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Do I tell my engaged friend that I love her?
April 17, 2008 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth telling my best friend, who just got engaged, that I'm secretly in love with her?

My best friend, who I've known for almost ten years and had at least a mild crush on for that entire time, just told me tonight that she was engaged. I said congratulations, played it cool, and then drank some whiskey.

This is the one person who I've really thought I could marry. She's lived in a different city for most of the time I've known her, but we talk at least once a week for two hours, even though she hates talking on the phone to everyone else. I feel completely in sync with her and always thought "well, if we end up living in the same place, one day we'll probably end up together." Sometimes, we joked about it. But now, I no longer have the secure feeling of inevitability.

A couple of years ago, I talked a very small amount about my feelings, just to get them off of my chest, but I told her I didn't want to get into a long distance relationship and that was basically it. After all, eventually, I'd have my life together, I'd be done with school, and then I could bring it up again.

But now, there's really nothing I can do, right? If she's happy, then I'm just selfish to confess my feelings, aren't I?

And just to be clear, this isn't just random, childish infatuation. This is the person who is most important to me in my entire world and has been for years. She is closer to me than any of my family members or friends and she is the person I trust more than anyone. We respect each other's opinions and admire each other's talents. I've only had a real argument with her once in ten years, but we debate things all the time. I also know that we'll still be friends even if she is married, and I hold no illusions that this is the end of my world.

Yet, I can't imagine clicking with anyone better than this woman. So do I tell her that, or do I hold it inside and accept that I'm alone.

If you need to ask anything, email is myfriendisgettingmarried@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (118 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
No.

I mean, she just said yes to marrying this other guy. Which outcome is more likely: that she dumps him to be with you upon this new revelation, or she ditches you because you just asked her to bail on her future marriage?
posted by lockestockbarrel at 9:36 AM on April 17, 2008


Don't tell her. Sorry. I think it will be an unfair burden on her.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's this movie with Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts that you should watch.
posted by The World Famous at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2008 [12 favorites]


It is a little selfish for you to confess your feelings, but I'd do it anyway, since I would have a tough time dealing with myself if I didn't. I think it's an intensely personal choice though.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


i saw that movie.

didn't believe the ending.

keep your mouth shut. she knows. she's a woman. move on and find a younger, hotter version of her. just kiding about that part.

but seriously you're treading on thin ice. if you value her friendship, leave it alone.
posted by dawdle at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2008


No. You had plenty of time. Now that she's getting married, maybe you're subconsciosly trying to sabatoge the engagement. Please don't do that.
posted by sian at 9:39 AM on April 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


No.
posted by unixrat at 9:39 AM on April 17, 2008


Dude. You had TEN. YEARS. That's a hell of a window. You could have tried to make a go of it at any point in that decade.. You didn't. She's moving on with her life, and only now you realize that you'll miss your warm comfy security blanket? If you'd really loved her, you would have done something by now. But actions speak louder than words, and clearly you loved having a best friend better than trying for a relationship.

I'm just selfish to confess my feelings, aren't I?

Damn skippy. Getting all "but I really love you!" to her now would be a cruel nightmare for her.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:40 AM on April 17, 2008 [44 favorites]


Are you willing to destroy her marriage ? Are you willing to lose her friendship? As opposed to can you be close to the one you love without being with her?
posted by Rubbstone at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2008


If she's happy, then I'm just selfish to confess my feelings, aren't I?

Yes, in my opinion that would just be a selfish way for you to try to make yourself feel better about her getting engaged.

When you say that you love her, you are really saying that you'd like to pursue a romantic relationship with her. Bringing this up right after she gets engaged is kind of tacky and will just result in an awkward situation.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2008


I'd like to amend my answer to say that I would have said something more during the ten years.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you think she couldn't know and would regret it for the rest of your days, do it.

Otherwise, if you think she already knows, don't say a word.
posted by scabrous at 9:43 AM on April 17, 2008


You are going to have to learn to live with a little more heartache in your life, one more regret. But learn from it. Next time you love someone, tell them before it's too late. Sadly, this ship has sailed. It's too late.
posted by mattbucher at 9:44 AM on April 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


No.

This is the person who is most important to me in my entire world and has been for years.

Did you tell her this at any point in the last decade? I mean, really tell her? Good communication is the foundation for a solid, honest relationship, and maybe you weren't so good at that part over the years. This is not the time or topic to start fixing that.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on April 17, 2008


No.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:45 AM on April 17, 2008


If she's happy, then I'm just selfish to confess my feelings, aren't I?

I think so, yes. I've had a similar, though less mission-critical, thing happen to me and it's agonizing and terrible to deal with and turns what should be a happy set of events into something that no matter what you do someone is going to be realy really hurt.

If you have other friends that you can commiserate over this with, I suggest now may be a good time to talk to them and mope. It's totally okay to feel blue, to be sad about missed opportunities and to not be 100% happy for your friend's engagement. However telling her is much more likely to make her feel bad, make things between you awkward, and not really resolve anything in any direction that is positive for anyone.
posted by jessamyn at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


No. Nothing good can come of it. If she had feelings for you, something would have happened in the past ten years (trust me, a girl would never have let such a thing go on so long unsaid). So you'll end up making her feel shitty, yourself feel maybe shittier, and risk losing her friendship since she has already made a commitment to another man (who, sorry to say, is going to take priority in her life). It's a tough situation, sorry for how you're feeling, but I'd keep my mouth shut.
posted by meerkatty at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it worth telling my best friend, who just got engaged, that I'm secretly in love with her?
No.

A couple of years ago, I talked a very small amount about my feelings, just to get them off of my chest, but I told her I didn't want to get into a long distance relationship and that was basically it.
She already knew you were interested, and she's marrying someone else anyway.

But now, there's really nothing I can do, right? If she's happy, then I'm just selfish to confess my feelings, aren't I?
Basically.
posted by cosmic osmo at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2008


Asparagirl is correct. You had 10 years to make your move- if you were really in love with her, you would have made a move by now, AND if she were in love with you, she would have made a move by now. You don't really want to be with her, you just hate that she's with someone else. And she chose to be with someone else because she doesn't want to be with you. There's absolutely no reason to tell her. Smile at yourself and let it go.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, she's your best friend, so keeping any feelings from her is just going to make you miserable, because she's your best friend. But she's getting married and you can't have her.

So tell her about your feelings, and tell her about how it's going to be tough for you to put them aside. Tell her that seeing her happy and fulfilled in a relationship pleases you greatly, and tell her you want to help with all the wedding plans. Tell her that your friendship is your priority, and as necessary, tell her how she can help you deal, if you need help dealing.

I've been here, friend. There are lots of reasons in life why you have to move on, and this is definitely one of them. But keeping your feelings from someone so close to you isn't going to help anyone. Good luck!
posted by chudmonkey at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd say no, don't tell her.

See, there's this concept known as "revealed preferences" - that is, people's actual preferences are better revealed by what they do than by what they say they prefer. So now you say that you think she really could be the one - the only one - for you, and yet what you did is not act on those feelings for, like, ten years. That's a pretty long time.

Obviously, I'm just a stranger on the internet and I don't know you at all, but that fact has to make me question whether you really want to be with her, or whether there was something about the tension of not being with her while simultaneously having the freedom to be with other people (which to be sure, you don't say anything about) that you preferred somehow.

So that makes me doubt that your telling her about your love for her would be the product of much more than a perhaps unconscious desire to stir the pot a little. Maybe you feel hurt by her engagement, and maing her uneasy in turn could be a way of dealing with that pain? Anyway, if you do love and respect her as a friend, I would say don't do something to sabotage her relationship with her fiance.
posted by chinston at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2008 [13 favorites]


Echoing the chorus of "No's".

If this is truly your "best" friend the last thing you want to do to her at what is supposed to be one of the happiest moments of her life is to muddle things up by a 11th hour confession of your deep, undying love.

Seriously, what outcome do you expect to come out of such a confession? That she'll drop everything with the fiancee and come running to you? Highly unlikely. And any other scenario is going to be incredibly awkward for your friendship moving forward and puts a blight on a time period she should be allowed to enjoy to the fullest.
posted by The Gooch at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2008


No, don't tell her. Let her be happy in an uncomplicated, no-drama way.
posted by gt2 at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2008


This is the person who is most important to me in my entire world and has been for years.

