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Open Thread: Crushes

I am heading to Texas for the first time ever tomorrow morning, to hang out with my sweetheart’s family & friends. January is a good time to get the hell out of Chicago for a few days, yes? So I won’t be posting regularly for about the next week.

In the meantime, per someone’s request in one of the many recent threads, this is an open thread about crushes and the concept of Limerence. Have you ever had a crush that just felt unshakeable and like it was making you stupid? What cured you?

True story: Over a decade ago I had a longstanding crush on a very close friend. We were one of those inseparable pairs. We worked together, did everything together, people constantly mistook us for a couple. Despite ZERO sexual chemistry, I drank the “What a good couple we would make! We already do everything together!” Kool Aid and decided we should be soul mates. In my defense, it was Washington D.C. in the 1990s. If you’ve ever watched the West Wing, you’ll have an idea of what the dating pool was like: Deeply unsexy workaholics who never stop talking. I know those characters have an avid fannish following, which, okay, cool if that’s your thing, I guess? The whole “I am convinced everything I say is vitally, deeply important and you should listen while I speak in paragraphs” thing really doesn’t wear well on 25-year-olds fresh out of the intern pool. I found one chill, not-ugly dude who had interesting things to say in his paragraphs and seemed interested in my paragraphs to the point of eating lunch with me every day and hanging out with me both days of every weekend (and eventually living 2 doors down in the same building); I was going to hold onto him for dear fucking life.

My strategy for making this shit happen was vast and complex. It included:

  • Dramatic sighs.
  • Dropping hints and badly timed sexual jokes that were not answered in kind or received with anything but patient forbearance or kindly pretending that whatever I had just said hadn’t really just happened.
  • Long meaningful glances….that seriously made him ask one time if I had something wrong with my eyes because I was not blinking sufficiently to lubricate them.
  • Having long, involved discussions with all mutual friends about the depth of my feelings and how this person and I should obviously be together over the course of years, plural. How my friends did not euthanize me and feed me to the animals in the Woodley Park Zoo, I will never know.
  • Getting interested in things I had no actual interest in for the sake of spending EVEN MORE TIME together. Like, going to mass with him every week. In Spanish. A faith that I had long ago abandoned and language I do not understand or speak.
  • Trying to turn our hangouts into stealth dates by taking him to dimly lit romantic places, where you recline on cushions and eat while watching belly dancers and then watching him like a hawk to see if he had reactions to the sexy belly dancers that might possibly be transferred to me. NOT AWKWARD AT ALL.
  • Totally ignoring the prospect or possibility that anyone existed, because this was obviously the person I was meant to be with and I was going to prove that I was the most loyal and patient person in the world and will this into being!

One day, after years, plural, I could not handle my feelings in silence (by which I mean painfully obvious “conveying” and hinting and also talking about them at length to everyone but him), so I wrote all of them down in a very long letter on good stationery. Then I recopied the entire thing so the handwriting would be nicer and there would be fewer ellipses.

You’ve read my blog posts, right? Imagine the FEELINGSMAILS I am capable of generating. Comprehensive, funny, heartfelt, sexy, and above all supremely logical cases for why you and I should be together, In My Pants, Love Always, Me.

Instead of sensibly setting this letter on fire, I put it in an envelope, walked to his house, hung out with his roommate for a bit, excused myself to go to the bathroom, snuck into his bedroom, and left the note on his pillow.

:SHAME:

Because nothing says “We should be together!” like “I snuck into the place where you sleep and left you a surprise you didn’t want!

It gets better, you guys. Because we worked together. (We were friends first). I left the letter on a Sunday. So on Monday, I would go to work and see him, right? And he would have read the letter? And he would Finally Know the Depth of My Feelings. And hopefully he would return those feelings, or, at the very least, accede to one experimental banging to see if those feelings were real and a good idea (I had presented this as a logical possibility in the letter, because, did I mention the part where we had zero sexual chemistry or flirting? I wanted to make sure that that would be present if we were going to really take this to the Next Level!) So I’d be guaranteed to run into him and at least be put out of my misery.

I checked my email. Nothing.

I checked it again. Nothing.

I checked it every minute for approximately 180 minutes. Still nothing.

As lunchtime approached, I waited for my extension to light up with the daily “Lunch?” phone call. Nothing.

The day passed. Nothing.

Towards the end of the day, I began to get extremely anxious. And also, a little angry. You guys, I’d poured my heart out. He couldn’t even acknowledge it when his best friend in the world poured their heart out? He couldn’t even acknowledge receipt of the letter? God, what was his deal? How could he be such a jerk as to not even answer me? Was I not owed a response?

Finally, I could not take it anymore, so I called him on his work extension and breezily asked him a fake work question. We worked in totally different departments and had zero overlapping duties or projects. But you guys, I had been going to la iglesia every domingo for muchos años, and I could fake interest in a thing. So I asked him the work question, which, after a very long pause, he dutifully answered, and then I said “Did you get my note?” and he said “

…yeah

And I said “Sorry if I freaked you out” and he said “It was…unexpected” and then he apologized and said that he did not feel the same way but hoped we could continue as friends and I said “Of course, thanks for telling me” and then we never spoke of it again.

We eventually did resume a pretty good friendship because we were actually good friends who cared about each other. But if he had avoided me for the rest of time, I could not blame him.

And that’s why I think using your words sooner rather than later, before you get too invested in someone and the fantasy of how it could be is a good idea. Years, plural of longing and angst could have been averted with one five minute conversation about “Hey, you seem to want to spend all your free time with me. Is that because you want to date me? Because if so, let’s try that. No? Okay then.” It is also how I began to learn that you can not persuade someone into loving you back using logic, though I would need several lessons before that really sunk in. This is also where I wish I had learned the whole “no answer IS pretty much THE answer” thing.

Give us your awkward stories, people. I know I’m not alone in being a reformed Nice Girl(TM) with acute One-itis and a love of stalking and fine stationery.

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About JenniferP

Chicago filmmaker, teacher, and blogger.

559 comments on “Open Thread: Crushes

  1. A new building at my college had awesome new classrooms. The windows had automatic blackout blinds. They had giant screens. They had great sound systems. The projection screens were huge and brand-new. Most importantly, they were set up so the lecturer could wander around the middle of the room while the students sat in tiers…. so there was a big empty space and a kind of early stadium seating.

    The lounge outside had couches.

    So we would get our movies and sneak into the room at midnight and drag in a couch, more than once a week. It was great. Eventually there were multiple couches and little social cliques about who got an armrest and who sat in back. College students can be a little weird, yo.

    Well, this one guy, whooo-eeee. I liked him. He liked this other girl, who really liked this guy she’d been dating but they broke up when he graduated. None of us used our words; instead, we would end up in a little row on the front couch pretty much every single time.

    And my hand would kind of encroach on the guy’s space. At first he sort of shied away. Then I would kind of have my arm all around him, from beneath, and he would sort of lean into me, but the couch was crowded so it was full of Plausible Deniability!

    It took months. I had hours of conversations with friends about What It All Meant.

    Eventually, we did get together and then broke up; the girl he was crushing on married her ex; and I don’t even know how many people hooked up because of snuggling on the back couch at the midnight movies.

    • One time a roommate and I invited everyone we wanted to fix up to a party, dimmed the lights, spiked the punch with a liberal hand, and put on nothing but Portishead, Everything but the Girl, Morcheeba, and other 90s makeout music. So many Couches of Plausible Deniability going on! You don’t even know!

      • Now replace the music with Miller’s Crossing and Usual Suspects!

        ….I have such a soft spot for Gabriel Byrne.

      • I just want to say this sounds like the Best. Party. Ever. You could run Broadway for a year on all the drama from this party!

      • Forget Broadway, this could make a great movie! Relationship drama all over the place! With constant flashbacks to That One Night, which would explain pretty much nothing (plausible deniability!). I think it would a cringefully, delightfully entertaining movie.

    • The Couch of Plausible Deniability! We have all been there, snuggled up under the blanket of Nothing Happening Here.

      • Couch of Plausible Deniability + many rum and cokes + Blanket of Nothing Happening Here is how I ended up no longer being friends with my HS best friend who I had been in love with for years previously! It’s funny in retrospect, it was… far, far less than funny for a long time.

      • I had a magnificent Couch of Plausible Deniability in my living room as a teen. And it was a pull-out, so it metamorphosed Transformer-style into the Bed of Implausible Deniability, which some time later became the Bed of Making Out With New Boyfriend Three Feet From His Snoring BFF. Good times, good times.

      • I ended up making out with the friend of a guy I had intended to make out with on a Couch of Plausible Deniability, as a result of an unfortunate booze/pot combo. They were both sitting on either side of me and as I ‘encroached’ on the one guy’s leg space my brain was screaming “WRONG HAND, DUMMY! OTHER SIDE, OTHER SIDE!!!”

    • OMGosh! Couch of Plausible Deniability! That is SO A THING. The friend I was majorly crushing my senior year of High School and I have SO MANY weekends of that. He sort of touched my hand! He leaned his head on my shoulder! We’re sharing the same blanket! WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?*

      *What it meant was that he had no internet in dating me, but every internet in hooking up with ALL OF MY FRIENDS. Seriously, like, at least SIX of my closet girl friends in the course of half a year. Terrible.**

      **Although not as terrible as a few years later in college, when I ended up hanging out with said guy who I hadn’t really talked to in years. Stupidly, drunk never have I ever was played and he used “Never have I ever made out with EG.” And then PROCEEDED TO ASK ME IF HE NEEDED TO DRINK OR NOT, BECAUSE HE COULDN’T REMEMBER IF WE’D EVER MADE OUT. Uhhhhh! At least REMEMBER that you thought you were too cool to make out with me!

      • Omgomgomg, this reminds me of a high school crush who dated my BFF and then me, who was sweet and smart and beautiful and poetic and dramatic. I hung out with him over Christmas break in oh geez, maybe sophomore year? Junior? He was all mopey about how he felt like he missed out or something, how all his old friends had moved away, etc. And while his wife was out and his toddler played on the floor, he laid his head in my lap (!), sighed dramatically, and said “whatever happened to us?”

        Stunned, and in a new relationship with the person who is still my partner, all I could think of was to tell the truth: “uhhhh we dated for like two months in high school and then you dumped me because I wasn’t ready to have sex with you.”

        Oyyyyy I felt so bad for him but yiiiiiiikes.

        • That is SO second-hand embarrassing that it’s caused me to overcome Internet Forum Shyness for the sole purpose of squawking about it. Swoony sigh? APROPOS-OF-NOTHING LAP HEAD?! Dear lord.

          • Hamlet started that head in lap thing. And it was just as misguided then.

          • secretrebel, I think a good rule of thumb for anything is to think, “What would Hamlet do?” and then not do that thing.

            Boy had issues.

        • Where I’m coming from, that deserves a high five, honestly.

        • I’m with staranise. You have nothing to feel sorry for.

          • Thanks. It was so weird and unexpected, and the reality of what our “relationship” had been years and years previously was so…..like, different from the kind of thing that would generate this nostalgia. He turned out ok, though, and seems really happy now with his life and his kids and his job and everything.

      • That would be the perfect moment to huff and say “as IF!” all superior-like. :)

    • Oh, so many Couches of Plausible Deniability in my past! I both laughed and cringed with recognition.

    • hahahahaha oh my god, my high school years were basically just one big Couch of Plausible Deniability……

    • At first, I thought this comment was about your undying one-sided crush on your college campus.

      • I try not to tell people about that. It’s still kind of embarrassing.

        We…. don’t see each other much anymore. But sometimes I wave when we see each other. Last time we had coffee together it was sooooooo awkward. It was like I’d really grown up, gotten on with my life, and campus…. hadn’t.

        I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it, though.

        • Heh. The analogy is apt. After four fantastic years, my college campus dumped me for what felt like no reason, although actually it was because I had a lot of growing up to do [and I graduated]. Then for like a year afterwards I would still make the 3-hour drive up to hang out for the weekend at least once a month. SUPER awkward and one sided, because I was all “Isn’t this fun? It’s just like old times!” the whole time, and College was like “No. Get out of my dining hall.” >__>;;

          Now, though, after I broke up with my IRL Emotional Black Hole girlfriend, rebuilt my life, and did some serious world travel/volunteering, we’re giving it another go – this time with proper Boundaries, plus me reveling in the agency that comes with a full-time job, an apartment, and no homework. Our arrangement is temporary, but I’ve just asked [applied] if we could make it permanent. Things will never be the same as they were… but I’m glad of that, now, and I think they’ll be even better.

    • Oh, man. Living in the south where it is unbearably hot every summer, my Couches of Plausible Deniability come with cousins: Pool Rafts of Plausible Deniability. Put one over the other or flip one over yourselves as you float in the deep end and you’ve got yourself a chloriney, wet hideaway of Plausible Deniability. There were entire pool parties of Nothing Happened Here, Don’t Ask Questions.

    • Oh God. Couch of Plausible Deniability is now one of my favorite Awkward Army phrases.

      A story and a question for the Awkward Army…

      Once upon a time on my working gap year after high school I did Argentine tango as basically my only form of social interaction while dating my high school boyfriend across the country. Tango dancers (and blues dancers) have the Sexy Dances of Plausible Deniability. You always dance close embrace with this person. You touch one another’s skin and hair in overly provocative and unnecessary ways while dancing. You look deeply into their eyes before the start of each song. But its just because you have such amazing dance chemistry, right? :rolls eyes:

      I had this crush on this one guy that started because we had amazing dance chemistry and ended with me cheating on my boyfriend. The worst part was that even after I admitted it to my boyfriend and temporarily salvaged that relationship I kept dancing with my crush while boyfriend and I went through months of back and forth. Ugh. This is why boundaries and “being willing to break your own heart” as Dear Sugar would put it are important to me now.

      My question is: Are there any people out there who find they have particularly chaotic attachments to one sex/gender over the other?

      I like boys, but in a way that is unpleasant. It hurts. I want the to like me back so badly, I want them to take perfect care of me, I want to have the perfect relationship with them. But I feel restless and like I’m not sure I can do it. I don’t like dating them, flirting, or find sex in and of itself particularly satisfying. I get off on the intense connection with the other person. When I’m in relationships I’m constantly running and trying to perfect them/myself/our relationship. Other times I write dramatic letters to people I’ve had one ambiguous hookup with about how they’re so beautiful but I’m just not sure I could ever commit to them but want to so badly. Lots of times when its over I wonder if I would have been happier being friends with the person. Even more so I wonder whether I wanted to be them more than have sex with them.

      Girls on the other hand are simple. I like girls. I like flirting, negotiating boundaries and consent, sexy times, cuddling, making eyes, even getting rejected in a sense.

      I’ve tried for years to like boys healthily, but I’ve sworn off them because it always ends with me being a quivering heap of neuroses and feelings. I wonder sometimes whether the attachment stuff causes the lesbianism or the lesbianism causes the attachment stuff.

      • wow, I wonder if you just got a really heavy dose of The Way Relationships Should Be and just happen to have this outlet of “oh hey, I can have totally reasonable relationships with women” in your brain.

        Whatever. Are you happy dating women and not dating men?

        • SO HAPPY

          • Yay! Do that, then. It sounds like you’re really self-aware, you’ve recognized this harmful pattern, and you’re happy with where you’re at. Maybe it’s something to look deeper into, or maybe it’s just how you’re wired. I’m not sure there’s a lot of reason to figure this out, unless you feel like maybe you’re missing out on some good friendships with men?

      • Oh, gods. The Blues Dances of Plausible Deniability. I did this. I did this for my entire winter break my junior year of college, because there was Boy From My Old High School who invited me dancing, and there was so much touching + really great conversations = thinking he maybe really liked me? Maybe really? And then going to a party he invited me to, and him barely speaking to me (even though he was basically the only person I knew), and me doing an Irish Goodbye, and driving home shouting the more creative curses in my repertoire.

        • Oh dear god, the greatest romantic clusterfuck of my life started with Blues Dances of Plausible Deniability. I’m still picking up the pieces, but blues dancing is still the best xD

        • Aw man, blues dancing and the memories that brings back…

          My first and primary dancing partner was gay. And hot and funny, but gay, so it was “safe.” (I get nervous as hell doing anything remotely sexy with/at straight guys.) But I remember one night at swing, this guy I had a crush on, who was cute and funny and smart, grabbed me up for a blues dance and…mostly I just stumbled all over myself.

          Yeah, I never got to have many Dances of Implausible Deniability. I had a MASSIVE crush on the guy who ran our club, who was dating someone awesome (like the cry-yourself-to-sleep-at-night kinda crush. And the be-selfishly-happy-when-his-gf-can’t-make-the-lesson-because-then-you-walk-back-to-your-dorms-together-and-talk-about-nerdy-stuff kinda crush. But also the I-can’t-even-be-properly-jealous-because-his-girlfriend-is-just-so-NICE-and-cool-and-they’re-so-CUTE kind). I avoided dancing with him at all costs because as soon as my hand was in his, my brain would shut off and I’d just trip and fumble like a fool. Only time I managed it was at the Halloween Dance, when he had a mask on.

      • Hello I have done this! I did it for years! Girls were fiiiiiiiiiine, boys were a horrible huge mess of all the horrible crap I ever internalised about how to have relationships (in a media-prescribed, utterly self-destructive fashion). I eventually managed to start having healthier relationships with the boytypes too, but I so totally hear you.

      • Oh man. I don’t have the experience with girls OR boys, but conceptually I’m there with you. I’m bi, but boys make me so uneasy. My issues are more thinking that all guys are untrustworthy in all ways. Girls are way less stressful to me. I’m glad I’m not the only one with some form of this problem!

      • Hi, GG, I know what you mean, too. Totally … only minus the attraction to women. I mean, I pretty much am only close friends with women, but I’m pretty much only attracted to men. And I suffer from issues similar to yours, so relationships with men are just totally fraught for me in that way. So, from my perspective, I can say that in my case, it goes deep. Like, early-childhood, family-situation, *psychoanalytic* deep. Talking about those things with a professional listener is the answer for me. This is not a prescriptive comment; it’s one of solidarity only, because obviously our sexual orientations are different and you might not need or want to take the step of looking so deeply in the interest of ameliorating those feelings. There might be something to what you say at the end about cause/effect, but it’s for you to say. :) One thing I’ve learned from all this talking-to-a-professional stuff is that there is not a “right” answer about ourselves or a key to our personalities that’s waiting to be found; it’s a process of discovery and investigation into whatever things about ourselves are causing problems or are just topics of interest. If you’re fine without those relationships for now (or forever), then I say good for you.

      • I’m exactly the opposite. For me, girls are super-complicated and I have long, horrible drama-filled crushes and stormy relationships. Guys? Somehow much simpler. (YMMV)

      • “Tango dancers (and blues dancers) have the Sexy Dances of Plausible Deniability. You always dance close embrace with this person. You touch one another’s skin and hair in overly provocative and unnecessary ways while dancing. You look deeply into their eyes before the start of each song. But its just because you have such amazing dance chemistry, right? :rolls eyes:”

        Tee hee.

