A GIANT SWEETHEART, WHOM WE LOVE:
I’m 23 years old and have never had a boyfriend and have never had sex (I refuse to call myself a virgin because fuck that patriarchal bullshit); suffice it to say, my experience with men is limited. I’m working on trying to convince myself that this is perfectly normal, despite the EVERYTHING the media portrays, but it’s hard to not feel like a freak.
I’m kind of hopelessly in love with my best friend, and I think he might like me back. I tend to crush hard and easily on guys, but I’ll explain why I think this is different. The first reason being that I’ve had an unwavering crush on him for almost 2 years and I’ve never like-liked someone this strongly for this long, which is why I think it’s more than just horniness.
I’ve had good guy friends in the past but never clicked with someone as easily as I do with him. I’ve also had friendships with guys that I’ve built up bigger in my head, only to realise that I was the one initiating every conversation or hang out - but with him it’s definitely reciprocated.
We met at college and I’ve thought I had crushes on guys in the past only to realise it was 90% due to proximity. But with him, this isn’t the case. Last summer we didn’t see each other in person for nearly four months and if anything we got closer.
I’m constantly blown away with how many seemingly useless facts about me he has committed to memory, and the ways that he shows he cares: even just little things like asking how I am unprompted or asking about the shows I’m watching even though I know he couldn’t care less about the show.
Do you think there’s a chance he might like-like me back? Or is he just a really good friend and I’m reading way too much into it? I honestly think I’d be fine if he wasn’t interested in me romantically because I value his friendship so much - it’s the main thing stopping me from making any sort of move, I don’t wanna make the friendship awkward if that’s all it’ll ever be. It’s the thought that there’s a potential for more that’s keeping me fixating on it, but anxiety makes me doubt everything. I’m too scared to say or do anything because I don’t want the friendship to change unless it’s into a romantic relationship, but at the same time the feminist in me says that I shouldn’t wait for the guy to make a move.
So basically I’m just very lost and wanna scream into the void.
AHHHHHhhhhHHHH! I’m shoutin’ with excitement because this is my very favorite type of letter: a crush letter. I’m so into crushes. The best—and most agonizing—feeling in the world. Let’s dive in in list format so we can talk about everything! (I have had 2 coffees this morning but that’s not important right now).
1) You aren’t a freak re: virginity.
I recently wrote an article about people who hadn’t had sex until “late” in life (if at all) and asked people on Twitter to reach out if they were willing to talk to me for the article. I had to delete my tweet asking for submissions after ONE MINUTE because so many people wrote in. I had 50 people I was DMing with and had to turn people away. These were not the caricature-ized virgins (sorry to use that word) Hollywood wants you to think exist: either fundamentalist christians or people totally apart from society—these were competent, hot, professional, loving people. You are NORMAL AS FUCKING HELL; can’t stress this enough!!!
No one knows what they’re doing when they’re fucking and sucking for like the first 18 times, so you’re really no further back than someone who has had sex a handful of times. I know me yelling at you about this does not remove societal stigma. I just want to remind you that what you have going on is both common and totally chill and no partner will care at all. If anyone ever makes a big deal about it, please venmo request me $40 for me being wrong and make the venmo memo their address so I can “talk” to them about some things.
2) Crushes can last a long time, but that doesn’t mean that what you have is “just” a crush.
There are a lot of words we need to invent (the feeling when you do something exactly like your parent and it makes you cringe, for example), but perhaps the most underdeveloped language area of all is English language’s word bank for people we love. We’ve got friend, crush, and then boyfriend/girlfriend/theyfriend/partner. As if there aren’t WILD BIG gray areas between those things, especially when you add friend + crush together.
Science says that after four months a crush is more than a crush, which is fine and cool, but after four months of having a crush on someone, it’s not like it magically becomes love-love (aka romantic love) because love-love must be reciprocal; the other person has to be aware that you guys are loving each other for it be love-love. I’m not saying this to diminish what you guys have. I had a crush on a guy friend in college for like a year and I was soooooo into him even though he was a dipshit and I’d never had a crush before that didn’t just fizzle out so I figured it had to be more than a crush. Which it was in so many ways. But it also wasn’t. And I wish we had a word for more than a crush, because sometimes the zeniths and nadirs of non-relationships feel more acute than anything a regular ass dating situation will ever provide. Longing is more intense than having will ever be.