I told her I didn't want to get into a long distance relationship and that was basically it

You had however-many years to either move or decide to at least try a long-distance relationship. You missed your chance. I don't see what good comes out of telling her now.

or do I hold it inside let it go and accept that I'm alone I can no longer hold her out as some sort of vague perfect future mate, but am free to get to know other women.

yes.
posted by mikepop at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2008


Absolutely 100% no. Not appropriate.
posted by gnutron at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2008


No, no, no, a thousand times no.

You had 10 years. You didn't bother to make a real move. Making one now that she's engaged with be such an extraordinary dick move that I'm kind of shocked you are considering it. Life isn't like a romantic comedy, and even in that awful-looking new romantic comedy with Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan he doesn't realize he's in love with his friend until after she gets engaged. You knew for years and said nothing, so it's time to continue knowing for years and saying nothing.

The phrase "shit or get off the pot" comes to mind; you got off the pot years ago.
posted by Justinian at 9:55 AM on April 17, 2008


It sounds to me like the problem is not so much that she is the love of your life, but this: "I no longer have the secure feeling of inevitability." After all, you've had feelings for her for a long time, but never made a choice based on those feelings (such as moving to her city). It may be very soothing to have a safety net, but it is indeed selfish to expect someone to wait in a glass box for your love emergency.

Your post doesn't say anything about how she responded when you told her a little bit about your feelings. In fact, it contains absolutely no information about her feelings, past or present, or her behavior, past or present. It's all about you -- how important she is to you, how much you click with her, how perfect she is for you.

You're right, it would be selfish for you to make this her problem. What outcome are you hoping for? For her to leave her fiancee, whom she loves enough to want to marry him, move to your city, and make sacrifices for you and commitments to you? You haven't been willing to risk or sacrifice anything to make it work with her.

One never knows, but it sounds to me like the ship has sailed.
posted by prefpara at 9:56 AM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Geez, a lot of the "no" answerers here make good points. I want to sort of rephrase my point: Talk to your friend about this, but not in a "I'm in love with you, please respond" way, but rather in a straightforward "I've always harbored a crush on you, this is a wake up call for me, but I'm mostly psyched for you!" kind of way.

I agree with the premise of keeping quiet for her sake, but I worry about you. Bottled-up feelings are bad. Feelings dealt with maturely, out in the open, without demands or recriminations, are good.
posted by chudmonkey at 9:57 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


^ unilateral feelings don't need to be vented at their targets.
posted by tachikaze at 10:02 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you feel you are strong enough to let go all at once, maybe you should. However, judging from what you've given us, you may not have it in you right now just to cut ties and begin that process.

You are not selfish to confess your feelings. Don't give in to that kind of negativity. If you are genuine friends, there's nothing wrong with talking something like this over. If you feel sad and hopeless right now, it may be somewhat cathartic for you to have a conversation about it.

You may have an easier time getting over the situation once you know that you are on the same page. You may also feel more comfortable emotionally once you know how she feels about what you've told her. Closure is sometimes a positive thing, and useful for moving on. You sound like a logical and reasonable person. Having a conversation with her about your feelings sounds like something you can handle. If you sounded hysterical and frazzled, my advice would probably have been different, to save you the awkwardness of being that hysterically-cathartic confessor. That is never good.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 10:02 AM on April 17, 2008


No.

You can love your best friend if she's married. But you absolutely have to let the lust go and build the relationship without it. If you can't, walk away. But consider what you will lose.

Really loving her means being her friend now. Release any need to possess her. Grow.
posted by dosterm at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, take the most of the above advice very seriously in the future. There will be someone else out there, but they'll never be yours unless you make an effort. It's counterproductive to blame anything else but your own failure to act. You said yourself you had a feeling of "inevitability." You need to correct that, because nothing in life is certain, really. You need to get out there and carpe scrotum.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 10:07 AM on April 17, 2008


This is one of those things that separates the men from the boys. Be a man! Don’t tell her!
posted by sid at 10:08 AM on April 17, 2008


Chinston's right on. Whatever you were doing back then was more important than starting a relationship with her. Yes, timing can often get in the way, but if that choice was valid then, it should still be valid now.

In fact, you've continued to choose to NOT have a relationship with her up until the shock of her announcing her engagement. From here, this reads like your concern is that your relationship with her will change (and it will) - and that's what's principally bothering you. Not the loss of a potential wife.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:11 AM on April 17, 2008


Yeah, no.

There's nothing more "ARGH WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS" than Person #1 walking up to you after you've started dating or getting serious about Person #2 and saying some variant of "But *I* wanted to date you! Oh, well, *darn and shucks*" and expecting you to be OK with that sort of manipulation.

Because, regardless of Person #1's motives, it's manipulation at its core-- "Feel bad about this! I never said anything to give you any idea that I felt that way about you, but now you're rejecting me!" And that's not only annoying, it's unattractive and is guaranteed to hose your friendship.

Have another drink, ponder the qualities that attract you to this woman in the first place, and start taking away a lesson from the situation, as much as it sucks.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


You didn't mention how she reacted to your telling her previously that you had a crush, and you don't mention how you think she'd react to a new profession of love. That makes me think that it's a selfish thing for you to do to fess up now.

I also think, though, that depending on all the circumstances (do you think this guy is a good match for her? that she loves him? that she returns your feelings?) you could have a discussion (maybe during a night at the bar) that says "hey, I'm really excited for you, but a little sad, because I wish I had given us a shot before" and see what happens.

But if you think she's really happy with this guy, and she doesn't return your feelings or has no idea at all about them, just be happy for her, and be glad that you have such a very very good friend.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2008


No.

Wait, let me amend that.

GOOD GOD NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? NO!

You've had, as said above, ten years. Ten. Years. Three thousand six hundred and fifty-eight days. At any of those times you could have said to her "I really like you, let's make a go of it." You sort of did, but nothing ever happened, which is really your answer there.

She's just not that into you. You can tell her if you really want to, but one of two things will happen:

1) She will kick you to the fucking curb for trying to fuck with her pending marriage
2) She won't kick you to the curb, but guaranteed your relationship with her will be dead by the time the wedding happens.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Let me also add that being kicked to the curb is a very effective punctuation mark at the end of a lesson learned.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 10:16 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shoulda previewed.

I want to sort of rephrase my point: Talk to your friend about this, but not in a "I'm in love with you, please respond" way, but rather in a straightforward "I've always harbored a crush on you, this is a wake up call for me, but I'm mostly psyched for you!" kind of way.

Yeah, no. It's better to say nothing than to lie. Any remotely intelligent person will see right through that lie.

you could have a discussion (maybe during a night at the bar) that says "hey, I'm really excited for you, but a little sad, because I wish I had given us a shot before" and see what happens.

No, no you couldn't have that discussion. When someone has announced their engagement you don't say "hey wow we should have tried dating". You are happy for them, and if you're not actually happy, you fucking fake it, and if you can't fake it, you at least be supportive. You think the runner up for Miss America is actually happy for the winner? Of course not, but what adults do is support.

IF it is the case that she is marrying a total douchebag, then you (general) are obligated as a friend to speak up. BUT not you specifically--your motives are far too suspect.

In short: clam the hell up, meet another girl. Oh, and try and talk about the new girl's feelings, not just you you you you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm engaged and I would be FURIOUS if someone came at me with this kind of revelation. They'd instantly be dumped as a friend. If I'd wanted to be with the guy, I would have, and after ten years he should have known I wasn't interested in that way. Take a fucking hint and don't shit all over her engagement. That is not what a friend does.
posted by desjardins at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry but: another resounding 'no'. Your whole message is about your feelings, but you don't seem to considering hers at all. What's in it for her? Either embarrassment at having to brush you off (tinged with a feeling of being hurt by you), or miserable heartache if she starts to wonder 'what if?'. And I agree with others that you've wasted 10 years. I had a really close female friend who I felt like this about, and tried telling her, but she wasn't interested in it being like that. Eventually I met someone else (well, someone else after that!) and am as happy as can be - I'm still in touch with Her, but only very occasionally. Life moves on. Roll with it.
posted by hatmandu at 10:25 AM on April 17, 2008


There's a new movie coming out about this very thing. I can tell from the previews that it's a terrible chick flick, the in-love guy/pal eventually tells the woman, she changes her mind to be with him, happily ever after (except for the hapless fiance, of course).

