I Have Feelings For Him and My Boyfriend, Too
Dear Alison & Tony: I became good friends with someone I’ve known for a while when we teamed up as training partners for the New York marathon. For close to eight months, we were together every day, and so we became friends and confidants. But once the event ended, so did his contact. I emailed him once or twice and a few days later he sent short notes that didn’t say much of anything. Although I have a great boyfriend, I also thought I had made a good friend, and it is bothering me that he has completely dropped me like I never mattered to him at all on any level. Maybe this sounds irrational, but I am a loyal friend, and I feel very betrayed by this man. Just so you know, I have never gotten the impression that he is attracted to me; in fact, we would often talk about women he was interested in. As I am writing this I realize that if I am being honest, I might have more feelings for him that I originally thought, but I love my boyfriend, too and don’t want to upset either of them.
Mooning Over My Marathon Friend:
Alison’s Take: Moon no more! Friendship is precious and one of the great joys of life. Gender shouldn’t matter. A man who was a friend for years, became a lover , and then I married him. The fact that we knew each other so well before we got married has made life together, easier. Male/female friendships are a bit like being grandparents. You get all the joy of the children, without any of the realities and responsibilities of daily life with them. But not all friendships last forever. Some are situational. Your relationship with your friend was formed over a special and intense experience: training for a marathon, but these types of friendships often cool off after the common situation or experience, ends. What sustains real friendships over time, is shared interests and goals, not just a singular experience.
You say you have a great boyfriend, but your feeling for your marathon friend may be deeper than you are willing to admit.If the other parts of your life were satisfying, you would not have reacted to your friends’ lack of continued interest, this intensely. He bonded with you for convenience and Alison and Tony of leather and lace advice can see that this is a disappointment. Men and women are just “people,” under the skin, but there are differences. There is also always a bit of underlying sexual tension when a woman and a man become close friends. It’s human nature to wonder “what if?” In your case, your friend probably considered you are off limits because you have a boyfriend. You didn’t say if he has someone special in his life, but he has mentioned other women. Perhaps he is now just more involved with one of them.
There is nothing wrong with caring for someone. It is what makes us human. But it’s the pain of rejection or abandonment that hurts. The worst part of losing what you thought was a genuine friend is not just the loss of companionship, but the confusion you feel about the “why” of the matter. In hindsight, perhaps you could have expressed your feelings and made it clear you wanted the relationship to continue. Perhaps he could have done the same, but didn’t, because he respected your relationship with your boyfriend. If this man is single and you think this is the case, you can still possibly re-connect with him. But you are likely to discover that his interest in you is not reciprocal. If all you want is the companionship of your friend, and you want to keep your boyfriend too, be clear about your desires, and then make the appropriate moves. No one should fault you for speaking your heart, but you are responsible for your actions and their consequences.
Tony’s Take: It’s not you, it is him. Like good looking women, good looking or otherwise-attractive men develop bad habits. They are used to being adored, and therefore feel that getting attention from others, is their due. It would be an understatement to say they are narcissistic or self involved. You (and probably most women) are merely beneath their notice. You are useful but not important.
Your only defence against such “masters of the universe” is to recognize them, and ignore them. They are not worth your time or contempt. They will get theirs when the universe decides someone else is the master, where upon they become pathetic irrelevancies.
Alison’s Response to Tony: I agree that someone who is a narcissist and self-absorbed doesn’t make for a warm, fuzzy, sensitive friend. But as you are fond of saying, we can’t control who we love (or like). If Mooning Over My Marathon Friend finds that her marathon buddy fits the “masters of the universe” role I would urge her to think twice about pursuing him, potentially jeopardizing a relationship with her boyfriend. Only she knows if her marathon man is a self-absorbed person, But if he’s someone she really likes, I don’t see why she should try to re-kindle their connection. If that doesn’t work, it’s a risk she was willing to take. However, she should first consider her relationship with her boyfriend and whether or not she wants to be with him.
Tony’s response to Alison: I agree that friendship is precious and that we often have to go the extra mile to keep someone in our life who we value but there is that expression “he is just not that into you” which come to mind. Some people are very closed and cold emotionally, and this guy seems like he could be one of them. To be fair to him, he might have seen the relationship devoping and decided it would not work and so he let it die intentionaly. Friendships are funny things. Some only work in certain situations. Some end abruptly for no discernable or reasonable reason. Others fade for a period only to be rekindled later. We should cherish our friends, but we must realize that they may have needs very different from our own.