Guys, please help me wrap my head around this

Long story short, friends for 4 years but recently started spending more time together since xmas. Last 6 mths...amazing! After being crushed and swearing off women, he started to let me in. His family wants us together, and I recently vacationed with his cousins. He had to work so couldn't come. One night though I complimented him & he got defensive. I got mad, said to open that hard heart of his. Floodgates opened and he told me how badly his 2nd ex hurt him 6 years ago, why it's so hard to open up. Admitted his heart was opening for me but he still wasn't 100% ready. Told me I was his best friend, and did not want things to change. Just cool off while he sorts out his stuff. Said he has too much anger and scared he will hurt me. Said he thinks about us all the time and when he sorts out his issues, then maybe "we" can happen. So that was fine. But for the next month after that, it was him calling me all the time, wanting to spend time with me, talking about us spending all future Xmas and NY together, came over with his cousin one night and basically insinuated we were a couple. Then I take that vacation with his cousins, he even calls me while away. I am thinking he really misses me. But when I get home he is way too quiet and withdrawn. His co-worker told me he got quiet after he called me. Then he went on a bender, showed up at his cousin's, told her his life was a mess, money, the kids, work, etc. And said he didn't know why he was ignoring me, I was his best friend & mean the world to him. But needed to be single for now to work out stuff. She asked if he was back with the 1st ex and he said no way in hell. When I finally ask him, he tries to tell me we can only be friends and he is considering taking his 1st ex back, who he left 13 years ago and can't stand. My thought is that while I was away, he realized just how much I maybe mean to him and he is scared. He tried to say just friends for now, but then it was him that kept calling and wanting to see me. Maybe it all hit him while I was gone and he used the ex thing as a way to push me away to give him the space to work out his issues. We've seen each other a few times since then and things are good, not weird. Just weird that we each go home alone after. And he never leaves his house anymore since this, just sits at home all quiet. He hasn't seen the ex either except to pay child support & he gets mad every time because she's a bitch to him. He even once told me how much I mean to him, he was scared of losing me and he was almost crying when he said it. I'm hoping when he is sitting at home all this time now that he is thinking about things and hopefully missing me just a little bit. I am just so confused. The night before I left on my trip, he even called me his mother's daughter-in-law after she said something to him that I didn't hear. Any input on this? I am going out of my mind. 2 weeks and 7lbs later, I am not in a good place.

Updates:
Almost forgot, when he tried telling me about taking the ex back, we were saying goodbye and kept hugging. I told him I loved him, he never said anything but he hugged so tight, I thought he was going to crack my ribs and he would not let go of me. We hugged twice, 1st time I didn't want to let go, and after I said the L word, he didn't want to let go. Felt like he was going to kiss me. But my gut is telling me this isn't it for us. Maybe he's afraid because it was so good between us?
His cousin's wife took me to his parents place last night, said I am still family. Just a casual get together, sitting around talking & having some drinks. He seemed uncomfortable at first, but by the end of the night, we were sitting together, laughing & talking with his dad. And every time I would look at him, he was already looking at me and smiling. Felt like us again minus the kiss goodnight. Just so hard. Clearly he didn't do this because he stopped caring. *sigh*
Only seen him at work, it's been cordial. One wknd in Nov, both went to a party, too much to drink, I said how much I miss him, he told me I still mean the world to him but can only offer me friends. Then he started kissing me, things happened. Tired of this, I wrote him a letter, said all I had to, good & bad. He never responded but saw him last wknd, he was very cute & flirty. Not sure if he was being polite or if the letter did some good. His mom has invited me for xmas. Confused!

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What Guys Said 1

  • I think your interpretation about this is correct: he has strong feelings for you and he's terrified of them. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a matter that will get better if he has time and space to think it through. You have to prepare for the possibility that he will never be ready for more than this twilight region between friendship and romance. It could change but probably not because of anything in your control. He clearly cares for you and part of him wants more but the part that is afraid seems very powerful.

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    • Thank you for your input. It's almost like it's too good and he's not sure what to do with that because he's never had a "normal" relationship. Just a matter of wait and see. And keep being his friend because I don't want to lose him completely. I guess guys really do get scared. *sigh*

    • Not all guys are scared of them. If he can't let go of the hurt, it will block or distort future relationships. I have one friend who waited out a guy's deep insecurities and slowly develop a trusting relationship with him. But I doubt that this happens often.

What Girls Said 1

  • Some past relationship damage cannot be worked out or through on our own. Since it has been six years, some counseling could help him to find a way to move on enough to give you a chance to show him that all women are not like her.

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    • Thank you for the input. He knows he needs to talk to someone and even has the info in his wallet, but to my knowledge, has not gone to see anyone yet. Hopefully he does, not just for us, but for his well being in general. I hate women like her, leaves us good ones sitting here like this. Ugh!

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