pisces man mysterious
Reader Questions

Friends with an ex who says he doesn’t love me/want me, but it feels like he does

Shannon Asks:

I have been dating this person on and off for nearly half a decade. I am an aqua, so I struggle with relating to feelings and being aware of the things I say/do that upset or hurt him. When we met, we were both in a weird place, and there was an issue with a past relationship he had that he worked with and was still getting over. I realized a few months into dating, and broke it off, explaining why. He apologized, and said he knew, and then we kind of remained distant friends.

He would invite me out but I would usually decline just because I generally don’t like to go out that much unless its with someone I know quite well; I was also admittedly insecure due to his success and being a known name in the intellectual community, though he mixes with celebrity types and has dated mostly famous women who are on magazine covers. I look like them, but I just don’t value that life, though I tried it. For many reasons, just didn’t work for me. Though. as his actual work is intellectual in nature, and is very humanitarian minded, we share a very interesting and stimulating mental connection, and feed off each other in that regard.

A few years ago, somehow we got close again, and started dating. We always had an intense physical connection, and due to his status, I never really thought a relatioship with him would be possible because of his type and because I would choose Bill Gates over Brad Pitt anyday, without hesitation. However, during that time, our relationship progressed quite nicely. Unfortunately, he is always ambiguous and although I knew he was seeing other women, would not be open about his feelings or what he was doing. I’m very logical and honest, and feel that if I genuinely care about someone, I don’t have to be their end all and be all. I need a lot of alone time, I need time to refresh and recharge, emotionally from people, so in a way, i find it almost beneficial to me if he has someone else, who is a little more “fun” and “flashy” and can help fulfill him in those whays where I cannot.

I’m someone who is monogamous is nature, so even if he;s with other women, I have no interest in other men. My independence and desire to be alone; take off, travel spontaneously is a freedom that I need, so knowing who he is, I feel that in being granted that kind of freedom, it is only fair for me to understand that I need to give him his freedom in his way to be fulfilled. I know that most people define love as monogomy, and that is something I struggle with as well; everyone says “one person should be enough for everyone”, and maybe for me that is the case, but that is simply because I thrive when I’m alone. I love traveling places I don’t know anyone by myself, and living there for a few months. And I don’t believe love has anything to do with ownership or making someone happy; its about two individuals who are able to be happy unto themselves, choosing to be each other’s best friend and lover.

That does not mean there cannot be passionate tyrsts along the way, and that type of fall quickly in love and out, is a pattern he has with those more “glamorous, glittery” types who honestly are not necessarily better looking than me, but who took the oppourtunities I tried but never felt motivatied enough to chase and succeed with modeling and acting, and I prefer to direct my intense ambition into business and technology and philantropy. So, even though I was very open about this and told him I could take anything as long as there was honesty, he never would tell me when things were happening or when he was developing crushes for other women.

He would just slowly start acting from talk every day, many times, to going out all the time, not calling for weeks, and I broke up with him quickly and pointed out why after a few weeks of this behavior. He apologied and said I was right. Then a few months later, somehow, we started talking again, and we got close again. With the intention of remaining friends; he explained what happened and why and that he was having feelings for someone else, ect. I understood, I just didn’t understand why he couldn’t talk to me about it. He agreed.

And so we started talking. and found ourselves meeting for dinner, which inevitably led to more because at the time, we were so intensely attracted to each other. Again we got close, and this time it progressed even more. Meeting family, going to public events togehter, meeting family and friends, but I was never his girlfriend, and he never said he loved me. However, I was going through a tough time in my life due to a family death and some fallout/legal issues over inheritance and other things I won’t bother you with. And being someone who hates asking for help or sharing their problems, he was the only person with the persistance to not only get me to confide in him, but then offer help.
In fact, I fell apart, completely. and he was always there. Always. However, bc of what I was going through I grew selfish, demanding, kind of childish, and just locked in victim mode; never for a minute thinking of his feelings, even as he was doing so much for me. We broke up. It was really hard on me as I had fallen completely in love. And the next few months, he wanted to stay friends, but in hindsite, I had done enough damage to cause him to punish me with silent treatment, dating other famous women somewhat publically, and disappearing.

But we would check in every once in awhile, and a few months ago, I called bc I just needed him, and he was there as if nothing happened. Since then its been kind of tough for us both; communication isn’t like it was, there seems to be a power struggle there never was, and he’s very very adamant about not sharing anything about his life. However, at the same time, he’s doing things that only a person who loves someone would do. This time, we are just friends and have been that way for awhile.

