Do they really know?
June 8, 2009 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Will my inappropriate crush know? How do I keep it hidden?

I've had a good female friend for 10 years (I'm a guy). We were just normal part-of-a-group friends for a long time. I really never felt any chemistry between us, although, admittedly, she's never much of a flirt, (ok, she basically cannot flirt at all), especially for a beautiful woman. I appeared to be the only guy in our group that did not have a secret crush on her.

About two years ago, we got into a little spat that was basically her fault. It wasn't a big deal, but somehow festered into us not talking for two months.

Eventually I ran into her on the street and she apologized for not calling me about the "incident." I said no problem and we hung out with our group of friends without incident a few days later. Things seemed totally normal.

She was looking for a job on the other side of the country and soon found it. In the two months she had left in our city, she started wanting to hang out with me a lot, and seemed to want to avoid group things and just do stuff me and her. I thought nothing of it, until she specifically requested that her and I go to dinner "just the two of us" a few days before she was going to leave. I suddenly got the distinct impression she was crushing on me and hoping maybe I would do something. I didn't really feel that way about her, despite the fact that she's objectively better looking than me. I think the lack of my interest involved her being somewhat cooler and less passionate than the "difficult type" I find myself generally attracted to.

When she arrived in her new place on the opposite coast, she started calling me twice a week. I rarely called her back, as I'm not much of a phone person. This continued for six months. I didn't think much of it until I learned that she was really not calling anyone else in the group but me, including female friends who I thought she was much closer to. I started to get the feeling she was crushing on me again. Several of the male friends we share started making comments that she had a crush on me. I discounted their statements because she's tall and is practically obsessed with tall guys and I'm shorter than her. I also learned that while we weren't talking, she was asking all our friends what she should do about the "incident" and was apparently pretty upset about us not talking.

At some point during these calls, I started teasing her about calling me all the time and wondered aloud how I became her best friend. She laughed about it and more or less admitted it was true. (She's not my best friend by far, but a good friend nonetheless).

I must admit I enjoyed the attention, without being intersted on my own side.

After a year, the calls slowed down a bit due to a lot going on with her, down to once a week. Through this whole period, we had talked about me coming out for a visit, as I have other friends in the area. Other members of the group went and visited her, but despite her request, I didn't come because I had a family event.

A few weeks ago, she started calling again relatively frequently. She has begun talking about moving back to where I live, which is the world center of what she does for a living. She states repeatedly that she misses her friends here and how great these friends are. We had also been discussing me coming out to visit her and my other friends.

During one of those calls, as she was laughing at my jokes, I suddenly felt attracted to her.

I have been upset about this since I felt this way and have felt crushing feelings towards since that time. Suddenly I care who is calling and when and feel upset if she doesn't return my call when I would like it. I think about her in sexual contexts and she is my distraction of choice. She has nothing going on with any guys, as usual.

Recently when I started to finalize my plans, she found out that she had been accepted for a volunteer trip and asked that I postpone a month so she could take extra time off and we could go to her parents cabin. I agreed.

Since that time I've been pretty wound up about the whole thing. I am concerned about spending time with her as I am pretty sure she isn't into me in that way, especially because of the height thing, which is pretty important to her.

I am concerned that I will not be able to hide my new, different feelings for her and that she will "know" that I like her and I will be upset. I don't want to feel rejected and I wish I wasn't having these feelings and want things to go back to where they were before. My fear is increased by the fact that we will be spending what appears to be a lot of "alone time" at her parent's cabin.

My question is two-fold: Will she know I am now crushing on her? and is there anyway that I can hide this from her while staying out there?

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
How is it inappropriate?
posted by kldickson at 8:26 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

She likes you. You like her. This is a problem why?
posted by Loto at 8:31 AM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm really irritated by this question, so I apologize if I'm curt.

"Will she know I am now crushing on her?"

There's no way to know without seeing you in action.

