Ex-best friend wants to be friends again (long post)
Hi, so this is a bit a long story but I just don't know what to think and don't have anyone I feel like I can talk to. The end of 2010 I became aware of a guy (I'll call him Dave) I went to high school with. At the time I didn't know much about him except my best friend was pretty infatuated. He didn't return her feelings (although later said he had, but not at the same time). Dave was good looking and in a band, kind of a cliche. My best friend at the time became involved with someone else as school ended for us and started a pretty serious relationship which led to the death of our friendship. I was extremely hurt as I felt very close to her and had few other friends. I started to hang out with a group of people which included Dave. We started to get on extremely well and became close friends pretty quickly.
The group of friends began to dissolve, some of them got in relationships with each other/other people and some moved away for University as we all started in 2011. Things just weren't quite the same. I didn't mind though, at this point Dave and I were mostly just enjoying each other's company and struggling through Uni. At this point I should mention I suffer from depression and anxiety and University was extremely stressful for me. Dave wasn't having an easy time either but we had each other. When we hung out it was awesome, we would smoke pot and play video games, always had a great time. Except when we weren't together. He was super unreliable, rarely replied to texts, would stand me up and have no good reason to have done so, I would frequently buy him food and sometimes weed as he was super tight with money but I didn't want to only hang out and do things that cost nothing. I enabled him pretty bad as part of my feelings for him were romantic.
He was always quite flirty and as we were so close it was confusing and intense. I could tell he wasn't a great friend, I gave a lot more than he gave me, but we had a great time together so I could push those worries to the back of my mind once I saw his (30-40 minute late) face. We even worked at the same retail outlet. One night at a party, drunk and high, we held hands and spooned all night, nothing else happened. A little while after at another party, same situation, I am coming back from the loo when I ask him ask his friends what they thought of me (as in for him). That night we hooked up for the first time. Shortly after he met a girl and started a relationship with her. Since we never ever talked about our relationship status (he said he thought he was incapable of love, didn't like to talk about emotions, I felt anxious about having to bring it up as I knew it made him uncomfortable, so I didn't) I just said nothing. We were still very close and our friendship didn't suffer much during this time. Over about 10months their relationship went very sour, she loved him, he said he did but treated her a lot like he did me - selfishly. Their relationship finally ends in a big pile of resentment over the money he had spent on going on a road trip with her.
We have sex a few more times and continue to never discuss it. We were almost always drunk or high at the time. I felt terribly conflicted but was still enjoying being with him and I'm not sure if at that point I even wanted any specific from him except him being around. About 2 weeks after we last had sex I hadn't really heard from him at all during that time. The one time I saw him, at a party, one of his friends (no one else knew anything about our relationship not being platonic except guesses) asked me if I was single and gave me their number. I said yes, because I was technically, and I get very anxious about turning men down. I later did so over text. I meet up with Dave and he tells me he felt 'weird' about me saying I was single. The next sentence was him telling me he had found a girl he wanted to be with. I said that was fine, we finished our meal, I drove him to his work and then I cried all the way home. I'm not sure if he started seeing this girl while we were still engaging in sex, as later that night I phoned him and said I couldn't see him for a while. I was really upset, but had also just accepted a really great job I was very excited about so that distracted and occupied me until I healed.
Since then I have probably seen him 5 times. He once called me to say he was confused as to why I walked away I couldn't really tell him exactly why other than I felt our relationship was unhealthy and I have issues with people getting into relationships and abandoning me. Aside from a couple meet ups for drinks, and one time when he invited me to a gig which I turned up to, payed $10 for and waited for an hour before realising he wasn't showing. I got a text at 1am that night saying he had gotten too drunk. This just reaffirmed that it was not worth trying to be friends with him and that he hadn't changed. During this time (about a year and a half) I got really close with another male friend, I'll call him Stan. I have absolutely no feelings for him romantically, never have, but a few months after ditching Dave, he confessed strong feelings for me. I let him down honestly and we remained close friends for all of this year. At this point he's pretty much my only close friend.
