All Articles Tagged "unrequited love"
I Said “I Love You” And He Said “Thanks”: How One Man’s Rejection Of Those 3 Words Almost Stifled Me In Future Relationships
So there I was, feeling a certain sensation in my stomach and in my heart that was telling me that my boyfriend at the time was someone I was in love with. It was the first time I had ever said those three words to a man of the opposite sex who wasn’t my daddy or brothers, and actually meant it. While spending quality time together, I decided that I couldn’t hold it in any longer, and after around eight months of being together, I finally expressed my full feelings to him. However, the look on his face, a mix of surprise and worry, let me know that he didn’t feel the same, but that was okay. While it definitely would have been nice to have our exchange of “I Love Yous” be like something out of a movie where we say it one after the other and live happily ever after, at the time, I was also mentally prepared for the fact that he might not be ready to say it. It was his first “serious” relationship, so I could understand if he felt like he wasn’t there yet, or was unsure of his feelings. Therefore, I smiled and told him, “No pressure, I just wanted to let you know how I feel, but you don’t have to say anything if you’re not ready.” I could tell a weight was lifted off of his shoulders, and after a few seconds, he replied to my declaration of love with a “Thanks.” A hug and kiss probably would have been more fitting, but it was fine. Well, it was fine at that moment at least.
But as an eight-month relationship turned into more than a year and a half, I became annoyed by the “Thank You.” Conversations would come to a close and I would feel so inclined to say “I Love You,” but there was that “Thank You” once again. While it was all right for a little while, we were at a stage in our relationship where I felt that if he wasn’t saying it by now, he probably wasn’t going to say it in the future. And hey, a sistah can’t put two years in a relationship where someone can only say they care for you A LOT as consolation. The more I said it as the relationship went on and the more time that passed without me hearing it back began to hurt my feelings a great deal, and before I knew it, the relationship went downhill and finally off the cliff.
At the time, it was almost like payback for my past false use of those three words. I had a boyfriend before the one who wouldn’t say “I Love You,” who told me that he was in love with me after only a few months of dating. Though I didn’t feel the same way, always one trying not to hurt other people’s feelings if I can avoid it, I said it back, not even knowing what the words really and truly meant. After my conscious ate at me for weeks and weeks, I sat this ex-boyfriend down and told him that I really wasn’t in love with him at all, and the feelings I was hoping to avoid hurting were very visible on his face. So after my boyfriend at the time gave me a “thanks” for every “I love you” my heart spewed out, I felt as though I was getting my just dues, and that I had played myself by saying how I felt first. I quietly told myself that I wouldn’t do such a thing again.
In the relationship I’m in now though, while definitely not perfect, I have found a happiness that I haven’t had in a very long time. Once again I felt the same feelings I had with the previous boyfriend, yet stronger. But because of all the drama and the sense of rejection that came from that situation for me, I decided to keep my mouth closed. I didn’t want to be that girl who cared more about a boyfriend than he did for me, so I tried my best to play it cool, even when he was going all out for me with his romantic gestures. But there’s something about being in love that causes a physical reaction. As I said before, it’s almost like you can feel something in your stomach, like the pressure of holding in valuable, if not earth-shattering information is causing you to want to blurt out how you feel. And if that’s not enough, aside from cheesing at the mere mention of the person you love or bringing them up in conversations they have nothing to do with, it’s often an epiphany that comes after something big. Like them coming to your home in the early hours of the morning on a Wednesday to rescue you by helping you look for a mouse in your apartment and calm your tears and panic (the last boyfriend couldn’t even help a sistah out at 9 p.m. when I saw my first roach in my apartment crawling by my bed, SMH). I had all these thoughts and emotions and feelings in my brain and body and was doing my damnedest to hold them all in. After feeling like a sucker the first time, I did my best to keep my feelings to myself the second time around.
And then one day, while sitting and talking with my boyfriend, he smiled at me and then randomly said out of the blue that he loved me. “I haven’t said those words to anyone in a really long time.” The declaration was a total surprise to me, as I had wondered how he was feeling about “us” for a while. And when he said it, I happily said “I love you too!” with such emotion, it was as if the fools at Publishers Clearing House came to my door. It was reciprocated love, something that in all my relationships beforehand, I had not experienced. The weight I took off my own shoulders by finally speaking with my heart was one of the best feelings in the world.
As with most relationships, I learned from such a situation that you can’t let past pain and mishaps from relationships keep you from enjoying life and love to the fullest. Having my “I Love You” continuously smiled at and avoided like I was asking when my ring was coming made me feel like a fool, and it definitely held me back from fully opening up and expressing myself to the new man in my life. However, I won’t let it hold me back any further.
Call me naïve, but I think that men and women can have strictly platonic relationships. This is even after losing a few guy friends who had bigger plans for our relationship than just an occasional movie and discussing our relationship woes about the people we were dating.
So yes, I know that strictly platonic relationships are rare; and chances are, if you are a woman who has ever had a male friend, you have or might experience the anguish of losing him because he wanted more than just a friendship. Whether it was sex or a commitment, either can be tricky if you don’t feel the same way. Still, although rare, there are ways to address his feelings and sustain a friendship, even if it means you’ll need to take a break from each other.
