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Friends and Family Everyone has disagreements, even best friends and family. If you need advice about a relationship, ask us here.

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Replaced by Romantic Partner. Help? - May 18th 2010, 01:41 AM

Argh.

So, here's the deal. I have a friend, someone who I might even consider a best friend. Though we met online, he lives 40 min. away and we've hung out a few times. I feel on top of the world when we're out, because I feel like I can be eighteen, a real teenager, which sounds silly, to be honest, but I never had that in high school. I was home schooled through age 12, at which point I attended a charter school, but even then, I was the one who hung out with the parents and the teachers. I also took most of my courses at the community college, and I associated with the adults there, as well. Top that off with the fact I had severe social anxiety and with the fact there was a lot going on at home that left me being the one to take care of the house, take care of my mother and sister, make sure there was food on the table, make sure my sister had done her homework, even help pay some or all of the bills, etc. and you get that I was never really able to be a teenager.

When I got to university, I surprised myself. I went from being a complete social wreck to, not quite being a social butterfly, but being able to socially handle myself. I took university as a new beginning and began speaking with people in my classes, exchanging phone numbers with the intention of forming study groups which sometimes worked out, sometimes didn't, and even invited people out a few times. The first quarter, a lot of the "outings" I'd had planned fell through. The second quarter, I stayed socially isolated to my roommate and her best friend. And this last quarter, I've met a few more people, had lunch with them, etc., but it's been nothing like with this guy that I met. Sure, I'll admit it, we go out, and we act like complete idiots. We're complete goofballs, completely spontaneous, are, for the most part, respectful of other people, but we can be loud and we tend to drive with the top down and music blaring. We're quite huggy with one another, cuddle sometimes, and we even play games of "grabby hands," but it's completely platonic; he doesn't cross the lines I've set, and I don't cross the lines my boyfriend and I have set together.

This morning, however, he basically texted me to tell me he has a date, which made my heart sink, but more than anything, it beyond puzzled me. For one, the girl he's going on a "date" with is his best friend. He tends to flip-flop between how he feels for her. There have been a couple occasions he's said he really liked her; there have been other occasions he's said that, after thinking about it, he sees her as nothing more than a friend. He's told me that he's unsure about even trying at a relationship, because he doesn't want to wreck their friendship if things don't work out. Then he's told me he's not even sure they'd work because of how he sees her (as a friend) and because of a few issues with attraction/physical "components/differences" and the like. I've been here to counsel him several times. There's been a hint of jealousy, but it's not too bad, and I can shove it aside seeing as what I want for him is to be happy. I'm assuming he has feelings for her, but isn't sure how to approach the situation, and even if he isn't sure how he feels for her, I've encouraged him to maybe go on a date or two and see if there's potential. I want him to be happy. I truly do.

At the same time, the selfish part of me doesn't want to lose him. The other day on the phone, I made a comment about how I was jealous of the fact a friend's girlfriend had taken my attention to the point he no longer spoke to me. And how that hurt my feelings. And this guy friend goes "well that's what happens when you're in a relationship." I said I'd never done that to anyone. He then proceeds to make comments like, "well what do you think will happen to us when I have a girlfriend? " (I include the winking face because that's the tone with which it was said, which confused me as to whether or not he was being serious ) and "You know I'll be calling her instead of you" and things like that, and he even implied he would no longer be hanging out with me (granted all with the same tone I mentioned earlier). I have very, very deeply rooted abandonment issues, to the point I've seen multiple therapists, some of whom have referred me elsewhere, others who have thought they could tackle those issues but haven't yet been able to. This conversation hit that nerve, and it struck it hard. I don't want to lose this friend on account of his having a girlfriend. Can I sacrifice the touchy-feely bullcrap? Of course. Can I accept not being able to talk as often? Again, of course. But can I accept not being able to talk at all? I'm not sure; probably not.

Then there's the fact he gives me mixed signals. I should stress that I am not bothered by the mixed signals because I have feelings for him; I don't. They bother me because I can't make sense of them when he's going on to date someone else? For example, he'll tell me how cute I am, how much he loves me and spending time with me. He'll flirt with me; I do what I can not to flirt back (I'm playful, but refrain from being flirty 99% of the time). He makes comments about how "if I didn't have a boyfriend..." and how I'm unavailable so he has to look elsewhere for a girlfriend, and so on and so forth. To me, these aren't comments you should be making when you know you're going to be dating, or even just knowing you're going on a single date, someone else. I look at it in terms of my boyfriend. I don't have a problem if he chooses to snuggle with one of his girlfriends, I genuinely and honestly don't, but if he chooses to snuggle with her whilst also telling her how cute she is? How he'd want to be with her if neither of them were tied down? etc. I trust that he's not - no, I know that he's not - saying those things, but hypothetically speaking, if he were, I'd be hurt, jealous, and more than that, I'd be pissed off. If he was saying those things even in the beginning stages of our relationship, to some other girl, then my feelings about him and the relationship would change dramatically and I wouldn't pursue a relationship at all.

I'm not sure what's up. Some people have suggested he's trying to make me jealous. Other people have suggested that maybe he really does like me, but, knowing I'm unavailable, has decided to try seeing other people. Some people have suggested he's a player. The list goes on. I don't want to talk to him about this because I don't want to come across as needy and jealous; I don't like the idea he'd use that against me in the future, which he might as a lot of guys have and do. But at the same time, it's hard for me to let this go because it's driving me mad trying to figure it out. Again, it has nothing to do with feelings, and it has nothing to do with "if I didn't have a boyfriend." If I didn't have a boyfriend, this guy friend and I still wouldn't, most likely, have a future with one another, seeing as there are several reasons I can find for us that would make it unlikely for us to work, a big one being he's not entirely my type. I simply want to figure him out, because the way he seems to play this game of cat and mouse with me is both tantalising and irritating as fuck. It doesn't help that it's a game I love to play, as well.

