Like guy friend of mine with girlfriend, how to tell him?
July 16, 2009 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Telling a male friend of mine, who's all sorts of awesome, that I like him and would be very interested in dating him for the forseeable future. Catch? Girlfriend.

In college. Met a guy two years in a small class, he was nice and I developed a small crush on him. Over the course of two years, I got to know him better from acquaintance to friend, and he's got the best attitude toward everything, is kind, caring, and giving. He's had some hard times in the past (lost a parent to cancer) but remains honest, upbeat. We're talking just Good Material here.

Of course over the course of time I never told him I was interested (due to insecurity issues of my own), and he got a girlfriend, who I might recognize by face but barely know.

I'm wrapping up my study abroad program now, and he began to text me on my American cell phone a couple of months ago--I certainly did not give him my number, and had no idea who it was at first. We kept up the email/text communication, and, so far, I've tried not to say anything I wouldn't want his girlfriend to read, but it has gotten, at times emotionally intimiate--things that would be absolutely fine if I wasn't interested in him, but can also happen given that I am interested in him.

We'll be back at college in August and he's been saying, "Oh, we need to go out and celebrate your being back!" Again--I've done this with guys who've had girlfriends, but I always knew their girlfriends well enough that I knew it wasn't a problem (for my own emotions), I perhaps liked the guy as more than a friend but loved him with his girlfriend too much, thought the guy is attractive but wouldn't date him in a million years, but I've never been friends with a guy with a girlfriend that I've actually liked, so don't know how to tread here.

I would like to tell him that he's a great person, and through my experience dating other men (I've probably dated about 4 men--no boyfriends--over the time I've known him, so I'm not pining after him) I've realized what great qualities he has, and I want to put my name in the hat if he's ever available.

My questions are:
(a) is it unreasonable to assume he likes me? We text a LOT, usually several times a day, just about our daily lives. He usually starts it.
(b) why did he contact me out of the blue? We were friends (we'd have dinner on campus, but wouldn't go past that), so he certainly stepped it up out of the blue.
(c) How should I go about telling him? I also want to make it clear I am NOT trying to break him up with his girlfriend, but life is short, and he's a GREAT person, and I would be willing to be more flexible with my plans for the chance to spend time with a person like that. This guy is grounded, kind, generous, and honorable.
(d) Is this a good idea?
(e) Want to emphasize that I still want to be friends with him.

Before anyone says, "But he's being emotionally intimate with you, and he has a girlfriend," I want to stress that I believe he's been very honorable in his communication with me, and truly nothing has passed between us that is at all questionable.

Thank you, MeFites!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (66 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
(a) No, it's not unreasonable. Does he do this with other girls, or just you? He could just be extremely chatty, but probably not.
(b) Probably because he was thinking about you.
(c) As is usually the case with these questions, you've phrased it rather well here.
(d) Maybe. If it's bothering you to not say it, you should probably say it; however, it could absolutely change your friendship. If he's really a cool, caring guy, though, it probably won't even if he says, "thanks, but no thanks."
(e) Do it, but expect that it might make things awkward, at least for a minute.

Another tack to take (I could have used this advice many times) is to just wait. I know that sometimes when you really really really like someone, it seems like every day that you're not with them gets longer and longer, but it doesn't really, and sometimes doing nothing is the best way to deal with these things. You're going to be in the same physical location in August, right? Why not just wait and see how things go? It's not like he and his girlfriend are going to get married and start a family before then.

But if telling him makes you feel better, by all means, do it. It certainly won't be the end of the world, and would probably be just fine. Good luck!
posted by nosila at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2009


As far as I am aware, trying to "put your name in the hat" just in case your friend ever decides to break up with his girlfriend seems disrespectful, and like something distinctly resembling boundary-crossing. You say that all communication from him has been honorable, and that's good. I'm here to tell you that what you are proposing is basically taking the reins and crossing the line into dishonorable. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably make sure that the communication stayed above-board by dialing it back to a tone and frequency that felt 100% friendly, with no temptation for you to flirt. Maybe you could call that tone and frequency Casual Friend level. I would also put your feelings for him on the back burner, because he is unavailable, and keep dating guys that are. Maybe someday he'll be single, and then you'll have the all-clear to try to call dibs on his future affections. Until then, why not keep moving forward with your own life?
posted by teamparka at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2009 [23 favorites]


a. Sure, he likes you.
b. Friends contact friends. Unless one of the texts said "I just broke up with my girlfriend" don't read too much into it.
c. Either you want him to break up with his girlfriend or you don't. If you do, telling him about your crush is at least honest. If you don't actually want them to break up, why would you confess this crush? What would it accomplish?
d. No.
e. You can't hedge your bets here. Decide which you value more: his knowing about your crush and reacting however he'll react, or the two of you remaining friends as you currently are.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Sorry, I meant: keep dating guys that are available.)
posted by teamparka at 8:51 AM on July 16, 2009


(a) is it unreasonable to assume he likes me? No.