3) Small signs do not = big feelings.
You gave me a few things that you think point to the fact that your friendship is something ~MORE~ and do not get me wrong, it might be (see #4 below) but if there is one thing I could teach every one about crushes it’s that crushes are not like regular addition where small and medium moments each have point value and if they add up to 200 points, that means they’re in love with you. Sometimes small things are simply people being nice to us, and perhaps he’s being nice because, well, he’s a friend. Yes, you should pay attention to people’s actions, but when you (any of us) have a crush it’s hard to not be too attuned to the person’s actions.
4) Do I think there is a chance that he likes you back?
Now that I’ve been a bit brutal in #3, I’ll get to the better part! Woo! Do I think he could like you? YES OF FUCKING COURSE I THINK HE COULD!!!! ARE YOU JOKIN’!!?? Do I think he does? Unknown. Maybe he just actually values female friendship!!! (Which would be really, really cool if it weren’t happening at the expense of your massive crush). If I saw you two in a room together I would form a very strong opinion on the topic within about 45 minutes because I’m a drama queen, but even with my very spot-on track record, I’m not some all-seeing being who knows what men are up to. You’re going to have to ask him. Womp. Womp. I know. It blows.
5) Your options are NOT: don’t tell him, tell him and he’s in love with you madly, or tell him and it ruins the friendship.
Here’s where we get to advice (a little late, Soph). You have played this out in your mind as if telling him has two outcomes: good (he wants to bone and date you) or bad (the friendship is irrevocably ruined and he thinks you’re a monster for even considering smooching). Those are FAR from the only possible outcomes. There are exactly 1,489,284 outcomes possible if you “tell him” that you have a crush on him. Unfortunately I don’t have time to type them all out and you don’t have time to imagine all of them, but I want you to know that most adults are super aware that when you make friends with a person you often fall in romantic lust with them because you know… humans are horny. Adult friends are well aware of this outcome and 99.99% of people are not going to make it weird if they find out a friend feels something for them. The people who do universally suck. Will it be weird for a couple weeks? YES. But you just both agree fight through that and move on. Take your emotional cues from British people for about a fortnight and just refuse to aknowdlege or cede to any awkwardness. I’m not saying that you shut off your personal feelings, just don’t both get in a bath of weirdness and let it marinate the entire friendship.
Now, when I say “tell him,” I do not mean that you sit him down and say, “can I tell you something? I’ve been in love with you since April 2, 2016 and I think we should date exclusively.” That is… a bit much for anyone to take in. Instead, I humbly suggest that you mean open a door and see if he walks in. Ask him to do something one-on-on—probably already the norm for you—at one of your houses and just hang out and chill for a night together. See how it goes. Do it again. Maybe involve a tiny—TINY— amount of alcohol or weed. Is it going well? Ok. Cool. Now, during one of those hangs gather all your courage and just be like, “Hey would you want to go out sometime this week?” He’s probably going to get that these are dates or proto-dates. If he doesn’t, you may have to throw out the word “date.”
You have the power to set the tone. People don’t understand just how influential that is. If YOU act like it’s no big deal, he will also act like it’s no big deal. Which means that should he want to turn you down, that will also be no big deal. (Even if later you cry about it a lot, which is normal). Set the tone with your words and nonverbal cues. Make it seem like you think this is a chill event, even if inside your brain is A;LSDFJASDNFASHDFISADJ;FLKAJD;FLKJADLKFJAS;DLKFJAS;LD.
Or, you know, get tipsy at a mutual friend’s party and hook up with him and then go from there. No matter what happens, he will be your friend as long as is meant to be for both of you. Friendships wax and wane regardless of whether you smooch someone or not. Let go of the idea that this friendship will last forever if you don’t “ruin” it with your crush. None of that is true.