Help me find the right words
August 7, 2007 11:12 PM   Subscribe

I've developed a bit of a crush on a girl that I consider to be a good friend. How to tell her that I have these feelings for her?

I'm a male graduate student. I met this girl last semester (also grad student in same school). We saw each almost every day and went out several times. Lunch, movies, etc. It was a fun time, but nothing overtly romantic ever happened. Just two friends spending time together. I started to develop feelings for her, but held back because the semester was ending soon and she was leaving town for the summer.

Well, she's getting back soon and I've decided that I want to try to make a move, so to speak. Not sure if she's interested in a romantic relationship, but I have to try, you know?

Now that the decision has been made to say something (hard enough to decide), I now have to figure out what exactly to say. I don't think she knows that I have these feelings--although I can't imagine I've been that suave about things so as not to elicit suspicion.

My first thought was to give some sort of Chasing Amy-like confession. But although I think Ben Affleck has his heart in the right place, he comes off as sort of pathetic and desperate, don't you think? (Of course, he does get the girl...)

When she gets back, I know we'll hang out and I know it'll just be a friendly sort of thing. So how do I indicate to her that I'd like to try for something more? I'd like to do this while relatively sober, so please don't recommend a drunken make out session or something. I'm looking for specific ways to talk to her about this to (a) achieve the desired results, if possible, and (b) to minimize future awkwardness should she not be interested. Suggestions? Things I should say? Things I shouldn't say?

Lady mefis in particular: Have you ever had a guy friend make this sort of confession to you? How did it make you feel? If things worked out between the two of you, what did he say? If things didn't work out, is there something that the guy could have said that would have maybe convinced you to take a chance on a relationship?
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A girl/woman gave a great answer to one of these questions before.

She said girls are often befuddled by these kind of confessions, and they almost always fall flat, because you blurt out ""I have special feelings for you," and a) it's just awkward and b) now what?

the point is not that you have the feelings, but what are you going to do about it? Ask something concrete- do you want to go to dinner?/see a movie?/hang out more/whatever - she will assuredly get the hint. Just make it something that there is a concrete response to, rather than blurting a confession and forcing her to react.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:18 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

and yes, I have made the mistake of the confession a few times, that's why that answer stuck with me.

I think "this is fun. we should really hang out more" or something like that will get the point across and tell you what you need to know. if she seems receptive, suggest an activity for just the two of you.

if her response feels awkward, you then have the chance to abort and avoid future serious awkwardness.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:21 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm from the 'just pounce' school of thought. You should be able to tell (or have some sort of inkling) if she thinks of you that way. Then just engineer a situation where you're together (maybe get both of you drunk, if you're the shy type) and go for it! Actions speak louder than words.

(And of course I mean inhibition-lowering drunk, not passed-out-can't-say-no drunk)
posted by Lucie at 11:34 PM on August 7, 2007

I should have read your question more carefully. That said, I think it's still the best way to go. You sound like you're over-thinking it a bit. Why don't you work on the chemistry and fun with her, and let her feelings catch up to yours before the big confession?
posted by Lucie at 11:36 PM on August 7, 2007

I've been on both sides of the situation (crush and crush-er). I found that the best way was to be honest and straightforward. Not SCARY, like "OMG DATE ME NOW PLZ", but more "I like you, and I was wondering if we could try being a couple" or something like that. As far as I'm concerned, I need to be told DIRECTLY if someone likes me, otherwise I'd never get a clue! Your friend may be the same way.

One guy friend in particular was useless at subtlety - I could tell he liked me from a mile away! I didn't want to make assumptions though, and eventually the hinting got weary. I kinda forced him to confess - well, just asking him if there's something about me he wants to tell me. He told me he liked me, and I wasn't quite sure what to answer. I asked him to give me a few days to think. I decided not to accept, because our personalities clashed and I found him a bit too annoying for my liking! So I said no, and he understood - then he found another girl :P

Even if it doesn't work out, don't despair. I've confessed my crushes to SO MANY friends and we're still friends, still close. Good friends understand.
posted by divabat at 12:32 AM on August 8, 2007

My experience/understanding has usually led me to believe that women generally put you in the "just friends" category if you've known each other for awhile and don't make it pretty clear you're interested. Once you're "just friends", she starts to think of you as her brother, and asking her out just seems... weird (to her, anyway).

The other school of thought is that she might already know you're interested - and is kinda hoping to keep you around as a friend, and this would kinda creep her out. Like some old quote I heard : "Lovers are a dime a dozen but friends are forever". I'm dating a woman who, about 3 times a year, has male friends "confess their love" to her. Sometimes after years of knowing them. She's to the point where she's weary of any male friends she might make, fearing eventually they're going to snap and confess.

