I pit myself, along with someone I love.

Folks, I’m sorry that this is so long.

Dramatis Personae:

Me, Lemmy. I have a tough time with people, and it’s very painful for me.

Renata, same age as me (32). Met in 2002, when she was house/petsitting for her Aunt Kate (see below). I fell deeply in love with her, and have never met someone quite like her since. She broke my heart later that year, but we have been close friends for most of the time since, with the exception of a few years in which she refused to communicate with me. In recent years, we have had some great times together. She lives in Austin, and I live in DC. This past summer, she broke up with her partner of ten years, and moved out. This was traumatic to her, and she has been medicated. She and I (and Kate) all share a history of widely varying struggles with depression and the accompanying medications. She is one of my favorite people in the world.

Kate, Renata’s aunt, and my middle-school English teacher. Very supportive of me during my difficult undergraduate years. I inadvertently hurt her feelings very deeply in 2008, and this has not really been resolved (see thread in IMHO).


I rode a bus to Austin last Friday, after a painful and awkward Thanksgiving coinciding with my parents’ incipient divorce and my brother’s displeasure. As I neared Austin, Renata informed me via text that she had begun seeing somebody (I’ll call him “Ned”), who would be joining us that evening. I was dismayed at first (though I doubt she and I will be a couple, I had hoped we could play those roles for a couple of days, inasmuch as we were both single), but quickly decided that I would have a great time all the same. The first night went fine, and then on Saturday, I thought things went well as she and I joined Renata’s parents, sister, and beloved nephew for breakfast, and then, after some browsing/shopping, met with Kate and Kate’s husband for lunch. We went back to Renata’s place and talked, sometimes joined by Ned, and made plans for the three of us to see a movie later.

**That’s when all hell broke loose. **

Before the movie, we went to a cafe for tea and pitas before the movie. I had noticed Renata seeming agitated earlier, at her house, but wasn’t sure what to make of her twitching and grimacing until she finally snapped. She didn’t get loud, but she suddenly began letting me know how upset she was that I had barely asked her how she was doing lately, since I know full well that she has been going through the worst year of her life. I was suddenly very ashamed at being so thoughtless. I apologized profusely, expressing how much I care about her. She tried to convey that I needed to be less one-sided with people who love me (like her and her Aunt Kate), because everyone is going through troubles.

In my defense, I was very distracted by my family situation (which we had spent most of the time talking about), and I also thought that Renata seemed to be moving on, compared with when we talked about it shortly after the breakup, and when I saw her for one day in September. Dating people again seemed like a good sign. I just don’t have a frame of reference for a ten-year relationship like that.

Ned excused himself, and eventually Renata did as well. I knew they were talking in the parking lot, but I couldn’t see them. I was alone for what might have been ten minutes, feeling like I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Eventually they came back, we scrubbed plans for the movie, and went back to Renata’s place. It was only about 7:40. Renata immediately went to her room, saying she needed to go to bed, as she was out of sorts. Ned followed her, leaving me alone on the couch, trying to stop myself from freaking out. I could hear them whispering, and I wondered if Renata was crying.

I eventually reached a friend via my phone, and stepped out into the yard. Ned left the house soon after, and I shook his hand and said that I wished we were meeting under better circumstances. He said he thought everything would be OK once Renata “slept if off.” I told him that based on the last day and a half, he seemed like a good guy, and he said the same about me. I went back inside, and eventually went to sleep on the couch.

In the morning, when my phone’s alarm rang, Renata came out of her room as I was silencing the alarm. She sat down in a chair, looked at me, and said “I’m sorry, Lemmy.” I reciprocated, and we talked for a bit. I told her that I will put her up should she come to DC, and I told her a story from my past involving me as the dedicated friend I try to be. As I packed my things for my return trip, she gave me a book and DVD that she had earlier told me to take, saying that she wants to know what I think of them. We rode to the airport without saying much, and in the drop-off lane she got out of the car, held me tightly, and told me to take care of myself. I told her to do the same.

That sounds like a relief, except it dawned on me that I never properly asked her how she was doing. I was exhausted when I got home on Sunday, but I called her on Monday after band practice. I left a voicemail, and then before going to bed I sent a warmly worded follow-up thank-you email, where I included that among a few things.

There’s been no reply from her. She often replies to emails in the morning before going to work, but nothing has arrived. I know that it’s only been a short time, but I don’t know what’s stopping her from just acknowledging me. I don’t think I’ve lost her friendship, but I can’t shake the fear that she’s going to give me the silent treatment again (which she had said was a thing of the past), for who knows how long. I want us to be friends for life, and that’s in jeopardy for a really stupid reason.

Fellow Dopers, I’m really starting to hurt. I love this woman very much, to such an extent that others have noticed this and commented on it. I don’t have many friends, and I’m very lonely, but I don’t just want to be friends with her because she makes me feel good. I love to make her laugh and smile. I know I can’t reach out again soon; I plan to wait until I have something new to say, i.e. news regarding my musical venture, or career, or my assessment of the book & film, or my mother’s departure for CA on the 21st. **Does anybody have any advice for a situation like this? **

Thus, in the end, I pit myself for being so stupid and thoughtless, and I pit Renata, one of my favorite people in the world, for overreacting, and potentially now hurting me deliberately.

