Another ambiguous friendship problem, involving 2 shy snowflakes
July 15, 2012 5:30 AM Subscribe
Two shy snowflakes romance question. Need ideas for pushing the boundaries of our ambiguous friendship.
posted by JeanDupont to human relations (7 answers total)
I have a close opposite-sex friendship which might have romantic overtones but am not sure how to proceed. We're both shy and quirky (in a 'broader autistic phenotype' way). There is a large age gap, with me much older than he is. We are both extremely self conscious and reserved, though not socially isolated nor having particular problems functioning in everyday life.
I am extremely experienced in previous romantic relationships, whereas he doesn't have any experience at all. He is young, in his twenties. I worry that these disparities mean a romantic relationship between us could cause worry and scandal amongst our shared friends, and understandably, his family, with whom I am also close.
Because I am older and more experienced, I feel very constrained to behave towards him in a proper way. I think he also feels extremely constrained. We are a very unlikely couple on the surface of it. If you imagined courtship at Victorian style and pace, only much slower, that would give a good picture of our dynamic. Many of our meetings occur under the benign scrutiny of his family, although we also do things alone.
He lives in another town, but we see each other whenever he visits, and keep in touch in the usual ways during the week. I'm not sure why I think there are romantic overtones, because neither of us would dream of being flirtatious. It's possible he might simply be an attentive friend. It's really nothing more than the feeling I get from our interactions.
Because of our reserved personalities and the large difference in age and experience, I don't think "just kiss him" advice is appropriate here. I'm also reluctant to say anything directly without objective evidence of his romantic interest. I know everyone risks loss of pride and damage to the friendship, but because of the possible scandal that could attend a declaration of my part, I have more to lose, especially the regard and support of our shared friends and family, who are increasingly interwoven.
Does anyone have experience with this kind of dynamic, and suggestions about how to push the boundaries very, very gently to see what happens? I am capable of being direct and forward eventually, but in this case need good evidence to justify the substantial risks.
We are both Christians and abstemious, so using alcohol, beyond a glass or two, isn't an option, and nor is explicitly sexual behaviour or strategies. Our current living arrangements do not provide sufficient privacy to make the couch-and-movie snuggling option likely, and if we did have the privacy, we'd both be too proper to take advantage and meet alone on a couch at night anyway.