In real life, doesn't work that way. It blows me away that so many men spend so much time looking for someone "better", that the woman they're supposedly in love with isn't quite desirable enough until someone else wants her. But sometimes waiting for that perfect supermodel to show up while keeping someone not-quite-perfect on the back burner, well, backfires. That's what's happened here. She moved on, and you must respect that.
posted by FlyByDay at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Normally I'd say, "No way. You need to move on, maybe get some counseling (if you're as emotionally broken up as you say), but try to find a way to let her go." But you say you've known her for 10 years? Maybe you should say something...
  • You say she lives in a different city. How far away?
  • How often did you actually see her in person?
  • You mentioned telling her a little bit about your feelings. How did she react? If she shut you down before you could profess your love, then she probably want's you to stay in the "friend zone."
  • Have you had any intimate/physical relationships with other women in the past five or so years? How did you justify that to yourself? Chances are you will find someone else and move on.
  • Also, if you two were talking at least once a week, did she mention this boyfriend to you before? Why didn't you see that as the opportunity to step up and tell her how you feel?

You know what? Why NOT tell her. I mean, you can't be living you life according to other peoples comfort zones. If she doesn't want to hear it, she'll get over it in time. Just give her the space she needs afterwards. I don't think that it's an "unfair burden" on her, as some other posters here have said. And I also think the people saying that "it's been 10 years, if you were in love with her, you would have made your move," and vice-versa, are full of crap. Granted, you two were STUPID for 10 years, but that doesn't mean that there weren't reciprocal feelings their. Sometimes people just can't articulate how they feel, for fear, or discomfort, or WHATEVER. She may have had feelings for you but wasn't courageous enough to do anything about it. Well, now YOU need to be the courageous one.

You should write it out in a letter, and either send her that letter, asking her to call you once she's received the letter (if she doesn't call, you've got your answer) or call her up and tell her yourself. If things don't go as planned, MOVE ON. You won't be tortured by the uncertainty, and you'll have stood up for what you wanted. You can start living your life for YOU (you have been for six days out of sever for the last 10 years), meet some people, do your work, and live your life. Maybe you see a shrink (there is NO shame in that), but either way, you learn, you live, and you move on.

Ultimately, you may just have to accept that she's just not that into you, but you are the only one who would be able to make that call. Go for it.
posted by lukeklein at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2008


if you're asking this question then clearly you are not in sync with her, and perhaps your entire perception of her thoughts toward you are out of whack

move on man!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't say anything to her about it and furthermore, commit to a lifelong, absolute silence on this matter. You don't want to mess with her marriage or your friendship.

And go forth and meet people and develop other relationships. The only thing you've really lost here is the delusion that she was some sort of safety net and you would have someone to marry when/if you ever felt like it. Now you know that there's no such thing as a Ms. Inevitable. Your new, carpe diem state of mind won't be so cosy, but you will feel more urgency, excitement, and passion. You'll find it a worthwhile trade off.
posted by orange swan at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


You need to move on - there is a very real danger you are obsessing over this woman to the exclusion of others. Meet other people, do other things. If you're not telling her on a regular basis that you wanna be with her she will ignore it, even if she is aware of your feelings because she needs the friendship.

She knows how you feel, yet you (both) keep the relationship going. You, because you like feeling of being needed by someone you love and her because she loves you back as a friend.

Some of us can seperate friendship and sex and find it easier to have sex with people they feel nothing for (meaning you could remain closer to her in some areas than the husband, but not the sexual one) and some of us can't, we need to build up a rapport which builds the attraction. You might be one of the latter and she the former.
posted by jontyjago at 10:31 AM on April 17, 2008


I should also add, that before you do "go for it," really take some time and talk to someone, and try to find out if you REALLY are in love with this person, or if your just having a visceral reaction to her being with someone else. Be an adult about this.
posted by lukeklein at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2008


I also know that we'll still be friends even if she is married, and I hold no illusions that this is the end of my world.

There you go then. It's not the end of the world and you'll still be best friends. Tell her and both those assumptions will probably go up in smoke. For your own sake, don't say a word.
posted by twistedonion at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2008


Oh, and on the seperating sex and friendship thing, if you can't seperate them and being in contact with her now she's engaged is going to cause you pain then your friendship may well be fucked anyway.

She's gonna feel you're unhappy about it and will start to resent it. You probably won't truly be able to be friends until you no longer want to sleep with her, and for that I'm afraid you need distance.
posted by jontyjago at 10:36 AM on April 17, 2008


How you feel:

This is the person who is most important to me in my entire world and has been for years. She is closer to me than any of my family members or friends and she is the person I trust more than anyone.

How she feels:

"I'm marrying the man I love! The man who is the most important person to me in the whole world, and has been ever since we started dating! The man who is closer than my family or friends, including this guy who I talk to once every week or so and who used to have this cute crush on me! Good thing he is over his crush, because otherwise things would be really uncomfortable."

If your feelings were reciprocated, she would be marrying you. She's not, she won't, she isn't interested. You are a friend, and perhaps a really good friend. The loving, she is getting from her fiancé.

All that dumping your feelings out there will do is create discomfort. She will wonder, "is this the only reason he kept acting like he was my friend, that he wanted to get into my pants?" You will wonder, "why is she no longer returning my phone calls?" My honest guess is that the only chance you maybe ever had of getting together with her was years ago; once that moment was allowed to pass by, the chance was gone forever.

What just happened to you really, really sucks. Drink some more whiskey, find a new person to flirt with, and when you go to your friend's wedding give her a big hug and shake the husband's hand and wish them both all the happiness in the world. It will be tough, but you either need to keep the unhappiness bottled up inside for the occasion, or you need to make your excuses and not go (assuming that it is a big wedding and you are invited, of course). Tomorrow, send a nice card saying "congratulations! I am so happy for you!" and then go kick the couch and swear and allow yourself to feel unhappy, because you are.
posted by Forktine at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Absolutely, positively not. Long-distance or not, best friends forever or not, you had a decade. Neither of you felt strongly enough to even attempt a relationship during that time. Any chance of a relationship has past and while that sucks, there's nothing you can do about it.

If you want to maintain any kind of friendship with her at all, not only should you never, ever mention this, but you need to move on and find someone else. Anything otherwise is disaster waiting to happen.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2008


So do I tell her that, or do I hold it inside and accept that I'm alone

That's a pretty fatalistic outlook and one that guarantees the result you're expecting. There's a lesson in all of this and it's that life can pass you by. You gotta go after what you want, rather than silently wishing or hoping things will fall into place.

and yeah, don't tell her. Put her happiness above your own in this matter. and start dating, soon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:46 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it was gonna happen, it would've happened. Get over it, and start shopping for a nice wedding present for your friend.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why NOT tell her.

Because it's stupid and selfish and will just ruin the day/week of the woman he claims to care about so much.

No.
posted by languagehat at 10:51 AM on April 17, 2008


Oh man, I had totally forgotten: this same thing, almost exactly, happened to Ms Forktine soon after we started dating. This guy, an old friend of hers from college, with whom she had been in touch for years (phone calls, emails, a few visits, the usual sort of things; she introduced us once and he seemed cool to me), when he heard we were moving in together he turned up out of the woodwork all, "I'm in loooooove! I've always been in loooooove with yooooooooou! Dump him and marry meeeeeeee!"

It didn't work, and he lost the friendship, to boot. She was really offended that a) he'd never had the balls to say any of this before; b) his saying this was disrespectful towards her commitment to our relationship; and c) the general yuckiness of having to reconsider all their years of friendship in light of his saying he had always had the secret hots for her. Turned out that he had been ok with all her previous boyfriends because he figured those weren't serious relationships and he could always have his chance (sound familiar?) but when he saw that our relationship was serious he freaked out and spilled all the beans and blew it totally.

The poor guy still sends her emails, but she hasn't replied in years. I'd be totally fine with her reconnecting with him (what could be less threatening than a pathetic whiner of a guy?) but she is completely opposed to the idea and I doubt will ever speak to him again.

