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You Asked: Can He Quit His Crush and Be a Friend?

DearSugar --

I have a male friend who I have been friends with for awhile now. About six years ago, I wasn't dating anyone and messed around with this friend. It was a bad idea and I wished it had never happened because I knew he had strong feelings for me. Almost five years ago I started dating my current boyfriend who I love and adore. My guy friend and I stopped talking for almost a year because he was having issues with my boyfriend and taking them out on me.

A couple of months ago we saw each other at a mutual friend's birthday party and talked and decided that we should be friends again and were ready to move on. Well last weekend a large group of us went out and my boyfriend was tired and decided to stay home. We were drinking and having a good time UNTIL my friend kept trying to dance with me and it made me uncomfortable. I brushed him off and he got upset because he said i wasn't being myself. I disagreed and distanced myself.

Later that night he grabbed me and asked me to kiss him! I was appalled and pulled myself away telling him no and reminding him I had a boyfriend. I could tell he was embarrassed and kept away from me. Later that night he called me very drunk telling me he needed to tell me something but when he called and I answered he changed his mind. He called several times after that and I just didn't answer and he didn't leave a message.

I want to have a friendship with him BUT he needs to move on and respect my
boundaries, but I am not sure that he can. He gets so easily offended and he isn't okay with someone being bluntly honest with him. I care for him and don't want to just stop talking again. I don't know what to do! Please help me! ~Confused Karen

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Confused Karen --

I'm not sure he can move on and respect your boundaries, either. Not yet, at least. Maybe he thought he could, when the two of you talked a few months ago, and maybe he just wanted to be near you again and was willing to let you believe he could resume a friendship. Though something about your note leads to me wonder if your friend ever felt deep feelings of friendship for you, Karen; I'm inclined to think he fell in love with you and didn't develop that particular ethic and bond of friendship that you seem to feel. If this is true, I suspect it will be very difficult for him to act as a friend, since his primary motivation toward you has been -- and still seems to be -- romantic.

By all means, show him your boundaries. His sensitivities are his own, and he must learn to manage and live with them; that is not your responsibility. Anyway, that kind of care must be mutual and reciprocal for a friendship to thrive, and his behavior at the bar, and his subsequent calls, don't indicate a reciprocal kind of care for your comfort. He blamed you, in fact, for your unease about his behavior while dancing. Think carefully about your own expectations for a friendship, Karen, and make sure he meets them.

Six years is a long time to carry an unrequited torch for someone. I think you must be firm and clear with him about the conditions under which you two can be friends, talk, and socialize. Though you don't want to, you might have to take a break again if he can't really show up, in a clean way, during that conversation. I hope he does, though, Karen. You've known each other a long time, and I can tell that he matters to you. And still, I hope you'll insist, for yourself, that he treat you as a friend really would.


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