Sweet friends, I am so happy to get to share with you the second post in our series: Dear Stephanie: Questions and Answers From My Inbox. I don’t know if you can call something a series if it’s only happened twice, and I don’t know how official this series will actually end up being. But here we are with number two anyway! (In case you missed it, this was the first one: How To Stop Being Afraid Of Losing People You Love)
Oh — there’s one more thing you should know before we get started. I’ve taken out or changed all personal information in the questions I’m sharing. If you ever send me an email with a question, I promise you, your story is safe with me! Okay. Onward!
Here’s this week’s question!
I’m in a sort of “It’s complicated” relationship with a guy. I have feelings for him and, from the way he treats me, I think he has feelings for me. But nothing tangible has ever come from it leaving me in a hard place as I try to figure out what these mixed messages mean. I really want this relationship to happen — he’s the best guy I’ve ever met. But I have no idea if it’s going anywhere, or even how to know. Do you have any advice?
Hi sweet friend,
Oh love, this is such a hard spot to be in. I’m so sorry your heart is hurting. And I know it’s hurting because I have totally been there (and I know I’m not the only one — I can hear the chorus of “Amen” and “I’ve been there” already!)
So before we go any further, that’s something I want you to know. You are totally not alone in this, and you’re not nuts for finding yourself in this place. (I always find that I really need to hear that when I’m in a spot like this).
But really, I spent years in this confusing middle ground with guys I liked.
I spent years waiting, and wondering, and hoping, and being in a sort-of-half-relationship, trying to figure out what the heck his mixed messages were trying to tell me, and hoping beyond hope for a happy ending.
And along the way, just like you, I had so many questions:
+ If he doesn’t like me, why would he flirt with me so much?
+ If he doesn’t like me, then why am I his closest confident?
+ I’ve prayed over and over again, “God, if we’re not supposed to be together, take away my feelings for him.” But God hasn’t. Is that supposed to be telling me something?
+ If this isn’t supposed to happen, then why do so many of our friends tell me how perfect we are together?
I felt like a detective, piecing together clues. It all felt so complicated, and so entirely uncertain. I looked at relationships around me wondering how the heck they made it happen — how they figured out the whole puzzle to such a stunning result.
But then something crazy happened.
I met a new guy. We started talking, he was friendly and kind, and not too far into our friendship, he told me he had feelings for me. Not too long after that we started officially dating, and we were together for over a year. He met me, he got to know me, he liked me, he pursued me, he asked me out, we were in a relationship. It was so simple!
I didn’t have to make it happen, or pin him down, or decode what he was thinking, because he told me.
With his words and his actions he showed me what was happening, and there was no mistaking it even for a second. I didn’t realize relationships could happen like that! I didn’t realize someone would pursue me that way!
So with that experience under my belt, here’s the rule of thumb I made for myself (you know, towards the very end of my dating life long after it would have been so helpful):
I decided that I wouldn’t give my heart away again until it was truly asked for — until someone pursued me, told me how they feel, showed me how they feel, and made a commitment to me. I decided that mixed messages just weren’t enough anymore.
And that’s the rule I would make for you too.
Love — everyone’s story is different. But in every story, if the relationship is going to happen, there’s a point when the guy has to make his intentions clear, make a commitment and follow through with it.
And until that point, we can’t give our hearts away.
Now, this is so hard because we are such lovers. We have such huge hearts and want to love and care for and connect with people. We’re all-in, brave-as-can-be, love-’til-the-end kind of people. And I love this about us.
But it gets us in trouble because it lands us in positions like this — where we’re fully invested when we maybe shouldn’t be, hurting, and feeling powerless as we wait for him to make the next move.
Love, I know you have all the hope in the world that this guy is going to get it together, realize what he has, and run to you like he absolutely should. And maybe he will.
But here’s the deal until that happens. Until he comes to you telling you how much he likes you and only you and asking you to be his girlfriend — committed, exclusive, and public — he has no business being in your heart.
He can’t have you anymore until he’s willing to pursue you and commit to you the way you deserve.
And so that’s what I hope you hold out for, the bar I hope you set for yourself and for the men in your life (men with mixed messages need not apply!!). That’s what it takes to catch a catch like you. You, my darling, deserve nothing less.
Friends — I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever been in one of these middle ground relationships? How did you handle it? Did it end up working out? I’d love to hear the story and any encouragement you have for our sweet friend here! Pop them in the comments below! 🙂