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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 794
Experience:  Specializing in relationship/family counseling
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My best friend has been in a relationship for the past four

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My best friend has been in a relationship for the past four years, her boyfriend had been dumping her for the past two years and whenever she picked up her feet and found the way to move on he jumped in and wanted her back. She would play hard to get for a while, but eventually she always went back.

Last summer for the first time I was also single and we started doing things together all the time, we were having so much fun and one thing led to another and we hooked up. Then she got back with him and I pulled back telling her to figure out what's going on. A few weeks later she broke up with him for good and we sort of started seeing each other. After a few weeks of intimacy she froze up for a few weeks, then came back and then froze up again and this has been going on since. I am allowing the space, without losing power, I know how it is when a break up is still fresh. I know she exchanges some sms with the ex every once and a while and that it confuses her, she talks to me about it. She knows that he is not reliable, she knows that she has issues of letting go and that her ego is hurt. She doesn't want to go back, but she is hurt and hates the fact that she has felt so rejected by him.

She says she doesn't see the potential of a relationship between us for the time being, but every week something intimate will take place, we are always together, she keeps around all the time, everyday, and we have planned to go for a trip together over christmas. The time we spend together is fantastic, we never seem to grow tired of each other, we share the same interests and passion. I don't understand what goes on in her mind. If she doesn't want to have something with me, why is she always around, if she just wants to be friends why do we end up all over each other every once and a while? If she doesn't want anything (which I don't believe), which is what she said once I put some pressure, why doesn't she let me be? 

Hi, I'm Alicia. Thanks for asking your question - I'm happy to help you today.

I can see how difficult and painful this situation is for you, and how confusing it is for both you and your friend. I understand why she is saying that she doesn't see the potential for a relationship between the two of you at the moment, because she needs to close the door for good with the ex before she can truly share her life with you or anyone else. There's obviously a strong physical and mental attraction between the two of you, and it's also obvious that she cares for you on a very deep level, especially if she's discussing her deepest concerns with you about the ex and, I'm sure, other issues as well.

It seems to me that she's torn between two worlds - on the one hand, she hasn't quite closed the door with the ex, for what reason that is, we can't say for sure because we can't read her mind. On the other, she's confused by her feelings for you. But a lot of times, people who have had a tumultuous, lengthy past with an ex (like your friend has) have difficulty giving up the relationship for good, even if it's dysfunctional and unhealthy. It sounds like she's just not sure what she wants at the moment, and that makes sense because she probably wants to cut off the ex but doesn't know how (because of their history, because she might care about him on a certain level, and honestly, because of their on-and-off again history - it sounds strange, but people are often sucked into patterns like this where they are rejected and then taken back by their partner, perhaps because of their own issues from past relationships or their childhoods - it's different for everyone.) and at the same time, she really does care about you and likes you and is attracted to you and all of those things. And she has sort of given you hope that perhaps in the future, there's a chance that things could work out between you. But before that can happen, she has to cut ties with the ex for good, and for whatever reason she's not ready to do that yet.

It's a difficult situation for you because it seems like you want to be with her on a romantic level -- and you're also dealing with the strong attraction factor. I assume that some part of you is hoping that things will end with the ex for good so you can pursue a deeper relationship with her. The best thing you can do is be her friend. If your expectations aren't too high, you could still maintain physical contact with her, but you have to make sure to protect yourself emotionally, so that you're not hurt if things don't work out. You say she is your best friend, but it's also hard if the lines are blurry, as they are right now. You have to decide what is best for you, and listen to what your gut tells you to do. But most importantly, just be supportive of her and at the same time, give yourself a bit of space. If you're around each other a lot, it's inevitable that you're going to become physical with each other, and that can keep the lines of your relationship in that blurry phase, where things don't move forward but they also don't go back to the way they were.

I hope that helps to clarify things a bit, but please let me know if you have any additional questions. Best wishes.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have edited the initial question a bit, while you were answering it. So please read....

What is more, I know all of the above, I don't mind getting hurt, I don't think I will, so I am not really concerned about myself...I just want to help her so that she can figure things out no matter what the outcome is, thus helping myself as well by getting a definite answer.

She does not really believe in therapy in any way, she does not react at all when I tell her how I feel. I try to take it day by day, I try to have no expectations and put the ball in her court. Every time we have sex she is very emotional and then 2 days later she freezes up and wants space. I keep my distance...or I am willing to and then she calls and changes her plans to see me and hang out etc etc. It's as if we are together, we spend all of our time together, only we don't sleep together. We both admit that our relationship is special and amazing. All our friends keep telling us that we are idiots for not being together (they don't know) and that the bond we have is rare etc etc.

I am having a wonderful time, don't get me wrong...I am frustrated sometimes, yet overall I am so happy just to be around her. We laugh all the time. Yet at the end of the day I do want more and I think that she is the most amazing woman I have ever had in my life and not willing to let that go.

Hi again,

Thanks for the additional information. I can understand what you mean when you say you're not as concerned about getting hurt, as long as you understand that there is a risk (however small that might be), I would be remiss if I didn't point that out to you. I commend you for wanting to help her as best you can - and so far, it seems that you are doing a very good job as her friend, but I can also see how this situation might be frustrating for you, to want more and to long for a deeper connection, which seems like it's just on the horizon.

That being said, I also understand that you both have this amazing connection and you both feel emotionally and, obviously, physically, a very strong bond. It seems to me that you just need to give her time to sort out the issues with the ex and whatever issues she is dealing with internally - and let her close the door on that relationship for good - even if it's already closed in reality, she also needs to close it in her mind and heart. And I think it's something that needs to happen in it's own time - she's the only one who can truly make that happen.

It seems that she is just in a very confused place at the moment and she's having a hard time sorting out her feelings. And the thing is, it seems that this is something you both have to deal with right now - there's no way around it, and there's no way to speed up the process for her. I think that it's something that will resolve itself if you keep being supportive, loving, caring, showing her your concern and so forth. It's obvious to you and to everyone else that you should be together, and in time, I think she will come to this realization, too. But because of the history with the ex, it could simply be that she is afraid of getting hurt, she's afraid of sharing herself or letting down her guard too much, even though you are her best friend, even though you have an amazing connection. She needs to feel like she can trust herself and trust you before she can give herself completely to you. It sounds like she's getting to that point, but it's going to take some more time and patience. And that might mean, for you, dealing with her emotional changes, as you say, the "freezing" - and just showing her that you aren't going anywhere, despite what she is going through. That might mean, then, that you calmly deal with the times she calls to change your plans at the last minute, and, as you said, not have expectations right now. It's not ideal, but it's the way the situation is right now. I think it's a temporary phase that will work out on it's own - it might sound trite, but if you are meant to be together (and it sounds like you are by all counts), then you will be. It could be that she's testing the relationship and you, to see how you'll react during those times when she changes plans or acts cold. She wants to see if you're going to stick around when the going gets tough, so to speak.

Part of it is also just enjoying each other's company and having fun. Show her that you are different than the ex (she already knows that, but it sounds like she just needs some extra reassurance.) Don't focus on the things that aren't there right now - those will come in time. You don't have to change anything you're doing - you just have to be patient with her and allow her to come to you when she's ready.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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