- When It’s Not You, It’s Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships
- Can you ever be best friends with an ex? – BBC Three
- Can Men and Women Just Be Friends? Steve Harvey Says No
- Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?
- Can Men and Women Be Friends? Viewers Weigh In
- If He Says He Can’t Be in a Relationship, Don’t Try to Change His Mind
- Be Thankful
- Give It Space
- Be Honest
- Label It
- You Can Have A Boyfriend & Still Keep Your Guy Friends If You Play It Right
When It’s Not You, It’s Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships
One of the joys of being human is that we don’t have to be perfect to be one of the good ones.
At some point we’ll all make stupid decisions, hurt the people we love, say things that are hard to take back, and push too hard to get our way. None of that makes us toxic. It makes us human.
We mess things up, we grow and we learn. Toxic people are different. They never learn. They never self-reflect and they don’t care who they hurt along the way.
Toxic behaviour is a habitual way of responding to the world and the people in it. Toxic people are smart but they have the emotional intelligence of a pen lid.
It’s no accident that they choose those who are open-hearted, generous and willing to work hard for a relationship.
With two non-toxic people this is the foundation for something wonderful, but when toxic behaviour is involved it’s only a matter of time before that open heart becomes a broken one.
If you’re in any sort of relationship with someone who is toxic, chances are you’ve been bending and flexing for a while to try to make it work. Stop. Just stop. You can only change the things that are open to your influence and toxic people will never be one of them. Here are some of the ones to watch out for.
Nobody should have to ask for permission or be heavily directed on what to wear, how to look, who to spend time with or how to spend their money.
There’s nothing wrong with being open to the influence of the people around you, but ‘the way you do you’ is for you to decide. Your mind is strong and beautiful and shouldn’t be caged.
Healthy relationships support independent thought. They don’t crush it.
All relationships are about give and take but if you’re with a taker, you’ll be doing all the giving and they’ll be doing all the taking. Think about what you get from the relationship. If it’s nothing, it might be time to question why you’re there.
We all have a limited amount of resources (emotional energy, time) to share between our relationships. Every time you say ‘yes’ to someone who doesn’t deserve you, you’re saying ‘no’ to someone who does.
Give your energy to the people who deserve it and when you’re drawing up the list of deserving ones, make sure your own name is at the top.
These versions of toxic people won’t return texts or phone calls and will only be available when it suits them, usually when they want something. You might find yourself wondering whether they got your message, whether they’re okay, or whether you’ve done something to upset them. No relationship should involve this much guess-work.
Manipulators will steal your joy as though you made it especially for them. They’ll tell half-truths or straight out lies and when they have enough people squabbling, they’ll be the saviour. ‘Don’t worry. I’m here for you.’ Ugh.
They’ll listen, they’ll comfort, and they’ll tell you what you want to hear. And then they’ll ruin you. They’ll change the facts of a situation, take things context and use your words against you.
They’ll calmly poke you until you crack, then they’ll poke you for cracking. They’ll ‘accidentally’ spill secrets or they’ll hint that there are secrets there to spill, whether there are or not.
There’s just no reasoning with a manipulator, so forget trying to explain yourself. The argument will run in circles and there will be no resolution. It’s a black hole. Don’t get sucked in.
You: I feel you’re not listening to me.
Them: Are you calling me a bad listener
You: No, I’m just saying that you’ve taken what I said the wrong way.
Them: Oh. So now you’re saying I’m stupid. I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. Everyone told me to be careful of you.
They’ll only hear things through their negative filter, so the more you talk, the more they’ll twist what you’re saying. They want power, not a relationship.
They’ll use your weaknesses against you and they’ll use your strengths – your kindness, your openness, your need for stability in the relationship.
If they’re showing tenderness, be careful – there’s something you have that they want. Show them the door, and lock it when they leave.
They talk themselves up, they talk others down and they always have a reason for not doing what they say.
They’ll lie outright or they’ll give you versions of the truth – not a lie, not the truth, just that feeling in your gut that something is off. You can’t believe a word they say.
There’s no honesty, which means there’s no intimacy. At worst bullshitters are heartbreakers. At best they’re raving bores.
It’s nice to be needed. It’s also nice to eat peanut butter, but it doesn’t mean you want it all the time. The attention seeker always has a crisis going on and they always need your support. Be ready for the aggression, passive aggression, angst or a guilt trip if you don’t respond. ‘Oh.
