Solving The Dumper Wants To Be Friends Conundrum

One of the most confusing aspects of an emotional post-breakup apocalypse is the advent of a dumper who seems hellbent on maintaining a platonic connection, despite subtly (or not so subtly) resisting the idea of reconciliation.

What’s going on here? Or perhaps more aptly, what gives?

If you’re asking yourself what their intentions are, or whether their offer of a peace pipe is a subtle way of potentially paving the way towards reconciliation, stay tuned. We’re about to go down the rabbit hole, and see how far it goes.

Is “Friends” The Code Word For Remorse?

Before I begin to throw poisonous darts at the friend-zone fallacy, allow me point out that whatever underlying intention they may cultivate in secret, reconciliation will only ever be successful if you are able to communicate and enjoy each others’ presence. Which means rekindling friendship.

Does this mean you should invest in that particular hope (should you desire it)? I would strongly advise you not to.

Breaking up does not always signify the death of feelings. In most cases it’s simply a question of unhappiness and day-to-day malaise. Because of this, there will also be the element of “missing you“. No matter how resolute the dumper is against romantic reconciliation.

You were a part of their lives, and they are going to miss you, even if they don’t miss the relationship itself.

If we’re going to assume anything, I would urge assuming the aforementioned statement, rather than rekindling false hope, and potentially throwing our healing back into the meat-grinder.

They’re Insinuating More Than Friendship

Perhaps they are flirting with the idea of using friendship as an avenue for rekindling the past. The problem here lies in the uncertainty of their intent. Perhaps. Brutally put; if they made a serious and transparent effort to rekindle the past, you wouldn’t be reading this article.

You wouldn’t have to.

Understandably, it is almost impossible to not over-analyze and daydream about their intentions. Who isn’t guilty of staring at the phone and wishing it would go off with their voice on the other end? Certainly not me.

But it is precisely for this reason that we must do what it takes to safeguard our feelings. Not with anger or arrogance, but by setting boundaries and conditions to the nature of contact. If they genuinely miss you, and you are simply unable to accept a platonic relationship, telling them friendship remains too painful will prompt them to up the ante or fold their hand.

If pride, fear or guilt is all it takes for them to backtrack, what does it really say about the strength of their feelings to begin with?

The Dumper Wants To Be Friends

Yes, an offer of friendship can  mean nothing, everything and anything in between. But no matter what their intention is, our needs must come first. In a sense, their intent should ideally be irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what is forwarded to you transparently. If it is friendship they offer, it is platonic friendship you must consider. And not the what ifs or maybes it might lead to.

