A tale of validation and doom.
September 15, 2022 8:58 AM   Subscribe

How badly have I managed this relationship? Do I need to end it?

I (late 30s, female, very anxious) do community moderation for "Gregory" (male, slightly older), a content creator across multiple platforms in a hobbyist community. Our partnership works quite well, as community members are happy to see that moderators are active and fighting our community's somewhat poor reputation for bigotry, I feel like I am making a difference and supporting our community in at least one small corner of the internet, and Gregory, who is not quick to trust or rely on anyone, can rely on me. Which is likely why Gregory recently offered me a salary to continue doing what I've been doing. As a business/community thing, I'm very happy about this, because I feel in general moderators should be paid, I work really hard (and am worth it if I do say so myself), and the money, while not necessary for life (I have a day job), is a big plus that makes the time expenditure more worthwhile and will allow me to do things like travel in the future (Gregory and I have met and hung out a few times but we live/work in different parts of the country, and the pandemic of course made traveling and meeting very difficult to impossible).

The problem, if it is one, is that I've had a crush on Gregory for years. I view his platforms as an extension of himself, something to be cared for, and the time I spend moderating is time I can spend with him. However, we don't really do anything together that isn't community stuff outside of some casual private chatter. Invitations to watch a movie or play a game we mutually own at best are met with a late reply of "sorry, was working on something" and a subject change. I don't know that I am being rebuffed per se though, because there was a time when Gregory would not have replied at all to the invitation, and if he did not like or trust me, he would have not made me his moderator, much less cut me into his money. He'll also respond without responding to things--for example, once while traveling in a foreign country I texted him with a gif of said country's views and asked him if the area really looked like that, in an attempt to make conversation. The following day, his social media had many beautiful photos of the views of the area--and yes, it did look like the gif.) I don't know why he is like this. Gregory came from a big-city upbringing and has no problems telling someone what he wants and doesn't want (using stronger language than I would). I don't think that he is conflict-avoidant. I have tried to talk to him about my feelings, saying things like "moderation is good for our community, but it's also time that I get to spend with you, and that's why it's important to me," and "my relationship with you is really important and precious to me," and his response was just to thank me. This coupled with my abysmal prior track record in romance leaves me with the creeping suspicion that our relationship will never be more than it is. I honestly don't know what it's like when someone likes you back; it's never happened to me. Telling a crush how I really feel about them and what I really wanted has always, without fail, resulted in the dissolution of our interactions. I know that money complicates relationships too, and I'm feeling uncomfortable with the idea of accepting his money and hiding something from him. I feel like I've screwed this up and there is no improving the situation.

I have discussed this extensively in therapy, though I am currently between therapists. My previous therapist described my options as "tell him, and be prepared to shoulder all of the consequences, or wait and see what happens." I had been sticking with the latter as I felt like there wasn't anything I could do that I had not done already or that wouldn't be better with face to face communication (we were planning on being at the same event earlier this year but cancelled due to the Omicron wave), but maybe that was a mistake. This was before Gregory offered me the salary. Should I say to him "are you sure you want to pay me? Because I have a crush on you"? Or something similar?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It doesn't sound like he is interested in a romantic relationship with you. He respects you and enjoys working with you, but there just doesn't really sound like there's anything else going on. It kind of seems like you are starting to interpret everyday things he is doing that aren't about you (posting pictures of a place he's visiting on a trip) as being some kind of secret message relaying romantic intent, and I do think this kind of thinking could eventually harm your relationship.

It sounds like you really enjoy doing this work for him. If you explicitly tell him how you feel, he might resent that you are bringing that kind of dynamic into what he probably considers to be a mutually beneficial and rewarding business relationship tied to a hobby you both enjoy, but maybe it will give you peace to finally know where he stands. Before you talk to him about it, I would think carefully about if you would want to continue doing moderation for him if he turns you down, and if you would be better or worse off without that outlet in your life.
posted by cakelite at 9:14 AM on September 15 [39 favorites]

I view his platforms as an extension of himself, something to be cared for, and the time I spend moderating is time I can spend with him. However, we don't really do anything together that isn't community stuff outside of some casual private chatter. Invitations to watch a movie or play a game we mutually own at best are met with a late reply of "sorry, was working on something" and a subject change.

