How to tell an übergeek about the enormous crush I have for him?
April 3, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I am finally asking MetaFilter for advice about my love life...

I find myself recently single after the only relationship I thought I'd ever have came crashing to a sudden and spectacular halt. (I'm okay - thanks for asking.)

After a long winter of getting over it I am pretty sure I'm ready to let the chips fall where they may and fall spectacularly in love with someone new. Sensibly, I've come to the conclusion that if I *do* pair up with anyone again, he must be super awesome.

Luckily, I happen to know of a super awesome guy!


A few years ago my very best friend went out with him. Although I've never met him in person, we conversed extensively as friends during their relationship. After they split we still chatted from time to time, but since we didn't have my BFF in common anymore the chats became few and far between then stopped altogether. Anyhow. The fact that this lovely geek guy dated my BFF is not the complicating factor. I am certain that if (by some miracle) he and I were to become an item, she would feel nothing but happy for us both. Cause she's just that cool.

The complicating factors lay elsewhere and are, well, complicated. I will do my very best to keep this brief.

1. We've never met in person, and there will likely never be opportunity to do so unless I were to become a freaky stalker (not my style). He lives on the West Coast USA and I split my time between Toronto and Rural Southwestern Ontario.

2. It has been a good while since we talked about anything personal, and I'm not sure if he is even single or not. I did have a chance to email him recently asking for advice in his field of expertise (he is practically a household name in Internet Security). The advice he gave me got me thinking good things about how to plan for the digital safety of my new company which just made me crush harder!

The only possible in that I have is the fact that I haven't emailed him back to thank him for all his excellent advice.

So.. can I/should I include with the thank you note, some sort of grand confession telling him that I think he's absolutely adorable, that he has one of the most complex and interesting minds *ever*, and that I would really like to find a way to see if we could meet and find out if we have any kind of IRL chemistry?

Is this something that you write up in a friendly email, hit the send button, hold your breath, and hope for the best?

How the hell do I manage this? HOPE ME!

Bonus factor: He is a MeFite! So if he sees this, he will know that he is the geek of whom I speak.

(If it turns out that he has a girlfriend, things will be very awkward indeed. Worth the risk? Probably.)
posted by Lizard to Human Relations (27 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- goodnewsfortheinsane

Is this something that you write up in a friendly email, hit the send button, hold your breath, and hope for the best?

posted by xingcat at 3:42 PM on April 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

Grand confession? No. But that shouldn't stop you from including in your thanks the suggestion that the two of you get together in person sometime, or open up new topics of virtual discussion interesting to both of you. Do that, and see where it goes.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:43 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think the best thing to do is thank him for the advice and let him know that you'd love to take him out for a drink the next time either of you is in the other's town. It's flirt bait, see if he bites. Beyond that, I think you have to keep the massive crush to yourself; the odds of a massive guts spill going anywhere good are miniscule and dumping the whole thing on his lap like a load of cat barf will probably just bewilder him.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:45 PM on April 3, 2013 [15 favorites]

Not even trying to be diplomatic here. No.

Sometimes the safest and most enjoyable crush is someone totally unattainable. Whether that's someone who lives far far away, does not prefer your gender romantically, or is a young James Taylor on an album cover (that one was hard for me).

This being MetaFilter, I'm sure people will chime in that they were in this situation and now they're happily married etc.

However, those are outliers. Most relationships develop from in-person interactions. Someone single, geographically appropriate, and available can be *terrifying* to approach. Someone who lives a million miles away is a lot easier, but you're cheating yourself out of the possibility of a real, true, in-person love relationship.
posted by bonheur at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [29 favorites]

You want to let a friend who you've never met face and who lives thousands of miles away that you have a huge crush on him even though you don't even know that he is single?

