First crush in a while...
February 21, 2014 7:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm a single gay lady in my mid-30s. I'm relatively out (but obviously not fully out, judging by the fact that I'm posting this anonymously). I find myself crushing on a lovely woman for the first time since I last got my heart broken, something like six years ago, and have been single that whole time. The problem here is that the lovely woman is so wrong for me (on paper, anyhow), for so many reasons, that I'm unsure if I should try to pursue things, or even if there's anything to pursue. Snowflake details inside!

I like her. A lot. I'm attracted to her, I think she's smart, funny, kind and beautiful. But she and I have two professional relationships going with each other at the moment. I'm doing some work for her website while she's my physiotherapist. My work for her will be wrapped up in the next week. I can't imagine my physiotherapy will go on for much longer as I've been seeing her since October and my injured area is nearly back to normal, so perhaps two or three more sessions remain (which would take us through the end of March as I see her about every two weeks).

The other major issue is her age. She is over a decade younger than me. While that's not insurmountable, I feel the difference in age between us at this juncture makes a difference, since she's in her mid-20s.

Finally, I'm not sure about her orientation. I know she's had a serious boyfriend before, but they've been broken up for over a year. She's currently single. And... well, she (very seriously) plays a sport that would tend to suggest that she's gay or bi. As in, a lot of women playing this sport are presumed to be gay. I know, I know, someone's hobbies don't mean they're gay, but I can't help but think the odds could be in my favour. ;) That said, she also tweeted favourably about Ellen Page coming out...

Anyhow, I keep trying to talk myself OUT of crushing for the above reasons, but no luck. I'm pretty smitten.

She doesn't know that I'm gay or, at least, I've never expressly mentioned that I'm gay (or mentioned an ex-girlfriend or whatever). Mostly because it would be really awkward to let a woman know that I am INTO women while said woman is rubbing various parts of my body, while she's being paid to do so...

However, we had an appointment on Valentine's Day and I bought her a small bag of chocolates (and a small card saying that everyone deserves chocolate today, so happy Valentine's Day!) and enlisted the aid of the clinic's receptionist to see that she got them (because I am a chicken!). She got them and immediately emailed me and thanked me profusely, calling me very sweet and saying how nice it was of me to leave her chocolates and she wished me a happy Valentine's Day, too.

Then, since I work on her website which has her Instagram feed integrated, when I got back to working on it a couple of hours later, I realized that she'd taken a picture of the bag of chocolates and the card and ADDED HEARTS to the picture and uploaded that to Instagram. With a blushing smiley emoji, a red heart emoji and a blowing-a-kiss emoji. And hashtags including #veryhappygirl #lovelovelove #morelove #mwa

So the chocolates were well-received, obviously. :D

I feel as though the next step would be to hang out, outside the clinic, which we haven't done yet. (She's been a great client for me as we've understood each other brilliantly through just emailing back and forth, so we haven't needed an in-person meeting, much to my disappointment!) But would that be super weird? Someone 10+ years older than her, asking her to hang out, while she's still my physiotherapist?

Or do I wait until after my physio's all done with? Or do I just sit on the crush and not do anything because it would be so weird and she's too young for me anyhow?

I should mention that, at this point, I just really want to get to know her better. I'd kind of like to ascertain whether or not she likes girls before I ask her on a *date*, and I think the best way to do that is probably to chat in a social situation, where I'd come out to her (if she hasn't already figured it out due to the chocolates and/or comments from the receptionist who DEFINITELY knows I like my physiotherapist, judging by her comments to me regarding the chocolates) and see where things go from there.

I just don't want things to get awkward due to the professional relationships, but I really want to maintain some kind of personal relationship with her going forward, even if it's a friendship. She's just that awesome. :) I just don't really know how to get started from this weird situation. Advice would be lovely!

Throwaway email: askmefi94 at gmail
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wait till your last physio and then ask her out for a coffee.
posted by Dragonness at 7:11 AM on February 21, 2014 [16 favorites]

I was about to be somewhat discouraging, but that response to the chocolates seems like you've at least got a shot.

Wait until your physio's done with, and then ask her to go do something with you. Possibly involving her sport!
posted by corb at 7:12 AM on February 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Most stories people post in here about crushes make me irritable for some reason. Yours made me feel oddly warm and fuzzy. I think she digs you. I don't think the age difference is remotely insurmountable. You'll never know until you ask, of course! Definitely wait until the physiotherapy is over, ask her to hang out once semi-platonically (coffee, an outing, etc.) and then ask her out on a real date after that.