This is how the story goes. I am guilty of leading one of my guy friends on simply because I wanted to maintain his friendship. Sounds contradictory, right? After a year into our platonic friendship…well, at least I thought it was platonic…he began to state in different ways that he wanted to be more than friends.
After he began to address his developing feelings, I came up with different excuses as to why we should wait on that (still not sure what we were waiting on, because clearly my feelings weren’t the same). All of these excuses eventually led to me hurting him and our friendship suffering as a result.
I quickly learned that as cliché as it may sound, honesty is the best policy; and more importantly, delayed honesty is almost equivalent to a lie, at least to the person on the receiving end. So, I quickly learned that if your feelings aren’t the same, you have to state them upfront, as uncomfortable as it may be.
It usually comes with some repercussions though. Your friend will either want to end your relationship or act as if he can handle just being friends, despite the fact that he said he wanted more. In either case, I learned that allowing him to have space is necessary; and just like love, if the friendship is real or worth it to him, he will come back.
But I wasn’t about giving space. After I eventually told my guy bestie that I didn’t want to be anything more than friends, I selfishly wanted him to continue on as if nothing happened. Now, I know I knew better, but I wanted him around. Of course he needed space and by not allowing him time, I only fanned the flame. Everyone needs to take a breather from the person that hurt them.
Surprisingly, after his breather, my friend and I were able to rekindle our friendship. Unfortunately, his breather took two years, but nonetheless we’re friends again. We were only able to get back to where we started after I acknowledged that his feelings were real, even two year later. And of course, a few apologies accompanied that acknowledgement. By downplaying and ignoring his feelings at the time, I only made matters worse. If I could do it all over again, I would have acknowledged them and been immediately honest with him about mine. I would also have ditched the ‘all about me’ attitude and allowed him the space to get over his feelings of rejection.
While I’m glad I have my friend back, things are definitely not the same and probably never will be. Unfortunately, this usually happens after a situation like this. But since that incident, I’ve handled my friendships with guys who want to become more than friends much differently. Sad to say not all of them have ended with a happy ending, but no one ends up feeling lead on or deceived, a combination that always leads to feelings of resentment.
While every situation is different, the next time a guy friend falls for you because you’re just that irresistible (sarcasm), be considerate and acknowledge his feelings. More importantly be honest about how you feel and allow him space to get over his feelings. After a while maybe the two of you can rekindle your friendship, even if you have to start over from scratch. On the flipside, I’m sure that if you ever become the one who wants more than friendship from a close male friend, you would want him to be just as open and honest with you.
What has been your experience when dealing with a guy friend who wanted to be more than that? Has this experience changed your image of platonic relationships?
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by Marissa Ellis
We often hear about how men love the chase. That theory comes up whenever one tries to explain why a certain male suitor loses interest after a woman gives up the goods after a first date or why when a woman makes the first move, it kind of backfires (in the end).
But this whole coveting what you can’t have is not just a male phenemonen, it’s one experienced by the ladies as well. Unfortunately, when women have that issue, the backlash is felt much more deeply. Since it’s more acceptable for men to pursue and go to great legnths to win the object of their desires, they’re not seen in a negative light for pursuing. But, they do suffer when they get what they want and still want what they can’t have. Which means they’re on to the next.
I myself have this problem. It’s agonizing actually. To want someone just because you can’t have him. What it means in my life is that I’m never satisfied with a relationship and when I’m out of a relationship, I’m stuck with experiencing crush after crush after crush. After many years of going through this, I know how dysfunctional and damaging this tendency of mine is. It was proven recently when I went out with a guy whom I had an intense crush on. Usually, I’ll keep my distance from crushes so as to maintain that feeling of yearning. This time, I guess the feelings were mutual. We went out a few times and wouldn’t you know it, I fast became disinterested. So where does that leave me? Searching for the new object of my desires and back into this cycle of agony and yearning to no end.
I’ve tried to explore what it is that makes me so dysfunctional when it comes to relationships. From reading online about this particular problem, I did discover that I do have some sort of commitment issue. Duh. But why? I’m not sure. My parents, although not in the greatest of relationships, have been married for over 25 years. No commitment-phobes in my household.
What I do know is that I have the same problem many people have when it comes to unhappiness. And that is that I tend to compare myself to people I don’t know or to out-of-reach celebrities. I don’t compare myself to the actual couples I know but to the best couples I’ve ever met. What I’m doing now is trying to remain concious of the fact that my way of thinking is not conducive to my overall mental health. It’s a day by day process but hopefully, soon enough, I’ll break this cycle.
Have you dealt with a similar problem? How have you coped?
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Wallowing over unrequited love in a Shakespeare play (and even in a Judd Apatow movie) can be endearing and entertaining. We find these characters romantic—we believe they have the capacity to recognize a “catch” and we root for them to, well, catch them. In real life, if you have a friend who just won’t let a guy go, it is annoying, exhausting and depressing. If you are the one who won’t let a guy go, well…you just found out how your friends probably feel about you right now. Here’s why it’s hard to sympathize with the sufferer of unrequited love: