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Ambition Crisis

 
 
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 06:32 pm
I have tried to word this without sounding self-important, but it is rather hard. If anyone has a few five minutes then I would really appreciate some help right now.

I started at a university in September, and about a month in I met a friend who I got on with exceptionally well and who wants to be involved in the same projects as me, but with a different role. We decided to start something off, and since then the project has boomed rather:
Through a scheme he's been awarded, we've been offered an opportunity to give the project a private view to the heads of 5 of the most important companies in the country using players from one of top organizations in the country.
It's not all his doing; I managed to land us a spot in a festival in August and I've written all the proposals and laid out the framework for how all the ideas in the project should co-exist.

Anyway, I'd say he's actually my best friend and the most interesting person I've met. However I've really got the feeling that he might like me sexually, even love me, and I am not attracted to him. It's really hard to interpret what his actions mean because he is friendly to everyone, but he tells me I am beautiful a lot; he has said when he fancies women he compliments them and he reacts badly (not seriously badly, but still awkwardly) when I mention the name of another man I've been involved with recently.

It is so hard to know what to do. He text me today saying "I miss you like ****" . Previously I have been saying I miss him too, but I say this to a lot of my friends and I don't think I would ever say such a strong phrase to someone I wasn't sleeping with. I'm really worried he thinks I'm playing an elaborate hard-to-get game, and is interpreting any friendly gestures I make as concealed romantic gestures.

I cannot even talk to my ex-sort-of-boyfriend because I was in love with him and it took over my life; I don't even speak to him casually now. I'm really worried I'm going to end up losing one of my best friends, and also lose this phenomenal opportunity we have been given.

What I have been doing up until now is completely ignoring any comment he makes which I feel slightly pushes over the friendship line, not responding to any hugs that aren't 'hello' or 'goodbye' hugs, and dropping the other man's name into the conversation with mundane details so that he knows I am still interested in someone else and not him. Is there anything else I could do?
I mean, if it does all collapse it will not be the end of the world so to speak, I'm also pursuing a career as an academic and that's going very well. However, in terms of this career (producer/artistic director) its possible not doing this project could set me back around ten years.

Thanks for listening!
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:27 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
I can see the problem, and want to say, well, talk about this with him - not sure on that, though. Now? later? Never?
This business of reacting badly.. could get in the way in the future. How well does he seem to deal with others?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:37 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
I agree that's tough.

I don't know, if it were him asking this, I'd say "she's giving you every indication that she likes you a lot as a friend and respects you as a business partner but is not sexually/romantically interested in you." Then I'd tell him to get over it and look for someone else to focus on.

But, he's not here.

I generally am for openness but from what you say I don't think that'd be the best thing here. You both have plausible deniability right now.

I think you're doing the right thing by regularly mentioning your current bf (or whateverheis), although the whateverheisness might be part of the problem? Your friend might not think that you're really involved in any meaningful way.

I think a certain amount of management is called for -- avoid late night bar situations, the two of you alone, that sort of thing.

If it was any other sort of relationship I'd probably advise just putting all of your cards on the table. But I understand that you really don't want this to go south, and "you're in love with me but I'm not attracted to you," in pretty much any overt permutation, will most likely take things in a southerly direction.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:40 pm
@sozobe,
Yeah.
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:42 pm
@sozobe,
I'd mostly agree with that.

but...

if this isn't sorted out openly and honestly, or if it is postponed, the consequences of more damage to the career or project will only become greater.

some guys can handle rejection and maintain a level of professionalism or friendship. some obviously cannot.

real honesty is probably the key to making it work. if it can work...

sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:45 pm
@Rockhead,
Some guys can, a lot of guys can't.

And especially -- she's been handing him rejection in ways large and small already. It's a bit worrisome in terms of his eventual reaction, if the issue was forced, that he hasn't picked up on that.

He may be the one to force it of course, and then PQ doesn't have many options.

There are all kinds of things we don't know, ultimately PQ just has to feel her way through this one, as the nuances and details are important here.

But I sympathize.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:47 pm
Just thought of one way that could work -- dropping in conversation how ill-advised it is for people who work together to be romantically involved. Horror stories about a friend's situation, a former situation of your own, whatever. Not directly related to your own situation though, just as asides, while talking about whatever.

That can be a way to get the message across without having the specific "sorry, not gonna happen" conversation.

I dunno, I'm usually allergic to this whole "nonverbal communication" sort of thing but I've had really bad experiences with this in the past, the guys never seem to just say "OK" and move on. It's ranged from very ugly to merely tense forever after.

