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I'm going to apologize in advance because this is such a long post.
I'm good friends with a guy I went to college with. Unbeknownst to me, he apparently had a crush on me all four years of college. The reason why I didn't know that was because during those four years, he never once spoke to me. Even when we were in the same class, and doing group projects together. I noticed he stared at me a lot, but I didn't think much of it. Finally, about three days before graduation, he stopped me outside of my dorm and told me that, since he figured we'd never see each other again, he wanted me to know that he thought I was beautiful. I was flattered, gave him a hug, and said thank you. Since I had a boyfriend at the time, it never went farther than that.
We didn't speak again until almost a year later, when he found me on MySpace. We messaged back and forth for awhile, graduated to talking online, and some months later met up at our alma mater for a couple of hours when I had to go up to visit an old professor about grad school and he went to visit some friends still on campus. I was never interested in dating him - while he was very funny, and a nice guy, he always struck me as a bit on the needy side. I enjoyed talking with him, but somehow I knew that a relationship with him would drive me insane. At the time (winter 2005/2006), I'd just been hurt by another guy, and had made it clear to him in casual conversation (just in case) that I wasn't looking for anybody. I figured since he was in Pennsylvania and I was in Tennessee, he wasn't interested in anything more than a friendship, either. I was wrong.
In the summer of 2006, I'd started seeing the guy who's now my ex, and I brought him up in conversation a few times, as I was pretty crazy about him. I talked about going to visit him in D.C., how we'd hit it off, etc. Honestly, I didn't think it would bother him, since I thought there was nothing more between us than friendship. As it turns out, I was wrong about that, too.
I'm not sure he realized that, since I was his "friend" on MySpace, I was able to read the stuff he posted up there. I'd never really looked at it much until around that summer (some posts of his I'd read before were always complaints about something in life, and usually very emo - I couldn't take much of that). However, one day, I looked at it more in depth, and discovered that this entire time, he'd thought we were starting up a relationship together. For months, he had posted (for all his friends to see) his complaints about not talking to me enough, over analyzing why I would suddenly disappear online (usually because of computer problems), fretting about whether the reason why I hadn't talked to him in a few days was because he'd done something stupid, when really it was because I had a full-time job and a life.
He complained over and over again about how he didn't think I was putting as much effort into the relationship, how he didn't understand the mixed signals I was sending him, and then once my most recent ex came into the picture, he became angry and resentful with me, wondering why I could take the time to go see a guy who lived in D.C., but never would put forth the extra effort to go see him in Pennsylvania. Especially when he had taken the time to see me when I visited our old campus. He had never mentioned any of this to me when we talked - he'd always acted like everything was fine. And, I repeat, he had told me that he was visiting campus to see friends.
I was shocked when I found out how much he hated that I mentioned Charlie to him, how I was so insensitive after he was so sure there was a deep connection between us. I was so angry with him. All this time, I hadn't (or so I thought) made it seem like I wanted a relationship with him - I never flirted back when he flirted with me, I never crossed the "friendship" line with sexual comments, etc., and moreover, I had made it clear right off the bat that I wasn't interested in dating. I guess I had just assumed that he wanted to be my friend, too. Nothing more. Suddenly, I was responsible for his deep bouts of depression, low self-esteem, and endless worrying about the state of "us." I felt a little used - as though he had only been pretending to be my friend because he had ulterior motives. I'd had men treat me like that before, and I hated it. Especially because I didn't think I was giving any signs that I was interested in more - I just TALKED to him! Talking is not equal to romance.
I never told him how angry I was with him - I didn't want to make an uncomfortable situation even more uncomfortable. I talked to him less and less for awhile, until he finally started telling me about "falling in love" with a couple of other women that he could never have a relationship with - one because she was married (which caused another self-esteem downward spiral I had to help him out of), and the other because he never spoke to her, and then he was angry with her when he found out she had a boyfriend of her own.
In the past eight or so months, I feel like we've acutally become friends without any of the misunderstandings. He admitted that he had a crush on me for awhile, and I told him how oblivious I am to things like that. I've been there to listen to him and talk him through his latest "love crisis" (he's now in love with a girl in his program who's been in a relationship for four years already - same pattern).
However, ever since he found out that Charlie was out of the picture, he's upped the flirting and the flattery. Now that he's a theater student in Florida, he's been asking me to come down and visit and see him in a play. I'm suddenly uncomfortable again. If he were someone I trusted to be an actual, platonic friend without any ulterior motives, I'd be happy to do it. With him, though, I feel more pressured. I know that he's a good, moral guy, and he wouldn't pressure me into anything, but I would feel as though I were "leading him on" if I did go down there. I'm feeling bad because I never give him a straight answer, and try to dodge the subject. It's another very uncomfortable situation - I'd hurt his feelings if I didn't visit him, and I know I'd hurt his feelings if I did and nothing came of it. I value him as a friend, but there is absolutely no way I could ever be interested in more than that, even if I tried. I'm way too independent and he's way too needy, and the next thing I know, he'd be up posting blogs fretting about whether we were going to have sex or not, like he did with the last girl he dated.
Have I done something wrong by being his friend? Should I have known all along how he felt, even if he never told me? I've never been good at picking up on things like this, but I feel as though I've been responsible for a lot of the downs in his life, and a lot of his low self-esteem, though I'm sure that a lot of it was well in place long before he ever knew I existed. I don't like that. I enjoy having platonic male friends, and I have several that honestly don't want any more from me, and I treat them like my brothers. I though I was doing the same with him, but now I'm wondering if I've been doing him wrong by feeling that way.