But I do see the passive aggressive hints of attraction, though he also often goes out of his way to physically maintain difference. I now understand that that is him trying not to give into that. I won’t disclose the details of I mean when I say he does things that only a person in love wld do, but, as a metaphor, let’s say he drew up a contract and asked me to help him with a new project, and wanted to hire me on it. Said project will last decades if it does well, so we will be in each other’s lives doing something we care about together for a long long time, and he has nothing to gain from this. Infact, his work schedule is insane, and he’s, in this metaphor, paying me for a job that doesn’t need to be done…like say, designing and maintaing an organic garden. In my heart, he;s the only person who has ever touched me the way he has. I am fiercly loyal to him, and haven’t been interested physically or otherwise to another man. If I ever need anything, if I need to cry, he’s there. If he thought I needed something and I said I didn’t, he’s the type that would go get it and bang down my door until I answered. However, I cannot figure out if this is love or not.

Sometimes I hate him, sometimes he hates me, and sometimes we send each other texts that bring tears of joy to our eyes. I only recently became aware of my behavior and why he was angry at me/treating me like I was “trouble”, not trusting me with any part of his life. He finally stood up to me, although I have always told him to do so if I hurt him or acted crazy because of stress and grief, he never did. He would take ownership of my anger and complete lack of appreciation for him, and apologize. After which I would snap out of it and realize. But its happened so many times, it took him yelling at me, and explaining it for me to realize. I had become a person who felt he owed me; like my happiness was his responsiblity.

When I saw it, that for over a year now he’s stood by me and I’ve done nothing but moan and complain, I felt so bad, I literally was crying for two days. And I apologized this time in a way that he saw I got it; infact I told him to move on as I didn’t want to hurt him while I was still hurting. But he refused, as he always does. Also, just because we are different in our partnership styles, there is assumptions we both make. Example; When he’s overwhelmed with work, and kind of gives me one word answers or is dismissive, I told him I was going away, when I wasn’t, and asked the secretary for our project to pass all messages to him. I sensed he was mad, but I didn’t get quite how mad/hurt he was. During our arguement, I told him I had lied and why; bc I felt things were tense and he needed a break from me, since our emotional connection can be “heavy”.

Its that intense. I also am brutally honest, and I once o twice had done things that I felt betrayed his trust, although most people would think it was not a big deal. I did this time again, and told him about it…as I did the first, without any prompting or bc there was any chance he would have found out. Infact he never would have, but I hated myself for that behavior and I felt he deserved to know and that face the consequences of my behavior. I think it was in this that he saw me for who I was again, and not the childish and hurtful, just self-centered behavior he had put up with for well over a year. And now, although he has told me he loved me a few times, he switches it to like.

He doesn’t act like a man in passionate love, but I can sense that intense focus you guys get that’s almost smothering, on me. We are tlaking and laughing and being partners and friends again. But, part of me feels like I need ot run away because it’s so hard for me to have these feelings. They hurt, as good as they feel. It’s just never been in my capacity to deal with that kind of connection, where you feel what the other person feels. Infact i’ve always chosen practical partners who loved me more than i them; it suited me better so I can do what i love most and invest my energy in my career.

Emotions like this, make everything in my logical world not make sense. I guess my question is..him having seen me behave and also look my worst…is it possible he is still attracted to me. And why is it so hard for him to own up to the feelings he has for me? Or am I again misreading the situation, and basing my judgements on logic rather than your less emotional world.

I know he dates other women, he must, but I can’t imagine him having a profound connection with anyone else, and still acting like an “old married couple” with me, as people say we do. We bicker, we banter, we tease each other, we try to outwit eachother, we both think the other doesn’t really care, and then when we finally fight and talk about it, we instantly go back to best friends, lots of cute litttle notes, how are you, do you need anything, terms of endermeant, ect. Sorry for the long message, its extremely complicated. I know he will always be in my life on some level, and vise versa, but I don’t want to set myself up for another heartbreak if he for whatever reason, despite my feelings, cannot see me as a viable partner. Thanks


It feels like with your story you basically lost the “benefit of the doubt” factors with him if he ever had concerns about you such as with loyalty and compatibility issues for a relationship.

