Hello again and welcome back to another edition of Dear Dating Bitch, my online advice column. Today, I’ve got a few different questions from readers on the issue of being “just friends” with someone.
I’m sure we’ve all been there before, either with someone we only want a friendship with or vice versa. And, today, I’ve got reader questions to answer on both sides of the equation.
But first, if you’d like to submit a question to me, you can do so here. And don’t worry – it’s always anonymous.
And now, let’s dive in, shall we?
Dear Dating B: Advice on Being Just Friends
Q: I am in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way. He just wants to be friends. I’m so torn up about this – what should I do?
How do I handle being just friends with the person I love?
Just His Friend
Dear Just His Friend:
Treat this like a breakup, because that’s sort of what it is.
I know that’s not what you want to hear – you specifically asked about how to maintain a friendship – but I can’t give advice about something that would be either impossible, harmful, or both.
You might be able to be friends (or at least friendly) with this person down the line. But, for the time being, you’ll need to end the friendship.
Don’t do it in a spiteful or angry way. And don’t use it as an attempt to get them to change their mind. It’s not about withholding something from them, it’s about focusing on your own well-being. Trying to do that while also staying in constant contact with someone who is causing you pain (even if it’s unintentional) is like fighting an uphill battle.
So, kindly tell them that you need to take some space for yourself right now. There’s no need to make it dramatic – you can absolutely say something simple and vague:
“Jack, I value your friendship, but I’m not going to be available for a little while. I need some time to work through my own feelings.”
Then, do that. Spend time with other friends and family. Practice self-care. Journal. Exercise. Meditate. Whatever you do, don’t try and stay friends with someone you have strong feelings for. It’ll only end up causing you more pain. Unrequited love is painful enough as it is – dragging it out is unnecessary torture.
Q: I’ve been seeing a woman for a few weeks now. She’s been a lot of fun and I like her. But, because of a past toxic relationship, I have a hard time trusting.
How can I explain to her that I’m not ready for a relationship, but that I do want a close friendship?
Dear Wannabe Friend:
Do it sooner rather than later, and be as gentle as possible.
“Jessica, I’ve really loved getting to know you and spend time with you the last few weeks. But, I’m not able to commit to a romantic relationship right now. I do genuinely like spending time with you, though, and if you’re open to it, I would love to be friends.”
Be prepared for her to reject your offer of friendship. After all, you’ve been seeing her for a few weeks, so having a sudden change of heart will probably take her by surprise. She might feel misled – and honestly, she might have a right to feel that way. Why have you been dating her (or anyone, really) if you’re not actually wanting a relationship?
In addition, wanting a “close friendship” might be asking for too much. She wanted a relationship, not a friend or a fuck-buddy. But, be honest and give her a chance to make that call. Whatever you do, don’t waste any more of her time.
Q: Is it wrong to reach out to an ex after several months to let them know that you’re still there for them?
(Maybe) Still There For You
I feel like I’m missing a huge part of this story. I’m left with more questions than answers.
Why are you wanting to let them know that you’re still “there for them”? Has something happened in their life (like a recent death of a loved one)?
What are you hoping to get from this? Are you just wanting to extend an olive branch? Start a friendship? Possibly reconcile?
Also, why would it be wrong? Did the relationship end on bad terms? Do you think that they would feel upset hearing from you again?
My advice would depend heavily on the answers to all of the above.
But, here’s my take based on different circumstances:
Scenario 1: A tragedy has occurred in their life and you’re wanting to offer support/condolences.
Go ahead and reach out – UNLESS the relationship ended because of violence or abuse. A simple message here will do; “Ex, I heard about fluffy’s passing and I wanted to let you know that I’m sorry for your loss. I know we didn’t end on great terms, but I’m here for you if you need someone.”
Scenario 2: You broke their heart/ended the relationship without closure and want to extend an olive branch.
If you can send a message genuinely and without expecting a response, go for it. But, again, consider whether or not it will be painful for them. If it will be, don’t reopen old wounds.
Scenario 3: They broke up with you and you either want to stay friends, get closure, or reconnect romantically.
ONLY do this if you feel like you can handle the rejection (or possible silence). Otherwise, I would say leave well enough alone.
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Being “just friends” with someone when one of you has strong romantic feelings is always complicated. For most people, it’s not doable and it’s better to offer a mourning period before trying.
But what do you think? Have you ever been friends with someone you wanted more with? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading. And be sure to send me your questions (on life, love, or anything in between) here!
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