"Hi! Next time you call your family, can you do me a favor?..."
September 21, 2011 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I think I may have found a way of definitively finding a long-lost crush. Tell me if that's a bad idea.

My case is kind of like this, only my crush was requited. At least, I think so -- we were twelve and probably too young to even realize that that's what was going on. (The fact that this was taking place at a church youth group also maybe made things weird.) But we definitely dug each other, to the point that other kids teased us for being "boyfriend and girlfriend" even though we denied it.

My crush dropped out of sight when we turned thirteen, then out of nowhere one morning when I was sixteen he walked up to me in the church parking lot and struck up another conversation with me. We were a little flirty, but then lost touch yet again for another three years -- when we ran into each other again, but I was half of a couple that time, so we kept it at "friendly catching-up" and that's the last we've seen each other.

I've been thinking of my crush off and on, ever since, for nearly 15 years now. I've wanted to track them down and...okay, the romantic part of me kind of holds out hope of something, but the rest of me is bracing for "they're married/not your orientation/dead/doesn't want to talk to me," and I could just be seeking closure. A few times I've tried tracking my crush down, but it always fizzles.

Now -- I have come across what I am 99% certain is a mailing address and phone number for my crush's brother. I did this via legal means -- a free Google search, of the 'hey, let's plug names I know into google and see if I get hits -- hey, wait" variety. The name fits, the age fits, the general location fits.

SO: exactly how weird would it be for me to write to this guy and explain that I was friends with his brother some years ago and wanted to reconnect? The brother whose address I found was at the same church, just a different year of the youth group, so it's not ENTIRELY out of nowhere. But I hate to creep the guy out completely, so if this verges on stalkerish, let me know. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, pretty stalkerish- 15 years ago, brother of the guy, 12/13 at a church camp.

Find someone new to be obsessed with.
posted by TheBones at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

It verges on stalkerish, sorry. Do it if you want, but prepared for your crush to be weirded out.
posted by amro at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2011

Is this guy on Facebook? Facebook was *made* for this.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:53 AM on September 21, 2011 [18 favorites]

Regardless of the creepy stalker factor (which is high!) this woman is now completely and totally different as not only have 15 years passed, but also the passage from child to adult. They will not be who you remember.

Meanwhile, even if you tried, "hi I knew your sister sort of fifteen years ago and ha ha I had a crush on her and will you tell her that I want to get in touch" will not work. Not unless her brother either dislikes her or has no regard for her safety.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on September 21, 2011

I don't think this is weird at all. Someone who I knew at camp 30 years ago found my brother and asked how he could contact me. We exchanged a few e-mails. Totally normal.
posted by alms at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2011 [11 favorites]

I don't find this creepy or stalkerish at all (and I say this as someone who's been stalked!). Don't followup if you don't get a response, but send the letter, include a story or two of memories, he'll pass it to his brother if he feels like it, brother might respond if he feels like it, no problem.
posted by brainmouse at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's not that weird. This used to be somewhat commonplace; after all, the only way to re-find someone was through wide postal contact. I'd drop a casual email:

"Hi Doug, My name is Anonymous and I grew up in Church Falls, WI with a Dan Crush. The internet has lead me to believe you may be Dan's brother. If so, I would appreciate it if you could pass along my contact details, as I am interested in re-connecting with some childhood friends. Many thanks, etc."
posted by DarlingBri at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

It's not weird to want to reconnect with old friends, but it is maybe a little creeperish to do it specifically because you have an obsessive fantasy about having a relationship with someone you haven't seen since half a lifetime ago.
posted by elizardbits at 10:57 AM on September 21, 2011 [9 favorites]

...so if this verges on stalkerish, let me know

Your description is not creepy or stalkerish. It's an honest attempt at resolving some feelings, nothing wrong there.

That said, it might come off as creepy to him, but then again he might be married, turned gay, in a relationship or off being a monk. There's any number of variables here and creepy is far down on the list.

Go ahead, initiate contact (look on Facebook too!) and finish the story. I and probably the rest of the thread would be interested in hearing how it goes. Good luck!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do it!
posted by TheTingTangTong at 11:03 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

My 6th-grade notboyfriend found me on Facebook and I was thrilled - it's fun to reminisce and he's been hung up on some ridiculous stuff for the last 30 years. He's married; but would probably have explored something more if he weren't.

