Miss Information

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My best friend and I were having sex. Until he got a boyfriend.

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Dear Miss Information,

Last year, I dated my best friend for two months, until he decided it wasn't going anywhere and that I wasn't what he was looking for in a boyfriend. It hurt a lot, but I still got to spend plenty of time with him (we’ve been friends for years and also work together) so I thought it was okay. After the breakup, we continued hanging out a lot, and we occasionally had sex.

However, last weekend after we were together, he told me he met this amazing guy and that they are already dating. This makes me feel terrible! First of all, I can't stop comparing myself and wondering why him and not me? What does he have that I don't? But what bothers me the most is that I don't know how to react. 

My friend wants to be able to hang out with me and his new guy, I understand how this would be okay in a normal friendship. But just the thought of him being with someone else kills me and I don't think I could stand seeing them together. What should I do? I feel I should step back a little, but he stills wants go out with me and that just hurts me. I don't want to just walk away because I feel this might mean me losing him and  I really appreciate him as a friend. I don't know what to do and seeing him at work everyday now hurts because he's always talking about his new boyfriend. Please help me out—I really don't know what to do!  

—Best Friend without Benefits

Dear Best Friend,

Sometimes, I’m very tempted to design a flow chart for readers about when they should speak up about their feelings. You’d be surprised by how many romantic quagmires boil down to “the object of my affection is blissfully unaware of the depths of my adoration, and I’m writhing in a pit of lovelorn despair because of it, what should I do?” The answer, always, is to tell them how you feel already. (Except, as I’ve said before, if you’re in love with someone wholly inappropriate like your boss, your cousin, or your friend’s partner.) So does your best friend know you’re in love with him? I’m guessing not, and that if he did know he’d feel terrible for hurting you so much.  

But since you didn’t speak up after the breakup, and you continued to hang out and have no-strings-attached sex, did you expect him to read your mind? Or were you living in a rom-com fantasy where your love was beyond words and you didn’t need to say anything to express how you both felt? Or were you pretending that was what was happening, because you were afraid of being rejected again, and preferred the crumbs he was dropping you to the nothing you might get if you fessed up and your friend scaled the relationship back?  Since we do not have a time machine with which to transport back to anytime over the course of the past year, and I cannot push you into honesty with your best friend and then take you out for a stiff drink and a banana split and a night of fun dancing (NB: this is what all good friends should be willing to do for one another in the face of romantic rejection, and Miss Info is nothing if not a friend to all readers), let’s talk about what you can do right now.

Your best friend, who has no idea you’re still in love with him, has started dating someone new. And as your best friend, he wants you to meet the guy and continue being part of his life. So if you abruptly stop taking his calls, he’s going to be hurt and confused, and getting your friendship back on track after that is going to be seriously tough. Honesty: it’s awesome. Take your friend out for a drink and have an honest conversation with him. Tell him you’ve had feelings for him, and while you understand he’s made it clear his love for you is purely platonic, his new beau has thrown you for a loop. While you wish him all the best, you need some time and space to get over it all before you can hang out again. If he’s truly your best friend, he’ll understand, and you can reconnect once you’ve made some progress on The Great Gettin’ Over of ‘14. No need to throw the friendship under the bus. If it’s really a friendship worth keeping, you can revive it once you’ve taken off your infatuation goggles.

Don’t waste your time wondering what if, or what your friend’s new guy has that you don’t. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Sparks are flying between them right now in a way they didn’t with you, and it’s no use trying to pour yourself into the mold of what you think will stoke your friend’s fires. Don’t you want the person who loves you to be utterly enchanted by you, exactly as you are now? Just because your friend doesn’t return your feelings doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other guys out there who would be thrilled to take you out and show you off to all their friends.  You and your friend weren’t a love match. And while that hurts, it’s okay. He found someone great, and so will you. Maybe not today, or next week, but you will. I promise.

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