Are you going to be my girl?
January 21, 2006 8:27 AM   Subscribe

How do I tell a crush from high school that I still have feeling for her? How do I act on those feelings?

I took her to my senior prom hoping something would come out of it... but nothing really did. I was too much of a wuss to make the first move and nothing happened.

Now I'm graduated from college and she is graduating this semester. We've been good friends since. And now, I realize, I still have love issues with her. Now seems like the right time because neither of us are in relationships (that I know of).

We now have a radio show at the local college station monday nights. We will be spending a lot of time together for the shows sake. What do I do? Do I just say "hello gorgeous" and plant a big kiss on her?

I've been "out of the game" for 3 years now :( :(. My last relationship was long and when we broke up I just never got my drive back. I need more help then just with this old high school crush... I think my mothers death during my last relationship might have something to do with things. Maybe i need a shrink. I don't know. Advice welcome and needed. Sorry my post is so disconnected. Inspiration is needed.
posted by nickerbocker to Human Relations (43 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I can tellyou what not to do: do not become a good friend and discuss her problems with her etc. What you might consider: take her out to dinner. Buy her flowers. Tell her you lie her as a person and as a colleage but you also have deeper feelings--romantic ones--for her and, if ok with her, you would like to date her. One way or the other you can know where you stand and move on from that point. (And remember to go to a nice restaurant, have some wine, and don't stare at her boobs.)
posted by Postroad at 8:32 AM on January 21, 2006

Sounds like you have plenty of time to hang out with her and reestablish a personal friendship. Do nothing, in the short term. Things happen naturally, not artificially.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:56 AM on January 21, 2006

Get drunk in a fairly intimate bar (in a booth, of course), and blurt it out. If things work out from there, great, otherwise you're both hopefully mature enough to realize that if it doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world.
posted by cmonkey at 9:03 AM on January 21, 2006

Take cmonkey's advice. But cross out "get drunk," and instead have a virgin. You really get a feel for a person when they think they're drinking with you when they're not. Assuming of course you haven't seen her intoxicated.

BUILD TENSION!!! period.
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2006

Response by poster: hmm... trust me, we've seen each other drunk... very drunk. And we've seen each other on many other substances as well.

i think this is more of those, we've been friends for ever so how do i strike something up now?
posted by nickerbocker at 9:14 AM on January 21, 2006

Blurt it out. Seriously. Get your feelings out in the open, and if she shares them, she'll feel comfortable to do the same. If she doesn't share them, well, at least you know.
posted by cmonkey at 9:30 AM on January 21, 2006

Just to add a note of realism must be aware that if you confess your love for her, and if she doesn't have reciprocal feelings, it may end your friendship.

The guy who crushed on me all through high school and college (and took me to my senior prom) did this exact same thing my senior year of college, and it make our relationship very awkward. I had known the entire time that he liked me, and I intentionally didn't act on it, because I just wasn't interested. We're still friends, but not nearly as close as we were before the confession.

Sorry to be a downer...
posted by elquien at 9:33 AM on January 21, 2006

I see. Then you are pretty much screwed. Why? Because you are in the friend zone. And it is next to impossible to get out of the friend zone unless SHE makes the choice (consciously or otherwise) that she likes you in "that way" (romantically).

This is a tricky situation because you have known her for over half a decade and vice versa, in other words you two pretty much "know" each other without having made love.

In my opinion, the one thing you must absolutely NOT do, is explicitly show your interest. Why? If she blows you off how will you feel? But if she likes you in "that way" you can find indirectly without feeling like shit (in other words saving face).

Take it slowly. Every once in a while give her longing looks... DO NOT SAY ANYTHING. Women know exactly what this means. If she likes you in "that way," she will change her approach to you SOMEHOW, maybe she'll smile more AT you, laugh more AT what you say, etc.

Personally, I'm not one to waste time so I would take cmonkey's advice, then you have an excuse if stuff goes down not the way you planned.

