In her former life, Emily “Gynomite” Gordon was a couples and family therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states. In this life, she’s a freelance fighter of your emotional woes with Ask Gynomite. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. Today, Gynomite takes on the icky stickiness of falling for a friend.
OK, so. I have (or had) a male best friend who was closer to me than any guy has ever been. We had everything in common and there was nothing we didn’t share with each other. I’ve always been pretty sure he cares for me as more than a friend; he was always telling me how attractive i was, got jealous if i talked to or about other guys, and even a couple of times said that he thought he might be in love with me. I haven’t seen him in that way until about a month or so ago, when i started wanting more than friendship. A couple of weeks ago, i spent the night at his house and we slept together. I felt closer to him than i ever had and it was an amazing night, but over the next few days everything changed. I tried to express my feelings to him, and he basically said that he didn’t want anything more than friendship with me. I slept with him again a week after the first time, and after this we grew even further apart. We only talk if i contact him now, and it’s not the same at all. Was i completely wrong about his feelings for me? How do i know if he actually does have feelings for me?
So painful. Seriously, there is no pain like this, and I’m so sorry you’re experiencing it. You weren’t wrong at all about his feelings for you, but you guys both might have been wrong about how much sexual tension can cloud your vision.
Just from the outside, this sounds to me like a classic case of wanting what you cannot have only until you get it. In no way do I think he slept with you and decided he wasn’t into you, or that you weren’t good enough, or anything like that. I think instead that he was so enamored of you for so long that you were no longer a real person to him, but instead an object on a pedestal. And you know the weird thing about an object on a pedestal? You can never touch it. It’s always out of your reach, and being out of his reach made you deliciously and amazingly desirable, in a way that no human ever really is.
It’s almost always more about the fantasy than the reality when it comes to friends having feelings for each other. Being into for so long and then getting you might be more than this guy can handle- either that or he stayed in love with you because it was easier than dating. Good protection from the horrors of commitment and all that. Once dating you became a possibility, he had to jet.
Basically, this is more about him than it is about you.
What I’m curious about is what made you decide a month ago that you had feelings for him? How did you notice? What feelings did you have? Did you turn to him after a breakup, or a long dry spell in the relationship realm, or did you just genuinely look up one day and realize you wanted to see him naked? I can’t help but think that your changing tides of emotion might have been set off by something, and in turn set other things off.
At this point my advice to you would be to give yourself a little bit of distance from the situation. You need to have a icky, frank talk with him, but before that, you need to cool your head from feeling those twin emotions of affection and betrayal.
Go back and explore for yourself why you started having feelings for this guy, what triggered them exactly after being friends for so long. Maybe make three lists- what you get out of this guy as a friend, what you get out of this guy as a friend who is quietly but clearly in love with you (so flattering!), and what you get out of this guy as a lover. Be honest about the benefits of each, because it seems to me that his benefit to you as a lover at this point is minimal.
When your feelings for this guy have gotten a bit less intense, and if you feel like you want to continue being his friend, ask him if you can talk to him about this stuff when he’s ready. Propose a frank conversation about where your FRIENDSHIP (not relationship) goes after this sexual encounter. Don’t believe the aloof bloggers out there, sleeping together always affects a friendship. Just put all the awkward stuff on the table, and discuss how you want to handle it until discussing it doesn’t feel so squirmy anymore. If he’s not willing to do that, you might have lost a friend from this encounter. That happens- he may need his own time to figure out what he does actually want, and he’s entitled to that.
The super happy end to this is that you two realize you are in love and fall into each others’ arms forever, but the truth may be that you were friends with some sexual tension, and once that tension was relieved, the friendship became too shaky to continue. I wish you the best of luck. Be careful of your heart.