Romantic Triple Threat! How to move forward?
December 28, 2014 8:30 PM   Subscribe

I’ve fallen for my coworker-friend-roommate I’ve known for a year-and-a-half, and I need advice on how to escalate without it all blowing up in my face. We've roomed together (just the two of us) for six weeks, but I've been away for half that time. Also, we get along well and flirt occasionally, but I’m the worst at reading signs.

What are some the categories of people with whom it is suggested not to pursue a relationship? I’m sure if you made a list, these three would be near the top: coworkers, friends, and roommates. Well I’ve gone and fallen hard for a girl who is part of all three, and I need to crowdsource some advice going forward. First, a little background.

She had been working at our current organization for about a year before I arrived. When I first met her there, I didn’t think much of her; friendly, kinda cute--more in demeanor than looks--(our work clothes are very unflattering on women, and she doesn’t make herself up for work), but otherwise not really on my radar. We worked together on and off, and got along fine, but then I was “out of the office,” so to speak, for a few months. I returned to the start of an extremely busy year (this past one), and we were required to work in close proximity for hours on end.

This is when we became friends. I started to see her in a different light, and came to admire her selflessness, work ethic, and knowledge of the job. We found we were similar in temperament, and we made a stellar team on the job. This was also the first time I saw her out of work clothes and realized just how unflattering they were. I was already becoming attracted to her, so this made the slope even slipperier. We spent some time together outside of work (always with others), and had many a deep conversation about one thing or another. There was some mild flirting going on, but I’m horrible at reading girls’ signs (I’ve been practically hit with flying vaginas before and didn’t understand what was going on). This was around the time when our coworkers began joking about the two of us being a couple. I was game to pursue, but our working situation at the time made it a tricky proposition.

By the last part of the year, we both were looking for new residences. She toyed with the idea of us being roommates, but mainly because she was considering moving in with a couple people she didn’t really want to room with, and she wanted me as a fourth as to not make it weird. I didn’t agree for many reasons, and told her there were always other options if the living situation didn’t feel right, and to keep looking. Meanwhile, I continued my own apartment search; one bed, one bath, bachelor pad-type. Us being roommates came up again, though, first through my coworkers who asked if I had been considering rooming with this ladyperson, then again from her herself, when she said there was a place I should look at. She sent me the details and asked once more. I was reluctant, and you can imagine why, but the upsides (cost, proximity, furnishing, surety, you name it) were so great that I agreed, despite the almost solid guarantee of shooting myself in the foot.

We’ve been at this place for about six weeks, and half of that time I’ve been out of the area. We’ve hung out once, with coworkers, since moving in, but we carpool regularly. There is still the mild flirting, more so at work than at home (where I feel like she avoids me somewhat). I also feel tension when we’re both at the apartment, but I can’t tell if that’s all on my end or what. I’m crazy about this girl, and would love to move forward, but this is like manually re-entering the atmosphere in a space shuttle; if my approach is just a little off, I’ll either burn to a crisp or get reflected into space, never to return again. My coworkers who have spoken with her in depth on dating and whatnot tell me she fears being trapped in a relationship (I don’t think she’s dated anyone since coming to this organization), and you can imagine how confining the possibility of a romantic relationship with a coworker-friend-roommate must seem. There, of course, is always the option of giving up on her, but if my ancestors had that mentality, I wouldn’t be here today. She's leaving the company by the end of next year, and I would feel terrible for the rest of my life if I didn't make my feelings clear before then, regardless of her reaction. But how do I do this without causing a catastrophe?
posted by Nunipaht to Human Relations (46 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's not going to work. Don't do this or try this.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:32 PM on December 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


Not really an answer to your question, but FWIW, I once started dating a girl under similar circumstances. We were classmates/roommates before we became friends and started dating. Several people I knew flat-out advised against the relationship and said it would never work.

A dozen years later we are happily married with children. YMMV, but I say go for it -- you stand to gain far more then you risk losing.
posted by Mr. X at 8:42 PM on December 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, no. The way you've written this is a very star-crossed lovers overly-romantic view of relationships. That view is not helpful to your situation.

Her avoiding you at home speaks volumes. She is uncomfortable with your advances, and is trying to signal that to you. The best thing you can do is find something else to focus on. If she changes her mind, you'll know.

I don't think you'll actually follow this advice, but you should: Let. This. Go.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:43 PM on December 28, 2014 [37 favorites]


Her avoiding you at home speaks volumes. She is uncomfortable with your advances, and is trying to signal that to you.

Yes, this. Unless you're overstating this, like, a lot, it's the only thing relevant to making a decision in your question. I don't think she would go into a roommate situation with someone she had interest in.

Do you trust any of those mutual friends enough to have them suss out whether that's the case?

