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Real Live College Guy Joel: How to Stay Friends After Being Rejected

Desperately trying to understand the inscrutable mind of the college male?  Real Live College Guy Joel (replete with a name way cooler than those of RLCGs Joe and Joey) is here to help you out, call you out, write you a poem to show you’re great and to stop worrying, etc. From major emotional drama to the minutiae of social interaction, use him as your one-stop shop for guy advice.
My guy friend rejected me and I still have feelings for him. I thought I’d be fine being his friend, but now that he’s dating someone else I’m definitely not. Should I let him know that I can’t be his friend? I feel like that’s really selfish.
— Hurting at Howard


Hurting at Howard,
That’s not selfish. It is the exact opposite. If someone really hurts you, then you are under no obligation to continue being their friend, even if they want to stay platonically close. I admire you for having the courage to put yourself out there in the way you did, and I really really admire you for not wanting to hurt this guy. However, he chose to not open himself up to your feelings, whatever his reasons, and you can’t return to your previous relationship.
Some people feel that the honorable thing to do is to not let your hurt show and pretend that the rejection never occurred. Some people can do that. But personally I can’t, and it sounds as if you can’t either. I’m brutal after rejection, going as far as to stop talking to a girl and even blocking her on Facebook. In these situations I have found that the pain stops only when you cut yourself off. It’s not immaturity; it’s emotional survival.
If that perspective sounds harsh to you, then distance yourself subtly, without discussing it with him. When you see him, just smile, wave and walk on rather than stopping to talk to him. Do not text him under any circumstances and perhaps even erase his number from your phone if you are tempted. Avoid places where you know he and the girl might show up, even if you want to see him. If he asks you why you’re being distant, explain that you do not feel comfortable in the friendship because you’re still hurt. I think that your longing for him will only continue with regular contact with him. Don’t worry about what he or other people might think. You will miss him, but the only way you can move on from this is to turn your back on the painful incident and not look back.


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