12 Comments Solving The Dumper Wants To Be Friends Conundrum

  1. wywh

    In short, my ex dumped me out of the blue after three years. Literally one day he’s saying he loves me and we were making holiday plans and a few days later he babbled that he doesn’t feel comfortable bringing me around his family. Mind you I never ever mentioned the subject EVER. He basically went down a list of all the excuses we should end things. But most if not all of the list had NOTHING to so with me. For example, he said that he was ashamed to be seen with me in public now because his friends might see us and think I was the reason for his recent divorce. He also said that he can’t take the chance of his kids hating him and blaming him for the divorce and that it would kill them because he had a feeling his ex would mention we were together. It all sounded like a personal issue of his own fears and shame. I noticed these fears and shame were growing stronger as the divorce was nearing finalization. I was always supportive and gave him space but he seemed to take advantage of it. When I’d ask to sound time together once a week he’d blow a gasket and ramble off about his life stresses. It would get to a point where I’d feel Sorry for him and then forget the whplease notion of hanging out anymore.
    When he broke up I didn’t even know it happened per say. He didn’t say the words but ended the conversation with “we had a lot of great times I’ll never forget and you’re a special person”. He mumbled something about wanting to clear his conscience and blah blah.
    After the breakup he was a jerk. He’d be cold to me and then a minute later he’d be sweet. This went on for three months. I was confused. I’d still carry on being cordial and Sometimes he’d say I was just being nice because I wanted him back. Yes I still had hopes of reconciliation but it wasn’t the reason I was being nice. It’s just my natural personality.
    My bday came and he asked what uneasy doing. I said I was going out with friends. He got upset that one of my friends who has liked me for years was going to be there. All of a sudden my ex starts running off to text someone and hiding his phone whenever I’m around. It was shady but I ignored it.
    He still was hot and cold and accusing of horrible insane things. For example, when he found out I had a biopsy for my throat his first words were if I could let him know my results in case he had anything to worry about for
    his own health. I was appalled by this and hurt. I had never seen this selfish cowardly side of him. It was all about him now. He voluntarily tells me he might be interested in someone and he’s talking to her. I told him I wish him happiness but he got mad like he wanted me to get upset or something. A few weeks later he tells me out of th’s blue that he told this new person about me and us and how we are close. He said she’s worried about us talking. Then a few days later he calls me to argue. He stays on the phone for half an hour and when I speak up he gets upset and says I made him late to meeting his new lady friend. He said once again I put him in a compromising position. I Hang up. He calls me back and talks 15 minutes more and then blamed me again for him being late and that she’s mad at him. I told him it wasn’t my fault.
    After two months of his mood swings I put my foot down and told him I had enough and that we couldn’t be friends because he was being a dick. He got mad and reversed it on me and acted like it was HIS idea now that we couldn’t be friends. I told him I didn’t know who genes anymore and that I felt hurt by his actions and words and the way he broke us up. I told him that he was so afraid of being transparent about his marriage demise and he wanted so dearly to keep you appearances with everyone. He cared more about securing his own ego and image over our relationship. I told him you can’t tell me you love me and then not have the actions to back that up. I told him I couldn’t trust him the way I used to anymore.
    The next week he was a new man. He was nice and loving for two months now. He started doing all the things he used time while we were together. He’d make me dinner and bring me sweet surprises. He’d share his deepest fears and joys. He was touchy feely and flirty. He had loads of compliments. All sounds good but I had a sticky feeling that something wasn’t all right.
    The other day he called me and was talking but said he had to call me back. I felt weird about it especially when he kept insisting I call him first instead of him calling me. It made no sense. I got annoyed and asked him what was the deal. He said he just didn’t want his phone logs being looked at. Wth? I felt like a secret again….like he was ashamed of me or hiding. So I asked why he needed to call me back earlier and he tried to avoid the subject three times by tangenting off about his divorce proceedings and his stresses to distract me from going back to my question. He finally said that he was making plans and that he had told me two months ago that he was dating someone now. I felt stupid. I told him I guess I had the wrinfo impression about why he was being sweet. He got upset and said he didn’t even know if dating was the right thing for him to be doing right now and he said he doesn’t even know if dating this person is the right thing to do. Then he tried to tangent on a pity party for himself but I cut him off. He saidhe was being nice bbecause I’m a good person and that he’s interested in me and how I’m doing and he cares about me a lot. He said he doesn’t know where his life is going. And then another attempt to a pity party but I cut him off again. I started to feel confused and stupid that I actually thought he was coming around but at the end if the phone call I felt used. I cut the call short and told him to go enjoy his date. He rambled on about how special I am and then said he was going to call me tomorrow. Why the freck would he even THINK about calling me before his date and after his date….especially knowing I still have feelings for him. And for him to share his innermost fears and joys with me makes me cringe. It seems like he wants his cake and wants to eat it too.
    I don’t know what his intent is but I need a man who is going to grow a pair and stop wearing a mask to family and friends. A man who will own up to his demise in his marriage. A man who will stop putting his fears and shame priority. A man who will learn from his past and stop running from it. A man who doesn’t blame others for his unhappiness with himself. A man who doesn’t sweep his mistakes under the rug and hope they’ll just disappear. A man who is going to be consistent and committed to a relationship and not to his own selfish desires. A man with integrity. He USED to be all these things and more but it seems like his only mode is survival mode these days….how can he even SAY he’s a friend or wants to be my friend? He hasn’t even apologized for his a hole behavior from the breakup. Does he think he can just erase it from his memory bank and carry on with me like it never happened? Is he in total denial?

