Hypothetical question re: friends/lovers

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Hypothetical question re: friends/lovers
8
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 12:42am
Hi all, I was thinking about this and thought you'd be a good audience to pose my question to.

Let's say that Person A is friends with Person B, and A is in love with B, but B does not return this affection. In one universe Person A decides s/he cannot continue to be friends with B because it is too hard to be "just friends" when s/he really wants so much more. In another universe A feels that it would be better to remain friends with B even if nothing more can ever come of it, because A respects and cares for B so much that s/he would rather be friends than not know her/him at all.

In which situation would you say that A really loves B and in which does it seem to be just an infatuation? Or could it really be love in both cases and some people would just handle the situation differently? I know it's not much to go on, but I'd just like your gut instinct.

Avatar for bearkizz
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 1:33am
My opinion....choosing to remain friends despite their lack of return affection, is sincere caring.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 2:45am
It depends on the individuals involved, the type of friendship that they have, and the depth of respect and caring they give to themselves AND each other (and in turn, the friendship) to make the right decision.

Universe A: Is it really true friendship when the reality is that you wish for more which the other cannot, will not, or does not return? And if this fact is causing you pain, then the "friendship" can not have the benefit of *mutual* affection because you will always want more than he is willing or can give. I find that to be stressful and unfair to all concerned.

So, perhaps losing the friendship is actually "saving" it because you are not putting expectations that it cannot sustain. Friendship should be something that promotes our sense of well-being and growth (for the other person as well); not as a fodder for resentment or pain.

Universe B: I suppose this is possible if "A" can fully accept the fact that "B" cannot return her affection to move the friendship to the next level. She may keep him in her life but without any hopes for more because *she* has her own life to find the love that she deserves - from a person who can love her as much as she loves him.

So, as long as "A" isn't pining for "B" they can remain friends and still move on with their respective lives.

In my opinion, love and respect for the other person (and yourself) are present in each universe; the outcome is just different, depending on what "A" feels she must do, and the type of person she is (e.g. disposition, personality, resilience, values, etc...). For that, she has to be honest with herself with full awareness (instead of a rose-colored vision) of the situation. In either case, she needs to "release" herself, and him too, in order to find a fulfilling relationship that is right for them, even if it is NOT with each other.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 3:03am
I'd say it could really be love in both cases. Differnent people handle situations differently. Heck--one person can handle two similar situations differently, depending on timing, exact circumstances, etc. I can see myself in both "universes" in this situation, depending on when in my life it happened, geographic distance from the other person, my current relationship status, and a hundred other variables.

It could also be love in *neither* case, just as easily.

Ain't human dynamics fun???

--fc

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 6:00am
Title: I would say...

...that in both cases it is infatuation, because JIMHO, I truly believe REAL love, the sort that is the foundation of a truly committed (even if but for a time) serious long term relationship cannot be created or exist on its own...it has to be mutual and shared. Or...in other words, all relationships start off as infatuation, and love develops over time, if those two people are indeed two who can fall in love for each other (and all that means...mutual respect, commitment, loyalty, etc.).

Having said that, within the context of what I *think** you meant (asking of those two persons, which was more likely to truly looking / hoping for something with THAT person, a real foundation for starting a relationship, versus simply wanting a relationship and thinking person "B" is suitable) I would agree with FC...it depends on the people involved and the circumstances. Speaking for myself, I've never felt an emotion (what some would call "love"...what I would call "lust" or "infatuation") that was so strong it would prevent my having a friendship with someone who I TRULY saw as a friend FIRST. I've been there, and what I have found it that the feeling simply passes with time. Understand, I'm NOT saying that I haven't been attracted to someone, had that attraction not return, and then decided it was best put some distance between that person and me. I've been there too...I think we all have. But in those scenarios, the object of my unrequited love wasn't a friend FIRST.

On the other hand though, I have to admit that I'd probably be pretty uncomfortable if a female friend expressed such feelings about ME. I am not sure I'd want to continue a close friendship with someone whose attraction I was unable to return...and indeed my guess as I sit here now is that I wouldn't want to. But that is a sentiment conjured up in a vacuum...I might feel differently when actually faced with losing the friendship of someone I cared a great deal for.