You tend to focus a lot on physical appearance when it comes to comparing yourself to the woman he has been seeing in your writing. Just for a different perspective for something to think about usually when someone is in a very “glamorous” or “well known” position a lot of people can’t treat them like a “normal” person as a result. Just like the feelings you expressed where you are self-conscious about his success and all many people would feel the same. So when it comes to woman you can imagine how many people are afraid to even be with him.

Now these “model” looking woman often have one thing in common. The confidence. In many scenarios “attractive” woman that know they “look good” feel that they can talk and get any man they want in sense. They would have no problem talking to the “successful” person while treating them like a “normal” individual as they are confident about themselves in their own skin. By the simple matter of “taking the chance” these woman are often the only ones who even take a shot at it. So don’t focus so much on physical appearance here I say as it’s all about being yourself naturally and showing that genuine care and desire to learn and be with the other. It’s like the saying on how so many famous people love the idea of just being able to go to the grocery store and buy things like a “normal” person.

Think about it even with friends. If I was constantly terrified in being around you where I can’t be myself, always felt the need to impress you to be on your “level” or thinking that I am so “boring” compared to every other guy you can be with do you not think that will show while effecting our friendship?

With the conflict you had where you mentioned he helped you during a time in need and you hurt him that makes me think that your analogy example of paying you for a job that isn’t even needed would make me think fundamentally it’s about trust/relatability and not necessarily love. Again, based on what you wrote so far I am inclined to say you used up your “benefit of the doubt” moments in his book for a relationship but he still values you in his life per se. Even for myself I do all those things you mentioned for people such as being there in need while going out of my way to do so. That doesn’t say love in any way but rather care in a sense of you did something right where the person feels your health and well-being is a positive thing.

For some extra thoughts in that we often gravitate towards people we relate too. Odds are there are a ton of things about you and your circumstances that reminds him of himself. Therefore, offering you the help in times of needs can be like a way where one reflects “if only I had someone to help me during those times” moments where the hope is you are like just as genuine as he was in those situations in times of need.

So to me in that regards everything would make perfect sense that way. Basically at first your life experience and all was something he was really able to relate to. The bumps you experienced on the way in a sense placed barriers to seeing it as like a lover type of relationship. Is there still a chance he is attracted to you? Well, technically yes if he is still associating with you and he is “available” per se. Is it realistic based on what happened to push for it? That is stretching it as I would imagine if it was to happen it has to happen naturally. Many things can happen in that time too.

Why is it so hard to express the feelings? The simple answer is he doesn’t know exactly what to make of it and doesn’t want to say the wrong things. Example, by the sounds of it meeting other woman helps him to answer these questions too as unfortunate as that may sound for you. It’s like situations where so many things seem right but it constantly blows up. Example, are all woman just like that? Does he have to ”compromise” his beliefs on what his ideal significant other is?

A general comment about you saying you only chose people who you felt loved you more than you did for them. If you haven’t already I think it is very important for you to understand this for yourself in an honest way. Because I would imagine these types of questions alone are more important than wondering like what and how this guy thinks about you. In many ways you can logistically eliminate the possibility of a relationship if those goals and wants don’t align.

You say you thrive when you are alone traveling as an example. What if theoretically you found a person that literally loves and related to the same things you did where no questions asked you actually did thrive better with this person with you on those adventures? Would you actually still not want them with you? Again, the circumstance is it is guaranteed that everything will be better. This is to kind of challenge yourself where hopefully you truly do understand why it is you have those preferences as it directly relates to the realities of you and this person being a potential couple I feel.

It should answer things like what exactly is it specifically that you fulfill by like being alone where you currently think it is impossible to experience with another? Why is that important? At the same time, if you must frequently take like a few months away from your partner then what exactly is this partner to you in life? Like for myself and my personality when it comes to a relationship I also believe it shouldn’t be about having to make someone happy as opposed to like two people already being happy where coming together just makes everything so “perfect” as they say. But at the same time all connections require consistent care. Especially if you designed a life together around it.

Like saying if I am the water and you are the sunlight where we decided together we wanted to make a beautiful garden then that is something that requires a consistent presence from the both of us. If you decided you want to leave for three months myself as “water” will still be the same. But that garden you agreed to create with me is now destroyed which will take more time to clean up and rejuvenate. Would either of us want to constantly live like that? If you say no where that means we shouldn’t have a garden then what’s the point of us coming together in the first place? You may as well just come to me whenever you want some water and that will be the extent of our relationship. Just some extra thoughts to think about that I personally feel could be related to like this person’s way of thinking too.