(b) why did he contact me out of the blue? Who knows. Maybe he has a photo of you and became infatuated.

(c) How should I go about telling him? Try testing him with not too subtle flirts. Gauge response.

(d) Is this a good idea? Maybe a moral issue. It could be emotionally risky. A better question might be, is it worth the risk?

(e) Want to emphasize that I still want to be friends with him. Not a question.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:52 AM on July 16, 2009


(a) is it unreasonable to assume he likes me?

No, it isn't. Most guys don't invest as much time as he has in platonic friends...at least a singular friend. I'd use "he likes me" as a working hypothesis.

(b) why did he contact me out of the blue?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

(c) How should I go about telling him?

Ask him question B. If he says anything about him liking you, reciprocate and see where it leads.

(d) Is this a good idea?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If he wants to be with someone else, his relationship with his current galpal can't be going well, can it? Make sure he's broken up before you do anything, though. She deserves honesty.

(e) Want to emphasize that I still want to be friends with him.

This is not a question.
posted by inturnaround at 8:55 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you really want to date someone who'd creep around on his girlfriend? Because if he's with her, and then he starts dating you, that's what he's doing.

No matter what his intentions here, you need to take the high road here, so that if you ever do start dating, you'll continue to respect each other. Insist that both of you respect his current girlfriend and avoid doing anything that would lead her to think there was a breach of trust.

You can even tell him that he would be a potential mate, but only if he's the kind of guy who doesn't cheat on his girlfriend. If they break up, then you can clarify your intentions and his.

Anything else, you're asking for drama you probably don't want, down the line.
posted by mikewas at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's really no way you can tell him something like this without it being misconstrued as some sort of an attempt at trying to break him and his girlfriend up. Moreover, it's not even necessary; if you two are as close as you say you are, he's probably at least somewhat aware of your feelings and they're probably mutual. That's an interesting tidbit that's filed away in the back of his mind in case he's looking for someone new.
posted by thisjax at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What do you hope would come about of telling him that you'd be interested in more than a friendship if the opportunity ever arises? I know it will take some of the immediate emotional tension off you, but are you hoping that you'll be his option of first resort if things go south with his current girlfriend? Are you willing to risk losing his friendship?

I think you need to be very clear about your own expectations before you make a decision. If you bare your soul, how do you feel about this guy discussing your feelings for him with his current girlfriend, for instance? How would you handle your friendship with him becoming more distant?

I'm all for being honest with people about your feelings for them, but I think you need to be unflinchingly honest with yourself first about what you hope the outcome will be.
posted by Lolie at 9:02 AM on July 16, 2009


(a) The idea of him liking you even though he has a girlfriend is not unreasonable. You ASSUMING this is the case based on your interactions is unreasonable, because only he knows for certain whether he likes your or not.
(b) I don't think this is necessarily significant to him being romantically interested. I've contacted lots of friends out of the blue that I haven't talked to in a long while.
(c) If you want to tell him, wait until he breaks up with his girlfriend and give him some time to get over that. THEN start thinking about telling him your feelings.
(d) Not while he still has a girlfriend, no.
(e) Then just be friends with him, and try to focus only on that.

What are you hoping his response will be? You telling him while he has a girlfriend just sounds like a breeding ground for possible trouble. He may dump her and start dating you without really having had time to fully get over her. He might not dump her right away, but now knowing how you feel, that's going to make your interactions with him even more difficult because you know for certain you both want each other, but can't do anything about it because he technically still has a girlfriend (or you two start doing things that maybe aren't so "honorable" under those conditions). Or he doesn't have feelings for you, he really just wants to be your friend.....some people can look past your feelings and still be your friend regardless, for some...it can get pretty awkward and you might lose the friendship.

And you are right, life is short, and there are lots of awesome, great, caring single guys out there for you to find!
posted by Squee at 9:11 AM on July 16, 2009


I have been in a situation like yours at least three times (I seem to be attracted to a certain type of guy... and it was almost always not a good situation. Amazing friendship became slightly awkward, in one case, ended. However, the last one broke up with his gf of four years and then started dating me. We have been in a relationship for 9 months, and cannot see it ending anywhere in the near future :)

The one advice I would give to you (and to a younger me): Even though he likes you, he may not like you enough to break up with his current girlfriend.

If you really, really want to tell him, tell him. Really strong feelings should not be kept bottled in -- do it as a favour to yourself. But be prepared to accept the consequences (good or bad).
posted by moiraine at 9:13 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Telling someone who is in a relationship that you want to go out with them does not seem like a classy move.
posted by Marquis at 9:15 AM on July 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Perhaps it might help for you to imagine how you would feel if:

1) You *were* his girlfriend
2) He had a female friend
3) You found out she told him that if he ever broke up with you, she'd like to be with him.

