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Has anyone moved successfully from being in a relationship to the friend zone?

(18 Posts)
ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 21:19:35

I split up with an amazing man recently. It was my decision but I love him so much as a friend. We live miles and miles apart, I have children, he does not. We get on on so many levels but see each other infrequently and it is always complicated as I have to get overnight childcare (not easy), dog and cat care etc. It has worked for 3 years but it will never change, He won't move, I won't move and I want more than an occasional visit to have a drink and go to bed. There is no ill feeling, he has been amazing about it all and so understanding. But...I don't want to lose him as a friend nor him me. I actually cannot cope with the idea of losing his friendship. it will destroy me. Has anyone successfully moved from being in a relationship to being good friends?

Deadsouls Wed 17-May-17 21:24:24

You may be able to be friends once you have had some distance from one another. After all, you've been in a relationship for these years, the dynamics can't I imagine transition to the friend zone immediately. Perhaps you need to grieve the loss of what was, before you can both move on to what might be. How does he feel? Does he want to be friends? Or does he need space?

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 21:29:07

He totally understands where I am coming from. He has said that he wants to be in touch - he also said that if I need him for anything then he will be there.

anxiousnow Wed 17-May-17 21:30:44

I think it is doable as long as you can both accept when the other starts a new relationship.

IrenetheQuaint Wed 17-May-17 21:34:02

Yes, but the fact that you say losing his friendship would destroy you suggests you're not in a place to do this. To stay friends with an ex requires detachment on both sides.

Also, friendships with exes often come to a halt when one party gets into another relationship, so you have to be prepared for that situation.

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 21:41:21

Yes, you are probably right Irene I don't know how things will pan out, but I know now that I feel like we are meant to be in one another's lives in some shape or form, I hope so. So, maybe it is a matter of timing. Trouble is, we did not fall out or have a bad time - it is just a situation that cannot keep going. Neither party can compromise their situation for lots of reasons so it is a sad but necessary break.

alicemalice Wed 17-May-17 21:50:53

How would you feel if he met someone new and wasn't around for you?

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 21:56:05

Well hopefully by the time that happened, enough time would have lapsed so it didn't hurt. But, I don't know in honesty. I may have met someone new by then too so it may just be a gradual thing...who knows?! I am feeling shit right now but I know it is the right thing. I cannot continue my life with a man who lives so far away and who I see as and when we can fit a meet up in. It is not enough.

Deadsouls Wed 17-May-17 22:13:53

It does rather sound like perhaps you need to give yourself space to grieve over the end of this relationship before you can move into a different form of the friendship if that's both what you still want. There has to be an ending over what was, otherwise your 'relationship' might go into a sort of undefined 'grey' zone; not in a relationship but still emotionally entwined. Perhaps some space to feel the loss of it, and how painful it is, especially as there's no reason to pin the end in, apart from geography and logistics.

beachcomber243 Wed 17-May-17 22:31:40

Yes I have done it. We managed it because I was dealing with an exceptional and mature personality who does not judge or resent others feelings and needs and I am someone who can always see things from another's point of view. I see no reason to hate those whom we have loved.

The problem was a large age gap and a family situation. It was painful and done over a long period of time. But we then lived apart and saw each other most weekends. Sometimes we were in different places, sometimes there were painful conversations and one or both of us would cry, sometimes we were angry and had a few big rows, sometimes we would have a great time and laugh at the irony of it all, sometimes very philosophical, sometimes we tried to keep away from each other to make a clean break and a chance to meet others. But never managed that.

We had vowed when we met that we would support each other and that vow is still intact. Neither have met anyone else hugely significant and that helps [I do not want a relationship again which is fine as I am much older than most on here]. There is a platonic love for each other and so far less complicated now. Still friends and as close as ever after 17 years.....years 4 - 8 were the awkward ones.

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 22:34:09

Deadsouls - you are undoubtedly right. It is very difficult. I had thought long and hard about it over recent months/weeks and I think, in all honesty, that we will be good as friends. WE lead entirely different lives and come from different backgrounds but we have a lot in common too. It does feel a lot like grief. I lost my husband a few years ago and this kind of feels worse as my new ex is still alive - if that makes any sense.