        *runs away*

      • “Sexy Dances of Plausible Deniability” sums up like the past three years of my life. Thanks ballroom lessons! Thanks totally adorkable instructor!

      • Hi gallantgirl! It sounds to me like the attachment stuff around men is a lot of you feeling pantsfeelings but fighting with yourself about not feeling the less-directly pants-related feelings that you feel easily with women, like trust and being understood and cared for and able to be yourself. I can relate from a different angle: I don’t particularly like boys qua liking boys, but I enjoy the sex that is possible with a male partner (and also sex with female partners, very much, but that is not the point of this paragraph) and so I have this theory that the right male fuckbuddy would be fun and satisfying, and the one time it lined up for me that was definitely the case. After that ran its course, though, I came to feel fully settled with “lesbian” rather than “bi” because while on some level for me bodies are bodies in all their variety and fun to explore, I don’t fall in love with men and if I’m just moving about my day seeing people, men don’t sparkle for me. I sometimes think that if really, truly NSA sex with men were possible for me, I would be more sexually fulfilled, but even the thought of setting up my life to allow for that is exhausting. I have enough on my plate.

      • OMG, are you me? Me in a few years maybe, with a time machine to write this back in time? No?

        I go to art university in a tiny place where it’s only school people to hang out with if I don’t take the train for like 8 hours. Anyway, I started the time here making out with this girl I had nothing at all in common with but great chemistry. We ended up having some awesome sex for a few months, could actually talk about bounderies and what we wanted and it was something that I’ve never had before. The deal from the beginning was not to fall in love because we were to different and we both didn’t do relationships well. But before the end we both admitted to romantic feelings. She ended it and started dateing a friend of hers and it was fine. But after that I know being with someone can actually be good.

        Usually with guys there is other expectations. Both from me, them and from everybody else. Trust is harder and talking is harder. I don’t know why but comunication just works better with women for me for some reason. Right now I’m in the middle of a messy mess where I should have just been friends with this guy I really like but that’s not how it went. Way to soon after he and his girlfriend(who lives far away) broke up, we made out. I said it was stupid and we should be friends because we were starting to be so good friends. He thought I was patronizing deciding what he needed or not and if we both wanted it there should be no problem. So before christmas every night I was in he’s apartment or he in mine, sometimes just sleeping, sometimes not. And during the hollidays we texted all the time and when we were back it was the same and he talked about how he wanted to get vegan brakefast for me if I’d be staying there so much. Then a day later he pulled me away during class to tell me I was right about it being too soon for him and he needed to get over his girlfriend and we should be friends. It would have been soo much easier if we had talked about how we really felt the whole time. I want to be friends but it’s not super easy right now. I also just want him to get over the girl already and start dateing me. I don’t think he will though. And if he did that would just mean me getting restless and not want to do it anymore anyway.

        Also the blues dance of plauseble deniability!!! I had a huge crush on a dance teacher once and we had of so many of those dances. She wasn’t in love but we had a short thing anyway and then she found another girl to dance with and I miss the danceing more than the sex.

        I wish that in the future I’ll be where you are now. Not a quivering heap like now.

    • Couch of Plausible Deniability! Blanket of Nothing Happened Here!
      ::instant recognition::

      The former was in my HS bf’s living-room – a HUGE 70′s sectional affair that wrapped around 2 walls. At *least* 16-20 people plausibly fit on it – it was, like, 40sq ft of deniability! The latter was a ginormous California-King sized crocheted afghan in browns and oranges (70′s thing again…) that lived in one corner. That blanket could cover Nothing Happening over 10ppl at a time.

      It is no wonder that my bfs house was the Destination of Choice for all post-!Event sleepovers and weekends too crappy to hang outside. CONVENIENTLY, *everyone’s* ‘rents tended to approve of this – all the kids in one safe place, easy to transport to and from, known address and phone #, respectable Grown Ups, & etc.

      Then there was bf’s cute brother’s Backrubs Of Just Friendship. YOWZA!

    • I have to de-lurk to say that my husband and I started our relationship on a Couch of Plausible Deniability!
      We had one instance of “nothing happened here”, but the next time we had to have The FeelingsTalk afterwards.
      Couches of Plausible Deniability can have relationship happy endings – but I would guess that’s not true the majority of the time.

      • Most of the time, there are at least other sorts of happy endings ::sad trombone::

        I do totally back you up on this. I was with a guy for several years after many more years being just one long Couch of Plausible Deniability that occasionally took detours into the Bed of Implausible Deniability (we’re on a bed! Watching a movie! He’s practically lying on top of me he’s so close! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!?!?!). We eventually transitioned to the Futon of Yes We Made Out All Night Long While You Were Sleeping, Twin Brother (it had been going on so long at that point that Twin Brother stumbled out of bed that morning and groaned, “Oh thank God. Finally. Please tell me you made out.”) That led to a very nice if frustrating relationship.

      • My partner and I have been together about 16 years now, following an entire year of Couches and Beds of Plausible Deniability, him friend breaking-up with me, a makeout with someone not me that I totally tried not to freak out about because We Weren’t Dating, my “back-home” boyfriend dumping me, and us finally getting together. I do not recommend this way of doing things! But it worked out for us, and we learned to Use Our Words, and everything pretty much turned out ok. But don’t do it.

    • Y’all have no idea how relieved I am to hear that other people have had the Couch of Plausible Deniability. This absolutely defined my freshman and sophomore years of college with my best guy friend, who liked to hold me on the couch during movies and kiss my forehead and take me on long walks around campus at night and who I was just totally smitten with. But neither of us used our words, he decided he needed to date someone who was supposedly obsessed with him and suicidal (?), I sent an angry FEELINGSLETTER, and we never spoke again. I can actually laugh about it now, thank goodness.

      • Isn’t it comforting to know how universal it is? And to have words with which to describe our experiences. Darth Vader, Couch of Plausible Deniability FEELINGSCOMMUNICATION… such lovely terms. :) Although I personally refer to Darth Vaders as “sleeper assholes” — y’know, those people who seem so charming and charismatic until the evilness of their inner selves are revealed by some unknown trigger. “There are three flowers in a vase…”

    • Y’know, it took me a few days after first reading this thread to realize it, but I’ve totally been on the Couch of Plausible Deniability. There was this guy I met last year, and I was totally into him but didn’t want to admit it to myself. We used to get together once a week and watch movies I hadn’t seen and he insisted I should at his apartment, only we’d watch two in a row and then stay up talking for hours, and then it would be “too late” for me to drive home (even though I probably would have made it home just fine), so I’d end up crashing on his futon and then getting to hang out even more with him in the morning. Yyyyyyep, nothing happening there. Nothing whatsoever. XD

      A bunch of messy FEELINGS-stuff later there was also “platonic” cuddling. Yep. Uh-huh. Clearly platonic, especially the parts where it became horizontal cuddling. Ended up cutting that off after I realized how bad it was messing with me.

      There’s a lot more to this story, but I’m still cleaning up the mess in my head, so I’m not going to get too far into it. Didn’t realize how awkward-not-in-a-good-way the whole thing was until I typed it up like this, though. Whoo. Though at least there was no FEELINGSMAIL.

    • Couch of Plausible Deniability is literally the most accurate way of explaining my life at present. Except it’s more like Couch of Plausible Deniability, Chair of Plausible Deniability, Car of Plausible Deniability …

      I suppose that’s what I get for flirting with a guy in love with a married woman, but alas. Thank you for the perfect phrase to explain every awkward romantic situation I’ve ever been in! Stupid vague touching.

  2. Alright, I got a rather awkward on to share. I was in Highschool (cause almost everyone has a awkward story if they care to remember) and I finally got into one of the school performances. I won’t go into terrible details of the school, all thats important was I was the antagonist, and she was the protagonist. During the corse of months of working with eachother on this awesome play, I started to fall for her. Now, being the budding professional actor I was, I brought my feelings to my director right away. He said it was bloody obvious to everyone that I had feelings for her, but she seems unaware, and he would like me to postpone any discussion with her about these feelings until after the performance

    After the final performance, I asked her to come have a chat with me in a secluded part of the school, where we had done several of our rehersals and poured my heart out to her!

    It was then that she told me she had recently started seeing someone.

    It happened to be the director, who was a student too. Then I got to go to the after-party with them and the rest of the 6 man cast. THAT was awkward.

    I maintained my composure, somehow, and the next day when I went to the city’s football tryouts, got to smack some heads in. Was a very good way to vent the incredible amount of pent-up frustration at the man I had trusted. I don’t hold anything against the fellow now, as nearly a decade has passed as well, and I am currently engaged to the most wonderful of women, but at the time, I sure wanted to hit him, not going to lie. I didn’t though.

    That’s a interesting story from me to you Awkwardeers

    • Thanks for sharing!

      Actually, the director handled it exactly right – that’s what I would do/have done when one of my actors confesses feeling for another and I don’t want it to potentially derail the show. But he definitely was not an unbiased source for you at the time, and I cringe in sympathy.

      • I think the director shouldn’t have started to date someone in the cast during the show (no matter how common that is in theater) especially after using his position to push off competition.

        • Sorry, yes, you are correct about that! I meant “Please hold off until after the show to express any romantic interest” is standard director practice. Even if the leads hit it off really well, something about actually getting together can kill their chemistry on stage or screen, since what’s sexy or interesting to watch is about unfamiliarity, risk, awkwardness. Also, you don’t want your cast potentially creeping each other out.

          Using a position of power to chase someone away so you can get the girl yourself: NOT COOL. May the record show.

          • Yeah, I know he did right, sofar as to say wait, and I think I did my jib by bringing it to his attention. Then it ends with that lol. Even if she wasn’t into me at all, which might be true – I don’t know, that was for her to do I would think. Either way, it was awkward. He came down to where I talked with her and had a chat with me too. I don’t remember as much about that as I did the events leading up it it.

          • Job** tapping on a new tablet x.x

          • Oh dear, yes. There was an out-loud rule when I was in undergrad that you couldn’t date anyone in your own cast. It didn’t work, of course, but at least then the director had a legit reason to be pissed if assholery took place. I stuck to it pretty well, but it was amazing how people were under the impression that they were hiding covert relationships well. If you’re dry humping in the dressing room, that’s not hiding it.

  3. Oh my. My feelsdump was pages and pages of subpar poetry-turned out she already had a crush on me, which was nipped in the bud quite smoothly in this manner.

    In my opinion, if you cut out the entitlement, delusional romanticism and shitty self-image, then there’s very little wrong with first getting to know a person better through friendship rather than asking someone out at first feel: heaven knows I would have nuked some swell friendships before they could start if I had acted on badly informed initial impressions of said brodettes.

  4. Omg one time I had this crush (because I always have a freakin crush) on this guy, obviously. Anyway, we were ”friends” (more like I was the girl he talked to when he was bored) and we had mutiples classes together and I felt like he really liked me. Like really. So the brave girl that I am, decided to follow him around and find out if he was single. First step. When the case was cleared, I decided to jump in. Or not, to put all my effort into looking pretty enough so that he would SEE me. Yeah he did not. I thought he did.
    All those Twilight movies made me think of our secret love affair and how perfect we could be together. How he was the one for me. Even though my best friend told me she liked him. Even if everyone told me he liked her back. I was so sure. That it was a lie, even though I wasn’t. So one day, we were alone in the classroom (people left early cuz it’s the weekend, and why are you still at school?) and he asked me about my grammar exam. I thought I should do the same. But instead I said ” I think I like you too much” ………………….
    Too much? What the?
    Then everything was just. Yeah there’s nothing more to say. He ended up dating my best friend. Good for them really. That’s just great. I love my life so much sometimes. SO much.

    • Oh goodness, this is so how I handled crushes in high school. The super-secret ohsointense, harboured over the long-term kind of crush, where I would try so hard to hide how I felt that I think I probably sometimes seemed like I really disliked my crushes (oops)… But really I was trying to somehow telepathically communicate or something?

      • Oof, me too. I still struggle with this, actually. I feel like my feelings are SO INTENSE that everyone can tell and I’m always in danger of coming on too strong, so I keep things so in check that the opposite ends up happening–or I end up giving a bunch of mixed signals, because I’ll try to relax and be flirty but then think, OMG TOO MUCH, MUST RETREAT and yeah, I’ve really gotta work on that.

        • “I like you so much that I’m going to make you think I hate you to hide my overwhelming embarrassment about liking anyone” is exactly the story of all of my high school crushes. I was a snooty B to boys I liked, and the less they deserved it (because they were kind, fun friends) the more I acted like one.

          • Ouch. Been there, done that!

          • I used to read romances by a writer whose heroes behaved like that in every book. I caught on after maybe half a dozen of her books. I was in high school. So that was a good learning experience for me, but to this day I wonder why those oh-so-smart men couldn’t figure it out, if I could. Maybe because they didn’t read romances when they were teenagers to figure out how not to?

        • Don’t worry you are not alone in this.

      • hahaha ME TOO. A part of me, I think, at the time, enjoyed crushing as relief from boredom and was totally uninterested in actual kissing or negotiating a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. This involved obsessive journaling and a lot of “conveying.” As one might imagine, this did not lead to normal, healthy interactions with other humans. So that’s kind of embarrassing.

      • Me too!!! So much so that my now-boyfriend, who was my best friend and resident Nice Guy in high school (he’s evolved in the intervening decade – I wouldn’t date him back when he was skeevy, though I didn’t have the feminist vocabulary I have now that would allow me to verbalize my discomfort) took my telling him, “Hey, you’re really getting on my nerves and I kind of need you to back the hell off” as a go-ahead to try and make out with me. I certainly did slug him. He was very confused because I had ALWAYS acted like an asshole to the guys I had crushes on, so since I was acting like an asshole, I must have grown a crush overnight. I cannot tell you the amount of wishful thinking that needed to go into that one. He’s apologized many times since for being an entitled douche who didn’t know how to hear what he didn’t want to.

    • I am glad I’m not the only one who used to follow my crushes around when I was in secondary school. Oh man. Past me was deeply deeply uncool

      • I spent much of primary school trying to chase a boy in my class down and kiss him every morning. Not cool, of course! I wish somebody had stopped me. But being ashamed about it has largely been buried with a kind of startled admiration, and wondering just where in the hell wee!me got the chutzpah.

  5. This is as good a space as any to tell my embarrassing FEELINGSLETTER story.
    My first year at college, I had a brief relationship (five or six weeks) with someone I felt head-over-heels for despite not knowing them that well at all. I really used to be the sort of person who instantly got really intense about relationships, in a fairly unhealthy way. This person broke up with me because they weren’t feeling it and were dealing with their own stuff, and I just couldn’t handle it. It was really rough since I still had strong feelings, even though I knew the relationship had progressed faster than it should have. Possibly the worst part was that this person really did want to stay friends, so we continued to hang out often, while I silently pined and hoped we’d get back to making out soon.

    Right before Thanksgiving break, I wrote a huge letter to this person, the contents of which I (thankfully) don’t quite remember now but had the basic theme of “I know you had your reasons for breaking up with me but because I am So Sad about it and still want to be with you, I will accept any extra affection you feel like you can give me.”
    I went to their dorm room and stuck it under the door. I went back downstairs to my room, filled with anticipation and dread. And after a little while, the tiny part of my brain that still had dignity said “WHAT did you do, get it back!!!” and I managed to run back up and fish it out from under the door before it was seen. As awkward as I felt still nursing this crush, I think it would have been a lot worse between us had I left that terrible letter there. Thank you, past self, for doing the right thing.

    The happy ending is that we remained friends, got to know each other better, and a couple of years later, after I left another relationship that turned sour, we sat down to have a “what would it look like if we were to try dating again” conversation. Our relationship passed the ten-year mark in December, so I can now say that as un-sexy as it may sound, the pre-relationship negotiation was a great plan.

    • I am so glad your past self was looking out for your future self!

      • Me too! Honestly, thinking back on how I was at the time, I’m really impressed that the object of my affections was willing to deal with me long enough for a real, non-awkward friendship to develop. I’m pretty sure my continued feelings were very clear for the several months that they lasted (when we were watching tv together every night alone in their dorm room).

    • Oof, yeah, I wrote a very similar thing to my first love after she broke up with me. A big “well, I’m not in love with you any more either (really, I swear!) but I’m still in lust with you, so please give me scraps of physical affection!” rant. Except it was by email, and I couldn’t take it back. We never really got back into the stride of friendship, and are no longer in touch :(

    • Your first paragraph is a literally perfect description of my first six weeks in college, down to the continuing to hang out and wishing we could get back together. Only in my case, I kept doing that for two years before finally breaking the whole thing off, angrily and with many hurtful words.

      Then we stopped speaking to each other for a couple years before taking up a much less intense casual friendship, and now we send each other Christmas cards. So it all works out.

  6. Captain Awkward had a Nice Girl (TM) moment(s)? I feel so much better about my own, now. :) It’s good that we grew out of that, isn’t it?

    • SO GOOD.

      • I, for one, am HUGELY relieved to learn that this is a thing that is not uncommon, and that people can and do grow out of it, because hooooooooo-boy was I lugging around a big bag of shame about some of my crush antics in my early 20′s!!

        Thank you for sharing with us, Captain!

      • Can we have a post sometime comparing and contrasting the Nice Guy (TM) and Nice Girl (TM)? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this and they’re siblings under the skin in a lot of ways.

        • Not sure we need a whole thread. I think the feelings and behaviors are largely the same, because humans are humans. NiceGirls are just as creepy and sad and capable of just as much WTF behavior and whining. But if you look at something like the Nice Guys of OK Cupid Tumblr, you’ll see tons of male privilege and entitlement on display. It’s pretty clear that they see women as objects who OWE men things, like sex, and keeping their legs shaved at all times. The pain, embarrassment, humiliation, longing, bitterness, etc. are pretty much the same. I think the difference is that the wider culture backs men up on the idea that every guy deserves a fantasy starlet for a girlfriend, so Nice Guys become part of that wider toxic narrative in way that women don’t.

          • It’s scary when she adds in some of the questionnaire answers like how they feel about contraception, abortion and rape. SUCH NICE GUYS.

          • They complement each other nicely. NiceGuy-catering Hollywood has its equivalent in bodice rippers’ ugly duckling fantasies with heroes that are rich, rugged and passionate to the point of won’t-take-no-for-an-answer, sometimes with some fixer-upper thrown into the mix if he’s a bit of a bad boy.

            In practice the outcome is pretty much a genderflip of niceguyism: all men only think with their wang, only want a hard-partying supermodel even if they say otherwise, why-won’t-he-notice-my-hints coupled with the notion that guys must take the initiative, pedestalling a relationship while ignoring all hints of lack of chemistry to the contrary, he’ll-love-me-for-who-I-am means no attempts at self-improvement and the fault always lies with the opposite sex.

            The two groups should really just start dating each other and bond over their mutual hatred.

          • Stay Excellent: Oh my god, that description is perfect.