"I don't want to feel rejected [...] is there anyway that I can hide this from her while staying out there?"

YOU ARE PRETTY SURE SHE LIKES YOU. YOU LIKE HER. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? Christ, man, if you want to hide it, just talk about a friend of hers and mention that you want to fuck her (the friend). Problem solved. I can't understand why you're being so weird about this, and I can barely figure out what it is you're even asking, or why.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:33 AM on June 8, 2009 [25 favorites]

Dude, she likes you. Don't hide anything. Just go for it.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:37 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

She calls you often, wants to spend 'alone time' with you, and you've often thought she has feelings for you. And now you realize you have feelings for her too.

What's your problem, exactly?
posted by lullaby at 8:42 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

What are you complaining about? She obviously likes you, and now you like her? Why would you want to pretend otherwise? Is there a reason you want to act like 13 year old?

As far as whether or not she'll "know" the answer is no, she won't be able to tell whats in your head if you really try to hide it and act "normal" (as in, not attracted to her) but why would you want to do that?

Just be an adult and let her know how you feel.
posted by delmoi at 8:42 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't understand this at all, and I think you have to email a moderator with more info before anyone can help you.

A) Why is your crush "inappropriate"? Do you have a relationship going with someone else? Do you not want to be in a relationship ever?

B) People don't automatically know when others have crushes on them, unless the others tell them, or they act unambiguously crushed-out. Presumably you can control your own behavior, yes? Therefore, if you don't want to indicate that you have a crush on her, don't tell her, and don't act like someone with a crush--just act the same way you've been acting toward her for the last ten years, and she will never imagine you have a crush on her.

But I'm still confused about why you don't want her to know, and why you don't want to pursue a relationship with her.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:42 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, how old are you all? All of this "secret crush" nonsense sounds like either junior high or an Iris Murdoch novel, neither of which is any way for grownups to live.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:43 AM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

What are you asking here? Note the common denominators of troubled relationship questions on MeFi, specifically: breaking up, cheating, sexual orienation issues, lack of sex/kink, permanent geography-related problems, exes, and/or assholish behavior.

Your situation involves none of these.

You both like each other really understanding the stumbling block.
posted by December at 8:45 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

What's wrong with this? It seems like the focus is on semantics and mechanics rather than whether she's an interesting person and whether it could work.
posted by crapmatic at 8:53 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think it's kind of obvious that he's afraid of being rejected, and is going to be in an awkward position if he makes an advance and is rejected - they're going to be in a cabin together alone.

Dispense with the drama - you're both grown ups who may or may not be interested in each other. The mature thing to do would be to call her before the trip and tell her how you feel. She may have reciprocal feelings, and if so, great. But if not, she can then decide whether she still wants to stay at the cabin with you. Don't wait till you get there to spring it on her, and definitely don't make yourself miserable by trying to hide your feelings.
posted by iconomy at 8:59 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dude, she invited you to spend the weekend alone in a cabin in the woods. Of course she's interested in you. What you do you think is going to happen up there? Scrabble?
posted by ga$money at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2009 [17 favorites]

I think it's kind of obvious that he's afraid of being rejected

Everyone's afraid of being rejected, so that would make all crushes "inappropriate" by definition, yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:05 AM on June 8, 2009

It seems to me your only problem here is that you're too critical of yourself --and too slow letting go of superficial, adolescent bullshit like this: I didn't really feel that way about her, despite the fact that she's objectively better looking than me.
posted by applemeat at 9:06 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Kiss her, you fool.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:11 AM on June 8, 2009 [9 favorites]

So you think that she likes you, while at the same time being fairly convinced intellectually that she isn't and that you're firmly in the firend zone? Then it sounds like this cabin time is probably going to be make or break, in that it'll probably come out one way or another (as you're obsessing about it), and either she'll feel the same or she won't. Either way, this would be no bad thing for the situation as a whole, so don't be scared of that - it's for the best in the long run, though when the two of you are away together for a while is not ideal timing.