You do not have a relationship with Gregory beyond managing the community. No one else will see maintaining his platforms "as an extension of himself."
posted by warriorqueen at 9:15 AM on September 15 [30 favorites]

from what you've written here it seems pretty clear to me that he's offering you the salary partly because you're good at the work and he doesn't want to lose you; but also because he has picked up on your signals, does not reciprocate your romantic interest, and wants to establish clearer professional boundaries.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:19 AM on September 15 [78 favorites]

I think the worst situation here is the one where you become his employee and then tell him you have feelings for him, and then he's wrestling with not just "would I like to date this person" but "would I like to date MY EMPLOYEE" and/or "would I like to fire my employee so that I can date her"? That might turn a yes into a no, if there is indeed a yes there to be had.

Honestly, though, it doesn't sound to me like there's romantic potential there - it sounds like he has consistently turned back any attempts to deepen your relationship and make it more personal. It sounds like he values your collaboration in a platonic way and is in fact taking a step to formalize and reinforce that this is a professional, business relationship and not a personal one.

But who knows; you know the guy and we don't, and there's always nuance that's hard to convey to a third party. If you're going to regret it forever if you don't take your chance, then okay. But I think you have to do it before agreeing to complicate your already-complicated friendship by bringing a financial power differential into it. I think you have to get off the "wait and see" train - you've done that, and what you've seen is that there's nothing to see.
posted by Stacey at 9:21 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

From what you've said, this person is not interested in a romantic (or even very friendly) relationship with you. The flatness in their responses is one sure sign. Another is that they have not proactively sought out a deeper relationship with you in a meaningful way.

If they wanted to be in a relationship with you, they would work toward that. In fact, they have put professional distance between you.

You said in your post that you have never had feelings reciprocated, and so you are not sure what it feels like. Most often other person shows interest in you, asks questions about you, actively pursues time with you, and closeness continually escalates. There is a lot of excitement and still some guessing/uncertainty but it feels and proceeds almost the opposite from what you are feeling now.
posted by fake at 9:26 AM on September 15 [18 favorites]

From way outside this situation, it looks like a parasocial relationship rather than any genuine connection on his side. I am sorry to be negative about it, but it's pretty clear that he has kept the interactions you have on a surface level, and that you are the one imbuing them with deeper value, intimacy, and closeness. I think it's fine to get a private thrill out of the interactions you do have, but only as long as you are willing to enjoy them privately.

I would take the salary and look for intimate relationships elsewhere.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:27 AM on September 15 [48 favorites]

Given that you are anon, you don't have to try to respond to this, but my question to you is: What are you trying to gain by telling Gregory this?

If it's to assuage your discomfort with being paid by someone who doesn't know you have romantic feelings for them, well, I don't actually think that's so bad. I think it's unfortunate that you are lingering in this emotional space, because I do not think that Gregory wants to pursue a romantic relationship with you, and I think he is being clear about that. I guess I don't feel like you are doing something harmful to him by having feelings, more like you are doing something harmful to yourself by fixating on this person.

If it's to see what happens after disclosing this, are you truly prepared for what might come out of that conversation? It may not be a dissolution, but it will likely not be reciprocal. It might help you move forward, though, and while I think that would be healthier for you, you would also potentially be compromising your ability to interact with a community in a way that feels meaningful to you (beyond this person).

Either way, I think ""are you sure you want to pay me? Because I have a crush on you"?" is absolutely not the right sequence of words to use here. I'm not at all sure what you should say, because, again, I think you need to really be clear on what you will potentially gain and lose from this conversation.
posted by sm1tten at 9:28 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Hey, so, I've been there. Different business, before YouTube or anything like that, but I signed up to run a website/community for someone I had a massive crush on in order to have an excuse to hang out with her. Did it for four or five years. Got super enmeshed, got to spend a lot of time with her, got no intimate or even really friendly relationship, and she got the value of my work for pretty much free for all that time.

I can't say "don't do this," because you're probably going to. You already have. You're already there. The only way to fix this is for you to grab hold of your agency in both hands and take those valuable professional skills you have gained and go work somewhere else, somewhere where your love life and your work life and your self-image aren't hopelessly entwined. And you're probably going to take the money and stick it out for another year, maybe two. Knowing you need to ask this is the first sign, but it's gonna take some cycles before it sticks.

At some point, you'll realize that you don't like the person you've become, hopelessly longing for something that doesn't exist and keeping all your senses fixed on it so actual possibilities for relationships don't intrude. Actual, reciprocal relationships are scary, and require work, and conflict management, and the possibility of loss. This relationship provides just enough crumbs of encouragement to keep the fantasy going without you needing to admit anything potentially embarrassing or face rejection. I suspect you're also being deliberately forgiving of casual inconsiderateness, shitty working conditions, or, you know, the fact that you've been doing a professional job without pay.