            Though I suspect if Nice Guys and Nice Girls were to start dating, there wouldn’t actually BE any dating since nobody would be willing to take the initiative and ask the other person out. ;)

          • This is a wonderful thing!
            http://niceguysofwesteros.tumblr.com/

        • This is just my experience, but the thing that makes me have more sympathy with Nice Girls than Nice Guys is that I think a lot of Nice Girlism is in response to a specific cultural trope that men are supposed to be the ones who pursue women.

          I feel like I have seen a lot of Nice Girls engage in these totally ridiculous, weird, roundabout assumptive behaviors (building it up in yr head, Wishful Thinking Translator, etc.) because they aren’t recognizing their own agency to actually just act on or communicate their feelings, or because the environment they’re in is totally not supportive of that.

          Which doesn’t excuse the boundary crossing or entitlement that comes with it, but it gives me empathy.

  7. Oh honey. Thank you for sharing. I have a story too. Mine spans 6-7 years of my life. The crush lasted off and on from when I was 19 to when I was 25.

    We were best friends! Even when we were far apart, we could call each other up once a month and catch up like nothing was different (I was usually the one doing the calling, but that didn’t matter because we’d talk!)! I would take my books and stuff to his dorm room to study (he rarely came to mine…sensing a pattern, yet?). Yeah. So I was crushing on this dude who wasn’t even that good of a friend.

    At one point during college, he told me that he was going to go to the mall and find me a boyfriend. So he asked me to describe what I like in a man. I shit you not, I described him. TO HIS FACE.

    I finally, finally, realized how shitty this was when I was living at home between jobs, and went out with him for a night on the town. He started babbling about what he wants in a girl – basically describing someone definitively not me. And something snapped in me and I explained to him that I was 25 years old, had never even been kissed, and here he was, flaunting his dating in my life and for some of us, it’s just not that easy! He tried patiently to explain to me that, “no really, it’s good that you don’t have that experience. Dating isn’t really worth it, You don’t know how it feels. Loneliness is good for you!”

    Crush was O.V.E.R. at that.

    But my story’s not done. NOOOO. I had to send a FEELINGSEMAIL. I wrote down everything about why what he said hurt, including confessing that I’d liked him for a while and he’d ignored me and if he couldn’t acknowledge that, then I didn’t know what to say. He never responded to the FEELINGSEMAIL, not even to acknowledge receipt.

    Epilogue: Literally two weeks after friendship ending fight, I met my first boyfriend and feel in love – real, reciprocal love – for the first time. A little ways into that relationship, Crush called me up out of the blue to hang out. I went, because I had news of a new boyfriend, a new job, and a new city I was moving to. Crush only wanted to talk about himself and ignored all of my good news. If the friendship wasn’t over by then, that killed it.

    • That last call is a good thing. Because if there was even one iota of crush dust left, that one call cleaned it out, confirmed what you already knew and left all the room for the real thing!

  8. I tended to take the exact opposite approach to crushes, in that I would nurse them forever and NEVER SPEAK OF THEM due to my deeply unlovable ness.

    In college, there was this guy, wow, he was cute, and taller than me, these things were important. Of course, I thought, this guy would NEVER like me, but he was always asking for help with his computer or some other thing so we’d hang out. Eventually it got to be a routine where I’d drop by his room later in the evening and we’d chat.

    Now gradually two things happened. 1. A person with daily self pleasuring habits began to go insane from lack of orgasms. 2. He began to send signals of romantic interest. He made me teach him to dance, he would stop by my room at random times and say things to me in spanish, he would take me for ice cream, we’d do that weird thing where we weren’t’ really quite holding hands but flirting with the idea of it. At one point he even dropped by my workplace and wrote “Shinobi is the most beautiful girl in the world” on the white board. In Spanish. (So I had to make someone translate for me.)

    And at the same time he was doing all of this bullshit he was telling me things like “I wish there were any girls I could ever even remotely consider dating at this school.” I eventually realized the translation for this was “I really like you but wish that you were not so fat.”

    How did I escape? He transferred. The day he told me was literally the first day that me or any of my friends acknowledged how I felt about him. When I finished my billion hours of crying, one of my neighbors said something along the lines of “I know you really like him but he’s an asshole.” And she was totally right, thanks awesome floormate who I now only talk to on facebook every few years.

    That was the worst, but that’s pretty much how all of my obsessive crushes have ended. I spend a lot of time pretending not to be interested because I’m pretty sure they are not interested because they have probably told me so or other very good reason XYZ. Then I eventually am heartbroken when it for sure doesn’t work out for some reason or another. The worst ones are the ones that just faded away, but I never will know if it could have actually worked out if I’d said words.

    This particular crush just got married, but several times he has lamented that I now have a long term partner and that he missed his chance.

    • that’s pretty much how all of my obsessive crushes have ended. I spend a lot of time pretending not to be interested because I’m pretty sure they are not interested because they have probably told me so or other very good reason XYZ.

      This is me to a tee, every single freaking time. And I thought the same thing would happen to my last obsessive crush (a coworker), I was silently nursing it for a good year until another one of my coworkers out of the blue suggested that the two of us would make a good couple. That gave me a boost of confidence. The three of us actually ended up going to a party soon after and after copious amounts of drinking me and my crush ended up sleeping together. I tried Using My Words after the fact but it turned into a massive FEELINGSDUMP that sent any progression of a potential relationship to a screeching halt (no matter how hard I tried to ~seduce~ him). So after moping for a week in Cancun, I came back to work having accepted the rejection with grace.

      I actually prefer the fade-away, at least then I can pretend none of it ever happened. :P

    • that’s pretty much how all of my obsessive crushes have ended. I spend a lot of time pretending not to be interested because I’m pretty sure they are not interested because they have probably told me so or other very good reason XYZ.

      That’s me too. I’ve only “used my words” once and it was the single most humiliating moment of my life, post-high school. Nothing like having the person you’ve been crushing on for over a year laughing hysterically at the thought of dating you. I was pushed into speaking by a friend who assumed that it would go well and that I should be more “confident” (this was long before I understood how big a sack of bullshit the “just be confident in yourself!” advice is. It’s magical thinking in the same vein as “just exercise more and eat less!”). My confidence, what little of it I’ve ever had, has never recovered from that experience, and I doubt it ever will.

      So, Captain, I support your intentions, but NOBODY should allow anyone to goad them into “using their words” until they feel ready to do it.

      • Oh god, that sounds horrible. It’s that one moment when you finally think, maybe, and if you do it will work out! And no, instead, FAILURE FOREVER. The one that I remember most was actually a trick played on me in highschool–they got a good-looking, popular guy to ask me out. The moment I said yes, he said, “Well, I don’t want to date you!” and he and his friends collapsed all over themselves, laughing.

        I know that feeling. It’s like the hurt doesn’t change or age or fade. It stays with you, and every time you even think about hoping and opening up, that hurt’s right back like a lash, reminding you of what happens when you dare to hope.

        I am so sorry you went through that. It is excruciating, and it scars the soul.

        If you ever feel up to trying to move past it, drst, these are two things I carried with me (from, really, years of being ostracized and bullied) that I think you might have too. I’ve thought of it as kind of like hammer throw, the field event: you’re lugging this great big weight around, and it’s limiting and useless. But if you learn the right technique and turn just right, you can go really far with it.

        1. I had already lived my worst nightmare. I have about two years in my past where I had no friends. Where I was absolutely convinced that I didn’t get to have friends or people loving me. I spent years after that telling myself that I was unlovable, awful, and would never mean anything.

        After that, I could learn not to be scared of anything less. Will talking to the teller at the bank about a complicated transaction be worse than standing there, crying, while boys threw things at me and no one helped? No, and I survived that. If I try to make friends with this person and they say no, I still have my other friends, so will that rejection be worse than when I tried and got rejected by everyone in my grade? No. And even after that, I still moved on.

        I really had to work to leverage that experience. It took a lot of soul-searching and unpicking things to find that place, because I finally had to reach the conclusion that I had survived, that I did move on. I had to decide that this was “surviving”, and I was going to get better from here.

        2. I had the absolute bloody-minded determination to keep myself safe. Those years alone were because I knew that risking vulnerability and reaching out to other people weren’t safe where I was. It actually takes a LOT of mental energy to keep separate and safe–I was always frantically calculating how I could be alone, but not come off as weird; socialize as little as possible, but not attract negative attention. That actually means a lot of social eptitude–just, well, in all the wrong directions for a happy, healthy life. So when I started to venture out of my shell, I knew that the moment things went wrong my instincts would kick in and I’d save myself. I wasn’t going to spend weeks or months or years surrounded by people who despised me and were plotting my death, because I detected those warning signals early. (I also detected them in people who liked me and wanted me around, but hey, when it comes to safety false positives are acceptable, and close counts in hand grenades and personal safety.)

        “Use your words” demands, at its core, that you be able to survive that the consequences of using your words will be. And hey, good news: you did. But past that, there’s deciding that what happened was an event, not an omen. It was somebody being really fucking mean to you, but not a signal that no one will ever love you and you’ll always be alone. It’s a place you can move on from.

        • “what happened was an event, not an omen.” Oh man, I wish someone had told high school me this…so true, but so hard to learn.

        • It wasn’t an omen, but it was part of a pattern. The few other times I managed to scrape together the energy to “use my words” I got rejected politely by the men in question, for which I was grateful since it at least allowed me to retain some semblance of dignity.

          There was also the guy who was too uncomfortable with my making more money and having a more education than he did. That was the last time I attempted to date and it was 6 years ago. I’ve pretty much given up now.

          • Yup. That’s been my experience hugely, with a couple added, “If you were willing to have sex I might do it, but if you aren’t planning on putting out I’m not interested.” I still don’t have the guts to ask anyone out, and it really depends on the day whether I can imagine a world where somebody would say yes.

            It sucks. It absolutely sucks. It’s hopeless-feeling and I still haven’t levered my way out completely. But I’m reaching out in little ways to friends and teachers and classmates and colleagues, just learning to taste the feeling that I might have something to offer in and of myself, and not for how well I perform.

            Right now I count success because when I started trying to be social at work in September, I could chat with the receptionist about the weekend for about two sentences, and then felt so awkward and anxious that I’d flee into my office. Now I can shoot the breeze a whole five minutes, and mostly we get interrupted by a call/client/coworker, not my abrupt departure. I’m toughing out the part of me that says, “She can’t really want to talk to you, how dare you impose your awful ugly self on people.” I’m trying to act as though I deserve love and belonging as much as the next person.

            It’s an upward trajectory.

        • Oh staranise, this comment made me cry because it resonates so deeply with me – I learned these two things, too, but you said them much more eloquently than I could ever have. I am stronger now. So much stronger than I was in the most miserable time of my life. I still would be glad if I didn’t have to go through all the things I did, but I think I was able to make it into a good and beautiful and positive thing and that gives me strength.
          Would you mind if I shared your comment in an internet journal my friends and I keep (of course with credit and a link back to it)?

          • I still would be glad if I didn’t have to go through all the things I did, but I think I was able to make it into a good and beautiful and positive thing and that gives me strength.

            YES. Piss on all the “suffering ennobles the spirit” and “bad things are how you learn” crap. Some people learned they were strong and loveable the easy way, dammit! So I don’t think I NEEDED to have an awful childhood–but on the other hand, good has come out of it, that would not have come out of an easy one. I would not be the same person.

            I’m so glad it resonated with you. It’s public, so yes, quote away. :)

          • “She can’t really want to talk to you, how dare you impose your awful ugly self on people.”

            Oh yeah, I feel that way all the time, including around friends. The jerkbrain is a powerful thing.

            I spent the last 4 years in work-related hell that I can’t even describe, with absolutely no way to “date” anyone that was plausible, certainly not with the serious depression and lack of energy. Now I’m trying to adjust to abandoning an entire career path and starting over, plus accepting I have Aspergers and a bunch of other things, as well as family issues. *And* the “you’re fat and ugly and can never ever be loved” thing is on the backbeat. It’s a hell of a combination and it means I really don’t have the ability to even consider dating anymore.

            The thing is I can cope with talking to people in a context – work, business, etc. though I still hate the phone. I used to teach so I can get up in front of 50 people and talk without breaking a sweat! But interpersonal chit chat is a different kettle.

          • drst, what I’ve found really helpful is finding someone–real or fictional–who is social in a way I admire and then just faking it. What would I do in X situation? Probably flap my hands and start talking about fandom shit. Okay, so what would Person do? Do that instead, or at least temper my instinctive monologue with it.

            It started as an experiment, but it’s actually held up really well. It’s starting (over the last couple of months) to feel natural and I think it’s kind of reshaping my habits. I don’t have to conciously think about it anymore; it just happens. Plus, the friends I’ve chosen are nerdy as fuck, so now that we’re all clear that they like me, letting the autistic monologue happen isn’t The Worst Thing and So Embarassing. They don’t hate me for it. They like me anyway (or because of it!), no matter what my jerkbrain likes to suggest.

            That newly diagnosed/accepted stage is really hard because it feels like everything you do or have ever done or ever will do is because of ASPERGERS OMG. Like you have no independence from it. It is you. You are it. Only that’s not so much true? I mean, yes, it is an accurate label for how I naturally communicate and think, and one I embrace, but I’m also a person and I deserve friends. I kind of bet you’re a person and deserve friends, too.

      • Wow, it sucks to be rejected in such a mean way. Jedi Hugs.

    • I know that feel. I’m still trying to make myself Use My Words, but the ingrained nature of “But they’re just going to want someone thinner/whiter/who has a penis anyway, so why expose myself to certain hurt?” is difficult to wrestle with.

      • Yep. It’s a circular firing squad in the brain that seems like it’s protecting you, but it’s also imprisoning you.

        Though I do believe that sometimes you (generic) need the protection more than anything else, and absolutely no one should be bullied into Using Their Words under any circumstances.

  9. So, my first year in college, there was this boy. AND IN RETROSPECT I have no idea why I had a crush on him, BUT I DID.

    Luckily for me, it didn’t last that long. He was older, I was 18 and drunk on many of the occasions we were hanging out. TO THE EXTENT THAT HIS BEST FRIEND WAS LIKE “Um.. so he and his ex, right?” and “I just don’t want you to look like an eejit.” and things to that effect. I MAY HAVE PASSED OUT AGAINST HIM ON MORE THEN ONE OCCASION?

    Finally, about four months into out acquaintance, I got mega-drunk again, and told him I wanted to make out with him. HIS RESPONSE? “…thanks?”

    WE DID NOT END UP MAKING OUT. But we became awesome friends! And even more retrospectively, (based on every single interaction I’ve seen him have with a lady since) I dodged a freaking bullet.

    • Ugh, pressed post too soon.

      After the drunken confession, we were totally awkward for a bit. He got back with his ex-girlfriend, our whole friend group did that shifty-shifty-shifty thing that college friends do, and over the next couple of years he and I would have intense deep conversations about the future that were really just conversations about his future, and through them all I kept thinking that RIGHT NOW THIS IS THE MOMENT WHERE IF I KISSED HIM HE WOULD KISS BACK AND IT WOULD BE PERFECT. But I never did.

      There was no single moment when I stopped wanting him. More of a realising that I had already stopped a while ago. Which, like I said BULLET DODGED. We’re still friends, kind of, but I don’t really like his girlfriend and he lives on the other side of the country, so we haven’t spoken in ages. Mainly, I look back on those times, and cover my eyes in embarrassment.

      • “over the next couple of years he and I would have intense deep conversations about the future that were really just conversations about his future,”

        That is a GREAT, great line and I am probably stealing that for a screenplay. Thanks!

  10. You’ve read my blog posts, right? Imagine the FEELINGSMAILS I am capable of generating. Comprehensive, funny, heartfelt, sexy, and above all supremely logical cases for why you and I should be together, In My Pants, Love Always, Me.

    AND GRAMMATICAL WITH ACCURATE PUNCTUATION!

  11. OOF. Yes. Okay. Let’s do this.

    Limerance #1: My first year of college. I was absent all my friends, I had just gone through some deeply personal shit that made me absent almost all my family, so I wasn’t just “on my own” in the way college kids are “on their own” but still go home for laundry, I was 100% dependent upon myself and nobody else ever. And I was lonely and bitter and had very few social skills. I made friends with a guy in my dorm who was also bitter and lonely (because he had Nice Guy-itis), so I hung out with him, like, ALL THE TIME, because he was mean and biting and shitty and that was how I felt at the time. And eventually, I got a not-even-a-crush on him, like, it didn’t even seem to penetrate beyond the surface level, these feelings, inside I was still all, ugh, this guy, but it just seemed like we should be doing it? And knowing what a weird Nice Guy he was, it seemed like it should be easy to convince him of the Doing It? Anyway, one night when we were supposed to hang out, and it was maybe The Last Time we could hang out because I was moving, he didn’t show where we were supposed to meet, so I showed up at his dorm room all pissy. Because in my mind this was totally the night for the sex to happen, or at least the kissing, and this seemed OBVIOUS to me, so why the fuck wouldn’t he show to make this romance movie start? Anyway, he had a girl in his room, which he tried to awkwardly communicate to me at the door, and I just straight up told him to fuck off, and left him all perplexed.

    Years later, we did friend up on Facebook, and the “I guess sex is how this should go?” sheen had come off, and I was just like, wow, this guy is a bitter mean Nice Guy creep, and I de-friended him after he made some victim-blamey comments, and that was that.

    Limerance #2: I was in an abusive relationship, and developed this MASSIVE, HOPELESS crush on a friend of my boyfriend’s. I thought about him all the time, wrote notes (that I never intended to send, thank god for that) all the time, had imaginary conversations with him in my head (where obviously he was SO IMPRESSED with my beauty and intellect and wisdom). I tried to hang out with him all the time, at parties I would try to wheedle him away in a corner to talk to me all night, I bought him really inappropriate presents (not like sex presents, just more than you would spend on a friend, and more often), I tried to encourage him to be a crying type so he would cry on my shoulder, I did everything I could to just, you know, like, brush against him every now and again. Not creepy-like, nooooooo, just oops our shoulders bumped are you looking no okay well I’ll try that again tomorrow.

    Dude obviously knew I had it for him. And he reciprocated to some extent. He seemed to appreciate the attention, anyway, and didn’t discourage me, and sometimes explicitly encouraged me (oops, was my hand on your leg, my bad). So that just inflamed the whole thing forever and ever. Anyway, long story short, my abusive relationship ended, and now that he and I were free to consummate, I was suddenly struck with what a douche he actually was. Like, all the pants-feelings just completely disappeared. I tried to hang out with him just as non-sexual-tension-friends, and it was suddenly obvious that we had nothing in common. Then he started hanging out with my abusive ex and things got even harder to navigate and I was finally like, you know what, cut my losses here, dude is not worth it.

    I felt like an idiot about that one for a long time, but I feel really reconciled to it now. That dude gave me something good during a time when everything was bad, even if, relatively, it wasn’t really substantial.