Would his be okay to you? If so, go for it, and tell him. If not, accept the choice he has made (his girlfriend).

On preview, what everyone else says: It might also help for you not to focus on what you want to tell him, but what you want to hear from him.
posted by anitanita at 9:16 AM on July 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


As someone who has had his life derailed recently (for reasons not related to this question) I would recommend you take your own advice: LIFE IS SHORT.

1. Don't offer to be flexible with your plans for the future if you think it will offer the possibility of being with him. This "flexibility"could lead to you putting off your own happiness.

2. Instead of asking us about a) and b), ask the boy in question.

3. He could be subconsciously leading you on. I did this to a friend of mine, and it hurt her and our friendship. I knew what her feelings were for me, but I just assumed they would "go away". They didn't. We continued to hang out a lot, and resentment of the imbalance in how we felt about each other grew. What I'm saying is, unless you know for certain his intentions of leaving his girlfriend, try not to get swept up with your feelings for him (if that's even possible). Having one person invest more emotion/expectation in a friendship than the other can be toxic.
posted by baxter_ilion at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2009


(a) is it unreasonable to assume he likes me? Of course he likes you. Whether he expects it to evolve into more than friendship or how he feels about you in the context of already having a girlfriend are unknowns, and it would be unwise to make assumptions about both of those things.
(b) why did he contact me out of the blue? He thought of you, and wanted to get in touch. You mentioned you had not given him your cell number so that indicates some effort on his part to get it. Do you have a mutual friend? Someone who might have mentioned you in passing which might have prompted him to ask for your number? It's hard to tell what his motives were, but I would go with the safe bet, and proceed as if this is solely a friendship thing.
(c) How should I go about telling him? I don't think you should. What's missing here is any indication of how serious or successful his current relationship is. If it's good, then "throwing your hat in the ring" will make things awkward between the two of you, and would compromise your future chances for friendship or a romantic relationship. If it's bad, let if fail in its own time, and on its own merits, and then throw your hat in the ring. What if you never get your chance? The only scenario I see that would eliminate any opportunity for you to indicate your interest, is him marrying this girl and well, then it wasn't meant to be.
(d) Is this a good idea? While I understand the impulse, no, really, it's not.
posted by katemcd at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would recommend just keep your best at being friends and not cross the line. The need to let other people know how we feel sometimes only result in a more awkward situation. The last thing you want to do is make this awkward. If say he's really interested and leaves his gf and becomes your bf...would you really be happy with that? I think there'll always be a doubt that he may do this to you, too.

By not telling him you will know for sure that if one day his relationship didn't work out, it's not because of you. And when you two DO get together, it'll be that sweet.

I wish you good luck and hella mental support cuz I am in the same boat. I try to keep my sanity by constantly analyzing what and why I should/shouldn't do certain things and talk to friends. Be Strong!!
posted by jstarlee at 9:37 AM on July 16, 2009


I think it's not okay to try to promote a relationship while he has a gf. The most you can do is casually note that it's too bad he's involved, because you think he's terrific.
posted by theora55 at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2009


Okay, this happened to my college roommate. It did not start well, it did not end well. All she had to do was ask about his girlfriend and she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to charm him away from her if she asked. It got messy. Very messy. Scary messy. The girlfriend was unstable and for some reason, he couldn't/wouldn't break it off with her until finally he told her.

Her car was keyed. The ex-girlfriend somehow got hold of my roommate's cell phone number. Things were written online revealing details that are cached. It was a nightmare.

And it was wrong of my roommate, who said in retrospect, said she wished she'd just been straight with him from the beginning, as in: "You have a girlfriend. Would she be okay with you texting and calling and emailing me? Can I meet her?"

I think, for your sake, you should ask about his girlfriend. Just be honest and straight up about it. He might like you, but you don't want to get involved like this. Don't go sneaking around behind his girlfriend's back. For all you know, she might be really unstable.
posted by anniecat at 9:42 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm available, you know..."
"But I'm not."
"If you are in the future..."
"You're assuming my relationship won't last."
"I just had a feeling you liked me."
"Friends generally like each other."

*cue awkward silence*

Please respect other people's relationships and don't try to sneak your way into some sort of "list," in case of whatever. Has he given any sign that he's currently unhappy with his girl? Does he complain of problems, disagreements? He's taken, there are other fish in the sea, and frankly if I were in the girlfriend's position, I'd be very annoyed at you - I wouldn't want to develop a real friendship with you, in the suspicion that all you'd be doing is trying to get closer to him.

Remain friends, and if you can't do that, then admit to him that you have feelings and that you need to stay away because you respect his relationship.
posted by Bakuun at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


There are a lot of scenarios here. He could be thinking about breaking up with the girl and have you on his radar. He could just have realized what an awesome friend you were, and miss that.

