Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Chances of reconciliation with an ex you're 'friends' with?

(325 Posts)
cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 10:58:12

Hello, I've just signed up to post this thread, I hope that's ok smile

I read about 'friendzoning' on another forum and apparently, it's bad when it comes to being friend zoned by an ex.

I recently split up with a man I had been seeing for 6 months. We were seeing each other quite casually - as in, we hadn't been seen together in public around our town, as I'm still in the process of going through a divorce (split up a long time ago) and didn't want that reflecting badly on me...despite all that, this man said he loved me fairly early on (within a month) and seemed to be planning for the future; talking about future events he will be attending and mentioning it would be nice for us to go together, and so on.

He spent a while after we split up saying that he doesn't want a relationship with anyone for as far into the future as he can see, but that he liked me a lot, we did continue to sleep together but then both felt awful the next day, and then he told me he was going away for a couple of weeks with work, and needed complete space; I.E no contact for the time he was away. He said he was hoping to see if he missed me, and to work out what he felt for me; whether he wanted to never see me again, just be friends or something more than friends.

I spoke to him yesterday on the phone, and he said he was hoping to see me next week when he was back home, just meeting up for a coffee and a chat then going home to see if we can actually get on (we've been arguing a lot recently, due to his 'confusion'). I asked about how he felt and first of all he said I'm lovely but not for him, then he said he could never say never and that two people could never have a relationship if they can't be friends. He wouldn't say if his actual feelings had changed, just saying that he had made a decision that if he can't have a relationship with anyone at this moment in time, then he can't have his cake and eat it by sleeping with me - which seems fair enough to me.

He seems to want to meet up next week, chat and get on and then just text and stuff as people do, with a view to meeting up "some time in the future...in a week, or two or three, whenever feels right".

He says that he will still be attracted to me, but won't ever act on it. I asked what would happen if he comes to see me and still feels the way he did the last time he came over (which was beginning of August) - the same feelings that were confusing him at that time, and he said he would just try to enjoy the feeling of enjoying my company.

Is this a bit weird? Putting aside the issue of whether the dumped party should be friends with an ex when they still have feelings for them, would it be so bad in theory to meet up with this person fairly regularly but not planned regularly, just chat about casual things and then we both go home having had a pleasant time...is there potential for feelings to develop on his part (if they were ever going to, I know there is only a slim chance anyway) or will he 'friend zone' me and therefore never see me in 'that' way again?

I admit, I'm confused as to how feelings come about anyway - my ex said that he realises now that he has to be friends with a woman before getting involved with dating or a relationship, but can you ever be friends with an ex (genuine friends, with no physical contact) and then rekindle a relationship?

meditrina Wed 21-Aug-13 16:24:43

You really shouldn't give time of day to "tormented"

It all boils down to him repeatedly telling you that he doesn't want a relationship with you

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 16:29:53

Ok, I suppose I was focusing more on the prospect that he might in future.

Not hung up on it (although it may seem that way to you), but I suppose I just wanted to keep things open; be friends and then in 6 months, a year, 2 years down the line if I felt the same way (or stronger, as I don't entirely know how strongly I feel for him now, or what I want) and he felt more open to being in a relationship, then maybe it could happen - or not.

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 16:33:23

Can I ask one more question though;

Why doesn't he cut me out altogether?

He's a grown man, he cut his ex wife out (still sees his grown up children) after she shacked up with the guy she cheated on him with, and he was with her for many years.

I don't really understand why he says he wants to keep seeing me as a friend or seems open to the idea at least; so giving the benefit of the doubt and he sticks to his word; comes over and doesn't try anything 'physical', we just chat for an hour or so and then he goes home, if he keeps doing that then what would he be gaining from that?

Worded that terribly but hopefully you get my point.

Bluestocking Wed 21-Aug-13 16:36:05

But don't you see that if he did, in six months or two years, feel like a relationship with you, he can get in touch regardless of whether the two of you have been in touch in the interim?
He won't, though, and you will feel much better if you have got on with your life without an extremely undignified interval of borderline harassment of this man.

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 16:42:27

That's the thing - I'm not going to go into it all for fear of comatising everyone who reads this, but although he says he knows the 'real me', I've been acting very much out of character.

