining for a girl that has given no indication that she's attracted to you (in that way). You'll know a girl's attracted to you when she acts towards you the way that you act towards your crush. It will be obvious!
posted by mpls2 at 5:31 PM on May 26, 2008

If you're really serious about getting over her, you need to cut her off completely. Fill your head with other things until she's crowded out. You're allotting her way too much mental capital right now, and she'll keep dominating your thoughts until you find things to replace her with.

The trick is, though, you have to accept that it's really and truly over, and I don't know if you're there yet. Once you cut her off, she might come back around and get your hopes up again, and let's face it, you'll probably let her right back in. It might take a couple rounds until you're sick enough of this shit to truly believe that you're better off without her, but it's okay. I think we all need to go through something like this before we realize that mixed messages should be a dealbreaker. You'll be fine. I'm totally talking to myself right now, btw.
posted by granted at 5:53 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

pazazygeek: She's afraid to be vulnerable but really wants you and can't open up?
Wrong answer: I can save her! I just have to show her she can trust me!
Right answer: Let her torment someone else.

Well, the hope might outweigh the torment at this point, so another Right Answer might be: Even if this is true, YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. She needs to work out her problems her damn self, and you don't see it right now, but you're just enabling her. So let her work out her shit, and meanwhile you'll go do this other thing over here.
posted by granted at 6:00 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, here's another vote.

Run for the hills. She likes your attention. She's really not that interested in you. Her indecisiveness makes her message clear. You're not right for her.

Look, would you tell your child to permit to someone treating him/her like this? I thought not.

Quit pinning your thoughts on the ideal her. Believe me. She's not as great as you've built her up to be in your mind. She's aware of your feelings, she's not interested, sparked, or whatever. I bet you, on the other hand, there's this girl down the hall/street/etc who is.
posted by filmgeek at 6:23 PM on May 26, 2008

For whatever reasons, leading you on is part of who she is.

When you simply accept this as fact, not as something you have the power to change, the shine will be off.
posted by scody at 6:49 PM on May 26, 2008

Pretty much what 23skidoo said. You're talking up all the things you can find that suggest that maybe she likes you & that it could become something more, at the same time as you're avoiding the elephant in the room, which is that that she quite clearly & plainly does not want to go out with you, and has explicitly said as much.

More than a couple of times I've been in vaguely similar kinds of situations with girls who were kinda hot & cold: flirtatious & suggestive at the same time as keeping me at a distance. I know from that how easy it can be for your hope to emphasise the positives, whilst completely ignoring the very basic & simple fact that if she wanted to be with you, you'd already be together. People who truly like each other simply don't pussyfoot around with all this kind of bullshit.

Or, as mpls2 said, "You'll know a girl's attracted to you when she acts towards you the way that you act towards your crush. It will be obvious!" I can't emphasise that enough. It will be so ridiculously awesome & warm & passionate & obvious that you'll look back at this girl & wonder what the fuck you were thinking, pissing into the wind like that for all that time.

Or again, as granted said, "I think we all need to go through something like this before we realize that mixed messages should be a dealbreaker."

It seems that many of us have these kinds of lessons in our past. With any luck, it's one you should only need to learn once.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:34 PM on May 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

She's told you twice that she thinks you should just be friends. If I were you, I'd take that to mean that she thinks you should just be friends. I'm not sure how you're the one being disrespected; you seem to be pushing the issue after being told by her that she doesn't want a romantic relationship right now. Why not take that statement at face value?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:13 PM on May 26, 2008

Just lending my voice to the chorus of "don't waste your time with her" and "date other women", "blow her off" and "time will take care of the rest." Seriously. Go hang out with your buddies and put her out of your head. The emotional attachment / inclination to cling will gradually fade.
posted by nihraguk at 2:25 AM on May 27, 2008

She sounds spoiled, flighty and self-involved. Also, she's probably rubbish in bed.

Feel better, now?
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:38 AM on May 27, 2008

Yup, nothing you can do.

Forget her move on.

Word of warning, people can "smell" desperation, and it's a turn off. Leave her be, and date other people.
posted by mattoxic at 4:06 AM on May 27, 2008

Word of warning, people can "smell" desperation, and it's a turn off.

Desperation (n): What would otherwise be thought of as wonderful & romantic confidence & proactive behaviour, if only it came from the right person.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:31 AM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

oh god, youre me five years ago...... GTFO

when she feels crappy you remind her that she is desireable, so she feels better, so she moves on agin.

stop slamming your hand in the door 'cause it'll keep hurting every time.

(yeah i thought my situation was unique and complicated and romantic at the time too)
posted by swbarrett at 6:40 AM on May 27, 2008

I don't think she's leading you on. She told you that she thougth you'd be better as friends. One thing I've heard a couple of times, and it's very hard to accept: When women tell you something, believe it. As in "I'm not in a position to have a relationship now" means "I'm not in a position to have a relationship now". "I think we'd be better off as friends" means "I think we'd be better off as friends". Would that I could follow this myself, but anyway, she's not leading you on. She told you you shoudl be friends. You have to accept that. You can go dramatic on her and tell her everything you feel and you might feel better, seriously. But it's probably not goign to change anything.
posted by sully75 at 6:55 AM on May 27, 2008

However, I feel like I'm not respected, like my feelings and emotions aren't returned on the same level that they are given, and that I'm being jerked around.

