I basically need some advice about how to move on from an ex. I dated a guy for about two and a half months. I’m in college, he just finished a few weeks before we started seeing each other. At first it seemed he was very enthusiastic and making all of the moves first. He was the first to suggest we be exclusive, constantly telling me how much he enjoyed dating me, etc. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the start of the relationship as I knew I had a previous problem of expecting too much of partners and moving a relationship too fast, but this constant independent reassurance let me relax and by the two month marker I was beginning to see it as the start of something long term.
Then I left to visit family for a week, and on the coach back home he called me and said he felt nothing towards me and wanted to break up, but still wanted to be friends (he had wanted to do it in person but we weren’t going to see each other for a while so it wouldn’t have been fair any other way). I also then made some time to meet him, given that this was a pretty big thing I wanted to talk about, and I let him know my feelings and how much I really, really liked him. He told me I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t being too clingy or too distant, and he was sad it didn’t work out because he didn’t know why he didn’t feel anything. But he emphasised over everything that “I still want you in my life”. The whole thing came as a shock but of course you can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t like you (duh) so I said sure, that’s fine, I would be friends.
It’s now been four months. I haven’t brought anything up to do with our relationship or asked to get back with him, etc, even though it’s constantly at the back of my mind no matter how much I try to process it, repress it or tell myself it’s impossible. We’ve seen each other a lot, hung out together on our own and in group situations, and been to plenty of parties, etc, together. But it still hurts, every time I see him and every time he messages me. I know he will never “take me back” or anything like that, and he owes zero explanation of why he didn’t feel anything towards me: sometimes that just happens, and it’s happened to me. But realising that hasn’t made me stop loving or liking him any less, and some tiny tiny part of me still hopes he’ll ask me out again. I know it’s impossible and keep telling myself that, but I keep making excuses – for example, maybe he still wasn’t over his serious relationship he got out of a couple months before me, and he just needs time to process that before coming back to me, and if I stick around enough maybe it’ll happen. (Of course it won’t, but my brain keeps entertaining these kinds of fantasies.) But every time he says how lucky he feels to have me in his life, or compliments my appearance, or anything, it just adds to that impossible little spark of hope. I should be grateful I have such a great friend who values and appreciates me, but it also just makes me feel so sad I can’t be with this amazing person romantically.
I also knew it would be tough seeing him date someone else but a mutual friend messaged me over the holiday break to say she had slept with him and that they would be dating and that she hoped it wouldn’t upset me because she valued me as a friend. I told her that’s of course fine and why should I ask anything of them on behalf of my stupid unrequited feelings? I want to be happy for them, and for them to be happy too – all I’ve ever wanted was to make him happy. I have also been dating other people in the months since we broke up, and he knows this, so it would be completely unfair for me to say this upsets me. But I do think it hurts realising a mutual friend knows how much I love him and still do, since she helped me through the break up, and has still decided to do this. It shouldn’t, I know this isn’t healthy or fair, and my past shouldn’t stop her seeing anyone she likes. But the thought of it just makes me well up and I’m not sure I could ever see them together in person. I don’t want to stop them being happy together but it hurts far too much to think about the whole thing.
Basically, I just want to ask for a second opinion on should I keep trying to be friends? Or, ideally, how do I make these feelings go away? I’m so emotionally drained and sad about it constantly, which also isn’t fair on anyone I try to date, so I’ve cut off or declined anyone asking me out in the last few weeks. I would love for us to be friends, more than anything in the world. But I don’t know how to describe how much it hurts seeing him and not being with him, or being there for him as a partner when he’s sad, or just being with him. We act much the same as we did when dating, messaging probably even more, but all without the benefits of being in a relationship.
Tl;dr: How do I move on healthily from my ex who has ended up being one of my best friends, or how do I cut him off, even though this would also hurt immensely, without upsetting him too?
Trying To Be Friends