When I'm secure - whether it be in a relationship, a friendship or whatever, I'm naturally quite bubbly, easy going; in the beginning I was that way - if he wanted to come and see me and I was free I'd agree, but if plans came up for either of us then it was fine and we'd rearrange.
But then we finished, and I turned into Ms Bunnyboiler! Well not quite that bad, but just very 'naggy' and instead of asking him to come over, I'd pretty much demand it - it'd be "I know you won't want to but you need to come over because I have (whatever drama was happening at that time) and I need a friend..." type stuff. Then obviously, when he couldn't come over I'd blackmail and all sorts til he turned up.

I have no idea why I reacted that way,but in the past 6 or so weeks we haven't got on for more than 12 hours.

I suppose this friends thing was a way of letting him see the other 'real' side of me, also a way of proving - to myself as much as him - that we CAN actually get on and have things to say to each other...I think realistically if we went along that way and nothing was doing in terms of him starting to show or develop more feelings for me, then I'd probably then cut contact.

Might that be an ok way to go, you think?

meditrina Wed 21-Aug-13 17:01:19

No. It's not an OK way to go.

He's only interested in being friends. Stop inviting him over. See him only with friends as part of your normal social circle. Stop giving him head space. His motivations aren't your concern: you are not his therapist. His message I don't want a relationship with you is all that matters.

The more time you waste on someone who keeps telling you he's not interested, the less you are open to the possibility of a new man who is.

Nerfmother Wed 21-Aug-13 17:18:29

Agree with last few posters. He is so not into you. You can tell yourself it's because you're acting 'bunny boiler' or whatever or you can just accept it , gather up your dignity and stop nagging him into sex with you. To be honest, in my long and extensive shagging career I have discovered that most men (and women!) are not that complicated or confused about wanting to be with a particular person or not. He does not.

arsenaltilidie Wed 21-Aug-13 17:26:20

You honestly think he doesn't want a relationship because you think he hasn't seen the 'real' you?
You are practically begging him to sleep with you and you honestly think that's wise??... Sorry to be harsh but grow up!
Oh the feigning to not want to see you knowing full well you'll offer it on the plate hmm

Honestly no wonder a lot of men treat women like dirt if you tolerate this kind of thing.

You situation is not unique, is not different than any other FWB situation were ONE person is attached.
It's ALWAYS: I've been hurt before.. I'm not looking for a relationship right now... Will see in the future (What it means is I want to shag you whilst I look for someone else, I'll be guilt free when I stop seeing, but for now the sex will do)zzzzz

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 17:38:13

Wow, how come you're all so dead sure he's just another one of 'those guys'? Ok so a lot of it fits the mould but how do you know he's feigning not wanting to come over and all that? Could be genuine confusion surely?
Or if every guy that seems and acts confused is a user, then what about the one that isn't and if actually confused about stuff; he just gets labelled that way?

Anyway if you're right (and I'm not saying you're not)...then if I continue to see him, never offer it up on a plate and he continues coming over whilst knowing I'm not offering it on a plate, therefore he never gets sex from me again - then what? Is he genuine? Really desperate? Because surely even the most desperate man would realise after, say, 6 months of coming over regularly and not getting what he's supposedly after, that he's not ever going to get it and would then give up?
If he stops contact or fades away after a while of me not actually trying or giving into anything physical then fair enough; but what does it mean if he doesn't?

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 17:43:13

Meditrina - throughout all of this I've been talking to other men, not meeting up with them yet but I have a friend that I used to work with years ago, we only talk on facebook and text message but about a year ago we finally both admitted that we'd liked each other back then, but both were too shy to do anything about it.
He's slightly younger than me and now lives the other side of the country but has asked me to go and visit him, and when he's up here visiting he asks me to see him; I will do that eventually, it's juts plucking up the courage to do it.

So I DO have options (haha, not that I'm some stunner or anything!), I'm definitely not intending on putting my life on hold for this man at all - it's just he's not really a part of my social circle in that way; more of a mutual friends from work type thing. He wouldn't fit into my social circle in all honesty; we're all kind of 'rock' and he's well, not.
So I can only really see him alone.

I am really starting to think that he maintains contact with you because he is a bit spineless and maybe even scared of you, or at least scared of being labelled a bastard for not wanting to go out with you, for not loving you, when there is no obligation on him to do so.