You’re going to dinner with friends? It’s just that I’ve had the worst day and I really needed you tonight. Oh well, I suppose I can’t always expect you to be there for me. If it’s that important to you then you should go. I just want you to be happy. I’ll just stay in by myself and watch tv or something (sigh). You go and have fun with your friends. I suppose I’ll be okay.
’ See how that works? When there’s always a crisis, it’s only a matter of time before you’re at the centre of one.
It’s one thing to let you know that the adorable snort thing you do when you laugh isn’t so adorable, but when you’re constantly reminded that you aren’t smart enough, good-looking enough, skinny enough, strong enough, you have to start thinking that the only thing that isn’t good enough about you is this loser who keeps pointing these things out. You’ll never be good enough for these people because it’s not about you, it’s about control and insecurity – theirs, not yours. As long as they’re working on changing you, they don’t have to worry about themselves, and as long as they can keep you small, they’ll have a shot at shining brighter.
These people will make you doubt yourself by slowly convincing you that they know best, and that they’re doing it all for you. ‘You’d just be so much prettier if you lost a few pounds, you know? I’m just being honest.’ Ugh.
Unless you’re having to be craned through your window, or you’re seriously unhealthy, it’s nobody else’s business how luscious your curves are. If you feel heavy, start by losing the 160 pounds of idiot beside you and you won’t believe how much lighter you’ll feel.
These ones aren’t looking out for you, they’re trying to manage you. The people who deserve you will love you because of who you are, not despite it.
People aren’t channels, hairstyles or undies. You can’t change them. Someone who snarls at the waiter will always be the kind of person who snarls at the waiter – whether they’re snarling or not. People can change, but only when they’re ready and usually only when they’ve felt enough pain.
It’s normal to fight for the things that are important, but it’s important to know when to stop. When a relationship hurts to be in, the only thing that will change will be you – a sadder, more unhappier version of the person you started out as. Before it gets to this, set a time limit in which you want to see change.
Take photos of yourself every day – you’ll see it in your eyes if something isn’t right, or check in at the end of each week and write down how you feel. Have something concrete to look back on. It’s easier to let go if it’s clear over time that nothing has changed.
It’s even easier if you can see that the only thing different is that the lights have gone out in you.
The signs might be subtle at first but they’ll be there. Soon, there will be a clear cycle of abuse, but you may or may not recognise it for what it is but this is how it will look:
>> There will be rising tension. You’ll feel it. You’ll tread carefully and you’ll be scared of saying or doing the wrong thing.
>> Eventually, there will be an explosion. A fight. There will be physical or emotional abuse and it will be terrifying. At first you’ll make excuses – ‘I shouldn’t have said that/ did that/ gone out/ had an opinion/ said no.
>> Then, the honeymoon. The abuser can be wonderfully kind and loving when they need to be, but only when they need to be. You’ll be so desperate for things to get better that you’ll believe the apologies, the tenderness, the declarations of love, the promises.
>> The tension will start to rise again. Over time, the cycle will get shorter and it will happen more often. The tension will rise quicker, the explosions will be bigger, the honeymoons will be shorter.
If this is familiar, you’re in a cycle of abuse. It’s not love. It’s not stress. It’s not your fault. It’s abuse. The honeymoon will be one of the things that keeps you there.
The love will feel real and you’ll crave it, of course you will – that’s completely understandable – but listen to this: Love after abuse isn’t love, it’s manipulation.
If the love was real, there would be mountains moved to make sure you were never hurt or scared again.
Your partner is important and so are other people in your life. If you act in a trustworthy way, you deserve to be trusted.
We all get insecure now and then and sometimes we could all do with a little more loving and reassurance, but when the questions, accusations and demands are consistent and without reason, it will only be a matter of time before your phone is checked, your movements are questioned, and your friends are closed out. Misplaced jealousy isn’t love, it’s a lack of trust in you.
These people will always have problems that are bigger than yours.
You’re sick, they’re sicker; you’re exhausted from working late every night this week, they’re shattered – from the gym; you’ve just lost your job, they’re ‘devastated because it’s really hard when you know someone who’s lost their job’. You’ll always be the supporter, never the supported. There’s only so long that you can keep drawing on your emotional well if there’s nothing coming back.
Ok. So the human form is beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with admiring it, but when it’s done constantly in your company – in your face – it’s tiring, and it feels bad.