Please accept my sympathy and good wishes.

But…advice? I don’t know. Your post is fairly comprehensive, but there is still far too much I would need to know. To give really valid advice, I’d want to hear Renata’s version of events too. Your version sounds tragic, but I don’t sense any real “villainy” here. Renata’s silence is cruel, but she might not mean it cruelly; she might not be intending to hurt you, just to be away from you, either just for a while, or for a longer period.

It sounds like there was a breakdown in communication, but no actual mean-spirited enmity. If she really wanted to hurt you, she’d never have said, “I’m sorry.”

So…stay calm, don’t push back, wait until she chooses to re-open the lines of communication. If she doesn’t, my opinion would be just to let it go. The ball, so to speak, is in her court. Maybe send her a Christmas Card, or…maybe not. Tricky judgement call, which only you can make. Some people just drift away, and some people “Get out the back, Jack.” I really can’t tell what’s happening.

Again, sympathies and best wishes. You’re just a random voice on a message board…but you’re in pain, and I wish there were something useful I could say to help you out.

Two nosy questions: how old are you, and how many girlfriends have you had? If this is your first break-up, it’s very different from if it’s your tenth. The first is the most painful experience outside of medieval torture; by the tenth, it’s not quite as hellish.

Thanks, I appreciate that. I’m the same age as Renata, 32. I don’t know if I’ve technically ever had a girlfriend, but my time with Renata was comparable, and when it ended it was very painful, but that was all in 2002, and isn’t strictly tied to my worry regarding our friendship today.

My friend, I’m sorry you are hurting. I can really only go by gut instinct based on the things you’ve posted, so maybe I have it all wrong, but… these people seem really strange to me. Like maybe they have unrealistic expectations for friendship or how a person should behave. That she would confront you about this in front of a guy you only just met seems pretty rude and uncomfortable for you. That they would then leave you, a guest, alone for hours because of some perceived slight really does not sit well with me at all. It sounds like Renata is trying to punish you, which is not the sort of behavior conducive to healthy relationships.

And the whole, ''Why aren’t you asking about meeee?" thing seems pretty off, as well. Both of your threads on this subject suggest that you think about other people’s feelings quite a lot, so I’m not sure that’s a fair criticism to you. Maybe it is? I know it’s easy to get self-absorbed with depression. But based on what you’ve shared, she sounds like the selfish one.

I understand you all have mental health issues, and believe me, I’ve had my share of those so I get how people would be behaving unusually in these circumstances. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s okay or a healthy situation for you.

I have considered that. I suppose that’s why I’m pitting the two of us. I should have not been so focused on myself, but at the same time she has really overreacted. I for one am totally willing to forgive… and on top of that, I thought the crisis had blown over by Sunday morning anyway. So why the silence? Thank you, also.

I wrote a long post, but then realized that all you really need is to read “He’s just not that in to you.” It’s actually a pretty good book, and it will open your eyes to what is really going on here. Will you please read it? It will make you feel better, I promise.

Here is what I see:

You are in love with Renata (yes, you are.) Renata does not want to be your partner and nothing is going to change that. But Renata enjoys your attention and will gladly use you as a fake boyfriend when she is bored or needs an ego boost. And you are so in to her that you will basically jump when she says jump.

This feels like a big, complex, poetically tragic romance. But it’s not. This isn’t whah love looks like.

Somewhere out there is a woman who will adore you. Who will treat you like a king. Who will round out your sharp edges and complement your flaws. But none of this will happen while you are obsessing over Renata. You need to move on.

I think this thread would be more suitable in IMHO. I’ll move it over there.

I appreciate that, I really do, and I will take that book recommendation under advisement. I would quibble with it partly, in that I made my peace years ago with the reality that Renata was not going to be my partner. She’s been with someone else (the last relationship lasting ten years) during nearly all the time we have been friends, and she had previously invited me to come stay with her and her then-partner. I was hoping to someday introduce her to somebody I was with. I’ve talked plenty of times with Renata about other women.

I get your point, certainly, but I’m not sure if it tells the whole story. I want to be her friend forever.

You have no standing to “pit” her. IMO you have wildly unrealistic expectations for this relationship and this is coloring your world view. Whatever your past she currently has a boyfriend and she does not want you to be her boyfriend or her partner, and quite frankly even if she had no current boyfriend it does not sound like you two are a particularly good match anyway for multiple reasons.

You need to stop mooning over her and move on and let her live her life. I can understand why she is frustrated with you if you are as oblivious as you make yourself out to be re being solicitous of other people’s emotional states and basic conversational graces with respect to being so self focused.

You need to start developing romantic relationships that do not involve her. This whole “pit her and pit yourself” dynamic is obsessional and unhealthy.

I strongly doubt (and have long doubted) that we would ever be partners. I’ve sought her help and advice in romantic relationships not involving her. I’ve been very supportive of her, and conscious of her emotional state, but I slipped up rather badly. I also think that she overreacted, and treated me poorly. That’s why we both apologized to one another. I’m scared at the moment that things didn’t get resolved in the drop-off lane at the airport, and her volatility is re-emerging for no good reason. Thus, I pitted myself for starting this mess, and her for worsening it.

