LoveShack.org Community Forums

Reload this Page LoveShack.org Community Forums > Breaking Up, Reconciliation & Coping > Breaks and Breaking Up

The "Staying Friends" Dilemma


Breaks and Breaking Up It happens to most everyone at some point in life! Share your experiences!

Old 25th December 2012, 3:38 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 14
The "Staying Friends" Dilemma

She broke up with me over the period of months (trying to make the transition easier for me), but she wants to maintain a shallow friendship (with limited contact, and no intimacy) for an indefinite period. I find that idea painful. In the long term, I don't think platonic friendship will work out for me, unless we get back together. There is also no way I am staying friends if she starts dating someone new. We have had some sexual interaction since breaking up, but she has been reluctant the last few times. She claims that she still wants to have a sex life with me, but that she doesn't think it's a good idea (and the latter takes priority). I find this highly unnatural and awkward; you can cut the sexual tension between us with a knife.

How often does staying friends work? How often do exes stay friends and get back together? I have little relationship experience, because this particular relationship lasted so long. As the dumpee, I feel that I am probably suffering more in this situation. She admits to feeling a strong sexual attraction, still loves me and is in love with me, yet needs space. Apparently the relationship simply got too intense for her, since we were having disagreements regularly, and I crossed some emotional and privacy boundaries (peeked into her life out of suspicion). I know that we can make it if she gives me another shot, but she says she doubts it will work out, and won't give me another chance right now, if at all. This was a very intense and passionate relationship with lots of plans for the future discussed (marriage, living together, staying as a couple for life). So it's not exactly an ordinary break-up. We seemed to stay together against many unfortunate circumstances, and I felt that the relationship was just hitting its stride, at which point it fell apart.

Any help or advice is appreciated. My idea right now is to wait it and and see what staying friends is like. If I stabilize my life, she might realize how good of a partner I can be. On the other hand, I wonder if her dropping out now is something that would happen down the line. There's no way to know the future, but I feel that I can't give up yet, I love her too much, even though we have our differences.

Last edited by eyeful; 25th December 2012 at 3:41 PM..
eyeful is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 3:42 PM   #2
Established Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 108
Staying friends is extremely difficult, especially if you're the person being dumped. No two relationships or situations are identical, but in most cases you have to examine the motives that both of you have for wanting to be friends. Is it because you just can't bear to let go? If so - you're only setting yourself up to be more hurt in the long-run. Does one (or both) of you want more? If so, being friends is only going to cause you more agony.

As hard as it is to do (I know because I'm going through it now) cutting ties and not trying to remain friends is the best bet for being happy.
Missing Him is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 3:43 PM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Working on a clear blue summer sky, at BuddhaDhammaSangha
Posts: 22,843
It doesn't work.
It can't work while one of you still has deep, emotional and intimate feelings for the other.

'Staying friends' is for her benefit, not yours.
It alleviates the guilt and gives her a possible 'soft place to fall' in case her current plan doesn't pan out.
Read the Caliguy No Contact Guide (link) in my signature.
It's all in there - and it's the best read - and consequently, the greatest favour - you could do with, right now.
TaraMaiden is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 4:17 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 10
i am in the same boat, many people on this forum have told me that friends wont work out and i agree with them, as how am i going to feel when she id having fun with other guys and all that stuff, its just going to bring uo the hurt again, dont get me wrong its only just under two weeks since she left me and i am still shocked as i did not see it coming, but i told her that i would rather be her friend than lose her altogether, i know that is the wrong move but i just can not face not speaking to her just now, i wish i could!!

the way she left me was so cold of her and not her at all, she never spoke about what was wrong or what was needed to be changed untill a few days after she left me and when i spoke to her she said why didnt i tell her all this before she left, but she says he is not wanting me back but cant say that 100% which makes me think she is just messing with my head untill her head is sorted

the best thing you could do is do what is best for you but remember how you will feel when they meet someone new!!
matthew89 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 6:31 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 14
Thanks for the replies. I think the problem is that the break feels mechanical. After 5.5 years together, it just doesn't seem like her. Yes, that could be called denial (the first stage of grieving, by that conventional model), but something about the whole issue just doesn't make sense.

