I'm in love with a musician. How on earth can I let him know?
January 15, 2012 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm in love with a musician. How on earth can I let him know?

I know that sounds bad, but the musician that I love is not an unknown mainstream artist, and we do have a friendship. I've known him for 6-7 years, first as a fan, and it's grown to friendship. I regularly travel to his shows (often at his request) and typically see him at 15-20 shows per year.

We spend a lot of time together when I come to his shows, usually meeting for dinner before and hanging out before and after his set. He often crashes in my hotel room, but he either sleeps on the floor or the extra bed/sofa. I give him rides to/from shows and rehearsals, especially when the tour bus is crowded, and it gives us a bit more time to talk.

He trusts me, we talk openly about personal and important issues. I know that he appreciates my support, and I help him out as much as I can (with merch, organization, talking to venues, soundchecking, etc). He regularly shows appreciation and expresses his 'love' for me (though I interpret that to be the friendship type of 'love'. He's also very affectionate, hugs, kisses on the cheek, cuddles, massages, etc.

When he's not touring, we usually text/facebook back and forth occasionally, but we don't talk daily/weekly.

The issue: I'm completely in love with him, but he has no idea. At the shows, I generally give him space to talk to his fans, and there are dozens and dozens of girls shamelessly flirting with him night after night.

How can I get his attention without ruining our friendship? There's also the issue that he is on the road 200 days of the year, and I work a "regular" job that I need to keep. Advice? Suggestions?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Tell him how you feel.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:09 PM on January 15, 2012 [9 favorites]

Sorry to sound unkind, but if he has known you this long and never breached the gap romantically, I would give up on the idea of dating him. Unless he's already in a relationship, he would have made a move by now. Spare yourself the humiliation, please, and just be friends, as you are.
posted by devymetal at 8:11 PM on January 15, 2012 [18 favorites]

Agreed. There's not a more elegant way to do this, and honestly any manuever you try to get around it will probably only turn out clumsy.

Just be prepared, you know, for it not to work out that well all the time. If he really is away 200 days out of the year, and surrounded by flirting girls, that's not a great formula for a relationship, honestly. It can still work, but you're starting out in a situation that's already not ideal, and relationships are generally difficult anyway.

I'd say that it makes a huge difference what your hopes are with this guy. Do you think he's "the guy" or do you just want to have a romantic fling with him for awhile?

Are you older or younger (I'm *guessing* younger)? If you are older and get into a long-term relationship and it falls south that can be a lot harder to dig your way out of than if you're young and can just start something new with someone else (always an option, but if you're say 33 now and drag the relationship out to 38, that's very different than if you were 10 years younger).
posted by Deathalicious at 8:15 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Artists, especially successful ones, (like ones who have 200 gigs a year), are used to expressing themselves and asking for what they want.

He knows how to make moves and he's not making any.

I don't think you can get his attention in the way that you ask without changing things forever.
posted by miles1972 at 8:21 PM on January 15, 2012 [12 favorites]

is he dating someone? that's question number one.

I think you should get to know him better first--not just on the current basis, but on a more daily basis. He may or may not be the person you think. This allows you the chance to evaluate him on the type of level that you would any other potential mate. Second, it gives him a chance to evaluate you as a potential mate too.

Then, if things go in that direction, things will happen a bit more naturally.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know why telling him would be any different than telling a non-musician. Just tell him how you feel. I agree with the other posters that this might not work out the way you want, but you should tell him anyway.

Also -- there's no "ruining the friendship." I think in a friendship, if one person holds onto feelings for the other party for a long, long time, it'll ruin the friendship one way or another. You have to tell him and handle what happens, or stop having feelings for him. Holding it in for fear of ruining this friendship will just waste your time and his, if he does have feelings for you back.

Songs like this make people feel that the guy/girl they're pining after will get over his/her stuff, turn to their friend, and oh, sparks will fly. But in my experience it doesn't happen and it just wastes time.