You deserve to be first and you deserve to feel noticed. That doesn’t mean you have to be first all the time, but certainly you shouldn’t have to fight strangers for your share of attention.
Some things will never be adorable.
Infidelity doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship – that depends on the circumstances and the people involved and it’s not for anyone else to judge whether or not you should stay.
It’s a deeply personal decision and one you can make in strength either way, but when infidelity happens more than once, or when it happens without remorse or commitment to the future of the relationship, it will cause breakage.
When people show you over and over that they aren’t capable of loving you the way you want to be loved, believe them. Move them the damn way so that better things can find you.
Let’s be realistic – little white lies happen. In fact, research has found that when lying is done for the right reasons (such as to protect someone’s feelings) it can actually strengthen a relationship. ‘So that’s the orange cocktail dress you’ve spent a month’s pay on? Wow – you weren’t kidding when you said it was bright.
Oh, it has pandas on it. And they’re smiling. And the shop doesn’t take returns. And you love it. Well keep smiling gorgeous. You look amazing!’. However, when lies are told with malicious intent and for personal gain, it will always weaken relationships. Relationships are meant to be fun, but none of us are meant to be played.
Whether it’s being a merchant banker, a belly dancer, or the inventor of tiny slippers for cats, the people who deserve you are those who support your dreams, not those who laugh at them. The people who tell you that you won’t succeed are usually the ones who are scared that you will.
If they’re not cheering you on, they’re holding you back.
If they’re not directly impacted by your dreams, (which, for example, your partner might be if your dream is to sell everything you both own, move to Rome, and sell fake sunglasses to the tourists) then you would have to question what they’re getting dampening you.
Being human is complicated. Being open to the world is a great thing to be – it’s wonderful – but when you’re open to the world you’re also open to the poison that spills from it.
One of the things that makes a difference is the people you hold close. Whether it’s one, two or squadron-sized bunch, let the people around you be ones who are worthy of you. It’s one of the greatest acts of self-love.
Good people are what great lives are made of.
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Can you ever be best friends with an ex? – BBC Three
I always thought break-ups were simple affairs. There’s no point getting sentimental about someone once it’s over. Much better to take a practical approach: delete their number, block their social media accounts and purge their leftover belongings from your home.
Un my other exes, I didn’t meet B on an app or anonymously at a bar. He was my best friend. We grew up together in Sydney and had one of those freakishly close relationships that only really develop during childhood. We shared everything: from school gossip to family problems. He was the first person I came out to, and I was his.
We started going out in our mid-twenties when he moved back to Sydney after several years away. The relationship was, well, complicated. Every conversation seemed to turn into an argument.
I wish I could say there were good parts but the truth is, it was ugly from the start. Things that we wouldn’t have thought twice about as friends, such as innocent teasing or being late to dinner, became a source of bitterness. I was vile, and he was vile back. And because we were already so close, we knew where to land our verbal punches.
We lasted about 18 months. One day, after a particularly nasty fight, something between us broke for good. We both felt it.
“So I guess that’s it?” I said. “Yeah,” he said. “I guess it is.”
He moved out a few days later. We'd been living together for about four months and he didn’t give me any warning. One day he was there, and the next he wasn’t. That hurt. I had secretly wanted him out for months, but once he was gone the flat felt empty.
We didn’t speak for six months. It was easier to convince myself that he was a bad person, that I’d had him wrong from the start, than deal with the tangle of feelings in my head.
And for a short while, it worked.
But then I got an email with just one word: “Coffee?” It was the shortest olive branch I’ve ever seen, but a peace offering nonetheless. “When?” I wrote back.
We met – and within the first 30 seconds of seeing him, I realised that I wasn’t in love with him any more. When we were going out I either wanted to pounce on him or punch him, but my feelings had mellowed.
That meeting made me realise how much I missed him – not as a partner, but as a friend. Although we avoided certain topics, such as dating other people, there was an easy comfort in the way we chatted. For better or for worse, I wanted him in my life and he felt the same. We agreed to give it a go.
Over the next few months, we met up regularly.
Sometimes we ran things to talk about and there were awkward silences. Sometimes it was tense, especially when we tried to talk about issues we had faced in the relationship. Emotional landmines were stepped on, by accident and on purpose. We both had to learn to hold our tongues.
When he first told me he was dating somebody else, I felt sick to my stomach even though I was doing the same.
Sometimes we’d go for a nice dinner and laugh old times and I’d go home wondering if I was falling back in love with him.