However, if you want to hide it, then absolutely yes that is possible, as long as you are honestly okay with the two of you continuing as friends. You need to spend some time ruminating on that outcome such that you are, in effect, over the crush already. Hiding it by any artificial means is just going to be painful and ruin the time for you.

However, if I was you and what you're written is true, I'd go for it; it sounds like she likes you.
posted by thoughtless at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2009

she's objectively better looking than me
I'm shorter than her

No one cares about these things. Seriously. Put them out of your head. Real humans interested in actual relationships do not discount possible lovers for reasons like this. She may seem to be obsessed with tall guys, but reality doesn't follow those kinds of rules. People fall for people who aren't their "type" all the time.

Given that, what you seem to have left out is the reason why you think she stopped liking you. You seem pretty sure she did before, so what's changed? Sounds like nothing.

The question is: do you both like each other? If so, maybe you should kiss each other. If not, maybe you shouldn't kiss each other.

If you really think she's not interested in you anymore for some reason, then just act respectfully toward her. If it's really just a crush or attraction, as you describe (and it must be because there hasn't been time for it to have developed into much more than that...especially since you haven't even seen her in person since you started feeling this way), then it's not the end of the world if she suspects. As long as you don't act like a jerk to her. (Being a jerk can sometimes include things that may seem at first to be complimentary or self-deprecating, such as "I wish I were tall/good looking enough to be with a girl as beautiful as you," etc). If you like her, you can't help it. Just respect her wishes if she doesn't feel the same way and you're fine.
posted by lampoil at 9:13 AM on June 8, 2009

How many times does she need to try and get your attention before you to understand that she might like you?

Sounds like you might need to have a talk.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:14 AM on June 8, 2009

I think others have addressed the weirdness that is this question but I would like to add that I am a tall woman who usually only dates tall men. However, when I was crushing on an old friend that was much shorter than me, his height did not matter. I liked him because I knew him, not because of how tall he was.
posted by shmurley at 9:15 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your concern is that you will be rejected, please consider this: She's been trying to get your attention since "the incident" -- that is, for two years.

She sounds like a very patient woman. If it's fear of rejection, please don't test her patience any longer.
posted by Houstonian at 9:16 AM on June 8, 2009

We were just normal part-of-a-group friends for a long time. I really never felt any chemistry between us, although, admittedly, she's never much of a flirt, (ok, she basically cannot flirt at all), especially for a beautiful woman. I appeared to be the only guy in our group that did not have a secret crush on her.

I have dealt with girls like this before and they are never ever available. If every guy in the group is attracted to her, and she has never gotten together with any of them, she is not available. I don't know why, but I can pretty much guarantee that is the case.

Give it a try if you want, but be aware there's something in her that enjoys being the center of attention without ever taking it further.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:19 AM on June 8, 2009

Women do not take "extra time off" to go up to a cabin with some guy they just want to be friends with.
posted by junkbox at 9:19 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]

....What exactly is "inappropriate" about all of this? Is she married? Are you? Is one of you underage? Is one of you in some religious order that required you to take a vow of celibacy?

Because, honestly, it looks like the woman has been all but throwing herself at you for the past two years. And now you like her back. That sounds like the OPPOSITE of "inappropriate" -- in fact, if you say something to her about how you're attracted to her, I have a feeling her thought will actually be, "it's about fucking time!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the stumbling blocks here are that he has decided, despite the evidence to the contrary that she can't possibly like him because she's taller and better looking than him.

OP, its not your place to decide what she is attracted to, the evidence you've presented strongly suggests she is interested in you in that way. When you know someone as a person, physical appearance is less important.

Just go there, relax and be yourself, you don't need to announce how you feel about her but you don't need to hide your feelings either, just hang out with her and see what, if anything, develops.