She says she would be devastated if I cut contact. The way I see it, if I do cut her off, then I will feel guilt and regret, because I will wonder if she was wanting to get back together. Yet, I am worried that as long as we are in contact and saying "I love you" daily, she might not get the chance to have the cold turkey sensation, which is probably the very experience that would allow her perspective to want me back/stay with me (if it's in the cards for her to do that).

Part of the problem is that we are close-knit. We work at the same place (but in different departments; it's conceivable that we could simply avoid one another). I am wondering if she sees that as one more reason we couldn't get back together (it would violate workplace conventions). I coincidentally got the job (not a great job, but better than nothing, after being scarcely employed since finishing grad school), right as we were breaking up. In fact, she probably got me the job, by sending a letter of recommendation to her supervisor, and reported that we had a 'previous romantic relationship'. We were trying to live together up until then, as friends, but it was driving me insane, because she would sometimes want sex, but it always came with the message that she was going to end that kind of behaviour very soon.

One of my issues (probably called denial) is that I believe she does want to be with me; but it's contingent on her getting the space she asks for, and seeing me take care of myself for a while, without obsessing over our relationship. Her initial reason for needing a break is that she was obsessed with me, but her attitude has changed over time to be something more unforgiving, which is that I have been too volatile in the past, and she doesn't believe I can change, so that's it for my chances with her (very little warning). I have been a bit unstable, especially for the past year, and it seems like simply too much for her; she doesn't have the energy for a relationship, but could see a friendship working out. For me, a friendship minus the romance is agony. I am still trying to lean towards friends because I don't want even more pain. It seems like it might actually be less pain for me if I try the friendship, it's just a matter of developing the patience and clarity necessary to see this through until I know for sure that she isn't going to change her mind. Then I can focus on new plans: quitting the job, leaving the city/state/country, and forgetting about her altogether.

She has been my best friend, though, and she leaves me in a transitional period where I am a bit uprooted and have few other friends. If I lose her, that's one fewer friend in my life. I am wondering if she is trying to stay friends with me because she is confused, wanting to keep her 'foot in the door' with me, in case she decides we are right for each other, somewhere down the road. Yet, I don't want to be around if she starts dating other men; the thought right now nauseates me; I was her first and she my second, the relationship has always been really special and seemed like it would never end. Her abrupt choice to end it came practically out of nowhere.

I wonder if she has other plans for us, like being friends until she caves and comes crawling back. She did mention possibly 'showing up on my doorstep asking for sex' a few months down the line. If that occurred, I would tell her that any intimacy of that kind would be conditional on us getting back together. So in some ways, cutting contact will give all my power and leverage away. It will probably break her heart (and thus be vengeful, maybe giving me a sense of satisfaction in a sadistic and destructive way), but she's proud enough to not try to get me back if I cut all contact. I think she would suffer fatalistically and just accept over time that I didn't want to be her friend; that I was only in it for the sex, and that will tie things together nicely for her.

I have done some serious grieving already, so I am thinking it might make sense to play ball with her for the time being, to see how cold-hearted she really is. If she continues to do this silly superficial thing with me after such a long, deep connection, without showing any yield towards bringing us back as a couple, then I will probably want to stop all communication and contact, as I don't think I want to be with someone like that, who can pretend to shut her feelings off and turn off all sex, etc., like turning off a light switch. I don't want to be begging for intimacy when she doesn't want it.

She does maintain that our relationship has always been unconventional, and it will continue to be. This provides me with (maybe false) hope that she wants to stay committed to me, but wants it to be sort of 'hidden', almost like friends with benefits or something. I might actually like that, if there is respect, passion, regularity, and some frequency, but I told her I need to know if she becomes involved with other men, I don't want to become mixed up in cheating/multiple simultaneous relationships, on so on.

Any other thoughts? This is really puzzling to me. I'm taking it one day at a time, but it's extremely depressing. This is definitely the most depressed I have felt, that I can think of.

Last edited by eyeful; 25th December 2012 at 6:34 PM..
eyeful is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 6:50 PM   #6
Established Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 108
I understand exactly what you're going through, as I've been going through the same thing.

All I can say is that she has made the decision that she does not want to be in a relationship, so you shouldn't feel guilt over cutting her out of your life in order to heal. Once you do cut her out of your life - her own feelings will become more clear to her, too. She'll either take the 'space' that you've given her to do what she wanted to do and figure things out for herself, or she'll miss you and realize that she's made a mistake.

