I want my friend back

Usually, I don’t post letters on Wednesdays because of our 1 p.m. chat. But I’ve received so many good questions this past week that I’m afraid we’re going to fall behind. Can we multi-task? Can we answer this one and still chat at 1 p.m.? Good.
A: Dear Meredith,
I first brought this issue to you in a chat back in early June.
The situation has evolved since then (your intuition was right-on). I read this blog every day, and hope you and my fellow readers can help me deal with: The Aftermath.
Four months ago, I slept with my best friend, “Maria.” We were drunk — it was an out-of-character impulsive move for both of us … basically, it was dumb. Nonetheless, it rapidly emerged that Maria wanted a relationship, and I thought that she might be onto something.
Unfortunately, within a matter of weeks, she morphed from my super-cool-best-friend into a hyper-critical lunatic (demanding I do chores for her then lashing out because I put her shams on the wrong pillows — insane stuff). We had a conversation during which I genuinely thought we broke up. Maria immediately left for a 3-month work assignment out of state. I started dating someone else, an acquaintance of hers. Maria and I stayed in touch and I stupidly thought we were back on the friend track … until I casually mentioned my new paramour. Maria flipped out on the phone; crying, shouting, the whole deal. Apparently, she thought we were still together (a byproduct of her new found lunacy). Also, she deeply regretted her miserable treatment of me, and had realized that she is very much in love with me. For several weeks, we remained in frequent, friendly contact, but now she never initiates contact, and is barely responsive to my contact. I have pretty much stopped contacting her.
I am in my late 20s, and at this point, I have zero interest in dating a nut bag. Furthermore, my new paramour is an amazing woman. Suffice it to say, Maria and I are not getting back together, no matter what.
My problem is that, when she returns from her work assignment in a couple of weeks, I would like to go back to being best friends. I know “you can never go home again.” But I can’t help it. I miss super-cool-best-friend-Maria. A lot. Life without super-cool-best-friend-Maria is severely lacking. A part of me is eager to do everything in my power to move our friendship past this hump. At that same time, I recognize that she blew it by acting like a huge jerk, and am therefore reluctant to grovel or apologize. Further complicating matters is that fact that, since her hysteria attack over the phone, I haven’t mentioned the new paramour at all … and there’s a lot to catch up on.
Despite my age, I have never before had sex outside committed, multi-year relationships, and I have no idea how to proceed. Is this friendship salvageable? Or was sleeping with Maria truly the beginning of the end? (I thought the world was supposed to end with a whimper, not a bang!) How do I make her realize that I forgive her behavior, that she doesn’t have to feel humiliated by her actions, and that we can move beyond this?
– Tequila No More, Boston

A: TNM, I have a feeling that for Maria, that first hookup wasn’t a thoughtless accident.
She probably had feelings for you for a while. This whole experience may take her a while to get over. In fact, it should. It’s a lot to deal with at once.
And now there are two things for her to get over – the fact that it didn’t work out with you, and the fact that you’re dating her friend. I mean, that’s the part that’s hard to swallow. You’re not just rejecting her and her crazy pillow-sham behavior, you’re moving on with someone else.
At the moment, Maria is not your best friend. She’s your friend/ex, who’s probably a bit ashamed of herself and angry at you for getting her hopes up. And the fact that she thought you were still together when you were dating someone else … ouch. (I fault you for that, by the way. If she didn’t know she was dumped, you did a bad job.)
Lower your expectations and understand that this will take her a long time to accept. You acknowledge she’s a “nut bag” who’s prone to overreact, but you’re surprised she can’t make a quick recovery. Maria is Maria. Now you’ve seen all of her – and she’s seen all of you. You talk about forgiving her. She needs time to forgive you, too.
It’s your turn to be a good friend. Tell her you very much want your friendship back, but that you don’t want to push her. Tell her you hope that one day you can be pals again. Tell her you want to give her space — whatever she needs. Then wait to see if she comes around. She may be lacking sanity, but you’re lacking sensitivity, methinks.
Readers? Thoughts? Is she expecting too much of Maria? Is Maria pillow-sham crazy? Share thoughts here. Remember to chat at 1 p.m.
— Meredith