How to handle new feelings for a friend?
March 31, 2019 12:30 PM   Subscribe

How to approach feelings for a friend of mine, with a small wrench thrown in?

Backstory: I’ve known Beth for almost 7-8 years. Back when we first met we hung out with mutual friends for a while and got along great. I had never really thought of Beth romantically although it did cross my mind when our mutual friend said Beth and I should date. But it scared me at the time, and in thinking about it recently I think Beth intimidated me a bit back then. Eventually a year or two in she started dating this woman named Z.

Anyway a few years passed and life took us different paths so we drifted a bit, but no hard feelings or anything. Recently Beth and I reconnected over a community service project in our city this past summer and we rekindled our friendship. At a certain point I noticed I felt a droplet of attraction to Beth when we met up one on one one night a few months ago to catch up on the project. It was basically two hours of great laughing banter and catching up, and suddenly I saw her in a new light which surprised me, but I put it out of my mind as she was decidedly not available and focused on other dating prospects.

Well. A few weeks later it turned out Z had been cheating on Beth, and destroyed their relationship and engagement (they were a few months engaged). Awful stuff. I gave Beth some support and reached out a few times here and there because she told everyone she wanted to keep busy.

The breakup was a few months ago by now. However in the last week what had started as smallish feelings I was ignoring has turned into a full blown crush. The problem is, I'm unsure how to handle this as it's a slightly more delicate situation. Generally the consensus is (and my personal rule from experience) to ask crushes out ASAP so it doesn't get out of hand. But she is only 3 months out of a terrible breakup and it just seems...too soon still? I don’t want to be a rebound again. And I don’t want to seem like I’m moving in on her too quickly or freak her out. What is a way to gauge this?

She seems to be doing well considering the circumstances and handling everything in a healthy way, and is more of the "screw Z for doing this to me" kind of mindset. I haven't really dug deep into her feelings, but I do know she was really hurt.

My gut feeling is to just hang out as a friend for now and see if there is anything to the chemistry I was feeling. We never used to hang out one on one more than a handful of times, so maybe I could start there. She has definitely directly told me she wants to hang out, and we have seen each other more often lately both as friends and also working on this project together.

The thing is, I think we would actually be a really good match - we have amazing chemistry and she is a really quality person. I think it was the fact that we have a really good time together that sparked the attraction...and we just seem to be on a very similar wavelength. The other day my roommate actually asked me out of the blue if I would ever consider dating Beth (and I hadn't told her about these new feelings I'm having). She said she thought we would be good together. So, now I’m suddenly left with this scary prospect of trying not to ruin this, as good dating prospects are hard to come by for us mid 30s lesbians (I think that also gives me some anxiety, it's like a dang desert out here for dating and it's hard finding people I really click with AND I'm attracted to).

Also, can someone please reassure me that just because she hasn't read my mind and shown clear reciprocation in the last week since I've felt this way that this is NOT THE END? Due to long history of being rejected after asking out potential love interests/crushes, my crush brain goes immediately to the depressing "this will never work, it never works" place, and it's quite demoralizing and doesn't do much for my confidence.

Anyway, looking for advice, tips, anecdata, etc. Is it possible for people to start dating after knowing each other so long? I guess I find it very rare for me to have feelings change for someone I've known as a friend....so for TWO people to have those same feelings at the same time seems so improbable to me. But our break in seeing each other for years seems to have reset that clock, for me at least. I guess this question is more along the line of take it slow/wait and see vs missing out on a good chance. Also, I will admit some anxiety at having the chance stolen from me by someone acting more quickly/sooner.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total)
 
ask her out! carpe diem, my friend.
posted by schwinggg! at 12:53 PM on March 31, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'd talk to her about it the next time you have a good chance. It's been three months and she's probably at least started thinking about dating again by now. You can tell her that if she is open to dating you but isn't quite ready, you'd be willing to take a rain check on going on a date for a few more months. And whether she is interested or not, you'll know where you stand so that you can move forward -- either by getting into a relationship with her or by turning your attention elsewhere. It's not a good idea to spend a lot of time cherishing crushes, hopes, or fantasies.