Either way, I figure if you've decided you've just gotta try it - then go for it. You'll never be fully comfortable as "just friends" once you've made up your mind, regardless of whether she's aware of those feelings. In the meantime, you'll be the guy friend she'll go to when she needs to complain about some other guy (whom you'll no doubt want to say "isn't worth it" or that she "deserves so much better than").

There's effectively limitless fish in the see. You'll never know if you don't try.. bla bla bla.

Do what feels right.
posted by revmitcz at 12:54 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

*in the sea
posted by revmitcz at 12:55 AM on August 8, 2007

I agree with Lucie. I think most guys (myself included) have made these sorts of confessions and they have come up as awkward. The thing this woman needs to know is that you are interested in her, that's really all she needs to know at the moment. The thing you have going for you is that she isn't in town. She will come back and you can call her up and confess "I miss us hanging out, summer was OK, but it would've been cool if we hung out." That's a good opener confession. It's easy and you are explaining that you miss her. She will hopefully have the same line, just put in another way. Have a few dates, like you did. But drop in how awesome the summer would have been had she been around. "There is so much going on here, and I got all these great contacts for after grad school. I should introduce you to some people." And introduce her. These people will say things like..."So, how long have you two been going out? You're so friendly together." You can play it off, then it's time to strike. You can mention your feelings, but in a playful way, like driving to a bar after dinner or after a movie with friends. Don't be bossy, but don't expect rejection. Laying the groundwork is always difficult. I'll say, before you go any further, that nothing I have just mentioned has ever worked with any woman I have seriously had feelings for. But, were you the one to make it work, you only have my props.
posted by parmanparman at 1:03 AM on August 8, 2007

The normally acceptable way to handle this is by flirting. You flirt a little, she flirts back a little. You are a little more sure that she is interested, so you flirt a little more, she flirts a little more, and you escalate in this way until at some point you decide that you're clear to kiss her, and proceed from there. If she isn't interested, you can tell because she won't flirt, and you don't have to make a fool out of yourself.

It's easiest to flirt while dancing, so if you can manage to take her somewhere with dancing and alcohol this will be a lot easier.

Also, seconded drjimmy11. If someone dropped some kind of "I have feelings for you" bombshell on me, the first thing I'd want to know is "Why are you telling me this?". First work out what you want to happen next.
posted by emilyw at 1:36 AM on August 8, 2007 [5 favorites]

Important thing to check first: Does she have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Seriously, ask that first.

Make it low key, relaxed and non pressure filled, something like this:

At the end of a night, after you guys have hung out (so you can do it on a high note, at the end of the night, to reduce awkwardness), say "Hey, that was fun, I have really good times with you, lets go out on a date! You want to think about it, that's cool, or even say flat out no, that's cool too. Either way, let me know at some point, ok? Goodnight!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:41 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

You dont
posted by crewshell at 4:50 AM on August 8, 2007

Step up the intensity a bit, this should give her the opportunity to look at you a bit differently & consider how she feels about it without startling her and pressing her into a decision before she has any time to let herself be seduced.

Look into her eyes a bit longer, compliment her, be just a bit more touchy. Like Emilyw said, flirt!

Then see how she responds. lf positively, at some point it should feel natural to make a move, if not, it's probably her picking up on but not returning your signals. Unless your both clueless, in which case you may just have to risk confession.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:48 AM on August 8, 2007

Please, no Ben Affleck.

Here's the thing about why the confession is not likely to play out the way you want (and why these things in general only work in movies). The effect of it, especially if you model what you say based on Chasing Amy and its ilk, is to place the burden of your desire on her. You're probably thinking of telling her how you lay awake at night, how she consumes your thoughts and it's just torture being without her. Right? Well, what that boils down to, and what she will probably hear, is "you are causing me pain with your desirability, now what are you going to do about it?" This is off-putting because, instead of making a proposition on even terms (as you would if you just straight asked her out) you're making it a problem with the expectation that she will fix it (by dating you). That's not exactly fair, given the fact that women are generally socialized to feel as though they are responsible for other people's feelings. Also, the Chasing Amy-style confession really puts the confessee on a pedestal, which is not something many women these days are really comfortable with. Even if you're putting her on a pedestal for her personality rather than her physical beauty; objectification feels like objectification, regardless of the motivation behind it.

If she likes you, the confession is overkill (and may actually work against you, for reasons discussed above). If she doesn't, it will be very hard for your friendship to recover from something like that.

But there's hope! The other commenters in this thread have provided you with an excellent plan:

1. Find out (subtly) if she likes guys/is not in a relationship.

2. Flirt.

3. If she flirts back, do gradually more date-y things until your feelings for each other are obvious.

4. Watch things fall into place.

One more thing:

Is there something that the guy could have said that would have maybe convinced you to take a chance on a relationship?