So a few days ago, which have been extremely emotional and tumultuous due to a bad period of anxiety and depression and having to suddenly find a new flat with a few weeks notice, I get a message from Dave. He's apologising, saying he had been 'waiting' to be friends again, had accepted it might not happen but he does want it to. It came across very genuine. I replied explaining that I wasn't in a place to process this but was willing to try to be friends again. My thinking here is that it's been a long time, and he does seem really sorry, so maybe he has changed. I don't want to just jump back in there and I haven't been missing him but I have been quite lonely and we did have really great times. He will have to be proactive in our relationship however, and I will need an honest chat about what went down. I told Stan what happened. Stan seems upset, tells me that Dave is only doing this because he wants to hang out with Stan on NYE and Stan said he doesn't feel comfortable because of what happened between me and Dave. He said things like, but he cheated on you (don't know if that's true), he's just lonely, he's only doing it for reasons other than actually missing me as a person. This was pretty hurtful and I think is more because Stan still has feelings for me and is panicking that I might get into a relationship with Dave or start spending more time with him and less with Stan. When I logged into my PS4 last night I see that Stan and Dave are playing Battlefront together, which made me feel like shit as Stan was acting like I shouldn't see him but obviously felt fine hanging out with Dave himself. I feel so overwhelmed and conflicted, I can barely cope with just going to work and subsisting right now with my anxiety and at this point whatever I do will hurt someone. I just don't know what to do and my family don't seem interested in offering an ear. Sorry for the incredibly long post, in 5 years I've never been able to be completely honest with someone about this relationship.
I should have mentioned, he and the second girlfriend broke up a couple of months ago, which is partly why Stan was saying he was lonely and that's why he was trying to reconnect.
(Apologies for the wait. The fact the thread presented on the main board as having been responded to is what I think made people believe you'd already been taken care of.)
1. You were needy (= vulnerable) when you got in with Dave and his group. You even more so than Dave. That's my first observation.
Finding the other person a superb and handy source of needs supply (like a supermarket selling emotional props and enhancements) can lead to a mimicking of falling in-love. What's always missing, however, is the physical-mental CHEMISTRY, and this is the glue that gives you the dire need to both bust a gut to cooperate even when a ruddy great tree falls onto your relationship path, rather than say 'stuff it, this is too much like hard work, bye-bye' and go your separate way(s).
Even if the shop has unstructured and ad-hoc opening hours, it's still better than seemingly no shop.
2. I'm betting that had you not relied so heavily on Dave for company and stimulation, etc., you'd normally have gone home the minute someone had been TWENTY minutes late.
3. I think you thought Dave wasn't actual boyfriend material (agree) but would do as a Lite version - Friend With Benefits. But then, suddenly, his getting into what appeared to be an actual relationship, you experienced second thoughts regarding his scope of potential for you, at which point you allowed yourself and your greater expectations to fall deeper. That you subsequently saw him letting her down, too, obviously was a case of 'too little too late' by then to undo that increase in attachment as instantly as needed.
4. Dave, meanwhile, saw you as his property in terms of his permanent back-up gal... his safetynet. So he not only resented your near-acceptance of his friend's advances but at that point, thanks to male-to-male competitiveness, also experienced a boost in interest in you as a symbolic prize of male supremacy in the female-attraction stakes that he and his mate could strive to compete over. You, meanwhile, had got the subconscious notion in your head that making him jealous would work to get his attention back and more onto you than ever before. But he didn't respond in the way or extent you'd imagined and so...
5. ...suddenly having an alternative distraction in the form of this job, you could afford to create some distance from Dave.
6. No, he's not confused about why you walked away. Because he's not a retard. He just took you completely for granted, like you were his toy in the toy cupboard that he could take or leave to his convenience alone, because, as he saw it, you'd demonstrated (in ways that included waiting around for him to turn up like you had nothing and no-one better to do, and spending money on him like you were the man wooing him, the woman) that you must be desperate. Therefore, he couldn't understand why suddenly you seemed not to be, and tried to re-hook you so as to put you back in his toy cupboard.
