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I used to have a transwoman friend who was waiting to become financially strong before thinking about transitioning. I was going through some stressful times and we used to discuss our issues. She was very pessimistic about the future and I used to try uplifting her mood, with mixed outputs. But with time I got irritated with the pessimistic behavior and her repetitive use of "your life is easier", "you can never understand, etc". With time, calls and texts reduced and even disappeared for a while.

When we used to talk, there was nothing more than friendly concern from my side and I had no attraction to her. She was just my online friend who I still have some concerns for, but nothing romantic.

I have a habit of attempting to get in touch with old friends and tried with her too but it ended badly. I came to know she had feelings for me and we had a long emotional chat as she was not comfortable with a call. She said that her desire to have a relation with a guy and me being there for her and talking to her developed into one-sided feelings from her. She told me how she blocked all guys from her life and was trying to fix her financial situation which was not going well either.

She told me how she was expecting me to never message again and some of our past arguments she did on purpose so I would get irritated and never talk to her. I tried to calm her down and clear my side. She also knows it and only said positive things about me, but she said it's difficult for her to stay in touch with me due to her one-sided feelings towards me.

After this conversation, I was in a dilemma about how to continue this conversation in the future and it kind of died down. She did ask for a favor once, later, which I was not able to help with.

So I wanted to still be there for her as a well-wisher without hurting her feelings. How could I have dealt with the situation better?

Note: It has nothing to do with my previous question on a similar topic. This happened half a year ago approx.

  • So I want to still be there for her as a well-wisher without hurting her feelings. How could I have dealt with the situation better? do you want to salvage the situation and get back to good terms with her? Or do you want to know how you could have handled the situation better for future encounters? Though it doesn't sound like should would want future encounters – XtremeBaumer Dec 3 '19 at 12:55
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Funny enough I have been in both ends of this. I have been the friend that someone else fell for and I had some liking of a friend that was nice to me and I thought he was flirting.

So first, don't ever tell her you just see her as a friend. I don't know why but that irks me. And I think it irks other people too. The friend I told you about, was clearly flirting with me. Not by my own account, but by the account of other people I told exactly the things he had done. And then he said "I can only see you as a friend", or something like that.

I wasn't sure if he indeed was flirting with me and I don't like draging things out so I asked him out. I did it in a way to make sure he could back down pretty easily. He said he was flattered, and he wasn't interested and he could only see me as a friend. Which I have no idea what it means, that is why I say, don't say that. He then started to act kinda paranoid. I told him I was cool with him not wanting to date me (maybe I am weird, but I was trully cool with it, just didn't understand what that "friend" thing meant, which btw I dind't say anything to him about, because I didn't want to freak him out, analyzing his speach). In any case he started to see my every action like some fliration from my part or an attempt to romantically approach him. After a while he realised he was being paranoid and now all is good. And, btw, he stopped doing the "flirting" things.

The other time, I had a friend that was like you described, he was down a lot, an sad, and it made me sad, so I made a point to try and cheer him up and reach out to him and all. I had a feeling at one point that he was interested in me and I tried to steer him out of that idea, but it didn't work. He plain came and told me he had feelings for me. I told him I didn't feel the same but I wanted to be his friend and I would stop talking to him if he needed me to, and I would do anything he needed me to do so he could feel better. At first he said that there was no need, and at one point he was super mean to me and I had a talk with him and he realized he was wrong and apologized.

So my advice. Reach out to your friend and tell her, lets call her Jane, something like:

Jane, you are an important friend to me, I want to continue being your friend and I want you to know I am here for you. I know you have these feelings I don't share, and I know you need time to process them. I will stay away if that is what you need. But know I am here for you. I am sorry the other time I could't do you that favor, but please don't take it like a sign I don't care about you. I care, and I want us to continue being friends and be there if you need me.

Feelings happen, you can't really help it, but you can help what you do about them. You cannot force yourself to love someone. And she must understand that. She had feeligns for you, most likely because you were a good thing in the middle of a lot of bad things, not necesarily because you are you. I am not trying to be mean here, but it happens. And it is not even healthy to pursue that kind of relationship, because it depends on the hardship on one side and the support on the other side.