(I’ve been practically hit with flying vaginas before and didn’t understand what was going on)

I don't think you should let this facet of past experience color this situation. Considering your living situation, a missed opportunity is much better than a catastrophic swing and a miss.

That is to say, swing when you're no longer roommates or coworkers.
posted by supercres at 8:50 PM on December 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Why do you think she's kind of avoiding you at home? If she was similarly into you, she wouldn't do that. I think you are going to make things super awkward if you pursue this.
posted by desjardins at 8:51 PM on December 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


"...she fears being trapped in a relationship...."

This isn't someone that anyone has a chance with right now. Don't do it.
posted by cecic at 8:58 PM on December 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I once dated a short term roommate and it was lovely! It didn't work out because of other long term compatibility issues but that's another story.

It worked out because he played his cards well - he kept it causal and gave me my space and only one week before he was set to move back to his home city did he suggest coming back to visit me and go out on a date. By this time he had already won me over with his personality - a thoughtful gift on my birthday, and joined me at a party or two where he was great to all my friends.

By the way we both avoided each other at home because our feelings were pretty strong and neither of us wanted to make the other uncomfortable, so we over compensated by giving extra space. But the few times we got to chatting there was obvious chemistry. So those who say she's avoiding you due to discomfort may be wrong. Or she could be shy.

You sound very excited about this girl so it may be difficult for you to let things build slowly without overcrowding her. If you are that crazy about her and can't hold back then consider finding her another roommate, moving out and then taking your chances from there. If you can play the long game then just keep being respectful and build your friendship until when the lease has almost ended.

You could also work your social network a little more - ask your work friends to find out what she thinks of you specifically.

So I say definitely go for it, but at a time when she is able to have a quick and easy exit strategy in the event she says no. Your priority should be her sense of safety and comfort, and not you being able to excitedly express your feelings.
posted by serenity soonish at 9:03 PM on December 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


My advice is not to make a move until one of you had moved out. You have to give her space and freedom to say no without being forced to think of the impact it would make on her living arrangements.
posted by arcticseal at 9:42 PM on December 28, 2014 [22 favorites]


Wow. Tricky ... but not necessarily impossible. I know a guy who successfully managed something like this: she moved in, a few weeks later they had a party, alcohol was involved, they ended up having sex, and two years later they were married. And may still be - I've long ago lost touch with them.

My inclination is to say "go for it" - but I'm at a loss for any advice on how to do it. Obviously, you want to avoid turning into the roommate from hell.

The only thing I can come up with is almost out of a rom-com, namely: do you have a friend that you trust a lot, who is pretty good at dating and male-female relationships, who could offer some coaching?

I wish I had something better to tell you!
posted by doctor tough love at 9:43 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


The only problem is that you objectify her, rather than see her as a person.

She has stated she doesn't, herself, want a committed relationship?

Don't speak up. Try to respect her feelings, her personal space, and her personhood.

By that last point, I mean, let her approach you if she wants this. I know that's difficult, the little "trick" you use to respect her personal feelings and agency is to remind yourself that if she felt the same way, she will tell you, herself.

Stop asking coworkers about her! That way lies drama and upset and you will hurt her. Also, it makes you look like a silly gossipy person. Stop gossiping about your roommate that you work with. Please.
posted by jbenben at 9:50 PM on December 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


Might your coworkers who say she doesn't want to get trapped in a relationship be hinting she doesn't want to date you? I can see telling someone "I don't think she wants a relationship" as a way of discouraging them without coming out and saying "she told me she doesn't like you in that way."
posted by salvia at 9:58 PM on December 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


The problem is that you live with her. If she doesn't reciprocate, she will absolutely (probably) feel uncomfortable living in an apartment with a guy who has the hots for her. I just think this would be very inappropriate to pursue because it will be a very bad situation for her that she never asked for.

And while it's normal to feel attracted to a woman you're interested in, I'm a little grossed out by how much detail you give to how unflattering her work clothes are/how she doesn't wear makeup to work and how seeing her outside of work was a turning point for you, especially now that you live with her. I wouldn't want to be objectified by some guy in my home and I don't think this is fair to her. I recommend you look for a different living situation and then you can let her know how you feel, especially given that she will be leaving the job you share too.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:00 PM on December 28, 2014 [36 favorites]


This is a disaster waiting to happen. I suspect that no one here is going to dissuade you from it, but you are in for a hard time, whether she's into you or not.

