Romance with old friend
December 3, 2012 5:37 AM   Subscribe

I've recently been through some major life changes and find myself feeling strong romantic feelings for an old friend, former co-worker. I fear acting on my feelings because I don't want to jeopardize our platonic friendship which, at my age (65) is precious. I worry that even talking about my change in feelings for this woman might ruin our friendship. I'm not certain that she has reciprocal feelings for me, although I think she might. We are very compatible in most regards, intellectually, shared interests and activities, etc. And the friendship just as it is is rare and cherished. Should I 'confess' and risk what we have, or accept it for what it is and look elsewhere for the intimacy I seek? As might be obvioius, I have limited experience in physical (sexual) and emotionally-close relationships.
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you both single?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:41 AM on December 3, 2012

Is she more than 10 years younger than you? Are you retired and she still working? I know younger women do date older men, and I don't want to upset anyone, but if there's a sizable age gap and/or "where you are in life" gap you stand a higher chance of being rejected.

Also, yes, it's important to know if she's single. Don't try to start a romantic relationship with a married or partnered woman, no matter how strongly you feel about her. This is a surefire way to bring on the drama.

If she's single and in your age bracket, you might want to gently send out feelers to see if things are, or could be, reciprocal.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:46 AM on December 3, 2012

Both single, she's a year or two older. She's been married a couple of times. Me never.
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 5:57 AM on December 3, 2012

Life is too short. If she is single, ask her on a date. If your friendship is strong, this won't mess it up if she does not reciprocate your romantic interest.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:02 AM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

There are many non-verbal ways to get your answer. Pay close attention to the space between you. Does she touch you more often than before? When you move in closer to her, does she back away and re-establish a more comfortable zone or does she move closer? Women have many ways of giving you these non-verbal signals so read up on them.
posted by any major dude at 6:12 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't just ask her out on a date "out of nowhere." Since you're so close, maybe you could begin a very low-key conversation where you say that, much to your surprise, you find that, at this point in your life, you've become more interested than in the past in developing more intimacy in your life, and you want her to know that you've always found her a very attractive person and wonder what her thoughts might be about you in this regard.

You say in your post that it's obvious that you have had little experience with romantic and sexual relationships. It's not at all obvious and I wonder why you think that it is.

And why all of a sudden at 65 you want this.

Maybe if you do a little more thinking about this you'll come up with some insights about where all of this is coming from and those will guide you as you contemplate what to say to your friend.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:16 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also -- be aware that, since you have managed to avoid romantic intimacy most of your life, if you do happen to engage in any of this with your friend, the same issues that have kept you single for all these years may very well pop up and you may find yourself wanting to run away from the relationship, thus damaging the friendship. In other words, it's not your advances to her you have to be worried about -- it's your own personal conflicts. (insert ad for therapy)
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:20 AM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

Age needn't be a factor. Your feelings are going to show at some point, so manage the process. I'd start going out on more date-type dates. Movies, dinner, etc. - courtship, if you will. I recommend taking the risk; the reward is worth it.
posted by theora55 at 8:08 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you stabilized yet from the major life changes you mention? If not, I would get back to center, so to speak, and evaluate from there. You may get more clarity once things settle.

If you decide to move forward on the romantic front, I think your best course of action is to do so very slowly.

I am not 100% pro-therapy in all situations, but I think it would serve you well to discuss this with someone, or to write down your thoughts and give them some reflection at least. Moving forward romantically with a close friend does change the relationship, meaning it's not like everything stays the same but you're just dating now in addition. As suggested above, you might want to give some thought beforehand to issues that have been problematic for you in past relationships and how you might go about making sure those issues don't come up with your friend.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:22 AM on December 3, 2012

So, I guess I'm the only one here who wouldn't say anything. Friendships are precious and I've noticed that once you go into "romantic" territory it's hard to go back to the way things were if it doesn't work out. You're a lot older than I am though so it might be completely different for people in your age range. But especially being romantically inexperienced, I wouldn't do it. There might be a lot of things you haven't learned about relationships that you don't want to learn on her. I've had a few friends-turned-lovers where it failed not because we weren't compatible personality-wise but one person or the other had next to no experience in relationships and had no idea what they were doing or what to do when a conflict came up.

But again - I'm 22 - so take what I say with a grain of salt. Your maturity level is a lot higher than mine so these things might be non-issues.
posted by Autumn at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2012

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