Also, whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE HER OUT ON A DATE!!! No restaurants, movies, etc. Not even a coffee because right not she is just a friend and that will be her mindset having coffee with you.
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:36 AM on January 21, 2006

Best answer: Create a context that makes it clear that you're interested in more than friendship. Ask her out on a date, bring her flowers, take her to a nice restaurant, and tell her you have romantic feelings for her.

You don't need to get drunk to do this; it will be sweeter and more meaningful if you don't. Plus neither of you will have to wonder the next day, did he/she just say that because we were drunk?

If all this seems insurmountably difficult, listen to your own intuition that there is more going on here than just an old crush.

Your mom's death was quite recent and is bound to be affecting you in a major way. Please don't hesitate to find a counselor or therapist to talk all this over with -- it can help a lot with persistant feelings of sadness, loss of drive, confusion, etc.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:39 AM on January 21, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry to be a downer...

damn... that was a downer of a post. Yeah, I'm inclined to go with what Clementines4ever said and just take it slow and see if anything is built.

What ever happened to the old saying about how the best relationships are the ones that started out as friendships and such?

We've been friends for so long, I don't even think she thinks I'm interested.

I'll try not to get my hopes too far up, and keep on shopping incase things don't work out.

*sigh* I really hate dating and chasing girls. It just isn't my thing. I do much better when I'm in a relationship. My last relationship was so long that I feel like I lost all my 'flirting sense' of things when it was over. Now I feel completely awkward around women, and my first inclination is that they are probably not interested.

I'm not a virgin, but that movie 40-Year Old Virgin made me think a lot about myself. I feel like at my rate, I'll be 40 and still have not much of a love life. How do I break this cycle?
posted by nickerbocker at 9:45 AM on January 21, 2006

No no no and NOOOOO..... I have been in this exact same situation. Do not RUIN YOUR FRIENDSHIP by risking having her blow you off. If you cross that line you will lose a GOOD FRIEND if she doesn't like you in "that way." She must absolutely give some sign that she's interested, because if she doesn't, she just likes you as a friend (now) and doesn't want to RUIN THE FRIENDSHIP EITHER, but if you cross that line, it will be over, too awkward etc. What elquien said x2
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:47 AM on January 21, 2006

For anyone who thinks it's impossible to move out of the "friend zone": I will be performing a wedding in March for two people who were best friends for eight years before they fell in love.

What brought about the change is that one of them explicitly decided to court the other. She told him that's what she wanted to do and took him out on a date -- somewhere they had never been, in a mode that was very different than all their other dinners together.

The movement from friends to beloveds was not a simple one -- it sounds like there were a lot of awkward moments. It's very different to fall in love with someone you already know well -- you don't have the veil of infatuation to hide who the person really is.

That said, I think it's definitely possible to move out of the friend zone, but it takes a lot more than longing looks to do it. You have to face the fear of rejection and risk the loss of the relationship you had in order to transform it into something new.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:51 AM on January 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry nickerbocker, but it's probably not going to work out how you want it to. Not once in my 22 years of life have I heard of a man successfully migrating from "friends" to lovers. If you haven't fucked in the five years you've known each other, she obviously isn't interested in you sexually.

You need to move on.

If you're still pining over her, then perhaps the only way to move on is to tell her what you feel toward her and face the wrath. Getting overtly rejected is probably the only way to get over it. It's awfully hard to move on while you still have some hope that if you just tell her what you feel, she'll love you back.

For a more in-depth explanation have a look at the Ladder Theory.
posted by Netzapper at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2006

Best answer: How do I break this cycle?
Take a chance; throw your heart out there, either at this one or a different one.

I think you should make a move here... if it doesn't work out, move on and try again with the next female. Life is too short to wait for the perfect opportunity, so just make your own.
posted by crazyray at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2006

Longing looks are the FIRST step, NOT asking her out on a date... Otherwise if she doesn't like him, nickerbocker loses a friend.
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2006

Best answer: Here's the thing: once one person in a friendship feels "that way" about the other, you've already "lost" the friendship.