Let me just say this: if this was gonna happen, it would have already happened by now. Your absolute best case scenario here is one drunk night together which you never speak of again. Worst case scenario is that you end up unemployed and homeless. Seriously. This is the worst possible idea.
posted by empath at 10:14 PM on December 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


The mere idea that she was interested in rooming with you and apartment hunting with you should be enough evidence that she doesn't Think Of You In That Way. Sorry. Probably thinks you're nice dude, a good guy, a respectful person and would make a great roommate. No reasonably-minded person would entertain the idea of living with someone they have a crush on and push the idea of living together/sending them details to apartments. I mean, you wouldn't do that right? That would be weird. It would be one thing if you guys just happened to be living together in some larger group situation, but from what you describe it sounds like she was seeing you specifically as a cool friend and great prospective roommate, not prospective boyfriend.
posted by windbox at 10:18 PM on December 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


We’ve been at this place for about six weeks, and half of that time I’ve been out of the area. We’ve hung out once, with coworkers, since moving in, but we carpool regularly. There is still the mild flirting, more so at work than at home (where I feel like she avoids me somewhat). I also feel tension when we’re both at the apartment, but I can’t tell if that’s all on my end or what.

Even if we are talking about just 3 weeks, I have hung out more with enemies than you have with this girl.

She don't like you like you like her. She's just being friendly. If she wanted to bang you, she would let you know rather than guess.

Abort mission and move on. Good luck with someone in the future who is not your friend/coworker/roommate.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:24 PM on December 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is when we became friends.
We spent some time together outside of work (always with others)
There was some mild flirting going on, but I’m horrible at reading girls’ signs
I also feel tension when we’re both at the apartment, but I can’t tell if that’s all on my end or what.
There, of course, is always the option of giving up on her, but if my ancestors had that mentality, I wouldn’t be here today.

I know I'm cherrypicking phrases from your question, but when you see them together, it seems less than promising, doesn't it?
You're already trying to give yourself outs for the disaster that will follow (I'm horrible at reading girls' signs, if my ancestors did this, then I should too...) Don't pursue this. Just be a friend to her.
posted by mdrew at 10:35 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not okay to make a move on a roommate, especially a woman, and especially when it's just you two sharing a space, unless you're pretty much 100% sure she's interested. That's because there's a chance she will end up feeling uncomfortable/unsafe in her own home, and it's just not fair for you to take that risk.

Sorry. While you're living together, you can't do this.
posted by Susan PG at 10:51 PM on December 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


The way you describe it, this girl is NOT interested in you.

Yet, and I am speaking as an expert in unrequited crushes, I think you're asking us to comment on something you're bent on doing anyway. Why ask for validation if you're not going to hear what we say?

The more worrying bit of your comment is the absolute need you feel to unload your burden unto her, AT ANY COST. How would it help you besides making the whole roommate arrangement before awkward?

Give it a pass, if you can still help it.
posted by Kwadeng at 10:52 PM on December 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I need advice on how to escalate without it all blowing up in my face

I am 98% certain that it will blow up in your face if you try to make any kind of move, because it doesn't sound like she likes you. Leave her alone, otherwise you'll become known as the creepy roommate and inappropriate coworker. She wouldn't have asked you to move in with her if she had feelings for you. And I agree with those who think that perhaps your mutual friends are trying to drop hints for you, but you're not listening.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:10 PM on December 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'll just clarify a few things while I'm digesting your thoughtful responses:

- I haven't really been making advances towards her, unless "Good morning" and "I'm going to the grocery. Want anything?" count as advances. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit when I say she avoids me; it's possible that I'm viewing this through the prism of us spending so much time together at work over the last year.
- I don't gossip with my coworkers about her, and don't intend to. Any information they've given me on her has only been after they've broached the subject by prodding me on how I feel about her. I don't ask them questions, and I generally say as little as possible.
- Whether you think I'm going to listen to you or not, please be honest with me. It helps me more than you'd think.

That said, the general consensus so far seems to be that I suffocate my feelings and do nothing about it until either they or she goes away. I don't agree, but I wouldn't have decided to live with her if I didn't think I could grin and bear it.
posted by Nunipaht at 11:21 PM on December 28, 2014


I'd say there's a very small chance she's keen on you, but is shy or otherwise not comfortable expressing it. Probably not though.

The trouble is that if you make your feelings known, no matter how non-threatening you think you're being, it is almost certain to leave her profoundly uncomfortable about her living arrangements and possibly her work. Sure there's a possibility it will be a beautiful story to tell the grandkids, but it's a very slim chance and if she doesn't share you feelings it will be the story she shares with her therapist and/or your boss.

This is not the kind of thing you want to do to someone you care about. I think you need to let it go.
posted by mewsic at 11:32 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


My friend has an awesome phrase that has helped me in this sort of situation: don't shit in your nest.

I pass it on to you, because I suspect whether things go well or poorly you'll be looking for a new place/job/both.
posted by teststrip at 12:01 AM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Okay, so, it's not impossible that things could work between you, but a relationship is something that happens between two people who build it up from the beginning, not from one person who suddenly unloads a pile of feelings on the other person. Unless she has been secretly harboring similarly intense feelings for you, but if that were true, I think it would be obvious by now.

