DEAR KELLY: A guy I really like and I have been talking for the whole semester. He knows I like him and he likes me, or so I thought. We are as close to being boyfriend and girlfriend without being official. We talk all the time and he is like my best friend. I can tell him anything and we are so tight. He and I always have gone to our favorite sushi spot, and I kind of felt like it was special and just something we shared.
Last week, his ex-girlfriend who is away at college came home for the weekend. I asked him if he wanted to hang out and go to either the football game for school or to see a movie and he said he was “busy.” He never mentioned her or that she was coming home. Later that night, I saw where she posted a picture of the two of them together and said, “Some things never change,” with a heart. And to make matters worse, they were at our sushi place.
It totally made me sick. I texted him and casually asked: “Hey. Whatcha doing?” He never responded all night and texted me once all weekend, but it was just like a “Hey” and a “Hope you’re having a good weekend.” He didn’t ask what I was doing or if I was OK. Finally, I responded with: “Even though you didn’t ask, I’m heartbroken.”
I never heard back from him until late Sunday night when he texted me and said: “Sorry, but we aren’t a couple and I thought you knew that.” I asked if he had feelings for me and he said, “Yes,” but that it was confusing because he had feelings for two girls (his ex being the other one). I couldn’t even go to school on Monday because I was so sad and felt sick.
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I feel played and like I was a fool to think it was any more than just a thing. I saw him at school and we hardly talked. He’s texted me two or three times and just said, he’s sorry I’m mad and that he does care about me, but he cares about her, too. I reminded him that she broke up with him and I helped him with the heartbreak, and all he said was: “Thanks.”
I don’t know what to do. Do I fight for him, or is not worth it? Or will she win because they have a year’s history of being together before she left for college? Am I a fool to think he will realize how much he likes me if I stop talking to him or suddenly start to post pictures with other guys? My mom told me to take down all my pictures of him and me on my Instagram page because then he will see how hurt or mad I am, but I’m afraid if I do that then he will just never talk to me again and I really don’t want to lose our friendship. I’m mad at him, but I really just want him back.
DEAR TORN: Back? He made it pretty clear that you never had him in the first place. You can’t get someone back who was never yours. If you are talking about getting back your friendship, then you might have a point, but if you mean back as in “my special someone whom I have deep feelings for,” then you are setting yourself up to be disappointed and heartbroken.
He’s confused. Trying to get him back by making him jealous or shutting him out isn’t a good plan. It will only make his decision all the easier. Pulling off all pictures with him sends the message you are completely done with him, friendship and all. Is that the message you want to send?
Instead of trying to hurt him, try a different approach. Tell him that you are going to back off and not pressure him to make a decision. If he wants to hang out, he can ask you out but strictly as friends. No lip locking, smooching or hooking up. Be firm with this and value yourself enough to hold this boundary. If he likes hanging out with you and realizes his feelings are strong enough, he will come to the decision without you pushing him away or playing games.
You need to decide what you are OK with. If he just wants to be good friends, are you down for that? Is the friendship worth keeping? Are you willing to put your hurt feelings aside so as to preserve being friends? Or would it be too painful and something you can’t handle? He has made it clear you have always been friends and you have never been an official couple. If he wants things to be the way they have been without the title, then you are walking into what could be a very broken heart. See his words as a warning of his confused feelings and move yourself into a place of protection and caution.
Protective mode doesn’t mean you need to be mean, but you do need to be mindful of your choices. Stick to your boundaries. Go out for sushi with other people and have fun. Lean on girlfriends. Believe in yourself. Hold your head high. Don’t make him the center of your world.
It is hard to fight for someone who isn’t fighting for you. If he is confused, then you need to step back. Don’t chase him; you are worth more than that. Stop reading more into the relationship than it is. Right now, you are friends. Period.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.