It sounds like neither of you are the kind of person to be forward enough to just come out with these feelings and you're probably both afraid of rejection (but who isn't - at least when it really matters) but by the sounds of it she's been making moves and giving you openings for quite some time now, she's trying to say she likes you without saying and getting rejected and without putting you in the position of having to reject her. (see Ask vs Guess culture)

If you want something to develop then you're going to have to tell her how you feel but don't do it when you're both trapped in a cabin together with no escape. If it were me, I wouldn't do anything before the trip. Its possible that your or her feelings will change once you meet up in person again and its also possible that something will develop on its own on the trip without either of you having to put yourself in a position of potential rejection.

My boyfriend of nearly 8 years isn't 'my type', in fact he's perhaps the polar opposite of 'my type', but I am very attracted to him, if I had rejected him solely because of his appearance I would have really missed out.
posted by missmagenta at 9:25 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

What are you thinking, man? She likes you, you like her. Pounce on that. Schedule some alone time when you are there visiting and tell her how you feel (from your post I can't tell if her parents would be at the cabin as well?). Don't pretend like things are the way they were. Can I assume that since you're attracted to her that you'd like to date her? Tell her so. Whether or not things work out between you two, whatever relationship you have will be a lot stronger if you start telling the truth to each other instead of dancing around the huge elephant in the room. Wade through the possible awkward moments and/or conversations that happen immediately after telling her how you feel, and move on. SHE LIKES YOU - once you tell her how you feel, ask her if she likes you. When she says yes, ask her if she'd like to date. When she says yes, schedule something. Then, since you two will be at her parent's cabin - have a hot, romantic time while you're there. She has asked you to her parent's cabin because she wants to have this conversation with you and reveal her feelings for you - this is how women work. Don't let her down, and don't settle for the surface-level-only relationship you had with her before. If you do, she'll move on and you'll miss out.
posted by Evanstruth at 9:26 AM on June 8, 2009

Will she know I am now crushing on her?

Probably. Once you're crushing on someone, you're view of them is totally different. You'll be listening to her rather intently. She'll be incredibly funny and you'll laugh more. She could be in a natty robe with curlers and you'll be checking her out. She'll know.

and is there anyway that I can hide this from her while staying out there?

Do you want to? As others have noted, she's probably been throwing herself at you for the past two years. So what do you want? Not what you think she wants or don't want (the tall guy thing), but WHAT DO YOU WANT?

If you want a relationship, communicate that to her. It can be as simple as "Hey, I've recently started crushing on you, it's totally outta the blue, I don't know why, but I'm kinda curious about this. Is this something you might be interested in?" This may sound awkward or trite or stupid or even horrifying to your ears. WHATEVER. The point is to get this out in the open. If she's interested she'll find the delivery totally charming in a goofy sort of way. If she's not interested, oh well, her loss.

Do this now or very soon, so you can know which one this is going to go before you're spending a lot of alone time in a cabin with her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:43 AM on June 8, 2009

If I took extra time off work and invited some guy I've been after for two years up to my parent's cabin and he didn't make passionate love to me, I would be SOME PISSED.
posted by Grimble at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2009 [7 favorites]

I'm not usually this frank, but holy cow, I'd be getting so freaky in that cabin. Go for it!
posted by pkphy39 at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2009

follow-up from the OP
To respond to some answerers’ questions--although I was never "ripped," I used to be in tremendous shape, but now I'm pretty out of shape. She claims to have gained weight, but I can't see it. However, last year when I complained about a romantic situation I was in, she said something along the lines of "you should date obese women." Ouch. This says to me that (1) she must not appreciate me physically; and (2) she's not someone that I would want to date anyway. She is very, very good looking. I have been pretty decent-looking in the past, but as I have gotten older, my body has fallen out of shape.

Her focus on tall guys is legendary. I tried to set her up with a friend of mine who is about my height but much more in shape and better looking. She told me he was “beautiful” but that he was too short. Her focus only on tall guys is a running joke amongst all of our friends.