You don't know this dude. You're not friends with him. You're definitely not on his radar as a potential romantic interest, and he's almost certainly consciously holding you at arm's length, because you're doing good work for his business and he'd like to keep that. You're gonna have to quit, and it's gonna suck (I sobbed, and it was embarrassing as hell, and honestly the woman I was crushing on kinda deserved it) and it's probably going to take you quite a while to get over it. But you need to do it, for your own health and sanity. And you're going to have to do real work on how you relate to anxiety, relationships, and intimacy before you find something better.

Am I projecting? Yeah, I'm projecting, I warned you up top. You're probably not going to believe this. I didn't. But there will come a point where you remember it, and you make a choice to honor your real, actual self, not the imaginary self that's in this fantastic relationship with an imaginary dude.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:34 AM on September 15 [42 favorites]

How badly have I managed this relationship? Do I need to end it?

You haven't managed this "relationship" badly, because there is no relationship other than a professional one. If you enjoy modding and the money is useful, keep doing it.

But it doesn't sound like he is interested in a romantic liaison, so if you can't be professional in your dealings with someone who is effectively now your (other) employer, you shouldn't continue because that's not fair on him. He needs your work skills, not your affection (and I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, it's not intended to).
posted by underclocked at 9:35 AM on September 15 [14 favorites]

You have the choice of deciding this is not something you should pursue for many personal and professional reasons. YOU decide it's no good, you mourn the death of that possibility, and you go on about your life.

Given your circumstances, any relationship you enter into needs to be with someone who is not going to require super-advanced graduate-level relationship skills. You need someone who is going to meet you on a fair and equitable playing field. This is not it. He is not into you, he is not going to become into you. Any attempts to have some kind of relationship with you should be regarded with suspicion, at this point. He likely has a personal situation that is satisfactory to him, but even if he doesn't he likely knows not to date/whatever in his fandom/professional environment.

Part of the reason you probably find this so compelling is that he's a blank slate onto which you can safely imagine a relationship without any real involvement from him. You do have the choice to lower your idealism of this person to "somewhat chilly and offputting person" rather than someone to pursue. You can be sad about it for a while, it sucks when a dream dies, but I would strongly encourage you to stop making any kind of bid for personal attention even if you absolutely must maintain this unrenderable crush.

I know people kind of use "touch grass" as an insult, but honestly: please try to go get some local fresh-air socialization if you can. Be around some non-virtual people a little bit. It will help you regain perspective.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:43 AM on September 15 [7 favorites]

Friend, you are HUNG UP on Gregory and that makes it hard for you to see him as just a person. I wish your therapist had described your options a little differently: 1) tell him how you feel and be prepared to deal whatever response he gives, or 2) wait and see, as in “observe what happens” not “wait forever.”

You have gathered plenty of evidence that Gregory isn’t available to you in a romantic way or for friendship. You have scraps and crumbs pointing to his regarding you slightly more favorably than he would a stranger. I’m glad he doesn’t ignore your messages (anymore?) but that’s not something to celebrate or read into. That’s basic respect. He has all the information he needs to know that you would like to get to know him better and develop a closer personal relationship. If he was interested and available for that* the ball is all the way in his court.

*He might have any number of reasons he isn’t available to you—he’s hung up on someone else, he can only handle a couple close relationships in his life and his roster is full, he doesn’t want to be close to anyone, who knows—but the specifics don’t matter. What matters is he’s not available to you.
posted by theotherdurassister at 10:14 AM on September 15 [15 favorites]

You should take the salary as the first step in moving past your crush. You should be doing this work because you're getting paid for it, not because it's a chance to get closer to him. If taking money for it complicates your "I'm doing this due to the purity of my feelings" narrative, GOOD. It should. Do not do work because of the purity of your feelings! Do it for money or don't do it at all. (This is not to say that all work everywhere has to be financially remunerative, far from it! But you have to be getting something out of it, and you are only getting heartache right now, and that isn't going to change unless you agree to get money.)