I like to think of romance as building a fire. It starts with a little spark. Each party drops a little twig on the fire and it starts to get hot. You scale up to bigger and bigger pieces of firewood until things are nice and hot. But right now you have an imaginary fire in your head that's roaring hot and you're throwing big logs on the fire, while in real life you haven't even offered her a match. You can't just say I love you and expect her fire to be roaring hot just like yours. You're only going to dump a whole lot of firewood on her lap. What exactly is she supposed to do with it?

These feelings are a fantasy. They aren't real and they aren't her problem and it's not cool to use her to unburden yourself. You have a problem with letting things build up. The answer is not to suffocate your feelings, it's to express them, yes, but early, when you first get that spark in your head, you externalize it, you offer her a match, you see if she wants to build a fire, if she does not you respect it. I kind of think it's too late for this one. You're in too deep and too entangled and there is no way you can approach this with a clear head -- she is going to feel the intensity of your crush and it is going to smother everything. I would suggest honoring your feelings not by dumping them on her, but instead by being more open and taking more of a risk earlier on with the next person you are in this situation with.

If there really is flirting going on though, as you say, then next time she flirts with you, flirt back, and dial it up a tiny bit. That's the universal sign of 'we are building a little romantic fire together'. If she responds positively - dialing it up on her end too - then maybe she is interested, and maybe there could be something, as long as you go slowly, living in the reality of what's happening rather than what's in your head, which means pay attention to what she says and does. Especially, respect the signals she doesn't give; if you escalate the flirting and she does not come along enthusiastically, then you have your answer, she's not interested. If you limit it to one small escalation above the current baseline of flirting, rather than a giant declaration of love, then if it falls flat you could both (hopefully) pretend it never happened and avoid some of the worst case scenarios.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:23 AM on December 29, 2014 [93 favorites]


NThing percussive paul a million times over. And wishing I had heard that when I was a teenager!
posted by jojobobo at 1:11 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think you're approaching thinking about this from the wrong angle.

While i personally would never get involved with a coworker, plenty of my friends have without any drama or ill effects. I also don't think the friend or roommate categories are automatically fraught(especially friends).

I do think this specific situation makes it a no go, though. The scenario you're describing is exactly why a lot of the women i know seem like they wouldn't go for a single straight dude roommate, unless it was like in a big shared house with plenty of other people.

The two possibilities here are either that she moved in with you because she had no feelings for you, and no plans to move in that direction... or that she does, but makes really crappy decisions.

The second one is extremely uncharitable and unlikely, but that's seriously all i can think of here. No one i know would ever move in with someone they had feelings with before they had already jumped in to that pool.

So either you're moving in a direction where you're going to make this creepy with someone who trusted you a decent amount(which is to say, enough to live with you and to think you wouldn't be a lameass like this), or on the 0.5% chance, in to a drama storm with someone who would move in with someone and then try and/be receptive to you making a move.

The only winning move in this game is not to play.

I feel pretty comfortable saying if you're a straight dude, anything like this that happens with a lady roommate either starts before you move in together, or is initiated by them. The odds are hosed otherwise. It's way, way too easy and likely to be "that guy".(and i could definitely produce stories from friends of "that guy" situations, many of which ended in them having to frustratedly and quickly move with basically no notice because they were uncomfortable/didn't want to deal with that shit)
posted by emptythought at 3:14 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


She moved in with you at her suggestion, so I think it's highly unlikely that you make her feel uncomfortable or have made any sort of inappropriate advances. Of course that doesn't mean she reciprocates your feelings, but clearly she likes you in the very least as a friend.

I feel like you have to listen to your friends in this situation as they either have some distance from the situation and/or know first hand whether she is interested. If they aren't giving you the green light then that is probably your answer.

I think it's also telling that she appears to have constructed some boundaries since moving in with you as opposed to using it as an opportunity to grow closer. That's a pretty clear signal that she wants your relationship to maintain the status quo. Not because you've been creepy, but because she likely knows on some level you have a thing for her. She probably has no idea the depth of your feelings though.

I would really encourage you to get out and date other people. It may really help you get some perspective on the situation.
posted by whoaali at 4:29 AM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you absolutely must move forward in this situation, I think you do so by moving out. For reals. Don't make this woman feel uncomfortable in her home -- move out, find someone else to take over your lease, and only then can you ask her out. (Assuming that you're not in a position of power over her at work. This isn't clear in your question.)

That said, the general consensus so far seems to be that I suffocate my feelings and do nothing about it until either they or she goes away.

The phrasing you used here really bugs me, as do some of the other phrases you use ("flying vaginas", the obsession with her work uniform/makeup choices).

