In which things end badly...or, the Conclusion of the Friendship

I’m feeling terribly awful right now, so I thought I’d blatantly beg for comfort from everyone. I started a thread a while back about James, my best friend, with whom I was in love. I told him, he doesn’t love me back. Feh.

For the past month, it’s been fine between us. We’ve hung out quite a bit, and although it took a while to lead up to the hugs/phone calls stage, we were nearly back to normal. I even threw him a surpise birthday party last week.

Now this man, for the record, was someone I truly loved. I saw him as a shining example of all that is good in the world. I trusted him completely, without reservation, and was the best possible friend I could be to him. His parents are going through a yucky divorce, and I’ve been there nonstop. Three days ago, I held him while he cried on my shoulder.

Well, rewind three weeks ago: new girl Nancy gets hired. She’s thin, she’s cute, she has a boyfriend. I liked her (and I’m nice to everyone) so I invited her to A’s birthday party (we work with her) and to James’s surprise party. At A’s party, James hit on Nancy nonstop even though I was sitting right there, even though he knows I still love him, because we’ve talked about it. I reacted by being really quiet (rare for me) and he led me to the bar and asked what was wrong. I told him that it made me uncomfortable seeing him flirt with someone else, and then I left to spare myself more discomfort.

The next day I talked to Nancy. I told her that it made me uncomfortable to see James, for whom I care greatly, flirt with her, and that if I avoided her when the two of them were together, I didn’t want to be hurtful or mean: it was just self-preservation. Fight or flight, you know? She said she understood, had been in the same situation, and was fine with that.

I foolishly thought that I had handled this well.

Then Saturday, I was at work talking to James about our upcoming plans to go to the Walter’s Art Gallery on Thursday. Nancy came over, James started acted goofy, so I excused myself. It was time for my lunch break anyway. I was extremely nice to Nancy: I smiled and said hi, asked her how she was doing, etc, then said, “I going to head to lunch now, it’s 2 o’clock.”

I came back from lunch and James hunted me down. I was immediately put on trial for my offenses against Nancy, since I hurt her feelings to horribly. He called me immature and childish, then walked away. I hunted him down and we went out to talk. Basically, he called me immature a couple more times, claimed that I was intentionally hurting Nancy, that I was being rude, that everyone in Marketplace was pissed at me because I was “exclusionary and cliqu-y” toward Nancy. He told me to stop acting so silly, stop being childish. He accused me of having ulterior motives in our friendship, claiming that inviting him to dinner at my house or buying him a book for his birthday was my way of trying to win his love, which he had already told me I would never have.

I have never felt as worthless, in my entire life, as I did when I sat crying next to him and he just watched. All the times I held him when he cried, when I comforted him and was there for him. This is the first time, the first time, that I asked for something in return, and he wasn’t there for me.

I couldn’t stop crying so my manager told me to take the rest of the day off. I went for a hike with my dog and sat and thought for a while. I talked with my mom.

Then I called him up and told him that he was wrong. I told him that I had let him get into a position where his opinion of me meant more to me than my opinion of myself, and his low opinion of me made me doubt myself.

I said that I had been 100% true to him as a friend, and true to myself as a person, over the course of our friendship. I am not a person who is intentionally mean or cruel. I am not a person who acts with ulterior motives. Everything I did for him was pure and good, and that he would question that made me realize he didn’t know me at all. I told him that his opinion of me, or Nancy’s or anyone at IKEA’s, did not matter because I know who I am, and I know what sort of person I am. I told him that he wasn’t the person I thought he was, but I’m not either: I’m stronger, and have more self-respect, than I ever thought. I told him that our friendship was over. I told him that who ever had issues with me at work could discuss them with me.

He said it would be awkward at work, and I agreed. Then we said goodbye.

Today did suck, because it was hard not talking to him and avoiding him. I felt like complete shit. My nerves were shot, I can’t keep any food down (keep throwing up), and I want to hibernate for the next two months.