Either way, her breaking up with you was her prioritizing her own happiness. While that is understandable, it's also understandable that you're struggling with your decision about whether or not to stay friends. She has made her decision, and now you have to make yours based on what will make YOU the happiest.

I don't necessarily think you're in denial. I'm going through the same thing. Both of us have gotten to know our exes pretty well and have gotten to know how they operate. I think that the vibes that we're both feeling about them not being totally decided and feeling as though they might want to work things out eventually, we're feeling because of the way they act and speak. The problem is that something has made them not want to be in a relationship with us. If we do nothing to change the dynamics in the relationship, then nothing changes and we stay stagnantly unhappy. You have to make a change to the situation in order to be happy.

For me, it was cutting communication with my ex. He was upset over it but not upset enough to ask me to stay and work things out, which was a sign enough for me that I needed to move on and work things out for myself.
Missing Him is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 7:24 PM   #7
Established Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 427
it depends on the situation. first off, you have to be willing to set your feelings for her aside. and really just be a friend and nothing more. cant get upset if she doesnt call you see you etc

best way to do it is just stay distant friends. you be the one pulling away slowly. if you can really move on and she can see that, she might miss what she lost and go back to you. but you also need to not wait for her and just live your life
Svet74 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 8:04 PM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Svet74 View Post
it depends on the situation. first off, you have to be willing to set your feelings for her aside. and really just be a friend and nothing more. cant get upset if she doesnt call you see you etc

best way to do it is just stay distant friends. you be the one pulling away slowly. if you can really move on and she can see that, she might miss what she lost and go back to you. but you also need to not wait for her and just live your life
Some of this is probably just venting, but I like how people are reading and trying to understand my situation. I am pretty sure that it's very unusual, since both my ex and I are odd people.

Thanks. That sounds like good, general advice. The problem is that I'm not sure how to move on. I think that if I tried to do this, it would just be faking. Pretending to be friends and hiding my feelings is not something I'm good at. When we hang out, it's really hard to not just steer the conversation into how I feel hurt about the break-up and how she can't be my girlfriend, and how I don't understand why we can't keep being intimate, despite both of our feelings towards one another, and it just turns into an argument where she keeps the upper hand (refusing me another chance, insisting that we stop all romance, talking about how handsome and nice I am, like waving herself in front of my face but not giving herself to me). To me, it doesn't seem like either of us should be able to smoothly or naturally move on, since there was so much there, and wonderful times are so recent in the past. Given that we now have steady jobs, it would be a great time to give the relationship another chance.

Again, maybe I am in denial...maybe her feelings for me weren't all that strong, compared to mine. It's possible that they were super-strong when I was more detached with other things, and then she started to ease up on her own feelings as she prepared for a possible break, but didn't let me know she was feeling less towards me, in order to save my feelings. Or, maybe I am becoming more clingy once she starts to pull away, and she realizes how I was becoming too dependent on her before (or taking her for granted). Maybe she's just not worth it and I should, in fact, move on. The last part seems inconceivable, though. Love really did turn into obsession, for both of us.

I guess that it could be worth a test to see if she is suffering 'the grass is always greener' mentality, where she will eventually realize what she had, if I can convince her it is probably lost. I guess I could fake moving on, or sort of move on in a broken-down way. I'm not sure what she expects from me, though. I am not about to just magically 'sprout' new friendships and act like they are extremely significant, and more important to me than what she and I shared.

To analyze my situation further, it is not objectively that good. I recently got out of physical therapy after a minor injury. I had to quit my previous job after 4 months, due to that injury. I recently found a new job, after my knee healed (that's a good thing). Yet, my job is nothing to be crazy about, and seeing her there can be very confusing (she acts friendly and flirtatious, but has no intention of getting back together with me). She has been my best friend and support for 5 years, and I have been unsuccessful in making new friends (this city is relatively new to me, she was born and grew up here). I have tried to branch out, but everyone seems too busy, unresponsive, etc. Also, my being depressed over the loss of this relationship takes away my motivation and energy. All I really do is sit around and think about her, even while at work, and try my best to distract myself and at least feel ok.