If you choose to not do it at all, I would still not bring up the crush (seriously, don't bring up the crush; he likely knows and it would certainly not help anything to tell him). You can say something like "you're right that this is a big enough job that it does deserve a salary, and thinking about that made me realize that it's too much for me right now. You should look for someone with more professional background in moderation."
posted by babelfish at 10:17 AM on September 15 [9 favorites]

Good news: You haven't screwed anything up. Bad news: Romantically speaking, it doesn't look like you have something to screw up. When someone likes you, they make efforts to have more than casual chat and work-related interactions with you. If they can't play a game or watch a movie with you when you invite them, if they're interested, they reciprocate later. I would abandon ship on waiting for Gregory to change his mind.

You deserve to find someone you really like who reciprocates your romantic interest. You don't say how long you've been moderating as a way to get close to Gregory, but if it's been more than several months or a year with no uptick in his interest, he's not interested. Romance is a numbers game. You have to meet many people and see who you gel with. Getting all hung up on one person who may be very cool but does not have romantic feelings toward you can be a way of not dealing with the very real anxiety-producing work of getting out there when you don't feel like you know what you are doing. It's hard. It's not a meritocracy. I'm sorry I don't have better news.
posted by *s at 10:36 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Yeah I am in agreement with what other people are saying here. There is no open question with Gregory: it's clear that he's not interested in being closer with you, and it's likely that his offering to pay you is an attempt to switch your relationship away from being personal and towards being professional.

Who knows why that's the case and as other people have said, it's entirely possible it's got nothing to do with you personally. It's quite likely he's just not in the market for a close personal relationship.

So the decision facing you is whether you would prefer to have a professional relationship with him, versus whether you would prefer no relationship. There's no need to wait around and see what happens: really, the ball is in your court and it's your decision to make.

It would be totally okay for you to accept his money and do the work in part because you like being around him and enjoy the interactions you have. But it probably wouldn't be healthy for you, or fair to him, if you are going to do it while carrying around the hope of a romantic relationship, or even one that's closer than what you currently have, because it's clear he doesn't want that.

I feel like I've screwed this up and there is no improving the situation.

I don't think you've screwed this up. It sounds like you've done fine. You've made it clear that you'd like to be closer to him: it sounds like you have sent that message consistently, with invitations and by telling him why and how you value your relationship with him. That's legit.

But I do think it's true that "there's no improving the situation," if to you "improvement" means getting closer. He just doesn't want to do that, and that's his right. You've essentially asked the question, and he has answered it. So whatever else you end up doing here, you need to respect his answer, and not push for a closer personal relationship, because he's made it clear that's not what he wants.
posted by Susan PG at 10:48 AM on September 15 [7 favorites]

I don't know that I am being rebuffed per se though, because there was a time when Gregory would not have replied at all to the invitation...

Yes, you are being rebuffed, and he is being polite about it about because he clearly values your work as a moderator. If he wanted to watch a movie together, but was busy, he wouldn't just say "Oh sorry, I'm busy" but "Sorry, I'm busy right now, but how about we do this [x day]?"

You are doing a lot of mind-reading/ projecting into your interactions with him. Gently, I advise muting him on social media. The level of reading the "tea-leaves" you are doing is not healthy (I've been there, no judgement).

I sense a bit of pain in your post, so I want to emphasize - it is quite possible his lack of interest is completely not personal. Most people are not inclined to start romantic relationships that are long distance. It could be as simple as he has never considered you a romantic prospect because of your geographic separation. Don't over think it, and don't go looking for deficiencies in yourself as an explanation. Therapy can hopefully help with this.

I have tried to talk to him about my feelings, saying things like "moderation is good for our community, but it's also time that I get to spend with you, and that's why it's important to me"

I do not think you should try to start anything with this man, but just as a bit of future advice, if you find yourself interested in someone, the best thing to do is to say directly, "Hey, would you like to go on a date with me?" That will give you a direct and clear answer, which could hurt of course, but at least you'll know and be able to move on.
posted by coffeecat at 10:56 AM on September 15 [18 favorites]

In agreement with the rest of the answers: you didn't screw up anything because there's nothing to screw up, the 'thing' here being your chances of having a romantic relationship. Whether it's imbued with parasociality or otherwise, you've been nursing a long-time crush. At this point it almost doesn't matter if there's any nuance in his behaviour: he's not interested (and perhaps was never interested) AND whatever he's doing you'll project and over-ascribe meaning anyway.

