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Can you go from dating to friends immediately?

Discussion in 'General Support and Advice' started by lovetoomuch, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. lovetoomuch

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    Hi, I could use some advice and hear other's opinions.

    A guy and I started talking about a month ago. It was really weird because we connected super quick and got very personal very fast. We went on two dates over two weeks and had a fantastic time. We were talking EVERY morning before I started work and EVERY night for at least an hour. He got sick and we didn't see each other for the next two weeks. In that time we realized we may be at different points of life and also different stages of being out. He is very much in the closet (dating guys, but no one in his life knows he is interested in men) while I am fully out. We decided pursuing dating may not be best right now.

    He doesn't have anyone in his life to discuss dating or anything "gay" related with. I agreed to being his friend and being there for him because I imagine how hard it is to have no one to talk to and I really care about him. A main reason we did break it off is he is looking to settle down in the next few years and I'm not in the position. I don't plan to move in with a guy or any of that for at least 4-5 years while I figure my life out.

    I tried to be supportive and encourage him to go on a date with a guy he started talking to. They had the date last night and I ended up finding out they did sexual things together. I was extremely upset. I thought I could be supportive and I want to be there for him, but since he isn't out, the most we did is hug (we met in the city for dates and he hates PDA), while he invited this guy back to his place after one date and they did stuff.

    I was supposed to see him today, but I freaked out on him last night. I let my jealousy show and told him I was upset he could just go and sleep with someone so quickly after we broke it off. I know I sound hypocritical because I did encourage him to go on the date. But the thing is we have continued talking every morning / night and texting all throughout the day. We say things like "I miss you" and "I cannot wait to see you." He wants to still have this close bond with me, but I really don't think it's fair because that is very misleading. He seems to think this is how friends can act, but I don't talk on the phone every night with my friends and speak to them all throughout the day every day. Am I in the wrong here? I know I was hypocritical to encourage him to go on the date and then I freaked out on him - I shouldn't have done that and I feel bad. But isn't it too fresh and unrealistic to think we can be close friends when there are feelings there?

    Thank you for your help in advance.
     
  2. Chiroptera

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    I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but if you two broke up, then you broke up. If he started dating another guy the next day, that's his call, not yours. You two decided to break up, so he doesn't have any obligation to justify what he does or doesn't in his day-to-day life. It doesn't make sense to call him a friend while trying to control what he is doing with his life.

    You have to think about what do you expect from this relationship, and then act accordingly. If you still wish to be friends with him, but you aren't comfortable speaking all day long, then you have to set up that boundary ("Hey, I really want to talk to you, but I have other activities and I may not be able instantly answer messages or speak for long periods of time"). If you don't wish to continue this relationship, then be gentle and tell him you aren't ready for this at this moment. Or, finally, if you have feelings for him, then talk to him about them.

    What can't happen is for you to have a relationship with him that isn't clear about what it is about and what you are expecting from it. I'm not saying you are wrong and he is right: I'm just saying that you can't control the other person and, thus, you have to decide for yourself what do you want from this.
     
  3. Lin1

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    My ex is one of my best friends, we talk almost daily, I know literally everything about her dating life (and her mine) and it's not rare for either of us to text each other after a date/sexual encounter to debrief and comment on like I would with any of my other friends. I actually find it kind of funny that she sometimes text me while she is still in bed with someone she just had sex with, it wouldn't cross my mind to be crossed by it though, if anything I always quite look forward to her date stories and finding out what happened, and I am always happy when a date goes well or she has great fun. I have no idea how she feels about hearing about my dating/sex life but I assume it's similar. Yes we are exes and have an history but we are first and foremost friends and as a friend I want what's best for her and just like you and this guy, there are plenty of reasons as to why we aren't the best for each other, and that's okay. I don't begrudge that.

    Did we became friends as soon as we broke up? No.

    The second we broke up, I wanted to be her friend but I don't think she was ready and ultimately neither was I, there was a lot of pain and toxicity to undo (our relationship wasn't the healthiest) and anger to appease and I think we needed a couple of months to heal and lick our wounds on our own and break the toxic circle by staying apart from each other. Once we rebuilt our lives and felt ready, we met up, had a couple of very meaningful and healthy conversation over our relationship and its downfall and our perspective, owned up to what we did wrong and decided to work and making something positive of it. Initially we would meet up once a month just to catch up, and then it became a weekly thing. Now I have moved abroad but I visited her a couple of months ago and like I said we still chat and speak almost daily, I would say we almost get along and are closer now than we ever were dating.

