Name: Sleepless in Brooklyn
I’ve been pretty stupid. Setting romantic expectations up in my head with a girl who has expressed that she just wants to be friends right now. She reads me like a billboard, tho, and doesn’t trust me to respect her feelings. She was right not to, I was always looking for opportunities to change her mind. Now, I’m coming to understand how selfish I’ve been. Probably caused her considerable pain, since I’m done with self-pitying, the guilt of hurting her really sucks.
We are not talking right now. I’m ok with giving her space. But how can I make sure not to fall back into selfish behaviors if/when we do connect again?
Dear Sleepless in Brooklyn,
It is great that you have taken the time to reflect on this situation. Regardless of a relationship outcome, I believe the success of any relationship can be measured by its positive transformational power.
What you can take away from this experience is that you cannot force someone to like you. Both men and women often hang on that glimmer of hope that someone whom they like will reciprocate. If this girl has already expressed to you she doesn’t want anything romantic, you need to accept this and move on. Your job as a man is to figure out whether a woman is interested during the courtship process and invest your time wisely based on the cues you receive. If you want to not fall back into selfish behaviors, you may want to consider moving on from focusing on this girl as the object of your affection and pursuing individuals who are open to your advances.
If you value her as a person, you can continue to engage her as a friend once some time has passed. If she seems resistant at first, you can apologize and make it clear to her that you will not further pursue her romantically. Eventually, if you stay true to your word, she will begin to trust you again. The challenge for you is to get over her so that you are not creating tension and emotional heaviness in this dynamic.
I also noted that you said she “expressed that she just wants to be friends right now”. You have to be prepared that when she used the word “right now” it may actually mean she only wants to be friends period. Women often tell guys they are not interested in romantically that they want to be friends for the time being, leaving that possibility open that something might happen in the future. This can be because they don’t want to completely shut a guy down and hurt this ego; alternatively, it can mean they enjoy having suitors around. In reality, when someone says to you they are not interested right now, you have to accept the possibility that they may never be and not spend your time and emotional energy on something that may never materialize.