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Do I need to platonically dump my platonic crush?
July 3, 2012 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm having unhealthy feelings towards one of my best friends. Can I salvage this relationship, or do I need a clean break?

In the past year I made a new friend, Jill, who has quickly become one of my closest friends -- definitely the strongest relationship I've formed since college. We're both women who identify as 'mostly straight'; she's in a monogamish marriage, I'm single.

Lately I've noticed that the way I react to Jill's behavior is more like how I do with a crush than with my other friends. I get excited when she texts me and feel let down if she takes too long to respond, and I get nervous/jealous when she talks about meeting new people or friends of hers that I don't know. For me this is textbook "I have a crush!". However, I don't want to be in a relationship with Jill or even to have sex with her (we've done it and mutually decided not to do it again) -- I just have those crush-like thrill feelings from our day to day normal friendship. The jealousy/anxiety is what's really worrying for me.

Do I need to cut her out of my life and treat this like a break up in order to get over her and get past these feelings? Or can I chill out and get over it while keeping her as a friend, since we were never really dating anyway? If so... how do I do that? I know this sounds like limerance which should just fade with time but... it's been a while already.

And yes, I'm in therapy.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think it's okay to have a crush on your friend, and I think it will pass. If you need to put a little distance between you and see her a little less, that's okay, but I don't think you need to end the friendship to get past it. Just give it some time and see how you feel. I really do think it will pass.
posted by juliplease at 7:40 PM on July 3, 2012


You've already sexed her up and moved on from it into a close, healthy friendship? So... tell her about it? "Jill, your texts make me feel like I'm in high school again, it's so weird!" "WTF, Jill, I can't stand it when you're all buddy-buddy with someone new, it's freaking me out!" And maybe, as your friend, Jill will have some perspective on how to deal with it.
posted by carsonb at 7:41 PM on July 3, 2012


A great friend is hard to find, and a new BEST friend is a total blessing. It's only been about a year, so you're still experiencing the clicking one has with someone who fits into your life really well. The sexual tension (whether you want to continue it or not) will only add to that.

Lots of people get jealous when their BFFs hang with folks they don't know. Is it interfering in your life, or is it just something new for you? I wouldn't throw out a wonderful friendship just because I was feeling a little overboard in the jealousy department. Eventually, I think that should fade, and great friends are so rare that I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it.
posted by xingcat at 7:42 PM on July 3, 2012


I've been in relationships like these - often - and the key for me is how equal the relationship is. Do we initiate contact equally, do we have activities to share that we both like, are we really friends such that if the limerance faded our relationship wouldn't change at all? If so, then it's probably fine. If not, that's a much less healthy place to be, for both of you.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:43 PM on July 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Are you attracted to Jill? Not "do you see any future there" or "do you want to continue having sex with her" but are you attracted to her, sexually/romantically? Do you wish you were in a relationship with her?

I mean, that's really the clencher here, unless there's some kind of unspoken thing here where you are actually afraid you are going to stalk her or hurt her or do something Single White Female/Fatal Attraction-ish.

I'm bi. I have platonic limerance from time to time. People who I'm not attracted to, but who I just absolutely adore and get that fluttery nervous and/or slightly jealous feeling about. Luckily, these crushes tend to be with people who have sexual orientations that mean it's never going to be anything more than a platonic friendship. I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling this way, and I don't think it's anything I need to get over.

On the other hand, it sounds like maybe you are talking around a legit sexual or romantic attraction to Jill, and that is something that might need to be nipped in the bud. Since you don't describe it that way, though, it's hard to give you that advice about that.
posted by Sara C. at 7:44 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've had friends who I've had this sort of weird crushlike platonic feeling towards. (And... look, I'm bi, and I've had plenty of nonplatonic crushes on friends of both sexes, and even gone ahead and acted on a fair number, and this platonic business is definitely a different thing.)

For me what it usually comes from is a combination of excitement and insecurity. Like "Wow, you're awesome! I can't believe you're hanging out with me! Aren't you way cooler than me? Why are you even keeping me around? Oh wait is that a new friend? You're totally going to ditch me for them, I know it." And on and on. It's like the giddy obsessive overthinking that you'd do over someone you wanted to fool around with, only, you know, without the part where you want to fool around together.

So the question I'd suggest asking yourself is, are you feeling insecure or outclassed or something here? And if so, where is that coming from? Not all insecurity is irrational, and if she's actually behaving in ways that make you feel like she's less invested in the friendship, or holding herself above you in some ways, then it could well be totally reasonable to feel funny about the way things are going. Or it could just be that you feel like this is all too good to be true.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:47 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


....er, by which I mean, it could be that the insecurity is irrational, just self-doubt on your part or whatever, and things are actually fine. In which case honestly the solution is to enjoy being friends on an equal footing with someone awesome.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:50 PM on July 3, 2012


It sounds to me like you're falling for her, in which case this is only going to get harder for you. Yes, good friends are hard to find, but in my experience it's very difficult to separate out the crush from the friendship. You'll only really know which is which with some time and distance. And if there is no possibility of a relationship with this woman, you owe it to yourself to move on as quickly as possible.
posted by londonmark at 12:04 AM on July 4, 2012


However, I don't want to be in a relationship with Jill or even to have sex with her

I don't think you have a lot to worry about then. This becomes problematic if you're spending all your time thinking about bonking the person or what your potential children would be like or the romantic getaways you could be having together - not so much if you're just intensely friending them.

