I dated this guy for a while until we both realized we were better off as friends. Clearly, we were intimate and now I feel like every time I say something mildly flirtatious he reads into it and thinks it’s an attempt to rekindle something that we’ve already closed the book on. It’s hard enough for me to maintain a friendship with a guy I used to date without giving him mixed signals let alone, be friends with a guy and not have a natural flirtation be misconstrued as a sexual advance or an “attempt to rekindle a time that’s already past.” Why do guys think we still want to be with them after we’ve clearly said we just want to be friends? I really don’t want to have to tip toe around a strong foundation but it’s as if he’s so arrogant he doesn’t hear what I’m saying. How do I get him to hear me, still be able to have the friendship AND still be “me?” Is that possible? HELP!!!” –Simone from Salt Lake City, UT
Relationships are like leopards, they don’t change their spots overnight. Once you have broken that line of intimacy with someone, it defines your relationship with that person in a way that can’t be reversed by a Miller and an amicable handshake. You’ll have a better chance at success with an Old Yeller style resolution. Even though you’ve have both agreed not to date, your subsequent friendship will nonetheless be in the shadow of that context, walking zig-zag down the avenue until Atticus puts the hammer down. Your behavior will be interpreted accordingly. It has nothing to do with arrogance. You say you’ve been clear about what you want, but hair flips and sexual innuendo tend to speak louder than words and your “natural flirtations” send very mixed signals indeed. Some of my best friends have been girls and flirting with them would be on par with hitting on my sister, and no offense to any of you in the Blue Hills, but I would never date my sister.
It sounds to me like you want to have your cake, keep it near by and lick the frosting when you have a sweet tooth, but otherwise let it go stale. If you genuinely care about this person and want to keep them in your life as a true blue friend (and nothing more), then you need to make a clean break and give each other some real space. Ever use the same glass when you switch from Cabernet Sauvignon to Sauvignon Blanc? Invest the time apart that’s necessary for a fresh start so you can get clear of the residual emotions that you obviously both harbor.
When the time comes, pour that relationship into a new glass. Or if you can’t stop flirting, maybe you should switch to water.