And yes, of course people can ultimately get together after knowing each other awhile. But it won't do you much good to hear a lot of anecdotes about that sort of thing when those have no bearing on your situation. Take the next step of talking to this woman and find out if you're on the same page or not, and then you'll know what the step after that should be.
posted by orange swan at 1:01 PM on March 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


1. Tina Fey rule: a) Be attractive b) Don't be unattractive. Be your best self for them.
2. Be (platonically) enthusiastic to see them. Make them feel that they brightened your day by showing up and you'll be sad but not heartbroken to see them go.
3. Stay casual, confident and don't treat your interactions as being serious/high-stakes. Don't tie up all your emotions and worth in their answer to your casual request for a date. It's just a date.
4. Don't worship. They hate that - stay away from those who like/expect it.
4. If things work out, then enjoy what you have with them while you have it. Relationships are horribly tenuous and fragile, and they always end eventually no matter what you do. Yes, you may never have another one, but that's still better than being miserable with whoever will have you.
posted by zaixfeep at 1:36 PM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's not so soon that it looks like you've been lurking in wait all this time. It might be too soon for her — but let her decide that. Make yourself easy to say "no" to, but give her a chance to say "yes."

Is it possible for people to start dating after knowing each other so long? I guess I find it very rare for me to have feelings change for someone I've known as a friend....so for TWO people to have those same feelings at the same time seems so improbable to me.

I think for me there are a lot of people who are in this middle category that looks like "Eh, I don't feel any urgency about dating this person. I'm not pining for this person. I'm definitely not going to pursue this person. But yeah, I could totally see things happening between us. If they asked me out and I was available, I might well say yes just to see how things turned out." It's not "I have feelings for them" and it's not "I'll never have feelings for them," it's "Yeah, I'd give it a shot."

Maybe she has a category like that too, and maybe you're in it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:10 PM on March 31, 2019 [5 favorites]


"Hey look, this is kind of unexpected, but lately I've noticed a little bit of a spark between us. Are you getting that too? If not, that's cool, because I really value you as a friend, but if so, maybe we might cautiously see where it leads?"

Or some variationL Just say what you told us but so collapse it so you can just use one breath. See what happens. Be honest about your feelings and thoughts, and open to their response.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:53 PM on March 31, 2019 [15 favorites]


I vote you just ask her out and get it over with. Three months isn't like, dumped yesterday (I had a guy want to ask me out RIGHT after I got dumped, oh good lord). I have no idea if she's interested or not, but as you said, get it over with about finding out so you can move on or move in, whichever.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:25 PM on March 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ugh I vote do not ask her out. If I was only a few months out of a serious relationship with a traumatic breakup, and I’d been relying on a good friend for emotional support, I would feel betrayed if that friend turned around and wanted romantic attention from me. I would feel like that person was just trying to take advantage of me being emotionally vulnerable and I would immediately lose trust.

Obviously that wouldn’t be everyone’s reaction, but, I urge you to think about the emotional labor you would be asking her to do by mentioning your feelings to her now. It takes a long time to recover from what she’s been through, and she doesn’t need more stressors in her life right now. Just be a supportive friend and give it time.
posted by a strong female character at 8:05 AM on April 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


My gut feeling is to just hang out as a friend for now and see if there is anything to the chemistry I was feeling.
You've known her as long as the Obama Presidency. I vote trust your gut.
Also, can someone please reassure me that just because she hasn't read my mind and shown clear reciprocation in the last week since I've felt this way that this is NOT THE END?
This is not the end!! Honestly it sounds like she's feeling exactly like you're reading her -- not miserable, but not looking to immediately jump into the next relationship.
posted by nicodine at 4:47 PM on April 2, 2019


« Older Need IT Recruiter in San Jose/Silicon Valley for...   |   Tips for managing lower back while walking — not... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.