How do you see women? Do you see them as independent agents with their own goals, or do you see them as a complex puzzle that can be solved if only you find the right pieces to put together? I ask because it sounds like on some level, you kind of believe that this is a situation you can "win", and it may not be. If she doesn't like you that way, you will not find any set of behaviors that will override her free will and make her like you back. Doesn't work like that.

Also, just to clue you in on something here, she may be avoiding makeup in the workplace to avoid being hit on in the workplace. That may be a deliberate strategy on her part.
posted by pie ninja at 5:29 AM on December 29, 2014 [25 favorites]


You made a mistake when you moved in together as I see it - you were already harbouring attraction for her. This is a thing that you've done, you can't change it, but please recognise that it was a bad idea right now. On the assumption that you might well choose to try this against the current of MeFi advice, here's what you should do.

1. Prepare to be turned down. I can't stress this enough. Even if you've had signs you think are positive, even if you're convinced that she's into you, you can still be wrong and if you don't handle that situation well then you are truly up via cloaca lacking a propulsive implement. When you do this, be ready to move out if she's not cool with it.

2. Hints are bad. Clarity is good. Never hint and assume that someone's astute enough to pick up on it. Lay it out there. "Hi, , I need to tell you something. I've sort of developed a crush on you and I'd like to take you out on a date. If you're interested, awesome! If not, I'll start looking for somewhere else to live so as not to make you uncomfortable."

3. Take her at her word. This is NOT a situation to try any mind games whatsoever.

4. You really should have said something before moving in with this woman.

5. See 4.

posted by fearnothing at 5:32 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I apologize for my "flying vaginas" phrasing, but it was a dysphemistic way to refer to extremely heavy come-ons of which I've been the target of in the past with supposedly clear signals that I've missed. And the comments about her makeup/clothing I made meaning to highlight that I was attracted to her well before there was any serious physical attraction.
posted by Nunipaht at 5:46 AM on December 29, 2014


do not pursue this, you are getting a million signals not to and you're ignoring them because you like her. the fact that you had to ask this question is a signal not to pursue it.
find someone else to distract yourself, asap.
posted by zdravo at 6:28 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just as a data point: The older you get the harder it is to meet someone that's not on the "disapproved" list. Once you are a professional you generally only get to meet people you work with or that are in close circles. Part of becoming an adult is to learn how to deal with these situations and how to deal when they go bad.

I'd say not to go for it, but not because she's a friend and coworker. If you feel like you have to go this route wait until your lease is about done, then when you have a few month left go ahead and broach the subject if you still feel this way, but I think I'd just be as rational about it as possible. Flat out ask her if she has any feelings for you and if the answer is no, then pull up your dysphemistic big boy pants and deal.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:44 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was game to pursue, but our working situation at the time made it a tricky proposition.

So you said this. And now that you've magnified the trickiness of the situation, it's a good time to pursue her? I think you're trying to talk yourself in to something that you know isn't a good idea, rather than trying to talk yourself into taking a calculated risk. There's a big difference.

She's leaving the company by the end of next year, and I would feel terrible for the rest of my life if I didn't make my feelings clear before then, regardless of her reaction.

Why? And why on several levels:

1) why do you feel like there's a timeline? If your coworkers are accurate, she is not someone who seems likely to end up in a serious relationship any time soon.

2) Timing is really important and any time while you're living with her is a bad idea because

3) If she rejects your overtures neither of you will have any place to hide, and please trust me when I say, from experience, that if you make overtures to a friend and they reject them, it is really extremely helpful to have a safe place where you can deal with the rejection, and they don't have to watch you doing so. Because there is an awkward period - length and severity will vary - to get through before a friendship can be on normal footing again.

If you care about her more than you're attracted to her, then planning for her comfort in the worst case scenario should be what you want to do. If you're attracted to her more than you care for her, go find someone else to date.
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:59 AM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I say go for it - though with caution (in light of yours and everyone else's concerns). Try to take it lightly if things don't go according to your wishes. I've had friends who met their so at work, roommate, or friendships. Sometimes this works out for them. Good luck.
posted by skippingcharades at 7:34 AM on December 29, 2014


The combination of roommate + friend + coworker makes this seem like a total no go to me. If things go horribly wrong, you could easily find yourself with the really terrible combination of a super uncomfortable situation at work, needing to move out of your home, AND having your friends pissed off at you. Which would seriously suck!

However! The good news is that leases are not forever and it sounds like she is leaving your company in the near future. So, in less than one year she will no longer be your roommate OR your coworker. Asking friends out is, I think, the least fraught of these situations and can be totally fine. So, my approach would be to simply wait until she's working in a new job and your lease is up and you've moved out. Then, go ahead and say something like "You know, I've always admired you and I never wanted to make things awkward at work/home, but now that those things aren't an issue I'd love to take you out sometime. Would you be interested?"