No, not really. And this ties into my earlier point about objectification: if she's hesitant for one reason or another, why would you not respect that? While you might think that "convincing" is merely showing your interest, the way it will be received is that you're subjugating her concerns to your desire: it doesn't matter that she might not want to date you, as long as you get what you want. Relationships need both parties to be happy in order to be successful, and if she is "convinced" or cajoled into it, then chances are she's going to have buyer's remorse. And really, you deserve someone who is enthusiastic about dating you -- not someone who needs to be sold on the idea.

Okay, now that I've said all that: if you're friend material for her, there's a good chance you're also boyfriend material for her as well. Go flirt and have fun and see where that takes you. Good luck!
posted by AV at 5:55 AM on August 8, 2007 [7 favorites]

Please don't do this verbally. It can only get awkward, even if she's interested too. As a couple of posters said already, flirt. If she's interested, she'll flirt along. Then kiss her. That will tell you everything you want to know. And let her know that you're man enough to go after something you want, not an insecure sissy who is so afraid of rejection that he has to get permission before he kisses her. Make it romantic, make it memorable.
posted by widdershins at 6:04 AM on August 8, 2007

You're timing is perfect!! Since she's been away, you can restart your relationship the way that you want it to be. So... when you see her next give her a big hug and tell her how much you missed seeing her. Go to dinner and get some drinks and let her tell you all about HER summer. Flirt - but keep it comfortable. She'll notice a difference and will probably be totally flattered. AND, if she has never thought of you in a romantic way, she'll probably start considering it. Be confident, friendly, and a little bit smitten. She'll get the idea.
posted by jrichards at 7:01 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had two bf who were friends first. Here's how they let me know they were interested:

In college, very good friend and I would hang out together late at night. After a year, one night he walked me back to my room. As we stood in the doorway saying goodnight, he close your eyes (I did, thinking there was an eyelash or something) and then he kissed me. We said good night and the next day we talked and decided to become a couple.

When I was traveling a lot for business, I worked closely with a colleague. Gradually he became extremely solicitious, carrying my bag, opening doors for me, inviting me to dinner (this laid serious groundwork). He offered to let me leave my luggage, etc. at his house, which I did. Often I would stay over. One day he offered me his bed, (usually I slept on the couch) and I told him there was no need. End of story.
posted by zia at 7:03 AM on August 8, 2007

Go out with her, make sure you're somewhere fairly quiet, then kiss her. Declarations/confessions/heart-pourings/emotion-vomits are not the best things to get romance started because they can be awkward and put everyone in a rational frame of mind.

If you absolutely cannot conceive of attempting a kiss, the advice from Brandon Blatcher and Salamandrous is good.
posted by pollystark at 7:23 AM on August 8, 2007

Do what you normally do, but slip in the following:I think she'll get the hint, but here's a fun way to experiment with more physical closeness: for movie night at your house, crank the air conditioner up too high. Have a blanket nearby. Start by putting over your laps/feet. Use it to get closer physically and see how she responds. Even if you only end up holding hands, it'll still give you the answer you're looking for.
posted by cior at 7:24 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah and also someone just asked something like this last week. Right here:

Oh yeah and there's a couple more here from last week or was it the week before:
posted by poppo at 7:41 AM on August 8, 2007

zia's first story is very sweet, but the surprise kiss will really make things awkward if she's not into you. I recommend against it. If you are sure she would like to kiss you, you don't need the surprise tactics.
posted by yohko at 7:47 AM on August 8, 2007

Personally I'm just as opposed to the "just kiss her" as I am the big confession. Both are a little unfair in that you've had time to roll the idea around in your head of your relationship in a different context and both actions drop the change in perspective on her quickly.

As jrichards says, you've been away for a while and that makes for some perfect chances. When you see her or call her you can simply say "I missed you more than I thought I would. Are you free for dinner tonight?" If she asks if you mean a date just say "Yes, I think I'd like that."

There's nothing necessarily wrong with upping the flirting but your imbalance here in how you think of your relationship and how she think of it should get into closer agreement, toot sweet. Hinting around for even longer as you flirt just lets that disparity continue.
posted by phearlez at 7:53 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's a bad idea to "confess" something like this until you're certain you'll get the right answer.
posted by koeselitz at 8:28 AM on August 8, 2007

One thing I've learned in life is this, if it's anything like a romantic comedy, STAY FAR AWAY!