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hello wywh,

      First off, thanks for dropping by. Your situation is basically a play-by-play of what happened to me, and I’m aware how frustrating it can be to reconcile the person we fell in love with, with well — this.

      I don’t know what his intent is but I need a man who is going to grow a pair and stop wearing a mask to family and friends.

      In the end, this is the only conclusion that I feel warrants taking a stand on. I can’t help but feel that he is being purposely manipulative in his actions. Because of this, it is both draining and an exercise in futility to attempt to establish where the manipulation ends and his real underlying feelings begin. Whatever his intentions are, he is quite obviously attempting to keep you pinned in an existential grey area, because he doesn’t want to see you move on, but also doesn’t feel like reconciling.

      He seems to want to dance the thin red line, and in doing so has threatened your emotional stability. He has used your kindness as a wedge to keep his “options” open. And has made his emotions the epi-center of your connection.

      But what about you?

      It is clear that you don’t believe that his half-hardheartedness is a sign that he may be regretting the breakup (although, understandably, it may be what you hope). I don’t feel that he is. As absurd as it can seem, especially after a three year relationship, I feel that the “grey area” of not apparently standing for anything is exactly what he wants. No real commitment, with the possibility of keeping all his options open. You have given him a chance to work his way back, to apologize and press the reset button; but he has willfully backed away from it.

      A man who will own up to his demise in his marriage. A man who will stop putting his fears and shame priority. A man who will learn from his past and stop running from it.

      You can, of course, force this scenario. And you can chose to make him accountable. You are in complete control of your life, and you could simply close the door on his games. The problem is obviously that of his intent falling short of these benchmarks, but frankly, if all it takes for him to give up, is you standing up for your long-term emotional well being, then you’re betting off biting the bullet.

      I would suggest dropping any resentment or innate feelings of “closure” or “justice”, as they are feelings he has proven to subconsciously prey on, and simply walk away — shutting the door on crumbs by enforcing no contact.

      If he is ever going to genuinely reconsider what you mean to him, it will only be when he stops taking your attention and affection for granted, when there is a real chance you won’t stop walking away. If a chance at reconciliation exists, I feel that — as counter- intuitive as it sounds — he has to know that you value your self worth more than a token effort on his part (as brutal as it sounds). But again, that is just my opinion. And I could be wrong!

  2. wywh

    Thanks for your words. They hold a lot of truth. I’m Sorry too hear my story was a play-by-play of what you went thru. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.
    I know that I have control over my actions and my feelings. It’s taken a lot of adjustment for me to truly see things without those rose colored glasses.
    I do agree that there is an air of manipulation from my ex. It is evident that he has his own core issues to deal with and he likes to be pacified into comfort in order to forget. I believe life is full of uncomfortable situations but It’s how you react and act upon them.
    I have realized that he does take things and people for granted. He knows I’m unconditionally kind to everyone and I feel he is taking advantage of this. I don’t like to see him stumble on his own hasty and self serving choices. They don’t cancel out one over the other. I think It’s come to the point where he needs to hit rock bottom WITHOUT me in the background. He needs to want to save himself without taking everyone around him down too. I know my worth and right now he doesn’t value or appreciate me the way that he should.
    I will be avoiding contact as much as possible. We work together so It’s been hard. But It’s possible. I need to safeguard my heart and see things from the outside in. And what I’m seeing is a lot of indecisiveness and fear of the unknown from him. It hit me hard when you said his feelings are the epi-center. It’s been that way for a while now.
    Thanks again for your perspective on things. I think you’re spot on about what is and may be going on. But most importantly you are correct that he needs to know that I value my self worth more than just as a token effort on his part.

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      I believe life is full of uncomfortable situations but It’s how you react and act upon them.

