Social Question

Mariah's avatar

Would this be socially inappropriate (see details)?

Asked by Mariah (25624points) March 11th, 2011

I suck at judging these things.

I am taking ¾ of a year away from college to get surgery. During my first quarter I made some good friends and I want to stay in touch with them in the hopes that we can just pick up where we left off when I get back, but I’ve been doing a really crappy job of that especially as of late. I haven’t talked to anyone from school in maybe a month.
Yesterday I found out that my best friend from college has had a girlfriend for about a month. I had developed a pretty big crush on him, so the news was rather upsetting. Within the past month I have made one post to his facebook wall that could be considered semi-flirtacious in my own awkward way, not knowing that he had a girlfriend. So, I’m probably not her favorite person in the world. I have no idea if she’s the jealous type or anything about her.
Lately I’ve been in quite the self-pitying slump and haven’t thought much about trying to stay in contact with my friends. Learning this news about my friend, while disappointing, kind of reminded me about my group of friends and how much I miss them. I want to get the lines of communication going again, and to do that I’d like to write my best friend a letter and send it to him in the mail, just updating him on my life and asking him about his. 100% innocent friendliness.
The last thing I want to do is make him or his girlfriend think I’m trying to sabotage their relationship. But the second to last thing I want is for him to forget about even being friends with me now that he has a girlfriend. I feel very awkward about the whole thing.

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25 Answers

MissAnthrope's avatar

Okay.. you say ‘semi-flirtatious’, which sounds to me like maybe it seems way worse to you because you wrote it and you know your feelings, but maybe other people who don’t live inside your head might think nothing of it. You know what I mean? This happens to me more often than I’d care to admit.

To answer your question, I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong or awkward about what you want to do. Of course, I am a fairly socially awkward person, myself, so maybe take my opinion here with a grain of salt and maybe see what other, more socially adept, people have to say. ;)

Since you never really made a move, or made your intentions/feelings clear, I think you’re pretty safe. A little flirtation shouldn’t be that big of a deal, particularly if wires have been crossed like this. When I find myself in this kind of situation, I try to play it cool and as if I meant to be friendly all along. It generally works.

Kardamom's avatar

You could give him a quick jingle on his phone, and say something like: “Hi Randy, just wanted to check in with you and say hey. I see you have a new girlfriend, sorry I posted that little note on your wall, I hope I didn’t get you in any trouble.” He’ll probably say something like “Hey Mariah, no, you didn’t get me in trouble. Yeah her name’s Linda and we’ve been going out for about a month.” Then you can say, “I’d love to meet her sometime. I’m not sure if I told you, but I’m going to be taking some time off of school to have a surgery, but I just wanted to make sure that I’ll be able to stay in touch with all of my school friends, especially you, while I’m gone. Will you still FB and e-mail me, will that be ok? I don’t want to cause any problems with you and Linda. What’s she like? Where did you guys meet?” Then go from there.

A quick little aplogy (that’s not really an apology) will go along way. But realize that he does have a girlfriend (and it’s not you) so be super-happy for him and ask about her (as though you really do care, even if you don’t) so that he will think you are a mensch.

I’m sorry that it happened that way for you, cause I know you really liked him. But you never know what the future may hold for you and him down the line. In the meantime, just be a good friend and don’t let it slip that you had a crush on him, or he will feel awkward.

Then get on the phone and the FB and the e-mail with the rest of your friends (today) and let then know that you’ll be away from school for awhile because of the surgery and that you’d really like to be kept in the loop because you don’t want to lose these friendships.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Why not simply send an email or call?

Mariah's avatar

@MissAnthrope We had started a video game together, which I finished at home. After I beat it I posted to his wall saying I had done so and I was sorry that we hadn’t been able to continue playing it together. Really not overt. You’re right that I am probably more okay in that department than I feel like I am.
Part of what’s awkward is that there was a time, while I was still at school, when there was mutual attraction going on and we both know it. I can’t pretend that never happened, but I wish I had known when he had moved on so I could have known that the attraction on my end wasn’t okay to express anymore.
@Kardamom @worriedguy Yes, probably I should do some damage control and acknowledge that he has a girlfriend and that I’m happy for him, right. Since my FB post wasn’t terribly overt, I’m not sure if it would make things more awkward to apologize for it (and thus affirm that the post was indeed an awkward attempt to sort-of flirt) or if I should just let him forget about it. But do you think the letter would be inappropriate or should I definitely call? This is silly, but I hate talking on the phone. It’s always so full of awkward silences, and I do much better when I can think through what I’m about to say for as long as I need to. But I will suck it up if you really think I ought to. My friends do know that I left to have surgery, and that I’ll be back next year. I don’t have an email address for this friend. I suppose I could ask him for it. But I know college students love getting mail!