So no, I don't predict success from this approach. But I suppose nothing ventured, nothing gained -- it is not like keeping quiet has been working real well for you, either.
posted by Forktine at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Here is a clue: if a girl tells you she got engaged to someone else, it can most frequently be taken as a subtle hint, a way of telling you that she is just not that into you. It is probably not going to represent an ideal time to try to start a romantic relationship with her.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2008 [11 favorites]


I think crunch buttsteak made some good points above.
posted by amtho at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2008


"A couple of years ago, I talked a very small amount about my feelings, just to get them off of my chest, but I told her I didn't want to get into a long distance relationship and that was basically it. After all, eventually, I'd have my life together, I'd be done with school, and then I could bring it up again."

Perhaps I'm mis-reading but this suggests that you were expecting that she would be waiting for you to get your life together, since you couldn't commit at the time. Even if she was romatically interested in you at the time, it's a risk to assume that she wouldn't get on with her life/meet someone else in the meantime.

Either way, the time is long past to tell your friend how you feel.

As numerous others have said - at least you now know what you want in a partner, so take a lesson away from this to 'seize the day' with the next person who fits those criteria.

Good luck!
posted by highrise at 11:00 AM on April 17, 2008


c) the general yuckiness of having to reconsider all their years of friendship in light of his saying he had always had the secret hots for her.

A really good point.
posted by meerkatty at 11:03 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


You don't mention anything about it, but I'm assuming this isn't a "you'll never guess the whirlwind weekend I just had!" situation and you've known for awhile that she's been dating someone, and (presumably because you're best friends) you know how serious it is. You've had ample time to make a play here and you didn't. This isn't about her at all, it's about your own parachute safety option to ensure you won't end up alone. Don't do it.
posted by lilac girl at 11:14 AM on April 17, 2008


As if this needs another response...

First, if you have been friends 10 years, and she talks to you every week for 2 hours, how is it that this blindsided you? Did you not see this coming?

For someone who is comfortable talking about everything, etc., it must not have been much of a surprise. Correct me if I'm wrong?

Regardless, coupling screws up a lot of frienships. What you've had has been perfect for you (by your own admission), so what you are really fearing is that your perfect situation is going to change.

If you REALLY are comfortable talking about anything, and she REALLY is your friend, then you are perfectly entitled to pose the question "I'm really worried that this is going to screw up our friendship. Is it?" and see what she says.

Despite any assurances to the contrary she may provide, I think it's the exception that having someone move into a different phase of life doesn't change many/most/all of their other relationships. I'd just mentally/emotionally prepare for it, and resolve to be more aggressive in any similar future situations.

IMO, there ain't no such thing as Ms. Right. The odds of you finding "The One" are 1 in 3.3 billion, which more or less equates to 0.00. There are millions of other compatible women for you. Sadly, none of them will have the history that you share with this one, but that's your fault for not staking a claim when you had the chance.

I am really sorry that you missed an opportunity, and hope you have wonderful luck and fun finding a mate. I really mean it. Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 11:15 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


No. Only two things can happen if you tell her. 1) She drops the fiance and marries you, or 2) She stays engaged and your friendship is forever damaged. Option 1 is very unlikely. 10 years and nothing has happened between you? As everyone else has said, she knows it already, and if she didn't, you wouldn't be asking this question on AskMe. If she stays engaged, however, then you won't be able to keep the same level of friendship and be fair to her fiance. Maybe you don't care about that, but at some point, if she loves him, she'll start to limit contact with you. Maybe this is an inevitable outcome even if you don't say anything, but however your friendship continues or doesn't continue after she gets married, confessions of romantic love after she's embarked on a lifetime decision with someone else can only strain things between you.
posted by Happydaz at 11:16 AM on April 17, 2008


Don't tell her, she'll think you're a total jerk for waiting this long.
posted by fenriq at 11:35 AM on April 17, 2008


I'm going to dissent here. The above is all good, sensible and convenient. On the other hand, it is never too late to do something reckless and true...no matter how long it took or what the stakes are.

Look at it this way: Are you really gonna stay best friends with a married woman? What kind of husband would be O.K. with that?

A man sometimes has to do what he must, if only so he doesn't find himself regretting what might have been, had he not bought into the sad cliche of the male-female friendship, in that particular variety where everyone convinces themselves something different is gong on, for the sake of convenience.
posted by johngoren at 11:41 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It sounds like the biggest part of this relationship with her has always been inside your own head.

Keep it there.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Don't tell her. It is selfish.

If you do decide to tell her, prepare yourself for the worst rejection possible.
posted by Locative at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2008


@Johngoren

A good husband. That's who.
posted by Phalene at 11:51 AM on April 17, 2008


No. No. No!!


Be a friend and be there for her during this amazing time. If you really loved her you would have made it work years ago.
posted by saradarlin at 12:08 PM on April 17, 2008


Others have said it far more elegantly than I, but I'll add some more weight to it:

NO.

Nothing good can come of it.
posted by Leon-arto at 12:13 PM on April 17, 2008


it is never too late to do something reckless and true...

A man sometimes has to do what he must, if only so he doesn't find himself regretting what might have been


I don't know whether the OP buys into all this A Man Has To Do What He Must stuff, but just to be clear, needily grasping at your disappearing safety-net, and in the process hurting a woman you love, is not the proud, risk-taking, ballsy option here.

I agree with everyone else.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:17 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


No. That ship has sailed. You're not on it.

If she was that important to you, you'd have moved to be with her - circumstances notwithstanding. Other things were more important in your life; she's recognised this and moved on. So should you.
posted by dmt at 12:17 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


johngoren says: Are you really gonna stay best friends with a married woman? What kind of husband would be O.K. with that?

My wife is still close friends with her former best male friend (who she used to date at one point).

I am still close friends with my former best female friend (who I used to date at one time).

At this point my wife and I are each others best friends, but we're still very close to our old opposite-sex friends. There's nothing wrong with that.

Now if our old friends had refused to accept the marriage and were working to break it up - that would be a different story.

To the original poster: if you are genuinely a friend to this woman, then be happy for her sake and support her marriage. For your own sake - go out and find yourself someone else that you might be romantically interested in.
posted by tdismukes at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Make the shift from "best friend I could marry" to "best friend who is just like a sister". Think of her as your sister, and be thrilled (or fake thrilled-ness) about her engagement. It really sucks when your friends are lukewarm about your engagement
posted by defreckled at 12:28 PM on April 17, 2008


No.

If you loved her, you would have gone out of your way to be together, even despite the getting your life in order.

Either she's not into you at all. Or worse, she was into you, waited for you to get it together and delayed her options and then finally got sick of it and then found someone who appreciated her.
If you waited until she was with someone to make any move, she's a contingency plan, not a soul mate.

And I say this as someone who married my best friend 13 years after we met.
posted by Gucky at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


ditto.
posted by cachondeo45 at 12:48 PM on April 17, 2008


Putting aside the question of altruism and her feelings (which you should indeed consider), you need to decide which is the worse outcome: living the rest of your life knowing you never told her, or living the rest of your life without her. Because if you do tell her, the chances are high that the friendship will need to end then and there. I say this from personal experience — ironically enough, given the length of your friendship, personal experience from ten years ago.
posted by WCityMike at 12:51 PM on April 17, 2008


Look at it this way: Are you really gonna stay best friends with a married woman? What kind of husband would be O.K. with that?

A man sometimes has to do what he must, if only so he doesn't find himself regretting what might have been, had he not bought into the sad cliche of the male-female friendship, in that particular variety where everyone convinces themselves something different is gong on, for the sake of convenience.


Oh, yuck.

To the OP: Hell no. And as for how to get through the impending suckiness, I would just fake it till you make it. Pretend to be happy for her until you really ARE happy for her. It's funny, the way the human brain works.
posted by bettafish at 1:01 PM on April 17, 2008


I'm going to dissent as well.

Accept that it's over and that you didn't play a complementary role in her mind. End the friendship, and since you're doing that don't keep the feelings bottled up either. It doesn't have to be a last ditch manipulation, and that's certainly something to avoid. Tell her that you wish her the best and that this has given you a substantial emotional shock. You can also tell her that too much of the attention and energy you should have been applying to your own romantic interests has been spent on her. Given what you've recognized about yourself it's not appropriate to continue as you have been. And it isn't. When you have the conversation, don't use the word 'love'.