7. No, that's right, he himself hadn't changed. Because he's a *permanent* 'wheelchair user' (bona fide, ingrained issues + choice) whereas your own chair reliance at the time had been only temporary. Trouble is, how can one tell just by looking at them? You can't. It takes enough time passing in which to expect the person to likewise progress to mere crutches and so on, but then seeing their own recovery simply fail to happen. Tinggg! The penny drops. (Common stuff.) Dave was more than injured, he was officially hobbled, and not made enough of the same mettle that saw you not-so-slowly and surely getting permanently out of your own chair.
You're more ambitious and more of a life survivor than Dave. Ber-bom. Dave likes his wheelchair because of all the 'great' benefits and advantages it affords (or ones that suit him, anyway).
8. Where Dave was your Heroin, Stan is your Methodone. Okay, it doesn't hit the spot in enough of the same ways but it works as a weaning-off-of aid. Sensible move!
9. Dave found himself single with no options, again....'little Black book' exhausted. After a whole year, it seemed Stan had succeeded in luring away Dave's back-up toy. Only, now he needed it again - where was it? Enter the take-back bid on Dave's part. He can't challenge Stan to a duel, however, so he has to take him on and beat him through the act of luring you back. His summons seems genuine because 'needs must' in terms of busting an acting job gut.
Dave, as you saw, doesn't possess nor want to learn and exert the requisite adult qualities for being someone's good and reliable friend. What he wants are friends that let him cheat when it comes to feeling like he has a proper love-life, by using them as quasi-girlfriends: all the male style perks, none of the male style work: wooing: impressing with one's best qualities and behaviour (like turning up on bloody time or turning up at all!).
'Waiting', my a*se. Just two timelines matching up and thereby providing convenience.
As you know, genuineness gets proven by CONSISTENT ACTIONS, ones that can't fail to enhance the bond, not what have proven too long to be solely hot air, convincing-sounding impressions and promises or - conducive to repositioning you in the newly vacant FWB pigeonhole - nicely vague and 'either/or' statements like, 'had accepted it might not happen but does want it to'...
..."I beg your pardon... I never promised you a rose garden" (- Lynn Anderson). No, Dave hasn't. He's just HINTED he will (and how do you prove intentions using only a vague and 'misinterpretable' hint as your No. 1 evidence?)
10. "This was pretty hurtful and I think is more because Stan still has feelings for me and is panicking that I might get into a relationship with Dave or start spending more time with him and less with Stan."
Whereas, I *don't* have feelings for you nor am panicking that you might get into a relationship with someone else. And yet I agree with Stan. Stan may BE desperate to keep you, but at least he's not using LIES as his defensive weapons. He's using the truth. And that's because HE DOESN'T EVEN *NEED* TO LIE - Dave's built Stan's prosecution case *for* him.
11. Stan isn't "playing" Battlefront "with" Dave (bless!). Stan is duffing Dave up in a virtual reality using virtual fists. The shame and proof of inferiority (including moral fibre) in being beaten is the objective, which results nonetheless. Next best thing.
However, just because Stan is an all-round superior man compared to Dave, that doesn't mean he's the only other fish in the sea or suitable enough for you. You need the brilliant friend *and* the knock-your-socks-off chemistry, the two sides of the one element as then equals 'your perfect match'. So why are you containing your search for your inevitable, eventual soulmate solely to the Pals pool? You're obviously more ready for a relationship, now, so why still settle for FWBs or romances that lack enough chemistry for you as if you're still as much a fully-fledged wheelchair occupant as you were back when you met this Dave? Have you been too busy dealing with Dave and Stan's issues to stop and examine yourself and thereby notice the improved state of yourself?