There's also the fact that people seem to misunderstand me. I've expressed my concerns to a friend and my boyfriend, and though my boyfriend seemed to understand it, my friend did not. She gave me a lecture on how I can't expect to take priority and how I can't expect to be his "number one." I'm neither of those things now. I don't care whether I am or I'm not. All I care about is that we have a good time when we're out together, I love him to pieces (platonically), and I want to take advantage of every opportunity he opens up to hang out together. I also don't care about putting up with the honeymoon stage. Of course, when he gets into a proper relationship, he's going to want to spend time with her. Of course he's going to want to go out with her more than me, talk to her more on the phone and online, etc. and I can deal with that. But having him cut me out completely or almost completely? That would crush me, ashamed as I am to admit it, and I can feel a part of me starting to resent him and shut him out for it when it hasn't even happened. My boyfriend says I'll need to play it by ear, and he's right, but in the meantime, I'm not sure what I can do to calm my nerves or my anxiety?

Everyone tells me that if he completely shuts me out, or lets her dictate who he hangs out with, then he's not worth it, and he's not necessarily a friend I should hope to have in my life. Though I see their points and see where this is true, it doesn't make the situation any easier to [emotionally] deal with and no amount of logic can. I will play it by ear, and in no way will I lash out at him for it. I was a bit stand-offish the other night when we hung out, partially because of our morning conversation and partially because he arrived pissed off, but for the most part, I've been acting normal. I'm hoping he's still willing to accompany me on an upcoming trip we planned (nervous as hell to ask him tomorrow, but hey, I'd rather have a day to sulk if it doesn't happen than have the trip ruined because he backed out last minute).

I guess I'm not sure what I'm hoping to achieve from this thread, and if you read it all, kudos to you. I guess I'm hoping someone can give me suggestions on how to deal with the anxiety that's more or less been overwhelming me? How do you deal with it when you're terrified of losing a best friend to a romantic partner? And more than that, how long is too long to wait for them to "come back to you"? In other words, say he did cut me off, how long is too long to wait to see if he accepts me back into his life? He told me a friend of his hardly hung out with him for the two YEARS he was in a relationship but now they hang out all the time. And I'm sorry, but there's no chance in hell I'd make it that long. But then again, does that make me selfish?

Gah. Help?
   
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Re: Replaced by Romantic Partner. Help? - May 18th 2010, 03:13 AM

I READ IT ALL.

Unfortunately, I don't think I have much to offer, as far as advice is concerned. It seems you've already talked to your boyfriend and friends, who gave the same answers I would have given:

1. Don't stress about it until it happens.
2. Give it time, he'll come around after the "honeymoon" phase.
3. If he doesn't come around, then he wasn't worthy of your friendship.
4. You can't expect to be as important as his girlfriend.

You already know all of that, though, so I'll answer two of your questions: how do you deal with the anxiety, and how long do you wait for him to come around?

It may not be the best solution... but then again, this is a tricky situation. When I started dating my ex-boyfriend (and shut everyone out of my life), they coped by shutting me out in return. Basically, they emotionally detached themselves, until they were certain that I was ready to give them my time and energy again. =P Now, I'm not saying you have to be cruel toward this boy... but distract yourself. Go make more friends, or get back in touch with people that you previously decided weren't going to "work out". Make some seriously AWESOME plans for the summer break... and don't let the itinerary depend on whether or not that particular friend will be coming along.

In my case, it took me a few months to realize that I was spending too much time with my partner, and not enough time with my friends. I think any longer than 3-4 months is unreasonable, and that you should seriously consider moving on at that point. Again, there's going to be a honeymoon phase... so until he experiences a bump in the road, he won't be able to comprehend how pushing his friends away (in order to spend time with his girlfriend) is damaging to his friendships.





   
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Re: Replaced by Romantic Partner. Help? - May 18th 2010, 04:16 AM

I always appreciate your input and advice!

Like I said, I don't expect to be more important than his girlfriend (assuming this date leads to another and another), and I don't even expect to me any more important than anyone else in his life now. I'm simply happy to be a part of it, no matter how odd that sounds.

But it does help to hear he'll come round, or at least that there's that hope/chance, because that's honestly what I needed to hear from someone right now, so thank you for that.

The problem is the friends I meet at uni live at least six hours away, and though I've met one girl who lives in the same place this guy does, I'll admit that she's plainly and utterly boring. I do plan to learn to drive, however, so that should occupy some of my time and open up for the opportunity to go see some of the friends I've made at uni. Boyfriend is also coming in June and I'm going to see boyfriend in late Aug. or early Sep., so for once, I do have summer plans. I was simply hoping this guy could be a part of those plans, but I'll play it by ear.

Currently I'm letting my mind wander to other things. They're equally as upsetting... More upsetting to be honest, haha, but at least I'm distracted from this for a while, plus we had a decent conversation earlier, so I'm remaining confident. He considers to call me one of his close friends, tells me I'm awesome, that he loves having me in his life, etc. so those things are really reassuring to hear as well.

But I appreciate you taking the time to read my entire post and then respond at length. That alone means a lot and makes me feel so much better that there are people who are willing to listen to me and offer advice!
   
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Re: Replaced by Romantic Partner. Help? - May 19th 2010, 05:32 PM

Closing this thread now, since the issue has been resolved.





   
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