Come to terms with what it is first. Don't make a play at her. Also, know that if you don't end it for real that it will just be manipulative bullshit.

This isn't the most thoughtful action in the world you can take with respect to her, but it's honest and a good way to make a clean break. I suspect she'll understand and if she doesn't, then she was a little naive. You've joked about this possibility in the past, she won't be shocked. It isn't something to seriously worry about. But even if she would be, don't play the role of 'platonic little buddy' just so she can continue to believe that there was never any subtext.

Take action here and sever the relationship. This isn't good for you and the situation won't improve.

-----

The criticism that he could have told her any time in the last ten years is off base. For all we know it may have been just (well, almost) as inappropriate to tell her earlier than it is now. We have no idea for how long the girl in question was unattached, nor do we know if there was ever a time when they were both unattached.

And it's also false to claim that he didn't really love her to begin with. More rhetoric. It's contradictory to say both, you weren't really interested, and learn from this that you need to seize your opportunities. Both admonitions have equal supporting evidence. In other words we just don't know.

I agree that actions matter but they aren't the whole story either. We all have quirks and unevenly developed personalities. It may have been a possibility that he couldn't act on, that doesn't mean he wasn't sincere in his desire.
posted by BigSky at 1:01 PM on April 17, 2008


This is the person who is most important to me in my entire world and has been for years. She is closer to me than any of my family members or friends and she is the person I trust more than anyone. We respect each other's opinions and admire each other's talents.

Then act like it. Saying "But I lurve you" shows that ultimately, you don't view her happiness as being as important as your own. Would your friend want to marry a man who doesn't care care about her happiness?

Be a good friend. Keep your mouth shut, be genuinely happy for her, and move on.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:04 PM on April 17, 2008


No, no, no. Lifelong infatuations like this are very common. Probably actually more fun to keep it your little obsession. Eventually you'll all be old and fat and you'll wonder why anyone cared.
posted by thomas144 at 1:10 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I'll tell you my own story and let it go from there. (Warning: A long and meandering story that has never been told to anyone follows. Some dates, places and events have been made generic to protect the involved parties)

Roll back the clock to early 2001. A new co-worker is introduced to me in a work situation and I honestly can't remember what was going through my head, but I couldn't do much more than stammer. The perfect woman had walked into my life and completely devastated my world.

After a short time, we became really good friends, and within a year we were best of friends. I knew more about her, her history, family, friends etc. A true confidant I was. And the reverse was true. She knew me better than anyone else, including my wife (Oh, yeah, it's complicated). I knew she was dating her college sweetheart, who was pretty much an ass, but he wasn't a bad person by any means. Most likely my dislike for him was in direct proportion to my desire to spend every moment with her.

Anyway, life continues on, and my feelings just continue to build. She admits in around about way that she's not really happy with Boyfriend, and she's starting to develop feelings for someone at the office but they are already in a relationship so she's not said anything to him (insert sound of a Boeing 777 flying over my head and me not seeing it), my advice was to see what happens with entangled man. The very next week, she comes by my cube and shows me the shiny new diamond engagement ring the Boyfriend had given her. I play the brave face, best friend hug, etc. She goes back to work, and I send the "I'm sick, going home email" and spend the next 3 hours devastated in a local park.

This is where the similarities to the original post grabbed my attentions. I considered her to be 10x closer to me than any of my other friends or family, including my wife of many years. Now to be clear, the original poster didn't mention any sexual fantasies or lustful intentions with the relationship, which might be significant. In my situation, it really wasn't any sexual tension or a goal to move our friendship in that direction. But I couldn't stand to draw a breath without being close to her. I can't really explain those feelings, but it simply was more of a "soul-mate" situation to play the cliche.

I never let her know about my feelings, and I found myself going crazy with helping with the wedding preparations and discussions, but she was my friend and she was truly happy. So I decided that I would do everything I could to help out ( I do have a bit of a martyr complex, so "The good of the many..." played out in my mixed up mind). But regardless, I tried to be the best friend I could be and I kept my feelings to myself.

Wedding/Honeymoon/Back to work happens and all seems to return to normal. We continue to go out, together, as couples, and with large groups of work friends. Nothing seems to change. I still can't get her out of my head and the worst part of every day is going home to my world which is lonely and unhappy. I really felt this was the worst time of my life, even though my work hours were also some of my happiest times. I cannot begin to describe my thoughts. Three full years this continues. Happy/Sad/Happy/Devastated/Happy/etc. But looking back, I really only have memories of the good times.

Then "The Day" comes. Over a typical glass of wine after work, I'm feeling something is up. I probe a little to try and find out what was going on. And out it comes, the words that killed my soul. "Hubby got a new job, and we're moving across the country". A tried my best at a repeat of the engagement story. "I'm so happy for you, the new job will be great. I hope that M*thrF*xr Husband of your's is happy (this was the internal dialog, of course).

I stumble bravely as I can through the next hour, trying to be positive and change the subject back to work as best as I could. We say goodbye for the evening and I head home. I make it about three blocks to the parking lot of a grocery store where I lose my lunch in a way that I never want to repeat. It felt as if my soul was being expelled from my body more than the bile in my system. I crawl back into my truck and just lie there for almost 2 hours. No thoughts, or any recollection of what was in my head. All I can remember is just staring at the roof of the pickup. Completely numb. There was hell to pay at home, coming home 4 hours late. No excuses, a simple sorry, and fall into bed still fully dressed.

Moving day quickly comes and I help load the moving van still doing everything I can to be brave, and supportive. A true wish of good luck and a firm handshake to @ssH0le, and a goodbye hug to Her and it's over. They go riding off into the proverbial sunset, and I remain a pile of ashes being blown around in the wind.

That was almost 3 years ago. We've kept in touch via IM and Telephone. Met up a couple of times when they were in town for friends and family. I can hardly get through the day without thinking of her, but it isn't nearly as painful as it was.

Certain songs, restaurants, recurring jokes, etc. can send me into a destructive mode, but I usually dig myself out after a day or two.

My wife left me a couple of years ago because I'm just not the person I used to be. And she's right, I didn't fight it out or anything.

Extremely long story short: I still love her with a heart I didn't know I had until we met. My world changed for the better when we met, and Quaked when she left. But I wouldn't change a minute of it.

How I tried to make it better:
- I had a funeral for my perception of the relationship. It sounds dark, but what I went through was truly a mourning process. Denial, Anger, Acceptance, etc.
- I admitted to myself that I love her for who she is.
- I admitted to myself that Her happiness (in this situation) was more important than my own.
- I agreed with the philosophy of letting go of what you hold most dear.
- I focused on all of the great times we had together and in groups.
- I try to genuinely enjoy the 2-3 days a year when we can get together in person.
- I admitted to myself, that She's happy with her husband, in a place that is good for her, and their shared future, and that I have no right to interfere.
- And I truly wallowed in self pity and doubt and was a complete blubbering baby for a week. I don't recommend it but it happened.

So how does this story relate back to the original post?
- If you truly want what's best for her, say nothing. Agreeing with everyone else, it will just be a great way to destroy the friendship you have built.
- Be a good friend, and help. Love her for who she is, without expectation. That is friendship.
- Support her long term in her Marriage.
- If you have the relationship you claim, then you'll be needed in the future when things go wrong in her future. And if you take nefarious advantage of those feelings, then everyone who posted will collectively kick your butt.
- You'll get through the transition. It will hurt, but you will be a better person for it.

I wish you the best of luck and to your friend. True connected relationships are rare, and they should be celebrated.
posted by Hollowman at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2008 [15 favorites]


No.

I was on the receiving end of one of these confessions (I'm female, fwiw). I *knew* for the entire time we were friends (a literal lifetime) that he cared for me more than the average buddy. But when he opened his mouth and put it out there, the intensity of that admission irrevocably shifted our friendship forever. In fact, we no longer speak because things were so very awkward between us after that. It wasn't that I didn't want him in my life any more (because I in fact did), it was simply that the bell couldn't be unrung. We couldn't downgrade to standard friendship once those words were out there.