He just e-mailed me and said, “this is stupid. Why are you acting like this?”

My reply was:

I’m proud of myself, but I still feel so awful. But having gotten it off my chest helped a lot.

Thanks for reading this.

I’m sorry to hear about that. It sounds like a truly awkward situation that you handled the best you could. If you need to vent further, my emails in my profile. Hope you get the support you need while you grieve the loss.

I don’t really know what to say except been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

It’s tough being honest with your feelings only to find those feelings aren’t returned. Then, as you try to fight those feelings to maintain your friendship, you find even that’s gone also. Of course you already know this.

Perhaps the two of you need to just back off and get some perspective on the situation instead of shoving a friend out of your life.

Now this may not be what you want to hear, but:

You knew he didn’t feel the same for you as you felt for him, yet you wanted to maintain the friendship anyway. You should have been prepared to see him flirt with other women. For him, the relationship between the two of you hadn’t changed. Yes, he knew how you feel now, but his feelings are the same. It may not have been very tactful, but why shouldn’t he flirt in front of a friend?

A while ago you declared your love, but it wasn’t returned. That’s very painful, I know. More painful that to be dismissed with a “Feh” I think. It seems to me the friendship/relationship has changed in your eyes because he now knows how you feel. In his eyes however it hasn’t changed, because you said being friends is fine.

Granted, I don’t know everything, so this is just a WAG, but is it possible you hurt more than you’re willing to admit? I know how badly it hurt me when I declared my love to find it wasn’t returned. So then when you see him flirting for the first time after he knows how you feel, it’s more difficult for you than you thought it would be. Instead of distancing yourself, you try to tough it out.

Maybe you should talk to him again. Tell him you need some space for a while to clear your head. I think both of you may have over-reacted here. In your letter you say:

Did you tell him WHY you think these things? Because quite frankly, from reading this post, I’m not sure what he did warranted such a strong reaction.

You also say, “I was immediately put on trial for my offenses against Nancy…” Were you, or did it just feel that way? Give yourself some time. Go over the situation again and try to stay objective. Imagine it’s a friend going through this. What advice would you give her?

I know this isn’t as supportive as you may have hoped, and I’m sorry for that, but this is my honest take on the situation. Given time and some cool heads, maybe in a few weeks, or maybe a few months, the friendship can be restored. Don’t throw it away in the heat of the moment. People tend not to think as rationally when love is involved.

Sweetie, my heart breaks for you…

Try to remember though, that NOT EVERYONE “in Marketplace was pissed at me because I was “exclusionary and cliqu-y” toward Nancy.” OK?

This is a prickish thing to say. He was wrong.

Dont be intimidated by possible disapproval from co-workers…fuck them.

It will be ok.

I promise.

I’ve been in relationships like that… unrequited love sucks, especially when it’s with a friend you’ve had for years. My relationship also broke up the same way… when she repeatedly was cruel to me over a boy she’d liked for 3 weeks (she once kicked me out of her house because I was “talking to him too much” when she wanted to flirt) I couldn’t be friends with her anymore. It’s really painful, I know, but it’s definitely for the best to seperate now. Good luck in finding the person who’s right for you! :slight_smile:

A and Men. It’s a tough situation, Sarah, but I can tell you from experience that it is possible to salvage a very worthwhile friendship from such a situation. Lord knows it’s not easy, and often harder on you than him, but it can be done. I wonder how old James is? Maybe he just hasen’t realized that friendship is the best place to start a relationship from, not the last place. I wish you luck. hugs

Oh honey, I am repeating myself here, but remember two things:

  1. This will not be the main event in your life. In fact, in ten years when you are listening to someone else tell the same story, you will think back to this for the first time in years and you will be so so happy things worked out the way they did.

  2. Remember what I said about the importance of relationships not being related to the duration: you’ve learned alot from this guy, many of them hard lessons that he probably didn’t know he was teaching. What you have learned is yours to keep, and nothing can effect it.