I'm super confused about this statement: She's leaving the company by the end of next year, and I would feel terrible for the rest of my life if I didn't make my feelings clear before then

Why are you so focused on asking her out before she leaves the company? It sounds like maybe you WANT to put pressure on her in some way, which is really gross if that's the case. Actually her leaving the company sounds like a good scenario, because you have the opportunity to wait until you guys are no longer coworkers and there's zero risk of awkward profession interactions after either a rejection or an attempted-but-failed relationship. The only thing I can think of here is that she's leaving the company AND MOVING FAR AWAY within the next year, in which case I sorta think this thing is doomed regardless.

Also: I would really try to let go of this feeling that you're somehow "suffocating your feelings" by choosing to respect her boundaries and not put her in an awkward situation. It sounds like you've built up a major fantasy crush in your head, when in fact there is a real relationship that exists here (a friendship, a roommate relationship, and a coworker relationship) that is taking place with a real, actual person rather than a fantasy person. If you can't see that with a clear head, I would focus on stepping back from this situation a bit and putting your energy toward other people/hobbies/friendships/activities/etc. until you can really see her as an actual person in your life rather than constantly trying to read clues or fantasize about a romantic relationship that hasn't actually happened. It's one thing if you have actually dated someone serious for a couple of years and then you guys break up; it's quite another thing to be feeling such intense feelings over a relationship that DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST IN THE REAL WORLD. It's weird to feel like you would regret something for the "rest of your life" when it's a thing that, again, is not actually based in reality. I feel like this is something that is built up from romantic movies/fantasies rather than real relationships.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:14 AM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Here's what I find weird. Why did this person pursue you so hard to be roommates if she's spending all of her time avoiding you? I'm the first person to say, don't shit where you eat, and it goes double if you're also roommates. But you're in this situation now, and no matter what happens, I doubt it's going to end well.

That said, since it's all going to go in the toilet anyway, I'd say, be up front with her.

Gloria, I value you as a friend and a co-worker and I don't want to play games. I'm crazy about you. I realize that this puts us in a really awkward position, so I wanted to bring it out in the open. The reason I mention it is because I hope you feel the same way about me. If you don't that's cool. I'll be disappointed, but I'll respect your feelings and your decision.

Either she's going to be okay with it, or not, but hopefully she'll tell you what she's thinking. If she says she's into you, awesome, see what happens. If she says she's NOT into you, then you both have some thinking to do.

This is a very high risk approach. If she's not into you, you'll make things awkward at home and at work. You should probably move out and get your own place.

Frankly, I can't help but think that she's engineered this situation, and she may be very conflicted about what she wants from you. You may be clueless, but it also sounds like she's giving you mixed signals. Since you have feelings for her, you should have been honest about that from the get go. When she proposed getting an apartment with you, you should have said, "I'd like nothing more, but I have a crush on you so I don't think it would work out." It's too late now, but for future reference, grown-assed people don't play games like this. Next time, do a better job of protecting yourself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:25 AM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I slept on it - alas, I didn't have any epiphanies about how to do this. Your analogy about shuttle re-entry seems quite apt. Just some random thoughts:

- stop paying attention to whatever "intelligence" you're getting from friends or co-workers. Aside from being all high school'n'shit, most of the information you get is crap.

- if you go for it, you should prepare yourself for the worst: you'll likely want to move, you may be emotionally devastated, she might do a 180 and decide you're a Big Creep. I hope it comes off better than that - but you need to consider the realistic consequences if it all goes pear-shaped.

- I'm no expert, but I'm just going to toss this out: I don't think this is a situation where you sit on the couch with her and watch a movie and try to sneak your arm around her ala some bad sitcom. If it's a FAIL, then you've got her possibly thinking she's not physically safe around you. Instead: pick a day, clean up a little around the apartment, and make a nice dinner for her and you. Maybe a bottle of wine. Don't go all 'romantic' with dark and candles - just: nice. Enjoy dinner, talk, hopefully flirt - and at some point bring up the topic of you and her. Don't try to "sell" her on it, and don't ramble on and on about it, either. The idea is to bring it up and see what she has to say about it.

- if you think the approach above sucks, well - I won't argue too hard. I don't know how to fly a space shuttle, either!

- I think, though, that you need to understand one basic truth: she has almost certainly already made up her mind on this. If she doesn't want to do it, then it seems unlikely that you will talk her around.

- finally: I sense there is a time element to this, that is: if you're gonna do it, do it soon. Don't wait for 3 months.