Trust me. She knows. She knew all along. And though you didn't have the nerve to say anything for all these years, she ab-so-tively would have spoken up if she had felt the same. I know *I* would have spoken up if I had wanted my friend in the same way he wanted me.
posted by December at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tell her. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't. It might not turn out the way you wanted it to, but at least there'll be no doubt.

I'm in a similar situation with my best friend, though he's not getting married so I haven't so much as introduced the topic of my feelings toward him. Nonetheless, if he were to tell me tomorrow that he were engaged I know I wouldn't be able to keep those feelings to myself. And really, why should I have to? You're not offering an ultimatum--me or the husband--you're simply being honest with someone that means the world to you. That's not selfish--it's human nature.

Good luck.
posted by nonmerci at 1:52 PM on April 17, 2008


Asparagirl is correct. You had 10 years to make your move- if you were really in love with her, you would have made a move by now, AND if she were in love with you, she would have made a move by now. You don't really want to be with her, you just hate that she's with someone else. And she chose to be with someone else because she doesn't want to be with you. There's absolutely no reason to tell her. Smile at yourself and let it go.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:47 PM on April 17 [+] [!]


Sorry, but this is bullshit. Extremely intimate best friend relationships are pretty magnificent things and the idea of destroying them for a feeling can be incredibly terrifying and consistently seem 'not worth it'. This does absolutely 100% NOT mean that those feelings aren't real. Furthmore, it's pretty common to wait things out and hope something will fall into place. Time passes incredibly quickly. So let's blame the OP just a little bit less and understand that perhaps he really didn't know how to deal with this and now that this girl he loves is going to be gone forever he feels he should do something about it. This is NOT uncommon, people!
posted by nonmerci at 1:57 PM on April 17, 2008


I have been in similar situations.

Because I could get through a "no", which is what I got, and not have it do long-term damage to my relationship with her, I told her. And it was okay. She thought about me, considered my position, gave me a considered answer, and I took about 12 hours to myself to get over the momentum of offering up that intimacy of confession and now we're just fine.

She's married, I'm in a different LTR, she's having a kid (whom I hope to meet soonish). We live on opposite coasts of the U.S. I see her maybe once or twice a year. Other than that we don't really talk, but really, we never talk much when we're not actually with each other.

We have always been good friends, and the fact that I told her how I felt about her, eventually, after about 10 years of knowing her, was fine. Fine with her, fine with me. Telling her actually released us both from some tension, which was also fine and good and wonderful and I'm glad I told her, and she seems to be okay with me having said something.

But honestly, if your feeling is that in imparting that intimacy, you'd feed the momentum that could turn on your and/or on her if she said "no", then don't do it. You're not ready to let go, and to me, that letting go is what loving your friend is all about. Not in a Hollywood sense. Just that if you love her as a friend, the supportive kind, you should be putting her needs ahead of yours. If you cannot put her needs first, then don't bother saying anything, because you won't survive a "no". Enjoy what you can of the relationship that remains to you and let her enjoy it too.

If you feel that you can impart the intimacy of how you've been feeling about her and get through it graciously if she says "no", then maybe think about saying something, but don't say it in the Hollywood sense where you expect she'll turn to you and fall for you. Just say it so it's in the open, and don't expect her to do anything about it.

If on the other hand, this has irrevocably changed things for you and you can't move forward and you can't move back, I counsel just leaving. Maybe with a note or something. Remember that friendly support is about support, not about investing in your romantic feelings about how it should go or how you think Hollywood would have it go. It shouldn't go anywhere, except where she wants it to go.

You have had 10 years. Waiting until now and then demanding her back would be the height of incivility. Waiting until now to talk about something you just want to get off your chest and that doesn't have a load of expectations on it, that's a different story and maybe she'd be okay with that conversion. Only you and she really know that.
posted by kalessin at 2:29 PM on April 17, 2008


I'm in a similar situation with my best friend...if he were to tell me tomorrow that he were engaged I know I wouldn't be able to keep those feelings to myself. And really, why should I have to?

Because you, like the OP, should care enough about your "best" friend as to not want to intentionally put a damper on his or her engagement by taking what should be a special moment for him or her and making it all about *YOU*. By making an 11th hour declaration of your true feelings, you are saying, symbolically, "My need to get this off my chest is of higher importance than you getting to simply enjoy your engagement". Which is why it's an inherently selfish act.
posted by The Gooch at 2:30 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


No - telling her now, after she's told you she's getting married, will ruin your friendship. She will never feel comfortable with you again. Decide which you value more, I guess - her knowing how you feel, or maintaining a friendship with her.
posted by miss cee at 2:32 PM on April 17, 2008


You could test the waters by jokingly saying to her "I guess I missed my chance with you, right? My timing must be off." and gauge her reaction. You aren't going to wreck her engagement by saying this if she's really happy. I don't think you're going to be successful. If she was really interested, she'd have let you know.

If you had 10 years to make your move, and didn't, you might find a really good therapist helpful in sorting out why. There are lots of fantastic single people; if you want to be involved with someone, you have to take some action. <>
posted by theora55 at 2:41 PM on April 17, 2008


No.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:50 PM on April 17, 2008


Extremely intimate best friend relationships are pretty magnificent things and the idea of destroying them for a feeling can be incredibly terrifying and consistently seem 'not worth it'. This does absolutely 100% NOT mean that those feelings aren't real.

Who cares? This is where you, and the poster, I believe, are mistaken: it really doesn't matter how you "feel". Feelings are not "real", they are like feathers in the wind. There was a time for feelings, and that time was before this girl got engaged. But there weren't any feelings then! The feelings have arisen because the poster's assumption that this girl was going to be there when he was ready for her has been shaken. That's something he should deal with privately, not something he should throw in his friend's lap.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:04 PM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Dude. You had TEN. YEARS. That's a hell of a window. You could have tried to make a go of it at any point in that decade.

Yeah. You snooze, you lose.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:28 PM on April 17, 2008


You could test the waters by jokingly saying to her "I guess I missed my chance with you, right? My timing must be off." and gauge her reaction.

This sort of advice comes up here all the time, and I see people do it often in real life. (eg "Afraid to ask her out? Make a joke about it, and see how she responds.") I understand where it comes from -- a lack of confidence, a hope to avoid rejection, a hope that by not directly naming the issue the desired result will magically appear, and that the joking will finesse a tricky situation. And self-effacement is cute, right?

But it really comes across as wussy, and sometimes dishonest and even (at the worst) passive aggressive. By not having the balls to say "Hey, this is how I feel, this is what I am hoping for," you put the onus totally on the other person to deal with a difficult social situation. If it is socially unacceptable to say to the newly-engaged woman, "but I lurve you lots and lots!", which it is, then it is doubly unacceptable to say the same thing, but hidden inside a "joke." Trust me, everyone knows what's really being said, and hiding it doesn't make it any better.

Social graces and etiquette are codified and exist for a reason -- these rules (unlike white shoes after April or whatever) are not purely arbitrary. There are times and places to break those rules, too -- but have the honesty to do so directly and sign your name to it -- don't hide behind jokes, innuendo, and speaking in tangents.
posted by Forktine at 3:34 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have to say that I agree with the people saying no in general, BUT, I say yes.

It all has to do with the delivery, though. I think you need to get it off your chest, and now is better than 2 years into her marriage when you two accidentally found yourselves a little tipsy on wine and alone, and you come up with some blithering, hopeful vomit of words. If it is that important to you, chances are you'll end up saying something at some point. This is probably the perfect excuse, but do not, I repeat DO NOT phrase it in a "I'm telling you this so you'll be with me" way. Sorry, but that expectation is selfish and wrong of you. Take it as a lesson to act when you have the chance. But, it would be torturous to never say a word for the rest of your life.

So, next time you are out with her (I'd prefer not to do this by phone, since the atmosphere is less intimate - avoid this during any intimate, one-on-one talks) mention is as an off the hand remark. Something like, "I'm so glad you found someone. I have to admit I'm a little jealous, because I always wondered if we would have made a good couple, but I guess that wasn't really in the cards." Then end with some protective type of joke like, "But, you better tell me if he doesn't treat you right, cuz I'll fly down there and beat the snot out of him!"