Because a relationship where one person is blithely going along being a friend, and the other is mooning and longing and fantasizing about them, is not really a friendship.

Friendships are about honesty and mutuality. Stifled crushes, on the other hand, are about hiding your feelings and passively waiting for the other person to read your mind. They are based on fear and an inner conviction of unworthiness -- not a good foundation for a friendship, in my experience.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:01 AM on January 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

Because a relationship where one person is blithely going along being a friend, and the other is mooning and longing and fantasizing about them, is not really a friendship.
Hear, hear!
posted by Netzapper at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2006

Not hiding your feelings! Showing them in such a way as to communicate the underlying meaning with subtlety, WHILE maintaining an aire of UNawkwardness.

Personally, even if I was madly in love with a crush who has been a really good friend for five years, I would NOT, under any circumstances put the friendship in jeopardy! Frienships are more important to me. Period.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:09 AM on January 21, 2006

Girlfriends and boyfriends come and go, but friends stay friends forever... isn't that what they say? I do anyway.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:11 AM on January 21, 2006

Tell her. Be sincere and fair. Be prepared for the results to go either way.
Knowing whether a dating relationship is possible is better than twisting in the wind.
Remember, she may be as uncertain as you about broaching the subject.
It seems quite logical to me to date someone you started off being friends with.
posted by Radio7 at 10:17 AM on January 21, 2006

My advice of not DIRECTLY TELLING HER YOU LIKE HER is based on the following :

If you use WORDS to say what you MEAN, then she MUST do the same. If she says NO, you're proverbially fucked in the ass because now it is out in the open, and now you two have NOTHING to talk about. As opposed to, with subtlety, always letting her know that the door is open, while still having plenty of stuff to talk about as friends. She'll either warm up to you in "that way" in which case you must take the next step, walk in the park, rollerblading (no restaurants for god's sake) etc. Or she won't, in which case you're still good friends.

This does not mean that you cannot pursue other females. In fact, I would encourage you to do so, she will notice the shift in your demeanor.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:29 AM on January 21, 2006

Use anything BUT words, bodylanguage, voice TONE...

Unless of course she's not that good of friend, in which case do what ottereroticist said.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2006

For a more in-depth explanation have a look at the Ladder Theory.
posted by Netzapper at 9:53 AM PST on January 21

I strongly suggest you ignore anything said on that website, nickerbocker. What you propose is difficult but certainly not impossible.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:40 AM on January 21, 2006

Be sure you have feelings for the person she is now and not the person she was in high school.

In other words, recognize that she has changed in the past 5 years, and so have you.
posted by elisabeth r at 10:43 AM on January 21, 2006

Women will generally recoil from a sudden change in the status-quo. If it hasn't been sexual for five years, chances are it won't be overnight, and you'll be shooting yourself in the foot by imagining otherwise.

On the other hand, if you slowly change the status-quo then there is nothing she can do about it. Longing looks, light teasing, seeing her as a little sister, friendly puches on the arm (DO NOT OVERINDULGE). After a few weeks, THIS IS THE STATUS-QUO! If she's going along with it YOU ARE IN. Come in one morning and just give her a peck on the cheek as if it was the most mundane thing to do. She will look at you quizzically, DO NOT SAY ANYTHING about the kiss. The entire day, just act as if nothing happened, no teasing, no longing looks etc. Do the same the next day (give her peck)... then, out of the blue as her if she wants to go rollerblading. This is the MAKE OR BREAK POINT. If she says no, you are still good friends, if she says yes... the rest is history.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:49 AM on January 21, 2006

I need more help then just with this old high school crush... I think my mothers death during my last relationship might have something to do with things. Maybe i need a shrink. I don't know.

How much do you like this girl? And how long do you want any potential relationship to last? Because I'd recommend getting some of that sorted out before making your move (whatever that may be).

It's just that, however much you may like her, you seem to be indicating that (currently, at least) you're not much of a catch, boyfriend-wise. It would totally suck to convince her to take a risk on a relationship with you and have it crash and burn because you've got some serious stuff going on in your head. Don't make it any harder to be your girlfriend than it has to.

