One of the hardest parts of dating is when one of you is interested romantically in the other, but it’s not reciprocated. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of “Let’s just be friends,” it’s never easy to deal with. Here’s my most recent trial with this situation.
Two years ago, we dated for 6 weeks. We parted amicably after I told him I wasn’t “the one,” which, by implication meant he wasn’t my “one.” We’ve kept in contact as each of us went into and out of relationships, but never rekindling our romantic relationship. We’d email, talk on the phone, have an occasional dinner and movie, or I’d join him for a play or function. While each time I had a nice time, it cemented that I’d made the right decision not to see him romantically, as he had too many habits that drove me batty.
Friday, he asked me to attend a high-end business dinner that night. When we discussed the invitation, I made it clear I would be happy to attend as his escort, not his date. The distinction may be slim, but I wanted it understood that I had no romantic interest.
We had a great dinner and conversation with the dozen others present. Several couples assumed we were an item and invited us to dinner at their homes or on an outing. I didn’t decline nor accept.
I purposefully didn’t flirt with or touch my pal, as I didn’t want to send any mixed messages. My attending this event was a friend doing a favor for another friend, just as I’d ask a male buddy to be my escort at an important business function.
On the way home we discussed some business challenges he was facing. I was fine giving him a free consultation. I liked that we kept the focus on business the whole time.
The following morning, I wrote him a brief thank-you email for inviting me to the event and introducing me to such interesting people. His response included:
“You are one very special woman that I appreciate. Last night I watched very carefully how you worked the room. Most who you contacted were very impressed and I can tell. This made me very proud.
“Frankly, I want you to be more than a friend. Sorry to be so blunt and unromantic however this is what I feel. For a long list of legitimate reasons I think we could make it as a couple, as lovers, as support mechanisms, as great companionship, as world travelers, and have fun to boot. I am serious. I know what I want.”
Drat! I had worked so hard to not give off any false signs that I may be interested in reviving our romantic relationship.
What do you think — can former lovers be pals? What if one wants to be lovers again and the other doesn’t? Have you ever made this work?