But that’s all part of the process. We were working out where our boundaries were by a process of trial and error. So we sucked it up and stuck it out for the long game.
Eventually, the tension eased – we relaxed, and let our guard down. Our conversations started to flow more naturally and we started to talk about dating other people. When he first told me he was dating somebody else, I felt sick to my stomach even though I was doing the same. But with time, I got used to it and now it feels totally normal.
We’re still very close. I’ve stopped seeing him as my ex and started thinking of him a brother. He has the keys to my flat and comes and goes as he pleases. We even bought a dog together – he keeps her during the week and I look after her on the weekends and when he’s away for work.
One of my friends calls it “a relationship minus sex”. And I’m sure to some people that’s what it looks . But we’ve worked hard on our friendship, and I’m confident that it works for us.
People say that you can’t be friends with your ex as though it were a universal truth. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t make it impossible. We deal with difficult relationships all the time – at work, with our friends and with our families. Why should an ex be any different?
Sure, not every relationship is worth the effort. I have friends who would rather wax their scrotum than go for lunch with their exes. But some people are worth investing in – and for me, B was one of them.
As if you can be friends with an ex you were once in love with! When it comes to the type of love that shook you to your very core, whether it ended on good terms or broke your heart, friendship is not an option. I learnt this the hard way.
I met my ex – the great love who shoved my heart in a blender – at university. He was instantly attractive in that maddeningly generic way: tall, dark and handsome. We were a one-night stand that somehow turned into a friendship, that somehow turned into a relationship.
We were together on and off for three years after we graduated, with weekends of coupled-up bliss spent holed-up in his London flat, punctuated by fierce arguments about commitment. Our break-up was as convoluted and protracted as our time together: full of false starts and regretful make-ups.
That said, when we ended our romantic entanglement, we agreed that the friendship that had initially kick-started our relationship was worth saving.
Which is why we all but pinky-swore to remain BFFs for life – promising to still talk, still meet up and still be part of each other’s lives.
Our so-called terms included telling each other when a future romantic exploit was growing into something serious.
Despite seeing other people, my heart did acrobatics every time we did a ‘catch-up’ brunch.
I should have known it was doomed from the outset. Plus everyone – from parents to friends – told me we were heading for disaster.
Shortly after our break-up, I went into hospital for a jaw operation. My ex visited me, and brought flowers. This moved me – but not in the way you should be when a mate brings you flowers. My heart jumped the way it does when that person you fancy does something nice for you.
My heart continued to behave in strange ways throughout our ‘friendship’ – if he texted me late at night, if we met up for coffee and if he lingered on a hug. And without realising it, I was soon analysing his every move as if he was still a romantic prospect. I was jealous when he mentioned girls, I was hopeful when he called.
It's because so much of our relationship remained unchanged. Navigating the shift from couple to mates was weirdly easy because the only thing we had stopped doing was anything physical – besides those lingering hugs.
We still shared a Netflix account, we still messaged each other all day every day, we still spoke for hours on the phone.
I had started dating other people, and true to our promise, I could only assume he may have been doing the same – but with no serious prospects.
Yet despite seeing other people, my heart did acrobatics every time we did a ‘catch-up’ brunch. My emotions were running a marathon the entire time we were pretending to be ‘just friends’. And, ultimately, that is what we were doing: pretending. Though I never voiced this to him, I can’t help but look back and think my feelings were glaringly apparent.
Of course, this all came crashing down six months into our friendship. I was at a house party, and a mutual friend asked if I had met my ex’s new girlfriend. I stammered through a response, saying I had no idea. He was surprised: “Oh really? They’re pretty serious – I thought you guys were really good friends now?”
No, we’re not, I ruminated teary and drunk. He is not my best friend whose new relationship I am thrilled about. He is my ex-boyfriend who has a new girlfriend I knew nothing about. I am not thrilled for him, a good mate should be – I am devastated, a woman who is still in love with him.
I ended our friendship the next day. He was upset and admitted that he had kept the relationship a secret, despite the fact it had become serious, because he had wanted to keep our friendship going. That was touching, yet further proof of how toxic our faux friendship had become.
However, ending it was also one of the best decisions of my life. The connection I had with my ex was too deep, too problematic and too fraught with romantic tension to ever be a friendship.
What our abortive attempt at being pals taught me was that trying to transform a relationship that into a smooth-sailing, supportive friendship, is impossible – it does nothing but draw out and prolong the pain of breaking up.