Then there's someone from high school that I have a much more complicated past with - I would love if he found me but he could easily and hasn't. For years, when I had dreams about him I thought it was fate telling me "it's time!"

What I finally put together about 10 years ago was that I dreamed about him when I was in the middle of some decadeslong behavior that didn't serve me very well. Dreams about him were my unconscious screaming at me to cut that shit out.

Third case is my best friend from high school - I found her, but it took some digging. As much as I'd love to catch up, I think she doesn't want to be found - it just took too much work.

Tl;dr (is this a first for an answer?) - if it's just a long-lost friend, probably fine; if it's got some baggage and you're easy to find, I'd hang back. Either way, I think going through the brother is maybe a little much - unless you guys were really close. Facebook is the great equalizer for me - easy and accessible.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

This may or may not come off as 'stalkerish', but you'll never know unless you do it. The not knowing would be nearly unbearable to be, so I say do it.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:09 AM on September 21, 2011

As a guy, I do not see a problem with an old friend of either gender contacting me, whether they found me or my brother or went to my house and asked the current owners where I was (not that they'd know I understand that some people may find this very stalkerish, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Send the letter with your Facebook/email information in the letter, and maybe you'll find an old friend.
posted by China Grover at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2011

Verges on Extremely Weird and Unhealthy, which naturally means that I have done this. I tracked down a young lady I'd had a thing for a decade prior, got to see her in person, and got to meet her child, as she was now happily married with a cool-ass toddler.

I'd been dreaming about her during those years, thinking about her quite a lot, and wondering what would happen if we reconnected. The answer was: we had a lovely conversation, I went on my way, and all those "OH MY GOD WHAT IF WE'RE MADE FOR EACH OTHER" thoughts just stopped. The dreams stopped. The pining stopped. My life, on the whole, is way better.

So I say: do it.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2011 [21 favorites]

Put me in the cute-not-stalkerish column.
posted by pjaust at 11:13 AM on September 21, 2011

Go ahead and give it a shot. It's obviously important to you.

Manage your expectations, though. I'm assuming that you're findable on Facebook, so he could have sought you out himself if he wanted to. And I'm similarly assuming you've looked there for him and didn't find him.

Facebook has enough saturation that I'd imagine most people interested in getting back in touch with people from their past have Facebook pages to facilitate that. If he doesn't, there's a slim possibility that he has some other reason for that, but odds are pretty good that he's not findable because he isn't interested.

So do it if only to satisfy your own curiosity, but if he doesn't respond, you probably shouldn't pursue it beyond that.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:18 AM on September 21, 2011

I've done this. It turned out well.
Don't mention the crush to the family, just leave it at childhood friend trying to reconnect.

People are often more comfortable passing your contact info along than giving someone's out, but this runs of the risk of never hearing back, and having no idea why (did the message get lost? Were they not interested?). So I'd ask for non-intrusive contact info (email or facebook), and be happy to simply provide yours if they prefer that route.

If you give out contact info, email or facebook is less intimidating than a phone number. It takes more guts to pick up a phone and call, which means more chance of it not happening.

If you don't act on this, it'll bug you for the rest of your life. So act on it. Your responsibility is simply to not be annoying.

However stalkeresque your methods, you're not a stalker until they've asked you leave them alone, and you don't.

If you're worried they'll be wierded out by your methods, simply don't go into details beyond the fact that you looked him up, found what seemed to be his brother instead, and so asked the brother. That's operating directly and in the open.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:22 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Weird, but you know what? Being weird isn't the worst thing in the world.

I'm unfindable on facebook for many reasons and wouldn't mind being contacted outside of facebook. It's not the entire world.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2011

I wouldn't find this all that weird at all, and I think it's worth a shot. Just a note that there's an episode of Louie that kind of explores this. The woman looks her age, is overweight, and married. They passionately make out anyway. Fiction, of course. But I don't think this is that weird of a fantasy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:42 AM on September 21, 2011

I would do it, but I am not always the best judge of social norms and what is right or wrong here.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:43 AM on September 21, 2011

Try it, at least, but be prepared for the person to not want to connect. I have a long-lost friend I recently found again on Linked-In, but she wasn't interested in reconnecting.
posted by LN at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's a problem, but LN said, be prepared to not hear back.
posted by dejah420 at 12:01 PM on September 21, 2011

Reminds me of this episode of Louie. Kind of.

