Dear Leather and Lace: I like your Leather and Lace Advice website and so I’m sending you this question, I hope you’ll answer it. I’ve had the biggest crush on “Brian” for years. We were good friends, and finally, we decided we’d try dating. We worked well as friends, but sadly, we weren’t compatible as lovers. Both of us had suffered through dysfunctional relationships in the past. When we first started dating, he told me he was falling in love with me, and things seemed to be moving forward, but then he stopped seeing me, and he stopped calling, texting, and calling. I got the feeling that something wasn’t right, like maybe he was hiding something, but when I asked him directly if something was wrong, he told me he was just busy. Since we had been friends for so long, I just tried to believe him. But then he told me that he needed to break up with me and just be friends, because I have “emotional issues.” Really? I was shocked. Since we had been friends and we had been going out as a couple and doing things as a couple for so long, I asked him what I could do to make things better, but he just shrugged and went away. I can’t believe that someone who cared for me and who really was a friend for all these years, would just give up caring. I really love him and I thought he really loved, or at least really cared, for me. I have no idea what went wrong or what is going on in his head, but I want him to come back. Do you think he might? He recently contacted me to see how I was doing, but he didn’t follow up after I told him I was ok. I’m so confused. Can you help me make some sense of this? Unlucky and Lost
Alison’s Take: I’m sorry that you’re hurting. The worst part is losing a friend whose affection, companionship and support you have relied on for a long time. It’s one of the reasons why long term platonic male/female friendships don’t usually translate well into romantic ones (although some can do so successfully). So now you’re without a boyfriend, and you think you’ve lost your dear friend, too. I can’t get inside Brian’s head, but I’m guessing that he also has plenty of mixed emotions about what has happened between the two of you. Maybe it is embarrassment, shame, disappointment, — you two didn’t work out romantically and perhaps he feels he really let you down. Or he might simply have agreed to become your boyfriend because it was something he thought you really wanted, but he didn’t feel it, and then he didn’t know how to extract himself without hurting you, so he fled. It is also possible that he met someone else, which can happen in any romantic relationship. If you were just friends, that wouldn’t have mattered, but if he was seeing you as a girlfriend, and then he decided that it wasn’t working out or he wanted someone else, that alone might have been his reason for distancing himself from you.
In my view, he took the coward’s way out. He extricated himself in an unkind way, telling you that the reason was due to some flaw within you. But maybe there’s some truth to this. When you made the transition from friend to girlfriend, could you have started to exhibit emotional issues that he picked up on?
I can’t tell what happened but if you are honest you” know. Women tend to become more possessive insecure, and emotional when they are not sure that the person they are in love with really loves them back. We are intuitive, and we can tell when a man is telling us what we want to hear, instead of what we intrinsically feel is the truth. If, in your heart of hearts, you could tell that Brian wasn’t as in love with you as you were with him, your feelings showed.
I can’t tell you if Brian will come back, or if he even wants to be your friend again, but real friends don’t bolt and I’m assuming he misses you. He contacted you, so you can assume this is the truth. but the intensity and intent of his relationship from now on is anyone’s guess. If you really want Brian in your life, you are probably better off having him as a friend because that worked for you, and as friends, you can continue to have a long term, happy relationship. Friends don’t sever their long term relationships so easily. If you do reconnect, set boundaries, contact him, and tell him you miss his companionship…and see where it goes.
Tony’s Take: You have several co-mingled issues here but let us start at the basics, friendship and companionship are not the same thing. Take the base dating axiom, opposites attract. The reason there is truth to this folk saying is we are attracted to those who will bring new experiences and new friends to the relationship, they will draw us out of the pleasant rut we occupy on a day to day basis. By being with them and doing things with them we develop the common, shared experiences that form the basis of stable relationships. They become our companions.
Friends, on the other hand, are based on commonalities. We share the same views on things, complain about the same things, commiserate over past or current troubles. What friends talk about and how they talk is different than how lovers talk and look at the world. Most importantly we share our feeling about our love interests, and our issues about them with our friends. By definition, you can’t talk the same way about the same, with a lover.
Yes, friends can become lovers but they would have to have been companions also.
Your first issue is you started under false pretenses, you had an active crush so you always wanted more, which is a violation of his trust when he discussed other women with him. You could not give him an unbiased opinion. It also led you to assume to much and move too quickly, because you were not seeing him as a person but as your crush.
He, for his part, was initially drawn to the sensuality of the new relationship, a wide open and accepting female who he liked to talk to. Then reality set in. He no longer could talk to you about you as the new lover, and he then felt awkward about talking to you at all lest it stray into unsafe territory. He felt it was moving too fast and he was getting claustrophobic. Then he started to fear talking to you both because he was so exposed because you knew him so well and also because he did not know where your relationship with him was going. Worse, he didn’t want to lead you on. So he did what many people do when faced with a dysfunctional relationship — he just ran away.
Obviously he has been hurt and hurt badly and thus is very gun shy. You took his safe place away from him and made him withdrawn and defensive. Only thing I can suggest is try to reconnect as a friend and if you still want him, wait it out. You do not give his age but his response is typical of someone who is mentally under 30 (the age we expect to have to act like adults) and this there is hope he will grow and mature, but what will it do to you and your life to pine for him for years more?