To add another sad point, my ex also doesn't want to be friends in the way I would like. Not only does she not want to be my girlfriend, but she excludes me from other social events that she is attending with 'new friends'. She is willing to have very scarce, platonic, one-on-one time, but that's about it. She thinks she is being generous by 'being there for me', but she's treating it as if she's an old friend, being there for me while I go through a break-up (with another person!), which is absurd. "I am breaking up with you, but I am here for you". Very confusing and very painful. it does help to talk about it, and for a while, that's all I was doing. Well, it seems like I am still in that stage.

She tells me to look on the bright side and see, at least she hasn't cut me out or started hating me. None of this seems natural, and thus it's quite disturbing. I can actually be a very stable person, I think she kwons that (more stable than she is), but being in what (I thought) was a committed relationship with her has been my main support. I thought she was there for me in the long-term, despite some arguments we could work out, but she ditched me under less tress than I expected. Without her there, I am not exactly stable. It feels like one day at a time is the only way to go, so that's what I have been doing.

We are scheduled to see each other on the 29th. I don't know if it's like a very pathetic date, or a day spent together as friends, or some chance at reconciliation. She thinks we should meet like once a week just to have some regularity in our lives (an odd concept for me). I have no idea what that will be like. I imagine she will be very formal with me; probably no kisses, maybe long hugs as if we are mourning a loved one, and an aloof, platonic attitude from her.

I know this is long, but I think it's helping me process the situation. I have expressed to her many times we can't be friends, that I think the friendship won't work, etc., and she has been dry about it recently, as if she has no real feelings whatsoever..."I will be hurt, but that's your decision, I can't make it for you...I would like to be friends". Keep in mind also that she is *extremely* attractive, though she will deny it (not sure why, I think she is a bit disturbed and confused). Men at our work clearly flirt with her often, she was told by a couple of people working there that they had a crush, and I know that as she branches out, she will be faced with lots of people trying to date her, which makes me cringe.

Who knows how long it will be before she finds someone, and then I will feel awful. I am not sure she even really wants to keep me 'in the loop' regarding that; like my last girlfriend, she might feel she has no obligation to tell me about any other romances, since we are broken up. She definitely didn't seem thrilled when I told her she has to let me know if she does start dating. She said she's not interested in dating any other men right now, but I could see that slowly changing, until she drops it on me, and I don't know what to do with myself.

Last edited by eyeful; 25th December 2012 at 8:08 PM..
eyeful is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 8:23 PM   #9
Established Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 427
well if thats the case then i would suggest NC in order to heal and move on. And not talking to your ex is the only way that you will be able to put the past behind you and start healing. And in the future once your completely over her then you will prob be able to stay friends. thats what happened in my previous relationship. I was not able to stay friends with my ex because i still loved him and couldnt move on. didnt want to date other ppl or anything. So i went NC, healed, then met someone new. me and the new guy ended up not working out but now he is the one on my mind lol. weird how it all works.
Svet74 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 10:42 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Svet74 View Post
well if thats the case then i would suggest NC in order to heal and move on. And not talking to your ex is the only way that you will be able to put the past behind you and start healing. And in the future once your completely over her then you will prob be able to stay friends. thats what happened in my previous relationship. I was not able to stay friends with my ex because i still loved him and couldnt move on. didnt want to date other ppl or anything. So i went NC, healed, then met someone new. me and the new guy ended up not working out but now he is the one on my mind lol. weird how it all works.
How long did these relationships last? I have had just two...one that lasted just under two years, one that lasted over five years.

I am wondering if NC lowers the chances of getting back together. I don't want her to be 'the one that got away', I want it to be something that was basically a waste (a false future) or some kind of sad joke (a cheap stand-in for a real relationship). I hate having regrets, so I want to see the friendship thing out, just in case she has something up her sleeve (like a really unconventional relationship that allows us to be together in some ways but also independent), or changes her mind (people sometimes do that). It's possible she is having a delayed reaction, sort of thinking that because we are friends, not too much damage has been done. Basically, I need to be strong for myself, since she can't.