There. Now you've said it, she understands, you haven't been rash or made any expectations of her, and, if done right, this should lead to either:
a) a small confession from her along the same vein (DON'T act on this, unless she suddenly starts crying and blubbering about being desperately in love with you). Just say that this means alot to you and change the subject.
b) an awkward, "What do you mean?" or some other clarification question. Downplay, downplay, downplay. End whatever you say with, "It's not a big deal." and change the subject to something about the wedding.
c) a thanks, giggle, etc. Change the subject to the wedding.
d) a persistent "What do you mean?" which would be the worst scenario. Stick to the fact that she's your best friend, you're happy for her, you don't want to make it into a big deal because that's just asking for it to be awkward, and that you're not an idiot that wants to ruin your friendship (right?)

The female MeFis are will be shouting No! But, looking at it from YOUR perspective, I think that's cruel and just asking for some big blow-up down the line.
posted by neuroking at 4:13 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


The female MeFis are will be shouting No!

Because only females care about the feelings of women, amirite?

I'm a guy, and I'm shouting "No." The proposed plan of action is selfish and stupid and will only hurt the woman he claims to love. Those of you who are saying "Forget the naysayers, do what you gotta do, bro" are saying "Who cares about her and her stupid female feelings? It's you that matters! You and your deep frustrated love! Spill it or you'll never get over it!" Sort of like emotional blue balls, I guess.

In short: No.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fuck no. Ten fucking years you had the chance. If you cared about her at all, let alone were in love with her, you'd know that a confession about your feelings would be selfish and stupid. There are 3 billion other women in the world. This one isn't yours.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:29 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


No. It will only make her feel weird around you, and then you'll feel worse. Either try to get over your feelings, or nurse them in secret, but don't tell her. There's no way it will end well.
posted by number9dream at 5:40 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I won't go into details, but I will say that plenty of this situation rings a (very painful) bell for me. Which is why I will join the NO chorus.

You may indeed care for your friend very much, but let's be blunt: the ultimate outcome you are hoping for is the ruination of her engagement. Short of causing her to call off her wedding(thereby hurting her fiance far more than you are hurting right now), you will at the very least put a damper on her happiness at exactly the moment she needs you to celebrate her joy with her, and you may very well jeopardize your friendship forever.

Declaring your feelings no doubt seems like an intoxicatingly romantic thing to do. But as an action with real-world consequences (none of which will be in your control), it falls far, far short of truly demonstrating love.

Nurse your broken heart in silence (go into therapy, as others have suggested, if that might seem like a good idea) and take this as the signal that it's time for you to start emotionally moving on, so that you can also find your match one day.
posted by scody at 6:37 PM on April 17, 2008


chalk up another no, for all the reasons said above.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 PM on April 17, 2008


Ugh, heck no. I had a former friend who clearly cared for me, but thought I was too 'young and inexperienced' for a relationship. So he was 'waiting' until I 'had more experience'. He told ALL of my friends, but he never told me. So he had his chance. And he missed it.

I think there's a right person, right time, right place combo that's really important, and one of the down sides of waiting for the 'right' time, is that you just might miss it (assuming it ever was). Consider if this is what she wants to hear right now. If it isn't, be the good friend you'll always been and don't tell her. While you're at it don't tell your mutual friends either. And if you can't be a good friend, keep some distance until you can. Go meet her husband to be - spend time with them, see how happy she is, and accept it.
posted by anitanita at 7:26 PM on April 17, 2008


I was once in pretty much exactly the same situation. I confessed my love to her. She cut off all contact with me. (Apparently, her fiance was not interested in socializing with me, and she felt guilty doing so behind his back.) Pretty bad, eh? Well, two years later, she got back in touch with me and told me that the engagement had fallen through. We started dating pretty soon after that. But, by that point, we'd drifted apart quite a bit in our ways of thinking, so it didn't last very long. Still, we have become good friends once more.

So, should you do it? I don't know. But, I've never regretted my confession, not even when I thought that I'd never see her again. It took a lot of courage to say it, given the risks, and I was impressed that I was able to summon it. I did think about whether or not it is selfish to confess love to someone who is about to get married. But, I figured that hearing "I love you" from a person you like can't be all that bad. In my particular situation, she didn't seem the worse for having heard it.
posted by epimorph at 7:46 PM on April 17, 2008


My girlfriend has a very close male friend, who has been her close male friend for well over a decade by now. She views him basically as a brother.

She simply is not at all romantically interested in him, and the fact that every three to six months he sends her a long, detailed email describing the Truly Worthwhile and Significant Love He Feels For Her and how this time, after joining her on a seven-hours-each-way car trip to meet me at a job fair for a field he has no interest in and insisting that she stay with him at the motel instead of with me, her boyfriend and having a Long, Meaningful Talk About Their Relationship and how he can't deal with the pain of having her around all the time, followed by about ten days of not hanging out, followed by just going back to being friends...

It sounds to me like her fiancée is a saint for putting up with your friendship with her if it's anything like what I've been going through. The only way I've been able to deal with it is to simply stop regarding him as a threat and reminding myself that she's trustworthy.

If you don't make her question your motives for the last decade with your "BUT I WUB YOUUUU," you will make him question them, and the last thing you want, if she truly is your best damn friend in the whole wide world, is to put yourself in a situation where any contact with her is viewed in a very suspect light.

Game over, dude. You lose. Like everyone else said, the best time to tell a woman that you are in love with her is:
1. Within the first ten years of knowing her
2. Before she is deliberately engaged to another man
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:58 PM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


No.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:26 PM on April 17, 2008


A very similar thing happened to me.

I told the girl, we remained friends. The next couple of times I saw her, I was broken up about it - but then the strangest thing happened - my attraction to her ceased. I even started to wonder what I saw in her in the first place.

I didn't expect it, didn't even want it, but it happened, so I think telling her was the best thing I could have done. It allowed me to move on.

So I say do it. You have nothing to lose. You might even feel better after you get that crippling weight off your chest.
posted by kpmcguire at 9:57 PM on April 17, 2008


I feel completely in sync with her and always thought "well, if we end up living in the same place, one day we'll probably end up together."
Yes, you took her for granted.

However, I think the "No" sayers are taking her reaction for granted. I do agree that the very most likely thing is that she will really not appreciate you saying it (and that she knew it already).

But we don't know her. You do. You need to make the best judgement of what you think her reaction will be. If you think it's really possible she would prefer to have you and you decide to talk to her then you have to come up with a concrete action plan to present - I will do this, I will do that - to show her that it's going to happen.

Also, you have to accept that if she reacts negatively you are most likely to be losing her friendship for this lifetime.

I would counsel you "No" but I certainly wouldn't direct you "No". Your decision man, and for you to accept the consequences.
posted by Sitegeist at 10:22 PM on April 17, 2008


I was somewhat in a similar situation not too long ago (thanks to the hive, i'm out of it).

In my instance, I was the girl who waited for the guy (for 2 years) who told me he liked me too but wasn't ready to do anything about it because he wanted to get himself together (his job was all long days and hours). He promised to give me his answer by one date and when that date came and went, he negotiated for a later deadline (which is ongoing). While i agreed then, i rethought the whole thing, dumped him as a potential, kept him as a friend and moved on. Now he's trying to act all territorial by repeatedly making passes at me, or being mean and making remarks (like racist ones when my date is not of the same race as me) or generalising them as gays (just because i have many gay friends).

In short, my point to you is that you had your chance, you didn't make a move and you are not going to get a chance when the girl has moved on (she has). Basically, you closed the door yourself on the 'opportunity of you and her together' when you told her you had some feelings for her but you weren't prepared to do anything about it (distance is a foible excuse) and left it at that. If i heard that from a guy, i would tell myself he's not worth my effort because he thinks i'm not worth that effort to try and make something work.
posted by prudie at 11:46 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


career/getting your life together is also a weak excuse. My premise is that if you want something badly enough, even if you had a million things to do, you would somehow find a way to fit that one more thing into your life. You didn't want her badly then, but now the threat of losing her to any guy has led you to re-weigh your situation and you think that because she's been your friend for so long (and does things with you she would not do with someone else like talk on the phone), you think she holds special feelings for you.