A lot of people think they can placate a selfish, self-obsessed, desperate stalker by being 'friends', because they worry that telling the person to fuck off or a restraining order will be applied for is 'unkind'. Leave this man alone. He doesn't want a relationship with you and never will. It's impossible to 'fall in love' with someone who has been whining and pestering and hurling themselves at you for months; all you end up feeling for such a person is contempt.

Nerfmother Wed 21-Aug-13 18:20:04

Do what you want op, fool yourself its some hopeless messed up Aniston rom com, or listen to the chorus of voices telling you to leave the poor sod alone.

daphnesglasses Wed 21-Aug-13 18:26:44

OP I think he genuinely likes you and doesn't want to hurt you but he doesn't want a relationship with you. You're not making it easy for him to end it. You can't be friends because deep down you want more than that and are likely to get hurt if he gets a girlfriend. Just walk away - in time you will be able to look back fondly on what you had. Don't keep on trying to change his mind or hoping he will - it won't happen and if you keep plugging away you'll make him have to spell it out.

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 18:44:49

Honestly this is my point, please understand what I'm trying to say as I am taking on board your opinions, honestly I am.

Daphne's point; he's trying to let me down gently.

Ok I'll take that.

If that is the case, then what will he do, do you think?

Will he see me once and then any time I ask him to come over after that make excuses/say it's not a good idea (or variations of that; basically he will never set foot through my door again after that one last time), or will he keep on coming round whenever I suggest it?

If it's the latter; why on earth would he keep doing that? However spineless/scared/whatever he is, why would someone who likes me but really just wants to end contact with me, continue to agree to come round and spend time with me?

That's what I'm trying to understand.

Notfootball Wed 21-Aug-13 19:19:43

Wow, I'm actually starting to feel sorry for the man! He's not interested in you, he's really trying to stop finish with you but you push and cajole him non-stop. He cannot shake you off, physically nor emotionally.

Will he this, will he that? You really are over-analysing this and asking us to guess how he will escape. Maybe he is just hoping you will realise that when he said he didn't want a relationship, he meant a relationship with you and that you will back off.

I remember being a little like this when I was in my 20s with little experience of proper relationships. Like you, I'm now in my 40s and would be surprised if I were still thinking like this.

Sorry if I sound harsh but everyone upthread has given you advice and its not sinking in at all. He's being nice but trying to extricate himself from you, make it easy for him and yourself.

daphnesglasses Wed 21-Aug-13 19:20:11

look I was sort of in his position with a guy I'd been seeing - I didn't want to hurt him but I didn't see him as a long term partner - I sort of loved him a bit but not fully or as I should have done or knew I'm capable of (with someone else, not with him.)

He was nice and he made it very hard for me to end it - kept getting upset etc and said he'd get depressed. I didn't want the guilt factor and I didn't want him to turn into a stalker either. I really had never meant and never wanted to hurt him, and I knew what that was like having been badly hurt by exh. So I fudged it, really just to get rid of him as much as being cowardly. Agreed to be friends but then as he kept pestering etc realised that just wasn't an option and I didn't want to see him again, so I had to tell him in the end anyway. Next time I'll try to be more straightforward, like ripping off a plaster. Some people, if they've just been in long term relationships, just don't know how to handle these situations for the best.

Sorry but if he wanted to be with you he would be - just walk away and find someone else where it's completely mutual, which I'm sure you will do, and let him do likewise.

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 19:38:32

He hasn't only been in a long term relationship though.

Sorry to drip feed but I didn't realise all this was relevant; he was married to one woman, she cheated on him left right and centre, talked to and treated him like absolute dirt (saw this first hand when they were out together) and it was generally assumed around our village that he was only staying for the children - and true enough, when the got into their late teens, she cheated one last time and he left. There was then talk that he was having some sort of mental breakdown as he went all hippy dippy for a while.

Since then, he's had quite a few relationships that have all ended after about a year. I know one of the women well and she says he just wasn't in a good enough job for her (!) and he's friends with a few of his exes - well acquaintances, they don't meet up just check in through text every now and again.

There is also the fact that so many times I've said look, I know you think this of me (I'm causing you too much hassle, a limpet, it was an insignificant fling and now you're just trying to get rid of me etc etc) and do you want me to just leave you alone, no questions asked if you say yes...I said it totally genuinely and every time, he's said "no" to that question, and always denied the negative things, saying it was real to him, not insignificant, that kind of thing.

