Ask Dr. NerdLove: Is It Time To Abandon A Friendship?

Hi Doc,

My question is about dealing with the aftermath of confessing intimate feelings to a close friend and coping with his rejection whilst not losing that friend and moving the nuclear option.

Long story short, I am a late bloomer in her early 30s with limited experience (had a first kiss and sensual experience when I was 30, just 1 connection, and had sex just 3 times in my lifetime ). So, the previous summer I’ve developed a crush on a really close friend that I knew for 2 years at the time. The problem was that he had been going to leave town to move across the sea in 4 months. Despite this, I wanted to follow a short-term relationship with him, I felt like having a short-term intimate encounter with him outweighed the fact that it is going to be a connection with an expiration date.

Being a firm believer in direct communication, I asked him if he would be interested in us dating each other and I tell him that I recognize that most likely it is going to be a connection with an expiration date and if he does not feel he is into that he should not be scared of saying’no’, I will take it. He answered he was also considering us dating each other but he was afraid he does not have the time to date someone in another 4 months (he was supposed to travel quite a bit for work reasons prior to leaving the town ). Anyway, he said {} think about it. Three days after we got together for drinks with another girl who’s very closest friend. I could not stay long and left, the following morning I got a news from her that matters escalated after I left and they decided to play a version of truth or dare game by stripping off their clothes and telling each other mad sex things they’ve done (but they did not touch each other) and that I should have stayed that night to join them. Frankly, I felt dreadful upon hearing that information, though there was not any reason. A few hours later he messaged me saying that he does not have any secrets from me and I am free to inquire about his mad sex experiences he confessed to a friend of mine while naked, but he wants to be in the perfect mood, so I should not push him to inform about them.

A month after the three of us were hanging out (he {} tell me these stories) and that I was being playful with him put his hands on my back to get back massage. The following day he wrote me that he was really considering having a romantic relationship with me despite the limited time we have, but due to the’hand thingy’ (I did not ask him for his approval ), he determined that he will change his mind. I gradually recovered then, but the fact he was keeping secrets (what he told another buddy ) was slowly eating me. Several weeks before he left the town I told him how I felt about him having those secrets from me. He disclosed these secrets, via a text message, not face to face, and it felt as though it was not genuine.

Those secrets turned were the truth he practiced some BDSM actions several years back and that he was ashamed of them. Now, here is what, I am also into BDSM (never practiced but I know I need to do it), so I told him that those things he should not be ashamed of and that I find them amazing and {} also into them. During the past week we had been talking a lot about them, and lots of day after he left the town he explained he could be up for trying some of these, 1.5 months later when we were supposed to share a hotel room for a week in a music festival in a different country. But when we actually met, he felt somewhat angry and distant (I do not know what triggered it, but he had been stressed searching for employment in a different continent), sooner or later at this occasion he said that he favors going for dinners with different people rather than me (before that we had been having dinners together and planned on celebrating New Year’s eve together at the festival). He also stated that I need to change my plans of seeing him across the sea (fortunately I did not book my flights yet). The remainder of the event was quite depressing for me.

After all of this I feel have hard time processing what have occurred (that nude night with a buddy of mine after he explained that he does not have time for casual sex, the fact he was concealing his interest in BDSM while telling me he trusts me and does not have secrets from me, or his weirdly distant behaviour at the festival). I feel miserable and have difficulty sleeping when I think about most {} things that happened between us the past year and I think about them almost daily. Am I overreacting and simply have to find mental help? The matter is that I really appreciate his friendship and that I still keep contact with him. But sometimes I think if I need to go complete nuclear option? But I’m terrified of losing a close friendship with him and doing the nuclear option and losing contact with him would do more psychological damage as opposed to maintaining a contact.

Thanks a lot for any feedback!
Nukes and Friends

This is somewhat complicated, NaF, since I think there are a couple of issues colliding here.