      Absolutely, and while I’m neither cynical enough to expect a relationship to die, or egocentric enough to never compromise, I have lost alot of the fear I had with regards to taking a romantic leap of faith. Why? Well, the most powerful and productive catalysts for personal growth for me have been on the tail end of losing what was most precious to me. Most of the time adapting and conquering breakup insecurity is a blessing in disguise.

      In any case, it sounds like you’re on the right track, and there isn’t much I can offer in terms of advice that you aren’t already objective enough to know yourself (despite the ego’s best efforts to the contrary). I will wish you well however!

      Best of luck!

  3. Heartbroken

    Hi, i was hoping i could talk to someone. I would apologize first because this might be too long. I just came frm a 6yr relationship with my first ever boyfriend. Im never the type of girl who settles with any guy just for flings or one night stands. I always thought that if i go into a relationship, i would want someone who is serious. I love him, i still do. But over the years, i was always the one who had to put in so much effort. My friends and family said that it seems as though between the two of us, i was the one who waa so in love, like my world evolved around him while he was passive. We made plans like getting married and etc, and yet i never met his family. He said he was always uncomfortable with that. I believed him and made excuses about our huge culture differences. I accepted his explanation anyway even though i was partly doubting it. Until around 3 months ago, he has to move to new york to work while i was left at home in asia. I was already scared of what might happen. Friends and even my family asked what happened to our plan of getting married? He told me he needed to work first and find a job because at that time, he disn’t have one yet. I was the one with a job because i did my residency training as a physician in my place. But he wanted to do his training somewhere else, i let him go because it was his dream and he worked so hard just to get a spot there. He was working in NYC since june and because i loved him and missed him, i made a point to leave txt messages
    Through viber and even call him. He never calls me but at least do reply to my txt messages. Until it came to a point when his replies became lesser and lesser until we started fighting. He said he was too busy that he sometimes forgets things even my
    Birthday. That hurt a lot. Because i am busy too with my job. I told him we are both busy but work shouldnnever be the reason why we can’t keep up with the communication. Until he started telling me why couldn’t 1 or 2 txt messages be enough for me. Until finally, i couldn’t take it anymore. It hurts too much. I finally told him that i am ending our relationship because i could never be with someone for the rest of my life (if that will even happen) knowing that he will never love me the same way that i loved him, knowing that I will never be important to him the same way he was important to me. He said the feelings never changed, that he still loves me but that he was just too busy, his work demanded too much from him. He said he will always love me. And he was hoping that we will remain friends, because who know in the future we’ll meet again. I refused because i think he was being unfair. He said he will mail my birthday gift if i would still take it but i refused, what for? To be reminded of the hurt? That he forgot about me? That he was starting to ignore me? Two days later, i called him because i was confused and i felt bad because i might have made the wrong decision. I asked him again if he wants to see if we can really do something for our relationship, i txtd him because it was his last request for us to be friends. But i got more confused because this time, he was angry and his replies were harsh. We talked on the phone but his reply was different from the last time. He said he will always love me and that we can be friends but that doesn’t mean we have to communicate all the time. I was so shocked…i said the F word and told him i take back all i said about waiting for him and that he MUST take down all our pictures from the social network and that he change his password so that i wont be able to access it. Until now, he never took down the rest of the pictures, never changed his relationship status, never changed the password even if he has been actively sending messages to his friends through that network. I am so lost. My first relationship and my first time to encounter this. Please help me understand…is there hope for us to reconcile? Should i even consider reconciliation?

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hey, thanks for stopping by.

      There’s always hope for reconciliation. But it seems to me that right now his priorities lie elsewhere, and reaching out in order to “make sense of the situation” is doing more harm than good.

      For whatever reason he sounds suffocated, this could be because of work — but I doubt it. It rarely is. It could be the change in environment, long distant relationships tend to change the relationship itself. And they usually end because of rampant insecurity.

      Regardless, there’s no point beating about the bush. The fact is that he is more distant and there’s not much you can do about it other than to accept it. In my opinion, the fact that you sensed this happening over time, validates the fact that you broke up with him. When you put your needs in front on his, he responded in kind very swiftly. Which tells me you were right in your assumption all along.

