Six months into my separation, I received an email from one of my best high school friends, a man whom I had not heard from in 8 years except for occasional holiday cards. It was a basic email to ask how I was doing but after a month of talking casually, I learned that he also was separated from his wife. We’ve always been able to talk freely and it was great to hear from him again, like we had never been out of contact. We hooked up once, 18 years ago. I wanted to date him then, but he chose to date someone else. Some blonde bimbo with a big jaw. However, this did not stop him from calling me up and complaining about her when things went sour.

He also called me a month before his wedding, saying he wasn’t sure he wanted to marry his now wife, blah blah blah. I still felt love for this man, and therefore chose to listen and offered moral support.

Fast forward to the present, we are now in similar situations, and once again got embroiled in a friendship that has very few boundaries. We were literally talking to each other every day, mostly via e-mail, as we live 4 hours apart.

We met up for drinks once and the attraction was palpable. It would have been easy for us to sleep together, but I was unwilling to screw up a 20 year friendship over an ill-timed attraction. If it was real, I figured it would be there after our divorces were final.

During this time, his estranged wife discovered a lump in her breast. When he went to pick up his boys, she was scared, and asked him to feel it. Immediately following this encounter, he called me to tell me about ‘the flood of emotions’ he felt touching her breast again and about her purple lace 38DD bra. This is when I realized how warped our relationship had become and flipped out. How normal can it be that I am the first person he thinks to call when he gets to cop a feel?

So, we had a come to Jesus talk. I told him I had no intention of being his ‘default girl’, the girl he never chooses, but the one he falls back on when he needs an ego boost. He said he was not in a position to date anyone, which I understand, as I am not either. However, when I asked him if we were in a different place if we would ‘consider’ dating me. He said he couldn’t answer the questions because we weren’t in a different place. So much for thinking he digs me but the timing is wrong. Now I am just pissed. He can call and e-mail me daily, flirt, make sexual comments, but won’t even consider dating me! So, I told him to go to hell and cut off contact.

But then he e-mailed to say the lump in his estranged wife’s breast was indeed cancer. Once again, I allowed myself to get sucked into listening. However, our contact is much less frequent. We e-mail or talk maybe once every two weeks. To be honest, our friendship blow-out was a good thing. It was a reality check for me. I realized he doesn’t love me and likely never will. Not having him as a distraction has actually freed me to put my focus where it needs to be, on grieving my marriage.

But sometimes I feel weak, allowing myself to be friends with him again. At some point one of us is going to start dating, and that’s going to be weird. I no longer feel the need to make him want me, and have stopped stroking his ego. I actually get pleasure from telling him when he’s being an assclown and immediately nip comments that are even slightly inappropriate. Personally, I don’t think he appreciates the new friend as much as the old one as I am no longer kissing his ass.

I keep telling myself ‘He doesn’t love you, he will never love you’. But it hasn’t completely sunk in.

So, this is my question. Should I chuck a 20 year friendship and cut this man off totally? How do I get to a place where I actually believe that just because he keeps returning to me doesn’t mean he loves me? I believe I am the best damned woman he will ever know, surely he will realize this at some point?”

NML says: This man is not your friend. You don’t have twenty years of friendship – you have twenty years of this guy treating you as his Fallback Girl (or as you cleverly referred to it, his ‘Default Girl’). He’s not returning to you because he’s in love with you, addicted to you, or can’t resist you. He’s returning to you because if there is one person he can rely on to massage his ego and be there for him when the chips are down, it is you. Twenty years is the period of time that you have known him dip in and out of your life.

I can see how you could end up thinking he might be seeing the light. Many moons ago he chose someone else over you and then had the barefaced cheek to call you up for a moan… Fast forward to the present day when that marriage is all but over and yet again he is making contact with you, and it’s easy to see how you have made the correlation between him returning back to your life and him being separated as a sign that after the trials and tribulations you have both been through, he may be realising you’re the one and you could both potentially live happily ever after. Er that would be a helllll NO!

This guy is a user and you are his Fallback Girl and if you are content to be treated and regarded in this way you NEED to be worried. When he found out that his wife had breast cancer, which is pretty damn serious, I expected you to say that he called you up to pour his heart out but instead it was to discuss what it felt like to touch her breasts. This guy’s a flipping joker!

You say you’re not ready to date but you are clearly hoping for this guy to be more than what he is being.
He says he is not ready to date but it’s not just that. This guy only wants to be with you for an ego boost, some no strings sex, and a shoulder to moan on. You’re not good enough to date whether that was twenty years ago or now, and the fact of the matter is that he will always find some excuse to keep you in the relegation zone. Whatever and whoever you’re competing with, until you accept that this guy has never been your friend but has got off on the benefits of having you loving him whilst not giving it back, you will always cater to the you from 18 years ago that felt slighted by the rejection of him choosing someone else.

You can’t right the wrongs from the past and bad enough that he rejected and used you when you were younger and not so wise to his antics, but don’t allow him to do it now in a time when your self-esteem will have taken a knock from your own marriage separation. It isn’t love that you feel. The emotions that you feel are as a result of the excitement and possibility that he might choose you this time. If you were in a more positive place and your ‘friendship’ with him didn’t have the negative history that it does, I doubt you’d be interested in him. He represents something elusive and don’t underestimate the impact of what happened 18 years ago on how you may perceive yourself and relationships.

For a start, open your eyes and recognise his behaviour for what it is. Remind yourself what he’s done and remind yourself of all of the negative things that you feel about yourself as a result of being involved with him and being pulled back and forth like a yo-yo. Realise that what you have with him isn’t friendship – It’s a long, drawn out sexual attraction and lust which has no substance. He materialises when the chips are down but he’s already on the sniff for someone who he can choose over you. The timing is never going to be right whether he is just separated or has been single for 5 years. He is user and he is using you and he is the one doing the majority of the gaining whilst you are mentally taking a knock. You need to time to heal from the separation and the best thing you could do is avoid knee jerking into a ‘relationship’ that will actually devalue you. Part of the reason why he seems so attractive is that he reminds you of a ‘you’ pre marriage. There is nostalgia and a residual hurt that has been around for a long time that you need to deal with and close the door on. Now as well as coping with the separation, you also need to cope with the hurt of what he has done.

The returning doesn’t mean that he loves you. It’s what he does with the return that makes the difference and he only returns when he needs something from you and he wants to have a bitch and a moan. You’ve exchanged one type of instability (what you had in your marriage) for another. This ‘friendship’ and ‘relationship’ is on his terms and I bet that if you called him with you needing something that he wouldn’t be there for you. It is good that you feel that you are “the best damned woman he will ever know” but your chucking good money – you – after a bad investment. HE doesn’t think you’re the best damned thing that’s happened to him because his actions and words reflect that. It’s not up to you to decide that you’re the best woman for him because if he doesn’t recognise, appreciate, and value you amongst all the other things that provide the good foundations of a relationship, it doesn’t mean a thing.

Your attraction to him which has lasted a hell of a long time says to me that you need to step back, focus, and nurture yourself. You must cut contact with him, suffer the short term pain, and find a way to move forward. You would be amazed at how taking some time out for you and getting to know yourself can have massive positive effects. You’re not throwing away a twenty year friendship – You’re saying goodbye to a man who has used the word ‘friendship’ to reap his short term fringe benefits – sex, ego boost, friendly ear to moan to – whilst he has impacted hugely on you in the long term. Cut him off – You don’t need to tell him he’s an assclown. You know it and that’s enough.

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