We have talked a long time about how we have never and probably never would really have a typical male-female dynamic. I don't think she will date for a while, because she is having trouble getting over me too (and longs for independence, not more romance). Going NC would lock me out of important 'tells' that she might want to rekindle down the line. Plus, it's possible that in NC, we could both be wanting the other, but not express it due to some arbitrary rule we have imposed. In fact, I suspect that's why she is behaving the way she is. She has, for some arbitrary reason, decided that breaking up is best, that I am no good for her, so no matter how much it hurts, or how much she wants me in her heart, she has to follow through with this stupid promise she has made.

I think she feels pressured by outside forces (maybe family, friends, society in general), partly, since our relationship is so unusual. It's like we have been getting away with murder, having as much love and passion as we have, alongside arguments which most wouldn't put up with, and being such long-standing lovers and partners, loyal (with no cheating), and so many other positive attributes. It seems like the world just likes to rob people of the good things, at times.

The syntax she uses does change around, sometimes sounding like if I don't push her, she will sort of make her way back to something exciting between us. I guess we will have to see about that, if I can keep it together and not go NC before then. I am trying to stay in it, though I have freaked out a few times and said "there is no way we can be friends"; she does put up a fight, so she is still in this in some way, though I think she would prefer not to show it openly.

No, I'm not interested in other people either. I am actually wondering if I will *ever* move on, if this doesn't work out. I might just become bitter towards all romantic relationships. Mostly I am feeling like it's my fault at this point, but how could I have known she would break it off on such a whim? I can also blame her for being uncommitted to me, and not sticking with me through thick and thin, when it matters most.

My resentment and pain comes around everyday, and I feel I must *do something* against her in order to make sure she is also feeling pain. The main thing is to cut contact, since many angry and upsetting exchanges have occurred between us. Yet I can't bring myself to not respond to her messages; they are clearly hinting at more than friendship. If I can somehow get myself to care less (no idea how to do this, probably it's just a matter of time), then I can move on. Then, maybe she will come back, maybe not. It's a headache as well as a heartache...and what an awful time for it to come (the holiday season) while I am also having some medical problems... :-(
eyeful is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 11:13 PM   #11
Established Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 427
you have a better chance of getting her back with NC then you do staying in her life. But NC means a while. it might take years before she comes back and by that point you might be moved on.
Svet74 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 11:17 PM   #12
Established Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 108
You have to do what feels right for you.

Here is one thing to consider: she can't miss you if you're always there. It's cliche, but "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" really can apply here. When you get dumped, especially by someone who is so unsure about their decision, sticking around can do more harm than good.

You could always try no contact for a period of time and if nothing changes about her not wanting to be with you, go back to being her friend and ride that out.
Missing Him is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th December 2012, 11:24 PM   #13
Established Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 51
Honestly you can't be friends. I tried after my relationship that just ended in July & I am just now seeing that it cannot work. I,love him entirely too much & seeing him "love" this other girl & do things for her he never did for me breaks my heart. I just recently took myself out of the equation & he hates it. The way I see it he just kept me around to use me as a support system since he can't be himself around this young lady. He has never been as close to someone as he is to me but you could never tell because of the way he treats me. They only want you there so that they can say they didn't completely break you & also as a fall back method. Don't ever make yourself an option for someone. Cut contact hun & gain your confidence & strength back. This seems like a case of Grass is Greener & if in the future she sees it's not all that great, she will make it show through her actions. Wish you the best.
Shim_kattty is offline   Reply With Quote
 

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

 

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
staying "friends"... jimjam8787 Dating 11 25th April 2010 12:55 PM
Is staying with a "sexally addicted" husband worth it? dreamingoftigers Infidelity 34 11th February 2010 11:46 AM
The "Talk" (a sub-thread from "Why I believe best friends shouldn't date") vanilla87 Friends and Lovers 89 15th April 2009 5:09 AM
"Angels sing", "friends" zone, myspace deletion, etc, ad nauseum. trigger Dating 5 23rd December 2007 4:22 AM
Long: Boyfriend's depression, strain of LDR, and staying "friends" - advice? seachange Breaks and Breaking Up 32 27th August 2005 6:06 PM

 

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 6:34 AM.

Please note: The suggestions and advice offered on this web site are opinions only and are not to be used in the place of professional psychological counseling or medical advice. If you or someone close to you is currently in crisis or in an emergency situation, contact your local law enforcement agency or emergency number.


Copyright © 1997-2013 LoveShack.org. All Rights Reserved.