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Confused Over an On-and-Off Relationship

"How Do I Get Out of This On-Again, Off-Again Relationship Cycle?"

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our community. Add your advice in the comments!

I have been friends with a guy for almost 15 years. We grew up down the street from each other and have the same circle of friends. Five years ago, during college, we started "talking." He claims we were dating, but it was never actually declared. He never said that to me or to his friends, who berated him for playing games and screwing up something good. He then effectively blocked every attempt by anyone else — his friends and mine — from trying to date me by staking his claim. It was never overt, but he basically scared off everyone else. When I pushed for an official title, he resisted and instead began dating an ex-girlfriend in a mostly on, sometimes off relationship. We kept in touch and remained friends, and we were occasionally something more when he and his ex were off. The sentiment expressed both during and after their breakup was the existence of feelings for me despite their relationship, but he's yet to make any kind of move in the year since they split.

In an effort to move on with my life, I have tried to cut him out of my life and he objects — loudly and profusely. Whenever I try, something inevitably goes wrong in one of our lives: family cancer scares, death of close friends and family, etc. Then we revert back to 15 years of friendship, love, support, holding hands, and hospital visits.

Psychologically, the back and forth is a bad situation and it is starting to irritate everyone we know on both ends. However, the mutual feelings are insanely obvious to those around us. Plus, any new significant others are compared and found lacking by friends and family alike. We both admit feelings, but acting on it . . . well, it hasn't gotten there yet and may not ever. I know I need to do something, but I can't figure out what it is. This is a vicious cycle. Cutting him out isn't an option because of the circle we've built. What do I do?

Have a dilemma of your own? Post it anonymously in Group Therapy for advice.

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henna-red henna-red 3 years
I'm not sure you actually want a healthy way to deal with this. You say that cutting him out is not an option....because of the cycle you two have chosen to repeat and repeat and repeat. Every behavior is a choice. If you refuse to change your behavior, your choice, then you choose to continue the same results. Period. I don't really understand wanting to keep someone in your life who demands that you accept what is unacceptable. I don't understand accepting the behaviors from him that you accept. I don't understand expecting a different outcome when you refuse to make a different choice. You figured this out before...and he objected "loudly and vociferously." So what? He doesn't have the right to decide what you do with your life or who you have in it....very definately including him! So the real question is.....why do you let this guy determine your life and your choices? Why is it ok with you that he makes demands and gives nothing back? Why do you accept this? It sounds to me as though you are addicted to him, to a personality, and that you are afraid to face life without the influence of this guy in it, no matter how unhealthy and damaging his influence is. You seem to have substituted his desires for your own in your life. So long as you continue to do that, you will continue to have exactly the situation you have now. So, what are you willing to change? Everything in your life starts with you. If you want something different, you have to make different choices. You can't choose to stay in this pattern, to change NOTHING and have a different outcome. Look, this is your life. Life is short, and time you loose you never get back. I'd like to suggest a book that Bubbles recommends and that I've read also....She's Scared, He's Scared by Sokol and Carter. It's about the passive and agressive approaches of commitment phobes. I'd say you will discover yourself and this guy and your pattern in this book. If you take this information seriously, and add it to a desire to change, it can help you. It's a starting place....a way to hold a mirror up to your situation and really look at it. good luck. It's a new year, time for a new choice.
missmaryb missmaryb 3 years
Wow, what a complicated friendship. For your own sanity, you need to have some kind of definition about your relationship with each other. It seems to me like he doesn't want to step up and make it an official romantic relationship, but he doesn't want anyone else to have you either. Not healthy. He's holding you back from other possibilities. And you are letting him do it. You need to figure out what you want from this guy...a truly platonic friendship? A romantic relationship? Nothing at all? Once you figure that out you need to talk with him and tell him what you need and what you will and will not tolerate from him...and if he doesn't feel the same, then you need to cut him out entirely, and ignore any protests on his part. You can't put your life on hold because this guy wants to have his cake and eat it too. Good luck.
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