    Limerance #3: This guy reminded me so much of L2 from the get-go. I mean, I am older now, okay, I had a little voice in my head the whole time telling me “duuuuuuuude noooooooooo” but I went ahead anyway. I nursed this mild feelings for dude for years, knowing that someday, if the opportunity arose, I would totally go for the Massive Stupid Feelings, because he seemed like the type who would roll with it. And the opportunity arose, and man did I jump. I had a lot of stuff happening in my life at the time, and he was this awesome distraction. And like L2, he totally dug it. He had this long string of suuuuuuper inappropriately close female friendships that mysteriously ended badly??? And I looked at that and thought, wow, so that’ll be me in 6 months, right? I even brought it up with him, and he had all sorts of really flamboyantly logical reasons why those FEELINGSFRIENDSHIPS had ended and it was because emotionally needy girls kept seeking him out, you know, not like he liked emotionally needy girls or anything, he preferred stable girls, just it was some kind of strange amazement that he didn’t know any. And I heard the bitter feminist in my head laughing so hard her chair tipped over, and I was still like, okay! Fine by me! So I gave him the FEELINGSEMAIL and FEELINGSTALK and FEELINGSTEXTS multiple times over and he responded like a cat with a mouthful of cream, just LOVED it.

    Anyway, slowly I got my shit together, and even with his real help occasionally (and sometimes in spite of his obviously sabotaging “help”), and slowly, he ramped up the emotional gaslighting that was obviously his boundary-pushing pattern to prelude an actual relationship (what do you like, X? well, conveniently, today is the day I have decided to go on a tear about how X is stupid and everybody who believes in it is worthless, and oh, are you really upset by this conversation, let me comfort you and express amazement because I thought you were more emotionally sturdy than that, I’ll remember to be nicer in the future since you’re so damaged), and I just couldn’t do it anymore. So we had an argument about X, and it ended with me telling him to just drop it, and he did, and then… silence forever. AWESOME SILENCE. I knew immediately he would never voluntarily apologize or connect again, that if I didn’t start things off with a “sorry we fought, still friends? ;)” we would never really speak again. And I was like, oh thank christ! The day I woke up and realized I wasn’t going to have to talk to him, it was like the sun shone just for me. So much time and energy I suddenly had! He has since tried to bait me into conversations a few times (subjectless emails with emotionally relevant links, the equivalent of getting weird longing stares from across a room at a party).

    L3 finally made me realize that I really like having some romantic prospect to mull over in my head the same way I like to mull over how one day I will TOTALLY take up jogging. And just like when I’m stressed I spend a lot more time thinking about how I will absolutely just pick up and move to Spain, right?!, I get the romantic feelings during stress, and that’s okay! When I was younger, I thought those kinds of vague fantasy romantic/pantsfeelings meant romanticpants HAD to happen, was DESTINED to happen, that I was a COWARDLY FOOL for not making it happen. Slowly I’ve come to recognize that these are just daydreams I like, and that doesn’t mean these things would NEVER happen, but the dreamy feelings for fun are in no way connected to Shall We Date? unless I explicitly decide to make them connected. And that’s okay! I am somebody who likes romantic pantsfeelings constantly, and you can’t always get that in long-term relationships, because LTRs also feature peeing in front of each other and unavoidable talking about butts. I am slowly piecing these lessons together, and I think L4 will not have to receive any FEELINGSCOMM, or subtle brushes of the shoulder, and that is going to be what is awesome about being in my thirties.

    • I love the insights you gained. And yes, I know about the casually brushing shoulders.

      What I didn’t say in the above is that I was ALSO super-hung up on my ex from the end of college all this time. He was in New York when I was in DC, and we broke up but would occasionally talk and then if we talked we would somehow hook up and I would be into him way more than he was into me for another year. Coworker Crush was all about talking and hanging out and being comfortable (and not sexual) with each other, whereas College Ex Crush was all about Dark Brooding and longing and also Supremely Hot Sexytimes. So between them I got a constant lunch buddy and the occasional furtive tryst.

      In both cases, they became a habit more than anything else. I was supremely relieved that Coworker Crush and I never made anything happen. If we’d banged experimentally, that would have been the end of it right there -we wouldn’t have even survived an actual kiss, because we weren’t attracted to each other. I was supremely relieved when Sexy Darkness also faded out of my life for a while (after a TON more drama). But that daily habit of thought – of daydreaming, wondering, scheming, missing, longing – was self-sustaining and ultimately way more powerful than any actual real connection that was going on (or information I was getting from the actual situation). So I really like your analogy of the way that it gives you something to think about. I think that’s why we’re so reluctant to actually speak up about our feelings and risk destroying the fantasy. “But this is the year I’m really going to take up jogging, in Spain!”

      • Haha, I found a really practical way to daydream about crushes and separate that from any possibility of a relationship: I never crushed on anyone who lived even remotely close to me. When I lived in Brazil, I met this girl on a vacation somewhere at the beach (the WORST PLACE to crush on someone when you’re a confused teenager). We did a lot of the Couch of Plausible Deniability while playing games late at night, and we also did a lot of (oh dear) Plausibly Deniable Water Games… Nothing definite happened and after a week we went back to our cities. She lived some 500km away from me, and I NEVER saw her again, but it didn’t stop me from pining after her, day after day, for months. My closest friends suffered through my endless talking about her, and had the dubious honour of learning all about my General Theory of She-Likes-You-Hints (*facepalm*).

        Not long after I got bored with my first crush, some (belgian!) friends of my parents spent their vacations in our home. They had two teenage daughters. I crushed on the eldest. That was WAY awkward, because my (younger!) brother kept teasing me about my relationship inexperience. So I said to myself: “I’ll show him, and he’ll be sorry!”. I fortunately never acted on it, because, given my Weltanschauung at the time, I’d most certainly have declared my endless love for her. Still, that didn’t stop me from nurturing this crush a long while after she was gone. Even if a freakin’ ocean separated us, and we were teenagers. But daydreaming was nice.

        My unhealthy approach to relationships was just one of the many things that made my life miserable. I had very few friends (the best ones had moved away), I was VERY awkward at parties (I’d sit in a couch and do nothing) and I loathed high school (who doesn’t?). So I decided all my problems would be solved if I moved to Belgium*. So, in a way, my moving to Belgium was pfcmarie’s moving to Spain**, except I actually did it.

        But, ultimately, what saved me was the feminist blogosphere (you people are awesome!). I had lots of unchecked privilege (duh) and hung-ups about women. (Small parenthesis to say that the tone argument is bullshit: I needed a good rhethorical whack on my head in order to shake all that privilege). And now that I don’t dismiss out-of-hand friendships with half the human race, I’m much less lonely. I’ve got all kinds of friends now, and this creates a self-reinforcing cycle of confidence that feels really good.

        Epilogue: I finally acted on a crush (this very week!). I met her last year at our lefty activist group on campus. I just asked her out, she enthusiastically said yes! Well, we’ll see how it turns out, but in the mean time… Yay!

        *I sometimes wonder why I wanted so badly to move to Belgium, of all places. I do have family here, but so do I in France and the USA and all over the place in Brazil. I hope my decision had nothing to do with my crush. Anyway…

        **I know, absolutely noone dreams about moving to Belgium, that’s such a weird dream to have. The sky over here has the loveliest shades of gray, though.

        • I also moved to Belgium a couple of years ago, definitely not because it was what I’ve always dreamed of, because… Belgium, really? But for me, it definitely had a lot to do with a crush. In the sense that I moved here to live with my boyfriend because the long-distance thing was getting old after a few years. I’m really enjoying those beautiful grays!

          Relationship-wise I got really lucky, but unlike you, I haven’t managed to accumulate much of a circle of friends for myself because I am bad at that stuff. It’s not that I dismiss half of humanity or anything… well, maybe I dismiss more than half, because I think that they wouldn’t like me anyway, or I wouldn’t have anything in common with them or they are just not My Kind Of People.

          Buy honestly, I do feel like people around where we live tend to be quite bourgeois and conservative. And that includes many of my boyfriend’s friends, much as I like them. Maybe I should try to find and infiltrate some of those leftist groups you speak of?

          Anyway, best of luck with your romantic pursuits!

    • <3 Such a happy ending.

    • Wow, L2 is exactly like my ex. Except he also did this thing where I would tell him I was feeling depressed (go figure) and he’d berate me for failing to think of myself as a good person, cause obviously that’s how it works right? Just stop having depression and you won’t feel depressed! And obviously I’m such a failure that I can’t even do that!

      Thank FSM he dumped me. (For being ‘too emotionally unstable’)

    • that last paragraph = you reached into everything i have been worrying about for n years. AND YOU EVEN MENTIONED BUTTSTALK, so obviously you do in fact know what is up.

      “the dreamy feelings for fun are in no way connected to Shall We Date? unless I explicitly decide to make them connected. And that’s okay!” shall ever be before my eyes.

    • I’ve used my celebrity/fictional crushes for that, to save on the drama. I get to obsess and daydream, but without any risk of actually ending up in a situation where I would have to do something about said crush. Also, I’m sane enough not to stalk celebrities, but running into someone “accidentally” has definitely been part of my repertoire for many, many real life crushes. And it’s exhausting. My celebrity/fictional crushes stay nicely in my computer or in books, so I can pick them up whenever I want.

    • “That dude gave me something good during a time when everything was bad, even if, relatively, it wasn’t really substantial.”

      That was how it was for me too. When I had a huge crush on Crush coincided with a really shitty time of my life, and thinking about Crush gave me something to focus on that was at least semi-enjoyable when almost everything else was horrible.

  12. I…think I mostly avoided that, actually. Not because ‘OMG, I’M SUPER AWESOME!’, just because I’ve always been more inclined to go ‘Hey, I like you. Wanna go out?’ -shrugs-

    • You are smart! It’s so much easier that way.

      • Naw, I just ask questions in general. ^^;; *That* habit has actually lead me to having more awkward moments than anything else.

    • I know! I mostly avoided all of this too. Not because I think I was super emotionally mature… more, I think I was too oblivious to the social “games” and expectations when I was young (by the time I learned all of that, I was old enough to realize what bullshit it was), so I never had to unlearn it.

      I really have only one massive crush I sort-of-not-really regret not acting on. He was a good friend of mine for most of high school, nerdy and awkward and awesome. We did a lot of Couch of Plausible Deniability and “Is this flirting or is this friendship?”-ness and “Did we do to this dance as friends or as dates letsnottalkaboutit?” And usually I was good with getting over the awkward and just asking, but… the timing never seemed right (was dating someone else, had broken up but he and ex were friends and seemed uncouth to jump into somethign liek that too quickly, graduation impending, etc.) and I valued not messing up the friendship more than maybe dating. I’ve stayed in touch, visiting a few times a year in college and every now and then afterward. I still have the occasional pipe-dream of drunkenly hooking up with his handsome face at some point in the future to resolve the sexual tension of decades, but it is a rare thought that will probably never happen, especially since we both live in different countries now.

      On the flip side, there were a few embarassing mini-relationships in the wake of a darth-break-up, where I Used My Words more or less responsibly and they did not, opting instead for passive sidestepping and attempts at fading that I /totally obliviously missed/. D’oh. In hindsight, I probably looked like I was desperately throwing myself at them, but I was really just socially clueless to their attempts to play the fade-game and me just not getting it, and if they’d just said, “No, not interested.” I would have politely faded too without being awkward about it. (Not so good at the “soft no”)

      Every other crush I have either Used My Words or safely tucked in the Friend Box. (Note: Not to be confused with the “Friend Zone” where Nice Guys(TM) get put in their attempts to win sex and praise for heroic efforts of… basic human decency. The Friend Box is the place in my head where I put people who I am actually crazy attracted to or crushing on, but for whom these feelings are totally inappropriate (all ready have partners, gay, straight and good friends but not romantically compatible, romantically but not sexually compatible so just avoid that awkward, or some other combination of Bad Idea). The Friend Box contains some of my best friends in the world, and it keeps us from doing anything stupid that would ruin mutually valued friendship, a “turn off the attraction!” box that is probably responsible for avoiding much FEELINGSMAIL.)

      • Friend Box! I’m thinking it’s like a Friend Zone you can put yourself in, and it has cushions and a tv and lots of books and maybe a kitty so you don’t get pissed off about being there and resent the person you supposedly dig so much. I like it!

        • Yes! It is my attempt at healthily dealing with, “Man, I would jump his bones in a hot minute, but, uh, he’s kind of one of my best friends and also Serious-City with my roommate.” crushes, where I can gaze from afar an intellectually comment, “Well, I guess they are sexyfaces, but they are not not and never will be my sexyfaces, so let’s just pleasantly squash those feelings and focus on having an awesome friendship with them (with zero pining/Wishful Thinking/angst) and lots of sexytimes with other people.”

          And it should TOTALLY have a kitty.

          • “On the flip side, there were a few embarassing mini-relationships in the wake of a darth-break-up, where I Used My Words more or less responsibly and they did not, opting instead for passive sidestepping and attempts at fading that I /totally obliviously missed/. D’oh. In hindsight, I probably looked like I was desperately throwing myself at them, but I was really just socially clueless to their attempts to play the fade-game and me just not getting it, and if they’d just said, “No, not interested.” I would have politely faded too without being awkward about it. (Not so good at the “soft no”)”

            Oh, man, me too! “passive side-stepping” EXACTLY this! And sometimes it’s like, okay let’s be friends, and then they start to fade and you’re like, wait, do you want to be friends or not? Ah well now we know. I also have a Friend Box, though! Yay!

            Probably not.

          • I guess they are sexyfaces, but they are not not and never will be my sexyfaces, so let’s just pleasantly squash those feelings and focus on having an awesome friendship with them (with zero pining/Wishful Thinking/angst) and lots of sexytimes with other people

            This is my exact relationship with my last three limerances; they are all in the FriendBox and I love having them there :)

      • I love the ‘Friend Box’ concept. Perfect for those people you are seriously crushing on, but don’t actually want to act on. I have a few people in this box. Totally awesome, crushworthy people who for various reasons (usually, in my case, because married or otherwise monogamous with someone else) I do not under any circumstance actually want to pursue romantically.

      • Oh man, the Friend Box is the best idea ever. I’ve got one of those crushes right now, a close friend who is also a coworker. She’s also in a totally committed monogamous relationship with another close friend. I know nothing’s ever going to happen, and I’m usually okay with it, but every so often I still get the urge to drop a giant FEELINGSBOMB on her (sometimes at work, which would NOT BE AWKWARD AT ALL)

        I suspect putting her in the Friend Box is a better plan :)

        • It really is. And I’ve discovered the best part of the Friend Box is that is if I actively direct my brain to ignore the attraction and focus on the friendship long enough, it becomes second-nature to the point that it it seems icky and wrong to think of that person sexually/romantically. That is, “Yes, brain, X does look good in that shirt, but X is your roommate’s partner and we don’t think sexy thoughts about roommates’ partners.” eventually becomes “That is a nice shirt, but thinking about X in a sexual way is like thinking about a family member in a sexual way. Gross.”

    • I managed to learn to Use My Words fairly early on, through a serendipitous event. In my first year at university there was this guy I was into (well, there were several, but this story is about this one) and I had a plan to hook up with him. He didn’t know about this plan, but my friend M did. M didn’t want me to hook up with guy because of Reasons, but I thought her Reasons were stupid, so I was going for it anyway. One friday evening we’re hanging out at a bar and I’m flirting with the guy, sitting on his lap, touching him, etc. And my friend M decides that she’s going to kill my chances with the guy. So she comes up to us and says, “Hey [guy], did you know that Jake is trying to lay you?” And the guy looks at me and asks, “is that true?” I’m mortified, and ready to kill M, but I think to myself, what the hell, all in. So I said yes. And he goes, “Cool, sounds like fun. I’m busy tonight, but how about next week?” And he totally meant it and we hooked up the following friday.

      Ever since then I’ve had a “say what you want” philosophy. You don’t always get it, but you always get an answer.

  13. UGH! I could pretty much retell this entire story word for word as my own, except that instead of intern/job it would be high school and instead of letter it would’ve been explosive AIM conversation with tears and tantrums. I’m talking right down to the poorly timed jokes and painful sexual innuendos. (Ugh, Gawd. There is this one time that I cannot even type on the Internet. My shame: she is massive.) Of course, all my friends had to hear about it, but I’d deny it if anyone put the spotlight on me.

    Anyway, the ending is slightly different. He’d already picked up a lady friend (that I’d set him up with, because I was a GOOD FRIEND HAHA *TWITCH*). We stopped hanging out almost entirely, except for the random phone call. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t want to hang out with someone as fun as I was, what with all the passive aggressive comments and the meaningful stares. Unfortunately, the less grasp I had, the more desperately I clung until one day all communication just… stopped. I think a few years later I tried to get back in contact, but he wisely ignored me. At that point, I just missed his friendship.

    The worst part is, I wasn’t into him at all. I had zero pants-feelings for him. I had just been so caught up by the whole “what a cute couple” thing and so desperate for a boyfriend that I went feet-first. In retrospect, I think I was just a good placeholder while he was between girlfriends. And I’m pretty sure my appearance was his only objection to dating me, although my unsavory behavior later on would certainly have been reason enough.

    Sometimes I miss him still, and that was 13 years ago. The thing that sucks the most is the vulnerability of it. I still feel it, even now, the idea that I embarrassed myself entirely by giving some guy I wasn’t really into the full awkward of my FEELINGS and was mightily rejected. Mostly, though, I remind myself that it was a growing process that brought me to this really awesome place I am now.

    • Oh god, the setting-them-up-with-someone-else thing! What is that, brain?

      • It’s a secret test that everyone will fail. Good job, brain!

        • Ha ha ha, I set up one of my limerances with somebody I was friends-with-benefitting (that relationship was normal and boundaries and everything cool, at least) because REASONS?!? I don’t know what I expected to get out of that, but I was always so confusingly dissatisfied after hanging out with them, almost as if it wasn’t what I wanted at all, hmm…

          The crush matchmaking is the close cousin of being AGGRESSIVELY FRIENDLY toward your crush’s significant other. Oh, you have a girlfriend? What if I take her out to brunch and shopping and drinks and here, she should borrow all my books, and clothes, and and and I don’t know why I’m doing this Oh My God I Can’t Stop, She’s Not Even That Fun, wait, I didn’t say that, because I am NOT trying to break you up, noooooooooo, see, I am SO COOL with you having a girlfriend, despite my pantsfeelings, that I am going to even talk her into staying with you when you two are having problems, what a Nice Lady I am, right? I’m so clever, NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT MY PANTS.

          • Oh my goodness, this.

            Though fortunately most of my crushes have had cool ladyfriends, so I generally like them. Sometimes they are cool enough that I just end up crushing on the both of them /and/ their relationship. Not Helpful, Pants.

          • I’m de-lurking for the very first time to comment on this because it’s a little like seeing myself in a mirror! Part of me is banging my head on a table in frustration and part of me is glad that I’m not the only one who did this!!

            *I’m so clever, NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT MY PANTS.* – this, this and this again!

        • Crush: Will you ask [your friend] if she will go with me?
          Me: Go with you where?
          Crush: Umm….like go steady with me.
          Me: Of course. [dies inside]

          Me: So, Crush wants to go with you.
          My Friend Who Knows I Like Crush: Oh wow, he does? OK!
          Me: [dies inside further]

          WHY WHY WHY WHY does junior high even exist?