listener's avatar

You are his friend first,it is totally okay to communicate with him. Just respect the fact that he is now in a relationship, i’m sure you and his girlfriend will be totally okay too.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Mariah. I would just call him and say hi. When you made that post, you didn’t know he had a girlfriend so it wasn’t malicious and… no offence to other males here… some men can be pretty oblivious to flirting and especially if it isn’t fairly overt. What you thought was flirty, he may have not even recognised as such! Of course, I don’t know what you wrote. I suspect though you are worrying needlessly.

If you call and he is cold to you, ask why? And then take it from there.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@Mariah – I wouldn’t apologize, because you didn’t really do anything wrong and, given the details, it seems like you’d just be bringing attention to your FB comment. Which sounds pretty innocent to me and while I totally get why you feel awkward, I don’t think you should. The girlfriend probably has no clue.

I also hate talking on the phone and I don’t personally feel it’s necessary, if you don’t want to call. He might wonder why you’re writing a snail mail letter rather than an email (and if you’re friends on FB, you can always send him a FB message), but you can joke that you’re trying to keep a failing government business afloat or something, if you feel like writing a physical letter is weird. Or a simple ‘I’m engaging in the long-lost art of letter writing’ probably would suffice, too.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks everyone for the help. Lurve all around.
I’ve actually never called him before. If I were to do so now, I think the timing might seem really suspicious. Like, I just start calling him after learning that he has a girlfriend? I don’t know. I sent him and his roommates a Christmas card, but other than that I haven’t sent him letters before, either, so maybe the whole thing is just a bad idea. I am thinking that one way to ease the weirdness and get back in contact with everybody would be to send some of my other friends letters at the same time. His roommates are good friends of mine also, so he would know that he wasn’t the only one who got a letter. Maybe then it would come across more the way I want it to (getting back in contact with friends) and less like special treatment towards him.
Oh, social norms. :(

Kardamom's avatar

@Mariah Now that I know what you posted on his FB, I wouldn’t even worry at all that he or his new girlfriend would consider it flirting at all. So no need for any apologies, it would be more awkward if you apologized or even indicated that you were flirting (because even if you were flirting, it doesn’t appear that you were).

I would be less inclined to send a letter (which tends to indicate more importance or feelings) than just a silly card. A cute card would be better, then you could put your e-mail address and phone number right in there and then ask for his.

You (and all the other young people out there) should learn how to use the phone with confidence. All of this texting and e-mailing is actually causing people to be less social, even though they call it a social network. Check out this other fluther thread and you can see a lot of good (and some very long winded, oh that’s me) advice about how to overcome phone talking fears. If you really want to know people, talking to them face to face (or at least on the phone when you can’t talk face to face) is really the only way (because it’s real) FB and texting and e-mail are ok for trivial things (and are fine after you actually really know someone), but not for getting to know people. I think the main difference is that you can actually “hear” emotions and tones and nuances in people’s voices when you talk to them in person and that makes a huge difference in figuring out what people are really saying to you.

When (and however) you do end up communicating with this fellow, just be cool and sweet and casual, and ask him about his new girlfriend in a nice and friendly way (even if it’s painful). He may or may not remember that you guys once had a little “thing” not because it didn’t happen, but just because that’s not the focus of his attention right now.

I’m just seeing your most recent post about never having called him before, so check out the phone thread (and start practicing) but just send him a cute card for now. And I love your idea of a “getting back in contact” correspondence (but send a card, a funny one, instead of a letter). You could even design one yourself and make copies with a cute little cartoon of you in a hospital bed or surgery gown and then list your e-mail address and phone number for all of these friends that you want to keep in contact with. And let them know if there might be a time when they (one at a time or in groups) can visit you.

My brother was in the hospital last July for open heart surgery (even though he’s young) but his boss’s wife set up a blog so that I could update all of his friends, co-workers and our relatives about his day to day progress (he was in there for 9 days), so that he (and I) would not have to field hundreds of phone calls and e-mails every day, or have to repeat the same information over and over again. The blog page was set up so that everybody could post messages to it (that I read to him every day). You might want to look into having one of your relatives or close friends do this for you. Then you can post the blog address into your cards that you send out (or ones that you send out closer to the time of your surgery, as an update).

