Dear Ellie: I’m a male, 27, asking how should I protect my feelings after telling a female “friend” that I like her?
I met her two years ago at a gym we both like, though we live two hours apart. Over time, I felt some romantic feelings for her, but I hesitated to tell her as I didn’t want to risk the friendship.
Our relationship has been full of laughs and flirting. We connect almost daily through social media. We’d also hooked up, though without having sex.
When we see each other in person, we’re comfortable together and we talk about many things, including relationships.
Earlier this year, I became absolutely certain that I like her. So I told her, in person, even though I knew she’d been talking to another guy whom she’d dated briefly a few years ago.
It definitely caught her off guard.
I mentioned the risk of what it’d mean for our friendship, but that I didn’t want to regret not saying it.
After that day, our style of almost daily communication didn’t include talk about “us.”
Yet, when we hung out with our friends, we ended up cuddling and we eventually hooked up.
She told me that she wasn’t sure about what she wanted. She did mention that the other guy had moved on to another relationship.
She said she doesn’t want me to wait around for her but wants to remain friends.
I’m pretty flexible and certainly want her to be honest and open with me.
I know I can’t continue to hook up with her (though I want to), as eventually I’ll get hurt that way.
Since then, my friends have told me to prioritize myself and get on with seeing other people, and if she does come around, to assess where I am.
I know that it can take a while, if ever, for this person to tell me her final feelings.
So, I’m now thinking that I’ll see other women. But that may also upset me, unless I meet someone who makes me feel as she does, or even more so.
How do I not worry about her coming around, if ever?
Have Hope, Or Date?
Your friends’ advice is solid and protective, but ultimately, you will have to decide what you can handle and what you cannot.
Though almost everyone who has been though a similar conundrum — waiting for someone who’s slow to declare equal feelings — tries to be hopeful, you don’t want to diminish yourself in your own eyes or hers.
She already knows you well. You both already share humour, friends, meaningful conversations, and (sometimes) sexual desire.
Leaving the next step completely up to her is not healthy for you. You don’t want to start a relationship that way, it must be mutual.
However, nor would starting to date indiscriminately, as if to prove something to her, improve your chances.
I suggest that you tell her you’ll return to the friendship level you both had enjoyed. No repeated discussions on whether she’s feeling differently. No hook-ups.
If you find someone online who’s interesting, maintain contact to see if you want to meet in person and then have a date.
Don’t rush to tell your “friend,” but answer truthfully if she asks (she will).
I can’t promise that she’ll come around to you. But her wait-and-see response so far isn’t helpful to maintaining your self-confidence and pride, which are personal assets you want to protect.
Feedback regarding the distraught wife whose husband’s rude, disrespectful son, mid-20s, moved his new boyfriend into their home to self-quarantine, paid for nothing, didn’t share household cleaning, lived nocturnally and had noisy midnight feasts (July 10):
Reader: “The wife should seek legal advice immediately.
“First, to discuss her own options, including leaving the marriage. (This became my option in a similar situation.)
She should seek this advice, alone.
“Second, if the husband is on her side and is actually able to stand up to his son, he needs legal advice, which the wife also attends, for options for having these “kids” forced out, including police and a restraining order if the situation should become threatening (which I would actually expect from such “entitled kids”).
“My personal reason for stopping at option one was my wife felt obligated to continue supporting her son. He was quite adept at guilt tripping his mother.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Relationships need to spring from mutual interest and desire, not with one party taking a “wait-and-see” response.
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