      • High school me did this in combination with complete denial to everybody that I liked my crush. He was my stand partner, and I was convinced that if anyone I liked knew I liked them, they’d hate me forever. So I manufactured a crush on someone else to throw off suspicion (to the point where I asked my fake crush out), and helped my crush get together with one of our friends (I knew they both liked each other, and I also knew that she was shy about bringing it up and he thought she was a lesbian, so I let him know that she wasn’t exclusively attracted to girls.)

        But I was so obsessed with “no one can find out,” that I denied it when he asked me point-blank “do you like me?” and then I found out that he had asked out other people that way and tortured myself with “what if he was asking me out?” until I left that school.

    • OMG the “YOU’D MAKE SUCH A CUTE COUPLE!” power of suggestion. I’ve been nailed by this a few times.. you start going ‘You know what.. they’re RIGHT!’ and then BOOM. Crush.

      I knew (know) a guy and all our friend circle wanted to see us get together. I thought he was an okay dude, nice enough, wasn’t terribly attracted to him. In fact, a year or two earlier we had found ourselves on a Pull-Out Couch of Plausible Deniability after a party and he had hit on me, and I gently but firmly had told him ‘No, thank you’ and to his credit he was cool about it.

      Anyway, few years later friends started making suggestions and I had been single for a while and I started to get interested. We went out a couple times, there was some drunk face-smooshing and then he starts doing the ‘slow fade’. At first I was all butt-hurt and sad and then I kind of went “Whoa, wait a second.. I wasn’t even that attracted to you until other people put the idea in my head!!” and I got over it real quick after that.

  14. I had a really embarrassing crush on this guy who kept giving me mixed messages and I COULD NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. WITH EVERYONE. Finally, he gave me the slow fade. I’ve gone through the stages of sadness, anger, and now I’m working through my embarrassment. Ugh. Unrequited crushes suck.

    • Forgot to mention that apparently every girl in my university program has had a crush on him, which just makes me feel worse. ugh ugh ugh, so much cringing.

      • On the upside, you’re in good company!

        One guy I crushed on HARD (like, sending him poems hard) was actually really good at becoming a Nice Guy friend to a girl and then slowly grinding that relationship into the dust. I didn’t quite realize how until years later, but he desperately flaunted his emopain and wanted someone to fix him–but was equally determined to never let anyone actually do it. So eventually you realized that when he said that nobody ever cared about him, you weren’t going to be the exception. He was talking about you.

        After I got over my cringe, i looked around and realized that practically every other het or bi woman in the area had gone through more or less the same process. It wasn’t nice, but we began to talk about “that inevitable phase in your youth where you have a crush on [guy], even though you really shouldn’t, and everyone tells you it’s a bad idea. You just have to make a fool of yourself.”

        So once I could accept it as this common human thing where we all do kinda stupid things, it became a source of bonding and comradeship. The last SCA event I went to, somebody referred to [guy] as “The man who’s been dumped by every woman in the kingdom.”

      • There’s always someone.

        I think there’s, like, certain keyholes in peoples’ heads. Sometimes you meet someone who just fits perfectly in that keyhole and BOOM you’re crushing. Perfectly normal.

        Then someone comes along and they’ve got, like, the master key and somehow EVERYONE is kind of babbling and has crushes on them…

        Sometimes you just have a $PERSON-shaped hole in your head and all you can do is try to ride it out, or maybe get a really good mental locksmith.

        • Master key concept = SO VERY VERY RIGHT.
          I also knew a master key guy. Unfortunately, he also knew he was a master key. Did not end well.

  15. I had a weird experience where both I and my not-quite-dating-partner were both pulling some weird unspoken crush stuff on each other. We spent the better part of a year spending lots of time together, flirting very awkwardly. He would invite me out to very date-like places… and also invite our mutual friend who neither of us had romantic feelings for so that it would be a stealth date. I would fake interest in the things that he was interested in, be (carefully platonic) friendly with his friends, gave his mother (who I never met) a house plant, built up as many “points” as I could. Eventually I came to realise that I didn’t actually want to date him, and that I had zero physical attraction to him so I let the flirting part go and just hung out as friends, but didn’t bring up anything about my feelings or my very clear knowledge of his feelings. This managed to bring him to the FEELINGSDUMP point, I said something vague about being “friends” and then we never saw each other again. Ever.
    Oddly enough I also never saw out stealth date mutual friend again either.
    Looking back at this non-relationship I actually realise that my part in it was not quite as wrenchingly painful to remember as I had expected. I have just avoided thinking about it for years, so I guess time and perspective blunted the edges.

    Worse was my junior high “crush” where my friends pressured me so much to tell them who my crush was (I didn’t have one then, and didn’t develop one until attending university) that I just picked a guy at random and then tried to force myself to develop a crush on him. Crush never developed, but harmful fixation certainly did! Horrible, horrible experience.

    • “Worse was my junior high “crush” where my friends pressured me so much to tell them who my crush was (I didn’t have one then, and didn’t develop one until attending university) that I just picked a guy at random and then tried to force myself to develop a crush on him. Crush never developed, but harmful fixation certainly did! Horrible, horrible experience.”

      Omg THIS multiplied by ALL OF HIGH SCHOOL. First time poster delurking. I developed romantic interests really late and I literally thought that if I could just fake the mechanics of a crush I could trick my brain into… having a crush? Further applying this logic-of-doom I decided to pick someone no one else was crushing on to reduce any potential competition. Because that is totally how this works. My brain did not want to be tricked and informed me that thinking of THAT GUY was BORING and went promptly back to inventing elaborate FF7 fanfic scenarios. I did that at least four times through elementary school and junior high.

      And then in High School I did that thing where I let two girls in my class talk me into dating their elder brother who wore a black leather coat and was sad a lot and we went to the most awkward date and saw LoTR and he held my hand the entire time and then I couldn’t feel my hand anymore because I was too polite to pull it away and he had REALLY COLD HANDS* and those three ensuing months WERE NOT AWKWARD AT ALL.

      *Later in the Most Terrible Date Ever I had to chase my two best friends into a corner shop and explain why spying on my date was Not Okay, and my skirt split in half during the chase and I cannot fucking believe this shit actually happened in the same day. The Universe spoke and Lo it said DO NOT DATE THIS GUY and I certainly did not listen.

    • “Worse was my junior high “crush” where my friends pressured me so much to tell them who my crush was (I didn’t have one then, and didn’t develop one until attending university) that I just picked a guy at random and then tried to force myself to develop a crush on him.”

      Oh my god I had that exact same experience! I thought all of the boys were totally gross and obnoxious, but my friends just wouldn’t believe me so in the end I went ‘eenie meenie miney mo’ on the boys in our history class and told them the one I landed on.

      And they and the other girls in my year proceeded to tease me mercilessly until they got bored of it a few months later, so I figured I might as well try to *actually* like him (you know the saying, might as well be hung for stealing a sheep as for a lamb) and then he informed me that I was too weird and geeky for him. It was totally awkward and humiliating and did not contribute *at all* to my complete inability to have an actual crush on an actual person

      (I do crush like mad on fictional characters though! I guess like a commenter said upthread, it’s nice to have a little bit of a fantasy life going when actual life is stressful, and I suppose it feels safer when the person isn’t even real… )

  16. Oh Captain. Thank you for sharing your story, even though I’m still cringing minutes after reading it.

    My two worst crushes:

    1. High school. She was two years older than me, extremely talented and confident, and the first out lesbian I’d ever met in my age range. I was at this time pretty damn mentally ill and not treated at all, so I was living in this fantasy world of my own construction, and I made her part of it too. I never talked to her about it, but there was EPIC Firthing, and a level of awkward, plausibly-deniable pigtail-pulling that would have made Gilbert Blythe embarrassed.

    She graduated, I got into therapy, all ended well.

    2. Darth Vader. Oh dear, oh dear. Darth Vader in this context is a toppy, aggressively intelligent longhaired butch who doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of her. I spent years trying to decide if she was flirting with me too, and if so, if I should act on it. Something always held me back. Eventually I realised that she’s an unalloyed asshole, domineering in a bad way, and also racist (she thinks Indigenous Australians have an unfair systemic advantage over white people like her in postgraduate education!) and also has a deep-set contempt for me personally. I still tingle when I’m near her, dammit.

    The worst part of my crush on her was the butt-dialing incident. I talk to myself, aloud. I may have butt-dialed her without realising, and talked about her without knowing she was there. I’ve never been sure. She asked “Did you mean to call me that time?” in a really weird tone, and never told me what I’d said.

    • The cringing is good – it means that by being Marley’s ghost and showing my chains I can hopefully save Scrooge while there’s still time!

      The mystery butt-dialing where maybe you confessed your feelings story is hilarious. ^5

      • I’m now imagining a Marley’s ghost musical number, a la Muppet Christmas Carol. It is awesome.

        Recommendations are on-topic for this thread, right? Awkwardeers who want to see the most terrible/amazing example of FEELINGSMAIL and mortifying adolescent crushes in all of 19th century literature should look no further than Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.

        Think Pride and Prejudice if, instead of Elizabeth Bennett, Darcy met with a shy, bookish girl who immediately got a gigantic crush on him and wrote him a long, long letter all about it. And then he humiliated her in a way that makes me go pink just thinking about it. And then… she grew up and he didn’t, and she finally got the beautiful revenge of being mature at him.

        • Oooh, the last sentence! When I heard the plot of Eugene Onegin described, I thought that him humiliating her was the climax of the story and went WELP, NOPE, NOT GONNA READ THAT.

        • “…she finally got the beautiful revenge of being mature at him.”

          I love this way of putting it so very, very, much!

        • Being mature at people is the best.

        • I agree with everyone who said that the last line is utter brilliance. It also made me want to reread the book, which I will as soon as I have time to go to the library, so huzzah! Thank you!

  17. I had a years-long crush on a guy one year older than me in drama during high school. He was on a different crew, but we were backstage a lot and I always made sure to casually stand nearby so we could chat, casually of course. Since my casual standing didn’t do anything to catch his romantic attentions, my best friend took it upon herself to decide that this guy and I were her “Drama Parents”. Looking back, it was utterly cringe-worthy. I barely knew this guy and we were now pretending to have had a child together. Yeeeeeaahh. Oof. Fast forward three years and much pining without any action whatsoever, and I was dating this guy who had a years-long crush on the girl my crush was dating, and we all ran into each other. Goes without saying but: it was awkward.

    • That’s what movies are made of :-§ (I mean the awkward last part.)

    • High school drama club is a petri dish for this stuff. At my first high school, the leads for the shows always ended up dating by the end of the run. I move to a new high school, get the lead in The Crucible, and am crushing hard on our John Proctor. Naturally, I think, “Well, clearly we’ll be dating by the end of the run.” Except no. Because (and it took me a while to grasp this) people apparently don’t know you like them if you don’t tell them! Of course, then he went off to become a missionary in China and I moved to Europe. So it’s fine…even if I do engage in mild amounts of FB stalking to satisfy my morbid curiosity.

      • “people apparently don’t know you like them if you don’t tell them!” This. This this this so much. High school drama really taught me that one. And isn’t creeping on high school crushes what Facebook is for?

  18. First time commenter checking in to say ohhhhhhhhhhhh criminy. Between the ages of 16 and…20, maybe, I was completely possessed with my male best friend (MBF). We hung out all the time, could talk for hours, and I adored him SO very much. Of course, I never said anything to him. My friends knew how much I adored him, including one I will call Schmecky. MBF, Schmecky, and I started to hang out a lot together and I figured she was on Team Janesy. I didn’t even think much of it when MBF asked me for Schmecky’s phone number – I was sure he just wanted it for reference or to make plans for all three of us!

    Then, one night, he came back to my house and we were chit-chatting, and then he sideswiped me with “Do you like me”. I had to admit it, of course, and his response was a long, drawn-out “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy”, like I had just shit on his best pair of shoes. After some awkward conversation, he left, I sobbed. And two weeks later, he started dating Schmecky. But it doesn’t end there, oh no.

    Even though he was dating Schmecky, he still wanted to hang out with me. We’d all hang out together, and sometimes just he and I would. She went out of town with her family and he decided it was appropriate to make out with me (and me being the dumb teen I was, totally thought that was the best idea ever) – so I had my first kiss with a guy who had a girlfriend. Then, as they became more “serious” and he decided he was going to marry her (he was three years older than Schmecky and myself), he determined that being my first sex partner would be the perfect final oat, if you will, that he could sow.

    Thankfully, it didn’t come to pass – I had written a flowery, awful FEELINGSSNAILMAIL to him about how I wanted him to be the guy who took my virginity. I am quite convinced he left out on purpose for Schmecky to find it and when he called to tell me of the ensuing drama, I finally did the right thing and said “I can’t talk to you ever again”, hung up the phone, and that was that. I have only seen him once in the flesh since then, in a grocery store in my hometown. The sight of him was so traumatic (I left out the bits about the wanting to kill myself because he didn’t love me back) that I had to run out of the store to avoid a full-blown anxiety attack. The way everything went down with MBF affected me for literally years – I was convinced that I was utterly unlovable for a multitude of reasons, including being fat, so I simply never made an effort to get out and perhaps meet someone who wasn’t a badger’s asshole.

    It wasn’t until my mid-30s that I finally got a hold of myself and did a lot of hard work to realize that no, I wasn’t unlovable and I was a good person who happened to be fat and funky and goofy and whatnot. When I was 36, I met my husband-to-be (which is its own saga that involves FEELINGSINSTANTMESSENGER), and we got married about a week after I turned 40.

    • Criminy is right! You can’t tell over the internet, but I am giving him all the sideeye right now. I hope he stepped on a lego.

    • The “whyyyyy” reply is just MAKING ME CRINGE FOR YOU.

      • The “I’m going to marry, oh let’s fuck. Yeah, I will leave your letter right here where my future bride (?) will find it.” part made me twist my face in a bretzel.

    • Oooh Nelly! Jedi high fives to you for working it out and super Jedi fist bumps for making me giggle over “Schmecky.”

      Seconding Hazel’s lego-step wish.

      • Seconding the Jedi hugs, and filing ‘Badger’s asshole’ away in the personal lexicon for future use, for it is awesome.

  19. I have two stories. I will tell you the more humiliating one. When I was in eighth grade, my friends kept bugging me to tell them who I liked. The problem was, we were surrounded by imbeciles, so I didn’t really have an answer. Finally, to shut them up (and also because, hey, I was starting to feel a little left out of the FEELINGSSTORM here), I started thinking about it and decided that this one kid in my lesson group for band wasn’t so bad. I mean, he’d never really been mean to me as most of the kids in our grade had, he was smart, talented, the closest thing to what I considered good-looking that our grade had, and, well, generally preferable to the guys that my friends were talking about. So the next time they bugged me, that’s the name I gave. Their response was… anticlimactic. Y’know, kind of a, “…Really? Him? …Oooookay then.” Cue five years of crushing, except our interactions went kind of like this:

    Me: *says something witty and slightly teasing*
    Him: *snaps at me*
    Me: *self hate self hate self hate why did I say that I must have hurt his feelings blah blah blah*

    Why did I still like him? I don’t know. Because I wanted to like someone, I guess. So then in senior year, on Valentine’s Day, after our interactions had begun to reach some level of civil, I sent him a carnation and signed it with my name. I also rewrote the message like five bajillion times, crossing it out and editing and stuff just to make it EXTRA SUPER CLEAR exactly how much I was overthinking this. Carnation didn’t get delivered (wrong homeroom I guess). I went to pick it up, and slipped it into his instrument locker before band. He pulls it out, reads it, runs out of the room (apparently quite freaked out), and then returns and proceeds to behave as if nothing had happened. After class, I think I asked him if he got it or something (which obviously he did), and he said something along the lines of “Uh, yeah. Thanks” and then we never discussed it again.

    I spent the rest of HS quietly crushing from afar, and then sometime in the year following graduation, I wrote a song and got over it. Yay!

    • AWesome story. Tell us more about that song!

      • Well, I was just sitting around the house, thinking about him (as I was still prone to do, although it had been months since graduation and I was probably never going to see him again), and finally I just got fed up. I’d never even had *real* feelings for him, just a habit of thinking about him, and that primarily because peer pressure said You Have To Like Someone! and I, being young and naive, said, “I do? …Okay. Um. Him, I guess.” So finally, I sat down, strummed a chord, and started singing. The final product was called “Wasting Time,” and it started, “You’re hardly worth a song.” I… wasn’t in a charitable mood. XD

    • This! Yes! This happened to me too, but I didn’t do anything as neat as write a song for it. I had designated “crushes” because my friends insisted that I did, must, HAD TO, and that I must be lying and not trusting them enough to tell them. Your description that you had “just a habit of thinking about him” is a perfect description.
      The lack of romantic/pants feelings doesn’t change the fact that you can still really beat yourself up over not receiving any feelings in return. It’s pretty awful to feel so badly over someone that you don’t really feel much of anything for.

      • I had designated “crushes” because I thought that I was just supposed to. They were all the wrong gender because woo cis- and hetero-normity, I had sex with one of them multiple times and one of them just once in this painfully awkward THING that was timed to also play into this arch-enemy thing my sister had going on with his sort-of-girlfriend who was out of town, and really it was all just bad. Even now I’ve figured out what sort of person I’m actually liable to be interested in I’ve only been able to bring myself to have pretty shallow fleeting crushes because my past experiences were so awful.

        • Ugh, like half of high school was people going ‘who do you think is cute?’ and ‘who would you date if they were interested?’ and I was all, ‘uh, no one?’ because although I occasionally I got crushes, they were basically platonic crushes? And when we got older there was the ‘who would you snog/do sex act with’ variant, and I was like ‘why would I want to do that?’ because I’m pretty much asexual (not that I knew that at the time). The other girls all used to give me concerned or pitying looks, or stared at me like I was an alien, and it was the most horrible thing to feel like there was something deeply wrong with me because my brain wasn’t all about Boys, Boys, Boys.

          • As someone who gave no fucks about boys for most of her life and who usually only gives a fuck about them in a “I care about other humans” sense now, I feel your pain.

            However, since I was a smug little bitch, I decided that clearly all the other girls were just feeling insecure about how totally lame it was that they were so sadly obsessed with boys, and that they must have very low self-esteem for thinking that boys were so awesome instead of being able to talk about stuff like our own interests and how awesome we were, and that must explain the defensiveness.

            …I was raised on 90s girl-power feminism and I can use it to rationalize pretty much anything.

          • Yeeaah. I’m asexual + not attracted to guys in any way myself and I also left high school with the feeling that obviously I was going to develop crushes on and want to have sex with guys because no other options. Less feeling alien and wrong, but more “okay, I’m a late bloomer and that’s perfectly fine but clearly I am going to develop this interest in the next year or two because everyone does.” (Although I remember feeling kind of smug when the girls in our class decided to play Truth or Dare on a class trip because I could just pick truth with no fear of awkward questions, since all the questions were about romance… sigh.)

