DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a woman and my male friend and I have been friends for 8 years. For a few years we had fallen into a pattern of cuddling on my or his bed, something that made me uncomfortable, because I don’t really like cuddling, and I had told him that, but he didn’t seem to take it seriously and I didn’t know how to make him take it seriously. To be honest, I began dreading him coming over to my house or vice-versa. I had also told him about me being asexual, and had made no secret of my disinterest in a romantic relationship with anyone.
I noticed he was more invested in our relationship than I was, wanting to see me more, and also that he would get into a bad mood whenever I would make an allusion to my sexual orientation. So I was not that surprised when he told me he loved me last December. Since I don’t return his feelings, we have tried to remain friends, and I have taken the occasion to stop the cuddling and other uncomfortable touching (which was not easy since he tried to convince me we could continue).
Things are really tense between us. We were staying at a hotel with two of my (female) friends, and he got upset with me because he felt I ignored him, because I was talking to my friend and didn’t answer his question immediately. His attitude really put a damper on everyone’s mood that night, and my best friend stayed awake half the night because she was trying to stop my crying. He can also get upset because I don’t follow his advice. For example when I insisted on leaving a tip at a restaurant (with MY money), he told me “I already told you you don’t have to do that!” and when I started to defend myself, he walked away, after saying that I was the one making discussion impossible.
When we are with other friends of mine he often doesn’t talk at all, to the point I was relieved when he said he wouldn’t come to an outing, because I had been worried he would make things uncomfortable. He also often complains that he’s lonely and that I’m his only friend, which makes me ill at ease, and we had an argument about how I can’t take the stress of being his only emotional comfort.
The point is, I don’t feel comfortable with him anymore, but sometimes I feel like I am being too sensitive and looking for a reason to be upset with him, because things would be easier for me if I could just stop seeing him because he had offended me, so I would be ‘in the right’. But we have been friends for a long time, and I don’t actually want to hurt him, because he seems already in a bad place… My parents have pointed out I am often upset or irritated when I’ve just seen him, and I really don’t know what to do or if our friendship is worth saving, so could you share your thoughts on my situation?
I am grateful for your help,
Upset And Confused
DEAR UPSET AND CONFUSED: Um… I hate to say this UaC but you don’t have a friend. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you haven’t had one for quite some time. For the last several years, he’s been steadily pushing at your boundaries and trying to wear you down until you finally “admit” that you have feelings for him and that your asexuality is just some passing phase. Or perhaps he just wants to prove that he’s really the magic exception to your “not interested in sex or romantic relationships” stance.
Now maybe when you first started building from “acquaintances” to “friends”, it was genuine. You were a couple of cool, fun people who had things in common and really synched on an emotional level. You had fun hanging out together, sharing stories and experiences and becoming closer and more (platonically) intimate as friends do. Maybe as he got to know you better, he realized he couldn’t quite imagine life without you and was starting to realize that those warm and fuzzy feelings he felt when he thought about you weren’t quite so much in the head and chest level but were starting to spread to his groin as well.
But I kind of doubt it. While yes, there are plenty of friendships that turn sexual, there’s realizing that you’re into your buddy and then there’s “turning into a complete asshole who, incidentally, wants to fuck you.” Unless he got bit by a raging douchebag out on the moors, the odds are that this jackasserry was always there, just waiting to surface.
It’s like the old, traditional rhyme:
Even a man who is pure in heart/ and with female friends so tight/ may become a douchebag when the Red Pill flows / and bros are drinking Natty Lite
How we got to this place, however, is ultimately irrelevant to the more important question: “what do you do about it?”
And what you need to do – to borrow a line from NerdLove celebrity patronus Dan Savage – is dump the mother already. Yes, you can dump your friends, and in this case you totally need to. This guy is so toxic, we should change his name to Iocane Powder. I mean, the fact that he makes you miserable and drains the life away from you is really all the reason you need to ditch him; life is too short to spend it with people who make you miserable (although they make it seem long as hell…) But right now you’re hemming and hawwing because you’re falling victim to a mindset that society has drilled into so many women: you’re putting his possible discomfort at being dumped over the actual misery he’s causing you.
Let’s tally things up a little, shall we? He doesn’t respect (or want to acknowledge) your sexual orientation because it conflicts with his desires to get in your pants. He pressures you into activities you find uncomfortable at best and skin-crawlingly unpleasant at worst – because your wishes conflict with his desires to have access to your body in what is – let’s be honest here – a sexually charged scenario for him. He acts like a spoiled brat when he doesn’t get his way or if you dare to give someone, anyone else your attention and makes everyone miserable in the process. You are continually looking for reasons not to spend time with him because of how upset he makes you.
Why in pluperfect hell are you still talking to this guy?
No, your friendship isn’t worth saving… because quite frankly there is no friendship here. He is not being your friend by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s a shame he’s in a bad place (and holy shit is that putting things mildly) – but that doesn’t give him free reign to completely ignore I’m sorry that he feels lonely (actually, no I’m not…) and that he only has you. The fact that he’s lonesome doesn’t excuse him from being an asshole. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that his shitty behavior and attitude is why you’re his only friend – you’re the only person who’ll put up with him. The fact that you’re his only source of emotional support doesn’t mean that his desires trump your boundaries. He’s being an entitled little shit who doesn’t acknowledge – or even care – how his behavior is affecting you.
I get that you’re worried about him and how he’ll feel when you tell him to get lost. While that iscommendable, it’s also more consideration than he’s giving your feelings. It’ll suck for him to lose his only source of emotional support, but perhaps he should be looking inwards as to why people don’t want to spend time with him.
Quit seeing him, quit spending time with him, quit taking his calls. You’re not obligated to explain why. If you do, make it clear that this is a download, not a conversation; you’re not asking for his input, you’re telling him what he did and why you’re out.
He’s toxic and he’s using you.
Dump his ass already. You’ll be much, much happier.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: A while ago, I wrote a letter to you for Ask Dr NerdLove about disclosing mental illness whilst dating. I just wanted to write back to you to thank you for your response and that your advice led to a happy ending!
Shortly after reading your response I developed the confidence to begin talking to an amazing woman online, where I disclosed about having CPTSD before our first date. Fortunately, she has been incredibly supportive and caring about it, whilst also giving her space to be able to talk about her own struggles and support each other. Long story short, ever since the first date we’ve developed an intense yet beautiful connection and are now ready to begin what is for both of us our first, serious relationship, which is something I’m incredibly grateful and excited to experience. I just wanted to say thank you dude for giving me the advice I needed, leading me to meet and fall in love with such an incredible person that back when I wrote the first letter, I would have never envisioned meeting. You’re a good dude and if I ever see you in person, I will make sure to give you a big hug to express my gratitude!
Thanks man and all the best,
DEAR SANDY RAVAGE: That’s awesome, man! Congratulations and I’m thrilled to hear that things are going so well! Keep up the amazing progress and here’s to 2019 being an even better year for you.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)