Why can't weeeeee be friends?

Dear Chuck and Garland,

I am a young woman, 24 years old. I was involved with a guy of the same age for three years during university. He was my first boyfriend and only, as I am still to re-enter the dating world. We were both foreign students from the same country who met at university and had (what I thought) was a great relationship which most people, including me thought would end in a marriage. We had lived together for a year and became really close to each other's family etc. I will give him credit where it's due, he treated me well, in that he supported me emotionally and financially through some rough patches in my life. I never had to ask twice for something from him and I do believed that he cared for me, even if he may not have loved me as I loved him.

We broke up because I graduated one semester before him and returned to our home country. We spoke about what would happen when I moved and we decided that we would be in a long distance relationship until he returned as well. About a month after I left, I found out that he was cheating on me with a mutual friend. Of course, I went crazy and confronted him. He could not deny it and told me he was unsure about us and he was in love with this other woman. Upon my questioning his intentions all along, as he was the one who always brought up marriage etc when we were dating, he said he was in love with me, cared for me and knew that I was a good woman who would make a good wife and he thought he wanted me. Emphasis on thought-- until he starting seeing the other woman. So the relationship ended-- with much agony for me as I was shocked and very hurt.

I should also mention that he cheated on me earlier, very early in the relationship... something which was a very early warning sign that he had a fidelity problem. But he indicated that I refused (which is true) to be intimate with him and he had his needs met eslewhere. The relationship was also long distance when this happened. By the time I had found about about that early problem, the cheating had stopped ( by his choice) and he was really trying to make it work for us. That is why I forgave him and took him back.

The second time though, I just walked away.

When he graduated, not so long ago, he moved back to our home country and started up a business and decided to settle here as well. We talk sometimes as friends, and have met on a few ocassions and had lunch and dinner etc. He indicates to me that he wants to be friends with me because we do get along well, once we avoid the issues of the past relationship. I don't mind friendship as I think I can handle that we 'were' . But he hints to me that he wants more, he keeps saying, I was the best thing to happen to him, he made mistakes etc. I don't know if pursuing a friendship with him will lead him to think that he has a chance to get close to me again. I see it for what it is, friendship but I am aware that he may using friendship to squeeze his way back in. What do you guys think? Can people be friends after dating? What do you think his intentions are?

GARLAND: Thanks for your question and sorry for the delay in getting this answer posted.

Let's see... yes, men and woman can sometimes be friends after dating and after breaking up. But in my opinion, those times are far and few in between. If your ex has cheated on you twice, then you have a very reasonable barometer to his trends and habits. Frankly, I think this guy will continue to keep you in his pockets just like so many loose nickels. He doesn't really want you, but he wants to keep you close enough to keep an eye on or maybe to keep someone else from taking your attention.

I think a better man would say, "I've hurt this woman twice and she's forgiven me. I'm going to leave her alone and let her heal." A decent guy would not be trying to satisfy his own... guilty conscience... or underhanded plan.

And then we come to the whole "being friends" thing. Calling this chap a 'friend' is an insult to the REAL friends you've had for years. The REAL 'friends' that were there for you when this guy dogged you. The REAL 'friends' that care about you and your feelings and not just their own. This guy may be nice, but don't try to paint him with the 'friend' brush. You two will probably never be TRUE friends. If your 'radar' is active and you have some doubts and/or concerns about him and his objective, then please trust yourself. I think you're going to open yourself up to some serious vulnerability.

Good luck and best wishes.

CHUCK: I'll be succinct: People who have dated can remain friends after dating, depending on the behavior that you are willing to tolerate from your friends. If you place a value on friends that you can trust, and that are loyal to you, this man has already shown that he is unworthy to be your friend by cheating on you (twice) while you were dating.
Now, people can change, and, in certain circumstances, should be given second chances. But that should not mean that we should allow the past to be forgoten completely. Those who forget the past are doomed to blahblahblah and all that.
Is he trying to use friendship to squeeze his way back in? Absolutely. He's not even trying to hide it. He realizes that he fouled up, but you will not take him back straight off, so he believes if he plays the friend role for a while, he might be able to soften you up to get back together. Now you can be his friend if you want, but be mindful of what he's setting up. And most importantly, DON'T DO IT.
This guy has shown that the minute that there is any appreciable distance between you, that he will cuddle up with the next nearest female. He's done it twice. That you know about. If he's bad friend material, he's even worse boyfriend material. I say, let it all pass. You can do better.


Anonymous said...

I Liked what you told her. She should get away as far as possible from this guy...might be a stumbling block to any serious relationship she will have in future...LET THE PAST REMAIN IN THE PAST! point rekindling old flames...

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