Long distance friend I don't trust?

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Post by readertorider on Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:20 pm

So I have this friend, Joel. He was a highschool friendquaintance of my college roommate's, met him when he met up with her, had some fun conversations about research interests/family/books, he starts to issue invitations that turn out to be dates. We dated about a months or so. I ended things because I wasn't physically attracted and, after getting to know him better, realized I didn't particularly want to be (told him the first bit not the second).

Fast forward two years. I'm having a tough time being unemployed, his first year at gradschool had actively caused him injury, he contacts me, and we begin a series of multi-hour quasi-monthly skype conversations. That was September. Friday he texted me to let me know he was thinking of stopping by my area in a few weeks. A later phone call revealed he meant a multiple day stay with me taking some days off work. I would definitely be OK with certain friends doing something similar (once plane flights are involved hosting for multiple days just makes sense), but one of the things I realized recently is that I don't trust him.

Back when we were dating Joel was very... arrogant when interacting with other people. At brunch with my friends he got into a major argument with one friend about a banana--a raised voices bitter aftermath type argument. Another time a friend called me while we were walking around campus and Joel made a cutting remark about the friend in question. On a different occasion we borrowed a badminton stuff from the rec area to play and when we saw the courts were full Joel walks up to a large group, mentions that we wanted to play badminton and...? I think he honestly expected the large group to pack up and leave.

I put most of my discomfort with the above down to differences in assertiveness/self confidence and a bit of social awkwardness (I got my first kiss when he literally had me trapped up a tree, I don't think either of us are very socially adept), but the fact remains that I still don't like/trust/want him around my friends and family and I would feel very uncomfortable vouching for him to people that trust me. While I think we have gotten closer through the skype conversations, I don't see them leading to more trust since we're both just choosing what we present and I don't think he even notices if he does something asinine.

Basically, I like talking to Joel about topics other people would find boring and I think Joel likes talking to me. I don't want to stop talking to him, but I'm wary about any sort of relationship escalator--I'd need to spend much more time in low pressure situations with him to begin to trust him and that's not really feasible (+ I'm not sure I'd want to).

Does anyone have any experience with something similar? With most of my other friends it's not that I trust them not to misbehave (I can easily and vividly picture various friends doing thoughtless things) but I feel like we have each others' backs. This whole situation just feels strange--I like the guy (he's intelligent, sometimes thoughtful, actually capable of keeping in contact, we have similar interests) and don't want to have him expecting more than I can give, but at the same time I don't trust him and he seems to think we're very close because we talk books.
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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:42 pm

That sounds tricky. If I were in your shoes I'd probably find myself binge-reading some Captain Awkward looking for ways to communicate and/or set boundaries with Joel.
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Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:44 pm

I've met people like Joel. I think you're right not to trust him. I'm not as confident in your description of him as being arrogant and not very socially adept. To me, he sounds like someone who's learned that ignoring boundaries and social rules and being very aggressive is a good way to get what he wants.

My honest advice would be that I don't think you should let Joel stay with you during his visit and that I think it would be a good idea to back out of the agreement if you've already said you would. I don't think the concern is just that he might embarrass you in front of others. It's not even about what he might be interested in relationship-wise. It sounds like there's a good possibility that he'll end up doing something that's very disrespectful to your schedule, your property, or your living arrangements while he visits. He's already been a less than great guest by starting a conversation about dropping by your area and having that turn into a multi-day visit with you taking off work to...what?...be his tour guide? This person is by your description reasonably smart and at least in his 20s. Can't he show himself around the city while you work?

If it were me, I'd tell him I'd looked at my schedule and realized I was going to be extremely busy during his visit. Then I'd point him to an affordable hotel in the area and mention one or at most two nights when I'd be up for meeting for dinner. If he decided not to come if there wasn't an offer of free lodging, so be it.
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Post by reboot on Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:06 pm

I second what eselle said. The fact that he planned a trip where he would stay at your house without asking if that was OK with you speaks volumes to me. He should be kept at arms length. Tell him you realized that you are busy most of the time he will be there and you cannot accommodate a guest at the time either. If you want to see him, plan an event 1:1 close to the end of his trip that is near where he is staying (NOT near your house). Consult Captain Awkward for some scripts to shut down any push back you get from him.
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Post by PintsizeBro on Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:42 pm

It sounds like Joel decided unilaterally that he would be staying with you when he made this trip. He sounds like one of those people who thinks the rules don't apply to them, so he can just do whatever he likes and everyone else should roll over to accommodate him.

You don't have to let him stay with you and you don't have to take time off work. I'd be hesitant to let my best friend in the world crash in my apartment for several days, let alone someone like Joel.

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Post by eselle28 on Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:57 pm

The unilateral and the taking time off are particularly odd in combination. I have had people ask if they could stay with me for a couple of days before, but they all had interviews or competitions or similar reasons why they were going to be in town, and they didn't need to be entertained while they were there. I think the only people I've taken time off work to show around were immediate family members, and that was when I issued the invitation and was able to time things so it wouldn't be very inconvenient.
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Post by reboot on Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:06 pm

eselle28 wrote:The unilateral and the taking time off are particularly odd in combination. I have had people ask if they could stay with me for a couple of days before, but they all had interviews or competitions or similar reasons why they were going to be in town, and they didn't need to be entertained while they were there. I think the only people I've taken time off work to show around were immediate family members, and that was when I issued the invitation and was able to time things so it wouldn't be very inconvenient.

When I have taken time off, it was because it was my idea and did it as a surprise. If someone had to ask, it would be because I was not going to do it. I mean, talk about entitlement. He wants her space and her time, without even asking!
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Post by readertorider on Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:17 pm

Thank you all. At the time I offered to host for a night or two but wouldn't take off work and rather played up the difficulty of getting to the airport from my home with public transportation. He wasn't interested in visiting on those terms.

I guess my real question has to do with what to do going forward. I think my ideal situation would be what Captain Awkward would call a 'small doses friend', but that does not seem like his ideal and I don't want to be in a situation where he thinks he can count on me for support and it's more than I can comfortably offer. Ugh. From 3,000 miles away I'm pretty sure I can enforce my boundaries (wish he didn't know my address), but I guess I need to start accepting that Joel hasn't changed all that much and start disengaging a bit. (He hasn't contacted me since the phone call, so I'm thinking his opinion of me has soured at least slightly)

Thank you all again for your help.
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