BarnacleBill's avatar

This is where e-mail is your friend. Include him on a group e-mail to several people, announcing you’re “on the mend” and feeling more social. Catch everyone up as a group, and then say you’ll be in touch with everyone one-on-one to see how they’re doing. That way, you’re not a threat to the girlfriend, and you have announced your intention to call, and it won’t be weird. Tighten up communications to the friends as a group with some regularity, so you can reconnect.

Kardamom's avatar

@BarnacleBill You put me to shame with your brilliance and your succinct-ness. : – )

jca's avatar

Your posting to his wall does not sound flirty to me at all. When I read it I thought to myself “She thinks this is flirty?”

I would pm him on FB and just say hi and tell him what’s new and sound really positive about his having a girlfriend. Maybe put “we all should get together one day for coffee. I would love to meet her” and let him respond.

bolwerk's avatar

This doesn’t seem hard. If he’s your friend, ask him to lunch.

janbb's avatar

I agree with @jca‘s conclusion and suggestion.

Mariah's avatar

@jca @bolwerk @janbb He is in Massachusetts, I am in New York. There’s no “getting together” for anything until I go back to school in August.
I am very socially awkward and I don’t know shit about flirting. We were playing the video game together during the height of our mutual attraction and I guess by posting about it I felt like I was reminding him of that. At the time it felt flirty, looking back it sounds pathetic.
I figure I’ll try and round up some email addresses and send out a mass email to everyone like @BarnacleBill suggested. That way he’ll see I sent it to everyone so he’s not getting special treatment, and I’ll get back in contact with everybody. I don’t know, I’ll approach it fresh tomorrow, I’m just starting to feel very upset about the whole thing.

Kardamom's avatar

@Mariah There is no reason on earth why you should feel upset about this. Nothing bad has happened and we all think you are super-sweet and nice. Plus you can fluther us all during your stay in the hospital. And you can send out some nice, funny cards to all of your school friends and everything will be fine.

Mariah's avatar

@Kardamom Aw, thank you. You are too sweet. :’) I’m just still a bit broken up about my friend being taken now, and the fact that I haven’t so much as spoken to any of them in so long. I’m afraid things will be super weird when I get back. I only knew these people for two months so it’s not like they were too attached to me.
I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful Fluther has been to me during this time in my life. It seems silly, but not having any friends in the area these days, it’s nice to be part of a community.

Kardamom's avatar

@Mariah Yeah, Fluther is great isn’t it. Now go and have a bowl of ice cream : )

bolwerk's avatar

@Mariah: Day trip? Invite him for tourist stuff? I don’t know what part of MA he’s in or what part of NY you are in, but it can’t be the distance between San Francisco and LA or something either.

jca's avatar

yes like @bolwerk said there are ways you can get together. if not, send out some cards. what you wrote to him was not flirty so don’t worry about that.

i would begin by getting in touch on FB and see how responsive he is.

Mariah's avatar

Thought I’d come back and let this thread know that I did end up typing up a facebook message which I sent out to five of my good college friends a couple of nights ago. Most of them are not big facebook users (including the friend this post was about) so the replies have been trickling in slowly, but I’ve gotten some really nice replies back from three friends so far. Feels very nice to be back in contact, to hear what’s going on in their lives, and to know that they know my schedule for returning and everything.
Have not heard anything yet from the one friend specifically, but for now I am chalking it up to his tendency to visit facebook infrequently. I hope that is all it is, but if for some reason he doesn’t want to talk to me, I guess there isn’t much I can do about that.

Kardamom's avatar

@Mariah Like you said, if these particular friends aren’t big Facebook users (I’m not either) then he may not have even seen it yet. I wouldn’t worry about it for one second. Try to get physical addresses for him and the rest of the people you want to contact and send out your funny card. When is your surgery? Hope you’re keeping busy in the meantime. : )

Mariah's avatar

I’ve heard from everybody now, yay! The friend in question wants to skype soon, which oddly enough I am more comfortable with than the phone, so that’s exciting, and it seems everything is cool there. Phew.
@Kardamom The next surgery is on April 20! I’m so ready to be done with these. Thanks for asking. I’m staying somewhat entertained – Fluther sure is helping me with that a lot!

Kardamom's avatar

@Mariah I’m so glad that everything is working out ok. I’ll be thinking about you on April 20. Please talk to us before then to let us know how you are feeling and if there is anything we can do for you that will make everything easier, more enjoyable or less stressful for you.

janbb's avatar

@Mariah Great news on the friends front.

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