Then tell her

Please don't ever arguee with me just so I stop talking to you. I will stop contacting you for as long as you need, and if we are talking and you need me to step away, I will do so without getting mad. Just let me know.

The key thing here, is that you tell her you want to be her friend. You don't need to say anything else. Some people will say "but if you don't say you don't want more she won't know". Well, when you fall in love it could be written all over the place "THAT PERSON DOESN'T LOVE YOU" and you would still pursue it. You don't need to make her feel bad saying empty things like "I only see you as a friend" or what you don't want to be with her "I don't want to be your boyfriend". Truth to be told we never know what we will want in the future. We know what we want now. So, now, you want to be her friend and be there for her. So tell her that.

I am friends with both guys I mentioned, we got over the issues. I wish they would have behaved more in the way I said. Expect some backlash, love can be quite the emotion, if it happens you just tell her how you feel and care about her and that is not fair for her to be mean to you because of that. It worked for me. After all if she loves you, she doesn't want you to feel bad.

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It seems, that you have dealt with the situation very well already. Since your friends goal was to get you mad enough to break off contact, your irritation and slow mutual withdrawal seems like one of the better ways this could have gone.

Since you can't read minds and weren't aware of the romantic interest of your friend it was also not possible for you to see through your friends attempts of driving you away, so there didn't seem any option, other than you tolerating your irritation, until hopefully something changed for the better on her end.

After now clearing the air, you know about her feelings and that they don't seem to have changed much.

Having been friends with multiple people, who developed this rejective behavior towards myself in particular or society in general, during a rough patch in their lives, it can be hard to parse the situation correctly, figure out a way forward and support them in this process. Most of all for themselves.

From what these friends have told me and from my own insights in times, when I was in that situation, often times the reasons for why they want to push people away can change by the hour or stay illusive for weeks.

That's why I think this was more about what she could receive, rather than what you could've given. As she made clear, your well wishes and support fostered a romantic feeling in her, that she cannot pursue and she decided her best course of action would be to end your relationship in a round about way.

I could relate that to the ends of actual romantic relationships in my past, when either I or my partner just lost their feelings for each other. While it seems logical that you would go back to a friendship, since there was no bad blood, it hardly ever works in real life. There is always one side, which feels like they miss out and rather cut ties completely than to be reminded of what they can't have (anymore) and face this passive rejection.

While this doesn't seem like a great solution, it might be the best that she is able to implement and someone other than you would need to help her get to a point, where this is no longer true.

I think the only thing you might be able to do, depending on how receptive she is to you at this point, is to help her build a support structure, that is independent of you. Be that a therapist, a local support group or an online support group as well.

The isolation that comes so natural in times of pain always shrinks the world around oneself, giving the thoughts of negativity, the reasons for the isolation more time and space, more leverage and sway. In my experience the only way for this to be prevented from the outside is by expanding that world again.

One trans friend of mine did that, by checking out a local LGBT+ group, which had special meeting for every letter and of course group meetings. I don't know your friends situation, but I could imagine, if she is the only trans person in her circle, that only adds to the feeling of loneliness, since these highly specific and individual experiences and problems she faces are really hard to understand by outsiders.

In the end, your well wishes stop on her screen and she needs to pick them up, evaluate and then internalize them in one way or another and I'm afraid you have no control over that process.

If you feel like you still can and want to support her, you could make it a point to check up on her regularly, depending,again on if she is ok with that. Even if that cheapens your relationship to a bit of small talk every other week.

I, again, know from personal experience, how I wanted to be alone and cry my heart out to someone at the same time many times, when I was in trouble and while I probably played it off or ignored the outreach 9 times out of 10, that next one sometimes got me to talking and feeling better afterwards.

As long as you are sincere, I think you did and are doing nothing wrong.

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    Have you applied this solution before in a personal situation or have you heard about this method working? Can you give us a little more information to help us see the background for your answer. Thanks :) – ElizB Dec 3 '19 at 17:07
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    Hi and welcome to IPS! Please take a minute to read our citation expectations. Answers on IPS need to include some backup in the form of either personal experience or references - So, as ElizB asked, could you explain why you think this advice will work, have you used this approach in a similar situation before, or is this something you've seen recommended by someone else? You might find How do I write a good answer? helpful too. – Ael Dec 3 '19 at 17:50

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