By the way, you're currently doing to Stan exactly what Dave did to you. That's the way it works when you hang out with people who aren't in your (normal) league: the one that's issue-ridden tries to foist them onto someone else, like a rotten package in a game of Pass The Parcel, and then the recipient does likewise....ad nauseum. You have to get yourself OUT of Dave's circle. And you have to do the upstanding thing that Dave couldn't and wouldn't ever be a*sed and have the self-discipline and good conscience to do: make clear to Stan that you and he are only friends and that there's no scope for promotion.
The funny side of this, however, is of course how you've got two modern-day blokes having a duel over you but where hundreds of years ago it would have been pistols or swords at dawn, then fists at dawn, it's now virtual character fists at dawn. Is that not an hilarious sign of the times (and today's male cowardice as well as greater social restraint) or what!
But they're trying to 'decide' who wins the competition, as I say, because YOU - THE ADJUDICATOR - SEEMINGLY WON'T/CAN'T.
PS: I know you said you made it clear to Stan. But clearly never clear ENOUGH, not for the very determined Stan.
Another thing: In terms of which wins hands-down as a pure FRIEND, if not lover material, then, I pick Stan. Stan is duffing Dave up for having made advances towards 'his' woman ("all's fair in love and war"), which is the acceptably healthy/normal reaction, whereas, when Dave was in that same position, instead, like the coward he is, he TRIED TO DUFF *YOU* UP!
Well thank you for the detailed reply! And no worries on the wait. You're right, there's no evidence that Dave has changed and I think because I spent our entire relationship wanting more from him that old habit is there. It's probably not a great idea to give him a chance. I would like to say our relationship wasn't totally fucked up, we did have a good 2 1/2 years of just being very close and supportive of one other despite both our flaws. I also disagree that I didn't make it clear enough to Stan though - I said in no uncertain terms he was my very good friend and I couldn't see him otherwise. I asked if he still wanted to be friends and he did and I frequently check he's alright. I do think he probably still is hurting and has those feelings cuz yup, I've been there. It sucks because he really is a great friend and I feel we have an equal relationship, I'm extremely careful not to be an asshole like Dave was. There is always that undercurrent of worry about it though and I wish I didn't have to be concerned about the things I do/say coming off as flirting. If he still has feelings for me the only way to solve that is to stop being his buddy, which would be completely shit for both of us. The least painful way of moving forward I think it to meet new friends or possibly a girlfriend/boyfriend - which is a hurdle with my anxiety but I really want to try.
PS: pretty sure they would be on the same team in Battlefront lol, they might be competing over k/d ratio or some shit but we all used to play games together so I know their style. Also there's like 64 players a match so if they were on opposing teams they'd really have to want to hunt each other down haha
Old habit, old charge never discharged yet still in the dischargings waiting-room - whichever way you want to see it.
It matters not whether there were good times as well. There would have HAD to have been (think about it) or else there'd have been no tenure beyond a couple of weeks. All that matter is how you were left feeling after that 2.5 years. Case closed. Conclusion: Dave was meant to be only a stepping-stone to the opposite riverbank, not the bank itself. Mission accomplished.
No, you made it clear enough to Joe Schmoe. Stan isn't Joe Schmoe. Stan is super-determined. Right qualities for a soulmate, wrong or insufficient chemistry. Truth is, the mere fact you, a woman, agreed to be (cough!) "friends" with a single, available-and-looking male - added to his determined, wishful thinking - was you "saying" via those repeated, sustained actions (daily) that there indeed was scope if he could just have the patience. Men (ones who are healthy and ticketyboo), unlike women, do not pay more credence to words than actions; other way around.