Be her friend. Get a shrink. Get sorted out, then worry about girlfriend stuff. In the end, whatever relationship you have with her will be much better for it.
posted by stefanie at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2006

I agree with Clementines4ever and stefanie, especially this:
Be her friend. Get a shrink. Get sorted out, then worry about girlfriend stuff.

To all of you arguing about whether it's possible to progress from friends to lovers (in theory, the answer is yes): this is not about that. This is a specific situation in which a guy who has not been in a relationship for three years and feels completely awkward around women and is still getting over his mother's death has convinced himself that he's madly in love with "a crush from high school." I'm sorry, this does not say "a relationship made in heaven" to me, it screams "retreat to safe harbor." I have no idea whether there are future possibilities between you and this woman, and neither does anyone else here, but I do know you have to get yourself sorted out first. It may be that a year from now you'll be with someone you haven't met yet and you'll look back on this obsession with your friend and mutter "What was I thinking? Thank god I didn't say anything to her!"

And it may be that with a newly clear head and a light heart, you'll realize that she is indeed the one for you, and the two of you will look at each other and fall into each other's arms and stay together forever and ever. I'm not discounting romance. I'm just saying you're in no position to think straight right now, and as stefanie said, a bit brutally but honestly, "(currently, at least) you're not much of a catch."

Oh, and I strongly, strongly agree with Optimus Chyme about the motherfucking Ladder Theory.
posted by languagehat at 11:41 AM on January 21, 2006

Response by poster: Be sure you have feelings for the person she is now and not the person she was in high school.

In other words, recognize that she has changed in the past 5 years, and so have you.

I actually am much more attracted to her now then I was in high school.

It's just that, however much you may like her, you seem to be indicating that (currently, at least) you're not much of a catch, boyfriend-wise.

I'm not sure how much of a catch I am. My last relationship (so long ago) was a long and very intimate one. Her family loved me, my family loved her and everyone expected us to be getting married. But then things just fell apart.

I have a nice looking face, but am pretty average height (5'7") and gaining weight (172 lbs..but just in my belly, lol). I have a very successful career, especially for my age (24 years old). And it is a rather lucrative job.

I sometimes get very strong vibes from her, but I've always had a problem acting on them from uncertainty.

I think at this point, I just need to be taking a chance and see what happens. I don't think we will lose our friendship over it, although I will feel rejected and hurt. In the end, I have lots of friends and am really in the need of something more.

Keep the comments coming. They are helpful, even if they aren't what I really wanted to read in the first place. Thank you for all your input.
posted by nickerbocker at 11:45 AM on January 21, 2006

I have a very successful career, especially for my age (24 years old). And it is a rather lucrative job.


I sometimes get very strong vibes from her, but I've always had a problem acting on them from uncertainty.

Bro! You're in the driver's seat, pedal to the metal. Take the chance as soon as possible. Disregard all of my other comments (a little miscom but you cleared it up).
posted by Clementines4ever at 11:55 AM on January 21, 2006

Well, for everyone saying NONONO, FRIENDS CAN NEVER BE IN RELATIONSHIPS!!!!!! I've gone from being friends to being in a LTR relationship with a couple of different guys over the years; my ex-husband started out as "just a friend," in fact. That said, of course, he is obviously my ex-husband (but still a good friend!).

The thing is, crushing on a friend can be quite natural (and potent) because it feels really safe -- you've already gotten to know this person (and they've gotten to know you) in a way that has largely protected your vulnerability, whereas getting to know someone under the umbrella of "Dating" can bring the vulnerability to the fore. In this case, nickerbocker, your situation is a particularly delicate one -- I think you're right to suspect that your mom's death probably triggered a lot of feelings for you, some of which may very well be affecting how you feel for your friend. It probably feels very safe and warm to spend time with someone you've known for so long, back when your mom was alive and before you felt you'd "gone off your game."

