The Friendship Doctor

Send in your friendship questions and quandaries and get expert answers and solutions

Your platonic friend…she’s just not that into you~

Some platonic relationships do become romantic ones

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I have read and been told by female friends that when a man is friends with a woman and all of a sudden wants to take it to a romantic level, the woman will "freak out" and get turned off. She'll feel betrayed, thinking that the man's intentions all along were to gain her confidence and trust, then hit her with the romantic feelings. That probably explains why a female friend has shunned me.

The whole thing started about six months ago. After breaking up with my girlfriend, she (my ex-girlfriend) became very obsessed thinking that I left her for my (platonic) friend. She kept emailing me these ideas that I never even thought of. It got to the point that I actually liked the thought of dating my friend. I realized I was attracted to her.

But my friend doesn't feel the same. I can tell she felt betrayed as she started to ignore my emails and calls. Now I feel like a fool because I sent her a few angry notes, basically telling her to block me on Facebook if I'm that bad. She refused to block me but never replied either. This was driving me nuts.

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So I wrote one more letter, this time saying things that were offensive and finally she blocked me. It may sound silly, but basically I just felt the need to punish myself from her because the more she would ignore me, the more I would get annoyed. She never let me explain how my romantic interest came about.

Personally, I think it's selfish to think a guy plans something like this and if some do, they are jerks and make all men look like jerks. Also, what is so wrong with a man being friends with a woman and after a while (in this case, 4 years) growing closer to her and developing feelings?

Now I put the blame all on myself and it is beating me up inside thinking it was my fault. I feel empty. There is still one more email address to which I can write her but I am not going to since it will make me look like a stalker. What's your take on this? Do you think she will ever try and hear me out? Should I keep pursuing? Did I really screw it up?

Signed,
Ross

 

ANSWER

Dear Ross,

Some platonic relationships do become romantic ones. So I strongly disagree with your female friends' analysis of women. If a woman feels the same way you do, she'll be only too happy to take the friendship in a new and more romantic direction.

Perhaps, in this case, there's a simpler explanation for your friend's behavior. Could it be that she felt safe with you as a friend---when you had a girlfriend---but doesn't feel that way now? When you expressed romantic interest in her, she may have backed away because she simply wasn't interested, not because she felt betrayed.

In either case, better to back off. No more emails! She ignored your earlier emails and calls; saying offensive things to her had to make things worse. Unfortunately, it sounds like you've lost both a girlfriend and a platonic friend in one fell swoop. You need some time to heal before you get involved in another serious relationship with another woman.

Hope this helps.

Best,
Irene

 


Other posts on The Friendship Blog about cross-gender friendships:

From 'just friends' to a workplace nightmare: What happened?

How to handle a fizzling friendship

 

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Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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