Just e-mail and flirt, don't let go with the huge crush thing, it would be coming on too strong for most people, I think. Don't get your hopes up, it's quite likely that he's just not interested in starting up an internet-based romance with someone he has never met. But even if that's the case, it still might be worth the the effort as a starting point to get your bearings back, relationship-wise.
posted by skewed at 4:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

You live at least part of the time in Toronto, with a metro area population of 5 to 6 million humans, or whatever that is in metric. Odds are excellent that there is a single man just as awesome as the guy you are pining for within fifty miles of you. Find him and forget the one that got away.
posted by kindall at 4:11 PM on April 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

he's absolutely adorable, that he has one of the most complex and interesting minds *ever*, and that I would really like to find a way to see if we could meet and find out if we have any kind of IRL chemistry

Honestly, if I got an email like this from someone I'd never met, and hadn't had more than very passing (online) contact with in - it's hard to tell from your timeline, but a couple or several years? Well, it would make my eyebrows go way, way up, and not in a "Yay!" kind of way. To me, it would be way too much too fast, and you are too far away, and I wouldn't really want to put any energy towards that.

But I'm not him, so what do I know. Problem is, you don't know either. Is there a reason you have to start with grand crush? Can you imagine that that might be kind of off-putting for some people? I'd start gentler and quieter.
posted by rtha at 4:22 PM on April 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

I should clarify my definition of crush.

To me, it means that I think the person may be the whole cookie, which I would happily eat if asked.
posted by Lizard at 4:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Or metahumans. Can't you just casually ask your friend if she knows what he's doing these days And when you thank him for the help be sure to mention that you miss the online chats/emailsor whatever the two of you used to exchange and ask if he wants to be penpals again.
posted by mareli at 4:37 PM on April 3, 2013

Your given definition of crush does not change my answer. Still way too big, way too fast given you've never met in person, and that you haven't even been in friend-online communication in quite a while.
posted by rtha at 4:45 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

Er, my firsthand experience is that telling a guy I am gaga over him is about the same thing as personally buying him a hyperinflated ego just so he can, oh, walk on me or something. Maybe I am Doing It Rong but I really think that's starting from a position of weakness. Like begging him to toss you a few crumbs from his table as you are not worthy of an entire cookie, much less one so scrumptious.

I have known couples who met online and later married, some of them moving quite long distances to get together (one was even an American-Canadian couple). My impression is they were all on strong speaking terms beforehand. I think you need to get him to talk to you. If you can't do that, the rest is a moot point.
posted by Michele in California at 4:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's the email I would send...but WAIT, see below...


Dear Person,

Hey! How's it going? So I was thinking about you for some reason...I hope you're doing well. Lots of excitement over here, most(!) of it good. Anyway. Drop me a line if you feel like it.

All the best,


...and then you MUST follow it up with IRL pursuit of other guys or at least other opportunities (meetups, online dating, you know the drill). Otherwise you MAY become totally wacko thinking about this guy. ASK me how I know. Wait, don't.

But seriously. I have been there. At the dawn of the internet. We met in person and it wasn't a match. After some awkwardness we are good friends again (after corresponding since 1988). I went to his wedding in October! I don't regret any of it.
posted by skbw at 4:52 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

So as not to misuse the edit window...when you write out of the blue and mention "changes," or whatever works for your case, he will KNOW what you are talking about if he's remotely open to the possibility.

Best case? Great romance.

Worst case? Awkward, maybe even painful, but he lives thousands of miles away and you've never met him.
posted by skbw at 4:54 PM on April 3, 2013

Possible outcomes of sending such an email:

(a) He's keen, you meet, you hit it off, everyone lives happily ever after

(b) He's keen, you meet, he falls for you, you're all a little bit ugh, well now I see you in person, and ... you have to let him down easy

(c) He's keen, you meet, you fall for him, he doesn't fall for you, you're heartbroken

(d) He's keen, you meet, you're both underwhelmed in person and things stay forever a little awkward

(e) He's not interested, a little weirded out by your email and doesn't know how to reply so he never does and you lose touch completely

(f) He's not interested and doesn't know how to reply so he sort of strings you along without committing to anything and you end up getting more attached and then let down badly

(g) He's not interested, says so clearly and the friendship continues

... You get the picture. Doing this by email is asking a LOT.

