He wants romance; you want friendship

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?

Technorati Tags:,, ,,,,,




5 responses to “He wants romance; you want friendship”

  1. Linda Avatar

    Hi DG. I don’t have a lot of experience in the “let’s be friends only” department, except with my former spouse. We have been divorced for almost 20 years and we can talk to each other like friends, without any long lost baggage spewing forth.

    I think a person, such as yourself, who made your intentions clear, was not leaving anything open for misinterpretation. I think he is in need of some reality checking. I know how it feels when one cares for someone and it’s not given in return, but when one is not led on, or given mixed signals, then it’s the other person who needs to step up and get a grip on himself. And, from what you said about him telling you what he wanted, how he felt about you, what he saw in your future with him, I think that’s a little self serving on his part, and also not very respectful of your feelings, which you made very clear in the beginning.

    In his case, I don’t think he’s ready for just a friendship, although he needs a good friend to tell him the truth about how to be a good friend.

  2. Traci Avatar

    Some people just can’t move from a romantic relationship to friendship–ever. BTW, I found your blog through Bruce’s blog . . . I love it!

  3. Sharon Avatar

    Hi, I disagree with Linda:
    I think that by accepting his invitation and knowing how he feels about you, left a ray of hope for him. Obviously you knew this or you wouldn’t have gone to such great lenths to let him know you were only his “escort”. It is not fair to him to continue your freindship knowing that he feels this way. Sorry, I call it like I see it.

  4. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Hi Sharon:

    Thanks for sharing how you see it. I see/saw it differently. Since we’d been pals while he had another girlfriend, I thought we could continue in that vein. I knew he’d carried a torch for me in the past, but thought he was over it.

  5. […] I tried to reply pleasantly, but still let him know I’m not interested in him romantically. I said, “You have a lot to offer the right woman.” (When I shared this response with a male friend, he made a gagging expression. So how do you tell someone gently — and repeatedly — that you’re not attracted to him? He’s a good guy, not a toad. I’ve written about him before in “He wants romance; you want friendship.”) […]