DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a dude.
I fell for my friends girlfriend.
She fell for me.
They broke up after 4 year relationship.
She’s a neurotic type, feeling like the whole world depends on her (I think I like her because we are so much alike). She wants me, she says I’m the only person that makes her happy, but she’s not ready yet to engage in such a relationship. After she had broken up with him, she’s been drinking and partying, as a way to forget, I guess.
The only thing that comes to my mind is simply: wait. But I cannot be her friend, nor I think should I be her friend (especially since we both like each other, it seems like a cheat). Is waiting the best option or should I do something?
— My Best Friend’s Girlfriend
DEAR MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRLFRIEND: There are a couple things to keep in mind.
First of all, she just got out of a four year relationship. That alone means she’s probably going to need some time to adjust to the end of the relationship. Even in an ugly, unpleasant break-up, it takes time to not just process your feelings, but to start getting used to being single and NOT having that person in your life any more. So that alone is going to slow things down between the two of you.
But your relationship to her ex adds another wrinkle. Because you were her boyfriend’s best friend, she may well feel awkward about using you as a landing pad after ejecting. If she’s still interested in something with you, then she may want to give it time, if only so it doesn’t look like she was cheating, or to make things awkward between you and your best friend. So, you may well be in for a long haul if you’re waiting for her to get over things.
But to be perfectly honest…
The old saying “deeds, not words” applies here, and her actions here are not necessarily the actions of a woman who’s fallen for you and left a relationship because of you. She may say that she wants you and that you’re the only person who makes her happy, but the way she’s acting says “I’m out of a long-term relationship and by God I’m going to celebrate my newfound freedom!”
Could it be that what she’s actually doing is acting out as a form of handling the aftermath of an ugly break-up? I mean… sure, that’s not entirely outside of the realm of possibility. But that strikes me as being more motivated reasoning on your part, rather than her dealing with complicated feelings before she decides to get into another committed relationship.
You need to ask yourself some hard questions: Did she really fall for you, or was this the thrill of the novel and different? Or, for that matter, is it possible that you provided a convenient excuse to exit a relationship that was already on its downward spiral?
Is she really not ready for another relationship or is she giving you a soft “no”? And if she does just need time to sort things out, you need to ask yourself just how long are you willing to put your life on hold while you wait for her?
Once you have some answers to these questions, you may want to talk to her. Explain to her how you feel, and tell her that you’d appreciate an idea of where the two of you stand. How long does she expect you to wait for her, especially while she’s out drinking and partying. If it really is the case that she wants to date you, but she’s not ready yet, then you’d appreciate a little reassurance, and maybe an idea of when she thinks she might be ready to pursue something with you. If it’s not… well, you’d really appreciate it if she told you, because otherwise it’s not really fair to either of you.
And after you two have that potentially awkward conversation, you need to be willing to walk away. Waiting around in hopes that she’ll eventually change her mind doesn’t do you any good; all it does is waste your time and potentially alienate any future friendship the two of you could have.
It may well be that her attraction to you was just a momentary infatuation, born out of the moment when you were forbidden fruit. Or it could well be that her grieving and adjustment period will be longer than you’re willing to wait. In that case, you’re well within your rights to move on; nobody says you resign yourself to being single until someone else is ready to date.
Or it could be that the prospect of losing you as well will snap her out of it and finally make up her mind.
But none of that can happen until the two of you actually talk things out.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a freshman in college and thanks to the advice given to me by basically everyone, I found a girl who was gorgeous and seemed my type and started a conversation.
Things went pretty well from there, I hung out in her room for several hours at a time every other day or so as we talked about various things, until the time came to actually ask her out, about a week after we’d met and a total of around 10 hours hanging out in her room talking.
I started out by simply asking her if she had a boyfriend, and she responded with “no, I do not” and left it at that as we went to her room to hang out. An hour or so later, when I was about to leave, I mustered the courage to actually ask her out, and a vague transcript would be something like this (some probable inaccuracies given my mental state at the time, but I think it’s pretty close):
Me: I was wondering if you’d like to go an an actual date sometime.
Her: No, I mean, I have no idea how to date and barely know how to hang out.
Me: Would you be willing to at least give it a try?
Her: No (some other words followed, nothing nasty, but I can’t fully recall them).
Since then, we’ve hung out a few times and have gone to lunch and dinner with and without her roommate/friend, and I haven’t mentioned dating since then. I’m very bad at interpreting body language and can’t give any reliable information on that regard, but I was wondering if there would be any way to salvage the situation or if the most I can realistically hope for is having her as a friend (wouldn’t be a bad option, she’s an amazing person and just being around her is fun, but I’d like more).
- First Impression, Second Chance
DEAR FIRST IMPRESSION, SECOND CHANCE: You made a couple fairly common mistakes, FISC.
First and foremost: you did the classic “Let’s go do something, sometime” line. This is something I see folks do all the time and it drives me up a wall.
To start with, it’s pretty wishy-washy. Most of the time, when I see people use some variation of that line — usually “let’s hang out” or “get together sometime” — it’s because they don’t fully want to commit to the idea of actually asking someone out on a date. It’s Schrodinger’s Date, where you are both on and are not on a date, and you won’t know until it seems like it’s going well enough that you can risk collapsing the quantum wave and calling it a date after the fact.
Not only is that lack of confidence or assertiveness not terribly attractive, but trying to surf the ambiguity wave of “is this a date? Is it not a date?” is kinda s
tty to do to someone, especially if THEY think they’re just hanging with a friend, only to find out hey, guess what? It’s a date! Surprise!
But just as importantly, it’s so vague and unspecific as to be meaningless. Now, you get points for actually using the word “date”… but you still left it undefined. Many times, it just serves to put the onus on suggesting an idea and a time on the person you’re asking out.
So next time, don’t ask for “a date, some time”. Have a specific activity and a specific time in mind. For example, you could ask: “Hey, how do you feel about cocktails and pinball? There’s an amazing arcade that has a full bar and craft cocktails, and I’d love to take you. How does Saturday work for you?”
Alternately, you could propose the activity, but give a range of times where you’re available, so that she has a little more flexibility in terms of days. “I’m free this Friday and next Saturday; how about you?”
Your other mistake is that you’re missing that she gave you a soft “no” — a way of turning you down without actually saying “no, thanks”. While it’d be great if more women felt safe and secure to say “no” directly, not only are women still taught that saying “no” straight up is rude, but many, MANY women have experienced dudes freaking out at them when they’ve said “I’m not interested, thanks”. A soft no, with a plausible excuse why it can’t happen, is a way of staying safe.
Now, the fact that you and she still hang out on occasion is a good sign; it’s an indication that you’re on friendly terms. However, unless she specifically indicates that she’s changed her mind — and I mean telling you directly, not through your trying to read the tea leaves — you should accept that you and she are friends, not potential lovers, and you should look elsewhere to find a date.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org