Making friends (again)
August 24, 2008 9:00 AM   Subscribe

How can I re-start a friendship that I kinda ruined?

To make a very long story short - guy likes girl, guy and girl hang out for months and months, guy misreads friendship gestures as romantic ones, guy asks girl out and gets kind of harshly rejected, guy stops talking to girl except for when absolutely necessary (because guy and girl work together).

I'm the guy. What initially was an effort to put "space" in between the girl and I now has become a compulsive freeze-out on my part. I'm not mad/embarrassed/whatever anymore, but for some reason I can barely bring myself to speak to her, for no particular reason other than inertia.

In recent weeks I've kind of come to the understanding that a) I no longer have reason to be short with her (emotional, professional, or otherwise) and b) she's a person whose friendship I really miss.

It's maybe worth noting that the freeze-out is one-sided - she often will make an effort to strike up conversation with me - efforts to which I'm invariably short. I try my best not to be outwardly rude, but given how close we used to be, I know it must sound terrible to her and to those around us. I know this whole thing makes me look incredibly childish, and I agree.

I want to be friends again, but 1) how should I do this without appearing weird, like all of a sudden we're speaking again and 2) how can I motivate myself to break the ice?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total)
Maybe just tell her what you have told us here.
posted by jayder at 9:05 AM on August 24, 2008

Hat in hand, humbly ask for forgiveness. The amends will lift the cloud from you and give her reason to welcome your friendship back. You can do it.
posted by netbros at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2008

What to say- "hey, I'm sorry I was a jerk. please accept my apology. lunch on me?"
Motivation- repairing a hurt you caused to someone you like.
posted by gjc at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2008

Do you really want to be friends with her?
posted by mpls2 at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2008

Seconding mpls2. What's really going on here, can't you just start responding more nicely to her attempts at conversation?
posted by rhizome at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2008

the freeze-out is one-sided - she often will make an effort to strike up conversation with me - efforts to which I'm invariably short.

Uh... just taking a wild stab at this, but maybe stop being rude to her when she reaches out to you?

Thing is you're going to feel resentment toward this woman because she rejected you. So you need to really analyze your feelings and make sure that you're not trying to start over with her in the hopes that it might go somewhere romantic. Also, how are you going to feel if you start hanging out again as friends, only to find that she is dating someone new - or has to leave to go on a date with someone else? Perhaps she'll want to include her new boyfriend in your hang-out secessions? Are you going to be comfortable knowing that she is having wild monkey sex every night while you're at home alone, heating up a can of spaghetti-o's for dinner? All of these scenarios and more have the potential for causing problems if you're less than noble in your quest to be friends again.

My advice is to easy up on the unfriendliness and feel her out a bit more before you jump back into being friends again. Certainly take your time and do not make a big production out of it as some suggest above. Friendship should come naturally - by making a concerted effort you're setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Ease into it - if it feels good go for it - if you still feel the pangs of rejection, or jealousy then you should look for friendship elsewhere.

I'm betting that you're not ready or capable of being a completely platonic friend.
posted by wfrgms at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do not go 'hat in hand' and 'ask for forgiveness'. You did nothing wrong and there's nothing to apologize for, but be ready to explain what you said here about wanting a little distance for a while.
posted by CarlRossi at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2008

She's moved past this and her behavior shows it. She strikes up conversations and puts up with your behavior because she knows that your feeling were hurt. Since she's over it, this is only awkward because you're making it awkward.

Start small. Smile when you see her, wave and say hello. Nothing more is required. Do that whenever you see her and in a week or two you'll have broken the inertia.

Once you have some momentum going, you do need to apologize. You've said the while you try to not be rude, you've missed the mark. You sound short, terrible and childish to her, to others and to yourself. If you've been rude, be a grown up and apologize. It's the right thing to do for her and for you. Apologizing will allow you to put this behind you - mistake made, acknowledged and forgiven.
posted by 26.2 at 10:24 AM on August 24, 2008

if you value her friendship - value her enough to be honest with her and don't just pretend nothing happened. you don't need hat in hand, but DJC got it - you can even put that in an email to allow you a cushion just in case you're misreading her friendliness again.
posted by nadawi at 11:25 AM on August 24, 2008

Do you really want to be friends with her, or do you just not want to be perceived as a jerk by her and your co-workers?

Either way, you start by not being rude. When she strikes up a conversation, you smile and make nice.

Maybe you will end up friends again and maybe you won't, but you can at least be pleasant and civil, right?
posted by KAS at 6:36 PM on August 24, 2008

You could apologise?? "Hey 'girl', I just wanted to say I'm sorry for being such a dick lately. You're a great chick, so I'm not sorry I asked you out but I am sorry I took it so personally and let my ego get all bent out of shape. Like I said, you're a great chick so I'm more than happy to just be your friend. And yeah, I'm just wanted you to know that I'm over it and I'm really sorry."

Only say that if you are happy just being friends! You should apologise anyway - but this way it'll end the awkwardness rather than having to go back to it later on. It would also put her at ease because it shows that you understand her friendliness means she wants to be friends and not that you take it as a sign that you should be her 'friend' while biding your time to make a move on her again... (Which I hope you're not because - she just wants to be friends.)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 6:53 PM on August 24, 2008

Just tell her what you told us. Life is too short to lose friends!
posted by footnote at 7:41 PM on August 24, 2008

Send the email. Have you done this yet? Time isn't standing still for this; the longer you wait, the harder it'll be.
posted by heyho at 2:50 PM on September 23, 2008

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