Miss Information

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I finally told him how I felt, and he said he did not have feelings for me and never would.

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Dear Miss Information,

I've been quietly in love with my best friend for years. I never tried anything during the three years he was dating someone else, but we did things like going to Paris together (just the two of us) and he would do that chivalry thing where he would purposely walk next to me on the side of traffic. We've talked about how much we "just get" each other, but like, “in a platonic way.” Whatever that means.

I finally told him how I felt, and he said he did not have feelings for me and never would. After some discussions and fights, silence, time, and eventually, making up, we're back to being best friends. He moved 500 miles away for unrelated reasons, which has made things easier. I seriously dated someone else for awhile; he's going on OKCupid dates. We still both have the undeniable compulsion to text and Gchat constantly about pretty much everything. I asked him to cut it down to one email a week when I started dating the aforementioned other guy and realized that our level of co-dependency wasn't healthy. That was working okay. But, honestly I never stopped loving best friend guy and seeing him in person recently has brought all these feelings back to the surface.

Dating other guys seems like an exercise in trying to find someone who most closely resembles this best friend guy, and I know that's definitely not healthy. But I have never had a connection with anyone stronger than ours, including with my last boyfriend and any of my other close friends. I don't want to be immature and cut him out completely, especially when he has made an effort to be considerate about the boundaries I'm trying to set. Is there any way I can move on while we stay friends?

–Boundaries Failing Forever

Dear Boundaries Failing Forever:

Have you ever tried to radically change your diet? Let’s say you start to avoid coffee, sugar, and dairy. You first throw yourself into it, thinking, “Yes! The road to health! I’m gonna glow from the inside, muthafuckas!” Some time passes, and your enthusiasm wears off, and suddenly there’s a cheesecake at an office party. You push it out of your head, but your friend offers to buy you a cappuccino, and you push that out of your head, and keep trudging. And everywhere you look, there seem to be chocolates and pastries and cream puffs. And one day you black out, and wake up two days later on a motel floor with “snickers” imprinted backwards across your cheek.

My point is, the more you fight something, the more power you give it. (Also, it’s not even 9am and I really want cheesecake. That metaphor really backfired on me.)

You’ve done an admirable job navigating this situation thus far. Instead of looking at your friendship as something that must be “controlled,” though—which, ultimately, can create that “where is my wallet and why are my pockets filled with Skittles?” binge—try to redirect some of the energy. Can you stay friends? Absolutely. Should you rush home to tell him about your day? Nah. Instead of restricting this friendship, focus on strengthening other relationships in your vicinity. It won’t work to simply “remove” a close friendship; you have to replace it with something.

More importantly, remember that closeness is a product of effort—it doesn’t just spring from nowhere. You and your friend are close because you “clicked,” but then you stayed close because you’ve invested hours and hours into each other. Maybe it seems like no other guy you meet can hold a candle, but of course they can’t: they haven’t had the chance to learn your shoe size and your thoughts on Transformers as intimately as he has. As long as you are in frequent contact with him, that’s energy you are not investing in creating closeness with people around you.

You’ve got a world of self-awareness and a good attitude; let distance and time take care of the rest. Keep your treasured friendship, but find little ways to de-emphasize it. As a happy by-product, you’ll have more opportunity to realize just what cool people you have in your daily environment.