If he is as honest and honorable as you say, he will probably be highly embarrassed and uncomfortable if you tell him anything and he's still with her.

Also, my current boyfriend and I were "just" friends in college, and I knew that he was interested, but I had a boyfriend, and then he got a girlfriend, and finally 5 years later it worked out. If he's with someone, it's a sign that it's not the right time. Not that "life is short" and you need to risk losing a friend over a fantasy you have.

Finally, my best friend always has crushes on guys she can't have, and then doesn't ever really like the guys she can. It sounds as if you may have a similar issue. Maybe it's fear of intimacy, maybe it's something else, I have no idea, but that's for you to explore. Just please don't be that girl who thinks that the "perfect" relationship in her head is more important than what is actually happening. If you really care about your friend as much as you say, let him lead his life. And if you two are meant to be, it will happen when the time is right, not when you force his hand.
posted by anniek at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2009


What? No! Don't do this.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:52 AM on July 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


We're talking just Good Material here.

Which he would cease to be if he in any way broke the trust of his current girlfriend.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:52 AM on July 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


The very things that make him a good guy are things that would make him not cheat on his girlfriend. Act accordingly.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 AM on July 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I was the guy in this situation once. Good friend of mine, over drinks, informs me that should my girlfriend break up with me, she would be over to my place and making out w/me pronto.

That's alot to hear, especially over drinks. So I didn't think, and yep, I went for it, and yep, felt like the worst human being ever the next day. Confessed to girlfriend, didn't really want to break up, but we did. Friend starts going berserk because whatever daydream she had in her head isn't coming true. I cared about her, but she wasn't giving me any room to talk to my now-kinda-ex-girlfriend, be accountable, ride out the disaster, and grieve the loss of a quite good relationship. Again, I cared about my friend, but she demanded of me an emotional certainty that I just couldn't provide at that time. And it frustrated her so much that she quit talking to me about a month later.

And let me tell you, that was a really suck time for everyone involved.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You're overthinking things here. All's fair in love and war, etc. He only has a girlfriend - he's not married. Perhaps you and this guy are meant to be together. Don't ever feel bad if he dumps his girlfriend for you. Now if he was married, it would be a different story...

Just be blunt and tell him that you're interested in him, and that, if he's ever free, he should look you up.

Then stop talking to him. That way, when he does contact you again, you'll know he's free and you can take things to another level.

Any other interaction between the two of you until then is emotionally dishonest and, frankly, a waste of time.

But tell him you're interested! You never know what can happen.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why posters suggesting this is a good idea. This is an extremely bizarre and inappropriate idea.

It is a way of broadcasting "I don't take your life seriously" while at the same time trying to be complimentary and get your way. Yes, it's very exciting to have a crush on a guy friend. No, nothing good could come of this.
posted by shownomercy at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Disrespectful, no matter how you do it. If he ever breaks up with his girlfriend, then you see if he wants to go out with you. There's no good reason to "put your name in the hat."

Also, if the girlfriend hears about it in any way, you can expect that she won't be comfortable letting him hang out with you. If you want to be able to see the guy from time to time in a friendly way, then you really shouldn't say anything.

Sorry, I sympathize, but this just sounds like a horrible idea.
posted by Nattie at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let's say you tell him. He is like, "OMG, I've liked you all this time, too, this whole time we've known each other I really liked you, even when I was single, I just didn't have the guts to do anything about it because I wasn't sure how you felt, so instead I asked this other girl out, and even though we've been together all this time, I still really like you. I'm so glad you told me. I'm gonna break up with my girlfriend now and we can be together."

How likely do you think that really is?

Do you really want to be some guy's "just in case?" His "back burner?" Would you want to date a guy who was stoking the flames of a list of girls he'd like to date once you and he broke up?

When I was in college, there was this guy who'd always ask me out to lunch, we'd have these "deep" and "spiritually sympatico" conversations, he'd always make a point to say "hi" to me and come over and talk to me. I was sure that he liked me a ton, but just for some reason wasn't doing anything about it. I contrived all these ways to show my interest, tried to up the ante of our contact, nothing worked. I found after that this whole time he was hooking up with this other girl, telling her he loved her, writing her love songs, etc. Who knows why he was always initiating hanging out with me? Our relationship was platonic. He wasn't shy or reserved with this other girl. I had been deluding myself.

I assume you have a list of reasons for why, even though he likes you, he isn't doing anything about it. Well, he did something about it with that other girl. She is who he wants as a girlfriend. Whatever you two are doing right now is all he wants with you. In all the time that you've known each other, even when he was single, he never gave you any indication that he wanted more.
posted by thebazilist at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Then stop talking to him. That way, when he does contact you again, you'll know he's free and you can take things to another level.

What? No. You only know that if he says that directly. Which he won't, because 1) the OP hasn't given us any sign of him being unsatisfied with his girlfriend, and 2) he's a Good Guy with seemingly Good Standards.