It’s tempting to make a friendship with your ex the success story of your failed relationship, but often leaving it as what it was is more respectful to the time you shared.
Today, my ex is a person I only text on his birthday. He does the same with me. It’s a mature gesture, but that's as far as it needs to go.
Because our relationship belongs to a specific time of our lives – in the past – and I've learnt that it doesn’t fit anywhere else. Understanding that is the first step to getting over someone.
Because, if you loved them that, you were never truly just friends, so why on Earth would you start now?
Eating With My Ex is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer
Can Men and Women Just Be Friends? Steve Harvey Says No
Aug. 19, 2009— — It's an age-old question every couple faces: Can men and women really be “just friends” or does sexual attraction and jealousy take over? What if one person stays in touch with an ex, or has an opposite-sex pal?
“Good Morning America” special contributor Steve Harvey agrees with Billy Crystal's character in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” who famously said, “Men and women can't be friends … the sex part always gets in the way.”
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology estimated that an opposite-sex friendship can result in an affair as often as 15 percent of the time.
Who better to weigh in on this classic relationship question than the man whose new relationship book “Act A Lady, Think A Man” sits at number one on the New York Times Hardcover Advice bestseller list?
Author, comedian, actor and host Steve Harvey tackled this topic with a number of couples.
Justin Vanlandschoot and Stacy Marsch
Married for four years
Vanlandschoot, 33, had a female friend who was coaching him in a speaking competition. Marsch, 37, knew about her, but one day saw an e-mail from her husband to this woman and it was signed, “Love ya.”
Although Marsch says that men and women can have opposite-sex friends, she felt uncomfortable and confronted him.
Vanlandschoot says although there was absolutely nothing going on between him and his friend, it was not worth jeopardizing his marriage and he ended the friendship.
“You typed, 'love you'?” Harvey asked Valandschott. “That's pretty dangerous … I can't even type 'I you a whole lot' without starting a major fire.”
He told Valandschott that he did the right thing by ending the friendship.
“I'm just of the belief that a couple should form a two-handed circle,” Harvey said. “Outside relationships … what good do they bring to your marriage?”
Aaron Bouw and Lindsey Dahlin
Dating for three or four weeks
Dahlin, 25, says it is fine for men and women to “just be friends.” However, Bouw, 29, says that women pull the naive card” and don't realize it when a male friend is interested in them. Bouw says he trusts Dahlin, he just doesn't trust her guy friends.
“I know how men think,” Bouw said. “We have one thing on our mind.”
Harvey told Buow he was trying to mark his territory, not protect Dahlin.
“That's how men are, that's how we really think,” Harvey said. “It's almost virtually impossible for a man to be a woman's friend. The only reason we're your friend [is because] you've made it perfectly clear it will go no further than this.”
Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?
Sharon and Bill Brewser
Sharon Brewster, 53, said she almost called off her wedding because she found a text message from another woman on her husband's cell phone that ended with “sweet dreams.”
“I heard Bill's phone go off,” she said. “I went out and confronted him. I was very upset.”
“She's certainly not saying have sweet dreams about your wife,” Harvey said.
Sharon's husband, Bill Brewster, 52, told her that he always got along better with women than men. But knowing that Sharon does not believe men and women can be “just friends,” he did not tell her about some of his female friends.
“The big mistake that I made was that she didn't know about her,” Bill said.
Mary Fitzgerald and Bill Soldwisch
Dating for 11 years
Fitzgerald and Soldwisch both have friends of the opposite-sex and say it has never been a problem. Although the couple has not married, they remain committed and say they would never do anything to jeopardize the relationship.
Having female friends has “never been a problem,” Soldwisch said. “They've been my best friends … I've been fortunate to involve myself with confident women in my life.”
“They'll always be temptation, but when you're in a true committed relationship, why ruin a great thing?” Fitzgerald said.
Harvey was surprised Fitzgerald didn't want to get married.
“I have no particular interest in being married,” she said. “We don't need the piece of paper.”
They do refer to each other as husband and wife, to make it “easier for the general public,” Soldwisch said.
“I just don't know a woman who doesn't want to be married,” Harvey said. “I'm stuck.”
Can Men and Women Be Friends? Viewers Weigh In
“GMA” also received hundreds of e-mails from viewers eager to join the conversation.