(not saying Joshua Radin is the guy you're talking about...)
posted by sweetkid at 8:28 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You sound like a really great fan. He sounds like he treats you like a really great fan. I don't know, based on your description, that you'd even qualify as a "friend" to this person more than a superfan, honestly. Musicians tend to have a good number of those types of fans, and if he's not seeing you at times that's not associated with shows, you guys are not anywhere near love. It sounds like fan adoration to me, which is fine, but unless he lets you into something other than appreciating him as an artist and making his life easier when he's on the road, you're kind of just part of the tour.
posted by xingcat at 8:28 PM on January 15, 2012 [12 favorites]

Before talking to him about how you feel (and I think you should, nothing to lose, everything to gain), I think you should consider what you're hoping the next step would be for the two of you. Not so you can confront him with a laundry list of things you'll want from him on day one, but so that if the two of you go down the path of discussing what your romantic relationship would look like, you'll be able to see if he'll be able to provide you with what you need in a romantic partner.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:28 PM on January 15, 2012

You just tell him. Maybe not "I'm totally in love with you" but "I'm really interested in you. You're amazing for x, y, z reasons and I'd love to go out on date." You can hem and haw and preface and "Whatever happens, I want us to be friends forever," but simply and unambiguously expressing your interest is the way to go. You don't have to pour your heart out, you just have to tell him in so many words that you'd like to give something more than friendship a try. Honestly, so much fretting and planning goes into the decision that it makes you think the act itself has to be as emotional and dramatic as the mental processing. It doesn't, and it shouldn't if you want to keep things as non-awkward as possible for both parties. (Unrequited love and yearning from afar has been dramatized and romanticized for centuries, from Chretien of Troyes to every Ginnifer Goodwin move ever; so, in addition to our egos, we're culturally primed to make it into this huge dramatic thing, but it doesn't, and shouldn't have, to be. We'd save ourselves so much time and energy.)

Because the thing is, you don't want to be friends with him, not really, at least not in the short/immediate term. Friendship isn't what you want from this guy. Anything short of what you are hoping for will be just a faint echo of what you really want to hear from him. If he says no/isn't interested, will he want to stop hanging out with you? Probably not. From witnessing and hearing about the aftereffects, it's a much bigger deal to the teller than it is to the tellee. Almost all of these stories from the other perspective seem to come with a "It was a little weird for a day or two, but whatever." He could be different, but the majority of anecdotal evidence seems to indicate otherwise. And even if he isn't interested in staying friends? Well, better than never having taken the shot, constantly wondering what he might feel, all while watching women flirt with him. That's slow emotional torture.

To be brutally honest, I rather agree with the posters above that if he were interested, he'd probably have made a move by now. But we don't know him, so we can't really know, nor can we ask him. You can. You may or may not be friends forever. You do want to date him now. Whatever the odds may be, the only way you even have a shot is if you say something.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 8:45 PM on January 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

He sounds like a very professional musician, doing what it takes to build and maintain his fan base.

He is choosing to sleep on the floor rather than cuddle with you in the hotel bed. If that isn't a clear indicator that he isn't romantically interested in you, I don't know what is.

Be thankful that he is honest with you. He isn't interested in a romantic relationship with you and he is not leading you on. Many men would have sex with you, use you for whatever they could and then move on.

You get to be friends with a super cool musician that everybody wants to know. Enjoy that. But date other people. I don't advise telling him how you feel. You are infatuated. You will get over it.
posted by myselfasme at 8:53 PM on January 15, 2012 [10 favorites]

So, you guys aren't in the same city? And he's never made a move on you?

I agree that you should probably say something if you really want it to proceed, but I'll be really honest, based on my experience of dating musicians, which is a legendary amount, if he was into you he'd have made a move. I have had many boyfriends with "superfans" who were kind to them on the road and were never anything but platonic, whether or not those women understood the nature of the relationship, and who also had girlfriends in other cities who had a totally different situation. My now-husband, when he was a touring musician, had many friends of this nature. Sometimes the lines do blur, but when there's girlfriend potential, it usually bears out pretty quickly and obviously.

Having dated musicians that, after it ended, I couldn't even walk into a record store without cringing, I'd suggest you decide whether you want to be friends with the guy whose music you enjoy or whether you want to never hear his stupid band again as long as you live, and then proceed from there.
posted by padraigin at 8:54 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think if you tell him it will not work.

You might want to tell him anyways. But if you do, it's for yourself and for some learning.
posted by ead at 9:01 PM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Myselfasme 2 posts up nailed what I was going to say on the head. If the guy is a normal, red-blooded heterosexual (or even bisexual) male he would have slept with you by now if were attracted to you in the least, sexually speaking.

I am 50 now and I would say when I turned 45 or so, I became able to control myself around women I was sexually attracted to. Despite long relationships with assistants, friends, drinking pals, etc -- if I was attracted to them sexually we would inevitably end up in bed and then have to work out of generally uncomfortable or at least awkward situations, which later we could laugh about. I should add that at 45 I stopped drinking, and I think that had alot to do with my control. I do not disrespect women, as an aside.

