Ask A Dude: Can I Only Be His Friend?
I’m a huge fan of CollegeCandy and this blog, so I thought I’d write in for advice.
I’m a senior in college, and met this guy my age who goes to my school over the summer. We hit it off right away, with tons to talk and laugh about. The second or third time we hung out, right near the beginning, he told me he “liked me but wasn’t looking for a relationship.” He explained that he had been through a lot with past girlfriends that kept him from wanting to date again right now and that he has a lot going on in his life right currently: he pays for school by himself and is financially really stressed and has a lot of pressure from his parents, as well.
Anyway, that was fine. I was glad that he told me upfront and was honest about it rather than stringing me along. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really stay away from each other. We kept hanging out and talking even when we left to go to our respective homes, and when we got back to school we started hooking up. Each time it got too “relationship-like” one of us would try to back up: he because he doesn’t want to date, and me because I know he’s not going to commit and I don’t want to let myself get in too deep without that.
Right now, we’re just friends – no hooking up. The thing is, he treats me really well. We still get along so well and have a great time together. He compliments me and is nice to me around his friends, and says things like “everyone thinks we’re dating, we sort of act like we’re dating, I like you… so what are we really doing?” The problem is, I still want more. I miss him when he’s not around and it hurts me when we go a couple days without talking.
What should I do? Should I hang in there and see if the situation changes once he gets a job and is less stressed and maybe willing to date? Should I just learn to be okay with being his friend and not wanting or expecting any more? Or should I realize that maybe I’m not cut out for that and back off from being his friend and go for a while without talking to him until I get over it?
Any advice you could give me would be so helpful!
Tired of being just a great friend
Dear Tired of being just a great friend,
Maybe. No. Maybe.
You’ve got all the right options on the table (mostly). When two people say they can’t commit but act like they’re committing, they’re setting themselves up for trouble. It sounds like you two have got a spark and it’s exploding into more than he was expecting. Which is generally how it happens when you meet someone that you really connect with: you weren’t planning on it.
I don’t mean to get off on a rant here, but sometimes I wonder if people are just “grass is greener” prone. A lot of us begin with the expectation that this person is going to be someone we have a serious relationship with. And we do! And then we wish we didn’t! Flip it and you get folks who ink it in blood right from the get-go that “we’re not going to date, that’s not what this will be” and then before you know it they start thinking, “but I want us to be a couple.” Just an odd observation, not necessarily the case with you. Not much ranting was accomplished, was there?
What if the case is that you want more, he wants more but is scared of wanting more, and you’re both sticking to some outdated boundaries set way back when Chuck was still the one and only Intersect (River Song: “Spoilers”)?
I’m not a big believer in keeping things bottled up. However, I’m not necessarily one of the faithful when it comes to pushing someone into doing what they don’t want to do. Which he didn’t and still might not. His life, being the way it is, doesn’t sound like it’s changing immediately. If you do decide to wait for him to come around, at what point do you have to stop waiting? How many more times can you convince yourself it’ll happen if you “wait just a little longer”?
There’s no doubt in my mind that you should be up front with him about what you want (an option you didn’t really list, did you?). Why not make another attempt at moving things forward? Especially if he’s asking things in the arena of “what are we doing here?” It’s not easy to give in and let go of what you thought was the perfect plan. There are times when we’ve got to be coaxed out of our shells. The trick is to qualify your statements with phrases like, “I’m not trying to pressure you, but I want you to know…” Yeah, it might sound like BS, and it might actually be BS, but if you want to broach the subject you’re going to have to back into it. Do you want it bad enough to go after it?
I don’t recommend just waiting around forever and hoping he gets his priorities straight. That’s just a self-destructive road to Haagen-Das. And don’t just sit quietly in the friend zone either. If you want to change things so that they’ll only be strictly platonic then a little distancing is in order. You’re wrapped up tight in this. You’d need to unwind and be on your own for a bit in order to move on.
Expectations and rules about falling for people, or how fast a relationship can progress need to be flexible. Card is subject to change as far as I’m concerned. Trying to control what should happen and how it should happen never ends well. The hardest part of falling is closing your eyes and spreading your arms. He needs to let it happen. But he won’t unless you tell him what you want, need, and aren’t getting. There’s no reason you shouldn’t try. If he won’t, then I’d take some space to get perspective and ask yourself: “What do I deserve?” The answer probably is: “Someone who’s willing to take the leap with me.”
[Got a Dude itch you just can’t scratch? Sick of trying to come up with a not-totally-crazy-girl way to bring it up to your guy friends and get their take on things? Totally over over-analyzing the cryptic messages he leave on your Facebook Wall? We got your back, girlfriend. Send your question over to askthedude [at] collegecandy [dot] com. The Dude won’t sugarcoat it, beat around the bush, or any other weird cliche that means lie to you. Like a nice, juicy hot dog, he’ll be 100% real beef, 100% of the time. So bring. it. on.]