Why didn't he take the chance to cut me out altogether when I gave him the chance? He even said that himself not so long ago; about 3 weeks ago, his exact words were "if there isn't something between us, then why is it whenever you've given me a clear exit route, haven't I take it?". To which I said that thing about how people who've been kidnapped grow to love their kidnappers, can't remember the name for it now but it follows the same principle; I've been bugging him so much that it's done his head in. He then denied that and said it's more than that!

This is the confusion.

He even told me once, about an ex that they'd gone to a fair or something together with her sister, she was really into fortune tellers and this woman and her sister went in to the teller, separately. The fortune teller apparently told this woman that she was going to be married within the year, came out and jokingly told him what she'd said and he thought "well not to me!" and then ended it shortly afterwards.
Another ex; he said she always seemed to argue for the sake of making up, and one night after 3 months of that he sat on her floor after another row and she had wanted to make up, and then (as they'd been drinking), as soon as he had sobered up enough, he upped and went home, then never saw her again.

So he CAN and HAS cut people out of his life before; and that last woman sounds similar to the way I had been acting, so if he can drop them, why not me?

I know that sounds very arrogant of me, I don't mean it that way - just mean that he's clearly not spineless - and due to his work, he actually has a very good way of cutting me out if he needs to (he could tell a white lie and I'd never know about it, but he'd be backed up 100%) so why would he have to fake a friendship?

And - not to go over old ground but still no one has answered properly; if he keeps agreeing to come and see me, despite not getting sex or anything like that - then doesn't that mean he DOES genuinely want to be friends and isn't just scared or spineless?
If he does the gradual fade out then fair enough.

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 19:40:11

Forgot a point again; this friends thing daphne (or anyone else) - why isn't he agreeing to just text, thereby retaining some distance?

Why has he said he wants to keep meeting up but never sleeping together or staying the night?

If he was scared/spineless then wouldn't he just agree to texting or maybe occasional phonecalls, but nothing more?

Leverette Wed 21-Aug-13 19:44:46

You're obsessing and over analysing.

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 19:47:49

Well I have been making these points all thread and no one has answered yet... it's a fairly simple question; if he is shit scared of me or just 'nice' then why would he want to keep meeting up? Why wouldn't he say he just wants to text and call from now on?

arsenaltilidie Wed 21-Aug-13 19:56:07

The way he talks about dropping the other women suggests he enjoys the power he has over you.
I can 100% guarantee that the other women will have different stories.

whenever you've given me a clear exit route, haven't I take it hmm
Honestly OP he's playing with your emotions.
Of course he HAS to say those things to keep you hooked on me so he can shag you whenever you want.

How about stop the sex and see if the communication will last more than 6 months?
Don't tell him why the sex has stopped.

arsenaltilidie Wed 21-Aug-13 19:57:20

He wants to meet up because of sex!!

cherrysparkles Wed 21-Aug-13 20:13:28

That's interesting, arsenal (the bit about the other women). He has two of his exes on facebook; the most recent one before me, and the one before that.
One of them is a mutual friend one facebook which is how I came to know she was on there; I brought it up with him at one point and just said it was nice that they were still able to be civil, and he said that yes, he is in occasional text and facebook contact with 3 of his exes (one is from years back).

Thinking about it now, the one before me always seemed a bit too friendly and 'ok' with him considering the way he said he finished it and he seems to keep 'liking' the other one's posts; she never seems to do the same with him so maybe it's not as much of a 2 sided 'friendship' as he says.

Ok so if he's either scared of me, spineless or just after sex, then he will stop coming over or maybe even stop contacting me, after a while, yes?

So I'll be friends - proper friends, like he wants. Totally platonic, nice as pie, never sitting too close to him on the sofa and not allowing any sort of physical contact, or the suggestion of it. And if he's still seeing me and keeping in touch in 6 months time, I'll know he was genuinely wanting to be friends?

daphnesglasses Wed 21-Aug-13 20:29:24

Is that what you want though OP, to be friends confused doesn't sound like it tbh. I'd take the spotlight off him, end it completely, and start focussing the attention on yourself, getting on with your life

Br0na Wed 21-Aug-13 20:37:08

I think if he's ended it saying he doesn't want anything long term or serious and he doesn't want sex either and he is saying he wants to be friends then what he wants is a platonic relationship!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now