The first is that this man appears to have issues with really saying what he thinks or feels. I mean, it is pretty clear to me from his activities that he is simply not interested in you and — for whatever reason — can not seem to bring himself to say it straight. Maybe he is concerned about hurting you. Maybe he is just very passive aggressive. It might be that you were not as clear about the nature of the connection you wanted with him and he thinks you want something more committed than he’s up for. Maybe he enjoys dangling the notion of the two of you getting together on your head like he is dangling string above a kitten. Who knows. But what’s clear is that the problem isn’t that he does not have time for casual hot games… it is that he does not have time for casual hot games with you.

And hey, that stinks. It can be incredibly debilitating when it feels like somebody is telling you that you are simply not good enough to bang. I don’t think that is what he is actually saying, but you would be forgiven for taking it that way because he is acting really goddamn weird about it.

Now it is fair that some folks do not necessarily like being caught or feeling like they’re being forced to touch someone they would rather not touch. Everyone has the rights to their bounds and it is definitely not impossible that you crossed one of his. However, for him to tell you another day”hello, I was totally going to hook up with you but you tried to make me give you a massage, so nevermind,” is… questionable. It comes across as a bizarre and cruel way of punishing you for a transgression you’d no idea you’d made. If this was real, then I really question the need to bring up the concept of dating, rather than just saying”hey, I was not cool with your catching my hands like that.” That’s the type of thing which makes me wonder about his emotional intelligence or social calibration.

And if it was not genuine and only a way for him to escape having to turn you down (to get a question which you asked a month ago) then he is being a match playing dick.

Again: if this came from the clear blue skies, then this is a man who has been the emotional equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and you are better off not dating him.

All that having been said howeverI believe you are also making a bigger deal out of a whole lot of this than is really justified by the situation or the relationship. It seems to me like you’re far more invested in this man than you should have been, all things considered. It stinks that he was more inclined to fool around with your friend — even though nothing happened — than you. But feeling betrayed he had interests along with a background he had not shared with you? That’s a bit much. Friendships, even ones that are close, are not depositions; people are not required to share each and every detail of the lives and histories, particularly details that they might be embarrassed by or ashamed of. That is not”keeping secrets” from you, that is just him with a right to privacy rather than having to disclose every little thing he has ever done.

I get that you feel left out from the fact he told your friend about this through wacky nude time… but frankly, that’s his call to make. It is understandable that you would feel hurt that he did not trust you with this advice, but again: that is his absolute right. If he needs to tell someone he is flirting about his sexual history but not you, that is up to him.

And to be honest: with as put out as you seem about it, I think part of the battle here is that you’re so put out about all of this that it became a bone of contention between the two of you. And if you’re bringing this up on the routine with him as a problem with your relationship… well, I could see how he would begin getting annoyed by it.

I don’t think you need mental assistance, NaF, I believe you are inexperienced and overinvested in somebody you liked. It’s the type of thing that most of us do when we are first trying to navigate intimate and sexual interest beyond puppy-love when we are kids. A good deal of us go through this in middle school and high-school. A number people do this later in life. It stinks, but it is a part of their learning experience and sadly, some learning experiences involve falling on our faces and amassing some bruises. However, as much as it might sting, that is how you grow your hit points at the long term.

So I think for now, I think it can be better for you to let this man go for some time. Whether this dude is not as emotionally intelligent than you would expect, you allow a crush overwhelm your common sense or both, I believe you will need some space and perspective. Unfollowing his Instagram and Snapchat, muting him Twitter and Facebook… all of these are ways that you give yourself space to heal and get over someone. It’s hard to let things go when you are constantly tempted by the chance to verify his Instagram or see whether his connection status has changed, after all.

Give yourself a rest from this man, go and gather new adventures, fall in love over and over. Let your heart heal.

Very good luck.

I think need some guidance. I have issues with my self worth when it comes to”after relationship situations”.

In the past I had a couple of relationships but none of them lasted for at least a month or two. I understood I was a wonderful guy and began to fix it (and stumbled upon your site at the time). We would head out once and then she slowly stopped responding to my messages (even calls in 1 case), with no explanation and I have never heard from her. Despite the fact that the date sounded fine, I tried to learn from each rejection and prevent errors I have made before I felt like I have failed.