Good luck! I'll be rooting for you guys and hoping for an update. :)
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:16 AM on February 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

I too usually hate crush stories but this is so cute.

She added hearts and shmoopy hashtags to the picture of the present you gave her, which presumably she knows you will see because you work on her website.

I would wait until the physiotherapy is done and then ask her for coffee.
posted by winna at 7:21 AM on February 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

The little hearts and schmoop makes me think that she's waiting for you to ask her out. Go for it!
posted by xingcat at 7:29 AM on February 21, 2014

Yeah I was going to say you're reaching and then omg those chocolates.


You could also ask the receptionist if she's single. (The receptionist should then tell her you asked, if she's any good at these kind of things.)

It doesn't sound like she's "so wrong" for you, she's just younger.

Keep getting to know her, friendly chatting at physio and then ask her out once physio is done. I met my darlin through work-related means. After a few platonic lunches, he turned to me & said, "Well this is going well. Would you like to get together after hours?" It's that simple.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:33 AM on February 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, given her reaction to the chocolates, I think you're fine to ask her to coffee when your professional relationship is over.

Also, in my view numerical age matters a bit less than where you are in your lives, and it sounds like she's got a career and a bit of stability, so that might make her a better match for you than someone who was taking more of a lost-years approach to their twenties. So it's not really obvious that she's "wrong for you" at all.
posted by shattersock at 7:34 AM on February 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

- You have professional relationships going, but nothing that couldn't be broken at minimal cost to either of you.
- She's younger than you, but not by more than 10 years, and she is in her mid-20s. This is not like you were 29 and she was 19.
- You're not sure if she'd consider dating a woman.

So I say what the heck, wait till your physiotherapy is up and then ask her out on a date. Call it a date so there's no ambiguity.

She can only say no!!!

A lot of people spend all their time looking for Signs that their crush is 100% into them before making a move. But dating rarely works with both parties being 100% into each other from the get-go, so you have to ask. Faint heart never won fair maiden, right? And sometimes, asking can put the idea into someone's head if they never thought of it before.

I don't want to give you false hope; she might turn you down. But then at least you'll know one way or the other.
posted by tel3path at 7:46 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing that the age gap shouldn't be considered a big deal, unless either of you thinks it is. It matters less as you get older anyway, and mid-twenties is easily within the range where you can judge for yourself.

I too got the fuzzies when I read the chocolates bit. I want your physio to be done NOW so that we can find out what happens :)
posted by greenish at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm 35 and my man is 22. May-December romances are so common there's even a term for them.

So often on AskMe questions like this need the answer "S/he's just not that into you."

In this case? It very very much looks like she is that into you.

Ask her out. You don't even need to wait for physio to be over--just find a backup physio in case things get awkward. Which I don't think they will.

Good luck :D
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:54 AM on February 21, 2014

Wait until your last appointment and ask her out then.

"You know, I think you're adorable and I'd love to get to know you better. Now that our business relationship is over, would you be interested in going out for coffee?"

It leaves some room and hints at a physical attraction. This way, if she's not gay or bi, she can say something that lets you know that she's not swinging your way. On the other hand, she can also say, "Gosh, I'm so glad you asked!"

And then you're off. Good luck to you!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:54 AM on February 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

Honestly, I wouldn't even wait for the physio to be done. Finish the website work, and when you tell her it's done, let her know you'd really enjoy hanging out non-professionally. Reason not to wait (besides the obvious): if she took the valentine as an indication of a crush, and then you don't make a move on it for weeks, she might convince herself it won't work in that time. Also, speaking as a bi woman who makes moves on bi women, in my experience they sometimes get confused when women aren't as direct or fast-moving as men often are, and may assume you're not actually interested. Huge generalization there, but something to consider.
posted by metasarah at 8:02 AM on February 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm going to say go for it! What have you got to lose? As everyone above says, finish your physio and go for coffee!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:04 AM on February 21, 2014

Okay, so if you swap the age difference (making it instead a younger lesbian having a crush on her slightly older, might-be-interested physio), this is basically a plot from last year on the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street.

I tell you this not to minimize or make light of your situation, but for the exact opposite reason: this is the kind of story that people write about in fiction because it's a cute way to meet situation. Life isn't always the "meet cute" way, but it often is, and I think you should go for it.

I do think you should wait until after your physio is done to respect the professional boundary (and not just because that was also a conflict in the soap opera story).

