Woe Is Me! “I Told My Friend I Had Feelings For Him, He Cut Me Off. Have I Lost Him For Good?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I had a crush on my close friend, but I never revealed it to him. Later, while on a trip, he expressed his casual sexual interest in me and I was shocked. I managed to convince him of my lack of interest in being intimate, but the incident stayed with me. Finally, I decided to tell him. I was very clear that I was not expecting any kind of relationship, but just wanted to let him know that I had a crush on him, especially after the incident on the trip. However, he became highly defensive, and there was a lot of misunderstanding between us. Our friendship ended. It has been almost 2 years now and whenever we meet each other, we act like total strangers. I tried to fix the misunderstandings but failed. I know I’m not responsible for this cold war, but I still feel guilty for ruining a beautiful friendship that meant a lot to me. How do I come to terms with this loss?”
AB: First, it’s good that you’ve realised that you’re not to blame for the current state of your friendship. You did what you felt was right about telling him about your feelings, especially considering his casual sexual interest in you. From my perspective, you’ve made the right move — even if you hadn’t outright told him about your crush, it would have affected your interactions with him anyway. Second, it’s not entirely on you to fix this: you’ve made things clear from your end, and if, even after two years, he can’t come to terms with that and act like an adult, then I truly think it’s time to wash your hands of it. It wasn’t like he was the one with unrequited feelings, and the fact that he’s been highly defensive after so long indicates a level of immaturity that I personally wouldn’t want in my life. You haven’t ruined the friendship—he was the one who made his interest known first. You were simply being honest with him.
Now, how to deal with this loss: I think you need to stop making any attempts at reconciliation from here onwards; it’s clear that it’s not being received well. I would recommend sending one final message explaining the situation from your perspective as clearly as possible. Two, accept that your friendship has been permanently changed and that you can celebrate the relationship you did have while still mourning what you lost. Three, move on with other people! While this wasn’t necessarily a romantic partner, friendship breakups can be just as emotional, so the best thing that helps you come to terms with it are time and distance. Find other people, and if you’re both in the same friend group, tell someone you trust about the situation so that you have a buffer around when you need to interact. I commend you for thinking about things from his perspective but you also need to know when to let go. This doesn’t mean that you can never reconnect in the future, however; make sure that he knows that the door is open but don’t make any more overtures from your side. Good luck, you can get through this!
AS: You’re not responsible for the end of this friendship. Neither should you have to feel guilty for being honest with someone about your feelings. You explained your side of things and even made it clear that you didn’t expect a relationship. It’s possible he just didn’t know how to deal with this information, but the onus shouldn’t fall only on you to clear the misunderstanding. If it would make you feel better and ease the guilt, give it one last shot – you can actively reach out and try to clear the air. But if he still doesn’t reciprocate, that too after two years, then maybe, the best thing for you to do is to move on? It’s tough to let a close friendship go but, sometimes, it may be the best way forward.
HK: Loss of friendships, regardless of the blame game or the complications, are never easy to deal with. I am sorry, and I empathise with your state, but I would advise you to talk to your friend, for that is the only way to salvage the remains of this friendship. There can be multiple reasons for his behaviour, ranging from embarrassment at how he chose to handle the situation, or simply unresolved emotions between the two of you – but you will never get to the bottom of the issue without a conversation. The boundaries between casual relationships, friends with benefits, and friendships are more blurred than ever, and it is difficult to navigate your way through this undefined space, but if you have faith in the grounding of your friendship, it would be unfair to give up without a fight. However, if your olive branch is not reciprocated, it would be best to reminisce about the good times, and accept that the friendship outgrew itself.
RN: You didn’t ruin the friendship if the friendship ended because of him getting defensive when you expressed your feelings. If anything, he should feel guilty for ruining it by handling it so badly — and perhaps, he does feel guilt, which probably explains why he’s avoiding you. Judging from the little information we have, it seems like he’s the one who wanted to change your dynamic with sex first, and probably couldn’t handle your saying no while also communicating emotional feelings. Think about it: if you didn’t get the ick from him wanting to get it, and you didn’t distance yourself from him, it already is a blueprint for how any emotionally well-adjusted and mature person would handle such a situation. I would only say to you at this point: let that man go! He has some growing up to do.
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