Don't go down the road of telling her if she is as what you have said, the closest person to you in this whole wide world. You can find another lover but it is a huge investment of another 10 years or so to develop with another person who understands you like she does if you lose her this way.
posted by prudie at 11:52 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you were her fiance, what would you want you to do?

Do that.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:25 AM on April 18, 2008


All the excuses you give are just excuses. Long distance is not an obstacle if you are motivated, Mrs arcticseal and I did the long distance thing from Canada to UK for 5 years.

You waited too long and blew it, don't mess up her life by dumping all this on her. She knew you were interested and chose someone else.

It wasn't meant to be. How do I know this? If it was meant to be, then you'd have done something about it.

Be a good supportive friend and be happy for her. In time you will meet someone else and wonder why you put yourself through so much anguish over this.

Give yourself licence to grieve (privately) over this, then move on.
posted by arcticseal at 4:10 AM on April 18, 2008


follow-up from the OP
Honestly, I think she might have been ready to give things a try, but I was scared she'd say no, so I told her I didn't want an answer. Part of the problem was that, if this person was meant for me, I didn't want to start a relationship as the person I was at that point. I wanted to know who I was and be a whole person with her, and not screw things up by attempting a long distance relationship. I also didn't want to make her deal with an intimate relationship with someone who, at that time, was dealing with severe depression. I guess I wanted everything to be perfect with the person I thought was perfect for me.

I also wanted to be in the same place to start things. I'm realistic enough to know that talking on the phone is not the same as seeing someone and spending time with them on a more regular basis.

The result was that nothing really changed and I sort of fell into a relationship with someone else a month or two later. The only fight I've ever had with my friend was about that other girl monopolizing my time. Then, at some point, she started dating the man that has become her fiance before I broke up with my ex.

If you feel like posting an update for me, I want to make it clear to everyone that I have no intention of trying to stop the wedding. I can't say that I think he's the best man out there, and she's told me about the many problems they've had, but I'm not going to try to stop them from being together if that's what she wants. I just want to share my feelings with the one person whom I've always counted on most. And if I say something, I will say it as a matter of apologizing if I seem unhappy, but that I want her to be happy most of all. I just want to share my mourning for a dream I had and have her support in finding someone for myself. I wouldn't dream of asking her to dump him for me.

And yes, part of my concern is that I don't want our relationship to change, and that is part of why I was scared before of pursuing her. But I also think it will change if I keep my feelings inside and they build into resentment, instead of just releasing them. If I'm not the groom, I still want to be at her side at her wedding, and I don't know if I can do that without explaining how I feel now."


"Oh, and just to clarify, I don't resent her for choosing him. When I mentioned the problems they've had, I realize I may have come off as bitter. I just mention them because I honestly thought the relationship was coming to an end, and so I was caught by surprised when she told me about the engagement. But obviously, all relationships have rough patches that people get through."
posted by jessamyn at 6:04 AM on April 18, 2008


But I also think it will change if I keep my feelings inside and they build into resentment, instead of just releasing them.

You're right that you need to do is release these feelings, so you move past them, but telling her isn't really the answer. As noted by others, you might actually drive her away and you don't want that right?

I'm a big fan of writing a letter thats never sent (or purposefully sent to wrong address, heh). Doing so helps organize your thoughts and feelings, while getting them out.

My strongest piece of advice is find more close friends. Having a larger group of close friends, even if you're closer to some than others, helps ease emotional burdens.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry to hear that you were not in a good place the first time round, OP; I hope you have sorted that aspect of your life out.

However I have to say that it's a...strange (for you and for her) reason to use to justify not wanting to commit at a certain point in time. I've heard the same thing myself and have taken it as a rejection and, whilst not wanting to speak for the entire female population, I felt that it constituted a brush-off pretty clearly. Perhaps she took it that way, perhaps she didn't have the emotional resources to deal with someone who was depressed, perhaps she did wait and got bored with waiting and found someone else.

I'm so sorry that you feel bad about your friend's engagement, but I hope you find someone who is not committed to another and who will make you happy.
posted by highrise at 7:28 AM on April 18, 2008


But I also think it will change if I keep my feelings inside and they build into resentment, instead of just releasing them. If I'm not the groom, I still want to be at her side at her wedding, and I don't know if I can do that without explaining how I feel now.

The only logical reason to release these feelings to her is if you want her to dump him and end up with you. Otherwise, you just need to talk about this with someone who is not her. Like a therapist.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:59 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please, if you take anything away from this thread, let it be this:

Don't even sabotage yourself like this again. Don't ever wait for everything to fall perfectly into place. It will never happen. You have to make it happen. You will never be perfect. Other people will never be perfect. Circumstances will never be perfect. Life is not easy. It will never be easy. Stop waiting for it to be easy. Stop waiting until you're "ready." There is no ready. You just have to jump in and make it work. Everything in life is jury-rigged and scotch-taped together.
posted by prefpara at 8:20 AM on April 18, 2008 [20 favorites]


I just want to share my feelings with the one person whom I've always counted on most. And if I say something, I will say it as a matter of apologizing if I seem unhappy, but that I want her to be happy most of all. I just want to share my mourning for a dream I had and have her support in finding someone for myself.

You are very confused and emotional, which is entirely understandable. But I beg you to try to sort out the illogical and contradictory mess that is the preceding series of statements. You "want her to be happy most of all"... but you just have to tell her something that is guaranteed to make her unhappy. You talk about "the one person whom I've always counted on most" and I presume she thinks of you the same way... but if she counts on you, surely one of the things she most counts on you to do is not make her feel bad about her engagement. You want "her support in finding someone for myself"? A good way to get that is to keep her feeling good about you, which means not telling her something that will certainly make her feel bad about you and may well result in her not talking to you for a long time, if ever.

If you truly care about this woman, and not just the ineffable majesty and importance of your own "mourning," please listen to what virtually everyone here is telling you. Sure, you have to get it off your chest. Find a friend, or a therapist, to do that with. She is not the appropriate person. I'm sure you can see that if you let yourself think about it with your head instead of your suffering heart. If she is as important to you as you say, make the effort to do the right thing. You'll thank yourself in a few years, when you're still good friends with her and have found someone else and look back on all this angst with a rueful chuckle.

Please do what's right and leave her out of your turmoil. It is not something she can share with you, nor should she be asked to, particularly at a time when she should be able to enjoy her engagement. To tell her would be selfish and stupid. Don't do it.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on April 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


if you feel like you need to do it then do it but she more then likely already knews about your affection if you need to say it so you can move on then it should be said. Personally i wouldnt mention it, i would just move on.
posted by Rolandkorn at 4:36 PM on April 18, 2008


If I were your friend, I'd want to be told. Not because you could change my mind, but because we're best friends and we've always shared everything. But since it's obvious that I'm clearly in the minority in this thread, it is likely she would not feel the same. It looks like you'll have to trust your own judgement on this.
posted by happyturtle at 3:20 PM on April 19, 2008


Ow.

So maybe you have kind of made her your security blanket. But that's in the past. If she's not married yet in the present, go on and tell her you love her. Worst that can happen: She breaks your heart explicitly instead of implicitly. I don't think you'd be risking your friendship (and I am frankly terrified by the people here whose definition of 'friend' includes 'person who would cut you off forever, rather than endure a little awkwardness with you'—when did Awkward become the ur-demon?). More likely: Armed with accurate information, she will treat her long-time friend more kindly in this painful time than she might have otherwise. That is no small help for you, and knowing you better is no small gain for her.

If the wedding date is past, on the other hand, zip it. Time's up. You're no longer in awkward territory, you're in marriage-breaking territory. Don't go there.

You have my profoundest sympathies. This will probably be unutterably hard for you. It gets better. Eventually.
posted by eritain at 4:24 AM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


You need to cultivate a broader circle of friends other than us anonymous posters on mefi. Even after you tell the girl how you feel you will then feel angst over having told her and the fallout that is sure to come. It won't end until you have a social circle which is there for you.

Don't overlook the fiancee. He's liable to kick you butt if you come slinking around. He's obviously melted her heart and worked at it for her to say yes to him; you on the other hand...

Don't tell her.
posted by steppe at 11:56 AM on October 7, 2008


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