I know a girl (we’ll call her Christy) who’s dating someone, but he’s still hung up on someone else. She knows this, but has decided she likes him so much that she’s willing to play the waiting game. I’ve never met the guy but she assures me he has a good career, he’s stable overall, and he’s a good person. And he tells her he’s really into her. The dilemma? He has admitted that he’s still struggling over feelings for his ex. He and the ex are separated (the ex’s choice) and have one child together. They still spend time with one another for their child’s sake.
One night she asked me for advice, from a guy’s perspective. She knows I have been through a separation and was once in a similar situation, so she was anxious about what to do?
Alright, maybe the guy’s being honest, maybe not. For the sake of this post, let’s say she’s right.
The way I see it, she has 3 options:
- Keep playing the waiting game.
- Cut him off completely and move on.
- Just be friends. Continue to hang out and see where it goes.
Each choice will produce a significantly different result, but only one of them would be the best option for Christy.
I recommended option 3 for lots of reasons, many which seem obvious to me. I’ll discuss each one in detail below.
Options 1 and 2 are Cop-Outs
First I want to discuss why options 1 and 2 wouldn’t appeal to me in Christy’s situation. Option 1 leaves Christy too vulnerable to emotional upheaval. To not have clarity on something you’re emotional involved in makes her doubtful. Doubt usually ends in poor decision-making. Option 1 isn’t fair to Christy. As a matter of fact, it’s not fair to either one of them. They’re both caught up in a situation where neither one of them is sure about the emotional outcome. Both are lacking emotional clarity. Personally, I’ve been through enough of that with my former marriage, and I don’t like the position it put me in. Not only was I emotionally weak, but I made some decisions that ended up further complicating matters before it all ended.
Option 2 doesn’t appeal to me either. If they see things in each other that the like, then cutting it off completely might mean missing an opportunity, especially since Christy and the guy have expressed that they genuinely feel something for one another. They should allow that opportunity to grow. This guy might get his act together. All relationships involve some type of risk anyway, so there’s nothing wrong with Christy doing some more waiting.
However, how she waits is what’s important. 🙂
Taking Option 3
There are a few great reasons for Christy to make the conscious choice to establish a friendship basis only with this guy. Not only can it lead to a potential great relationship opportunity, but it will give both Christy and this guy some time and space to discover what matters most to them. Below are the details:
She has to Feel Good about Herself
What’s her life really like in this relationship? What are the emotional details? Is she really getting fulfilled? When she’s with him, things are great. When they’re apart, her emotions are all over the place.
If she was content seeing him on the side for hook ups while simultaneously living her own life, that’d be one thing. But that isn’t the case. She is totally dedicated to him, and waiting for his total dedication in return. While she assured me he and the ex-wife weren’t together anymore, he’s still emotionally attached to the point that he’s admitting this to her. And that’s a problem. She isn’t feeling good about the relationship or herself overall.
By stating she wants a friendship puts her back in control of her life and will provide the space to regain a healthy emotional balance. I believe it’s perfectly fine to wait for someone, but not to give them total dedication when that dedication cannot be returned. She doesn’t come across as the type of person emotionally to live her life to the fullest while waiting around for this guy, and that’s reason enough to put herself in a place to be in control of her own emotions and relationship path.
It Puts the Pressure on Him to Pursue
Most descent guys and girls will respect the decision to take option 3, even if they don’t like it on the surface. In Christy’s case, it will show strength and stability on her part, and make her more attractive. If he truly cares for her, then he’ll appreciate the chase he now has to engage in. It puts the ball in his court and he’s forced to make a decision. He’ll have to put more energy and thought into her and less on the ex—at least if he truly wants Christy. He’ll have to fight for what he formerly had with Christy, or he won’t. The point is, Christy won’t have to wait around anymore hoping for something that isn’t truly there yet. And more importantly, she’ll get an answer. Maybe not the one she wants, but then she’ll know. And either way, she’s free to begin living her life again as far as it comes to relationships. Christy is back in control of her own relationship destiny.
Friendship is the Basis for any Good Relationship
Being just friends with this guy, even though she has romantic feelings for him, will provide some positive space for Christy. For example, it takes expectations off the table. When the expectations are gone, there’s no pressure. Then people can be who they are. By establishing a friendship with this guy, Christy is also being respectful enough to give this guy the opportunity to see what he really wants. Furthermore, this can be her opportunity to really shine for the guy. Since he’s already going to have a healthy respect for her as a strong independent woman who isn’t willing to settle for something that’s she not completely fulfilled in, he’s going to be interested in seeing what the friendship means. Curiosity is a good thing. J
Christy should focus on being herself and just having fun. They should do the things that normal friends do. Go out to eat together. Go bowling. See a concert. Enjoy some beach or lake time. Grill out and then watch something on Netflix together. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, Christy needs to focus on being positive and happy. And this attitude will further make her more attractive. If this guy really cares for her, he’s going to take notice of who Christy really is. And this will help him make his choice.
Christy Doesn’t Have to Feel Guilty for Living Her Life
Choosing option 3 also gives Christy enormous freedom. The friendship zone means she’s still free to pursue something else if the opportunity presents itself. Whether or not she goes looking is her choice. But she doesn’t have to feel guilty about it. That’s good enough reason in itself.
Oftentimes we want what we can’t have, and that’s the driving force behind our decision making process. Christy might not be happy in the long-run with this guy. Why play the waiting game in a way that cuts out other relationship opportunities?
How many relationships actually end up being the ONE anyway? How many people have you been through already? How many has Christy?
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be in a situation where I was free to explore all my options if I wasn’t getting something I knew I wanted but couldn’t have out of the relationship. Sure, Christy might get exactly what she wants eventually from this guy, but overall the chances that he’s the ONE aren’t logical for her to consider at this time. He’s still got emotional interest elsewhere. What if the ex decides she made a mistake and solicits a relationship with him again? Christy put all that emotional work and time into something and lost out on other potential opportunity.
How Should She Go About Telling Him, and How Long Should She Keep the Friendship Up?
Should Christy make the decision to be consistent with option number 3, she should be completely honest with him. She should let him know that she desires more, but that she isn’t willing to be to sacrifice the proper commitment. Her honesty lets this guy know he has the opportunity if he wants it. But how bad does he want it? What’s going to be more important in the end—remaining caught up emotionally with his ex (who he will probably never have), or moving on with a girl who’s ready to be dedicated? In a way, Christy is forcing his hand. That’s not the overall intention, but it’s a simple fact.
As far as time goes, option 3 puts Christy in the perfect position. Time doesn’t matter so much if she’s exploring other opportunities. If this guy goes months without showing signs of change, she can move on. If she doesn’t want to let go yet, she doesn’t have to. She’s not sacrificing everything anymore so the risk is mitigated.
My Concluding Thoughts
I feel for Christy here. It seems like a tough decision when you’re directly involved in this sort of situation, but that’s why emotions are both a blessing and a curse sometimes. If she could step back and see the situation objectively, I believe option 3 is the only logical choice. But I also admit love and relationships aren’t usually logical. Those darn emotions! But in the long run, I think option 3 is Christy’s best choice because it will give her a sense of dignity, self-respect, freedom, and control.
I hope it all works out to your favor, Christy.