Friends without Benefits

Dear Dr. J,

I was a sophomore in high school, he was a senior, when we first met. We never actually got together. He’s got quite a bit of downsides in my book, like the fact he smokes weed and drinks (and here I am little miss goody-two shoes…). So he’s not my perfect… but I am attracted heavily to how he thinks, which I assume is the right thing to be attracted to. He is currently in college and the only way we communicate is through facebook, although he is completely unreliable. He is so laid back it is to a flaw, like … well, I’ll post this conversation and you’ll see what I mean.

Me: I’m probably making a fool of myself by sending this,
but I’m just going to state the obvious and let the chips fall where they may:
I think I’m in love with you.
And I’m not exactly sure what to do about it.

Mystery Man: wow.
i’m not sure exactly how to respond to that. and i’m not exactly sure what to do about it, either.
but, oh well. all is well.

Me: I figure I have two options: I continue to talk to you on here and somehow work out in my head that that is okay. Yet I continue to have you in my life, which is something I want very much.
Or, this stops. I feel horrible for doing it because it feels incredibly cruel, because here you are just being nice.

Mystery Man: i don’t see why i have to stop talking to you. this sort of thing happens all the time. so i think option number 1 is fine by me. no need to be cruel.

Can I be in love with somebody who does not return it, but still wants me as a friend? Oh but you are the one that listens to me. You are being a better friend than everybody else in my life. Thanks, a lot. Of course I’ll see you again! It’s a shame you weren’t there…

Can I be in love with some one who is only in my life online?

Can I hold myself back for somebody who is not really there? (Even though there is really nobody else in my small town that has my interest…)

…but can I leave him, the one who taught me about life and love and who made me grow up, alone?

I honestly want to give up. My expectations of love are so… unrealistic… that I doubt that I’ll find anybody (Thanks Edward Cullen!).

And I’ve looked, and am still looking. But right now, I’m just very worn out because I don’t think I’ll ever find anybody that I’m genuinely attracted to that actually loves me back.

Frazzled.

Dear Frazzled,

Everyone listen up. Before I address this directly, I’m adding a new rule to the Adviceopolis Archives: IF YOU FEEL THE URGE TO TELL SOMEONE–ESPECIALLY SOMEONE YOU ARE NOT DATING–THAT YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH THEM, WAIT 60 DAYS.
Trust me. Either your love will endure that long. Or you will send me one of these in thanks:

Now where was I? Oh, right:

So, Frazzled, what would you say to your best friend if she came to you and said: “I really love this guy but he totally doesn’t love me back oh and he’s a stoner”? I don’t live in your head, but I have to guess that you would say something along the lines of “ditch that loser! If he doesn’t appreciate you he’s not worth it.”

And if your friend said, “But he says he needs me. That he relies on me” then you (if you were me) would say “Those are techniques he is using—possibly unconsciously—to keep you in his life.. In your love for him, in your wanting to be with him, he sees himself as smarter, stronger, better, cooler, hotter and more important. He is feeding his ego off your love. And off your ego. Because he is an emotional vampire.”

Here is how emotional vampires operate:

First, they Unteather you with a charm explosion at the beginning, knocking you off your feet. Master manipulators, they feel around until they find the thing inside of you that makes you weak, the thing they can use to control you. In your case it sounds like something that enjoys feeling needed.

Once they’ve identified your Tender Spot, they Stroke it. This can be conscious or unconscious, but you can see it at work in MysteryMan’s comments about how good a friend you are and how he relies on you. This is what you want to hear. He’s giving you just enough to keep you engaged and docile.

This makes it possible for him to control you so he can Empty you, feeding off of all the good things inside of you out so he can have them for himself.

A good test of whether someone is USEing you. whether s/he is an emotional vampire is to try to reverse those comments. MysteryMan says “You are being a better friend than anyone in my life.” Can you say the same about him? Can you say “He is being a better friend than anyone in my life”? You may be tempted to answer that you can, but calling him “unreliable” and “laid back…to a fault” (which is your way of justifying him not caring about you), and only talking to you online, show that you cannot.

Of COURSE he wants you as a friend. You rock! You are totally awesome! And he doesn’t have to pay any kind of price for that awesomeness! But you do: because whether you realize it or not, you are starving. At the end of a relationship with an emotional vampire, you are emotionally malnourished. You can’t walk away from a relationship like that—you can only crawl, because you have been made weak.

But you must vanquish this vampire. The only way to do that is to get away from him. Since he is a monster, this can best be done using the time honored conventions of the horror movie rules:

TURN ON THE LIGHTS!
One of the things that gets people hurt the most in horror movies is trying to grope around in the dark rather than really facing what is after them. Take a good long honest look at this relationship. He’s a stoner! Who only cares about his own feelings! Notice that you are doing all the giving, and getting very little back.