So I'd advise you to proceed carefully. I do, frankly, think you may need to talk to a counselor (or at the very least a trusted, neutral friend) to try to untangle some of the issues that are undoubtedly going on for you right now -- feelings of grief and loss (and maybe even abandonment) due to your mom's passing, tied up with self-esteem/confidence issues stemming from not having been involved with anyone for 3 years. The thing is, it's REALLY easy (and intoxicating) to imagine that a relationship will somehow magically erase those difficult, painful feelings. But it won't -- if you're feeling those things now, you'll feel them even if you and your friend do get together (though the excitement of getting together would certainly override or disguise them for awhile), and in that case they'll count as some serious baggage.

Clarifying some of that should be, IMO, your top priority, so that you really know if your feelings for your friend are more about you or more about her. Until then -- and maybe "then" is just a few months down the road, if you can really uncover some of this -- I'd strongly urge you to leave all agendas and plans of romantic evenings/declarations of intention aside. You've got to know where you really are first, so that you can more accurately assess if the two of you might indeed have the potential to go to a different stage. But to not be clear about that is a disservice to HER as well as yourself, and really does run the risk of seriously damaging your friendship.

(On preview: I guess this was all just a long-winded way of saying I agree 100% with stefanie and languagehat!)
posted by scody at 12:01 PM on January 21, 2006

stefanie and languagehat are spot on.

I don't think you're going to necessarily ruin a friendship by declaring your romantic interest in a person, provided you are in a position to gracefully deal if the response you get is "no". If she declines the romantic relationship, you're going to have to be able to accept that, if you want the friendship to continue. I've been in both positions in the past, and managed to maintain friendships in all cases where one or the other of us wanted something the other wasn't interested in. Take care of yourself so you don't drive her away being too appallingly needy or hurt if she prefers to just maintain the friendship.

... and what scody said.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:07 PM on January 21, 2006


I think at this point, I just need to be taking a chance and see what happens. I don't think we will lose our friendship over it, although I will feel rejected and hurt. In the end, I have lots of friends and am really in the need of something more.

So your problem is dithering, like the Canadian PM. Sometimes it helps to gain a new perspective as others have pointed out. You say you're job is quite lucrative so... jump out of a plane*, and the next time you see your crush do/say whatever comes naturally.

* I have done this, the rush of confidence is undescribable (it wears off of course, but for a few days...)
posted by Clementines4ever at 12:16 PM on January 21, 2006

I've recently gone through a situation with a friend who confessed romantic feelings to me that weren't reciprocated, and it was awkward for the first while, but we quickly got over it. There was the initial discussion of *why* a relationship between us wouldn't work, some avoidance (mostly on my part) for a couple weeks, a brief period where I was pissed off that he had brought it up in the first place (we're also roommates and co-workers, so it made for some REALLY uncomfortable days), and now, a month later, we are pretty much over the original discomfort, and our friendship is none the worse because of it. Obviously not everyone will have the same experience, but I just wanted to throw mine out there to show that even if feelings aren't reciprocated, it doesn't necessarily indicate the end of the friendship.

Good luck with everything.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 12:30 PM on January 21, 2006

Along the lines of what Felicity Rilke mentioned...I want to be another voice against the OMG YOU ALWAYS RUIN THE FRIENDSHIP IF YOU TELL THEM!!! school of thought.

My experience (just as anecdotal as that of the naysayers, so YMMV):

I've had several friendships with men where they revealed (after years of knowing each other) a crush and I didn't reciprocate those romantic feelings. In each case, 2-4 weeks of awkwardness and avoidance resulted, but then the friendships did resume. In the case of one guy, I almost immediately afterwards helped set him up on a blind date with the woman who has been his wife for the last 8 years.
posted by availablelight at 12:38 PM on January 21, 2006

YMMV, I've been in this situation a couple of times, but only once did I overtly confess my feelings (they were not reciprocated). What followed? Nothing. Pretty much the same chain of events described by availablelight above. Caveat emptor: now everytime we see eachother I feel like there is something missing, I think of what could have been, it still hurts, even today.

