Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Did My Ex Break Up With His Fiancée Because of Me?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I met my now husband in college, where he was friends with a man I’ll call Nate. I started dating my husband and became friends with Nate junior year. When my husband and I broke up, Nate and I became closer and eventually best friends. Things did get romantic between us, but with Nate’s constant ghosting and critiquing of my body, I truly thought he didn’t care about me the way I did him and I let my feelings wane.

Cut to two years later my husband and I reconnect and Nate loses his mind. For the first six months of the relationship, he would constantly call and tell me he loved me and how upset he was that he and I never tried to be a real couple. I had to let the friendship go for a time since I didn’t want my then boyfriend, now husband, to feel threatened. We got engaged and married pretty quickly and have been happily wed for over seven years now. Every now and then I message Nate to make sure he’s doing okay as I still care about my former best friend. Husband is not friends with Nate currently, but trusts me in my interactions with him. I show him every message for full transparency.

Here is the problem. Nate met a girl this year and was set to marry her next year, so I assumed it was okay to resume the friendship. But two nights ago they called it off, based on a confession of a past secret on his part that seemed to be a deal breaker. Being his best friend for so long, I can only think of two deal breakers that might have forced her hand, his premarital relations with me being one of them. (She was abstinent, waiting till marriage, and so was he before we had a couple of… entanglements.)

How do I covertly find out if I’m the reason he’s no longer getting married without stressing Nate out anymore than he is right now, and in a way that won’t make my husband uncomfortable? I know it shouldn’t be my business, but if Nate still has feelings for me or blames me subconsciously for ruining his happiness, I need to know to cut him off again. Like I said, I love my husband and have no intention of throwing away our relationship, but if there’s a chance I can still be platonic friends with Nate I’d like to at least try. Just not if he still loves me.

Dates of Futures Past

DEAR DATES OF FUTURES PAST: You’re right, DFP, it’s none of your business, and making it yours is only going to lead to trouble.

You were best friends with him for two years, and then just acquaintances for seven, when he couldn’t handle you and your husband getting together. You’re making a lot of assumptions about what “must” have happened based on very little evidence… evidence that, at this point, is seven years out of date. I mean, that’s a long time for him to come up with new complications and new potential deal-breakers that his fiancée wouldn’t approve of. And that’s before getting into issues that may have only come up while the two of them were together.

The only thing you can really do is say “oh man, I’m so sorry. What happened?” There really isn’t any way to say “you didn’t break up because of me?” without either sounding like you’re centering the whole thing on you or coming off as really arrogant.

Plus, what’re you gonna do if he says “no, it had nothing to do with you”? Is that going to be enough to satisfy your worry, or are you going to still be on the look out for signs that he’s still carrying a torch for you? If you want to try to stay friends with him, then you pretty much have to take Nate at his word because, frankly, if you don’t trust him to be honest with you, that’s not exactly a friendship that’s gonna last, y’know?

I’m also not entirely sure where your husband or your marriage figure into this. Nate having feelings for you has nothing to do with your relationship to your husband. I’m not entirely sure how you would “throw away your relationship” if it turned out that Nate still had feelings for you. I mean, if your husband would be getting pi--y about your being friends with someone who was attracted to you, even if you had no interest in them, that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

But regardless, here’s the thing: if he’s still hung up on you after seven goddamn years… that’s a “Nate” problem, not a “you” problem. You aren’t responsible for how he feels. You can’t manage his emotions for him. And if you’re going to be constantly monitoring him for signs that he’s still into you… well, you may as well save yourself the mental energy and cut things off now. Whether or not he’s still into you, that’s a sign that you don’t trust him, and that’s ultimately going to undermine your friendship with him.

Good luck.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have been seeing this guy online for a good 8 months or so. He’s very supportive, kind, silly, sexy, and he doesn’t judge me for having not the best past. We’ve been there for each other, and we’ve helped each other grow a bit. The problem is, we are currently just online FWB.

I’m not so sure I want to be FWB anymore. He knows I care very deeply for him, but hasn’t really given me a response to his feelings for me. He’s been giving me huge mixed signals. One night he told me he prefers to be friends, the next day he tells me he was thinking of me a lot in the hospital, and how he wants to hold my hand and other sweet things like that. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be the girl in “Paradise by the dashboard light” and give him a pressuring ultimatum, but I really love him and can’t stand the thought of being an ego boost.

Do I confront him? How? 

Love,

Reading Foggy Tea Leaves

DEAR READING FOGGY TEA LEAVES: Dump his ass.

Sorry. I realize that’s harsh, but he’s straight up jerking you around.

He may be a sweet, supportive guy, but he’s treating you like s--t. You and he want entirely different things. You want an actual relationship with everything that means. He wants continuing access to your body (digitally, anyway) without actually committing. This is why he’s giving you mixed signals and blows hot and cold; he wants to be friends but he also knows that if he doesn’t keep dangling the relationship carrot in front of you, he’s going to be left alone with his stick. As soon as he said “let’s just be friends” he realized that it was a toe over the line and tried to pull you back in by being all lovey-dovey.

He’s taking advantage of the fact that you care for him more than he cares for you and unless you take a stand, that’s all that’s going to happen.

You deserve better than this.

You can give him a heads-up: either you get an answer or you bail… but I’m guessing we both already know what that answer’s going to be.

Drop him like a bad habit and find a dude who is actually in tune with what you want and isn’t going to play games with your emotions.

Good luck.

Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, doc@doctornerdlove.com