Movies need drama and cringe-worthy moments. I do not.
posted by advicepig at 8:32 AM on August 8, 2007

The two times I've made such "confessions" the results have been hilariously unexpected, and totally worthwhile. One recipient I'm dating now; the other has become a good friend. Sometimes you just have to put it out there. Life's too short for games.
posted by footnote at 8:54 AM on August 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think subtly is the way to go. Little things to demonstrate you want more I think works well. Doing more "date" like things, i.e. taking her to dinner and you paying (I'm not saying you have to always pay in a relationship, but in this case it demonstrates you consider her a date and not a friend and there is still plausible deniability if all goes wrong), complimenting her a lot, arranging lots of one on one activities rather than group ones, small token gifts to show you are thinking of her (like showing up with her favorite ice cream or something).

The gifts and paying are a little cliche I know, but I think it's is a clear way to convey your feelings to her and for her to let you know back if she is interested. Of course some girls will take gifts and free meals even from guys they have zero interest in, but let's assume she's nice and won't let you break the bank before letting you know either way.
posted by whoaali at 9:07 AM on August 8, 2007

[ ] YES [ ] NO [ ] MAYBE
posted by Stynxno at 9:28 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm agreed with the later posters-- surprise kisses and confessions are absolutely not the way to go. Even if I liked someone, I'd probably knee him in the nether-regions if he tried to lay one on me all of a sudden.

I've been asked out by guy friends a few times, and I usually knew what was coming (increased attention, non-accidental run ins, seeking me out at parties, etc.), and all he had to say was "do you want to go on a date sometime?" and that was that. I've accepted every time it happened, I think, and because it wasn't a big deal (he didn't confess undying love or anything stupid), we could segue back into friends mode pretty easily if things didn't work out. If you confess major emotions, then it's hard for her to see a date as a low-key, let's see what happens, kind of thing.
posted by parkerjackson at 9:31 AM on August 8, 2007

This question basically boils down to:
1) You like someone
2) Your not sure if they like you
3) How do you find out while saving face?

While you could make some dramatic speech, this is unlikely to end in the outcome you want. As others have noted, speeches put people on the spot and make things really awkward.

You'll have much better luck if you just start flirting with her, and see if she responds. This allows you to gradually ramp up the level intimacy and offers many opportunities to abort if it seems that she's not on the same page, while preserving your friendship.

If your not sure how you would actually go about doing this, I'd recommend reading the SIRC Guide to Flirting. Actually, I think everyone should read it--It's really fascinating. What it does is explain the process of flirting in a high degree of detail, more than most of us have ever thought about.

Good luck!
posted by dyslexictraveler at 9:55 AM on August 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

It all depends on how much of a risk you want to take. Do you want to lay it all out there and risk a bare refusal? Or do you prefer to up the ante little by little and see if she meets you halfway?

If the former, you might try sending her flowers with a note about how you feel about her. This will give her time to think about how she wants to handle it.
posted by orange swan at 10:00 AM on August 8, 2007

As a female, I heartily agree with drjimmy11. Ask her on a concrete date, to a nice restaurant that can't be mistaken for lunch in the school's cafeteria. Dress nicely and act as if it's a date unless she indicates otherwise, at which point you can say "Oh, I just wanted to catch up about our summers without all the distraction of campus."

If she's OK with the date-like setting, in lieu of a big confession at the end of the night, say "I really enjoyed tonight. I missed you over the summer and I'd like to spend more time with you." Then look right in her eyes. If she likes you, she'll get chills down her spine. Remember that even if she does like you just as much, she may still initially shy away. It's some people's default reaction, and she may not have considered you in that light before. If she doesn't proclaim her undying affection, wait a week, and ask her out again. If she turns you down, be cool, and scale back to having lunch in the cafeteria or whatever you were doing before. Never mention it again if you want to be friends.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 AM on August 8, 2007

A lot of people here are suggesting subtlety. If it were me, I'd prefer a straightforward: 'I'd like to take you out on a real date.'

So is she the subtle type or the blunt type? Since you are good friends, you should know the answer to that. That should eliminate a good chunk of the answers, and you can go from there.
posted by happyturtle at 11:27 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Christ. First, look through the AskMe archives. This question has only come up, like, a million goddamned times. The mods should quit letting them through.

Second, "I like you, and would like to date you. Would you like to go on a date?" Bonus points if you have a date already quasi thought through.
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 PM on August 8, 2007

Jesus God do not do the surprise kiss. Ever. Ever.

It's too awkward for everybody concerned if she doesn't want you to. You're going to be sitting there really blatantly rejected, and she's going to feel like kind of a dick for rejecting you.

Go with the flirting. This lets you both exit the situation gracefully if that's required. Or, just ask her the hell out, with the addition noted above "If you need time for an answer, that's cool, if you want to say no, that's cool too" (or whatever the exact words were).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2007

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