Pull back a little bit, give yourself (and her) some breathing space, but, overall, I don't think you've got too much to worry about in the long run. A bit of distance (not too much, but just ease back a little) will help with the jealous and anxiety.
posted by heyjude at 12:53 AM on July 4, 2012


Hi. First thought after reading was that whilst you feel that you "shouldn't" have a crush on Jill, you're conflicted because you actually "do". Notes below:

I'm having unhealthy feelings

Why have you defined them as unhealthy? If you remove "unhealthy" from that sentence, you may end up with a more accurate reflection of your current state. Does "unhealthy" come from the fact that you are not being honest about what you want with Jill? That perhaps you want a greater relationship, but you've 'mutually agreed' not to have one... thus, are you now pining your feelings as 'unhealthy'?

definitely the strongest relationship I've formed since college.

There's definitely an excitement that comes from meeting people that one identifies with, just i general. It happens to everyone, and the feelings can often mimic the affections found in love. "I'm so happy to have met you, you make my life brighter and we have so much fun" kind of thing. Story seems to be that you really connect with her, are really excited about it, but there's something in the way...

she's in a monogamish marriage,

Oh, right. That.

the way I react to Jill's behavior is more like how I do with a crush than with my other friends... For me this is textbook "I have a crush!".

If it looks like a crush, and it acts like a crush, it's probably a crush.

I don't want to be in a relationship with Jill or even to have sex with her (we've done it and mutually decided not to do it again)

Are you sure that you mutually decided this? Often in cases of asymmetric affection, the one who is more interested is in a bit of a trap, for 1) they will agree 'mutually' not to proceed with a relationship –– to keep the person in their life –– but 2) the feelings remain. So now, the rational mind has made an agreement ("Nothing will happen here") that the emotional mind doesn't even notice ("I want her I want her I want her I want her").

Result: a conflict between what you've said you want to the other person (mutual boundaries) with what you actually want (party time).

Do I need to cut her out of my life and treat this like a break up in order to get over her and get past these feelings? Or can I chill out and get over it while keeping her as a friend, since we were never really dating anyway?

At this point, it may do you well to call this what it is. "We were never really dating anyway" sounds like a rationalisation. Either you were dating or you weren't. Before, you said she's just a friend, but now you've come out with "we weren't really dating...". Somewhere, Biz Markie can play a song for you about this very topic.

If so... how do I do that? I know this sounds like limerance which should just fade with time but... it's been a while already.

There are two kinds of crushes that I'm aware of:
1) Friend first, crush second. The friendship is the primary motivator, and the crush comes and goes. These are actually quite stable relationships, for the base of the connection is mutually agreed, and the sexual attraction wanders in and out.

2) Crush first, friend second. The crush is the primary motivator, and the friendship stems from the desire to be around the crush. These are not too stable relationships, for the base of the friendship is an an enabler to the crush.

If you can figure out which one of those this is, it may help you make your decision moving forward. If she is a friend first, distract yourself, find someone else to play with, and accept the connection that is on the table – a friendship. Let it grow and become in it's own time. If she is a crush first, probably treat it as a break-up and take some distance to get her out of your head.

Overall, I just think you need to be honest about what this is for you. If it's more than a friendship, acting like it's just a friendship is going to drive you bonkers, for you're trying to fight yourself. Not an easy fight to win, eh?
posted by nickrussell at 4:31 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think you have to actually eradicate those feelings, you just have to make sure you don't become a bad friend because of them.

I don't know how much texting you do, but I have a theory that texting (or IMing) aggravates stuff like this because of the constant possibility that you may hear from someone or be let down by not hearing from them.
posted by BibiRose at 7:55 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, nickrussell raises a great point. You can't promise not to feel a certain way.

I mean, you can say "I promise not to want to sleep with you," but it's unenforceable, right? You feel how you feel. You want what you want. Can't change that just to keep up your end of a deal.

If you've really examined your feelings carefully and are quite certain that you have no attraction towards her at all, never fantasize about her, never even just linger a bit on a hug or whatever because it feels so much better than hugging anyone else, then okay, I believe you, whatever attraction or curiosity you once felt is gone. (That can happen!) But if your only reason for calling this not-a-crush is that you promised it wouldn't be one — well, no, sorry, it doesn't work like that. You made an unenforceable promise, and this is totally still a crush.

Doesn't mean you have to sleep together again. (Doesn't mean you can't!) Doesn't mean you have to abandon the friendship. Doesn't mean you have to tell your friend how you feel (or for that matter that you can't tell her). But, yeah, be honest with yourself. Your feelings are what they are, regardless of how you've "decided" to feel, and there's nothing to feel bad or guilty about there. This shit happens.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:36 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a bit late but I wanted to chime in and say it's totally possible to have a platonic crush on someone and for it not to ruin everything. A lot of best friend relationships go through this phase (especially between two women) and then taper out, either into a more comfortable relationship where you feel on equal footing (and the jealousy goes away), or into a less intense relationship.
posted by buteo at 8:53 PM on July 4, 2012


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