I think your mind and your heart needs to treat this as a proper breakup. Don't take the offer and wind down your work with him. It doesn't seem like he's actually also a friend off the clock so to speak so there isn't much to lose friendship-wise (and that does sound unbelievable but that's the sense I'm getting), so I really think you have to physically and emotionally disengage and remove him from your attention for the time being. To me the cause of concern is I'm sensing you're folding in presumptive romantic notions when you say 'relationship'. I'm sorry to say, it doesn't sound like that kind of 'relationship'.
posted by cendawanita at 11:37 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

I think it has been expressed multiple times in various ways, but to reiterate:

Yes, Gregory is rebuffing you.

When someone likes you, you generally know it by their interest in interacting with you.

As far as your therapist's advice--you have already expressed how you feel but you are not accepting the result.

Your anxiety might be directing this show. I hope you find another therapist that can really help you.
good luck.
posted by rhonzo at 12:19 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

The problem, if it is one, is that I've had a crush on Gregory for years.

This is a problem if you ever want to meet someone who is available and who is compatible. You can't meet such people if you continue pining for Gregory. Please stop pining. MetaFilter is filled with anxiety-plagued folks (including me) who have or have had satisfying relationships. Including oldsters such as myself.

It may be safe to continue pining. But you are not taking care of yourself by doing so. My advice is to step away and create time and space for dating and/or other opportunities to meet like-minded people.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:28 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Everyone else has said everything there is to say about this guy's interest level, but one thing I'd like to note is:

"I have tried to talk to him about my feelings...moderation is good for our community, but it's also time that I get to spend with you, and that's why it's important to me," and "my relationship with you is really important and precious to me,"

None of these...are a declaration of a crush? Like, that's not...if a friendly coworker (which is what he is) said these things to me (online?? are all of these interactions online, because you don't live near each other at all?) I would just be like, aw thanks, that's great, I also really enjoy working with you. Because there's nothing in those statements that conveys anything other than "wow, anonymous really likes working for this community."

I get that you're trying to hedge because you don't want to get an outright rejection but blocking off the risk of rejection also blocks off the risk of acceptance. I don't know if your crush confessions usually sound like mildly positive performance reviews but if so maybe that would explain why you feel like the track record is bad on those...

That said I don't think you should actually try harder to tell him; I think you should actively and consciously try to meet other people and purposefully start draining this crush of its energy. Then when you meet someone new to like, you can practice saying "hey would you like to go on a date" or "hey would you like to make out" or "hey I have a crush on you" and other things that actually convey that you have a crush on someone.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:38 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

I agree with the general consensus here and won't repeat all that but want to make a few additional points:

I view his platforms as an extension of himself, something to be cared for, and the time I spend moderating is time I can spend with him.
You are in a relationship with a fantasy called Gregory, not Gregory himself. This is incredibly common when we crush on professors, celebrities, people we see at the coffee shop, etc. You don't know him, and the person you have a crush on is mostly a creation of your brain.

It's not bad to have these kinds of crushes! They can sometimes be a pleasant distraction and diversion from life's routines. In your case, however, you have spun this crush into a full-on service project, hoping it leads to a relationship. Friend, it will not lead to a relationship. And, I suspect it's taking time and emotional energy that could lead you to a mutually satisfying relationship.

It's time to reflect on a few things:
What do you want in life and dating and relationships? If you want a regular, mutual relationship, focus on developing that with someone local and available.
Is your continued focus on Gregory because you are avoiding something else?

Also, I want to say, to Gregory's credit, that offering to pay you is an act of integrity. He might know you are crushing or otherwise have become more aware of the imbalance in the situation, but paying you is right and appropriate. I suspect you are struggling because your love language is acts of service. I suspect you are pouring your heart into this work as a way of showing him what he means to you. However, it also is a situation where he could be taking advantage of your affection for all this free work -- and that's why I think offering to pay is a good sign of making this relationship more formal and professional.

If you don't accept the money, you will continue to work for him for free and you won't get what you want, a relationship with him.

If you're feeling stuck and spending a lot of time thinking about him, it might be time to step back and focus your community work elsewhere, and develop a relationship with someone who is interested and available.

Also, finally, I'm not at all surprised he didn't respond to your gif. He was traveling and engaged in a new place. That's much more compelling than responding to a confusing text from someone who is essentially a friendly professional-ish colleague/employee (even if unpaid).

He's not thinking about you as you are about him. It's time to move on.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:40 PM on September 15 [8 favorites]

What Blast Hardcheese said mirror my thoughts - some people are famously bad at "picking up signals," and what you put out there was not nearly clear enough.