Our shared network of friends is nearly co-extensive—the vast majority of friends I have here are also friends with her and, as I am a human being, I am certain I would feel badly if it were known that I had these feelings and that she did not share them.

Finally, she is a long plane ride away from me. She is literally on the opposite side of the country and tied to a house she feels she can’t get away from for some time, despite her desire to move back to where I live. There is no guarantee that we would be together and I do not think there is much long-term likelihood of anything coming out of this. My therapist used the word “inappropriate” due to the long distance here.

That’s why I don’t see this as something I want to go for. There are a lot of negatives and not a ton of positives. I am hoping these feelings fade over time, but I am concerned about what will happen when I go visit. Thanks to everyone who has answered!
posted by jessamyn at 10:26 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

All of that additional info makes her sound like a) a bad bet for a relationship, given the distance, etc., and b) kind of an asshole (which also makes her a bad bet for a relationship).

So I'm going to go back to my original post and say you have control over your behavior, so don't indicate your interest if you don't want to. And why go to the cabin with her if you feel like the whole thing is going to be uncomfortable?

I'm also going to agree with whoever said upthread that she probably likes to be the Chick Everyone Has A Crush On in the group, and she just gets off from that. So, yeah, if you tell her you have a crush on her after her years of crushing on you and trying to get her attention, she will probably just spurn you and mock you because it will make her enormous ego feel better.

Why do the rest of you let her get away with that shit? OH HA HA JOANIE IS OBSESSED WITH TALL GUYS ISN'T THAT CUTE! OH HA HA JOANIE HAS A CRUSH ON THE ONLY GUY WHO DOESN'T HAVE A CRUSH ON HER ISN'T THAT CUTE! Has nobody figured out that Joanie is a self-centered, rude person? Maybe you need a new group of less dysfunctional friends.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on June 8, 2009

after her years of crushing on you and trying to get her attention

Should be "after her years of crushing on you and trying to get your attention." And the "I'll make so-and-so interested in me and then reject him/her just to show him/her that he/she should have been interested in me back when I wanted a thing with him/her" is a very common behavior pattern for shallow, narcissistic people who measure their self-worth by how many scalps hang on their belt. I can see why you would be leery of that in this case.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2009

I'm sorry, I just have to comment again.

1) She made an insensitive/inappropriate comment. Now you don't want to date her and you think it trumps all the other million signals she's sending you that SHE WANTS YOU?!?! Give me a break.

2) So she loves tall guys. So do the vast majority of women, although maybe not to the extent that she does. But do you really think this woman is really going to throw away her chance at happiness because some guy isn't tall enough? Ultimately, of course not. That's crazy.

3) With regard to the long distance issue - isn't she planning to move back to your area? And even if she isn't, if this is someone you care about as much as you say, then go for it! Stop wasting time and trying to hide your feelings from someone who has basically done everything except jump you to show you that cares about you too.

Also, contrary to popular belief, therapists can in fact be wrong.

In sum, your negatives barely qualify as negatives, and the positive is the potential to be with a girl that you obviously have a huge crush on and who cares for you. I still don't get what the problem is!!
posted by Grimble at 10:37 AM on June 8, 2009

Are you sure you like her? Or do you think you like her because you think she doesn't like you now? If you weren't interested in her before, be careful about pursuing this if she *is* interested in you, because if you lose interest in her now just because she's an easy catch, then that would suck for her.

Other than that, if you two are close and you talk on the phone all the time and she had feelings for you before, if she doesn't have them now she'd probably be understanding about your crush and laugh it off with you like you laughed off her comments, and it shouldn't be weird between you two.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Given the follow-up, I'll amend my answer with a few possibilities:

1. She's into you because you are not into her. Some people are like that. They love the chase. Unattainable is irresistible. You don't return her calls immediately, and that just makes her chase you more. Everyone loooves her except you, and that makes you HOT in her eyes.

2. She's matured. She used to be pretty shallow, but she's gotten to know your personality. Now it does not matter what you look like, she loves you for who you are.

