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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » sorry for the length...

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Author Topic: sorry for the length...
she_who_questions
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I'm sure you receive plenty of questions about this type of scenario. I like the boyfriend of one of my close friends. I'm not really planning on doing anything about it, but the situation is nonetheless becoming uncomfortable and difficult. I would really appreciate your advice about how to proceed. Here's a bit of background:

My friend (hence forth referred to as Kathy) has known this guy (hence forth referred to as Liam) for about a year. After spending some time with Liam, Kathy eventually developed an all-consuming crush on him. However, she couldn't tell if her feelings were reciprocated because Liam was very reserved. Moreover, he never texted her unless she initiated the conversation, never asked her to hang out, etc. Yet he was giving mixed signals while they spent time together in person... Sometimes he seemed to engage with Kathy, and other times largely ignored her.

Kathy eventually asked Liam whether he liked her. He basically responded, "Sure, why not?"
I found this answer to be rather dubious, and I told Kathy so. (At that point, I didn't have an interest in Liam). Kathy seemed to accept Liam's answer as an affirmative, but she still remained uncertain about his level of interest.
For several weeks/months after that, Kathy essentially lived in limbo. She expressed frustration regarding Liam's passivity and wondered if he was simply humoring her. She became increasingly concerned about being stuck in a "casual arrangement," etc.
I warned Kathy to pay attention to her emotions and inner voice, saying that those things should guide her decisions with regard to Liam. Nevertheless, the situation persisted.

Before/during this limbo period, Kathy, Liam, and I often hung out in a group. Me and Liam spoke a lot during these hangouts; we are similarly intelligent with shared interests. Afterward, Kathy would often complain that Liam was interested in me and not her. I couldn't tell if she was right, so I tried to move away from the topic and encourage her self-esteem instead. Though I was originally neutral about Liam, I began to see him in a different light.

I admitted this to Kathy.

She seemed slightly uncomfortable with the idea, but things were still okay between us. She asked why I was attracted to him. I gave her a pretty thorough answer: "He doesn't miss a thing. He's wickedly observant and smart as hell, though he doesn't always say what he's thinking. Also has a bent toward dark humor." She responded, "You make me feel like a moron lol. Like I don't notice anything about him."

At a party about a month ago, a weird tension between Liam and me became apparent. Everyone had been drinking a lot, especially Kathy (she was giggly and pretty much out of it). I was buzzed and Liam was moderately drunk. He was talking to me almost exclusively, and sometimes touching me casually. It was unusual, but fun. I could tell Kathy was getting edgy, so I moved away from Liam and sat down on the floor by myself. He immediately joined me. During this, Kathy sent me a text which said, "Why are you so much better suited for the guys I like? This sucks." Later on, when everyone was outside on the balcony, I caught Liam full on staring at me. When I left, he and Kathy walked me to my car. She hugged me, and Liam seemed poised to do the same. He didn't though. I think both of us silently realized that it would anger Kathy. She was already rolling her eyes at him and sighing.

(I know that the above paragraph makes Liam sound like a bit of shit-bag, but he's actually really polite and considerate. I think the alcohol played a substantial role).

Yesterday Kathy told me that Liam had "asked her out," but that things were still essentially the same between them. She remains unsatisfied with the relationship, and frequently complains that Liam doesn't pursue her enough or make her feel sufficiently desired. She even goes so far as to say he's not the type of person she wants to be with. (I get the sense that his disinterest fuels her pursuits though). Yet she continues with the relationship for some reason... The whole situation frustrates me because I feel like I might have a decent shot with Liam. I want to know him in a legitimate way, find out what makes him tick. Who knows? We might be right for each other.

So I'm pretty much without agency right now. Obviously I can't pursue this guy. We still hang out in a group though.
I could be imagining this, but it feels like there's a current between us. I have a hard time looking him in the eye, because it feels like a blatant acknowledgment. Kathy also watches us interact, so that makes things even more uncomfortable. I don't know how to navigate this mine field. Should I just avoid the two of them? I'm getting rather jealous, and I worry that I'll be unable to hide the fact that I want the guy badly. I told Kathy I wouldn't step on her toes; it's becoming really tough.

Also, I can't tell whether there's truth to him liking me or whether I'm just crazy. It's disconcerting. But as I said, Liam is freakishly observant. It would greatly surprise me if none of this was conscious on his part.

Posts: 120 | From: Florida | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Before I say anything else, can I check in with you about the possibility of simply not hanging out with both of them at the same time?

Honestly, it sounds like they're pretty much set to fizzle out soon enough (after all, your friend is clearly dissatisfied, she's just not yet at the point where she feels dissatisfied enough to let it go), so you probably would only have to arrange things that way socially for a relatively short period of time. It sounds like when you do all hang out, at least two of you are feeling uncomfortable instead of having a good time, so it might be the best solution for the time being and the easiest way to massively reduce the conflict and tension here.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
she_who_questions
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Your advice is definitely sound. I've actually tried that, but Kathy acts hurt when I avoid hanging out with the two of them in a group. She even pursues those types of situations...

Doesn't make sense, right? Even though she's aware of the tension, she enjoys it somehow. It's almost masochistic on her part.

I wish I could agree that their relationship will fizzle out soon. But both are so incredibly passive; it wouldn't surprise me if they stayed in this unfulfilling situation for a long time. Plus, Kathy has really low self-esteem so she's more concerned with convincing Liam to like her (as opposed to truly liking him).

Bleh. I guess I need to stop being selfish.

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Heather
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Have you had a really honest talk with her about why you want to opt out?

In other words, something like, "Look, I think I'm into your boyfriend. I value our friendship, so by no means am I going to pursue anything while you two are dating, but because of my feelings, including how I feel about you as a friend, hanging out together is making me feel really uncomfortable and awkward. So, I need to nix hanging out together, mostly because I want to make sure I do the best I can for our friendship."

Too, you get to have your own limits even if someone else doesn't like them. So, it's a bummer (and I agree, confusing) that she acts hurt when you won't hang out with the two of them, but she needs to deal with your limits where and when you have them. It's also not on you to manage her feelings in that regard: that's on her to do. And doing that won't be a hit to her self-esteem. If anything, being in the position where people aren't letting you walk all over their limits and boundaries or manipulate them supports good self-esteem.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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