I also think there's a slight chance he'd be interested in a relationship, but only slight. And, as many others said, you have to be ready to handle whatever fallout may ensue if he turns you down.

Good luck.
posted by mreleganza at 2:30 PM on September 15

Take the money, and find a honey. You know what you like in your associate, find someone else with those qualities.
posted by Oyéah at 3:43 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

Per your therapist’s advice, you have waited, and you’ve seen. And the news isn’t what you want to hear: he’s not into you.

People who are into you (and I don’t care if they’re extremely busy, shy, non-neurotypical, your boss, etc.) will take any opening to meet you more than halfway. You’ve given him several unambiguous openings. And he hasn’t even stepped a toe to halfway. In fact, he’s backed up.

I know this hurts and I’ve done this, maybe we all have. I actually think you should keep the job, push him off his pedestal in your mind, and take the money for your investment. If in 6 months it’s still painful, reconsider.
posted by kapers at 4:41 PM on September 15 [13 favorites]

I feel like you are really asking what is the morally correct thing to do, because you're so in love with him that you hate the thought of taking advantage of him, lying to him, or hurting him.

Where is the moral obligation to yourself? Don't you also deserve to not be taken advantage of, lied to, or hurt?

You already know what it looks like when someone loves someone else. Because YOU act a certain way when you love someone. You're acting that way right now. You prioritize them and their needs, you fear hurting them above all else.

He is not doing that, because he does not love you. But you can love yourself. I don't even know you and I admire you from reading your question. You come across as so conscientious, so pure, so good. I'm sure you can find it in you to see those qualities in yourself. I strongly suspect you have those qualities in spades more than Gregory does anyway.

Love yourself. Treat yourself with care. Spend hours agonizing over what the moral obligation to yourself is, instead of him, and really mean it.
posted by stockpuppet at 9:36 AM on September 16 [4 favorites]

From this stranger's perspective, I think you need to back way off and remove yourself as much as possible from working with Gregory or watching his streams or even moderating his discord or whatever. This seems to be the absolute definition of parasocial relationship. I've heard a lot of Twitch streamers talk about this with their communities - streaming is essentially their job, and their personality while streaming is just a public persona. Fans and even moderators don't really "know" their favorite streamers, even though it seems like you spend a lot of time together. It seems like Gregory hasn't reciprocated your advances to actually let you into his "real" life, because he thinks of you as a community member, fan, and a moderator. He's offering you money for your time because you're doing work for him and he seems to value that work. From everything you've said above, it doesn't seem like he wants a romantic relationship.

I've just seen a lot of drama over the last year or two where a seemingly nice streamer takes advantage of these parasocial relationships to get money or sex or free work. Gregory doesn't seem like the type of person who would do this since he offered to pay you for your efforts and doesn't want a hookup, but I think it underscores the point that you can't really tell who a person is just from who they are on the internet.

Please protect your mental health and take a big step back from this person/their community.
posted by little king trashmouth at 11:23 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]

If someone is interested in you (regarding romance or friendship) they will respond to an invitation with an enthusiastic yes -- or if they need to decline, they will suggest doing it on a different day. I'm not talking about a vague "some other time"; they might say, "How about if we do that sometime next week -- what day works for you."

Given that this guy definitely doesn't want to be your friend or romantic partner, you need to think about what's best for you and your feelings. It might be difficult to continue associating with him now that you know there's no chance of a change in the relationship. Or possibly you can accept it and continue to work with him with little emotional pain. You can stay or you can quit....and if you stay, it's not a commitment. You can stop the work whenever you want. If you do keep doing the work, definitely take the salary.

Definitely don't tell him you have a crush on him. He already knows or suspects that, and he's still valuing your work and treating you with respect.
posted by wryly at 11:35 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

I have tried to talk to him about my feelings...moderation is good for our community, but it's also time that I get to spend with you, and that's why it's important to me," and "my relationship with you is really important and precious to me,"

I agree with people here who are saying that Gregory isn't interested in a romantic relationship with you and is communicating that through keeping your relationship on a professional level and paying you for your services. In my experience the only way you can continue your business relationship is to get yourself to accept this as an only-business relationship and leave the crush behind.

I have totally been where you are* and I remember that I was really really lonely at the time. The only things that actually helped were finding friends and escaping my own head when I could.

* I was 24:
- google-stalking
- driving around late at night trying to figure out where they lived
- listening to Untouchable Face hundreds of times in a row
posted by bendy at 7:37 PM on September 16 [5 favorites]

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