The Lower Brain: She’s Just Not That Into You

Is there a non-shitty way to tell someone in a relationship that they should see other people, namely me?  I have a friend I’ve had feelings for many years now and we kind of addressed this once before–she was in a failing marriage then and I told her how I felt, and she jumped out of that swift divorce into the relationship she’s in now.

After she and I didn’t really talk for a time, we became friends again. She’s plainly stated her current relationship has a shelf life.  I’m sure she knows the feelings are still there and third party observers tell me she’s clearly interested in me (body language, possessive behavior when other women join our conversations). So how do I address this with her?


Sick of Waiting

(photo by Getty Images)

Dear Sick:

She’s not into you. She is into your attention, your obvious adoration of her, and probably praise you either heap on her or convey through actions. Or she simply enjoys being your friend. Or she’s just being polite. I don’t know. But she’s not into you romantically. If she were, she’d try to have something real with you. And whether third party observers are telling the truth or telling you what you want to hear, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter unless she goes for it.

And plenty of women can get territorial about men even if we don’t want to fuck them, just because that’s what we’re taught from the jump. Witness women who get pissed when their gay guy friends hang out with other women. We’re taught that to possess a man or to “tame” him or whatever makes us more powerful and better people. It’s gross, I know. I really hope that if I have a daughter or niece, I can teach her differently. I’ve had to work on unlearning that shit myself. Deprogramming unhealthy orders from the dominant culture is a whole thing, and that’s a story for another column.

Now, I’m not saying this lady isn’t sexually attracted to you. I’m not saying she hasn’t considered dating you. What I’m saying is, all that you offer at present is not something she wants. And it wasn’t something she wanted in the past. She wants to be with the man she’s with at present, and her reasons are her own. Once I had a shot at being with an awesome guy, but I fucked it up. Want to know why? Because I was addicted to a dramatic dance with a shithead. I’ve known plenty of folks of all genders who made the same mistake. I can’t say if it’s the mistake she’s making at present, just offering it up as an option to you.

And trust me, I’ve been where you are. I’ve had feelings for guys with girlfriends, for married guys, for single guys who just wanted to be my buddy. When I really am delighted with their friendship and don’t need something romantic in order to be happy, I stick with it. But when I really want to be with them and can’t for whatever reason, I know now that it’s important for me to back off – because hanging around and waiting makes me miserable. And it certainly doesn’t make me sexy or attractive. In addition, it’s kind of shitty to their partner – but since you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask first and all that, I want you to realize that it’s shitty to you.

You can decide you’re great for her, but that’s a fantasy unless she wants it. And it’s entirely up to her at this point. If she doesn’t want to date you, you’d be better off being alone and focusing on yourself so that you can move on and be with someone who is really open to you, and vice versa.

If you want some closure with this, tell her frankly that you’re still interested in her and you want to know if she has any feelings for you. Let her know that if she does, that’s awesome. And tell her that if she doesn’t, that’s okay – you respect her and care about her regardless, but you’ll likely be a little distant just to re-establish appropriate boundaries and so that you can focus on seeing other people.

And she just got divorced and she’s on the rebound, dude. Give the gal a break. She’s been through it. Go do you. You’ve probably got a lot to offer the world in general and your friends and loved ones in particular. Take good care of yourself and somebody will see that you’re the one for them. Maybe it’ll be her! Maybe not. But it may be time to kindly detach from the friendship a little (not dramatically, there’s no need for that) in order to open space in your life for someone truly great to move in.

If you have a question and need some advice, email Sara at [email protected]