      His harshness is probably a mask for wounded pride, and his words probably a little tinged with spite. But beyond this, his priorities have changed — and unfortunately not in your favor.

      Does this mean all is lost? Not necessary, but I feel that reaching out now will only work against you. I would give it a little time, for superficial egotistic wounds to settle before judging the situation as done and dusted. Give him a chance to miss you or he will continue to take your attention and affection for granted.

  4. Heartbroken

    Hi! Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. You have no idea how much that has helped me.

    After i read your column/s, i decided to write him an email one last time (2 days ago) because my last message to him was full of angry words and an act to burn the bridge that would connect us someday. I mulled the thought over and over if i should do it or not but in the end, i decided to do it hoping that my explanation will help him understand.

    After i read your reply today, i realized that you’re right. A part of me is still hoping that we’ll get back together, but i know that seems to be impossible now. We are miles apart and the thought alone of hoping for that to happen hurts. Sometimes i think, had i known this would happen, i would never have taken our relationship seriously. Maybe it would hurt less.

    So for now, i’ll take your advice and just stop talking to him. If i want him to know my worth i don’t think reaching out to him would achieve anything, right? And i don’t think it would be right for me to hope for us to be together again because if it never happens, i’m afraid i will be stuck here forever. And i desperately want to be able to move one

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Yes, I wouldn’t burn my bridges, but I would certainly stop reaching out so uni-directionally. Partly to signal that I am going to take care of myself (which I am), and partly to signal that I’m respecting the desire for space. Plus, of course, preferring dignity over compassion tends to heal trauma swiftly (less guilt, less self-victimization, less resentment).

      P.S: I know what you mean about sending that “last message”. Unfortunately there will always be a sense of not having said, done or discussed enough. Closure does not exist, and sending “one last message” will usually generate more questions that answers. Strong words were used by both of you, which is natural due to the trauma induced by a breakup. I highly doubt you will be judged by them in the long-term. It is the relationship itself which will be remembered. I wouldn’t stress out too much about what was said in the moment because of hurt.

  5. Heartbroken

    Thank you very much for your help. Had i not stumble upon your website, i think i would still be lost now. At least, i now have a direction and know what i “must” do. And you’re right. I don’t think there will always be closure. I hope in time everything will be alright, whether ir not we will be together, I hope that everything will be better.

    Again, thank you very much for your help. I feel that my burden is less now and that slowly moving on isn’t as hard as it was during the pass few days.

  6. Green22

    Whirlwind 3.5 months love relationship ended suddenly because (in his words), “something is missing. i don’t know what is wrong with me, because you’re everything i want… but something is missing”. So I was dumped. It hurt. Alot. I love this guy. So I stop contact and he desperately wants to be friends. Fast forward a month, he emails wanting to be friends (still). I tell him i need space. Another month, he still wants friendship. Now- yes, he’s basically BEGGING me to be his friend and says he misses me.

    WTF?! Duuude, i can’t be your friend. I think if he wants me “back”, well… he needs to grow up first. I don’t see an avenue for friendship OR love right now. But i am confused why he is so desperate to be friends. Ideas?

  7. Confused

    Hi, I was hoping you could help me understand this situation. My boyfriend of two years dumped me 6 months ago, It was very impulsive, and the break up was a bad one.I have never once initiated contact in any shape or form. He recently sent me a friend request and messaged me: I don’t know if this is too soon, but I still care for you and want to be your friend. I heard that he just started dating a girl and seems to like her. again this was a very BAD ending. why would he message me because of the way things ended, and especially since he is seeing someone.? I have feelings for him, and I am confused bc I told him when he broke up with me that I will never want to be just friends with him. Honestly in my heart I would like to try it out again but bc he is seeing someone I am just so confused.
    I responded to the message and its been two days with no reply, I basically wrote that I hope he is well and that time is not the issue. he really hurt me and I just do not know, and that I am wondering what his intentions towards him are…What do u think he really wants, and would should I do?

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