  • Shan November 24, 2016

    Thanks, you put that into perspective, big time. I was referring to the women he dated and their appearence in terms of their public persona. Until quite recently, I was in the same field, and carried myself the same way, and had absolutel confidence in my appearence. When we broke up the first few times, it was always me, and I would end it without hesitation when he was slacking. And he would play, “fall in love”, then come back, explaining, with heartfelt apology. I guess what I don’t get fully is 1. He seems to keep the women he truly loves in his life as “working” partners in some form, after the relationship ends. 2. He has these passions, which I understand are kind of a thing he needs for his work, so when I was understanding of that, and infact tried to create an enviroment where he didn’t have to hide it, he still refused to admit that perhaps he was incapable of manogomy. We both discuss the idea and agree that romance and passion fades; a best friend you can talk about anything with, share values with, build with, trust, is what a life partnership should really be about. For me, I guess that’s what I meant when I said I always chose men who loved me more; in that I am not so much a romantic, but bc they were initiators and made geastures and persued me for a long temr relationship without leaving me to question ever how they felt, I felt ok with giving them that part of myself. But for me it is just more natural to relate to all people as friends first. I see also how I made myself look like an unviable partner, however, after our last discussion, I completely changed. I just got it. And since then, he returned to being a bit more attentive and sweet and caring. I see he’s rather shy around me, and also that we are both a little shy around each other as we don’t quite know how to relate after so much has happened. But when I started talking about my feelings, and explaining why I felt like I did, and made a sincere apology with effort..that ease seemed to return. I see him dating women who I know don’t have the depth he requires; and Im not saying that judgementally, it’s just obvious its not an intellectual match; and that is something he needs more than anything to stay interested romantically. There is alot of infidelity in his past, so is he simply incapable of being with one woman? His success doesn’t bother me; I grew up in a very privileged environment around people like him, and always dated people like him. However, he’s just a little different from the others in a way I can’t quite explain. And if he is over me, why would he be jealous and angry when his friend flirted with me, and me, just being nice, as we were “friends” in a group, I see how I gave the friend more attention than him, and perhaps it seemed like I was flirting back. When I acknowledged only becoming aware of that and that it was hurtful after going home, he was clearly relieved, happy. I just feel like I either need to move on completely, or talk to him and get some explanation, as it seems more a need for me in my life than a value. When he’s working really hard and can’t socialize, I’m kind of the one he always talks to, wants to hang out with, ect. Building a business together is a big deal, and I can’t imagine it being just a gesture of friendship as I know, when he did this in the past, it was bc he was in love and wanted to keep her around, which caused him problems with having any real relationships with other women; I was one of the women who he met at that time, and its nearly impossible to date someone who puts another woman first, whether its for “business” or something else. It just seems like he won’t give me closure, he’ll occasionally say he loves me, but then go out of his way to use like as if it’s a passive aggressive, self-convincing thing. And he made it quite clear to me the other day he was single when I asked politely after being invited to an event, and I asked very nicely if he would be bringing someone special, who I would be happy to meet and treat with the respect she deserves, but that it would be easier for me if I knew ahead of time. So, I can’t keep giving him the emotional intimacy we share, bc it brings me back into that place and impossible to move on, but I also would like to be able to prompt him to give me the closure I need if it really is over, so I can move on. I know time changes everything, and no matter what we both need time; I need time to regain the confidence and happiness I lost when I went through something that just ripped my foundations out from under me. And I know he sees that person I used to be coming back. I don’t want to “give up” on him, but it’s hard to be so close to someone who tells me one thing but acts another way, and I’m not going to push it, and push his boundaries. I’ve considered it maybe just someone who will never settle down, but he does have a hold on me and I do have one on him; and even if I do move on, I would like it to be in healthy way for us both, where he doesn’t feel hurt or abandoned or behave in that passive aggressive manner that I find really hard to deal with. How would you like to be approached about this topic; and in a way that would make you comfortable with expressing your feelings. Or am I just beating a dead horse, and need to be the one to take the initiative to put more distance between us. Thanks so much; you helped. tremendously. Oh and regarding my alone time..I’m very sensitive to people, and have as much compassion as he does; so if I don’t take time to myself, or intense his emotions that I enjoy being basked in, but can be overwhelming, as well as everyone’s emotions, pain, and need help or encouragement or support, drain me, as I attract ppl in “need”. So I need time alone to recharge and reconnect with myself. Thanks again.

