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Dating Advice #184 - Platonic Dead-End
Dating Advice 184

Dating Advice #184 - Platonic Dead-End

He says she's the greatest woman in the world -- but he ain't getting' married!


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I hope you'll be able to help me through this predicament. My neighbor moved in one year ago, and immediately he and I enjoyed each other's company. We talked, shared laughs, and told stories for hours. We soon found out how much we had in common; however, he had just gotten out of a relationship where he was burned. I decided to lay low and let him have his timing.

After a few months of hanging out on a consistent basis, I told him that I had developed feelings for him. But he said, "You're special, but I still don't want a relationship." He says how important his alone time is and that being a bachelor is the best position for him. Then he adds something to the effect of "Women are the root of all evil -- but not you, of course."

I tried to pull away two months ago, explaining that my feelings were beyond platonic and we couldn't keep spending time together if nothing was to progress. But I didn't succeed in pulling away, and now I'm back in the same stuck position.

Do I just stop seeing him completely? I don't know how to turn off my feelings for him. I am so confused and need some direction. I hope you can help.


Dear Debbie,

You've experienced one of the risks of male-female friendship. Two people hit it off from the beginning and start hanging out occasionally, and gradually one of them starts to develop feelings for the other that go beyond mere friendship. It's wonderful when the second person also begins to feel the same way, even if that was not the reason the two of them got together in the first place. But, when feelings are not reciprocated, it is very painful for the person who has strong feelings and would like to see the friendship evolve into something more.

We know how confusing this is for you. You see your friend as giving you mixed messages, that you are attractive and special, but he doesn't want a courtship. You don't know what to believe. So you hope that maybe this means that he will change his mind in the future.

He likes you as a person, but the two of you have no future.

It is clear to us that this man doesn't want a courtship. When you first met, he made it clear that he had been badly burned and wasn't ready to get involved with anyone. Now, a year later, he's still sure that he wants to stay a bachelor. Perhaps he hasn't finished healing from the break-up, has unresolved issues with women, and is happier being uninvolved. You have to take him at his word that marriage is not part of his life-plan at this point in time, and may never be. He really isn't giving you mixed messages. He's telling you that he likes you as a person, but that the two of you have no future.

We know it will be hard for you to turn off your feelings for this man, but if you do not do so you will have a great deal of trouble moving on to something that wil genuinely lead to marriage. Your friend will always be on your mind. Maybe you'll wonder "what if" he changes his mind. Trust us, he won't. Even if he somehow decides to deal with his negative feelings toward women, you have no idea when this will happen, or whether he will ever look at you as more than a friend.

So how do you get over him?

First, we suggest that you admit to yourself that when the two of you first became friends, you harbored a secret hope that in time something more might develop between you. (You wrote: "I decided to lay low and let him have his timing.") Certainly, the fact that you started to see each other more frequently reinforced this hope. Admitting to that hope, and the fact that it didn't work out, is the first step to getting over him.

The next step is dealing with the sadness and sense of loss that you feel. These are all part of the mourning process that you have to go through.

While it would be wonderful for you to be able to move forward emotionally and nevertheless remain friends, we think it is an unlikely goal to accomplish.

A close platonic friendship means that you have less emotional energy to invest in a genuine courtship.

You can't fully deal with your sense of loss unless you change the nature of your friendship. You cannot have a platonic friendship -- an emotionally close but not physical relationship -- because it will prevent you from having closure. Without closure, you won't be able to move on. He'll always be at the back of your mind.

The easiest way to gain closure is to end your friendship. You should pick a calm time and explain why it has to be so. Things will be awkward at first, but the two of you will get accustomed to simply greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. The problem with anything other than this, such as getting together once a week for dinner, is that you will still have an emotional investment in each other. You might compare future dates to him, or maintain a secret hope that he'll change his mind.

Even if you were able to really let go of your hope, the emotional energy you will continue to invest into a platonic friendship means that you'll have that much less emotional energy to invest in a genuine courtship that can lead to a lifetime of marital bliss. This, in fact, is a problem inherent in all close platonic friendships and is why we advice against them.

We hope that you will be able to get over this disappointment and move forward very soon. All the best,

Rosie & Sherry

July 23, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 16

(16) Anonymous, April 11, 2013 11:39 PM


I had several of these lopsided relationships that really hurt me until I focused on an issue that was a dealbreaker for me. The last time was with a guy I really was hung up on for over a year who treated me as more of a friend with benefits. I must have not realized or forgotten that he didn't believe in G*d and that did it. I finally could let go, no looking back, closure. Obviously this guy really is damaged goods, amongst other things. Find a dealbreaker then end all contact.

(15) B, September 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Cut yourself some slack, Debbie

Although very different than the above situation, I feel that I understand Debbie well. Mark and I genuinely cared about each other. I'd never invested so much in a relationship. Come time to make a commitment, he wasnt able to. "I dont want to break up" he told me. "I already found a special girl." Clearly, not special enough. But Debbie, I want you to know that I understand. And I want you to cut yourself some slack. It is extremely brave of you to face the pain and the hurt of losing a relationship you care about. It seems impossibe to watch him coming and going (even harder since you're neighbors! I know that feeling well!) and wonder what he's thinking and feeling about you.

Moving on is the hardest thing in the world. But its the only thing that will allow you to build another relationship. I'm still telling this to myself (as I watch him drive down the street.) Mr. Perfect-for-you will come along--if you allow him to. Don't allow Mr. Idiot-who-hurt-you to stand in the way of a healthy relationship. Allow yourself time to mourn the loss of this. And then throw yourself into finding somebody better. We have to believe that he's out there somewhere--believing is the only thing that will get us through the night.

(14) ST, August 25, 2005 12:00 AM

You can't control his feelings, but you can control your OWN actions

You have to remove yourself from the situation. Only distance will allow you to move past your feelings and truly be open when someone more suited to you presents himself.

In response to those who feel the Orthodox way is "superior"- both more secular and Orthodox dating have pros and cons. Plenty of Orthodox people I know have had difficult dating situations, and many non-Orthodox find wonderful and loving spouses. For many people, marrying someone they have met just a few times is not going to work for them.

(13) Anonymous, August 6, 2005 12:00 AM

he knows where you are

a point that someone wise once told me when I was in that situation, where you still have hope, was to cut the friendship and spending time with each other, and that you should know, that he knows where you are if he wants a deeper relationship. he also knows enough about you, so spending time is pointless. If he ever is interested, he can find and seek you out, and in the meantime forget about him, as putting in the effort isn't beneficial and only detrimental to your self esteem

(12) Anonymous, August 5, 2005 12:00 AM

That's awful advice. People can remain friends, as long as they are upfront with themselves that they are only friends. Too suggest that men and women can't be friends without sleeping together is not just prudish; it artificially seperates people from have constructive interaction with 50% of the population.

I have several opposite gender friends and it's very clear what the parameters of the relationship are. I've been enriched by having friends with a different outlook on things.

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