Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear iris,

I have a relationship with a woman I fell in love with a year and a half ago. She friend-zoned me, but nowadays we are really, really close friends. But it’s causing me a lot of pain. I tried to cut relations with her, but it didn’t go well for her or me. We do love each other a lot, and we are really important to each other, but she doesn’t see me the way I see her.

I try to focus on myself. I talk to and date other women, but she’s always there on my mind. Sometimes I feel like she is playing with me, but other times I just feel stupid about it, and I do really love her as a friend. She is important to me, but I feel anxious about the whole situation; I’m confused about what to do.

Signed, Friendzoned

Dear Friendzoned,

What you’re experiencing is a classic case of one-sided love, also known as unrequited love. A lot of people find themselves in your situation. You can’t help who you love, and you can’t make someone love you back, no matter how hard you try. So I’ll give you some advice on how to manage this situation.

There’s a classic quote that many incorrectly attribute to Albert Einstein, but it still holds a lot of truth: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

This is your current predicament. Now, I’m not calling you insane by any means, though love often makes people feel like they are. But what you're doing is walking down the same path that leads to the same destination each time. You remain friends with this woman and inevitably feel confused and hurt. But you always restart the cycle because you hope the outcome will be different.

I know you said you tried to cut contact and it didn’t work in the past, but I’d venture to guess you didn’t spend enough time apart. Of course, cutting contact is going to be difficult, and you might feel like you’re making a mistake. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean it's the wrong thing to do; it might mean you’re making a choice that will make you happier in the future.

You stand no chance of healing and moving on from your romantic infatuation if you keep seeing your friend over and over. It’s like a drug addict expecting to become sober while still hanging out with all of his druggie friends. It simply doesn’t make sense.

I know it’s probably the last answer you wanted to hear, but you’re both better off spending time apart. This gives you a chance to step back, see things more clearly, and give your all to other people you date. Not to mention it’ll benefit your friendship in the long run because you won’t feel so confused and anxious all the time.

I wish there was a way that you could stay friends and have all your feeling magically go away. But since love thrives on proximity and a deep connection, that’s simply not the case. Right now, you’re in the perfectly terrible position to make the friendship hurt more and more as time goes on.

It’s in both of your best interests to take a little friendship break. This means no contact whatsoever. Use that time to focus on reconnecting with other friends and understanding yourself better. Date if you want to, or don’t. Spend time on hobbies that make you happy.

But know that your friendship will always be there, waiting if it’s one that’s meant to last. The reality is that by not spending time apart, you’re doing more harm to your friendship than if you took a few months off from seeing each other. Sometimes short-term pain is worth the long-term gains.

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