  • Alan November 25, 2016

    With what you wrote I would personally interpret the keeping the woman he loves part as a sign of “loneliness” or a lack of “meaningful relationships” in his life. Of course I don’t know the guy to nail down the specifics but I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that when you are in a position of status as an example the huge downside would be the majority of people you meet just want something where in the process they are dubbed as “friends” or others will be too afraid to be with them. So when one finds those relationships/connections that in a way feels the most authentic they will then “invest” in seeing what the relationship is all about.

    At the same time, I would personally say fundamentally we all seek for that connection, so to speak, from another to satisfy that human part in us. However, when we start using substitutes that seem to fill in that need, like say the thrill of getting cheered on by thousands, we soon realize it’s just not the same. But then one hasn’t been “training” themselves to connect with others per se. So they are stuck.

    I guess an easy way to think of it is like having fun. I had a person tell me before that his idea of fun as a child was rolling around in the grass with his buddies as they were too poor to afford anything. Now imagine if he was constantly used to other things that gets his emotions going in a bigger way. Going back down to that grass field is not going to be the same and would probably take a person years or the right life experience to really appreciate the basic simplicity of the grass scenario if one was used to getting their “fun” through more lavish means.

    To me this would make sense with what you wrote as it’s almost like saying he wouldn’t know how to live if you literally just took him out of the cycle he is used to. But at the same time it’s like you made him feel those emotions in different ways than he is used to. This could all perfectly relate with the infidelity part too where he is simply too used to getting a certain amount of, let’s call it, “energy” through relationships with woman. It’s like saying in the sense of “fulfilment” if a key way he has been getting this is through the notion of being able to constantly make a lot of woman happy where they shower him affection then how can he give that up without a legitimate alternative that he can go into right away? In my opinion it would be no real difference than asking like say a smoker to quit cold turkey.

    The anger and jealousy part would fit in too as again he is essentially “investing” in you where if we were to stick with how his “energy” is coming from making woman happy then it’s like you aren’t reciprocating. Since there is things like financial investments here I would almost see it as like it’s the equivalent of the poor guy holding hands with the woman all day. Now imagine if he is doing that the woman then continues to give her attention to someone else. It just seems like he is using things like his resource and influence as that hand holding instead.

    Just an interesting note about a business as a gesture of friendship, I mean I actually did do that for someone before and it wasn’t out of love as opposed to just trying to help a person who claimed to be in need. I got duped ultimately but even for that I would attest it to thinking that as long as at the time it seems like I have the means to do it then it seems like the “right” thing to do for someone you care for. I would personally factor that in with your scenario too. If it’s not a business for someone it could be like investing the time every day to help a person get say fit and mentally healthy. Everyone has different “resources” I guess you can say. Like you may say there is no way that someone would travel like ten cities away each day to get to the person as there is no way that is just a gesture of friendship. Then again it would be like saying this guy flies a private jet so traveling can be a different standard for him. Hopefully that makes sense.

    I personally feel overall in your situation it sounds like one of the keys is to allow him to discover change for himself. The stereotypical example is like how say one person doesn’t care too much to be with the other. Then after experiencing like say a very bad relationship they then come to realize how great the other person was as they start to realize what is truly most important. That’s easier said than done of course, but I think fundamentally that’s the most basic route it would go. Then afterwards it’s more about you if you want to accept him back in that way.

    In my opinion you wouldn’t be giving up on the person but instead you are simply treating the relationship for what it is at the moment and allowing life to play out. You could ask him for answers of course, but I feel it would probably be better for you to first clearly define for yourself on what the relationship is and what your own boundaries are.

    In the sense of more of a partner type of thinking it would be like you are the manufacturer and he is the store that sells to users. There is only so much you can do to get the store to carry your products instead even though clearly the other products they are getting are constantly getting them complaints which hurts their bottom line. You as the manufacturer don’t have to abandon them, but just continuing to provide the best and hope that they eventually will see that it’s say better to be with you instead. It will probably take like a bunch of people to convince them too.

    Like there you aren’t abandoning them either. Maybe in this time they will realize that say committing with that manufacturer is actually the best thing to do as they both complement each other perfectly. Or maybe during that time the manufacturer will actually get scooped up by another party that just worked out. But either way it’s about just being your best I guess you can say and not worry too much about the things you can’t control.

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