There's no way he's just going to dump his girl (of how long now?) because a friend said she's ready to offer him something he already has. OP, you are expecting a fantasy, as much as it may suck to hear. Not because "These things don't happen in real life" (they can), but because the guy you have a crush on doesn't sound like the kind to do this.

It may feel nice to just get these feelings off your chest, but they have a large chance of making things awkward between you, if not destroy it entirely. Pull yourself together.
posted by Bakuun at 10:21 AM on July 16, 2009


Next time you're out with him, order some drinks. Pretend to be a little drunker than you really are, and blurt out an open-ended statement: "If you didn't have a girlfriend, ..."

The inappropriateness of your confession can now be written off to alcohol, and his reaction will tell you where you stand.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2009


> Next time you're out with him, order some drinks. Pretend to be a little drunker than you really are, and blurt out an open-ended statement: "If you didn't have a girlfriend, ..."

The inappropriateness of your confession can now be written off to alcohol, and his reaction will tell you where you stand.


Uh, read everythings_interrelated's comment and rethink that.

This is a bad idea. You are letting your emotions rule you. You need to dial them back and use your head. Get some distance from it all and figure out what is best, not what would give you an immediate rush of pleasure.
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2009


"Guyfriend, are you still with what'shername?"

See how he responds. If the answer is yes, dial it back a notch and just be friends. Do not engage in flirting even if he started it.
posted by advicepig at 10:39 AM on July 16, 2009


Next time you're out with him, order some drinks. Pretend to be a little drunker than you really are, and blurt out an open-ended statement: "If you didn't have a girlfriend, ..."

Every time a male friend with whom I have no interest in pursuing any kind of sexual relationship has done this, I've been reluctant to be around them in situations involving alcohol or hang out with them alone again for a very long time - so just be aware that if you adopt this tactic you could find yourself shifted from intimate friendship to distant acquaintanceship.
posted by Lolie at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to put my name in the hat if he's ever available.

Seriously? "Put your name in the hat?" You're doing yourself a disservice. Does this guy have any reason to believe you aren't single? If he wanted to be with you, he would be. But he's with someone else. Go find another guy who wants to be with you.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:42 AM on July 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's a crummy thing to do. It happened to me -- a girl decided she liked my boyfriend of over two years & spilled her guts to him one night. (I actually could tell something was up before she even said something, though I wrote it off at the time.) He wound up breaking up with me, & it felt awful. I don't necessarily believe in the Girls' Code or whatever, but I do believe that nice people don't do that to each other. I don't think she stole him away from me -- he was a grown-up & definitely made his own choices there -- but I do think she behaved in a totally classless way. She should've known better.



Oh, & for the record, they didn't last.
posted by oh really at 10:45 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a terrible idea! If he actually liked you, in a "more than friends let's date" sort of way, he'd break up with his girlfriend and ask you out. He's either a geuninely friendly guy who just happens to text a lot with friends or a flirty non-so-geunine guy who likes the attention. He's not a guy who wants a relationship with you.

Don't embarass yourself!
posted by emd3737 at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


What Ironmouth, SkylitDrawl, Civil_Disobedient, Marquis and others have said: the fact that he's flirting with you while he apparently as a girlfriend raises all kinds of red flags. For instance, what assurance have you that he won't do this to you when the next fine young thing walks in the room? If he can do this to his currently girlfriend, he can do this to you.

Ascertain, preferably without asking him, if he's still with what's-'er-face. If he isn't, hell, go for broke. But if he is, dial it back. This just isn't something you want to deal with, as much as it may seem like a good idea at the time.
posted by valkyryn at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not psychic so I can't answer a lot of your questions, but I say go for it. Tell him you think he's great and you'd like to date him. Make it clear you're not interested in cheating with him.
posted by kathrineg at 11:17 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


But wait until you can see him in person.
posted by kathrineg at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, all is fair in love and war.

He's not married, he doesn't have a child, they don't live together...it's not the poster's responsibility to treat their relationship as sacred at her own expense.

There's a reason why people date instead of just getting married immediately after they see someone cute. It's not intended to be a permanent life-long monogamous commitment.
posted by kathrineg at 11:21 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, all is fair in love and war.

Pretty thing to say, isn't it? Except when you're the one in a relationship, and others are swooning over your SO, hoping you don't last together so they can immediately whirl that person away and put their own "MINE" sticker on 'em. Then it's not so pretty, and all is not fair. It's not pretty when someone leaves you for greener pastures, and it's not pretty when you steal away your dream guy, and then end up wondering what will happen when a prettier face does the same thing you tried.

Yes, it very much IS the poster's responsibility to respect boundaries and not cater to her whims at the expense of other people's comforts, or happiness. There are people out there who may not take their relationships seriously, but many more who do.

It's not intended to be a permanent life-long monogamous commitment.