Another suggestion: I would move on. The new job thing is a really good idea. Go spend time forging new relationships (romantic or otherwise), not wallowing in a one that isn’t going to bring you any joy and where you are at a great risk of being manipulated and tied up in knots.

I just hurt a pretty close friend, and I feel like a jerk, but your situation is so much more complex. I have no experience, so {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Nacho}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

I wish I could wrap comfort around you like a blanket.



I went through something very close to this recently. I thought I felt something for a cretain person (in hindsight it was based on not wanting to be alone and lust). I told him how I felt and got basically the same response you did. Then I got to watch him flirt with others in front of me,again like you did. It ended up with a very nasty email exchange that left me furious and crying.

What helped me through it was my friends. They heard me vent and listened w/o judgement-well one of my friends,when I said I wanted to see the man in a cage match said “Only if they break all his fingers and ruin his sex life for a few weeks” (thanks Craig :slight_smile: )

Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends. You WILL feel better, I promise. You can always email me if you need an ear.

Manda JO is wise. Time and distance is good in things like this.

It seems to me, from a total outsider’s view, that your quoted mail was about rather a lot more than his alleged lighting into you. Likewise, I’d put money on him doing that being about rather more than your alleged treatment of the other gal. It also seems to me that a large portion of how he “betrayed your trust” was him not actually being the shining perfect image inside your head. People are people; they’ve got warts and wrinkles and bad habits, and emotional scars that run deep, and sore spots clustered around those lines of scarring that tend to bump up on each other the closer two people get. Show me a perfect person, and you’re showing me a fiction. He’s acted badly, and I think with a few months or years’ perspective, you’ll be honestly able to asses having acted a little badly yourself. So what’s more likely? He acted badly because he’s really a jerk who fooled you with masks for quite some time–or, hurting himself, circumstances tweaked a scar and he reflexively lashed out?

Relationships are hard, no question of it. When they’re not reciprocal in degree of affection, they’re even harder. The length of them and the value of them are two separate things, and as short-term comforting as it can be, nothing is gained by replacing a “they’re perfect!” image inside your head with a “they’re horrible!” variant. Nothing.

Well…I don’t really know your full history but from your OP (in this thread) it kind of sounds like you set yourself up for this. If you have an unrequited affection/love for someone and persist in holding them close to you by being supportive, affectionate etc. etc. and not putting some prudent emotional distance between yourselves what exactly is it you expect out that relationship?

Please don’t kid yourself that you persisted in maintaining a very close personal relationship with someone who had tacitly rejected your affections purely out of the goodness of your heart. It is obvious that, despite your protestations of only the purest intentions, your emotional agenda was to keep him close the best way you could (ie by being a hugely supportive friend). He meets a girl he does like and you pout and make the new girl uncomfortable by winding her into your difficulties with the relationship when you should have kept your opinions and feelings to yourself in this matter.

You are correct in that the main victim here is you, but you are primarly a victim of yourself and your own unreasonable expectations in this matter. If he doesn’t really “love you” all you are doing by keeping him close is torturing yourself which predicitably leads to scenarios like the one you are currently mired within. Nothing can assuage the horrible pain of a broken heart but less self pity and more clarity about your current situation and the nature of human relationships would be a good beginning on the road to emotional healing.

That selfish pigfucker.

Listen, I’ve been sort of holding my tongue about this, because I remember what other people’s opinions were worth to me whenever I was trying to sort through emotional shit, which was precisely nothing. Then again, I have a bit of a contrarian streak, so YMMV.

Anyhoo, he’s acting like a jerk. A big fat self-absorbed jerk, and he’s getting off on having the upper hand in your relationship. He’s using you for affection without strings, while being free to scrabble around after girly-girls at his leisure. I mean, for Christ’s sake, you explained that you were uncomfortable with his flirting, and politely took your leave, and he hunts you down and subjects you to a rousing game of “J’accuse.” That ain’t cool. He isn’t obligated to coddle you, but he is obligated to respect you, if he truly wants to be friends. Making everything your fault is a strange way of respecting you.

