Remember when we tackled this question: how do you love your brothers in Christ without giving them false hope of you wanting something more? Apparently I need to revisit the topic. The situation is a familiar one. You dated someone, it lasted a few months, you realized it wasn’t going to work out so you ended it. The things which first drew you to the person are still there, they are still every bit the friend they had always been, so you want to keep the friendship.

Now, the other person makes the attempt (read: lie) to just be friends. Sometimes they’re sincere, sometimes they intend to, and sometimes they are doing whatever it takes to stay in the game (and a lot of the time, the intent to stay friends is prelude to just staying in the game). But along the way to being just friends, there may be the occasional bumps as feelings settle down. In short, you’ve told someone to move on and you won’t date them over again, but you’ve let them know that you still want to be friends. Now what?

The transition to “just friends” is fraught with emotional land mines. It’s hard to go from dating to being just friends. When part of you wanted more, dreamed of more, expected more and all those hopes came crashing down and falling short. It takes a while to pack those feelings back into a box and be able to manage them. It takes focus to channel those “more than friends” feelings and energy into something platonic. The road may be full of DTRs.

Sometimes the road may want to make you re-think being friends. Honestly, the commitment to friendship begins with one sentence: If you can’t deal with the fact that I don’t want to date you any more, then this is the last conversation we will have. The true test comes with one simple scenario: can you handle me going out with someone else?

Basically, you have a decision to make: to be friends or to cut things off. And they have to be prepared to either accept the reality of the situation or stalk you.

For the being friends contingency, both of you will be pouring energy into the relationship, in time and emotional sweat. In some ways you have to live life in light of their feelings, balancing being sensitive with the need for you to move on and do what you’ve got to do. But you do have to lead your life and attend to your own emotion needs and situations.

In the just end it scenario, look, sometimes you can’t be “just friends” and you may have to just cut bait cause friends don’t work. If they don’t get the hint that things really can’t work when you’re being nice, the follow up conversation won’t be pleasant. To quote my brother-in-law: “come here Roly Poly, turn into a ball so I can flick you into the grass.”

Either way, there might be some stalking-ish behavior. Constant phone calls. Texts throughout the night. Showing up where ever you might be. Standing outside your window with a boom box raised above their head playing Peter Gabriel songs. They stay close cause at some point you may end your new relationship and they can catch you on the rebound, after all, the point for them is to stay in the game. This is one way how on again/off again relationships start.

Relationships are commitments, even friendships. Sometimes you have to walk away from friendships for a time in order for the relationship to heal and the two of you to move forward as adults. There’s nothing wrong with that, and that beats the alternative of silly games and stalkerish behavior. We’re better than that.

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