Best Friend is in love with me and I need space

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    I (a woman, in college) want space from my close friend. Let me start with our history. We have known each other for almost 7 years. He’s been in love with me for 3 years, and very openly about it too. Each time he’s confessed his feelings for me, I have rejected him. After the first time he confessed to me, we drifted apart because of life. We weren’t close friends to begin with (we get close when college starts), and I wasnt particularly interested in being friends with someone who was in love with me. At the time, he was incredibly clingy and sort of creepily invested in me, so I ignored him, knowing he’d get over me with time.

    We only got close last year when we both applied for the same college and moved away at the same time.

    One day, we bumped into each other and he brought up a college he was interested in going. Coincidentally, it was the same college I wanted to go to. From there, the ball started rolling and we began hanging out a lot while we applied and made plans to go there. I knew our friendship was growing closer, but inside I knew this meant more to him than to me. His feelings were cropping up again while to me this was simply two people helping each other out in a process. I should have cut our ties here while I could, but I selfishly kept our mutual help going because I didn’t want to do the college process alone.

    When college orientation was due, we needed to fly to the different state to attend. He was having trouble getting somewhere to stay during the trip, and if he didn’t go he’d be rejected from the college, so against my better judgement regarding his romantic feelings, I asked him to stay with me. That week was the toughest, most awkward week for me. His feelings were at full force, with romantic doe eyes and his in-love soft voice while we did domestic activities. I felt so uncomfortable that I put myself in an obviously couple-like dating activity with him. He treated me like his girlfriend and it made my skin crawl that I had lost control over this situation, like all I could do was just allow this to happen since I invited him.

    After a few months, it was time to start college. We said goodbye to our respective families and friends and began our semester. We only knew each other in this new place, and our friendship barrel rolled into becoming a support system for one another. I was happy to have him, but I knew this wasn’t healthy in the long run since he still looked at me like he was in love. I have to mention again, he KNOWS Im not interested in him but its like he cannot hide his feelings at all. He doesn’t notice how intense he looks when he’s staring and smiling at me.

    I simply try to ignore that side of him as our friendship deepens. The facade starts falling apart when I jokingly bring up a crush I had on a guy while my friend was there. His smile dropped immediately, he turned ashy white, his eyes wide and obviously taken aback. I knew he had feelings for me, but his reaction totally threw me off guard with how strong it was. At the moment my reaction was to pull him aside and ask him what was wrong. As I assumed, he confessed that he still had feelings for me and felt hurt that I had a crush. Here, I came clean of my discomfort with his romantic feelings, how he stares at me, how lovey dovey his interactions are with me. Poor guy was red and shaking, and he apologized and said he was working really hard on getting over me. In this moment, I told him that some space would probably work best to help him, and he flat out (almost) yelled NO. Yes, this was a red flag for me. But i tried to calm him by saying I didn’t mean stop being friends. I meant making peace with the fact that we cannot be inseparable, like the way we had been when applying to college and going to orientation together. He agreed, but with a sad demeanor. From that moment, I let things go.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Time passed and we kept getting closer and closer. Still, another red flag appeared after a fight we had. We had spent a whole weekend hanging out with a friend of mine who was visiting, me staying at his place and having fun. The day my friend was set to leave, I left his place really quickly to hang out with my other friend before he returned to his state. I realize now I could have handled this better as no one should feel like they’re being ditched. Yet at the moment I felt it was okay to prioritize my visiting friend over him since I see him at school all the time. Still I could tell he was hurt, I asked him what was wrong and he said “nothing”. So I gave him space, and didn’t text him for a week. After that week, we text sparsely as I was busy with schoolwork.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    When suddenly he texts me: he tells me he felt used, that I only stayed at his house to see my visiting friend (even tho I talked to both equally) and that I ignored him for a week. He even said he felt this friendship was a farce. I felt immediately ashamed that my actions hurt him, so I apologized. I reassured him that he is my friend, since that is true. However, I needed more insight on his feelings since I knew part of why he was hurt was tied to his romantic feelings to me. I don’t like to justify my actions, I could have definitely checked with him before leaving to see my visiting friend, considering I was staying at his place. But because he is more emotionally invested in me, my indifference hurt him even more. I wont say he overreacted, but I do think his over-attachment was a factor. So after the apology and reassurances of friendship, we discussed his feelings again, and he confessed that he’s scared of losing me, how Im the only one he can talk to. I felt uncomfortable yet again being the obvious center of his social life, so I asked him if he thought space was necessary for this hurt to heal. I mean, for someone to come to the conclusion that this friendship is a farce after one week of no communication, you would think stepping back to breathe would help. But again he vehemently refused the idea of us losing contact, stating he has lost friends this way and hated the thought of me drifting away. He even painted a metaphorical picture, saying that our lives are like roads that will drift away at some point, and that he wanted to spend time with me now before that happened. Because Im a push over I agreed, although this situation was another red flag of co-dependency, fear, jealousy from him…and guilt, shame, indifference from me.

