Dear Captain Awkward,
I’m in love with my best friend. That sounds like a really lackluster problem, but it’s really starting to weigh on me in a way it never has before. I’ve tried to talk to some other friends about it, but they don’t really seem to count as outside opinions (our friends are basically gunning for us to get married). I would really appreciate an unbiased viewpoint!
My best friend is wonderful in every way. We’ve been inseparable since high school. Everything we do together just seems so special and memorable, like a movie. We can keep up with each other and encourage each other. We adventure together. We can talk to each other in a comfortable stream-of-consciousness and work out our problems together. We grew up together. It’s been five years and my heart still jumps up into my chest every time he walks through the door.
I’m so in love with him, but I’m starting to wonder if anything will ever change between us. If we ever started to date, physical intimacy would be the only new development; we’ve already covered most of the bases for beginning and sustaining a healthy relationship. I’ve reached a level of intimacy with him that I’ve never found with anyone else. Pursuing a relationship with him seems so strange to me. It’s something I thought about a lot when we were a bit younger, but now it just seems silly. I see us staying friends forever, and I could even picture us being married, but I could never see us in a relationship together. It’s just been too long- it almost seems like we’ve passed the mark. I just don’t see anything to be gained by dating each other.
I’m also constantly unsure of his feelings. He broke up with a serious girlfriend several years ago because he was in love with me, but I was dating someone and wanted to see it through. We spent some time talking about how we wanted things to be different last year, but we never went through with it.
I’m not sure what to do. I want to date other people, but he gets in the way of a lot. I took a year off from dating because I was finding it difficult to build healthy relationships and emotional attachments with other people; it always comes back to him.
I’m so confused and I don’t know what to do.
Dear Tangled Up:
I’m pretty sure you already know what to do.
You have three options here.
1) Maintain the status quo, where you don’t say anything directly to your friend but bore the shit out of your other friends with your endless need to analyze and discuss how you *should* be a couple. (NOT RECOMMENDED).
2) Decide that you don’t actually want to be in a romantic relationship with him. Maybe if it was meant to happen it would have by now. Quietly do the necessary grieving, distracting-of-self, and getting over. Maintain the friendship. (TOTALLY POSSIBLE).
3) Speak up about your feelings to the one person who can do something about them: Your dear, beloved, crushed-on friend. (SERIOUSLY CONSIDER).
I don’t really have an opinion on whether 2) is a better option than 3) or vice-versa. I do have an opinion that you should not skip directly to marriage with someone you “could never see yourself having a relationship” with, and it’s worth exploring the why of that a bit and being honest about your reservations.
I suspect this is partly a question of attraction (what Commander Logic calls “groin feelings” and what makes the kid in The Princess Bride ask if it’s “a kissing book.” ) Do you have groin feelings? Maybe spend a week or so…in your bunk…and think that through.
If you have groin feelings, I am going to suggest that you lead with those. Text or email friend and say “Friend, are you free tonight or tomorrow? Because I’m thinking maybe it’s time to make out with each other a little bit and see if this on-again, off-again crush we have on each other has legs. Would you be up for it?”
Notice I did not say figure out every aspect of how your future relationship will work and whether the whole thing is a good idea. Nor did I suggest that you try to find out how he feels first so you can be sure you won’t be rejected. None of that fucking matters, you don’t have to figure it out this second. Do not construct a FEELINGSBOMB. You’ve got years of friendship to tell you that he’s a good person and you love his company, so figure out if his lips feel good on your lips. Is this a kissing book?
If he says no, laugh and say “Well, I had to ask!” Get ready for a few weeks of fleeting awkwardness followed by laughing about it and being fine. A friendship like the one you describe can definitely survive a little bit of awkward crushing. It survived the times he was into you, right?
We’ve said it here before: Nobody gets to the good parts of love without risking rejection and awkwardness. Rejection and awkwardness aren’t really that big a deal.