        • I had designated “crushes” because I thought that I was just supposed to. They were all the wrong gender because woo cis- and hetero-normity…

          Oooh, so did I! It was summer camp, all the girls had crushes, there was this fairly intelligent boy with a nose like a falcon, I figured I should crush on him. So I decided I was crushing on him.

          It was about two years later when I found out what a crush actually felt like. That was the cheery flirty hippie girl on my tour bus who … kept being assigned to room with me, and since she was my friend and the other girls in the rooms usually weren’t, I kept having to share a bed with her. In a two-bedroom room of four people. I was far enough into the closet at the time that I could see Narnia, so I lay awake at night staring at the lamppost and the fur coats, I mean, angsting about my horrible unresolvable sexual tension, and the six inches of hotel bed between her and me.

        • They were all the wrong gender because woo cis- and hetero-normity,

          Ahahaha I hear you. For me, I actually do crush on people, but in this nonsexual nonromantic way (as a kid, it was sort of like I couldn’t stop thinking about them and wanted to be their BFF SO MUCH, later on more adult long-term commitment aspects also developed.) Correction, though: I crush on women. And I totally didn’t think anything of this for ages, I just thought I must like them and want to be their friend!

          Then when I was eighteen I had a fluke of a crush on a guy, and of course that was a Real Crush, was the proof of (hetero)sexuality (what, you mean they’re not the same thing?! [/18-year-old me]) I’d been waiting for the whole time, and I immediately tried to force it into this romantic/sexual framework because that was what crushes were, right? I wanted to spend all my time with the guy and could not stop thinking about him and thought he was the greatest, obviously I must want to date him and have sex with him. This ended really badly, and it took several more *years* before I realised that what I’d felt towards him I’d been feeling towards women constantly, all my life – but had always dismissed because hey, I couldn’t possibly be anything resembling lesbian.

          (And then I figured out I was genderqueer! Now it’s just like, really, fuck hetero+cisnormativity fuck them so much.)

      • My best friend in 10th grade decided I should have a crush on the best friend of the guy SHE had a crush on (on whom I also had a super-secret crush, because you can’t like the same guy as your BFF!), and I wound up dating the dude for 5 years. He was a born-again Christian and filled with more self-loathing than I thought was possible to fit into one person. Awesome way to spend 5 years.

      • “and that I must be lying and not trusting them enough to tell them.”

        OMG YES THIS SO MUCH THIS they were all like “why won’t you tell uuuuus?” and I was like “there’s nothing to teeeeeell!”

    • Wow, so that’s normal? Is it also normal for all your so called friends to then immediately go and tell the person whose name you have just pulled out of a hat that you have a crush on them?

      Also can totally relate to the song writing and what others have written about setting them up with somebody like some kind of test they are always going to fail. My song had the riff “I’ll imagine you’re imagining she’s me.”

      • No. No, that second part is not normal. That second part is called “asshole behavior.” Unfortunately, kids tend to engage in a lot of it, particularly at the age when they’re just beginning to discover these kinds of feelings. Happened to me once, too.

    • You edited and crossed out stuff on the same paper you sent him? Noooo!

  20. uhh… I think something ate my comment. That or I hit the wrong button. :P Oh well. Long story short, I, too, have done the awkward crush thing, and it was in high school, so just… have fun imagining the hilarity. But it wasn’t quite as awesomely awkward as your story, Cap’n!

  21. I must have driven our mutual friends up the wall, because I could not shut the hell up about him. After meeting at a party I kind of drew him further into our group and encouraged a really close friendship really quickly. Mentally tortured myself with ‘mixed signals’ that I had really manipulated into happening and were probably actually just a result of him being a really decent guy. We never made out or anything but there enough intimacies that every now I convinced myself….maybe…
    Apart from liking his company a lot I don’t know why I let it go on so long, because it made me bloody miserable and stressed and I basically didn’t think of anything else (HOW do we convince ourselves that this is a reasonable prelude to something we should want?).
    And then after just over a year….FEELINGSMAIL. I’M RETROACTIVELY SORRY, CAPTAIN. For me it actually came at breaking point where I actively couldn’t see him/have contact again because I was actually making myself ill, but I didn’t want to disappear without explanation. So I basically said in an email ‘Hey I have feelings for you and I know they aren’t returned so I need some space’ (do you think maybe I was a little bit hoping I’d be corrected?). I did this before I left town for a few days and tried to enjoy my holiday – without checking my email.
    Turns out the reply was almost instant, an expression of surprise, and regret, but willingness to give me space.
    We left it a month or so and very happily, it turned our friendship had actually been based on something real, so it’s…different, but recovered. It’s the best case scenario, because I get to keep an awesome person (who was never a potential partner, really) in my life without an agenda. Two years later now so our friendship doesn’t seem so defined by that gruesomely intense period.

    My lesson here is: You can recover from FEELINGSMAIL. You will find out if your relationship was ever based on something reciprocal.
    But oy, how much time and stress and drama it would have saved me just to ask directly if he was into me in the first month or so.

    • To be fair, there was some smart in your FEELINGSMAIL! I mean, you might have wanted to be corrected, but you still said you needed space and then actually went away and didn’t check your mail. High fives for you, and glad you were able to recover the friendship.

      • I’m just glad I didn’t FEELINGSBOMB in a way that demanded reciprocity. Really, I’m not stupid. I knew a few months in it wasn’t going to happen. But good gravy the crushing brain is an awful, irrational, hopeful thing, and it craves its feelings to be returned more than anything. I can see how FEELINGSMAIL can go…other ways.

    • That honestly sounds like a good ole example of Using Your Words, actually. Sure, you were hoping you’d be corrected, but it was confusing and hard to figure out what to do at that point.

      • If by that point the choice was between Using My Words (in a kind of cowardly way) and having to withdraw from the friendship entirely, I’m glad I made the choice I did, because it worked out.
        It’s not the best case scenario (that would be clearing things up early on before I got too invested), but it’s a better case scenario versus a freak-out or either of us slow-fading.

    • “Apart from liking his company a lot I don’t know why I let it go on so long, because it made me bloody miserable and stressed and I basically didn’t think of anything else (HOW do we convince ourselves that this is a reasonable prelude to something we should want?)”
      This gets me right in the feels! I had a crush on this guy who kind of gave me mixed signals (although now that I’m sane I’m not sure if I imagined the positive signals or not…) and I was stressed out and anxious and not eating or sleeping pretty much the whole time I liked him and after I decided to distance myself I was like “whyyyy did I enjoy having this crush?”

      • It’s so impossible to see til you’re out the other side – that holy crap, you can have a nice balanced brain and think about lots of different things and invest in *all* your relationships and, i dunno, get to sleep without lying awake thinking for hours.

  22. Oh gosh, I had actually repressed this memory until reading this post.

    Let me paint the scene. I was a bright eyed high school sophomore. He was a smart funny junior (older man!). We met working back stage for our theater program’s production of the Sound of Music and we were in love.

    That is to say, I was in “love” and he talked to me sometimes. I was prepared to handle this they way I handled all my crushes, by creepily watching them and never mentioning anything to them when one of my more romantically experienced friends told me that I should tell him. I clutched onto the idea as if it were the only oxygen that existed.

    I decided to do it in note form. I spent hours slaving over that lined notebook paper and all my FEELINGS. Eventually I scrawled his name on the folded up paper and got ready to give it to him.

    The next day I chickened out (thank goodness!) and threw it away. A few years later, we found each other on Facebook and I found out that I had actually MISSPELLED HIS NAME on the note.

  23. I had this awful crush-not-crush on this guy in high school. We ended up going to a school dance together (hahahahaha high school dances) and things were Happening, and that was fun, but it all sort of fizzled out because the majority of my being into him was caused by of the novelty of someone being into me. Of course, part of the process of things fizzling out was me finding out that he was no longer interested by seeing him cuddling with/hearing he’d gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend who was, at the time, pregnant with someone else’s kid. OOOOOPS. I don’t think I actually cared because of the veritable lack of pantsfeelings on my part, but that didn’t stop me from tossing dejected looks at him when he wasn’t watching and sighing dramatically in the hallways.

    I’m laughing so hard at my high school self right now.

  24. I’ve never had a crush, as far as I know. I mean, I’m seventeen, so maybe I’m too young? But everyone talks about it like it’s something that happens when you’re young so I guess not? I feel a little bit weird and alienated when people talk about crushes and the like like it’s some sort of universal human experience.

    • Hexiva, I want to assure you that it is totes okay not to have/have had crushes by 17. It’s ok if you’ve had a bajillion crushes by then, too! Everyone’s heart and mind is built a bit differently. (I myself had no interest in romance until I was abouuuuut eh, 19 or 20, which reminds me, do I have a few stories to tell…)

      You might crush until the cows come home, or act on some gooshy feelings and discover great things, or just flip right into the Srs Bznz Romance mode of life. Or you might not. The great thing is – everything will be all your own. :)

    • I’m 19, and never really had a crush. There was a kid in preschool who I have a vague memory of kiss-ambushing, which then caused the teacher to give me a time out and explain that I couldn’t go around kissing people because I felt like it.

      I also got in trouble once that same year for showing off my underwear, which was apparently so cool everyone needed to see it.

      And my first word was ‘fuck’.

      I think I got the majority of my ‘stereotypical teen behavior’ out of the way when i was under 10.

    • Not having crushes is just as normal too. But oy, do a lot of us experience them. Unrequited feelings can seem inevitable but if you’re asexual or aromantic you may never have them, or perhaps you just haven’t met someone who’s sparked your interest yet.

    • My first real crush (rather than a fake crush that I invented for the sake of being included in my friends’ constant crush-related conversations) didn’t come until I was 24. It lasted about a month and then fizzled out. From there it was another few years before the next crush that also fizzled out shortly after.
      Some people crush all the time, some people don’t crush at all. Some people don’t crush for long periods of time, and then they do. Or they never do. Every single one of them is a valid, complete, whole person with or without crushes.
      Being a not-crushing person surrounded by friends who do have crushes can make us feel alienated and I sympathize with you so much. I spent years of my life wondering what was wrong with me (the answer I came to at the time was that I was too fat and ugly to be able to feel those feelings; this is no longer my answer but it took a lot of time to get past it), years of my life feeling somehow less than human. The popular culture is not helpful with this topic at all! I started reading adult science fiction in grade 5 because they were the only books I had access to that did not involve all the female characters crushing on or pursuing the male characters. I never watched romantic comedies or romance movies. I have never read a harlequin romance. Even with all of that avoidance it is very hard to escape the constant message that people all do, all must have crushes and fall in love. We don’t! We don’t have to! It is not a requirement, it is not an intrinsic part of all human experience!

    • Oh man, Hexiva, I am so with you. I actually pretended to have crushes in middle and high school just to have something to talk about with my friends. My mom and I would make a list of every boy I knew and find the best one for me to “crush” on. I played the part and acted in embarrassing ways, but there was no pay-off. If they HAD been interested, that would have been even worse.

      I’m in my late-20′s now, Hexiva, and engaged to be married to a super wonderful person. Believe it or not, I’ve only had one crush in my life and it wasn’t on the future Mr. Mousey. It was on a dude who was pretty awful actually and who makes me cringe every time I see his name on my FB newsfeed. My relationship with Mr. Mousey never came out of a crush as much as a genuine interest in him as a person and a growing sense of trust and love.

      So, what I’m saying is that I do somewhat understand how not having crushes can make you feel alienated. We may not talk about it much, but there are others like you who do not crush often or ever.

      Also, maybe totally off the mark, but if you are interested, you can check out some of the info on asexuality and aromantics at asexuality.org. I definitely consider myself to be in they gray area on the asexual scale and realizing that and finding out that there are tons of people like me made the whole thing way less confusing.

      • Would it be inappropriate to say that it’s a nice surprise to see another Grey-A person here? Or on the asexual scale at all, for that matter. *waves tentative hello*

        And also just to clarify the above comment, Hexiva: asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction, while an aromantic is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Some people are one, some are the other, some people are both.

        • Gray-A High Five!

          Also, thanks for clarifying me. I realize now that I just introduced those terms without really explaining them at all.

      • Man, your mom is awesome for helping you with that.

      • Hi! First time commenter with a question for you and any others who might define themselves as somewhere on the grey scale. I am currently 25 and have never had a crush/pantsfeels for anyone. I don’t consider myself asexual and would like a sexual relationship someday, but it is really difficult to actually imagine myself with someone–it leaves me feeling kind of stuck.

        So my question is: for those of you fitting somewhere in the “demi” category, where immediate attraction might not apply and with no ‘long-term-friendships-with-the-potential-to-become-more’ looming on the horizon, how do you go about dating? And if you do date, how do you know when to continue if that “spark” at the beginning never happens, or takes forever to show up? Any relevant advice/personal experiences would be greatly appreciated :)

    • I’m 29. I didn’t get my first crush until I was 28. Unfortunately, by then I was SO convinced that something was fundamentally wrong with me (add in past sexual abuse, and I was blaming everything on me being awful and broken) that I had started dating a guy who seemed nice (but turned out to be a Nice Guy!) in the hopes that maybe I would develop feelings AFTER I’d been seeing him for awhile. I kept holding out hope, since he was SO NICE, that I’d fall for him SOON, so I’d convince myself to stay even though I wasn’t happy, because I was convinced it was MY fault for being unhappy (if I could learn to love him, I could be normal and happy like everyone else, this is my last chance, I’ll never be able to love if I don’t stick to it, etc etc).

      Don’t do this!

      Finally I did get a crush, just not on the guy I was dating at the time! (But I’m dating him now, so yay!). Funny thing is, I’m attracted to my guy, but not physically? (but we have lovely sexytimes anyway). I’m finally coming to acknowledge that I am almost entirely asexual, and along with that aromantic. Buuuuut, I’m super attracted to awesomeness, and when I’m around someone with major awesomeness long enough to feel close and trusting with them (the trust issues, I has them), then a secret level is unlocked and I am capable of crushes, and capable of pantsfeelings for the source of my romantic feelings. After doing some reading on asexuality, “demisexual” seems to be the label that fits me best, if one must put a label on things, which is not a requirement (but is kinda comforting).

      My point is, don’t worry about not having crushes yet. Nothing is wrong with you. Convincing yourself something IS wrong with you because you don’t crush is the fastest way to MAKE a problem where there isn’t one.

    • Don’t worry, I’m about to be 28 and I haven’t really had any proper crushes either, or at least only one or two. Most of my relationships have been social obligation and wishful thinking on my part, and the only people I’ve thought I could really like have been on the other side of the world (funnily enough, one of them was the previous girlfriend of my abusive ex, but luckily for her she only did the long distance thing with him) and unfortunately sort of overlapped, which killed the chances for either of them. I’m pretty reconciled at this point to the idea that it might happen, it might not happen, and either way I’m trying to build an awesome life so that it doesn’t really matter whether it does or not. You don’t need to crush on people to be normal, and at 17 unless you’ve moved around a lot you haven’t actually met that many people anyway – plus, since everyone in your dating pool is going through puberty, chances are a lot of them are temporarily raging douches, because so many of us can be in puberty. ;) You’ll meet heaps more people as you go through your twenties and thirties who might be compatible and inspire pantsfeelings, or maybe not – my uncle never really dated anyone seriously until he got married, and he’s in his fifties. My oldest sister’s never really been into anyone in RL either and she’s just turned 35. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. Just be awesome.

    • Don’t worry. They are definitely not universal. You’re in good company and that’s nothing to worry about. I’m 24 and I’ve never had a “crush” on someone. I’ve been in love in a relationship and briefly kinda sorta developed almost feelings for guys I’d been fooling around with (really I just was attracted to the fact they were attracted to me and I was in danger of a rebound but not actually interested in a relationship). But never have I developed a “crush”.

      Hell, I’ve never even asked out a guy or hit on one first. Not because I’m afraid or some gender norm, I just don’t see guys I know as potential romantic partners until they’ve already expressed interest in me. (Not that I become attracted to any guy that expresses interest, cause NO) I’m not sure if that’s odd or that I’m just very eager to make platonic friends. Either way, I find it works out very well for me and I’m not worried.

    • What everyone said about you being totally normal.

      But also, crushes are for anybody, young or old. They’re not always about lust (pants!) or romance (heart, I guess), but sometimes about Sheer Awesome or wanting-to-be-someone; I have friend crushes, art crushes…

      Whenever I see a live performance by a skilled bass or deep baritone singer, I fall head over heels, briefly.

      Usually, the association with youth, I think, is that once you grow up you’re “supposed to” get over that stuff and sublimate all those feelings into your marriage and kids. I say that’s nonsense.

      The other association with youth is that sometimes people get better at handling their own intense feelings, and stop sending baking FEELINGSBROWNIES.

      You are totally fine, and if you have your first crush at the age of 82, you will still be totally fine!

    • Crushes know no age. I had one at 40. Fortunately, it didn’t last too long, and didn’t end too painfully, as crushes go.

      • Thank-you. I hear that someday I’ll stop crushing. It hasn’t happened yet. At least I use my words or obviously flirt more to bring the romantic possibility up much earlier than in younger days (when I think it might be reasonable to date them anyway). And yeah, much less pain. Still a work in progress, though.

    • Echoing what everyone else has said about crushes definitely not being universal. Interestingly enough, I kind of had the opposite problem when I was a kid/teen in that I didn’t have crushes, I had those damn limerances. So when the other girls asked “who do you have a crush on?” they meant “who’s someone you would hold hands with and go to the mall to and maybe kiss a little and break up with in a couple months?” and in my head I was like “BOY X IS THE GLORY OF THE SUN, OUR SOULS ARE ENTWINED”. *facepalm*

    • Hexiva, it’s better to not have a crush at all than to force one because it’s expected. Believe me, I know whereof I speak. You’re fine. Keep on keepin’ on. :)

  25. I had a crush on a gay man in uni, who instead dated my male best friend. Who broke up with him by not showing up to the awkward dinner party we’d thrown to try and get past the awkwardness….yeah…. Good times at college!! Lol!

    • I also had a crush on a gay man in uni, but I was actually glad about it. I was seriously dating someone at the time, and I figured if I didn’t have this crush, I might start crushing on some straight guy while in a serious relationship (because even if I’m in love, even if the relationship is serious, even if I want it to last, I still tend to develop random crushes) and figured at least with a gay guy, I could just have my crush-fantasies and know for sure that they really are just fantasies, no doubts or ifs or maybes.

      That didn’t prevent me from sending FEELINGSMAIL to the gay man, tho, when we were on a student club board together, there was only one woman on the board besides me (as compared to 9 men), and he invited all the men out to a lunch but not me or the other woman. FEELINGSMAIL in the way of “I’ve been excluded and does this mean you hate me”…

  26. Hey, I’m the one who wrote the comment in the previous thread asking if people wanted to talk about this – thanks for making it happen! (I’ll keep checking back to see what everyone posts.) I hope you don’t feel too bad, in retrospect, about your story – I know plenty of people, mostly dudes, who did all that sort of thing PLUS extremely disrespectful violations of the crush’s boundaries – making comparisons of a girl’s body to a porn actress, trying to force her to kiss him, etc. At least it shows that you valued this guy as a person and as a friend :)

    With my friend-crush, I’ve been super confused/angsty, because he was flirting with me a bunch when we first met, but I didn’t reciprocate at the time (can’t really, with people who I’ve just met). He was pretty obvious – hand-holding and so on. Then he went out of town for awhile, came back a few months ago, and I started attempting to flirt with him, without success. But I’m not sure if I was at all obvious, and we really only became better friends in that time (my depression means that I take *small* risks only, and my limited dating experience has been with guys who I met online and/or who asked me out, so the risk of rejection was always lower, and of less importance to me).

