Friend-zoned and confused
Dear Annie: I’m a 32-year-old single woman facing a predicament. I’ve been friends with a guy named “Stan” for a few months, though we haven’t actually talked in over a month now. We were acquainted in high school, but we lost touch after a short while.
Stan and I went on a couple of dates, and I thought things were going well, but then he asked if we could just be friends. If we hadn’t ALMOST hooked up, I would’ve been fine with this, but because I thought he was still interested in me as more than a friend, it took me by surprise, but I agreed to it.
We continued to talk and hung out once more; however, I had expressed my feelings for him a total of three times, and the third time, he came close to blocking me. Stan had made it very clear to me that he doesn’t reciprocate my feelings, though when we first started talking as friends, I had been optimistic that eventually we could be more than that.
The two times that I’ve messaged him since, he’s left me on read, though he sporadically watches my Instagram stories. He’s explained that he’s not ready for a relationship, yet I’ve noticed that he follows numerous women and he’s on a dating app.
He’s also mentioned that he’s experiencing family issues, but because we’ve only known each other for a few months, I felt that was too personal of a subject for me to provide input on. I’m afraid to initiate a conversation with him because I don’t want to risk arguing and (possibly) consequently losing a friend, but at the same time, I feel like he’s hiding some things from me.
I’d like to let him know that he can trust me, but it remains unclear to me as to whether I can trust him or not. The last time Stan and I talked, he asked me to give him space because I was making him uncomfortable, but now I’m wondering if he is just trying to phase me out of his life. That was almost a month and a half ago. Please help. I have no idea what to do about this. — Crushed Overthinker
Dear Overthinker: First things first, respect Stan’s boundaries. He’s explicitly asked you for space and expressed discomfort by your behavior. You can speculate until the cows come home, but I’d take what he’s telling you at face value: that he only sees you as a friend and he’s not ready to be in any relationship.
You should also reconsider what you want. You have feelings for Stan, sure, but you can’t ignore the signs he’s given you. Would you want to start a relationship with a man who has admitted several times he doesn’t feel romantically toward you anyway? Someone you admit you’re not sure you can even trust?
Sometimes the best gift we can give others and ourselves is the time and distance to gain clarity and cool off. Whether the space he needs is intended to be a full breakup of your friendship or simply an intermission, only Stan can know and time will tell. Let him come to you and see if salvaging the friendship is possible. In the meanwhile, look elsewhere — there are plenty of other men who might be interested in you romantically, as long as you’re not obsessed with Stan.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now. Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.