She is not obligated to like you as much as you like her. The fact that she does not doesn't mean that she is failing to respect you.

At the same time, I can't stand to give up.

You are confusing "I prefer" with "I cannot control myself and must pursue her." These are most definitely two different things. You would prefer that she have feelings similar to yours. She does not, but does have feelings towards you. So, you are left with a situation where you have a choice. Continue with a dream that you cherish and a reality you dislike, or drop a dream that you cherish for a reality that you can accept, even if you don't like it.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:48 AM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you've been in this type of situation before. Take it from someone who has done this (and who has watched plenty of her friends go through it) - you're not going to forget about this until you've hit rock bottom. As in, you chase forever and it either ends 1) in you doing something EXTREMELY embarrassing (constant calling, Grand Romantic Gestures) and CRINGING at the thought of what you did for a good long while after or 2) you actually get with this person and it all falls to hell because she's not what you've dreamt her up to be.

When a situation starts off the way yours has, it never, EVER, in any experience I've been witness to, ends up with both people gloriously happy. EVER.

Because as pazazygeek said upthread, *you just KNOW* when someone feels the same way off the bat. When its right, its not a struggle. And you can't fix whatever she's going through, you can't convince her. I know broken, frustrated hearts don't listen to logic, but do yourself a favor and let her be and save yourself. Rock bottom sucks. But wasting time thinking about her when you can be spending time finding someone even more awesome sucks worse.
posted by Eudaimonia at 12:14 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

She's been clear, *crystal* clear: She's just not that into you. But she's too sweet and polite to tell you to fuck off, in so many words -- instead, she uses the tired old cliche that EVERYBODY is supposed to know, "Let's just be friends." And, hey, maybe she DOES like you as a friend. Buuuut unfortunately, because she's also human, she gets lonely (and horney) when she's single (and not getting laid), so at some point one thing leads to another... hence the "mixed messages".

You DO NOT want her as your girlfriend. Here's how that would go down: You'll fall in deep in love with her, she'll go along with it cuz, well, you're a good guy and it beats being alone. EVENTUALLY, she'll realize that she will never be able to fully reciprocate, feel guilty, and break up with you. That's the BEST CASE SCENARIO.

Worst case, she dumps you or cheats on you with somebody she really IS into, you spend a ton of money and change your life to try to win her back, it doesn't work -- or worse yet, it sorta works and drags out for years -- you end up broke and broken hearted and bitter towards women in general.

Fuck that. You deserve better.

But, beyond all this, you deserve a life. Build yourself one. NEVER rely on a woman to make you happy, to fill that void of NEEEED. Do it yourself. Friends, hobbies, job, travel, etc... Then when you DO meet that awesome girl, you'll be that awesome guy she's been looking for, and whatever happens between you two is icing on the cake -- the awesome, delicious Cake of Life.
posted by LordSludge at 2:05 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been this girl. My question to you is What part of NO don't you understand?

As other posters have noted, she's told you she just wants to be friends (in other words, NO). By pursuing her you are showing her disrespect. She doesn't want to hurt your feelings by saying "fuck off" because she really would [have liked] to be friends with you, and you don't say "fuck off" to friends.

We go on the date, the date goes well, hand holding and touching all night, go home and things get physical. After an hour of being intimate (with all clothes still on), she realizes that shes being intimate, withdraws, makes me take her home. We talk 2 days later and she says we should just be friends.

My reading: she liked you. And she was willing to explore to see if the right sexual spark was between you (which she had to get a little physical to do because, you know, it hadn't been jumping out at her so far). Finding it wasn't, she respected both of you by asking you to take her home. Far from being a immature, this girl acted appropriately, even generously. She gave it a go, found it not to her liking and asked to stop.

I think you've lost a friend here, which is a shame considering how well you got on. Friends, in the long run are more important than girlfriends so don't be as careless in future.

I've just lost a friend. We had a really good connection but I couldn't invite him round for a cup of tea even without him thinking I was inviting more and accusing me of leading him on. He didn't know how to be "just friends" with a single woman he was attracted to and eventually got spiteful and angry that we didn't get more physical.

There are guys in the world who think that every woman they fancy, and who is friendly in return, is open to being pursued regardless of what the woman wants, regardless of how many times she says "just friends". And when she is finally driven to the point of saying "fuck off" she becomes a bitch, a tease, a [insert pejorative of choice here].
Please don't become one of those guys.
posted by Kerasia at 5:28 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

All this frustration you have, you kind of created for yourself, and really you know that. Who knows why she seems interested and then not. You need to understand her better than casual encounters to know the answer to that and I dont mean by being in a relationship. Whatever it is your strategy clearly isnt working. Persuasion isnt enough.

it would help to develop genuine interest in people, with regards to

She was still with boyfriend, seemed happy and talked about him quite a bit throughout lunch. I was made thoroughly uninterested and repulsed

if a person you like, seems happy, then the best course of action is to be happy for them. It illustrates you care for someone elses wellbeing. Plus a girl telling you about her relationship with someone else, is gold dust in terms of useful information. There was an opportunity to really know someone and you're sat there "uninterested and repulsed"!!!
posted by browolf at 5:40 PM on May 28, 2008

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