(The Root) —
What should I do about a guy friend I really love and care about — and I know he cares for me — who has said he doesn't see me as his life partner? I am heartbroken and at a loss for words. Other folks see what I see whenever we are together. Should I say something again or wait on him? —H.B.
I'm sorry to hear that you are in pain, but don't allow your grief to cloud your judgment. The person you care so much about has made it clear that he is not interested in pursuing a relationship with you, much less marriage. He has been up-front and, so it seems, upstanding. And he has made a decision about what he wants. What "other folks" think or see, and even what you think, doesn't matter. No means no. Respect his candor and his feelings, and also keep a little of your pride by not pushing this issue any further.
You seem to have invested a lot of emotional energy into this friendship and have become a bit deluded about what was occurring between you and him. You note that you love and care about him but describe how he "cares" for you — no mention of love. This points to an imbalance in the feelings between the two of you.
You are also "at a loss for words" over a man telling you he doesn't want to spend his life with you. I'm curious why you even thought he would. He was "only" a friend, not even a boyfriend. If he had not committed to the foreseeable future and did not love you, as you implicitly acknowledge, what made you think that he was remotely interested in forever-ever?
The options you suggest for dealing with this issue won't only strain the existing friendship; they will also embarrass you and leave you further depleted in the long run. Often how this scenario plays out is the guy flat out rejects you again, which means he's actually doing you a favor. Or, worse, he occupies his downtime with you despite not wanting a full-blown relationship, and you continue to pursue his affections. This is a mistake that many women make while dating, one that can lead to bitter spirits and broken hearts.
You're painting yourself into a gray area. He's not entirely right for accepting your ego-stroking attention or bed-warming affection, but he's not exactly wrong, either. After all, he's done his part by telling you what the situation is — that it's nothing serious and going nowhere — and as you continue to pursue him, you're tacitly accepting that you're OK with that arrangement.
Of course you aren't satisfied, since you said you want to spend your life with him, but you'll push forward, intentionally ignoring what he said, and reading into his actions. In the end, someone will come along whom he actually wants to be with, and he will go off to be with her. You will be left wondering something like, "How could he do this to me?!" when actually, you participated in doing it to yourself.
You're setting yourself up for the same result by waiting for him to come around, which is extremely unlikely and a waste of time. It's the equivalent of sitting by the phone waiting for HR to call long after an employer has said you didn't get the job. See how crazy that sounds? It's even crazier when you do it.
Too many women spend too much time on men who are just plain uninterested in them as partners, as your friend has made clear to you. Some of those ladies "wake up" later in life, look around and wonder, "Where did all the good men go?!" Uh … they walked on by and you missed them while you were waiting for Godot. You don't want that to happen to you.
For now, you will be best served by cutting off contact with your friend (at least for now), licking your wounds and then beginning the process of healing your spirit.
Part of that "healing" should include a soul search about why you invested so much into someone who had not invested in you, and why you were willing to ignore the obvious signs that he just wasn't that into you. It's important that you address the root of these issues to keep them from happening again.
Going forward, be more careful to whom you give your heart; it is precious and should be shared only with someone who values it as much as you do.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.