You have conducted yourself with grace and honesty thus far. Any further chances you give him are strictly due to your own generosity, because he’s long since squandered anything you might owe him out of friendship.

And again I see that Drastic and Manda JO be speakin’ God’s truth.

Yep, been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Hon, this SUCKS. And I know you hurt. And he’s a jerk. You once saying you were in love with him is NO reason for him to suddenly act like a class A asshole. Friends just don’t do that.

{{{{Sarah}}}} You know I’m here if you need/want to talk, hon.

I’m inclined to agree with Lux on this one. Sarah, resolve yourself to being in pain for awhile over this, but know that it’s going to be better soon. You’re a standout in a board full of exceptional people. Somewhere out there is a simply amazing guy, your soul mate, who is pining away because he hasn’t found the right woman yet. When you finally meet him, you’re going to wonder what you ever saw in this James guy.

Just take a long, long, deep breath – like for a month. Let it out for another month. Repeat as necessary.

You already know this, but the paradox still needs to be stated: Time will be both your hated enemy and, ultimately, your savior.

I know I can tell you that this will pass and that you one day can look back and say “Gee, I was dumb”. But I’m guessing from personal experience that you won’t agree with me. Not yet anyway

Just remember this, you can’t help having feelings for him, he can’t help not having them for you, but you can both help where you go from here. IMO, you were the honest one, and he acted like a moron. Of course, I only have your version of events, but that’s good enough for me.

Cry your eyes out, take daylongs hikes with your dog, talk to your friends for hours and hours. And if that’s not enough, come back here. You know we’re on your side.

Can’t agree here. I’ve been on both sides of the unrequited love thang, and that boy should have known that her feelings were still raw. That was selfish and inconsiderate. Yeah, it’s OK for him to hit on the new girl, but there is no reason to do it in Sara’s presence.

I can’t see why Nancy, or the boob, would get pissed off at this. Sounds like an honest and mature way to handle it.

Couple things:

One, don’t spend alot of time here worring about who behaved worse or if you behaved badly or if you should have done things differently. Obviously, over the long term you will want to ask yourself all these questions, and whatever the answers are they will teach you an awful lot about yourself and about people in general. But you haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting it sorted out properly while you are smack dab in the middle of it.

Two, people will suggest that the relationship can be salvaged, and it may be possible, but it is a trade-off–remember, there are only so many hours in a day, and you pretty much have to pick between trying to salvage this relationship (and staying in love with him) and spending your time forging new ones. Had you been with this guy 15 years and you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the two of you could click as a couple, had before for years at a time, I would stay stick to your guns. But you haven’t–you’ve known him a year, you’re 20 years old, and there are so many interesting people out there that have so much to teach and learn from you.

Three, I may be presuming here, but I think that you are one of the smart, funny, honest, strraightforward-type people who know how they feel and aren’t afraid to show it. The sort of relationship patten you are falling into here (and there is no way around this) is much more suited for the drama-queen type, the sorts who enjoy emotional roller-coasters and public scenes (Nothing wrong with that. I know good relationships based on the mutual love of big public scenes and screaming matches. But if you are not the type this sort of thing is unbearable) When a relationship is right for a straight-forward, honest type there isn’t any of this bullshit, cause you meet someone else who is just as honest, just as direct, and things just fall into place. It is like falling off a log. Someday that will happen to you, but not while this other situation is tapping all your emotional energy.

Nacho, YOU ROCK. Like most everyone in this thread, I’ve been there. But your e-mail to him was perfection. I think you communicated your thoughts perfectly, and I’m sure that when he read it, all he could say was, “Damn. I screwed up.” You should be proud of yourself for maintaining your composure, and for sticking to your guns. Good job, you’re doing the right thing.