Unless of course that's where they are heading. And the OP has no idea what the girlfriend is like, how long they've known each other, if they grew up together, if they have history, if this is their "meant to be," etc.
posted by Bakuun at 11:38 AM on July 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


OP, if you were my friend and you were telling me all of this over a bottle of wine, I would be grabbing you by your shoulders and shaking you until your teeth rattle. Yes, sure, he's a great guy with lots of awesome qualities. There are also literally hundreds of other guys out there who are just as great, who have just as many awesome qualities, and who DON'T already have girlfriends. Why on earth would you want to waste your time pining away for a guy who's not available, when there are so many other guys out there that you could date without having to first break up their current relationship?

I know some other commenters have said it's not like they're married, it's not like you owe his girlfriend anything, all's fair in love and war. But stop for a second and think about it. Sure, you don't owe the current girlfriend anything. But try imagining how it would feel if this awesome, "good materials" guy was already your boyfriend, and a female friend of his made it clear she was waiting for him to dump your ass so she could have a crack at him. Will you be telling yourself that all's fair then?
posted by palomar at 11:42 AM on July 16, 2009


Why not apply the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

If you were in a relationship with him, how would you want others to respond?

Or, if that does not matter, at least be honest with yourself about your intentions: You want to date someone who is currently in a relationship. It would work out great if he'd dump her to be with you. But don't kid yourself into thinking you are doing something honorable or innocent.
posted by Houstonian at 11:48 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's not married, he doesn't have a child, they don't live together...it's not the poster's responsibility to treat their relationship as sacred at her own expense.

I'm not judging, but this sounds really wrong, like a cheap justification. Let's say the guy was married. Then the women who wants to go after him can easily say, "So what? It's not like they have kids or a family!" If they lived together, you can just as easily say, "Well, it's not like they're married!" If they had kids, you could say, "But it's not like he's married and it's a real family. She's just his baby mama." If he's married with kids, you could say, "Well, it's not like he really wanted to marry her and have kids. She forced him into it!"

Yes, you can justify everything. Obviously this guy is, at the least, confused. And it's a waste of time to date a guy who doesn't know if he wants to take a relationship with you. You'll have to spend a lot of energy convincing someone who might not feel responsible or as invested in the relationship or even making it into a relationship as you might be. He's going to miss his ex-girlfriend and you're going to have to deal with that too.

You can justify anything you want. Would you want this happening to you? No. There's wisdom in treating people how you'd like to be treated. In the end, if he cheats, it would be his fault. But you'll have to prove that you're worth it. He can just as easily go back to a willing ex and all you would ever be is a mistake.
posted by anniecat at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pretty thing to say, isn't it? Except when you're the one in a relationship, and others are swooning over your SO, hoping you don't last together so they can immediately whirl that person away and put their own "MINE" sticker on 'em. Then it's not so pretty, and all is not fair. It's not pretty when someone leaves you for greener pastures, and it's not pretty when you steal away your dream guy, and then end up wondering what will happen when a prettier face does the same thing you tried.

Yes, it very much IS the poster's responsibility to respect boundaries and not cater to her whims at the expense of other people's comforts, or happiness. There are people out there who may not take their relationships seriously, but many more who do.


If someone leaves for greener pastures, that is totally OK, because not everyone needs to stay in the same relationship forever. People are not possessions and there is no "mine" sticker. There is no way to guarantee that someone will stay forever.

I assume you're implying that I (or those who share my opinion) do not take our relationships seriously. I think that is a ridiculous assumption.
posted by kathrineg at 11:52 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school, I had this cute fun boyfriend. He was so nice and fun and cute, and we went together for three years. Then, one day, I learned that one of his super good female friends had confessed to having a huge crush on him. I was pretty upset. But nothing prepared me for the hurt and anger I felt when I found out that he had tested the bounds of our relationship with her. Ultimately, he broke up with me and dated her on and off for two years (which is, I guess, kind of what you want to hear). But the whole thing was a total and complete mess for something like six months for ALL THREE OF US until I finally cut off all contact with the entire group of friends I had belonged to before my cute fun boyfriend cheated on me because his super good female friend confessed a crush.

Think about what you're doing here. Think about the person you are and the person you want to be. Think about the other two people that you will be impacting with your choice to spill the beans about this crush. Yea, they aren't married, but I'm sure their relationship is important to the both of them and while they are still together, you should respect that. It's what most people would consider the right thing to do. And hey, maybe they'll break up of their own accord, but let it be for a reason that has nothing to do with you at all. Maybe then, you can see if this guy is interested in you, but please, not until then.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:53 AM on July 16, 2009


You can justify anything you want. Would you want this happening to you? No. There's wisdom in treating people how you'd like to be treated. In the end, if he cheats, it would be his fault. But you'll have to prove that you're worth it. He can just as easily go back to a willing ex and all you would ever be is a mistake.