PUT AWAY THE KNIVES!
Any weapons you have lying around can and will be used against you by the monster in a horror movie. In real life, this means that you need to set aside anything—including Facebook communication–that can be used to hurt you. Its time to sever ties

DON’T LOOK BACK!
As you know, in horror movies the monsters always resurrect themselves. He will come to you with an excuse or a plea to be in touch. DON’T FALL FOR IT. Instead, see it for what it is: proof that he is an emotional vampire. Without you as a source of food for his ego, without you to act as an ideal mirror for him, to tell him how great he is, to show him through your love that he’s important, he feels like he ceases to exist. So he’ll try hard to get that back. His techniques can range from being super sweet and kind and hinting that he might love you (he doesn’t, he loves himself and how you make him feel about HIMself) to calling to tell you about a crisis (playing on your Tender Spot), to calling to tell you about a crisis he got through without you (to punish you by showing he doesn’t need you, and make you work hard to be taken back), to being silent. The last one is the best, obviously, although in the short run it could hurt the most

PREPARE TO TRIP!
You know how in horror movies the girl running away inevitably falls down trying to escape? Similarly, at some point you’ll probably respond to his overtures, or write to him. When this happens, be kind to yourself realizing that what you are doing is hard, and then resume the No Contact rule.

NEVER GO OFF BY YOURSELF!
One of the biggest mistakes people make in horror movies is to try going it alone. This is the time to reach out to your friends. Surround yourself with people who can help replenish what he’s taken from you, whether that means shoulders to cry on or people to throw popcorn at the movie screen with (NOT THAT I SACNTION LITTERING. LITTERING IS BAD!)

Being involved with an emotional vampire takes up a huge part of your day and a lot of time and energy that you may not even realize. You say you’re looking for someone, but how can you be really when your whole mind is taken up with MysteryMan? At first removing him from your life might make you feel kind of empty, because dealing with his stuff has absorbed a huge chunk of your days, but if you look beyond that you will see it actually means you’re very free, and expansive. You now have a lot more time and energy to dedicate to people who are genuinely worthy of it—including yourself.

True love does not make one person weak at the expense of another. It bolsters both. And it is out there for you. Having this experience with the Emotional Vampire now—and getting out of it, saving yourself rather than needing someone else to save you—is going to make you ready, willing and able to see and embrace it when the time comes.

Cutting this vampire out of your life won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And the sooner you say no to being USEd, the sooner you will be saying yes yes yes! to true love and happiness.

^^^^

Dear Dr. J

I am playing Cupid for all of my friends but I don’t seem to have very good aime when it comes to me. I start to like a guy but when they come and talk to me, my brain seems to turn off or it makes me start giggling. Which just makes me look like a big idiot in front of Him. Its no problem when I am around my guy friends, I can flirt with them till no end. But then put my crush or ANY cute boy for that matter and nada! I have so little confidence, when I saw a cute cashier guy at KOHLS I hid behind my mom! I am so confused of what to do. I would really like to have a guy like me. I have never had a boyfriend and I am a Junior in high school. Pleas help if you can. xoxo
Cupid’s Arrow Missed

Dear Cupid’s Arrow Missed,

WE SO HAVE YOU COVERED!

What you’re describing is a) totally normal and b) just like stage fright. Stage fright comes from having to step up in front of people you don’t know and hope they like you. And as most people who suffer from stage fright can tell you, the two ways to manage it are to breathe deeply and just go out on stage. As soon as you’re out there on stage acting your part, it goes away.

Using this comparison, a crack team of Adviceopolis scientists have come up with a simple four part method for getting you from Chortling to Chatting with your crush:

Step 1: Breathe. Lack of oxygen to the brain is responsible for 99% of the stupidest things anyone has ever said. True fact! Ish.

Step 2: Make yourself pretend that the person isn’t the PersonYouLike but someone else. Alternately, picture yourself playing a part, such as “The Girl Who is Confident and Funny and Likeable.”

Step 3: Prepare one to four conversation topics or questions to ask him ahead of time. Make them open ended—instead of “did you have a good weekend?” try “What did you do this weekend?”—and relevant to his interests if you know what they are.

If you don’t, you can try some of the questions of Deep Import I have been wrestling with recently such as “Could leprechauns actually be Santa’s Elves with their beards grown out?” or “What do you think is on the perfect pizza?” or “Which would be a better President of the United States, a Smurf or Teen Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle?” or “If you could be any celebrity, who would you be (and you can’t say The Rock because of course everyone wants to be him)?”

Once these questions have gotten you past the first sixty seconds of talking to him, all your ace flirting skills will return.

[Alternately you could walk around with a Magic 8 ball and go up to him and say “My Magic 8 Ball told me to talk to you but I don’t know what to say. Do you want to ask it a question?” But if you do this make sure that your magic 8 ball is not, like mine, a total slut which will tell you to do all kinds of naughty things and result in you finding yourself dancing on top of a bar at three AM with…what? My lawyer is on the phone? Oh, I mean nothing.]

Step 4: If all else fails, Embrace the Embarrassment. “Wow, I seem to have ICantTalkFluenza around you. I bet you have that effect on all the girls. Maybe if I had more practice I’d be better at it. Want to go out for coffee?”

The thing to remember is that the one guaranteed way to insure you will never go out with this person, is not to talk to them. Anything else you do, even if it’s a little goofy, is a step toward getting to know—and possibly kiss—them better. (And every time you make yourself talk to a crush, it will get easier. So its worth trying out several times a day).

Be totally Withwhippedcream&acherry!

airsmooches,
Dr. J

Need Advice? Mail your questions for publication to advice@michelejaffe.com. The doctor can't promise to answer them all, but she'll do her best. (By sending a question you grant permission to have it appear here. Letters may be edited. Advice is for entertainment purposes only. No blaming us later okay? Okay.)

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