What if it is going to become usual and I’ll get rejected? What did I do wrong? She is online and she watched my message, why had not she reacted already?” . My mind comes up with catastrophic situations and I worry about things that didn’t actually occur.

At times it comes to assessing my smartphone now and then which is the behaviour I wanted to avoid and making me even more anxious.

Basically my self worth drops and the assurance I felt throughout the date is just dust.

I opted to stay cool, enjoy the day and provoke the interest in her. Throughout the day she informs me about a man she is likely to meet which was sufficient to begin doubts in me (why did she do this in the first place?) . When I was paying for her after the dinner (first date) she cried but then she was like”I will cover when we will meet for another time” (which sparked the expectation for another date in me and that she was curious ). She responds to my messages then day although I am nearly always the person who initiates the conversation. My anxiety and negative thoughts intensified when I saw a post with that man (and her response to it).

My question is: How to manage these ideas and catastrophic situations and how to keep my self worth?

Worst Case Scenario Vision

Alright, WCSV, do you see what I just said to Nukes and Friendship? A good deal of that applies to you, too. The issue you are having here is that you are mentally overinvesting in those dates with people you hardly understand. In a lot of ways, first dates are just like a sample from the deli or the ice cream parlor: you are trying to determine if you are at all interested before you commit to purchasing a complete order. Getting hung up on someone you’ve only had one date with — even though it was a very good date is the way you set yourself up for unnecessary heartbreak. You do not know this person well enough to justify giving them so much importance that assessing your phone is enough to provide you with anxiety. A sexy stranger, very possibly. A stranger you had a fantastic time with. But a stranger.

The objective of a first date is simple: you need to connect together and see whether there’s enough mutual chemistry and interest to justify seeing each other again. If there is not, then it is a shame… but you will find countless other potential partners out there. This was only one that did not work out.

It sucks that things have not worked out with these girls you have been dating, but the majority of what you have been learning is that these are women who, for some reason, you are not compatible with. A whole lot of this is simply out of your control. Sometimes you get lucky right off the bat. Other times you need to search around for some time. You may satisfy the wrong person… or you may meet the perfect person at the wrong moment. The one thing you can do is be sure you’re working on your side of this equation.

Part of this is making certain you are taking the appropriate course from these dates. It will not do you any good if you are going on those dates and supposing, as an instance, you want to overcompensate for your Nice Guy ago and become a snarky asshole. On the flip side, you might still be acting TOO fine and coming across less as a possible partner and much more as a pushover. You may be spending too much time trying to impress your date and insufficient time trying to connect together.

That is why I urge that men who what to get better at relationship should maintain a journal. Whenever you go out and approach people or go out on dates, write down as far as you possibly can about what happened — what you said, what they said, how they reacted, how you felt at the present time, etc.. Try to maintain as strictly objective as possible; report what occurred without judging or assessing or making assumptions about how the other person felt or what they believed. This gives you information, and allows you to search for patterns which may indicate particular sticking points.

The same is true with analyzing the wake of said dates. If your discussions are regularly tracking off, see if you can pinpoint exactly where the change appears to happen and if it is happening at more or less the exact same time. It could be, as an instance, that you are a small over-eager and that is putting people off. On the other hand, it might also be that they simply were not feeling it and there is nothing you can do about it.

Which is a challenging truth: sometimes there is not anything to find. Sometimes the problem is not anything that you are doing but the people you’re dating.

That’s why finally, the response to getting better at relationship is… to go on more dates and try doing things differently. You may study the theory all you want but the only way you can acquire those levels in relationship is to go out and grind out’em in the area.

And incidentally: do not sweat getting ghosted so much. As much as I wish it was not true, ghosting is now part of the relationship landscape. It is rude and it can be disheartening, but at the end of the day, it says much more about them than it does about you. The one thing you can do about it’s be the change you wish to see in relationship.

Very good luck.


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