Angela McDaniel from Lufkin, Tex., wrote in about emotional infidelity.
“My husband has had several female friends that I didn't know about. If your spouse doesn't know about his friend then you are having an emotional affair! If you weren't there would be no reason to sneak & talk to the friend.”
Brenda Velasquez from Modesto, Calif., says men and women can be friends without causing problems in their marriage. “Take me for an example. After my first marriage, we're still friends. In fact my ex-husband is renting a room from my current husband and me. In my opinion, it is just about how civilized and grown up you are in the situation and relationship.”
Heather from Birch Run, Mich., e-mailed “GMA” to ask Harvey a question.
“My best friend is a male. We dated for a very short time several years ago right after high school. When my now husband and I started dating he knew about him and we hung out several times. But about two years after we got married my husband started making comments about him. Now every time we fight, he throws him up in my face. I have no clue how to get him to stop. Any ideas?”
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If He Says He Can’t Be in a Relationship, Don’t Try to Change His Mind
More often than not, dating opens women up to a world of confusion that too often ends in hurt. Your typical meet-cute begins with an ambiguous “hangout,” and as time goes by, it becomes increasingly unclear whether you and your guy are just really close friends or taking things really slow. Odds are, neither party knows exactly what’s going on.
While I think casual dating is awesome, it’s obvious that we can only keep it casual for so long.
What we hope for are mutual declarations and a bashful relationship status change, but what we too often receive is a noncommittal disclaimer that obvious attraction and flirtation do not always a future boyfriend make.
At some point or another, we have to get some clarification as to what exactly is going on here or risk getting stuck in the ambiguous friend zone.
In my dating years, I got the “let’s not call this a relationship” talk not just once, but twice. The first time, I was crushed but continued with the undefined relationship.
Time eventually muddled us together, and we did become some sort of constant dating entity—but a catastrophic one.
Reeling after the inevitable heartbreak, all I could really think was, “Well, he did warn me that he has commitment issues. Why didn’t I listen?”
“Many times women’s self-esteem takes a hit. They wonder, ‘Why wasn’t I good enough for him?’” shares Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist. “But men don’t think that way.
Timing plays more of a role than not being ‘good enough’ for a guy. He may still want to see what his options are, or he wants to focus on his career. . . .
He may also want to have life experiences or work on himself first before he gets into a serious relationship.”
The second time I heard a man say he couldn’t be a boyfriend, I was actually relieved. Burned by my last experience, I saw it as a warning and promptly cut off the flirtation with no wounded pride. We even stayed friendly.
If you find yourself or a friend in this confusing Neverland of a dating situation, learn from my mistakes. By looking out for yourself now, you might avoid a lot of hurt.
While this might seem a misplaced suggestion, hear me out.
If a man tells you he’s not ready to be boyfriend material, realize that he’s being honest, and even if it’s not what you want to hear, honesty should be rewarded with at least a thanks.
In a world of flakiness and straight-up ghosting, frank honesty is commendable. After all, he’s giving you the power to ascertain the situation more clearly by setting expectations instead of leading you on a confusing wild-goose chase.
Give It Space
With all this non-dating dating, you’ve established some habits. Aside from those daydreams of the two of you coupled up, he might have slowly become a fixed part of your routine. Those flirty texts, mid-lunch gchats, or drinks every Thursday have become the norm. While I wouldn’t suggest pure silent treatment, allow for some space between you.
“Women sometimes think, ‘If he sees how awesome I am, he’ll change his mind and want to be in a serious relationship with me,’” Chlipala shares.
“So what ends up happening is a woman puts in more effort in the relationship without getting what she wants or needs in return.
A guy who isn’t open to a relationship will not be able to consistently meet a woman’s needs, and this can create unnecessary hurt.” So do yourself a favor, and step back.
Sounds easy, but this is the hardest part. Do you actually want a relationship with this guy? Or do you just want to prove him wrong, and show him that the two of you would be great together? With emotions at a high, it can be hard to discern your exact motivations.
If you do find yourself still wanting a relationship with him after he’s told you he isn’t looking for a serious commitment, know that making yourself available to him won’t change his mind.
“A woman can waste time putting her effort into seeing if the guy will be in a relationship with her,” Chlipala says.
“Sure, the guy may be keeping her around because he really enjoys her company, but hanging around longer with him won’t get him to change his mind.”
