When Is a Couple a Couple?
Q: I tried to help my friend Tony who is 23 get together with my friend Amy who is 24. Tony and Amy would hang out together almost every day, chat about everything, laugh a lot, and there was a little bit of flirting. You could swear they were a couple, but Amy was seeing someone and still is. Tony was very confused about what was going on. Trying to be a friend, I asked Amy if she liked Tony, and she responded, "I'm happy with Rich right now," and left it at that. The thing is that Tony never actually told her he liked her. They don't talk as much as they used to but when they are together they still laugh and joke around and occasionally chat on the phone about what's going on in each other's lives. I need help on how I can make things right for my good friend Tony who is really disappointed in me, but how can I save something that I don't know that's there, or at least help Tony save face? -- Sam, 23
Dr. Susan: Either you're way too involved in your friends' love lives, or you're indirectly asking me about your own situation. I'm going to answer your question as though you came right out and asked me about you and Amy. The issue seems to be that Amy led you to believe there was more to the relationship than there actually was. Amy was seeing someone else all along, so the fact that she was friendly and laughing (and mildly flirting) with you doesn't mean much. She's young and playful and likes to have fun. Yes, it can be very confusing for a guy when a girl is that nice but really only wants to be friends. But it happens, so get used to it. Not every laugh is a come-on for intimacy. Guys often misinterpret girls' motives this way, assuming the slightest flirtation is an invitation to go to bed. Even if you had told her you liked her, I doubt it would have made any difference to her feelings about sticking with Rich. You can't make things "right" and you can't save something that never really existed. As for saving face, let it go. We all make misjudgments on the way to finding lasting love, and there's no dishonor in that.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.