Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friends Without Benefits (Part 1): When You Have Crush On Someone Who Wants To Be Just Friends Edition

So. You're in love with one of your friends.

You don't know how it happened. You never expected it to happen. But in one moment, everything changed and nothing has been the same since.

And you don't know what to do.

You aren't alone. It's probably happened to most of us at some point in our lives. I know it's happened to me. And even though it's normal, that doesn't make it easy.

Before we proceed, let's get the bad news out of the way:


This isn't always an easy thing to accept. It is very easy and very normal to tell ourselves stories: Oh, maybe this person loves me, but is unsure how to say it or maybe when they learn how I feel, the force of my undying devotion will win them over.

These stories will not help you.

Only the truth will help you and in this case the truth is this: the odds are against you. In my history of dating and listening to other people's dating stories, I can think of two relationships that grew out of this scenario, and one of those had extenuating circumstances. I've heard of others but they either happened in a movie or to a 'friend of a friend/my brother-in-law's great grandparents/etc.' Given the amount of people I talk to about relationship stuff, that's an exceedingly small drop in a very large bucket.

I'm not telling you this to discourage you. I'm telling you this in hopes that if things don't work out, you will recall that Things Not Working Out is par for this particular course. It does not make you an unlovable, hopeless loser, nor does it make the other person a stuck-up idiot who clearly can't recognize what's best for him- or herself.

And if things DO Work out...congratulations. You beat the odds. Internet high-fives for everybody.

In a previous entry I touched on the idea that "The Problem Is Not Always The Problem." This is a great example.

Being attracted to someone is no big deal. You do not need to feel badly or be ashamed for being in like, love, or lust. You don't always get to choose who you're attracted to, for one thing. Even if you did have a choice...that choice would be nobody's business but your own.

What we want to avoid is the easy-to-fall-into-trap of thinking that liking/loving/lusting after someone entitles you to having them like/love/lust you back...or that they have any obligation to you whatsoever.

It's not their job to like you back. It is also not their job to let you down easy. Nor are they responsible for 'not leading you on.' If you put that responsibility on them, you are putting them in an awkward, uncomfortable position.

These are your feelings, not theirs. There is nothing the other person can do about your feelings. The less confident they are in your ability to handle your business, the more likely it is they will feel forced to make a decision neither of you will be happy about.

It's normal to worry about other people's reactions, especially people we're close to, but there is also nothing we can do about it.

We need to keep the focus where it belongs.

And that's squarely on you.

This is the question you need to ask:

What is the best thing I can do for myself in this situation?

You already know what you need to do. Chances are, you've known for a while, but have been finding ways of talking yourself out of it. Sometimes those reasons sound pretty good. But listening to those reasons aren't making the situation better.

The longer you refuse to acknowledge That Which Must Be Done, the more problems you are causing for yourself. You are also going to cause problems for the Object of Your Affection if you haven't already. Because you aren't being true to yourself. You are holding a part of yourself back for this person's sake, and it is extremely likely you will resent them for it if you don't already.

The problem is not you. The problem is not them. The problem is not the attraction.

The problem is refusing to do That Which Must Be Done, which leads to awkwardness, uncertainty, and resentment.

Deal with That and watch the rest take care of itself.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

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  1. Dan! What is That Which Must Be Done? Is it telling her and dealing with the fallout? Is it walking away from the friendship to stop the pain? I have to know!

  2. Well, I can't speak for everybody in every situation, but I know what works for me and I'll cover it in future installments.

    I had prelminary notes here that may or may not be helpful.

  3. Well, I'm on the edge of my seat. You need a subscription option!

  4. Maybe you should do a post about what to do if you receive an undeservedly hostile brush-off just for asking for a date.

    I was raised to be sensitive and was never a top social girl or top looker. However, even back in my day, there were some girls who would give the unduly hostile brush-off.

    Some of those young women who give the unduly hostile brush-off may be stuck-up...and others may be going through something of their own at the time. Just because a woman is good-looking doesn't mean she doesn't have horrible days and may be angry at something else and unload on the guy who approached her.

    In either case, the guy who gets an unduly hostile brushoff shouldn't take it too much to heart. There are girls who are taught not to be unduly hostile. I hope! I was in my day. As I got older, in fact, I got more sensitive and nicer to guys as I got my heart broken more times and learned I wasn't God's gift. I never said (what one girl my age said back in the way old days) "I'd rather go out with your brother's pig." (Or at least that's what she told the other girls she told him.) However, I did get more sensitive as time went by. When I got older I would say I wasn't over my ex (which was true.)

  5. Good stuff, anonymous. It sounds like you have a lot of empathy for those guys and that's always nice to read.

    I agree with you. When you feel you're putting yourself out there, it's normal to start taking things personally. But it rarely is personal.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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