Coping with Older/Younger Relationships/Roommie Situation
QUESTION: Dear Azure,
I have a roommate who has been living with me since late August 2014. I have this attraction for him after he had first professed an interest for me as well. Tiny things would occur, like him saying to me that he wants to invite me to places and go with me to places while looking down on the ground the whole time (like he was really shy and couldn’t look me in the eye) as he was saying these things. He’s made himself indispensable around the house, helping me with some big chores. He’s a paralegal, and he’s been giving me advice in a situation concerning trouble I was having with a neighbor of mine. We socialize, have the same interests, and we get along great. All of these occurrences have led me to think that he was attracted to me. So,…
I had told him that I was attracted to him one day. This resulted in him inviting me to dinner where he’d said that he wanted to talk about this situation with me further. We went to dinner where he told me that given our living situation, he was not interested in pursuing a relationship with me. I was disappointed, and tried avoiding him the following day.
The day after the day I was avoiding him, he invited me to have coffee with him. We ended up spending this glorious day together. After this day, he had told me that he was changing his mind about not wanting to pursue a relationship with me, and was asking me questions like what I would require of him in a relationship. (I’d since told him that a friends with benefits situation was out of the question. Monogamy was what I wanted. And that we would be boyfriend and girlfriend.) He wanted to know how we can navigate the living situation we have, and how not to make things routine. He had spent a therapy session talking to his therapist about me, and she expressed positivity about our situation in a way that we could exercise an exploration of how to investigate our feelings in this situation. (My therapist, on the other hand, thought I was nuts, but he had since changed his tune and was looking at this as a positive thing. He just doesn’t know what had happened yesterday…)
A week later, we again had coffee, and spent time having a great time walking around together where he was holding my hand the entire time. Later, at home, we were hugging and kissing each other.
Since then, nearly every day for a week whenever he had come home from work, we would hug each other, or even give each other a kiss.
Yesterday, we went to get dinner, but I had paid for my own meal. After eating and getting gas for his car, we went to a lover’s lane type of area to look at the sights of the local city.
We were there for an hour, after which he had told me that he had changed his mind about pursuing a relationship with me. He’s said that it had been on his mind for a week. I had asked him what made him feel differently, and he gave me several non-answers. He’d mentioned all of these things that may or otherwise have contributed to his decision:
He’s not really been in a long-term relationship ever. The longest relationship he’s been in was for a year and it was a long-distance relationship at that. All he’s said he’s experienced have been short-term relationships and that he’s always had short-term relationships.
He’s had this love-hate relationship between himself and his mother. He’s told me early on that he was not an intended baby. Then he had survived an illness he caught at being only days old that he still gets monitored for to this day (he’s 25) as it is a rarity that few people in the world have survived this illness and have lived to a relatively older age.
He’d mentioned that he has all of these issues (PTSD, depression) and other issues he would not bring up or was vague about that he did not want to bring to our relationship. He’d said that if he did, I would not be happy, and neither would he. Until he’d addressed these issues, only then would he feel good about being in a relationship.
He’d said that when I physically touch him, he’s never been touched in the way I touch him. He’s said that my hugs, kisses, holding him and holding his hands are all very healing. He’d said that he rarely has physical contact, so he really loves my touch.
He’d said that he has been the most comfortable socializing and being with me and that this is a rarity with him with previous relationships.
He says people in previous relationships have been ignorant or blind to his virtues and talents, and for me to recognize him makes him feel great. But, even if this sounds positive in this case with me, he says that this recognition is foreign to him, and that he wants to, if this makes sense, withdraw from this positive recognition.
Ok, so I’d started crying. He’d gotten me Kleenex, held me, held my hands, and he’d told me that he was unhappy about this too. He’d said that he still has feelings for me, and that, if you might understand this, because of this decision of his, he’d felt that his decision would bring us closer together. He’d said that he still wants to go to all of these places with me that he had mentioned and that we would be happier. (What?)
Personally, this now almost feels like the first time we had this discussion on that first date at the restaurant where he had first told me no to the relationship. Then, two days later we’d spent the whole day together, and he was changing his mind, saying that he had welcomed the relationship.
After we got home, he held and hugged me before he went to his room. I was in no mood for sleeping. All I wanted to do was cry, and felt that I would have no privacy to do this at home, so I went out. I returned home at 2:30am.
He’d told me that he’d worked with his therapist in creating a list where he had listed all of the traits that he is looking for in a partner, and that I fit the bill. So, I really don’t understand why the cold feet on his part.
And, he’d asked me what was I doing on Halloween, that he had wanted us to attend this get together that we had become aware of at this local coffee shop that will happen on Halloween.
On top of all of this, he’s told me before and he’s saying this again that our friendship is the most valuable to him. To him, no matter what happens, he wants that he and I can still communicate, socialize and act the same around each other as we have been. And, he wants me to treat him the same as if nothing adverse has happened between us.
This evening, he’d bought a pizza that he had shared with me. We talked a little about last night, with him telling me that he wished that I wouldn’t be so sad. I tried telling him that I resent the fact that he’d taken any input from me out of the equation in deciding if I’d wanted to be a part in helping him with dealing with his problems, but, I feel that this is also none of my business really. He’d said that with all of his intentions of entering a relationship with me, he did not expect to be feeling adverse to it as he has, which surprised him. He still hasn’t given me a concrete reason as to why this decision on his part happened.
I had asked him if I scare him, in which he gave me a hug, held me, and said no, that I am his friend.
So, Azure, I don’t know what to do with this situation. It’s only been a day since we had this discussion. I think if I get enough of this situation out of my system, I will be back to my normal self again. I still have hope that he may change his mind, but this doesn’t sound like a situation that I would want to be in again if he changes his mind. Please give me your thoughts on my situation.
Thank you for your time and attention to my concerns.
ANSWER: ok, so at the moment he's made it clear that he's not interested in a romantic arrangement---whether or not this is difficult to understand doesn't really matter going forward; only HE knows the real reasons (if he even does), and they won't change the decision; so the only question is, can you switch off your feelings and go to "friends" immediately, or not; some make the mistake of hiding under the "friends" label, when what they're really doing is hanging around hoping things change; i don't recommend trying to be friends unless both parties are emotionally "neutral;..in your case, i'd take some time apart, refocus on YOUR life, meeting/dating others, and only then, when romantic feelings have departed, consider the friends arrangement..
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Azure,
I guess the only other questions I have now are these:
To set the record straight right off the bat, I'd told my roommate what I had wanted from this relationship, which was a monogamous relationship and becoming boyfriend and girlfriend.
Was this too early to express?
Could my expressing my desires in this relationship be what scared him off?
And, given your answer of how he's made it clear that he's not interested in a romantic arrangement at the moment, could he change his decision again?
Thank you so much Azure for your insights.
since he doesn't appear to be a big dater, i doubt it scared him off; that being said, it was too soon for BOTH of you, because you hadn't dated all that much..to me exclusivity is best when it naturally evolves from the interaction, not when it's a rule, especially that early; but now it's time to forget analyzing all the possible reasons, because no one but he truly knows, and as i said, whatever reason, same result; certainly everything is subject to change, but if you think like that you waste time living on hope and appear weak/needy; i told you how to proceed, and ironically, by appearing fine with it, he may just realize the error of his ways...but be careful what you ask for--this guy has major emotional issues that would cause you big problems in time...i think a year from now you'll realize he did you a favor..