In my case, while hanging around might have seemed he changed his mind, deep down, he really didn’t. He admitted as much when we broke up. Though he did become my “boyfriend,” looking back, it was in name only. He wasn’t at a point in his life where he could be emotionally available enough for a real relationship.
So, he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend, but you’re not just friends either. It can be tempting then to just leave things in limbo that, but keeping it label-less forever isn’t a solution either. As Jordana Narin shared in the New York Times last spring in the article “No Labels, No Drama, Right?,” nothing can be further from the truth.
Drama can be extra-confusing with no labels. “By not calling someone, say, ‘my boyfriend,’ he actually becomes something else, something indefinable. And what we have together becomes intangible,” Narin writes. “And if it’s intangible it can never end because officially there’s nothing to end.
And if it never ends, there’s no real closure, no opportunity to move on.”
Even if you do the smart thing and give yourself space from him, take the extra step, and label your relationship in your head. Label him as “off-limits,” “not into it enough,” or “going nowhere.” Whatever the label, make it stick, and keep yourself from getting lost in Neverland.
No matter if he’s proactively bringing up the subject or if you have to interrogate it him, one thing’s for certain: If he announces that being in a relationship isn’t in the cards, accept it. Let it be, and go on your merry way. The worst thing you can do is continue down a path of more ambiguity. After all, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
You Can Have A Boyfriend & Still Keep Your Guy Friends If You Play It Right
Once you start dating someone, you’ll soon come to realize that it’s not exactly easy to maintain your other friendships, especially those with other guys.
No matter who your new boyfriend is, he’s probably going to be at least a little concerned knowing you constantly hang out around other men.
To curb possible jealousy, suspicion or tension, here are a few tips for keeping your guy friends close, but your boyfriend closer.
Establish trust early on.
From the first day you meet or hook up, you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. No guy really wants his girlfriend hanging out with a bunch of other dudes, so it’s up to you to show you’re trustworthy from the very beginning. Don’t give him a reason to doubt what you say or do.
Be open about where you’re going and what you’re doing
You don’t have to give him every detail about what you do with your friends, but don’t seem you’re hiding things because that could just make him suspicious. If you regularly hang out at a guy friend’s place with several other friends watching movies, be honest about it. Don’t just say “I’m going to Danny’s place. See ya!” In other words, don’t let his mind wander.
Introduce them to each other.
This one works wonders if all your guy friends are completely unattractive and your league (am I being mean, or just plain honest?).
If your boyfriend meets them, he’ll realize there’s nothing to worry about.
But even if they’re not that bad, it’s still a good idea for you to introduce them anyway, just so that your boyfriend can see they’re harmless.
Include him when you hang out.
Nothing shows you care more about someone than inviting them to hang out with you (well, maybe a few other things).
Let your boyfriend know he’s always welcome to accompany you. Just make sure you’re now close enough that your friends can’t possibly embarrass you or wreck your relationship.
We all know the kind of stuff our guy friends are capable of.
Be ready to change certain behaviors.
Now that you have a boyfriend, your guy friends have to also understand that things between you might have to change.
Maybe they shouldn’t be sitting as close to you on the couch anymore, or giving you a piggyback ride (hey, I don’t know how close you are to your guy friends).
Whatever it is you do that could possibly weird your boyfriend out, you might want to stop, just for his sake. Unless, of course, you tell him and he’s completely fine with it for some reason.
Let him know about past histories.
If you happen to have any history with a guy friend you still see and hang out with on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to tell your boyfriend about it early on in the relationship. This is something you don’t want him to find out about after months of dating, because it could ruin your relationship and break all trust.
Be open to making compromises, but only those that are reasonable.
Most relationships come with compromises. You’re not going to have all the freedoms you used to have, but don’t let your boyfriend call all the shots either.
It’s unfair to you if he demands you never see your friends again, so have a talk and figure out what he’s comfortable with and what really bothers him, and go from there.
If he ends up making you choose between him and your guy friends, he’s probably not as great a guy as you thought.
Return the favor.
If he’s fine with you hanging out with guys, you need to also be okay with him hanging out with other girls. Maybe he has a lot of women friends. Treat him you’d want to be treated.
The trust has to be mutual for it to work, so make sure you’re open with him being around other women.
If the thought of that makes you foam at the mouth, you’re going to have a tough time convincing him that you can be trusted while he can’t.
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Chelsey Nicole Chelsey is a freelance writer in NYC. She's pretty normal by today's standards, or at least that's what her mother tells her.