A BIG CUTIE:
I’ve ruined a past friendship by developing an unrequited crush, never expressing my feelings and then being shitty to that person because of it. Now I’m trying to be better, and although I can’t repair whatever damage I caused I don’t want to repeat that on new relationships.
I’m in the middle of my second year in uni and I’ve formed a great friendship with an amazing woman, but I can feel myself developing a crush. Out of our group of friends she’s the one I’m closer with and I’m pretty sure it goes both ways, as I’m the one she spends the most time with and trusts and leans on.
She’s in the middle of a breakup and I want to support her without falling into old patterns of recent and codependency. I try to stay informed and constantly reading on how to not be a bad man, I’ve steered away from the nice guy™️ mentality I had in middle school. So I guess my question would be, how do you manage a crush on a close friend? What can I do to stop myself from falling into bad patterns?
This is from a Wikihow on how to get over a crush on your best friend and I have NO IDEA what this picture means?!?!!?
All right, let’s do like Maria Von Trapp and start at the very beginning. You didn’t ruin your friendship because of an unrequited crush, you ruined a friendship because— in your words— you were shitty to someone about your unrequited crush. There is a small, but imperative difference between the two things. One is almost impossible to avoid. Outside of those who don’t get crushes at all and possibly Rihanna, everyone on earth has had an unrequited crush. It’s an inescapable part of humanhood and one I’m very glad for when it comes to storytelling devices because it’s juicy juicy fun to read about. In real life? Obviously, it blows.
Anyway, the point is, one (as you well know) cannot stop oneself from getting a crush on someone, or from imagining wow it would be nice to smooch this babe. But you can absolutely AND MUST stop yourself from being shitty to people simply because you want to smooch them and they don’t want to smooch you back. Yes, it suuuuuuuucks when someone won’t just fall in love with you, but you have control of how you behave. Certainly, sometimes being shitty is almost subconscious. It reveals itself in small things like letting your bitterness make you a bad friend for a moment and then spending the rest of the night brooding and beating yourself up about being a bitter brat for .7 milliseconds earlier in the evening and thus having a whole night of hanging out with you tainted by your dumb crush.
So here’s what you do: you try to be super conscious and aware of how you’re acting. You recognize and own that some things are going to be toeing the line and you avoid those situations. (Do not initiate cuddling with someone to make them feel better about their breakup for example!!!) You can be supportive without being her entire support system. Stick to group activities when you can—not that you can’t control what you do when you two are alone— but because there is something about two humans with flirty energy hanging out alone that tells them “something romantic is blossoming here,” even if it isn’t or maybe shouldn’t be. When in doubt if your actions are encouraging or discouraging your crush, ask yourself what you would do if it were someone you aren’t attracted to (could be your brother, a friend of a gender or orientation that you do not date, a friend you’ve simply never felt anything for). Then behave towards her how you would towards them. Unrequited crushes are built with the bricks of small, intimate favors and allowances that you don’t do for other people. Those moments reiterate to your brain that you looooove this person because you would not drive to CVS at 2:17am to buy Alka Seltzer Cold & Flu if you didn’t looooove someone.
Should you tell her? In my very mild, never extreme opinion NO YOU SHOULD NOT!!!!!!!!. You should keep your little tendre to yourself for now. Keeping it to yourself is The Move because she’s dealing with a breakup, but it’s also The Move any time you have a crush on someone you’re certain is not going to reciprocate for whatever reason (they already have a partner, they’ve mentioned that they are not into you in the past, they are your best friends ex, etc). Movies and TV lied to us and made us think that we should announce it loudly any time we want to f*ck or s*ck another human (or just like have a romance picnic with them), and that is dumb. You can like someone and not act on it. You won’t be filled with undying longing for them for the rest of your life. You won’t meet up with this woman in 7 years and she won’t be like, “I WISH YOUD TOLD ME I WOULD HAVE 69ED YOU ON THE SPOT.” That does not happen all that often.
You know what does happen all the time? Ruining a relationship by admitting to a crush when it’s not appropriate or necessary (again, as you well know!!). Maybe once she’s moved on further from this breakup, and after your crush has turned into more of a simmer rather than a CRUSH-crush, you can initiate a one-on-one hang out, see how it goes, then do another one and then maybe ask her out rather than just back to your apartment, and then maybe see how that goes and then maybe be like “yeah I like you, what’s up?” and see what she says and does in response to all of this and make a decision together about where to take it. I don’t know! Just an idea!
But know that just because you have a crush on a friend does not mean the agonizing longing will last forever. You absolutely can have thoughts and not act on them. You can also have crushes and never reveal them. You can be someone’s friend the whole time. You can also pull back a bit, tone down the hang outs, and return to being a full-on friend when your horny brain has chilled out a bit (I’m giving you my full permission to make a few false-ish excuses as to why you two cannot hang out alone that are not “Because I want to bone you and will not be a good friend!!!!” if you get to that point). Crushes don’t last very long, frankly. And despite The Notebook they do go away. It’s obviously up to you if you want to wait the feelings out entirely or just bide your time until there is an appropriate window of opportunity. Just know that it’s not a toothache; it’s possible to “ignore” a crush until it goes away. Crushes are like more like stray cats: if you feed them they stick around. So don’t feed yours.