Whatever you decide to do: I wish you the best.
posted by doctor tough love at 8:28 AM on December 29, 2014


My closest friend moved in with a good friend of hers who was also her boss. To further complicate things he was the ex, of another very close friend, it had been a ten year relationship.
STILL, with all these 'don't go there' aspects they fell for each other.
And now 13 years later are married and have a beautiful kid and another on the way. They were as close to made for each other as it's possible to be, and are a nice couple to be around because they love each other so much. So, it can work out.

I would second Percussive Paul above to say don't smother her with your undying love first off. And secondly, try to be honest. I actually think it's very hard to wholly fuck up a friendship/relationship/romantic situation if one is painfully honest whilst also considering the other person feelings (so, in this case, don't play the situation - try to make her jealous, or be offhand or whatever, but also don't overwhelm her with your feelings in case they turn out to be unrequited).

If you are good friends and you're not an overbearing fool, and are ready to be rejected and deal with that without making her home or work situation unpleasant, I don't see why you wouldn't ask if she feels the same. I disagree with the posters above who think it's an imposition, or would make her feel unsafe or similar.

Final point - I'd start slowly making a move sooner rather than later or we'll be seeing some posts from you on here in a few months lamenting that your flatmate you're secretly in love with is seeing some terrible guy and you can't bear to see them together. Also the longer you let a crush like this fester, the less rooted in reality it becomes and the more likely to turn into some weird obsession that you aren't able to control. But to my ears, as you've described it right now, it could totally work and she may be into you already.
You just need to be very considerate of her feelings, and how this could make her feel if your emotions are not reciprocated and I think you'll be fine. Good Luck!
posted by stevedawg at 8:31 AM on December 29, 2014


Just read the Ruthless Bunny script above - that's close to perfect in my view!
posted by stevedawg at 8:32 AM on December 29, 2014


@stevedawg: apologies if I am misreading your gender, but based on your username I am guessing you are male. FYI, the reason posters are saying that "it's an imposition, or would make her feel unsafe or similar" is almost certainly because they are women who have been in exactly this situation with male roomates/coworkers/friends/etc. and they were imposed upon and made to feel unsafe. While luckily it personally hasn't happened to me, I have a close friend who ended up with a male roommate with a serious crush on her who really did end up making her feel unsafe and unwelcome in her own home. She did not have the money to move out right away, and it seriously sucked and made her life really difficult for a while (basically hiding in her room to avoid the extremely uncomfortable interactions). He was never violent or anything, but his obvious attraction to her and his unwillingness to "suffocate his feelings" after her very obvious discomfort about the situation was seriously uncool. I'm not saying the poster will necessarily do this or that this is the only way it could turn out, but it definitely is a possible outcome here.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:39 AM on December 29, 2014 [18 favorites]


Hello Rainbowbrite, I'm actually a woman!
But I guess that's irrelevant because what you say is correct, in the wrong hands or done in the wrong way it would make one feel very unsafe (or at least responsible for the mans feelings, which is just tiresome and awkward. Also wanted to mention that I had this situation develop with a flatmate of mine, who revealed feelings for me which I didn't reciprocate. He was honest and thoughtful, it made our living situation a bit odd for a while (and in fact I moved out) but ultimately we've remained friends, ten years on.

I do take your point and other posters points that this could turn ugly for the object of affections very quickly if the subject (that's you OP) does not have a good grip on his own emotions and is not able to handle this in a grown-up and honest way, with kindness at the forefront. But I also don't think women are always such delicate flowers that they can not be approached without ever-lasting damage to them. It's up to the OP to tread this line carefully and police his own actions. Offer it once as a possibility and if it's turned down, never refer to it in words or actions ever again.
posted by stevedawg at 9:22 AM on December 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just another piece of anecdata. If you really think this is something you need to pursue in order to continue your ancestor's lineage, you can totally sit tight and pursue this once she's no longer a coworker and roommate. My husband and I circled each other in various ways for about a decade before the timing was right. Be patient.
posted by ohisee at 9:34 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


there's no evidence she's attracted to you. if you are gonna make a move it will have to be soon, but the downside risks for both of you are quite high.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:34 AM on December 29, 2014


Being in your roommates shoes is pretty close to my worst nightmare. Rooming with someone harboring feelings for me would be awful. I agree that it is highly unlikely that she asked you to be her roommate because she was secretly crushing on you. Please drop this and don't make her feel uncomfortable in her own home. If she comes on to you, that's one thing. But don't start it. Especially since this is a new living situation - who knows if you will still see her in this light after another month of her dirty socks in the bathroom every day. Give it some time for the shine to wear off.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:46 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I met my now boyfriend through a mutual friend of a guy who had really hurt me. My now boyfriend decided very early that he liked me and wanted to explore the possibilities with me. When we met, I was coming out this fraught relationship and was very fragile, and my boyfriend kind of knew this, although he didn't know the particulars.