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 22:44:28

beachcomber that is heartwarming. Thank you for posting. He has been absolutely brilliant over it - has said some beautiful things and made it clear that he will always be there for me if I need (though I realise this may change with new relationships etc.) He is very self aware and comfortable in his own skin and, for want of a better phrase, what would now be referred to as a Conscious Man. It really has been an extraordinary time. We have never lived together, never holidayed together, only had two weekends together, I visited his house 3 times in total last year, we see one another every 2 - 4 weeks. it is just not sustainable. We cannot ever be spontaneous, I have extremely limited childcare and rarely overnight care. it is getting dull because of it but not because of one another - if that makes sense!

Neome Wed 17-May-17 22:46:50

Yes you can do it, you will find your own way.

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 22:55:05

Neome do you speak from experience? Today I was so sad i wanted to call him up and tell him I had made a mistake, but I know that in a couple of months i will be back to square one. Neither of us are in a position to change our situations, nor will we be in the near or distant future. It is a difficult situation to navigate right now. I cannot even make sense of my own self!

beachcomber243 Wed 17-May-17 23:00:33

The things we have found difficult have been the fact there are no holidays together, and no spontaneity due to different lifestyles and commitments. It does take away from the fun which could otherwise be had, and it hurts to lose it. We both are conscious of what we do have though, and try to appreciate that.

Ours is a case of 'another time, another place' and we would have made it. We are just happy we are there for each other in a different capacity. There is more than one way to love and this feels more secure.

I hope you two can get over any hurdles and the pain of losing a relationship and forge another bond which will be valuable to both of you. It will work if both of you want it to. It definitely takes two.

ThespianTendencies Wed 17-May-17 23:12:49

beachcomber - your situation was likely very different from mine but the sentiment and underlying cause of your separation sounds very very similar. In fact, I could have written your opening sentence word for word. I think if that particular element was likely to change in the future then maybe it would be worth sticking around - but it won't. You are so so right, you could be writing this on my behalf. Also being over 50 I know what I want and need and this, despite being so perfect in so many ways, is not it. Not now. Thank you, you are really making me feel a whole lot better.

falleninlove Thu 18-May-17 14:54:16

Hi Thespian. I am in the same position except I’ve not been brave enough to draw a line yet. I have been seeing someone I met late last year – both 50s divorced and retired, him 3 adult DC, me no DC) – the issue is we live in separate counties (me in UK, him an expat). We have had three lovely holidays together in January, March and just back from another one last week, but in the weeks in between these trips we have communicated by email a few times a week and that has been it. I have completely fallen for him, but he seems quite happy to potter around on his own, and I feel as though I am doing all the running. He is a bit of a loner and I have done my best to keep my distance and not seem too keen but it is killing me inside. Like you, the thought of never seeing him again just upsets me so much than I just can’t bring myself to say anything. But, I know I want a proper relationship and not a FWB thing which this is starting to feel like. I'm like a stupid teenager checking my emails in the hope that he’s been in touch, and then dying inside when he doesn’t reply for a couple of days. I need to get a grip.

ThespianTendencies Thu 18-May-17 15:28:40

falleninlove - I feel for you. That sounds like a difficult situation for you. It appears you both want different things from the relationship and your goalposts have moved since you begun seeing one another. I think I would directly ask where he is expecting the relationship to go, if anywhere. I think any relationship where you are having to act in a certain way so as to/so as not to, appear in a certain light is probably intrinsically wrong and cannot work long term as you are not being yourself. My relationship was very different from that - it was perfect in many ways but it cannot move along and we will be stuck miles apart in different counties with entirely different lives for all eternity as neither of us will ever move or change our lives for the other! That is why I broke it up. It's not a relationship arrangement that is sustainable for me, especially as I have two children and he has none. I hope you sort something out. Did you know the relationship would be like this out the outset? If it were me I would have a proper conversation about it and if our ideals don't coincide I would definitely be saying good bye.

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