And indeed there was scope, in principle anyway. Because as any self-reflective male knows: they're blowtorches. Enough determined and skilful/considered application of the flame to the woman's armour of neutrality all the way to reluctance or downright 'p*ss off, creep!', warms her up. Thereafter prolonging, the ice now gone, he starts on her heart until her, whoops, knickers fall off. He can be as ugly as sin or as 'not her type' as you like, he perseveres and blows just hot enough (not too much, not too little), she'll succumb aka fall in love with him. Men's primitive programming amounts to them being truly able to "make you love them". But without chemistry present (and matching morals), it not only takes longer to achieve but overall is a pale imitation (doesn't last, can't last) because chemistry is any torch's REPLENISHABLE gas-tank whereas when NEED is the tank (even your need), need can get sated too quickly as well as through too many other sources, meaning, the gas likewise stops and the flame goes out. (50p please
"You made me love you, I didn’t wanna to do it; I didn’t wanna to do it. You made me want you, And all the time you knew it; I guess you always knew it," etc. That's how it works. (Unflatteringly) not that different from the male lion who replicates the tried-and tested, age-old 'dance' of approaching 'from this angle, like this', nibbling the neck 'like that' and 'at that precise point', etc.........and thereby gets a sh*g rather than one of his eyes scratched out. You do, however, see the odd lion getting it wrong and getting attacked and sent on his way again.
Stan is in touch with his primitive instincts to the point of it being semi-conscious.
That therefore, when added to his determined bent, means that FOR STAN, a "No" needs to be delivered via a loud-hailer with a typed-up transcript for good measure (lit in Neon). So - ref that "game" - Dave is "gurn DAAN" (an' "goin' 'ome innn an amber-lance!").
You don't need to STOP being his buddy. But you do need to find a way to explain to Stan that if he TRULY would appreciate a quasi-sister, because you'd appreciate a quasi-brother, it's imperative that you and he undergo a 6-month at least, No Contact separation so that he can meantime get his romantic hopes out of his system, ready for the purely platonic reunion (and to give his own intended soulmate the opportunity to show herself). I know you and he have never had any physical romance, but, believe you me - you have in his head. And lots of times. On a train, in the rain, with a fox in a box, Sam-I-Am.
Alternatively, you need to offer to help matchmake him. Actions speak louder, remember?
Another option would be to (warning Stan first) try a snog. If you come out of it with an 'Ew no!' reaction, in whatever way, Stan will have to accept that he got it wrong (and ask himself why he chose to).
I think the reason Stan's sustained blowtorch-ing didn't work, even (presumably) as a pale imitation, was because Dave had beat him to it yet never given your heart BACK (set you free). Therefore, Stan managed to melt the external ice but - no further. But that it couldn't work, means the timing is off. If yours and Stan's timelines don't match, this itself is a sign from Fate/nature/life that the two of you aren't nowadays meant to be pairbonded (despite possibly in a 'parallel universe'). Your ideal will probably be very similar to Stan but with a lot extra whistles and bells. That Stan is such a diamond is a sign you're whatever percentage ready despite not quite the full 100%, because otherwise even as a friend, Stan would have been equally as pants as Dave. So it's still all a sign of progress and still denotes the destination, the soulmate now marked out for you, is in plain sight. Without realising it, you're actually at a very exciting point in your emotional development.
I give you 5 months at the very, very most. Enjoy the last of your singledom (and buy some better underwear, LOL). Meantime, go pop over to StoneTemple's latest thread to read up on what starts happening once your vibe starts exuding Eau de Ripe 'n Ready.
Your anxiety: A relationship is a society of two people, a world of its own. People are infectious. Find or accept the hand of a man who suffers or used to suffer or knew/knows someone who suffers anxiety - the former obviously being wholly optimum. That way, there's zero contrast, meaning, NO-ONE HERE SUFFERS ANXIETY, we're just NORMAL. *Our* normal. The portion of anxiety that hailed from your constantly feeling "wrong" and "inadequate" will then ugger off. Alternatively, find/accept a man with TOO much positivity and confidence (possibly to point of annoying) whereby his surplus runneth over onto you until it 'takes', becomes the genuine article and (here's the magic bit) he meanwhile, simultaneously, experiences getting a little dampened-down to where he should more healthily (and more palatably) be.
If Stan and Dave aren't "fighting", even from within the same team, then what Stan's probably doing is 'keeping his enemies closer'.
PS: Stan. Dave. I wonder if your intended will be called Bert? (LOL, couldn't resist)