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Can friendship grow?

Paul wrote:

I have this friend who I have been really good friends with for about the last 5 years. I have always had a bit of a flame for her but lately it has become more of an open fire in a tinder dry wooded area.

About 2 years ago I told her that I had a bit of a thing for her, she wasn't interested and I accepted that and moved on.

Well I thought I had moved on. The little flame kept burning.

Meanwhile in her life she starts going out with this string of jerks who either use her or don't see how special she is, eventually she decides to marry a particularly large jerk.

I was happy for her, I respected her choice, I though to myself, ah well it was never meant to be. But after about 6 months of being engaged she sees this guy for what he really is and breaks it off.

While she was engaged to this guy I couldn't really go round and see her, he was a bit funny about her having friends around (either sex).

After she broke off the engagement with the jerk our friendship picked up exactly where it left off, in fact it was so much better.

We are getting on really well, seeing quite a bit of each other. Initially I just thought that I was in lust with her, but its so much more than that. I can't even begin to put in to words how I feel about her.

We have both changed a lot in the time that we have known each other, I have gone from a very uneasy youth to a confident man with a good job (something I couldn't imagine four years ago). As I said before I thought I was just in lust with her, but I really know what I want now.

I want her so badly its tearing me apart. Not long after I initially told her how I felt I found out from a close friend of us both the she had feelings for me a while ago but never did anything about it.

This mutual friend was surprised that when I told her how I felt she didn't feel the same way. I guess people change their minds. I am having trouble interpreting some things she has been saying. Sometimes people think we are a couple, it happened the other day and she said to me.

It's funny how we are such good friends that people think we are a couple. There are a few other things like that which I can't tell if she is hinting or just being friendly. I am probably just imagining it.

Quite a few of my friends who we both hang out with think she has got something for me. My problem at the moment is I can't decide whether or not tell her that I still have feelings for her.

I think our friendship is strong enough to survive not matter what the outcome. What ever happens I just want to make sure that she is happy, if its not with me I really hope its with someone who will treat her well.

I had actually made the decision to tell her but as I was talking to her she said that she had just met some guy, although she made a special point of saying that it was a casual thing and she didn't want a relationship with him. I thought it was probably best not to say anything just at that moment. I hate how confusing this is getting.

Any ideas on what I can do?

Dear Paul

The longer these things go on, the more complicated they get.

One thing you really must do is start being honest with yourself. Don't refer to her boyfriends as Jerks and then say you 'respect her choice'. It doesn't fool me - and it doesn't fool her. Be honest, then it's easier for her to be honest with you.

And stop listening to your 'friends'. Don't tell me you are a "confident man with a good job" then tell me you are conducting a relationship through 'mutual friends'.

All three of us know that there's only one solution - the usual one - TALK TO THE WOMAN.

But it's fair enough to consider some of the options:

1. Maybe she likes you as a friend, and genuinely has no interest in more. It happens. So the worst case is that you muck up the friendship. So think before you place your foot in your mouth, and don't assume she feels for you.

2. Maybe she's interested, but values the friendship, and is wary of losing a friend and you becoming a jerk like all the others you let her know were jerks. So go careful.

3. Maybe she really, really wants you. No, boyo, that's most unlikely. Why? because she would have let you know, wouldn't she?

4. Maybe all things are possible .. but not yet. try to see her point of view. How likely is she to want another commitment after (your words) a string of jerks.

5. Maybe she simply doesn't know.

For what it's worth, instead of worrying about what you want, I'd work around what she wants; let her know that she has your friendship unconditionally, and ask her if she'd consider something more.

And leave the mutual friends in the yard, huh?

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