Anyway, do it. Just follow greg nog and -harlequin-'s advice.
posted by azarbayejani at 12:08 PM on September 21, 2011

I think you should absolutely do it.
I think you should absolutely not even consider using the word "crush".
For me, that's the thing that pushes the line from reconnecting over to stalker.

If you're pretty certain the brother would at least know your name, just be friendly to him and hope for the best.

"hey Joe, I found your info on the internet and wanted to get back in touch, it's been a long time since we were at church youth group, eh? I'm in [other state] now, and blah blah blah back home nostalgia. Hope you're doing well.
I'll admit, it was actually your brother John I was looking for when I googled, but apparently I'm not so good with the searching. Do me a favor and forward this email to him, with my contact info?
Best wishes, anon"
posted by aimedwander at 12:09 PM on September 21, 2011

Do it. Life is short.
posted by Paris Elk at 12:11 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I found an old friend's email by doing one of those paid search thingies online. I emailed her, told her I had been wondering how she was doing for years and explained how I found her, and said I'd love to hear back if she was interested in reconnecting. She didn't seem put off at all and was excited to hear from me.

Several friendly emails later, she suddenly stopped replying for no reason I can figure out. But she really didn't seem upset that I had searched for her online in order to catch up. I say go for it... I like Darling Bri's wording especially, because mentioning that you are trying to reconnect with "some childhood friends" makes it sound less stalkerish, and probably less likely to get him in trouble with his wife, if he has one.

My husband had a female classmate from elementary school contact him on FB recently. She was trying to find as many people as she could from an old class picture. I feel a little less territorial knowing he is one of many she is seeking out... I'd be a little more wary if it seemed like she had been harboring some sort of interest in him for the last 20 years or so.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2011

Email, Facebook, other internet social networking that exists for this purpose: not creepy.

Mailing or calling them, which is effectively saying "I know where you live, and I'm going to find you," yeah, a little creepy, actually. It might turn out okay, though. This is kind of a personal taste sort of thing. You just have to be prepared for it to not be okay.

If you can find them online, I would go for that instead.
posted by katillathehun at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2011

I say "do it". It's normal to want to look up old friends/interests. Why not?
At the same time, be careful about any fantasy that you two would just pick up where you left or something. Hopefully, this will help ease your wondering, curiosity and pining and all that.
posted by foxhat10 at 1:40 PM on September 21, 2011

NOT stalkerish. Totally normal. People do stuff like this all the time, and if you go about it from the "wanting to catch up" angle, all should be fine.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:56 PM on September 21, 2011

How is this weird? I thought this was like one of the fun, unexpected things about the internet. It's happened to me numerous times -- I'm either delighted or I ignore the outreach.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2011

I think you should do it, but I think you should throw all your expectations out of the window. I've reconnected with people after 10 or so years, and it didn't turn out to be nearly as cool as I expected. People change. People have their own lives and grow and have different priorities. It's probably going to be awkward at best, and then maybe cordial, but there's so much time and distance between you, expect it to be like talking to a stranger. I would do it though, and definitely report back.
posted by cashman at 2:23 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

From the OP:
Thanks -- I sent a very low-key letter, saying that I'd recently run into one childhood friend by chance, and "it was so fun I decided to track down some other childhood friends; and if you're the right guy, your brother is one of them. If you are indeed the right guy, here's my contact info to pass on to him; if you're not the right guy, then than you for taking the time to read this!" I sent that out in yesterday's mail, so we'll see...

A few people in here asked if the person I'm looking for is on Facebook; unfortunately, I've turned up a lot of other people that share his name but AREN'T him on Facebook (unless he switched his nationality or DNA, or QUADRUPLED his age).

Those of you who felt this was a little "stalkerish:" I think you had a point, although that was probably resolved by this being a "tracking down childhood friends" thing. And: I've braced myself for finding out he's married/dead/taken/doesn't want to talk to me; honestly, the reaction I had to those what-ifs was 'well, at least I'd know, and that'd still be good.'

Thanks -- if this resolves with a REALLY good outcome, I will not only update you, I will unmask myself.
posted by jessamyn at 2:52 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

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