    A few months later, I open up to him about a crush Im pursuing. Like last time, he clammed up and got very silent, like he was sad. I pushed through and talked about it like nothing had happened, and eventually he came around and perked up. I wanted to talk about it to normalize me having crushes and help him move on. However, the conversation turned into a deep talk on our preferences and wants in love. It got awkward real fast. For example, when he described his perfect girl, he described me from head to toe. He kept looking at me longingly, like he was suffering in silence. I felt uneasy that he was making his feelings for me blatant again, but I ignored it. A few days later, he says he has something to confess. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what he planned: yep, another love confession.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    We met up and he asked me why we are not a couple, considering how our goals in life, preferences, wants in love are the same. He even said the roads metaphor again, saying that if we were a couple, our lives would never have to separate like diverging roads. RED FLAG!! I again rejected him by saying I just am not interested in him. He backed off politely, but I was so unnerved. How could someone consistently be worried about our lives being independent, so much that he asks the girl he KNOWS is not interested to be his girlfriend, on the basis that it would mean they would be inseparable. It was scary to me how fearful he was of losing me. It was clear to me we needed space. Yet I had no idea how to do that; while I had made some new friends in the area, I only really interacted out with him. He had friends too, but not as close as me. We never stopped being our support systems, even when I saw how unhealthy it was becoming. Flash forward to now. Ive confronted him again about his moodiness when I talk about my crushes. He says he reacts that way because he cannot help but want to be the guy that supports me and be in my life. He said he cant stop seeing all the good things in me that charm him.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    I feel exhausted, this has been a year of him feeling the same way. Im tired of seeing him not move on. Im tired of constantly thinking about how dependent he is of me. Im tired of me being his only friend, when we obviously cannot be real friends when his feelings for me keep growing and growing and stifling him. I admit wholehearted that I and only I let this happen, I enabled this obviously unhealthy friendship with a person that has issues of abandonment and very introverted. I knew that he was in love with me yet I still continued to become a close friend. I want space but he always begs me not to do that. In a few months Im going to a new campus, i’ll be 6 months away from him. How do I achieve space without crippling him emotionally? Remember that I am his only close friend who he rants to and decompresses with after hard times. I hate the idea of cutting him off too severely and him suffering. But Im going insane thinking that he is still i love and Im starting to see him as insufferable, something that is dangerous to our friendship. What do you guys think?



    Dear Behoma:

    You express yourself very well, very  articulate,  insightful, sensible, you described  him and the situation over time so well

    He has a strong  emotional desire for you, he  looks up to  you as The Best. Sometimes he gets hurt that  you don’t  love  him back, and  then he  gets angry and then he is back to seeing you up there,  on a pedestal.

    You tried to lead him to  adjust to you being  just a friend by telling him about your crushes, that didn’t work so far, after those shares on your part he went  back to seeing you on a pedestal. Seeing you up there, Perfect, The Best thing ever is in his “romantic doe  eyes and his in-love voice”.

    Before thinking about the  more difficult possible solutions  to the situation I wonder if there could be a possible simple  solution. If you are a woman who cares for her looks, practices perfect table manners, proper-like  behavior, then if you change that, if  he sees  you, to his surprise, ex., displaying terrible table manners, in his  book of manners, it may poke a much needed hole  in the way he sees you up there on that pedestal.

    What do you think?




    Hi Behoma,

    The problem will probably (to an extent) take care of itself as soon as you move to a new campus. Yes, he will still be in love with you. But it won’t be this constant in your face pining. Six months is a long time, enough for him to reset, or at least find a new support system.

    I have a feeling he will always be creepily invested in your life. Mostly because it is now an entrenched bad habit of his. Kind of like automatically logging onto FB everyday.

    So after the off campus experience, what? You go back to the old campus? When you graduate, will he move to your area?

    In the meantime, limit your interactions with him. One text/call/visit a day. When you see him face to face, be neutral, nice, and boring. No bringing up crushes. No information he can latch onto. Be legitimately busy, so after fifteen minutes of him you can say, “Gotta go!”

    Good Luck!


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