First, thank you all so much for your incredibly generous contributions to the Captain Awkward Dot Com Pledge Drive. It is extremely humbling to receive your support, and I can definitely put the contributions to good use. Between my best friend getting hitched and your outpouring of help and well-wishes, there as a lot of “good crying” yesterday.
There have also been some updates from past letter writers:
- Diamond Shoes is having more fun and less angst with her girlfriend.
- Already Anxious had a great time at his important work party, and said the commenters here helped him a lot.
- The Lone Lady has taken up Roller Derby and sent in a badass training video.
- Swamped asked her friends for help, and they all jumped into help! Except for one lady who offered help only with a ton of sighing and passive-aggressive strings attached, so Swamped figured out, “Hey, maybe that lady isn’t really my friend.”
I have been friends with this guy — I’ll call him P — since we were in junior high. We remained close friends through high school and even when he attended college out of state and I remained in town, we still stayed in touch. Whenever he would come home to visit his folks, he’d stop by and see me too.
However, some weirdness started during this time. P would never say anything about his love life. At all. I never had any idea if he were dating someone and just assumed he wasn’t because it was never anything he mentioned during the inevitable “So what’s been up with you?” part of our visits. Then one day he took a call from a college friend while he was over at my house and they were talking about P’s current girlfriend versus a past girlfriend. It was obvious from P’s stilted answers that he did not want to answer these questions in front of me, so I cleared out to let him finish the conversation in private. I will admit I was confused that he obviously had this whole dating history that he’d never even mentioned in passing, but I figured he had a reason for it and I let it drop.
But it continued. All through college, all through grad school, nary a mention of his girlfriends that I knew he had because I was close to his family who would mention these women in passing like I was supposed to know who they were. I even met one of them at P’s grad school celebration and, even though we sat next to each other at the family table for the dinner, there was never any introductions made. She, in fact, did not even acknowledge my existence which was hilarious but also horrifying.
Fast forward to last year when I last saw him. He happened to be in town for someone’s wedding and I spent a few hours with him and his aunt, just hanging out. His aunt kept mentioning a person I didn’t know, a person I’ll call H. The conversation was peppered with “H this” and “H that,” and I finally asked who H was. His aunt gave me a funny look before explaining it was P’s girlfriend and hadn’t I met her when she’d been in town with P a while back? I had not, even though me and P had spent considerable time together during that particular visit. And, again, she had not even come up in conversation before that day. (H is not the same girlfriend from the paragraph above, FYI.)
This again left me feeling awkward. I couldn’t help but wonder why this continued to be weird. We were both almost 30 by now, so I really no longer felt like it could no longer be blamed completely on ‘weird boy logic,’ as I’d been telling myself for years.
The final straw came a few months later when I found that he had gotten engaged to H. And, by found out, I mean it was a Facebook status update. I had spoken to him on the phone only a couple weeks beforehand and, of course, the fact that he was planning/hoping to get engaged never came up. Like always.
That call, in fact, turned out to be the last conversation I’ve had with him period because he hasn’t contacted me once since then. Now we’re edging toward a year without any communication and it’s still bothering me. He has been one of my closest friends for a very long time; I only have one friend that I’ve known longer. While his calls and visits have been sporadic since we became adults and not just college students, a year seems a little much. I have to admit one of the reasons I haven’t reached out to him is because I was (and still am) incredibly frustrated with the secretive crap about he’s pulled about his girlfriends/fiancée. I’m not asking for intimate details or anything, but knowing she exists when they’ve been dating for years doesn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation. More than frustrated, I’m hurt and I don’t know how to deal with it. Aside from a few joking comments about his secrecy, I tried for years to respect his silence on the
subject but that clearly hasn’t worked for me because all it’s done is allowed my hurt to fester.
Most of my other friends seem to think I am either a) overreacting and should just get over it or b) think it’s obvious that P has tired of me as a friend and I should just give up. And maybe I should do one or both of those things, but I do miss him as a friend. I would really like to resolve this and see if it’s possible to continue our friendship, even if it’s just a few calls a year.
Oh, and to answer the question that everyone ALWAYS has for me about P: no, we’ve never been more than platonic friends.
So, Captain Awkward, I am looking for any sort of insight you can offer me on these separate but related problems. How can I salvage this friendship? Or should I even bother? And if you have any theories about why P has acted the way he does, I’m interested in those, too.
– Frustrated, Forgotten Friend
Dear Frustrated and Forgotten:
The script for what you could say to P. is pretty easy. “Is there a reason that you never ever tell me about your love life? Like, literally, I am the very last to know? Because, I mean, do what you want, but it’s weird to hear your Aunt go on about someone I’ve never heard of, and it robs me of the opportunity to be really happy for you. Tell me about this awesome woman you are marrying!” Maybe work a friendly punch on the arm in there somewhere.
But yeah, he’s put you in the circle of friends who find out big news on Facebook. So how big a deal do you want to make of it? What is your goal, here?
If the goal is to get to the bottom of his weird reticence at the expense of making him uncomfortable, ask away. You may get to the truth.
If your goal is to rebuild your close friendship with P., I might leave it at “I’m so happy for you! When do I get to meet her?” That may lead you into a deeper conversation about it, or not. Sometimes you just have to call “Byegones!” and decide not to dig below the surface.
I have no idea what was going through his head all those other times. Perhaps he lusted for you in his heart, and felt weird about it. Perhaps he assumed you lusted for him in your heart, and felt weird about it. Perhaps he’s a weird compartmentalizer and it never occurred to him that you would want to know. Perhaps he didn’t think of you as as close a friend as you considered him. I’m sorry, if that’s the case. Thoughts, anyone?