    I’m thinking I might just ask him out, since he’s single and does still sometimes flirt with me a little, and is pretty considerate and a generally decent person. My worries about him potentially saying no are mostly about overstepping boundaries/not being able to be as friendly anymore, but I think I can handle it somewhat gracefully if he says no, and that if he does turn me down, he’d do it politely. Anyway, closure’s important.

    • Sometimes the these we do when flirting that feel really risky and totally out of our normal comfort zone will just fly over people’s heads. The Cap has some pretty good scripts on here for keeping it simple and direct before you get too invested :)

      • Yeah, I think I need scripts! Actually, I already did get really over-invested in this, but thanks to a lot of soul-searching (read: advice columns and writing about my thoughts and being *really brutally honest* to myself), I think I’ve managed to claw my way back to a sane level of investment. Like, if I get turned down, I’ll be sad, but at least I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be a jerk about it.

  27. Oh god. So I’ve actually gotten good at getting over crushes in the past few years….

    I guess, to start out with, I should say that most of my crushes since mid-high school have been on people who took the time to be *nice* to me, which well, this is not the thread for these issues. Sometimes there were no pantsfeelings. Sometimes there were. In college, quite often they would not have been attracted to me due to my gender.

    The most notable one was on a friend in my co-op in college. Co-op in this instance is student run dining hall. It’s basically eating 12 meals a week with the same 30 people. We were all up in each other’s business. This friend was lovely and sweet and nice, and I eventually came to have a crush on her and, later, pantsfeelings. Did I use my words? Why no, no I did not. Did I have panic attacks in her presence, unrelated to crush? Abso-fucking-lutely…. I am less of a hot mess now.

    But, in this instance and others, my tendency to think WAY TOO FAR ahead helps me. What about you could I not live with? Recent ones include: being a covert asshole, having horrendous manners that you think are acceptable, existing insanely noisily and thinking it’s endearing, drinking like a fish, not liking to cook and not wanting to learn, and not having any shared interests. I mentioned that all it took was being nice and then I’m hooked right? See here how practice helps.

    For co-op friend, it was not because she was a vegetarian. It was because she looked like she might puke whenever anyone ate meat. And summer break. Distance helps too.

    Fun fact: it wasn’t until I was well over my crush that the entire co-op thought we were sleeping together.

  28. Captain, I’m also glad, and not all that surprised that after some awkwardness, you resumed your friendship.

    In my experience, adults are usually able to bounce back from the awkwardness of unreturned feelings, particularly if there’s at least basic regard between the two of you. The prospect of rejection can still be terrifying, but I always say it gave me the nerve to ask out my now husband because not long before I did so, I had turned down a friend who’d asked me on a date and it hadn’t gone all weird between the two of us.

    (Not that I’d never asked out a guy before then, but my successful relationship history before that point mostly involved relationships that developed organically, and the times that I’d had to explictly propose a date were crushes based on wishful thinking where I had done the creepy lurky thing for a long period before getting the nerve to ask and been awkwardly, but gently rejected.)

  29. Oh, my. I think I have to share my awkward story because I usually gloss over the truly, horrifically awkward bits. The story starts when I was in MIDDLE school. I started dating a guy and, unlike most Middle School relationships, this one actually lasted. For two years. Then I decided to break up with him when we were in high school, mostly because things were kind of stale. Which was incredibly stupid of me. And due to the somewhat smallish nature of the school/classes, we still saw each other all the time. As a lead-in awkwardness I was crushing on his best friend, as I was in denial about having feelings for my ex and wanting to get back together with him.

    So, we get to senior year, and think about colleges. I wanted out of confining small town; he was content to go to State University. At one point I told him that I wasn’t interested in a relationship before college, because it was doomed to failure. (Oh, was it ever). I think you can see where this is going – after some more denial on my part, followed by a FEELINGSMAIL (which lead to him shooting me down), followed by more time together where I acted like a complete idiot to stay on his radar, we finally got back together a few weeks before graduation. After I’d already decided that I was going to college 1000 miles away. Cue people wondering if I was out of my damn mind. We’d agreed that it would end at the end of the summer, but then he let me persuade him into changing our agreement and trying long-distance. Which fell apart almost immediately – he went through some family bumps, and it was really just too hard to do it. We agreed to break up in person, over my fall break, only somehow I didn’t get the message that it was over – and flew back for Thanksgiving, (or tried to, since I got stranded by snow overnight) for the express purpose of seeing him. Around Christmas, I don’t know what changed, I just finally somehow got the message and decided I was going to get over him. I know that the distance HAD to have helped – I just literally couldn’t think straight around him, and being off at college gave me a bit of perspective.

    At the beginning of February, I started dating a guy that I am still with (several years later, through bumps of our own) and plan to marry (as soon as we get around to it, we know that we’re solid, and the marriage would just be the legal icing on the cake). In some ways, having been pining over High School guy for the first semester of college put me in a position to build a relationship with my partner throughout the rest of college. So it ultimately worked out, even if the whole second half of my senior year of high school was one long Fail Parade for me.

    [This story is TYPICALLY abbreviated as "Tried to date my high school sweetheart long-distance while at college. Lasted half a semester. Don't make the same mistake I did."]

  30. Oooh my high school crush. He was tall, dark, mysterious and just a little bit edgy. He was so cool he could WEAR HIS SISTER’S PINK TSHIRT to school and still be cool. We were in the same friends group. I laughed at his jokes, obediently turned up at his parties, slavishly loved everything he loved…and physical evidence exists that at every chance I took I sneakily took a photo of him. You guys, that was the olden days when cameras all needed film and you had to pay to get a roll developed – how much of my hard-earned went on him, I wonder?

    Imagine the moment when I – the geeky sister – was home on a Friday night, babysitting my little brother… probably watching 16 Candles and mooning over this amaaaazing guy … there’s a mysterious knock at the door … I open it, and there he stands. Him! We’re alone together. At last! Why else could he be at my front door except to declare his undying….Oh, or to ask for my best friend’s phone number and whether she was a virgin or not.

    Being a hormonal seventeen year old, that wasn’t enough to end the crush, ooh no. But I did know then it would forever be unrequited, so luckily kept FEELINGS to myself. Even luckier: twenty years later we work in the same industry. His (still darn attractive) face litters my work twitter feed. He’s tried to hit on a much younger married colleague, by telling her all about his erotic adventures. She has declared him a sleaze bag. He’s writing FIfty Shades-esque erotica under a woman’s name. I just …ugh! I wish everyone a wee window into the future to peek at their crush. But would never ever give up that three seconds when my Hollywood ending came true and I saw him on my doorstep. Best feeling ever. If short-lived

    • Can you please turn those old photos into some kind of art project? I see an installation happening where you wallpaper a room with them.

    • He’s writing FIfty Shades-esque erotica under a woman’s name.

      Haha, what the hell?! Gross.

    • or to ask for my best friend’s phone number and whether she was a virgin or not.

      Loudly yelled “UGH” at my computer. Because why is that a relevant detail at all for him to demand? All. The. Ick. The timing of his appearance at your door, however, makes for a great story.

      He sounds like he’s continued to be a real prize….

  31. My first job in my field, I had switched to a a new (for me) area in an effort to try to get a promotion, by which I mean “job that pays a living wage and has health insurance.” I worked there for probably a year or so before I took any notice of my boss, but when I did: >_<

    I wanted to bang that guy like a screen door. I drove all my coworker-friends crazy constantly talking my crush and nothing but my crush. Pretty much all my journal entries at the time were the minutiae of every second at work when I was around Crush, coupled with the usual analyzing every breath he took to see if it meant that he liked me.

    Then, to amp things up even more –

    (The Scene: time at work when it was dead and only me and Crush were there.)

    [normal conversation between us]

    Me: Oh, that reminds me of this super crazy [read: somewhat off-color] story Coworker was telling some of us today! It's super funny. ::relates story::

    Him: [Basically ended up having this weird mini dirty-talking me session about a sexual fetish he had related to said story--which happens to be a fetish I have as well]

    —————————————————————————————————

    This was not a wishful thinking/Lens-O-Crush thing either. It was explicit and obvious. However, prior to this, I had years of dealing with street harassment starting about about age 11, plus another decade of creepy and/or threatening comments from working in service in an industry where we deal with lots of mentally ill people, in a job with a management that threw everyone to the wolves. Therefore, instead of running with Sexy Talk like I had the goddamn French Connection heroin, my reflex was to go into this disassociative bit I do where I treat everything anyone says to me at face value and refuse to acknowledge it as being weird or creepy; therefore, it was two weeks before it ever occurred to me that what he said was several postal codes away from being work-appropriate conversation.

    Now not only did I have a massive crush on him, but I knew that we shared at least one of the same fetishes and therefore our getting together was of course Meant To Be.

    Eventually I did ask him out, he said no, I quit working there and left the industry for a while because I couldn't make ends meet with the job I had, then went back there because I missed my field–same department with this guy as my boss again. Yeah.

    This time though, I ended up staying for only a short while because shortly thereafter I got what at the time was a way better job. A few other jobs later, I'm in a different part of the same field, in a job which I love and which pays well.

    As for the dating side of it, I dated people before, during, and after I had a crush on this guy. Even after not working there for a few years, the crush would come and go like a bout of malaria. The thing that finally really ended the limerence for me was dating a guy who's also into the same sex stuff, so now I have a real, live human to do things with instead the hyper-idealized version of Crush that lived in my head.

    • “my reflex was to go into this disassociative bit I do where I treat everything anyone says to me at face value and refuse to acknowledge it as being weird or creepy; therefore, it was two weeks before it ever occurred to me that what he said was several postal codes away from being work-appropriate conversation.”

      *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

      Yeeeaaaah this. I was a waitress for some years. Now (yay education and stuff!) I work in a public library, which is lovely, but still involves a reference desk. (My coworkers who came up from service work – as opposed to our coworkers who came over from other professional fields, and Just Do Not Get It – sometimes joke, “Hi, I’m *** and I’ll be your information server today.” Occasional Game of Grab-ass Avoidance and all.) So I do that “I do not recognize the sexual content of your statement” blank stare pretty much automatically at work, and I am sensitive to not being skeevy in other people’s workplaces.

      I nursed a crush for FOUR YEARS. For two and a half of those years, the only – literally the ONLY time we saw each other was at one or the other workplace. We would do this dance where I would go into her office and be on my Best Behavior, then sigh and swoon for a couple of days and bemoan the fact that I never ran into her socially, and then she’d come into the library and flirt with me shamelessly and I’d… realize it belatedly the next day. Sigh, swoon, rinse, repeat. Eventually she quit flirting. *sad*

    • “I wanted to bang that guy like a screen door.”

      Best similie EVER.

  32. Oi. What started out as a crush turned into a kinda/sorta relationship (?) that was really mostly one-sided, in that I totally fell for this guy who happened to be my best friend. He wasn’t into it as much, and I’m trying to avoid limerence-ing my way through life at the moment.

    So. We met in our mid twenties, a la the Captain, by working together. Shared interests, super similar personalities, EXACT SAME TASTE IN MUSIC (and let me tell you, this was so super awesome when we found out. We even shared Pandora stations for a while). Anyway, he had a girlfriend and moved away a few months later when her job moved her to another state, but we kept closely in touch. Long story short, they broke up shortly thereafter, and I was his shoulder to cry on post break-up. I didn’t swoop in ’cause he didn’t move back, although he said he would.

    We kept talking. All the time, late into the night, every night. I visited him (I was in the state for other reasons), and things got physical. He said he really liked me but didn’t know what to do about it. {{RED FLAG!}} He still didn’t move back, and a month later said he couldn’t commit to doing long distance, though I wanted to. We kept talking, and being each other’s BFF’s, and couple months after that, he visited the city and stayed with me. I was a virgin (which he knew), and we had a great long weekend together.

    He went back home and decided that nope, still couldn’t commit to doing long distance. A few months later, he started dating someone else, then moved across the country for school and is now (still) dating her long distance.

    Yay! I don’t talk to him anymore, and things are no longer awkward at work, where we don’t mention his name :)

    • Oh god, the old, “I really like you but…”

      Can we all agree that the only proper, green light way to finish “I really like you…” for relationship purposes must be something along the lines of “…and I would like to date you.” Obviously there are other acceptable responses for, say, FWBs, platonic friends, etc, but I’m not sure why it took so long for me to get it through my head that “I like you, but…” meant “I do not want to date you.”

  33. Gosh…. Do i have a crush stories

    1st one: I’m still so young. In high school. For 2 years I’ve been crushing on this fantastic cool guy who’s drummer in a local, and no doubt about it, very crappy band. But I love it! I love their music, but most of all i LOVE HIM! I go to ALL their concerts, and every party that I know he might be at. But I never dare to talk to him. For the first part of this crush he actually had a girlfriend, so I kept my distance for a reason. But when they break up, my visits to wherever he might be grow more frequently (yes, like a stalker indeed) and still I never dare to talk to him.

    Then on one of those parties he kisses some other girl. HE KISSES SOME OTHER GIRL (probably one that dared to talk to him). I get wasted off my face. First time ever I’ve been drunk, I throw a big tantrum and FEELINGS-VOLCANO-ERUPTION!!!!!!! I cry and ruin the entire party because I involve everyone in this mess that is the feelings of a 16-year old drunk girl. Of course my dear friend who accompanied me to all these events is there to stand close to me and hold me while I’m unable to stand for myself and she explains to everyone what is going on, as I wasn’t able to speak anymore through my tears, vomit and what not.

    This is a GREAT way of letting your crush know that you are into them. The best way probably.

    The shame I felt the next day was enough for me to leave that scene and get into something entirely different.. Being a teenager searching for an identity can be a great thing indeed when you want to avoid certain people.

    I have to say I learned so much from this. From then on I’ve almost (almost) always spoke out my feelings to anyone I met and had feelings for. This resulted in most of my FEELINGSMAIL being written to exes after being badly broken up with, or to boyfriends when that seemed the best way to communicate with someone that you actually speak to on a day to day basis..

    But also brave people who speak up their feelings sometimes do not… My worst crush story was one that was reciprocated a few times over the 8!!! years that it lasted. But is definitely a horrible history anyway.

    2nd: We met in college and instantly liked each other. I had a boyfriend back then, and he had a girlfriend. For some reason coincidentaly both of us broke up with our partners and we ended up seeing each other a little, we had some rebound-sex, and then life happened. We lost contact for a bit and re-connected as friends a year or so later.

    Around that time I was seeing other people and he also had numerous girlfriends, never serious. We were such good friends that we spent almost every hour together, sleeping over at each others house, going out dancing, drinking out, eating out, and endless and endless hours of coffeedrinking and libraryvisiting. I crushed on him heavily, but because we were such good ‘friends’ I didn’t act on it. Of course after some time we did act on our (or should i say my) crush, and had a really good time together. But even as we were having this good time, I for sure didn’t speak up about my true feelings, and ask him to make it official. Neither did he.. Then i went away for a very looooong trip. Over the course of this trip we had little contact. I was somewhere in Africa and the internet wasn’t working properly yet.

    When I came back he had a girlfriend, a serious one, or so it seemed. We went back to being ‘good ol’ friends’, although I cringed and cried inside. Of course his new girlfriend hated me. So much. And rightfully too. Because of the close friendship we had, and because I desperately didn’t want to let go of that, him and his girlfriend were not very happy. And this is were the very very ugly starts. Whenever she broke up with him because she couldn’t stand me, him and me would fall back into our ‘friendship’-status-quo-from-before-my-trip. “But we’re really just friends!!” They always got back together, and broke up again. And got back together. And broke up. And got back together. An awful love triangle.

    I have to say that my friend was the biggest dick of all in this history, and he definitely was not my friend. He lied to both me and his girlfriend, but i let myself be lied to SO MUCH. What a heavy crush can make you do is unbelievable. I took a LOT of shit from him. And abandoned my own morals. At one point when they had been broken up for about half a year, and we had been sleeping around for that same time, he told me point blankly over breakfast one day that he and his girlfriend had gotten back together. Again I didn’t speak about how that made me feel.. instead I went home and composed a FEELINGSLETTER wich explained everything about my feelings and how hurt I was, and also making a case for why I was a better fit for him, and actually also had been his girlfriend this entire time. (Why would you make a case for that? Why would you? Why?)

    At night, I cycled to someplace he was being to hand him the letter personally and I told him that I NEVER WANT TO SEE HIM AGAIN, and walked out. He followed me, and as we got outside it started pouring rain. I cycled away through the rain while he was standing on the corner of the street, holding my letter tight in his one hand and stretching his other arm out to me and calling my name. I shit you not, this was one of the most cinematic moments in my life. I remember thinking to myself that that was a beautiful image and I should have brought my camera, even when i was so fucking sad.

    The worst part of this story? WE CONTINUED BEING FRIENDS and play this game even longer! More of the same misery, but never the same beautiful imagery as that night..

    Anyway, we even evolved to somewhat mature friends, me and his girlfriend tried to mend our relationship, I fell in love with a fantastic someone else. But we broke our friendship up last year. He apparently had pantsfeelings for me still that he couldn’t get over, even after we’d gotten over so much things that were way worse. He also broke up with his girlfriend. And it’s probably for the better. Still, I really miss him every once in a while. The crush has really softened my heart for him.

    • “This is a GREAT way of letting your crush know that you are into them. The best way probably.”

      AGREED.

  34. Most of my awkward crush stories involve someone who Doesn’t Like Girls That Way. In the worst case of this, almost everyone we knew, including my parents and his parents, would have really liked to see us get married. We were very good friends through most of college, and then we got an apartment together after college graduation and bought cats together and everything, and I did have a bit of a crush on him. AND Cute Gay Housemate was dating a very charismatic yet mentally unstable version of Darth Vader, who particularly disliked me for calling out his Darth Vader-ing.

    Then I started dating my ex-Darth Vader, and I think part of the reason I put up with Darth Vader for so long is because Cute Gay Housemate was providing everything a relationship should provide other than the sex and the title of “fiance”. That relationship, coincidentally, imploded around the time Cute Gay Housemate moved out.

    When I took up with my actual spouse, who is not entirely dissimilar to Cute Gay Housemate in either appearance or personality, my mother was STILL disappointed that I had not married Cute Gay Housemate. Even though spouse is a younger, less shy, still-queer-but-likes-girls-enough-to-desire-me version of Cute Gay Housemate in many ways. I think it took about five years and First Kid being around for my mom to get all the way past that.

