Dear Wendy: “My Friend Expressed His Romantic Feelings For Me In A Text Message!”

I met a guy about 4 1/2 years ago, and for the first three years that we knew each other, it seemed like neither of us wanted anything to do with the other. We eventually began running into each other often and slowly started talking. Within a few months he started to develop feelings for me. He hinted them quite strongly but at the time I was completely oblivious and continued treating him as just a close friend. He eventually moved away for work but continued to make an effort to keep in touch with me by randomly calling or texting. One day he caught me off guard and texted how he felt. I had just woken up and was at a loss for words. Sadly, I texted back the worst possible response: “LOL.” Naturally there wasn’t a text back from him. A week later he texted me a “Happy Thanksgiving” and since then I haven’t heard from him. In the time that he’s been M.I.A. from my life, I finally realized how big of an ass I was. I can’t even say I was a good friend either since he was the one making the effort to keep in touch. I’m still not attracted to him and can only see him as a friend, but I want to fix our friendship. At the same time I feel like I’m selfishly disrupting whatever life he’s trying to create without me in the picture. He’s too important of a person to let go of but how do you talk to someone who doesn’t want to talk to you? Am I even right in trying to mend our friendship or should I just leave him be? — Friend Not Foe

I see two big lessons here. The first is: texting should never ever be used to confess one’s feelings for the first time. Whatever happened to picking up the phone and talking to someone? Hell, even a heartfelt letter is way better than a text. The second lesson: it’s time to retire “LOL” from our digital lexicon once and for all.

OK, in all seriousness, while what you wrote wasn’t the best way to reply, you weren’t exactly given the world’s best set-up, either. I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it too much. It was cowardly and a little thoughtless for the guy to express his deepest feelings for you in a text message and to put you in an awkward position over how to respond. There’s only so much emotional backup you can give someone when you’re limited to 100 characters or so. So let yourself off the hook on this one, and if you’re certain you want to continue having this person in your life, pick up the phone and call him up. You don’t have to have some big over-the-top, intense conversation. Just let him know you were thinking of him and thought you’d say “hi.” I wouldn’t even mention the weird text from months ago unless he brings it up. The point of your call isn’t to embarrass the guy, but to open the lines of (friendly) communication. I think you’re mistaken that he doesn’t want to hear from you. He texted you over Thanksgiving after all, right? The ball’s in your court on this one and he’d probably be happy to get a call from you. Keep the conversation light and short and tell him to “keep in touch” before you hang up. That way, you’re putting the ball back in his court, letting him know you’re receptive to a friendship, but you aren’t confusing him with mixed messages or giving him false hope of romantic interest on your part.

I have been dating this guy for the past eight months. We started dating right after he got divorced, but he has been separated a long time. He has a 3-year-old daughter with his ex-wife. I had such a hard time saying “yes” to dating him because it’s complicated but I gave in eventually because I really do care about him a lot. Since we started dating, I’ve been struggling with some issues in our relationship. For example, his ex-wife has been dating some guy for a while now and he has meet the guy and all, but yet, he cannot tell his ex-wife about me. He’s worried that his ex will have a problem with it. He also hasn’t told any of his friends because about me because he’s worried that it will leak back to his ex-wife. My parents and my friends know about him, yet none of his friends but his mom know about me. It’s like he is trying to keep me in the dark. We see each other all the time — almost every day — but it’s always just the two of us. It really bothers me that his best friends don’t know about me and yet he wants to meet all of mine. Am I being selfish here or does he just not care enough? — ATL Girl

If someone’s keeping you in the dark and refusing to let you meet any of his friends, there’s definitely something fishy going on. Are you positive he’s actually really divorced? Have you been to his home and seen with your own eyes that he lives alone? Have he and his ex-wife worked out all the terms of their divorce, including custody of their daughter, child support and alimony? I wonder, since you began dating as soon as he divorced, if there’s any possibility his ex-wife knows about you and considers you part of the reason their marriage ended. Keeping you “hidden” may be his way of protecting himself from a settlement he can’t afford, but it’s still pretty odd that you haven’t met even one of his friends. Surely he must have someone in his life he can trust with knowledge of you.

You’re not being selfish by asking for your boyfriend of eight months to share more of his life with you. It seems like you’ve been shown some pretty big red flags and it’s up to you to determine whether you’re going to take them as the warning symbols they seem to be. I would put my foot down and demand your boyfriend start incorporating you into more of his life, including introducing you to his friends and letting you get to know them in social settings. It’s understandable if he wants to keep his daughter at a distance from you at the time-being, but keeping you from the rest of the people screams “fishy” to me. I’d be very, very hesitant in continuing a relationship with a man who doesn’t show enough respect to share more of his life with you.

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