But why not take a trip to California? And email him before you leave saying thanks for the help and I'm going to be there next week for a work thing (and I miraculously decided to stay over the weekend) and can I buy you a drink to say thank you and it would be nice to put a face/voice to the name after all this time? Accomplishes everything you want!
posted by yogalemon at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I wasn't gonna write a response since these things usually sort themselves out without the need for my input, but I don't like any of the suggestions so far... Why not just start talking to him more, like you used to? A grand confession is never a good idea, but if you start chatting more often and flirting a little, you can gauge his reaction and see if he starts doing the same thing back. But keep in mind, even if he does develop some kind of Internet crush on you where he looks forward to talking to you every day, the practical side of his brilliant mind might not even want to give this a chance. So do this only if you're ok with realizing that this will probably never work out, and you should look for people to date who are closer to you, basically if you see this in a practical way too, and are just doing this because it's fun to have a flirty Internet friend, not because you're waiting and hoping for him to fall for you. And if anything comes out of it, awesome. If not, then you knew this wasn't gonna go anywhere to begin with.
posted by at 5:20 PM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm with yogalemon here. If you think he's the whole cookie or whatever, it's certainly worth an exploratory trip to California. It sounds as if you need to meet this dude in person so that you can either get something real happening, or get on with your life.
posted by Salamander at 5:30 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am pretty sure I'm ready to let the chips fall where they may and fall spectacularly in love with someone new.

In my experience, it doesn't really work to just DECIDE you want to fall in love/have a crush and then, once again, DECIDE that one particular person seems like a good pick based on what you know about them on paper. I wish it did; I've tried it more than once, including for the same reason you're trying it: to get over somebody else. I still wish it would work. I want to fall in love, too. I wish for it often. So I know where you're coming from, I think.

But love, to my frustration, seems to be something you have to let happen, something you let take you a little by surprise, even, by gradually sharing your heart and your vulnerabilities with someone, by getting to know and care for them deeply—not just by saying "I need a guy to help me get over this other guy! Oh hey, conveniently, I do know a guy! He shall be my next great love." That's what it sounds to me like you're doing, and I don't think that's good for either you or the guy. How would you feel if somebody decided they had an obligatory crush on you, just because they felt like it was time to love somebody, not because they really knew you? To me, it would feel lonely. And kind of like being used.
posted by honey wheat at 5:41 PM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

After you email, and he maybe answers, you are still thousands of miles apart. Are you looking for a Pen Pal? The advice above from kindall might be your best bet for falling in love - with an IRL person.
posted by Cranberry at 5:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Worth the risk? Probably.

I think you've answered your own question.
posted by Strass at 5:49 PM on April 3, 2013

This would be, if I'm understanding your description correctly, only the second person you've ever dated? Let me be frank. You're putting way too much weight on this possibility because the idea that you've already met the second great love of your life is so much less scary than the idea that you're now single with no idea when or even if you will find that kind of love again. It's tempting to think that you can shortcut the process of bumbling through lots of not-quite-right guys and slowly learning more about what you need and want in a relationship. And it's not 100% impossible that things could work out the way you're dreaming of with this guy, but... don't be too surprised if they don't.
posted by MsMolly at 6:26 PM on April 3, 2013 [14 favorites]

When you say you chatted, do you mean you talked on the phone (or VOIP) or that you messaged each other? I think if most of your conversation is via messaging, I would really encourage you to hit the brakes. There's just too much room to project the person you imagine him to be onto the limited information you get through a chat. When you add in the fact that he's a niche-celebrity-geek (and that you're getting over a break-up), it seems like there's a lot of potential for you to have a crush on the fantasy of him, rather than on the actual person.

