DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m in need of some advice. I hope that I don’t ramble on too long, but there’s some back story to lay out.
So I’ve been friends with this girl for the past year and a half or so. We hang out quite a lot and spend a lot of time together. I like her, and I’ve told her so on a few separate occasions. She has never really rejected the idea, but would just tell me that she was focusing on herself and wasn’t ready for dating at the time. I told her that was okay and didn’t let it get to me. I’ve been open to other dating opportunities, but none have really presented themselves.
Anyways, this girl went on a trip for a week for both work and personal reasons. She came back and a few days later, I noticed via Facebook that she entered a relationship with her ex, who I knew happened to live where she traveled to. This was basically out of left field based on other conversations about him and how she felt about it.
The first thing I need advice about is whether I should confront her and ask her about it. It’s been about a week since I found out about this, and I feel like the fact that she hasn’t told me is weird. I might not be that concerned, but we are supposed to be going on vacation in two months. Now, I didn’t have any expectations about going on vacation, but now that she’s in a relationship, I think it’s going to be weird. So should I bring it up? Or is this a case where I need to ignore it and “grow up” and let her tell me if she wants?
The second part is how to handle things going forward. I’ve read a lot of your articles, and I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of your advice into how I deal with relationships in general. In this case though, I feel like it wouldn’t be appropriate to go nuclear and cut her out. She’s one of my closest friends and I wouldn’t want to shut her out.
Any help you could give would be much appreciated
Friend Zone Parolee
DEAR FRIEND ZONE PAROLEE: Um, I hate to tell you this FZP, but she rather definitively rejected the idea already. She couched it in softer terms – that she was working on herself and not really wanting to date right now – because women are still socialized to be deferential to men and not be too direct for fear of offending them.
She was trying to tell you that no, she really didn’t want to be more than friends, but you were looking for reasons to keep holding on and took her answer as “well, she didn’t say never…”.
I used to do this back in the bad old days. A girl could tell me that she’d date me when hell froze over and I’d think “So she’s saying there’s a chance…”. It’s the triumph of hope over experience.
Should you confront her over this?
Oh F--K no.
I get that you’re feeling hurt and a little confused about this. It would’ve been helpful if she’d been more direct about what she meant, but it’s ultimately irrelevant because you know what she meant. As a general rule: women don’t fall in love because you figured out a loophole in what they said when they turned you down. Nobody in the history of romance has ever won any points or gotten a person into bed by trying to rules-lawyer things. She didn’t break any promises or betray you. She went on a trip and reconnected with an ex. She didn’t bring this up with you because a) she likely knew you’d be weirded out about all of this and she’s trying to maintain your friendship and b) it’s really none of your business. She will tell you – or not – as she feels it’s appropriate. The best thing you can do is accept it and move on.
Now I want to say something about your planned vacation. Your word choice is kind of significant here: you’re worried that it’s going to be “weird”. This tells me that you may not have had any expectations about this trip with her… but you were sure as f--k hoping that something was going to happen. You may have had specific plans or you may have been just hoping that togetherness in a new place would bring you closer and then nature would just take it’s course.
This is a very bad idea and if you don’t want things to get weird, you need to start getting over the idea that you can turn things around NOW. Otherwise I can guarantee you that this will be the vacation that ends your friendship.
If you want to be friends with her, you’re going to have to do so with the understanding that you and she are not getting together and you must be cool with this. You can’t make every interaction with her a referendum on “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE MEEEEEE!?”. You can’t sit around waiting for her to break up with him so that you can have another shot. You can’t, in short, be a Nice Guy about this. If you can’t be her friend without the hope that you’ll get together with her eventually, then it’s better to cut ties. Otherwise you’ll be making yourself miserable for no good reason and you’ll be making it even worse for her. Not only will she be upset by the way you’re acting, but she’ll also be feeling bad because you’re feeling bad because of her and there’s really nothing she can do about it.
That is incredibly unfair to her. And if you’re really her friend, you wouldn’t want to put her in that position.
So there’re your choices. If you want to be her friend, you have to get over your infatuation with her. If not… well, then sometimes cutting ties is the kindest thing to do until you can come back without an agenda of hooking up.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com