    That being said, to have an healthy and genuine friendship with an ex you need to have grieved for the relationship and accepted that you two can't be, until then it's incredibly hard to be friends. Very soon after her and I broke up a friend of hers tried to get with me and it gave her the rage (she still talks about it bitterly nowadays and it's been years haha) and to be honest, had I had to see her with someone else a couple of days after we broke up, I would have felt awful to and probably very jealous, so do think we needed this time apart to grieve/heal and move on.

    Now honestly, I couldn't care less, everytime I hear about a sex story or anything I feel nothing towards it, happy if it goes well for her sad if it's a bad experience that is obviously impacting her. It's like hearing about the sex life of any other of my friends, I care to an healthy extent but it doesn't really impact my life (or emotional state) one way or another.

    You obviously aren't there yet, you said you wanted to be friends and I believe you do (like I did the second my ex and I broke up) BUT you don't have the capacity yet to be friends with all that it implies and that's okay. Just take a step back to breathe and get over the romantic feelings you have for him. What you can't do is control him or be angry at him for meeting new people when you both agreed not to pursue anything romantic together.

    Also how quickly he has sex with someone after a break-up or in comparison to you, isn't really relevant.

    Sex, in many ways, is easy. Sex is many people's go to form of escapism after a break-up or when they are hurt.

    Also, if I am genuinely into someone, I am WAY more likely to not have sex on the first date than I would, if I just found them attractive but didn't have that emotional connection. I am usually way too busy enjoying the company and conversation to notice the lack of sex so in my book that would be a good sign as it's hard to keep conversation entertaining so when it happens it usually means something special is going on, while sex means nothing to me.

    I actually can't think of many (any?) people I have dated that I had sex with on the first date, though I can think of plenty of people I had sex with on the first date but never pursued romantically.
     
  4. Chip

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    I agree with both of the comments above. Nobody, perhaps not even your ex, knows what motivated his behavior, why he acted differently with this person than with you. What is clear is that he is very confused and both of you are confused about the bounds of friendship vs. relationship. And you clearly still have feelings for him that are going to get in the way of your being able to be there as a friend for him. So not good for either of you.

    To answer the direct question you asked, it is near impossible -- I am not sure I have *ever* seen it work -- for people in a relationship to move to a friendship immediately, without some gap of time, usually 6+ months. In this case, it does not sound like either of you are ready to actually move the bounds from relationship to friendship, and thus the only real option may be to break off communication for several months. That way, both of you can get past the feelings and move on, and then perhaps you can later come back and cultivate a new relationship built on friendship rather than the roots of a failed relationship.
     
  5. lovetoomuch

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    Hi Chip, thank you for the response. You always provide me with words of wisdom and give me things to think about. Thank you, also, to Chiroptera and Linning for responding.

    The really hard thing for me in all of this is he has no one to talk to. He is not out to anyone in his life and I've been that emotional support for him. Every part of me wants to continue to be there for him. I know he is really struggling with his sexuality and I don't think it is good for anyone to have no one.

    Personally, though, I think I need to break off communication for a little (as you said). Being there for him is super hard when I still have strong feelings for him. He made it clear that he ONLY sees this now as a deep emotional connection in terms of friendship. I, on the other hand, realized this is the first guy I have ever connected with that I could have seen myself falling in love with.

    He has said things to me like, "I can't lose you," which makes it that much harder to walk away. I want to be his emotional support. At the same time, though, I think I'll be hurting myself by being there for him. I know deep down inside this will only be a friendship now and I worry constant communication will keep my hopes alive that this could be more.

    Do you have any advice? I assume it's probably to put myself first. It's just hard because I am so used to putting other's emotions onto myself and I'm hurting for the difficulties he is facing with his sexuality.

    Thanks in advance.
     
    #5 lovetoomuch, Feb 10, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  6. Chip

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    It isn't ideal, and I have been in similar situations with draining people. And at the end of the day, you need to take care of yourself first. It doesn't sound like you can stay in touch with him and also take care of yourself.

    So taking this as an opportunity to look at yourself and your own tendency toward codependency and caretaking of others would be a good place to start. Healthy friendships have balance. This one sounds like it is way out of balance, and that problem exists on both sides.

    With time away from it, you can explore your own tendencies, which usually come from one's own self-esteem issues. And then it becomes easier to set boundaries that will support healthy friendship.
     
    #6 Chip, Feb 10, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020