It's not cheating to break up with someone and date someone else. I very specifically stated that she should make it clear that she is not interested in cheating with him. Every relationship carries risk. One of those risks is that your loved one will leave you. That risk is not necessarily greater in this kind of relationship.
posted by kathrineg at 11:56 AM on July 16, 2009


My intuition is that he's already broken up with the gf and has not told you yet because you are still overseas. Could this be the case? If so, then maybe he's keen on you, but hasn't told you he's availble in case you don't like HIM .

(I'm sort of believing you here when you say he is honorable. Your premise about what a great guy he is only tracks if he has been available this whole time he's been in touch with you. Otherwise, he's kinda a tool.)

Sadly, you've posted anon so there is no way to find out which guess is correct! Damn!!

For your sake, I hope he turns out to be the great guy you think he is:))
posted by jbenben at 12:04 PM on July 16, 2009


So, kathrineg, you're saying that you're totally, 100% okay with your partner's friends propositioning them? Nothing about that makes you uncomfortable or uneasy?
posted by palomar at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2009


Also.

It goes without saying that if you get back to school and find out he was with the gf while txting and emailing you at gf-like-levels that he's a stinker and not worth your time romantically or otherwise, yes?
posted by jbenben at 12:08 PM on July 16, 2009


Don't embarass yourself!

BAH she's in college. Embarass yourself frequently!

Get drunk and snuggle with him. If he goes for it, good for you. If not, violins, but at least you'll know where you stand and can move on to someone else.

Do it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:18 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ignore everyone saying he's untrustworthy or whatever--it's not like he's a 42 year old married guy, he's like 20 and has no idea what he's doing. Pounce!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you go out with him and have a good time he should be able to intuit whether or not you like him. Let that be your statement.

Do not make some kind of declaration of love while he's in a relationship. There are all sorts of reasons why, but they mostly boil down to ruining your relationship with your friend and generally creating misery.

At the very, very least you should ask him if he's happy in his relationship first. If he explicitly says he's looking to leave his relationship and is living in misery, I think that's sort of different, though you should still wait until they're broken up to get together. Otherwise, what you are doing is very selfish.
posted by xammerboy at 12:22 PM on July 16, 2009


So, kathrineg, you're saying that you're totally, 100% okay with your partner's friends propositioning them? Nothing about that makes you uncomfortable or uneasy?

Many things make me uneasy, including cotton balls and clowns, but I don't declare them inherently immoral or dishonorable.

If my partner were propositioned when we were together but not married (which he was) I would probably be a bit annoyed with the lady involved, but not overly so. In fact, I am still cheerful acquaintances with someone who was in this position in regard to my partner.
posted by kathrineg at 12:28 PM on July 16, 2009


No. Just... no. He's not dating you. He's dating her. If he's so awesome, he probably has some awesome reasons for that, and you shouldn't be assuming he's just being temporarily dumb until you proposition him. That's insulting. Don't invite him to cheat or try to break up his relationship. Don't be that jerk.

And please don't post another question in a few months wondering why your friend's girlfriend seems to hate you for some bizarre reason.
posted by heatherann at 12:57 PM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


If someone leaves for greener pastures, that is totally OK, because not everyone needs to stay in the same relationship forever. People are not possessions and there is no "mine" sticker. There is no way to guarantee that someone will stay forever.

I assume you're implying that I (or those who share my opinion) do not take our relationships seriously. I think that is a ridiculous assumption.


You did not assume correctly, no. The OP is the one not taking their relationship seriously. Now whether she should depends on a lot of factors she either doesn't know yet, or did not mention. Step one would be to find out how serious they feel about each other, and to do so without mentioning that she's pining to replace his current girl.

Moreover, when you are in a monogamous relationship, you two do belong to each other. (Not talking "property" here, with a serious face behind my monitor - I'm talking being taken, spoken for, whatever have you. Essentially, it is a MINE sticker.) If he's in a monogamous relationship, that tends to mean that he's made his choice and is no longer in the dating pool. Are there exceptions to the rule? Sure. Guys you'd want to be dating after praising their good qualities, moral character, etc.? Probably not.

We're all projecting our personal ethics here, and they're certainly not universal. But the majority of posters here seem to agree that it would be a dick move to do this to someone who is already attached to another.

(As an aside, I personally find it a pretty big turn-off when a guy tells me he's willing to wait for me when I'm in a relationship already - it's like putting the rest of his life on hold with this assumption that what I have isn't meaningful enough. Bleh.)
posted by Bakuun at 1:10 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are available. He is not. Therefore you need to start dating someone. However, you want to send a signal that, if he had been available, you would snatch him up.

Perhaps you should ask him if he knows anyone nice, someone who you might like to date. There is a chance your problem will be solved, one way or the other. Perhaps you will just embarass yourself.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say, "Sure, let's grab some drinks when I get back to town. By the way, are you still with that girl you were seeing?"