I think the advice to stay in contact with him, and try to push the contact back up to earlier levels, is good. If you have some vacation time coming up, and you choose to take a vacation in California, because--let's face it--it's a lovely place with many good vacation options, then that might present an opportunity to meet in person and see if there's anything there. But it would really be like a first date with someone you met online: you may find that the person in the flesh doesn't match up to the version of him you've had in your head.
posted by pompelmo at 6:28 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like's answer the best, and it is what I would do, what I would tell my good friend to do, and what I actually think you should do.
posted by sm1tten at 6:36 PM on April 3, 2013

This is a freaking INTERNATIONAL crush. Honestly, even if he does likey-like you back without your ever seeing him in person--and frankly, many an Internet crush has been buzzkilled by IRL interaction--this is a serious uphill battle just to see each other AND deal with customs AND to try to move together in the end....which puts heavy pressure on the relationship to get married for legal reasons. It's hard enough to have an LDR when people have gotten to know each other in real life for a good while before going international. This is....unlikely to work out under this much baggage already.

Keep it a mental crush, don't tell, and find a nice Canadian boy nearby.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Assumptions about how many people I have or have not dated between my ex and now are really not relevant to the conversation. For all any of you know, The reason my ex and I split could have been because I simply could not stop getting drunk and going home with other guys - or maybe he couldn't.. Who knows?

The point of that is to say: I'm just not really sure that the answers addressing my undisclosed partners (or lack thereof) in between then and now are helpful, (is all).
posted by Lizard at 12:10 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd say no, don't rush forward to reveal that you have an enormous crush at the outset. Why? It seems like you two haven't spoken (as friends, in a getting-to-know-you way) for a great while, and a lot of this attraction to him that you feel isn't directly grounded in your real life, first-hand experience of this man. So that creates two problems: 1) that it would be very startling for him to have someone profess an enormous crush, and that 2) that you may be setting yourself up for a great deal of disappointment even if he does reciprocate, because a lot of online text-based interaction has a lot of ambiguity which we tend to read however we want to.

1) is easy - go slow with something like, 'hey, how about coffee next time I see you on [x date]? I'd really like to meet up.' As opposed to, I really really like you and think you're the bees' knees, how bout we try an LDR thing? That may be frightening and screw up whatever potential there is.

And as for 2)... It's a sad side effect of text-based communication. In fact, forget the Internet factor; he may well be a very different person from when you last talked. Confessing now, and realizing that later may be quite awkward. That's just something to think about while you decide whether to feed this crush.

I've been there - as a child of the Internet, I can't remember a crush that developed without chat being a big part of it. But it's dawned on me that that's really a lousy way to get to know people, especially when it comes to ascertaining what they mean - like, flirting or clueless? Specially nice or just decent and upstanding?
posted by undue influence at 12:49 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

If he'll know if he reads this, you've basically already done it, haven't you?

That said I've done the "let's get coffee when I'm in your city" ==> chatting more ==> dropping increasingly less subtle hints and noticing whether he backs out ==> hmm, this feels like a date ==> oh huh, he wants a relationship version of this. (The relationship turned out to be a complete disaster, but hey, we still talk occasionally, which is more than a few exes get.) Guys can be dense but they're not that dense, and if I had come out of the gate all HEY I JUST MET YOU AND THIS IS CRAZY he would have probably balked. As much as I (and you) would love to be all #YOLO about this, situations like these are exactly when you need to just extend feelers.
posted by dekathelon at 9:27 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I am coming at this from the experience of recently starting online dating and let me tell you what I have discovered: Pictures and online conversations tell you about a tiny sliver of a person, and then all the other stuff like mannerisms, posture, voice pitch -- intangible stuff -- this is the grist of what makes people come across the way they do and the basis of attraction. Like I've met a lot of guys who were really cute in their pictures and sound like Rhodes Scholars via the written word, and then you meet them and they have a certain jumpiness or nervous energy or way of rubbing their nose that makes you think that maybe they are on cocaine a little bit? Or you meet a really good looking guy who you discover also has a quite high pitched voice and it really changes things for you.

It just sounds like 1.) You don't really know this person and 2.) Even if your online communication were constant enough that you felt you really knew this person, he'd likely be different than what you expected in some significant ways. 3.) It's rough being single, especially if you've just come down from a big epic relationship, but you have just got to weather that, girl. Also, 4.) Find some dudes in Toronto. BE STRONG.
posted by mermily at 6:12 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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