Because of this, I didn't see him in that way. I didn't see anyone at all in that way, as I felt really numb in general and I didn't want to rebound with the next person that came along, for the wrong reasons, either.

As we interacted, he started to really crush on me. Big time. Our other mutual friend told him to go for it with me and ask me out, but the guy who had wounded me took my boyfriend aside, and underhandedly discouraged my boyfriend from asking me out, saying it would be bad for me to date, given what I'd been through (! I know, right?).

My boyfriend asked a lot of advice, from co-workers, to an ex, to his family. Everyone said, 'here be dragons, don't do it. If it were to happen already, it would have happened, give up, etc.'

He asked me out anyway. I said yes to the date, and it was nice, but by the end of the second I let him know exactly how I felt, and that I wasn't ready and I wasn't feeling it. Truthfully, I had caught on to him liking me for two weeks prior to him actually telling me. I let him down gently, but it was still really tough for him.

It gets even more complicated after this.

Because of reasons, we were forced to live together for a few weeks-- my accommodation fell through and he offered me a place to stay. It was really one of the only options I had, so I accepted. I was a little worried, but it was fine; he was completely respectful of me and nothing was untoward. Circumstances made it so that when I was supposed to go stay with another friend, he was away, forcing me to stay even longer at my boyfriend's place.

By now, we'd spent like four platonic weeks together-- He backed off completely after I told him I wasn't into it, and he was there for me completely (and only) as a friend. He was an absolute gentleman, and I never felt unsafe or pressured or like he was waiting for me to love him or something 'friend-zoney' like that. That said, I knew he liked me, and it was kind of awkward occasionally. We'd talk about it, and he said that after I moved back out at the end of the month he'd probably need space, but that he was just happy to have met me and have me as a friend.

And now we're together and I love him to bits, absolutely.

So what changed? Well, for me, the catalyst was a hurtful action that was done to me on the eve of me moving in. It kind of made me reach out to my boyfriend, and reversed my feelings for the person originally occupying my heart. It also melted away that numbness I felt a little. Eventually, I started to see my boyfriend in a different light, and the more I started to feel again, the more I saw clearer.

I remember gazing at him one day, and suddenly realizing--where before there was just pleasant friendshippy feelings, suddenly I was thinking; 'I liiiiiiiiiike him.'

I don't want to say, 'oh if you're there for her, you'll get through to her, she'll like you eventually.' Because that's unrealistic, and frankly, a pipe dream. It would be unhealthy of me to encourage that; my situation is probably not the norm.

But I do say go for it, and I do say, who knows? And I do say that it not happening yet doesn't mean it won't, and her friends saying whatever about her doesn't mean crap-- my 'friend' spoke for me and was unequivocally wrong and they had an agenda.

The truth is: Nobody knows until you try. Not even on this thread.

You have a lot to lose though. Friendship. Your job. Your place.

But if it's worth all that, just go for it. Go for it when she's either about to move, or you are, and make a contingency plan in case it goes terribly awry, that is-- plans to move out, or change jobs or whatever, or lose the friendship. If you're ok with that, then go for it, and like everyone else has said, stop building it up in your mind. The more you do this, the worse it's going to get, and the more 'fake' she becomes. You kinda need to bite this bullet, and come what may, move forward.

Good luck.

(Also I probably wouldn't start off saying you're crazy about her, for me personally, that would have scared me a little, although my boyfriend did only wait a week before asking me out).
posted by Dimes at 10:39 AM on December 30, 2014


If I were living with somebody who had a crush on me, I would rather that he say something now. If I did not want to date him, I could say so, and the aftermath of that wouldn't be any worse than the awkwardness of not knowing what he wanted or what he was going to say next. I had an officemate situation memorialized in emails to my best friend: "I keep trying to say no, but he won't ask me out, so he never hears it!"

On the other hand, she might say yes.

In either case, the solution to this is to talk about it, in as grown-up emotionally-open a way as you possibly can. Leave the guessing, the reading between the lines, the high-school gossip, and all that stuff aside. Tell her how you feel - and I don't mean "I am falling in love with you!", I mean everything you feel, including doubts, concerns, admiration, hopes, worries, closeness, etc. Have a real conversation.
posted by aimedwander at 10:55 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for helping me see how foolish and childish I've been about this whole thing. I finally manned up and got around to telling her how I felt toward her this morning before work. She said she wasn't interested in me like that (I guess that's how these things usually end), and she was unsure how I felt about her in light of the jokes our coworkers make about us, so it helped her, too, I assume. I told her I should have been upfront with her before we moved in, and that I felt it was unhealthy for me and unfair to her to be unclear about the whole thing. In the end, we're still friendly, and I don't like her any less than before, but those romantic feelings have died out pretty quick.

Thanks again.
posted by Nunipaht at 8:31 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


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