But if you do wait, so it doesn't affect your professional relationship, this is a picture perfect example of "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Putting yourself out there is tough, but, in the long run, never getting what you want is tougher.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2014

The chocolates! If that isn't a sign I don't know what is! Ask her out for coffee.
(This story made me super-fuzzy, too. Are we allowed to ask for followups? Genuinely want to know how this goes!)
posted by orangutan at 8:10 AM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Pure anecdata, but one of the happiest lesbian couples I know got together when one of them was 20 and the other was 31, so I would not worry about the age difference at all. Good luck!
posted by vakker at 8:34 AM on February 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Agree with Ruthless Bunny, but if you ask her out for drinks, it seems more like a date, and not a "just pals" meeting. Coffee seems a bit neutral, I think.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:46 AM on February 21, 2014

My wife is ten years younger than me, and when she first told me she liked me she wasn't entirely sure if I was into ladies, either (meanwhile, although I had never had a relationship with a woman before I was pretty sure I wasn't straight, but didn't think I should make a move in case I was mistaken ... but oh my goodness, did I like her!). I can definitely see the "me" of that time reacting to those chocolates in just the way your crush did; as I've told my wife many times, I smiled so hard when she asked me out that I don't think I'll ever be able to stop. While we joke about the age gap at times, it honestly hasn't been an issue since we're on the same wavelength in so many ways.

Based on what you've told us, I agree with everyone else that odds are in your favor here and that this is at least worth taking a chance on. I'd probably lean more towards waiting until your physiotherapy is done just in case, but honestly I don't think either route would be wrong so long as you comport yourself respectably if she does turn you down. In the long run, I think you're going to regret it a lot more if you don't take a chance here than if you do.

If I can offer any support, feel free to PM. Good luck - AskMe is rooting for you! =)
posted by DingoMutt at 9:09 AM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just to play devil's advocate, if she were totally straight, and assumed you were too, she might just be oblivious to sending any signals.

With that said, you should just ask her out and be upfront about what you want (i.e. don't let her think it's two straight friends getting coffee). When you say she's so not right for you I thought of her being a drug addict, or in the business of insurance scams, when it's really just a small age difference.

Go for it. And if she says no or she's not interested, spend 2-7 days feeling sorry for yourself and sad. Then get back up on the horse.

My speculation isn't that this women is just up and beyond all others in the past half decade, but that YOU have changed to a point where you want to experience love again. Just a thought. Best of luck :)
posted by jjmoney at 9:11 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was prepared to say "oh just give it a shot, what's the worst that could happen?"

But I think that physiotherapist sort of gets into the space of "hitting on the barista". It's her job to devote herself to your wellbeing, and I think that can often cloud emotions in a case like this.

I once had a serious crush on my yoga instructor. I had it all worked out in my head that we could definitely be together, that she was definitely queer, that this would so obviously work out somehow. Then I realized I was crushing on someone whose job it was to encourage me, help me relax, and sometimes physically touch me in intimate ways.

Find someone where you can't possibly confuse "attracted to me" and "doing her job".
posted by Sara C. at 9:22 AM on February 21, 2014

I know she's had a serious boyfriend before, but they've been broken up for over a year.

I guess I get to be the wet blanket in this otherwise feel-good pile of answers.

My experience interacting as an older, straight woman with young, straight women in their 20s is that they can be over the top with the expressions of affection. Your physio's response to your gift would be in line with what one of my young colleagues or clients would respond if I gave them a sweet Valentine's gift. I get "I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE GORGEOUS! SMOOCHES!" out the ass from these young lovelies, and it does not mean they want to get in my knickers.

it would be really awkward to let a woman know that I am INTO women while said woman is rubbing various parts of my body, while she's being paid to do so...

This is troubling. I wouldn't find it awkward if my male physio knew I was straight when he was working on my body. He's a professional; I'm a patient. I'm concerned that you may be objectifying your physio due to your crush. She's a professional, not a perv.
posted by nacho fries at 9:27 AM on February 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Awww. :)

a) I think you're kidding yourself about her not knowing you're gay. If she plays in a sport that is played predominately by lesbians (I'm curious -- field hockey?), she's spent lots of time with gay women, and I imagine her gaydar is more finely tuned than you're giving her credit for.

b) I suspect she knew that you'd see her reaction to the chocolates, and that it was meant to demonstrate her reciprocal interest.

c) I share metasarah's concern above that going slowly might make her question your interest or reinterpret the chocolates. You're a gay woman. If your experience is like mine, you know that we tend to wait for the other person to make the first move. I don't know that that necessarily means asking her out before your PT is over -- because yes, that would indeed be awkward. But I think that if you do continue to see her for the physiotherapy, you should keep up a reasonable (but respectful) level of flirtation for the duration.