His or her last line of advice is brilliant. Don't wreck a good thing, and it sounds like you have alot of free time when not touring. Get yourself out there and make yourself date. You will feel a spark or two for someone else and be able to deal with your love (or more likely infatuation --which is an incredibly strong emotion).

One thing I have not seen brought up because you don't mention any sexual escapades with these other female fans is he could be in the closet and out of fear not want to ruin his reputation. That would explain him having a girl (you) in the wings at all concerts.
posted by sobersearchparty at 9:20 PM on January 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

My view is that he is treating you respectfully which is nice but that basically you are doing a lot of work for him for free. Also, if he is so successful why doesn't he have his own hotel room? But anyway, as most people said, if you are staying overnight together there has been ample opportunity for something to happen. If it hasn't, well, I would assume that's your answer right there.

You can tell him your feelings but then you need to decide where to go from there. Will you still act as a superfan and keep helping him 20 days a year? Maybe it would be better to disengage a bit and try to date people with similar schedules and more accessible lifestyles.
posted by bquarters at 11:11 PM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

How it looks: you're a fan, not a friend, but you don't know it.

At best, it appears to be a very one-sided friendship in which you do 99.9 percent of the work and Narcissus pays you back with things that cost him nothing (a hug, a peck, free tickets, eating dinner with you when he was going to eat dinner anyway, staying up late talking about him and his music, etc.). If he also wanted sex and romance from you, he would have converted some of those hugs and dinners and sleepovers into a move for sex and romance by now.

But you want sex and romance. So this "friendship" you're worried about messing up is a one-sided deal: to him it's a friendship (or a fanship) that suits him quite nicely as is, but to you it's a courtship that you want to move forward but you're afraid of fumbling.

Your best strategy is to decide for yourself right now: do you (A) carefully keep things as they are because you could never deal with messing up this relationship as it stands, or do you (B) make a move on him because you'll only be happy if this relationship becomes a romantic affair, and you don't care if it wrecks the friendship because maybe it's not even a real friendship to begin with?

If what you really need is romance, plan B is the honest option and offers the best results. You'll get over losing a friendship like this. You'll never get the romance without a move. Kiss him. Tell him. Make it very clear what you want.


If it's true that you're only a convenient fan now, you might fail even when you think plan B has succeeded: adding sex to the mix might just make you an even more convenient fan and not a real romantic partner. You might continue doing everything for him plus giving him sex when he's in town, and he might still spend most of his time away and worrying mainly about himself. In this scenario, you now think of him as your special lover and he now thinks of you as one of his groupies. Is that a satisfactory outcome?
posted by pracowity at 1:50 AM on January 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

I have been in relationships, both romantic and platonic, with famous people in the past. Music, pro sports, in any case situations where fans and a lot touring was involved. In my experience, there was a clear line between "groupies, fans, superfans" and "friends, people with potential as a romantic partner". Group 1 was, well, groupies, fans, superfans; people to meet on tour, after shows, help with tour/event related things, have a drink with between soundcheck and gig and so on. Group 2 was people to take your mind away from being everybody's darling; be yourself, be just a normal person with a normal life and normal things to talk to. Group 1 is business. Group 2 is real life.
Everything you mention you share with this guy is business in the wider sense - helping on tours, promotion, providing a place to crash or a ride in your car.
It is rather unlikely that you'll cross the invisible line into "real life" territory. The only people I've met who liked or didn't mind mixing fanship with friendship and beyond (as in "dating fans") were young and on the way to fame, and couldn't get enough of talking about whatever it was they were doing. But being successful and famous for some years, most became tired of that and appreciated a circle of friends that were either equally famous or didn't have anything to do with their job.
For musicians (and other celebs), the very thing you admire about them is their day job. It's not as special and out of this world to them as it is for you; they have this kind of life every day. Friends and lovers turn into a rare commodity due to the unspoken question "Do these people just like to be friends with a celeb or do they really like me as a person?"
You are clearly a fan and never crossed the line to private territory. You are business. It's his duty to be nice and involve you in his professional life; it's what musicians do with fans and he hasn't send any clues that he wants to take this fanship beyond business. Not even to an actual friendship. And he had 6 - 7 years to figure out if you could be a friend for his sake. There's your answer; he decided to keep things professional and not give you the impression that will ever change (hence sleeping on the floor).
posted by MinusCelsius at 3:20 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Artists, especially successful ones, (like ones who have 200 gigs a year), are used to expressing themselves through their music, which may have little or no relation to their ability to express themselves in conversation.

and asking for what they want. No, that's what Tour Managers and Personal Assistants are for.

