He wants to remain friends

Dear Suzie,

i’m a 22 yr old female and my love interest is a male of 23yrs. i have been attracted to him for almost 1 yr and before x-mas i told him how i felt. before then we were bonding and i had a feeling he liked me too. however when i told him how i felt on a night out (we were both quite drunk) he told me he thinks the world of me so it was not a no. however he had just ended a long term relationship 8mnths ago and needed to find himself so he did not want another serious relationship. i was devastated because i am very much in love with him. since then he insists he wants to be friends. we have had ups and downs and right now i do not think i can handle the situation. we recently had a massive argument and i told him i lied about how i felt about him. he told me he cannot handle me being around and has mentioned he is unable to express his feelings. he still wants to remain friends and makes an effort to make time for me but the relationship is strained. i do still love him and he seems to feel the same. what do i do?

Don’t lie, for a start. Playing games with feelings and relationships is deadly – it builds up confusion and resentment and makes people feel manipulated and used.

The problem here is that you have a feelings and a need, and a timetable. In essence, you want him and you want him NOW. He may be telling you the truth – that he feels the same about you but having recently broken up he isn’t ready yet. Or, he may simply be using this as an excuse to let you down gently. Whichever, the message is clear; however strongly you feel and whatever you want, he isn’t prepared to fall into line at the moment.

Let me define love for you. To me, love is caring for someone. It means being sympathetic to how they feel and wanting to align their needs to yours. Love is when you have a longing, if not a lust, but the distinction between mere lust and sexual love is generosity and selflessness. If you loved him, you’d respect his wishes to take it slowly for the moment. If you loved him you wouldn’t have screamed “I lied! I don’t love you!” as a way of either hurting him or prodding him into action.

What you seem to be describing is the “I want it!” of a small child who has never been taught ‘deferred gratification’ – having to wait until the right time. You can’t have everything you want immediately – sometimes other people’s needs must come first. I know that seems tough and I’m sorry. But it’s life.

If you want to keep hold of him, as a friend or a future lover, then the only way is to grow up a bit. Tell him you’re sorry for the way you behaved and you will respect his wishes as well as recognise your own. Then have a think about what you really want. If you feel you love him rather than just want him, listen to what he is saying too. If you can’t wait or can’t be friends then you’ll have to accept it’s not going to happen. And that’s an option you may have to consider. If you can take a deep breath and step back, you may at least be able to stay friends and maybe, just maybe, the love bit may develop eventually. Good luck!

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