Good luck!
posted by mudpuppie at 9:30 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is so cute! :)

Do you have any buttons/ribbons/etc. you could conspicuously add to a coat lapel or your bag to show your support for LGBT causes? (That is, if you don't/haven't already.) Drop an obvious comment that you're "excited to go to $Random_LGBT_Event next weekend"...? Anything that might elicit a comment from her in that regard?

Good luck and I hope it works out for you! Even if you don't end up romantically attached, it sounds like you have the basis for a good friendship. (Bearing in mind the professional angle...def. wait until after that has wrapped up.)
posted by cardinality at 9:37 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Age difference SO doesn't matter I don't think. My husband is 8 years older than I am. It doesn't matter because our lives and choices and goals are perfectly in alignment. I don't know if it is because I am old for my age or if he is young for his age or if we're just people and ages don't matter in ANY context. What I do know is that age differences only matter if they matter to the people involved (or if it is illegal).

I agree it sounds like she's in to you. I think nacho fries makes a good point about some people being overly affectionate and gushy, but I don't get that impression here. I think the chocolates response was a clear sign. I think you should ask her out. I agree that time's a tickin' in terms of following up on the Valentine's success, but I also agree that it would be best if there wasn't the professional complication. I say ask her out now. If she says yes, explain that you would never want to compromise her professionalism and that you get a new physio.. and then date the hell out of her! If she says no, gauge how awkward things are between you. If things are fine, then great. If things are awkward, get a new physio.

And you know, you have absolutely nothing to lose here by going for it, and you have the chance to gain so much. If you are rejected it won't be the end of the world, you will bounce back, and you will at least know instead of always wondering. Be brave. You can do this!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:12 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you do ask her out, please wait until your treatment is complete. I think what folks who are urging you to act quickly may not be considering is this: in her line of work, one of the occupational hazards is having patients develop emotional attachments due in part to the fact that she is relieving them of pain. When I was doing bodywork, it wasn't uncommon for my clients to fall "in love" with me. I gave them my full attention during our sessions; I was warm and accepting and personable; and my hands made them feel relieved and relaxed.

In my training, we were taught to anticipate this, and deal with it in a professional manner, ESPECIALLY those of us who are women. But I will say, it was my least favorite aspect of doing that work -- that clients (men and women) felt that their misdirected need for love/affection overrode my need to be treated as a professional, and made them willing to overleap boundaries.

So, while it may be a "nothing to lose" situation for you if you ask her out before you end your therapy with her, please keep in mind that it may not be the same for her.

Please don't unnecessarily chip away at her sense of self as professional, or put her in an awkward position. Your urges can wait (and so can hers, if she indeed sees you "that way").
posted by nacho fries at 10:42 AM on February 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

For what it's worth, I'm 38 and my partner is 29. We've been happy together for the better part of five years.

I don't think age difference, in this case, is a major issue as long as you have some things in common. Wait until the physio is over, then, as per Dragonness, ask her out for coffee (which is like the universal gay lady sign for, hey, I like you).

Good luck!
posted by New England Cultist at 11:12 AM on February 21, 2014

Physiotherapists are not supposed to date their patients in the same ways and for the same reasons why doctors and other medical caregivers with all the accompanying power imbalances and intimacy can't date their patients. Your question gave me the cold shudders rather than the warm fuzzies.

So at the very least you need to wait until your physio is completely done and space given for that relationship to die before making any kind of move. There's a good chance she's actively not allowed to date you right now depending on the professional rules she works under and it's certainly not ethical for her to do so regardless. Asking her out also puts her in a difficult position given she's basically paid to be nice to you while being physically close to you and the result could be you get dropped as a patient immediately. Focus on your health for now, worry about the other stuff when that's sorted out and this professional stuff is really properly done with.
posted by shelleycat at 12:07 PM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Shellycat makes a good point. Regardless of her interest, depending on the state you're in, it can be up to two years (maybe more, but two years is a state law I know of) before she can date you.

posted by yeolcoatl at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2014

If you don't ask, she can't say yes.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:21 PM on February 21, 2014

I say definitely ask her to hang out/get coffee - when physiotherapy is over (maybe check laws about that stuff??)

Having had a boyfriend doesn't always mean someone is straight.

Age difference doesn't matter.

But I don't think her response to the chocolates is a sure sign she's into you. I know a lot of straight girls (and even lesbians) who would do that and they don't mean it romantically. Is it a positive sign? Yes, absolutely. But I think everyone went a bit overboard here saying that it's a definite sign she's into you.
posted by christiehawk at 10:05 PM on February 21, 2014

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