FTFY. Seriously. A person's ability to make music that touches you personally is NO GUIDE WHATSOEVER to their ability to have healthy relationships or even be Not An Asshole in real life.

Nthing what MinusCelsius, xingcat and myselfsame say - as described you sound like a superfan, maybe bordering on part-time-temporary-on-the-road-friend (much like you probably have "work friends" who you like seeing at work, eating lunch with, maybe grabbing a drink after work every so often, but who you don't really socialize with otherwise.)

I'm very sorry, but I really doubt this will go any further than it has.

Also, OP, in all brutal honesty, this kind of helping - talking with venues, soundchecking - yeah, you might want to think hard about how you approach this, especially as you're not an official member of his support staff or crew. There are few things more annoying than Some Random Chick Who For All We Know Is The FuckBuddy He Picked Up Last Night grabbing venue staff while they're in the middle of doing something and griping about getting the right kind of bottled water, or complaining about how the reverb is wrong while I'm trying to figure out what to do about that weird resonance on his low E string.

U. R. Not. Helping.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:57 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

To what extent are you absolutely SURE as shit that he's not married or in a significant relationship with someone else? I just have to bring this up, because, well, the cliche.

Aside from that, I'd approach this like you would anybody else in a similar context. I lean toward "if he's known you this long and never made a pass, it's probably not meant to be", but you know, you never know. Ten years from now, would you regret not doing/saying/initiating anything?

Then again, you also have something to lose here - if you make an awkward pass at him and it turns out there is some sort of boundary like MinusCelsius and soundguy99 mention, you might lose him. So you have to decide what you want more: to keep being this guy's single serving road friend/superfan, or to make a move on him and see where it goes.

Minor personal anecdote: A million years ago, I was a casual acquaintance of a B-list actor you've probably heard of. It now occurs to me that I could have totally "hit that". I regret not having that notch in my bedpost. So in the name of No Regrets, I say do it! On the other hand, I never would have been looking for a relationship, so this might not be applicable to your situation.
posted by Sara C. at 8:20 AM on January 16, 2012

Unless he's already in a relationship, he would have made a move by now.

That's just dumb. Not every guy "makes moves"; particularly musicians, who never have to.

Time for you to make a move.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2012

Deathalicious upthread commented: If you are older and get into a long-term relationship and it falls south that can be a lot harder to dig your way out of than if you're young and can just start something new with someone else (always an option, but if you're say 33 now and drag the relationship out to 38, that's very different than if you were 10 years younger).

To elaborate on this point--and speaking as one who has spent 150-200 days a year on the road for about 25 years--relationships take much longer to play out under these circumstances (and some, of course, never get off the ground). It takes longer to get to know each other, to discover relationship flaws, to resolve conflicts, to determine whether something is an irritant or a deal-breaker, etc. You can build up a fantasy version of the other person because you don't spend all that much time together and absence is making the heart grow fonder. Long-term, the strain of the departure/re-entry cycle on both parties, the resentment on the traveler for avoiding mundane tasks, the traveler's envy of the homebody for a stable life, are all also very real aspects of a relationship with someone who spends so much time away.

So let's presume that you succeed in exiting the friend zone. All of the above is to say that if you would like to bear children/raise them with a partner and are closing in on the end of that window, you need to think through how his travel and your need to keep your job affect your ability (and his) to determine whether this relationship will really work.
posted by carmicha at 10:11 AM on January 16, 2012

One question: can this guy afford his own room? If not, you are a fan and probably stuck in the fan zone. If he can afford his own room but is choosing to sleep on the floor in your room rather than by himself, maybe you have a chance
posted by zia at 10:29 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

One clue: does he do the same type of things for you? Does he help you with work problems, fixing things, etc. Not just verbal appreciation, but actual 'doing stuff'. Does he pay for the dinners, the hotel room? Oftentimes you can tell how into you a man is by what they want to do for you. If they are just taking, they probably are not interested in you that way. Then again, it just may have never crossed his mind. But I kind of doubt it.

Unfortunately I agree that you sound like a superfan. Nothing wrong with that, but I also think you should get yourself out there and date. A lot. At least all your eggs won't be in one infatuation basket. (if you have been holding out for him and avoiding other men, that's not a good sign, don't go there.)
posted by Vaike at 9:08 PM on January 18, 2012

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