3. She's not into you, and somehow all of this is a huge misunderstanding. Or, she's into you now, but when she sees you at the cabin, she won't be. That's your worry, right? I think it's unlikely, but we'll put it as a possibility.

Either way, I think the ball's in your court. I still think that the cabin trip is her latest attempt to scoop you up.

Ok, but rejection would really suck, especially if the word traveled fast through your network of friends, who all adore her from afar. So, my recommendation would be to make several game plans, but wait to select the right one until you are at the cabin. I'm pretty sure you'll know within the first few hours.

- If she's #1, any action is ok -- ignore her or make sweet love to her. You can't mess it up. Any relationship that comes out of it might be short-term (or not), but you'll enjoy the cabin time.

- If she's #2, for goodness sake put her out of her misery! Live happily ever after, with the white picket fence and 2.3 kids... or at least have a great time for a while, dating someone who loves you for you.

- If she's #3, play it cool like you've unintentionally been doing. Be a little distracted when she talks. Drop a few things in the conversation that let her know you value her friendship and you're so glad you two aren't anything but friends. Treat her a bit like you treat your guy friends. She'll not know, because she's shallow and just looking at herself instead of the great thing in front of her.
posted by Houstonian at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just ask her if there is anything that you need to understand, but might not. "Am I being dense, here?"

Just ask.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:57 AM on June 8, 2009

There are a lot of negatives and not a ton of positives.

Going back to my original point, I see one very obvious positive: she invited you to spend the weekend alone in a cabin in the woods. If it were me and an attractive woman invited me to spend alone time with her in a cabin, I would already be at the cabin right now, waiting on the edge of the bed, an eager puppy dog look on my face. Any other response is overthinking this on a level impressive even for Metafilter.

Stop killing yourself with the "will she, won't she like me" BS. By my calculation, she has done everything possible to let you know she's into you short of putting her panties over your head. It isn't rocket science. Go to the cabin, be yourself, and you'll find out whether you're compatible soon enough. Let the rest of it wait for another day.
posted by ga$money at 12:08 PM on June 8, 2009

Will my inappropriate crush know? How do I keep it hidden?

Don't keep it hidden. It'll be impossible to keep it hidden 100% of the time. Sending mixed messages is a bad, bad idea. When the time is right, be upfront about your feelings, and request the same of her.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:39 PM on June 8, 2009

Get a different therapist
posted by Evanstruth at 12:54 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

It sounds as though you are attracted to her but don't want to date her. That's fine; you're allowed to fell that way. But if you don't want to date her, don't go away for a romantic weekend with her.
posted by decathecting at 2:24 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Perhaps I'm too impatient to be on askmefi today, but this question seems...

Well, let's put it this way. The answer I want to give is the flip "just do her already," but that's probably a bad idea just because you're obviously so neurotic about this woman and/or social stuff/romance in general that it'll probably spark some kind of meltdown.

Also, is it normal for therapists to be telling their patients who it's appropriate to date? Good god I hope not. Your shrink should be helping you get a spine, not smushing it down all the more.
posted by paultopia at 6:46 PM on June 8, 2009

posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:07 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

follow up from the OP
We spoke last night by phone. Pretty quickly into the conversation, she said she was bored—that she had no crushes and that she wasn’t meeting anyone she liked. After a discussion of some issues which needed professional help, I offered to ask someone I knew in a city near her to help out. She blurted out “Is he single?” and laughed. Ouch.

So, I think my initial estimate of her feelings from two years ago was probably wrong. I am hurt that I likely misread that situation. Now I am considering finding a way of not going, or even letting her know how I feel so that I can basically stop interacting with her too much—I fear that I will continue to feel bad when talking to her. I’m looking for a way to get out of this situation and reduce my contact with her so as to reduce the amount of pain I’m feeling.
posted by jessamyn at 9:03 AM on June 11, 2009

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