Ta-da, you've clearly indicated your interest, while also showing that you respect his relationship and aren't trying to break it up, and you haven't had to initiate some sort of long awkward conversation that could potentially make things weird if you want to be his friend.

He might like you, he might be on the rocks or not very serious with the girlfriend or in an open relationship or secretly pining for you or just interested in being better friends with you. No one here has any idea, and it sounds like maybe you don't know either. I completely, 100% agree that you shouldn't be trying to stake a claim on this guy or subtly trying to steal him from his girlfriend, but you can casually express a potential interest without doing much harm or pouring your heart out over drinks then going back to his place and seducing him.
posted by booknerd at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2009


Therefore you need to start dating someone.

Please don't do this if they're only going to be someone to keep you distracted until Awesome Guy becomes available. If someone's a space-filler and you'd drop them in a heartbeat if the object of your limerance became available, have the integrity to make them aware that your involvement with them is only "for now".
posted by Lolie at 2:49 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're overthinking things here. All's fair in love and war, etc.

Not to derail, but I never understood this quote as a justification for anything. Are people saying "well, sucks for those who get hurt, so do as you will do" in either instance? Why those two areas particular, and not other areas of life?

Sorry, I guess it's just a peeve of mine. Seems to me nothing's fair, ever, but it's usually a good idea to try and leave our human world a little better than you found it. Or in the very least, not leave a path of tears and misery in the process.
posted by thisperon at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also: beware of being the rebound girl, no matter how good of a friend you are!
posted by Bakuun at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jebus, where's the fire?!??

Do you know for sure that he even still *has* the girlfriend?

Either way, he's invited you out when you get back. Good. Don't push things now, go out with him to celebrate when you get home, and play it by ear.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:35 PM on July 16, 2009


Be the bigger person and keep it to yourself until such time as he doesn't have a girlfriend. Don't be 'the other woman' -- you deserve better than that.

(I find it really difficult to understand why people think other people's partners are fair game.)
posted by prettypretty at 10:41 PM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I once knew a guy who was all kinds of awesome: smart, funny, warm, kind, generous, honorable, fun, (and ridiculously good looking)... just Good Material. The catch? I was with someone. We talked sometimes when we saw each other out; he seemed to like me (at least he always seemed to make a specific effort to escape his gaggle of admirers to spend some time chatting with me), but we just talked neutrally - no flirting. I didn't allow myself to become mentally/emotionally curious about him because I was married. He was separated at first, then at various times he had girlfriends as well.

Time passed. I eventually split with my husband... at which point, and I mean instantly, awesome guy (now single) stepped up to the plate. We've been together nearly 20 years now. Could we have been together sooner if he had been more forthcoming, and I had been more approachable romantically? Sure, but we might then each have our little niggling doubts about the other regarding our own relationship over the long haul... He wouldn't have been quite the man I thought he was, I wouldn't have been at all the person I thought I was.

Now, "unseemly haste" after the split is perhaps another question - but that's just how it worked out; we sort of went on a first date that never ended. So, he really did like me... a lot, as it turns out, and for years, but he never said anything about waiting in the wings in case I ever became available, thank goodness - because that would have really muddied the waters. I don't think, now, that it would have kept us apart, but it would have made everything that happened after that a bit strange and possibly tainted; I would have had to question myself again and again in the wee hours when those sorts of questions come home to roost. I would have had to wonder, if had my Mr. Awesome been out of the picture, would I have finally left my first husband anyway? Or would I have given it yet one more shot? And would that have changed anything? As it is, we both know I would always have left, because I did - without having anyone's name in my hat. As it is, we each know that our partner is not a cheater, or even an "inciter."

So. One person's experience is emphatically not a template for anything at all, obviously, but you need to carefully consider the implications of what you thinking - for yourself and your own standards and principles. Do you want to be the person to tempt him into betraying those very qualities you are so attracted to? You are obviously crazy about him. If he is also crazy about you, he will not stay in another relationship; he will break it off and ask you out. Or he will break it off and see if you ask him out. If he's testing the waters and wants to line up his next g/f before dumping the current, then he's probably not the guy you think you are falling in love with. If he's hoping to double dip, he's so not that guy. If you are hoping to tantalize him into a step that he wouldn't have taken otherwise (and, really, why else let him know how you feel, if not to prod something forward), how comfortable will you feel with that if you are successful? If you are unsuccessful? These are logical questions that seem obvious, but may not be so clear when your heart is pounding and emotions are ascendant.
posted by taz at 3:54 AM on July 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Put yourself in his girlfriends shoes. What would you want you to do if you were her?

Do that. Karma's a bitch you don't want to screw with.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:03 AM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's possible he's no longer with his girlfriend, but I think that if he were interested in you romantically, he would have found some way to slip that into your conversations.
posted by thebazilist at 7:12 AM on July 17, 2009


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