That is why I have never again overtly expressed romantic leanings to a female friend before convincing myself that the probability of the feelings being mutual was well worth it. In this case, our friendship only grows stronger (if I don't express), and at some point I just let go of my romantic feelings, knowing it won't happen (YMMV).
posted by Clementines4ever at 12:53 PM on January 21, 2006

Looking back on the entire thread, I couldn't resist noticing the similarities with this past U.S. election. New info, flip flops etc.

My original comments were based on the absence of any signs of interest from your crush. Absence of proof is not proof of absence by any stretch of the imagination. So I suggested you take things slow.

Then you mentioned that you have been on the receiving end of strong vibes from her. Then you mentioned that you thought the friendship would probably not suffer in the long term.

First you thought about taking my advice and taking it slow, but then you changed your mind and decided to go for it. John Kerry style lol.

You're asking for someone to give you confidence over the internet. Well... I'm giving it to you. Go for it, you have nothing to lose but experience.

All the best, and let us know!
posted by Clementines4ever at 1:15 PM on January 21, 2006

I'll just toss my hat in with languagehat here. You want to make sure everything okay with you before you start taking crazy risks with your heart.
posted by onalark at 3:27 PM on January 21, 2006

To clarify, I'm around your age, and I have a lot of friends who are going through or have undergone what you're going through right now, and I've felt it myself. I think taking a second stab at old flames is really healthy for you, but you have to be fully prepared and accepting of all the consequences of the (likely) rejection.

And Clementines4ever, I'd recommend putting an email in your profile.
posted by onalark at 3:30 PM on January 21, 2006

Add me to the list people who think that friends can totally turn into good relationships. However one warning. If you end up in a relationship and realize "oh my god this isn't want I really wanted!" you've just destroyed a friendship. And sometimes it is really easy to confusing being lonely and horny and a bit down and really liking someone with wanting to be in a serious relationship with them.
posted by aspo at 3:56 PM on January 21, 2006

Response by poster: So I talked to her a little while ago on the tele, and she wants to goto the Mix (a Japanese/Sushi restaurant in town) for dinner before our first show Monday night. That is interesting because that is where I took her on prom night.

I don't know what is going to happen...but I think I'm going to go with sending stronger signals and see if they are bounced back. I'm pretty confident that she may have something in mind as well at this point. There is a definitive excitement in both of our voices when we speak to each other. I've noticed it over the past few times we've hung out and talked. Although I may just be getting my hopes up...i dunno. ??? lol.
posted by nickerbocker at 6:24 PM on January 21, 2006

Response by poster: Just discussing it has made me more anxious about the whole situation, which is a good thing. For the past few years I've had this "I don't give a fuck about girls" attitude. But, now, i'm craving some attention, and wanting to give attention.

It is really weird how the longer you aren't in a relationship that harder it is to get back into a relationship, or even hook up with a girl. When me and my last girlfriend broke up it was like I was hot stuff, and could hook up with other girls because they all knew I was on rebound. Every girl was a flirt to me, but nothing serious came out of any of it and in a sense I was still very much in love with my ex-girlfriend. Became more and more of a recluse, going out less and less hanging out with less of my friends. Gaining weight. How did I let myself get to this place, and where the hell is the exit?
posted by nickerbocker at 6:42 PM on January 21, 2006

Therapy, darling. Therapy, and as much kindness to yourself as you can possibly muster.

Good luck. We're all rooting for you.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:47 PM on January 21, 2006

This can be a tough situation. My advice is to be realistic and practical. It's all too easy to romanticize things and start thinking of your situation as something out of a movie; this leads to some painful cognitive dissonance if you get rejected, of the "But how could she not feel the way I do?" variety.

Maybe I'm just jaded, but I've done lots of things in my day that I should have been smart enough to realize beforehand were obviously stupid and wrong, but which seemed perfectly good from a naively hopeful, but-maybe-she'll-say-yes standpoint. It's easy to deceive yourself because you desire a certain outcome. Just keep your head about you and try not to get too hung up on any one person who may or may not be interested in you.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:30 AM on January 23, 2006

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