Good question...very thought provoking....

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 12:00pm
"On the other hand though, I have to admit that I'd probably be pretty uncomfortable if a female friend expressed such feelings about ME. I am not sure I'd want to continue a close friendship with someone whose attraction I was unable to return...and indeed my guess as I sit here now is that I wouldn't want to."

I am curious *why* you would have that sentiment, even if it is, as you say, "conjured up in a vacuum."

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 1:03pm
I've bee in that situation. Where my best friend in the whole-wide-world professed her love to me. It made our friendship *very* tense at times. She did not simply profess it once, but many times. It was like clockwork.

She would profess, we would discuss, she would promise not to bring it up again, and I would try to ignore that it happened. 3 months later, repeat.

Just like GoGo assumed, it made me very uncomfortable. Had there been less of a friendship between us, I would have pushed her out of my life. However, she was a rock in my life. A core that I had built much of my friendship and social life upon for a couple years. I was simply too dependent on her for our friendship. It would have been like cutting off an arm to lose her. So I dealt with the repeated claims of love, and we both kept our friendship.

Eventually my life took a spin, and our friendship suffered for it. Because of her love she took it very personally and it blew up in a spectacular fireball. That happened in the spring of 99. We had been friends for 4 long years. It took another two years for the explosive fire to die down enough for us to regain some form of civil discorse. We built on that and over two more years, eventually re-established a far more distant friendship. On a scale of 1 to 10, we are probably at a 3 or 4, compared to 9 or 10 when we blew up.

So I think GoGo is right on the money, even if he never went through it.

Brokk...

Avatar for northwestwanderer
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 1:22pm

I don't think that one option or the other shows that it's love vs. infatuation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-29-2003 - 4:12pm
Title: GoGo's instincts are on target

I have been there just as Brokk has, though the results have not always been as explosive as what he went through. Twice in the last 7 years I have dealt with the repercussions of having a friend who had feelings for me that I did not return.

With one, it was a more short-term, developing friendship. I'd known C for about 2 years, and we'd become friends over a period of 12 months or so. Then he professed romantic feelings for me; feelings I had guessed at but was trying to ignore because I did not return them. We kept on trying to be friends for a while but it was so tense and uncomfortable for me. And like Brokk's friend, C wasn't content to let the situation lie. He kept bringing up his feelings. This did not inspire me to return them--it inspired me to get even *more* uncomfortable and tense. In the end, I was unable to handle the pressure and the friendship ended quite badly. My close social circle changed forever as a result of that incident. This all happened in 1996. It's only been in the last year or so that C and I have managed to find a way to so much as exchange civil "hello"s when we meet in public.

The other situation was both better and much worse. My best friend from high school was a man named P. P and I were great friends all through high school and we kept in touch all the way through college even though 600 miles separated us. I'd had a crush on him as a high school freshman, and he took me to my Jr. Prom. He was my rock during one of the hardest times in my life in college. Just after that hard time, he and I dated very briefly--for about 3 months. Dating P felt comfortable but at the same time wrong (almost like dating my brother or first cousin). I broke up with him, but we remained friends. Over the years, we both dated other people and he entered into a long-term relationship. I never could figure out why his girlfriend seemed to hate me. Then, when I was 25, I got married to my now-husband and I asked P to be in the wedding. After all, he'd been my friend for more than a decade.

It took my *father-in-law* asking if he was my ex-boyfriend to FINALLY clue me in to the fact that for all those years, despite having a girlfriend, he had been quietly hoping I would express romantic interest in him again. (No wonder his gf hated me!) After I married, the friendship slipped away. Unlike the incident with C, there was no argument or explosion. We just gradually stopped contacting each other, me due to discomfort, him for reasons of his own (my guess is lost hope). I still think of P often. I hope he is well and has found happiness.

On the other hand, I HAVE maintained friendships with many folks with whom I was once romantically entangled. If the romantic feelings on *both* sides fade away, a good solid friendship can be built and maintained. Physical attraction can even remain, so long as both parties are truly content with "just friendship" and there is no serious emotional longing for more.

--fc