It's my first time ever doing anything like this, but I really need to hear someone's opinion about this. I met someone and we started talking and I saw him as a great friend and over the course of a few days, he started asking me often about his chances with getting together with me, but one of the first things I explained to him was that I lost my mate of more than 1 year in a car accident when he was on his way to see me. And I told him I'm not really looking for a mate or not sure if I could handle one. So I thought he got it and I was happy about that, but he kept asking what his chances were and I found out he lives states away and I knew I didn't want a long distance relationship, and I explained to him before how I don't that he shouldn't get his hopes up.
So a few days ago, I'm with a friend (a close one that I liked a lot, but was unsure) and we went to a concert and after the concert, he asked me to be his mate, and I said yes happily, because I had some feelings for him already and I knew it was time for me to try to move on, and he was close to me, same city, and stable. I excitedly tell my friend (the long distance one) about it and he grows quiet and sends me a message the next day saying I toyed with his feelings. I feel like I was nothing but a prospect to him and I thought he cared for my happiness, not his personal interests. And I kept telling him about not getting hopes up for anything between us as more than close friends, but I guess he never listened. And I'm just confused, and hurt, and I want to hear what you have to say, Papa, I know it's not an ask thing but me telling you things you probably heard before, but I can't think of any unbiased person to ask.
* * *
It is actually “an ask thing” in that you are asking me, I believe, whether or not you handled the situation well now that you see that two furries have their feelings hurt: yours and your furiend who lives far away.
I think it would benefit you to look at the situation from your friend’s point of view, to wit: you told him that you were not looking for a mate and then you turn around and find a mate. In addition, you write to him and announce—with excitement—that you found someone to love. Can you see how this might have really hurt his feelings? Even though, in fairness, you told him that you didn’t want a long-distance relationship, you also told him that you hadn’t recovered from the loss of your previous mate, but then you changed your mind. Papabear can see where this other furry felt like he got a slap on the muzzle.
It’s pretty clear that the two of you had different ideas about your relationship. You saw him as a long-distance friend, whereas he saw you as something more; perhaps, even, he wanted to work on your relationship to make it more substantial. You write that you told him repeatedly this was just a friendship, but somehow, somewhere he got the idea there was something more. Papabear gets kind of a weird feeling in his gut when you say “I feel like I was nothing but a prospect to him.” It sounds rather dismissive of what apparently were rather strong feelings he had for you, if by “prospect” you mean a love interest. That is nothing to be dismissive about; it could have been rather special.
Papabear believes you were not trying to hurt this other fur’s feelings, and I’m sure you’re a very nice person. But you handled the situation rather clumsily and now, if you want to keep this other person as a friend, you have some clean-up work to do.
The first step is to apologize, and you do owe him an apology. I would take the time to call him on the phone and have a long, heartfelt talk. You need to explain to him your reasons for telling him that you weren’t ready for a matehood and why you later changed your mind with another person. Key to this would be explaining again, if necessary, your position on long-distance relationships (Papabear agrees with you that these can be very difficult). Too, before you begin this conversation, you need to be honest with yourself: did you really reject this other fur only because of the long-distance thing, or was it because you had stronger feelings for the mate you did choose? Ask your long-distance friend if he feels you sent the wrong signals and what those signals were so that you understand where you might have gone wrong. Again, you will have to be careful in this discussion to make sure you don’t hurt his feelings any more than you already have, and be sure to be honest in your replies to him.
This is an awkward mess you will have to navigate around, Ryuuga, so if you need more advice on how to approach your friend again, feel free to write and fill me in more on the details so I can be of more help.
Papabear is thrilled you have new love in your life after your terrible loss, but sometimes, when we are excited about our own lives, we get a little lost in ourselves and forget to consider other people’s feelings. I know I have done this, too, so don’t beat yourself up about it, but do try and talk to your friend and get it straightened out.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.