That’s admirable, and I’ll accept what you say about being over her romantically.

One very hard thing you have to realize, though, is that it might not happen. Obviously I don’t know Renata so I don’t know what’s in her head, but it seems pretty clear to me she doesn’t want to give you or can’t give you the same level of friendship. That’s not a flaw on her part, or yours. Those kind of soul-matey, closer than brother and sister, tell each other anything and understand instantly, friendships are very rare and unfortunatly as fragile as any other friendship.

It’s very hard to stay friends with an ex, even when you broke up a long time ago and think you’re over them. Especially with a new boyfriend in the mix, she might be confused about her feelings and not know how to cope so she lashed out. She certainly could have gotten her point across without making a big stink out of it.

Now for some motherly advice:

Stop beating yourself up over this. It’s too late to think of what you coulda shoulda woulda said. You weren’t mean and selfish; you had your own problems to work out and they were fresh in your mind. You’re only human. :slight_smile:

You can’t solve her problems for her, and you can’t even try until you work your way through your own. I read your Kate thread and saw that you’re seeing a therapist; please talk to them about all this. Like I said, it’s too late to change the past but maybe they can give you some ways to work through this.

For now, leave Renata alone. YOu apologized, she apologized. Maybe all she needs is a little time to cool off and she’ll reply. Maybe she won’t. Either way, you’ve done all you can, and contacting again might make her feel crowded and push her away further.

I don’t think that seeking to be friends forever is healthy. You two have unreliable boundaries between each other, for all the reasons set forth in this thread, and this creates a volatile cycle of hurt feelings, re-connection, separation, and hurt feelings again. The period of years that you two spent not talking to one another fits this pattern, as does your current unhappiness over not getting a reply from her.

It’s been long enough now for you to know that your relationship with her is not going to get more stable or more satisfying. Trying to maintain it just means more years of what you have been going through lately.

Indeed. I thought we were managing things OK, as we were close friends for the last several years, and for the few years before the last time she clammed up, and she was with her last partner for all of that time until this past summer. She was there for me two years ago when I was going through some terrifying troubles of my own, and she assured me I could count on her. I thought we had put all that old mess behind us. You’re right, though, in that the intimate nature of our first few months together has always been a lingering presence.

That’s the plan. Thank you.

I certainly hope not. I’ve been afraid of that.

It’s not your responsibility to make her alright, just as it’s not her responsibility to make you alright.

You apologized for being insensitive to her after she brought it up. No need to continue to obsess over it. If she can’t move on, that’s her problem not yours.

If you can’t accept each other as you are (flaws and all) and be friends, well it never was a real friendship to begin with.

True, that’s why I’m so baffled at the moment.

Quite right, and I was under the impression that we did accept said flaws, inasmuch as we’ve seen them emerge plenty of times, and talked about it.

Friendship in lieu of romance leads to neither. Been there, done it, have the scars, still. Move on, brother

Is that true even if I made my peace over a decade ago with the reality that we would probably never be a couple (and almost certainly not a long-term couple)? I decided before much time had gone by that I wasn’t looking for friendship in lieu of romance; rather, I found the friendship brought me comfort, happiness, and, sometimes, joy. I’ve talked to her about plenty of women I’ve been interested in, and I wanted to meet the man she was with for so long (it was never practical to do so). She actually proposed to him some years ago, and had he said yes, I would have been overjoyed to attend their wedding. I often hoped to introduce her to someone I was seeing, and I would still love to do that someday.

I’m sorry that people scarred you like that. I sympathize, because at the moment I really can’t stop hurting. Is it really impossible to be friends, especially very close friends, with someone with whom one was once intimate/enamored with/etc?

The only way, and I mean the ONLY way, to get over an unrequited love is to find another love that is reciprocated. Quit worrying about Renata and start worrying about yourself. Go find someone else to love. Once you do, Renata won’t matter.

Don’t make excuses. Don’t rationalize. Don’t say “yeah, I understand, but…” Just do it.

This thread resonates with me. I’m weak. I literally dissolved the friendship that I had (analagous in way to yours) because I had met my now husband and knew that there’d always be an issue–my issue, whenever I saw this dude or talked to him.

It was a really sad moment for me, but I made the right decision. Last I heard, my ‘ex-friend’ is still searching for the ‘one’…still scraping the bottoms of the same barrels he scraped when I so desperately wanted him. So, yes, I made the right decision.

Chin up, man. And sometimes you just gotta sing, “I’ll find another prettier than you, I’ll find another one prettier, than you”, and walk away. You actually WILL find another prettier, and more importantly, emotionally available. But don’t expect the availability to kick in and till you become fully, completely, totally available to the next girl. People can sense stuff like that.

I tried to do just that twelve years ago, to get over Renata. I’ve done it since, to get over the lack of reciprocity from others. I’m trying to do it now, but it’s not due to Renata exactly. I sure would love to someday introduce her to someone I love.