In dating and in life, one thing is for sure: rejection is never fun, and being rejected by a friend can be especially painful. However, one of my guy friends and I did get through this awkward experience and after I friend-zoned him, we got closer than ever!
I tried to set him up with a friend.
I initially met him briefly at an event and thought he was perfect for one of my girlfriends. I kept trying to organize group hangouts so the two of them could hit it off — I’m a die-hard matchmaker, I couldn’t help it! Unfortunately, my friend was not interested and more often than not, it would end up just being me and the guy hanging out together.
Our friendship was fast-tracked.
The more I got to know him, the more I liked him. He was intelligent, sensitive, thoughtful, and easy-going and I loved spending time with him. We opened up to each other about tough subjects pretty early on and would stay up late just talking. Looking back, I definitely see how he would have thought that this was on the road to romance, but I just thought I had found an amazing new friend!
I realized our friendship was definitely not platonic, at least on his side!
It started out slow: hugs that lingered a little too long, touching my arm more than necessary, or leaning in close when we were watching a movie. At first I was flattered. I was just getting over a breakup, and the flirting and attention definitely made me feel good. But when we went on what turned out to be a “date-date,” I realized that this was more than just a flirtationship for him and I did not feel the same way!
He finally confessed his feelings.
I tried to put off this conversation for as long as possible because I hate confrontation. The conversation was awkward and slightly painful and I had to explain that I didn’t feel anything but friendship for him. I’ve rejected guys before, but never someone I cared so much about and it sucked.
I thought it was over between us.
After that conversation, I immediately thought we’d never speak again. I had tried my best to be kind but firm but I could tell he was really hurt. We basically went from hanging out almost every day to not speaking for a month, and I figured it was the end of our friendship.
I realized I really missed him.
I knew he needed some space to heal, and I tried to be respectful of that. But after a while, I realized that he wasn’t just some guy I hung out with. He had made a space for himself in my life and I felt like there was a hole in my days when he wasn’t there anymore.
I approached him about being friends again.
I realized that it would be up to me to see if there was any chance of resurrecting our friendship. After over a month of radio silence, I reached out to see if he wanted to grab lunch sometime. I was super nervous because the last time we’d seen each other, he was crying! Luckily, he seemed glad to see me and before, long we were catching up like nothing had ever happened.
I made it absolutely clear we would only be friends.
This is something I verbally established at the very beginning of our lunch and he agreed that he was fine with it. I also started being more careful about how affectionate I was around him–no casual touches, no sprawling over his lap on the couch. I wasn’t sure exactly how over me he was and I didn’t want to send any mixed signals.
Now, we’re closer than ever!
There was definitely an awkward period where we were a little cautious of how we interacted with each other. Luckily, we both have a sense of humor and it helped us get over that stage quickly! Getting through that rocky period really helped solidify our friendship: we got to see how the other person dealt with conflict, so we could be a lot more “real” with each other. Now, we tell each other everything, from crushes to TMI medical issues, and I’m so glad to have him back as a friend!
I’m more aware of how my actions impact others.
After a close friendship almost turned to disaster, I realized that sometimes, “harmless” flirting can definitely send the wrong signals. I never want to go through that again, so from now on, I’ll save my flirting for the boys I’m actually into!
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