While the ones that maintained plausible deniability went much better. (Eventual, past-tense admission is a different sort of thing.)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:55 pm
@sozobe,
But what if she next falls for a guy that she and he work with at some level...
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jan, 2012 07:59 pm
@ossobuco,
Good point.
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 07:08 am
Razz

I think that's actually a very good idea. He currently lives with his ex because they moved into shared accommodation together and he's stuck there till the years out. Also I could relate the tale about how my sort-of-ex decided to send me a large message asking to write an opera with me two weeks after jilting me.
I think if I fell for someone who I also work with, it wouldn't matter so much, because I know I won't fall for any of the other two people we're working closely with, the rest are only going to be contracted for a short period.

Thank you!
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 07:55 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Romance and work don't usually make a good mix. Friendship and work isn't far behind with the potential for trouble.

Collegiality is one thing, but I'd caution against discussing almost anything of a personal nature with someone you have a work/business relationship with. Certainly at the beginning of the work relationship. Things evolve over years, but you have to establish the work boundaries before you can adjust them to suit both of you.

The ending of friendships isn't much less messy than the end of romances.

I would start by suggesting that you step back, with a polite smile, from discussion of any personal matter - his living arrangements, your past relationships - almost anything past what you're having for lunch. Direct the conversation to work or something totally impersonal - weather, how the elevator was running when you came in, what the server at the cafe said ...

Hello and goodbye hugs aren't helpful to maintaining a clean business relationship.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 07:55 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Echoing Beth's remarks, I would not send him texts saying "miss you". You may do this with your other friends but I'm sure he misinterprets this and you don't want to have him receive a message you didn't intend to send. It's tough because you see him as a great friend, but the level of openess you see as friendship he is likely to see as more. This goes back to the "Can men and women really be just friends" debate. Unfortunatley in your case, the answer is probably no, so despite how much it might pain you you should proabably slowly reel it back to a professional relationship. Limit the texts to work and do the social activities in groups.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 08:00 am
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
And especially -- she's been handing him rejection in ways large and small already.


I dunno - hugging him and exchanging I miss you texts doesn't read like rejection to me.
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 08:39 am
@ehBeth,
Hugging hello and goodbye is standard enough to be neutral IMO -- depends on the culture. I definitely hugged employees and co-workers (male and female) hello and goodbye as a standard thing in CA. (Double cultural whammy of Deaf culture and CA culture there.)

I can imagine saying that I missed various people too -- in fact I just got a flash of definitely saying that to someone I worked with closely, who I liked a lot but who was definitely not a romantic interest, in either direction (he's gay) -- but that can be something to cut back on now that this has become a concern.
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 08:59 am
@sozobe,
From a guy perspective, I can say there is a decent chance that hugging someone you see all the time (as opposed to someone close you see rarely) hello and goodbye is very open to misinterpretation.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 09:18 am
@engineer,
Not just a guy perspective. It definitely wouldn't fly here. Coworkers don't touch each other unless there's been a death or something.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 12:53 pm
@ehBeth,
Good point, which I'd been thinking on posting similarly but not worded yet.
I know exceptions - one of my smart ass group friends married a guy she was absolutely not allowed to date per corporate rules and they've been together thirty years now. Still, as a generalization, and you did say 'usually', I think you're right, especially re the beginning time.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 12:57 pm
@ossobuco,
There are some general sayings about all this which are on the crude side.
To euphemize, "don't defecate where you take your meals", and that follows that someone else should be kept from doing that with you.
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 03:03 pm
Thanks. Yes ok, I will try and tone it down even more.

I can understand that you think that hugging might be inappropriate, and if this was an office type scenario I would agree with you. It isn't though, we're at uni together, and our friendship started the same day we decided to embark on this project. It's a performance project, nothing corporate. I don't want to say much more in case this somehow comes up on google when it takes place at the festivals in the summer.

In the culture I live in currently when people meet they hug each other and give a kiss on the cheek. I've never kissed him on the cheek. Also, I've seen him hug a lot of people and also pat people on the back a lot, men and women. Although that doesn't mean anything really because I know he's slept with men too. Confused
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jan, 2012 06:09 pm
So I just saw him for a couple of hours and tried to bring it up but it didn't go amazingly well. I tried to just make out like me and the guy were back on, which is kind of the case, but he kept asking too many questions and I just kept saying 'I don't know' which probably isn't the best thing.

I don't think I can really keep that up to be honest. I think it might just be better if I never talk about any man ever to him.
 

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