  35. There was a girl I had Social Activity in common with, let’s call her C. We were friends, but of course for her it really was just friends, and for me it was a hopeless crush. I never mentioned this to C, or asked her about her feelings, because she was so clearly “out of my league,” and also because there were quite a few guys in Social Activity with crushes on her and I was determined to be the Nice Guy Who Doesn’t Do That To Her.

    At one point I had a small argument with the girl I was (briefly) dating and I went out for drinks with C. We both got extremely drunk and she said she wanted to go to a party. We got there, drank some more, and she started dancing very close with the host of the party. This was the reason she’d wanted to go to the party in the first place, but I was unable to see that, and I convinced myself that he was creeping her out and I needed to save her. Yes, actually. So I slipped in as a song was ending and asked her to dance to get her away from him. She accepted, we danced, and at the end of the song she kissed me.

    I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do … but I recovered enough to do the right thing. I did not kiss her back and I said, “We shouldn’t do this, I’m dating Other Girl.” And she replied, “Oh, yes, we are just good friends,” and she returned to the host of the party. So sometimes, I wasn’t that bad :)

    Time passes. Me and Other Girl break up, C and Party Host break up, crush continues even as we are becoming friends and I am being Nice Guy and whining to her about how I can’t find anybody to date when secretly I want to date her. And I keep on wondering what would have happened if I had kissed her back, back at the party (now I know: probably nothing good. I was seeing someone else and we were both really drunk … definitely nothing good).

    About 1.5 years after the party, something funny happened. I decided to get my shit together for completely unrelated reasons. Started therapy, etc. for unrelated issues. It so happened I did this at a time when C was out of town for an extended time. While she was gone, I started dating somebody else who was really awesome. As it turned out, the combination of dating a really awesome person and having my shit together more generally ended up meaning that by the time C returned to town, the crush had disappeared.

    Several years have passed since then. I am no longer with that awesome person but it doesn’t matter. C and I are really close friends and have been for years. In fact, I usually forget that I used to have a crush on her, and when I remember, it feels weird … I just can’t imagine being anything other than friends now.

    • I never mentioned this to C, or asked her about her feelings, because she was so clearly “out of my league,” and also because there were quite a few guys in Social Activity with crushes on her and I was determined to be the Nice Guy Who Doesn’t Do That To Her.

      I have been seriously thinking about this kind of thing! I’m doing my thesis on relational bullying in children, and I’ve got all these thoughts swirling around about how it sets Nice Guys and Girls for failure. Kids have an artificial hierarchy of “popularity”, which is really status, and enforce it really brutally with who they will or won’t be sociable with. If you’re of too low a status and you try to be friends with a more-popular kid than you, you’re viewed as being bad, pushy, rude, or conceited. So we learn that liking and wanting to spend time with someone “above” us is actually this awful burden that we place on people.

      Which actually means that many people at the “top” don’t know how “popular” they are, because everyone’s afraid to approach them.

      Because seriously, if you step back a bit–having someone say, “I think that you’re beautiful and have wonderful qualities. I love being around you, want to contribute to your happiness, and ardently hope that you’ll look fondly on me” can be pretty awesome! It’s NOT some terrible burden. (At least, as long as it’s a genuine standalone statement, and the kind of thing you can say, “I’m flattered, but I regret that I don’t feel about you that way,” to without the person turning into a ragemonster on you. It’s creepy when you end with the person mwa-ha-haing to themselves, “After a perfomance like that, I DEFINITELY deserve romance!”)

      But we’ve got it all backwards. So many people approach a crush feeling like they have to atone for the unmitigated gall of asking a person to endure a charity project like them. No wonder the Nice response to people who just solicit relationships without performing the ritual abasement “jerks”, “assholes”, or “bitches.”

  36. Oh man. My last unshakeable, impossible-to-cure crush was a year or two after college. I did tell him after a few months, in the manner I had learned in college: go out dancing in a big group; isolate him for a partnered dance even though he said he didn’t dance (rationalization: “all guys say that!”); tell him I’d like to kiss him; if he didn’t scream or run away immediately, initiate kissing.
    I was a bit of a creep.
    This happened periodically (infrequently) for over a year, with no progress in head, heart, or bed: he simply wasn’t interested, although he’d kind of go along with it if we were partying. It was deeply uncool of me and unsatisfying for me, but I couldn’t get my mind off him.
    Distance was really the only thing that worked on me, at that time long ago. I moved far away. Even then, I still read his LJ, and when I visited the city again, I made a beeline for the bar he tended. Life is short and travel shorter, so when he paid me no attention, I made off with another attractive young man at the bar who was, in fact, interested in kissing me. (This was a good idea; we’re still friendly, that second young man and I.)

    This is why the CUT OFF ALL SOCIAL MEDIA CONTACT advice is so important for uncomfortable, unrequited crushes. If your feelings-fire won’t die down, act like you or he moved to another city. Make new friends. Kiss other people. Take up new hobbies, so that years later when you feel embarrassed and bemused at the force of your desire for a dude who in all likelihood was a poor match for you to begin with, you can say “well at least I made my best dryer-lint sculptures during that time” or whatever.

  37. I don’t have any entertaining stories about confessions and FEELINGSMAIL because my M.O., from fourth grade through sophomore year of college, was to NEVER EVER EVER tell my crushes that I liked them. EVER. I believed very strongly that if I revealed my feelings, not only would I be rejected, but there would be dire consequences — all my friends would abandon me, I would be the laughingstock of my school/synagogue/summer camp, I would never be able to look anyone in the eye ever again. So I did the whole pining and dropping hints and obsessive hanging-out thing, but fortunately never actually dumped all my accumulated feelings at the person in question’s feet.

    …I did keep journals, though. You can practically see the angst coming off them in waves.

    • I DID THIS TOO!

      Except that I was too scared of rejection to even try to hang out, or even talk to them. Other than that, you just described me, right down to the journals.

  38. Short-time lurker, first-time commenter.

    1. The story of R
    Not long ago and not far away, Ming was in college with scarce contact with pre-existing friends, in a class full of people who were unsure what to do with this aloof little girl-child from outer space.

    The only person who I felt was even giving me the time of day was sweet, nerdy R from my foundation class, one of the…two people who had joined my major with me. Obvs if he helped me out when I asked for it and he accepted my offers of music for his animation project, we had a chance, right? I decided to write R a note from a ‘secret admirer’ and planned to leave it on his seat when he came to a workshop.

    Nobody attended the workshop. I tore up the note.

    Some months later, I finally caught him online in a reeeal casual FEELINGSINSTANTMESSENGER.
    “How are you?”
    “Not so good. Think I’m lovesick.”
    “Ooooo someone’s in loooooove!” “Yeah. And you?”
    “Oh, already have a girlfriend. So who’s the guy?”
    “Um. It was you.”

    I was mortified by the whole thing, but it was going to get worse. (He specifically told me not to tell anyone, and I never did, because I thought it would earn me some respect from him. IMO it just took away my defences and gave me a huge dark cloud in the head.)

    2. The story of W and H
    Still very sad and vulnerable from the whole I FAILED THE FIRST TIME AND THEREFORE I AM AN UTTER FAILURE AT ROMANCE thing, one of the guys in my class tried to reach out to me. Gently. I fell for him, too. Let’s call him W.

    Valentine’s was coming around so I thought I’d get W something nice. But I didn’t want a repeat of the thing with R, oh no! I had to ask someone I trusted whether he was single or not. I picked our class rep, H, who gently suggested that I ask him myself. Heck no, not doing that, purpose defeated etc.

    By the way, it was only later I found out H was W’s girlfriend.

    W still contacts me on a professional basis (read: ‘Can you do some freelance work for a friend of mine’?) and R founded his own company with his ex-student/girlfriend/fiancee. We do not frequently run in each other’s circles. (It’s been years and I’m still trying to undo the damage that one year wrought. Like I tell people – if other folks’ love lives are rom-coms, mine seems fated to be a Woody Allen movie.)

  39. You guys, I love this thread so much.

    • Let me tell you about the time that a few weeks after my Darth Vader and I broke up, he invited me to his son’s birthday party, which I decided was SUPER-MEANINGFUL. He wants me to meet his child! And his mom! And his friends! Maybe this was going to be back on? (We had only been involved briefly and it started long-distance, so I didn’t actually meet any of these people before). So I wore my cutest outfit and went to the party, where I learned a few things:

      A) He wanted me to be the videographer, for free.
      B) He had a girlfriend and they seemed to have been together for…a while. Like, she’d met everyone and everyone knew about her and there were pictures of the two of them together on the fridge.
      C) His mom thought he’d hired me for the day to be a general videographer/caterer and had me in the kitchen plating canapes with her and ordering me around.

      :TEN THOUSAND FACEPALMS:

      Did I sneak out the back at the first opportunity?
      Did I perhaps send an email the next day saying WTF was that?

      No. I plated fingerfoods, made nice small talk with his mom, videotaped the kid, told him I had a nice time, and slept with him on and off a bunch more times and pined for him for the next YEAR.

      My heart, it is not smart sometimes.

      But, I got better! I got over that guy, and I seriously did stop doing any of that shit. Pining. Feelingsmailing. Firthing. Running everything through the Wishful Thinking Translator. Trying to “deserve” relationships by being the biggest martyr. “I will not date anyone who is not as cool as my friends” was a good, good decision that led me to good people and places.
      .

  40. I don’t think I’ve ever had an honest-to-goodness crush. Maybe the occasional smoosh? They felt more like the occasional gravitational disturbance. Like: aah-I’m-starting-to-get-sucked-in-must-avoid-the-event-horizon kind of thing. I have definitely spent some time on the Couch of Plausible Deniability. (And the, erm, dresser, and, uhm, behind the fieldhouse…)

    • I’ve never had a crush either. In fact my only Crush Story is actually a “crush” story.

      See, back in high school everyone else started liking people in pants-ways and I…. didn’t. At all. Nothing, nada, zip. So when classmates were talking about who they were crushing on they’d always ask me about who I liked, and saying ‘no one’ just made them think I was embarrassed to tell. So they asked harder.

      At some point I got the bright idea to make up a fake crush, to stop the endless question-gossip-cycle. I picked a kid I wasn’t friends with but did see sometimes in class. He was kinda nice whenever we talked, and played the tuba. Crushing on him seemed like a plausible story. So next time it came up I let them pressure me for a while, then finally “admitted” my “feelings” for Kevin.

      You can probably see where this is going.

      A helpful mutual friend thought we were PERFECT for each other and decided to play matchmaker. I thought I’d die of embarrassment. Fortunately he was the kind of guy who thought the situation was hilarious.

  41. …First time posting here, but this is something that I can definitely, definitely relate to. Judging from the comments, many people can.

    I never dated in high school (though I did have a crush I once eavesdropped on and then wrote down what I learned about him in my notebook ugggggh I was such a creep), but at the end of my first semester of college I developed a crush. He was a friend-of-a-friend but I had some classes with him. And in my eyes–which may or may not have had little hearts coming out of them–we would have been perfect together. I was attracted to him and he was funny and witty and nice and a great singer(being a music major, my weakness is boys who can sing. It’s horrible). He also did [obscure martial art] although he wasn’t as committed to it as I was.

    I thought I got over this crush during break, but came back and found myself completely and totally twitterpated. Eventually I felt like I had to tell him so one night we were hanging out and I got my friends to move to another room for a second and I said something along the lines of “so you’re really cute and funny and I like your face and if you’d like to go out on a date sometime that would be cool but if not I still think you’re a cool person and I’d like to get to know you better and be friends.” And then I ran upstairs before I could hear what he actually said….which was, according to friends he talked to later, “That’s a big mistake.”

    When I found out his feelings for me were “neutral” and then I felt like a beige carpet and kept pining over him for weeks. Finally one night I had this weird dream where I told him and ran away but he went to catch up with me and said he was sorry but he didn’t feel that way about me. There were also dancing skeletons in this dream but that’s beside the point. But I woke up(literally) and realized…the type of guy I wanted would be willing to run after a girl even if it was just to tell her he was sorry and he didn’t return the feelings. I wanted the person I imagined he could be instead of who he actually was. And it took a couple more days to actually get it into my head, but really I had that dream and BAM. Crush over. Pretty good way for a crush to end, really.

    So, yeah. That was my first experience with boys, really, and my first awkward feelingsdump (of the romantic sort, at least) and I don’t regret it. I know now that I have the courage to tell someone how I feel about them romantically and that if they don’t like you back it sucks but you get over it eventually. He’s dating one of my friends now, and I’m happy for them. Although I wouldn’t mind being friends with him (though my asking him out may have made things awkward), I’m positive now that he wouldn’t have been right for me. But hey, at least it gave me great inspiration for songwriting.

    • I wish I had your dream several times in my life. This would have saved me from many weeks of pining and slowly realizing this in the agonizingly hours of the daytime. A dream of sudden realization and dancing skeletons sounds like a much better solution.

  42. My big obsessive crush was on a guy, and I made myself have it because I was terrified of being attracted to women, at age 13.

    In fact, I picked THAT guy because he was dating the girl I ACTUALLY had a crush on. When I heard they were dating, I got that horrible sinking feeling in my stomach because I wanted her to love me, instead. Only, the horrible sinking feeling was compounded with burning shame because Lesbian. So I convinced myself (really! successfully!) that the Horrible Sinking Feeling came from him, instead.

    I’m kind of impressed (in a sick way) with how well I maintained that obsessive crush, even though he wasn’t the gender I was attracted to. It lasted almost two years. I did nothing but talk about him to my friends and think about him and write about him in my diary. But I never had sexual fantasies about him…in fact, one of my friends would tease me about how he and I should make out, and I’d go, “God no!” and change the subject. Haha *cry*

    (P.S. I did eventually develop an attraction to men, so now I’m just Queer, but when I think back on my budding self all I can think is BIG DYKE BIG DYKE)

    • (P.S. We are now Facebook friends. He’s married, has 3 children, and is becoming a Christian minister. I write sad songs about sex and do queer feminist performance art. Occasionally he’ll Like something on my wall and I’ll take a shot at imagining what my weirdo life must look like through his eyes.)

    • Oh man, growing pains of baby queerfolk, so much fun. It reminds me of the wonderful time where I was madly infatuated with a friend for years… so had sex with her husband instead! (It was supposed to be okay with everyone, at least, though in practice shockingly was not.)

      • Hah, that makes just about as much sense, yes! God, I’d give anything to visit my pre-teen self and say, “Stop freaking worrying about being gay, it is so okay, your future is bright and full of pussy.”

  43. Oh boy, this is going to be cathartic. Grad school classmate; we were studying overseas; he had a very nice and very serious girlfriend back home of whom I was well aware and who is now his wife — and yet I COULD. NOT. STOP. CRUSHING. In hindsight, basically what was up was twofold: 1)I was freaking the fuck out about the sudden transition from being the bright young thing at work to the kinda oldish grad student adrift simultaneously in a new culture and super-competitive academic scene, and 2)when we had some comfortable stuff in common and his timing of being a nice new classmate/friend came at a crucial juncture of all these other FEELINGS, Stage 5 Clinger Syndrome kicked in. (He may have also been the “safely unavailable guy” BECAUSE of the girlfriend, but that’s a story for many sessions with my therapist.) The problem then was we were in a relatively small and super-tight-knit group of classmates for the next nine months, so it was impossible to escape the situation.

    I still feel bad years later because though I never dropped an open FEELINGSBOMB, embarrassingly obvious puppy-dog vibes were periodically emanating from my direction, so I could tell a)he knew the scoop and b)because of aforementioned girlfriend, it clearly made him REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE (though we were both trying to be grownups, buddies, etc).

    He was and is a really good dude. He deserved better than me skulking around making him feel awkward at various points throughout the year. :-( As for me, while the time abroad was still pretty great, I know it would have been a lot better without SUPERINAPPROPRIATECRUSH — not to mention that, as already indicated, I was WAY TOO OLD at the time to be acting that mess. We managed to have a nice enough casual friendship among a larger group of peeps, but basically I didn’t get over SUPERINAPPROPRIATECRUSH until grad school was over and I only saw him once every couple of months, then a few times a year, then maybe once a year if that (he and nice wife have a toddler).

    Then there was Office Crush Guy a few years later, but that situation was much less fraught with boundary issues and hey, it’s fun to go to the office and flirt with the dude in the next cube — non, je ne regrette rien!

  44. For me, it was Cute Lewis. We were both Russian majors, and after two years of HARDCORE crushing on my part, we ended up living together, with four other people, in a house. I couldn’t take my crush-feelings anymore – two years of this crush were killing me. So one night I just burst into his room and said, “I have an all-consuming crush on you. I think about you all the time. Tell me that you don’t feel the same way so that this can stop.” Fortunately (?) he did not reciprocate my crush. He admitted as much, I left his room, I cried hysterically for a day, and we actually became excellent friends.

  45. Here’s my question: how many of you who have a history of getting WAAAAAY too attached to people with whom it will clearly never, ever happen also wind up feeling smothered and hyperventilating when someone is interested in YOU first or you have a genuine shot at something that looks like it might be real?

    I do this. I admit that I do this and that it’s pretty squirrelly. I’m just now beginning to see that it really means *I’m* emotionally unavailable and have this(not very) unconscious fear of being engulfed and losing myself. (In my defense, I shut it down pretty quick and don’t lead people on for weeks or months first.) I don’t care if I end up with someone or alone, I’d just like to not be a victim of my own weird, fucked up impulses.

    Anyone else like this? Or you were but you fixed it and could you tell me how? I can’t be the only one…

    • *WAVES AN ARM OVER HER HEAD*

      I don’t even know, man. The only pseudo-relationship I had was a FWB situation with a friend and her boyfriend, which was very, “Nonromantic sex, shall we have it?” and I went, “I AM TIRED OF FREAKING THE FUCK OUT ABOUT THIS, orgasms pls.”

      But not long after that I went on antidepressants that killed the obsessive limerence, and then had a friend I hugely admired and wanted to be like decide on a time that she hated me and I lost the willingness to really do the Golden Retriever of Love thing again, and then I started a program where everyone looking to date a woman was already paired up and that ate my social life. So I haven’t had any crushes since then to test any theory on.

      • Decided on a DIME, ahem. (As in, no warning, no explanation. Ohhh that was painful.)

        • That really sucks, I’m sorry. It happened to me once (a very close friend called me up and didn’t so much hand me an African violet as hurl it at my head, screaming obscenities) and it’s as painful as hell. I guess at least you found out what she was really like before you emulated her too much.

    • Right there with ya, and would likewise like to hear from someone who has made it to the other side of the Canyon of Emotional Unavailability. :-(

      • I did actually cross the Canyon of Emotional Unavailability (love the phrase!). There really are times when people meet, are attracted, date immediately or within a reasonable amount of time. But these relationships taught me that mutual attraction, not being cheated on, partner not being in active substance dependence, and sharing some social and political values are not enough for long-term happiness. In all of these instances, though, the guy made the first move, but I already had or quickly developed pants feelings and we had at least a few things in common.

        But, wanting some spark more than the dullness and complete feelingloss of no-that-can’t-be-what-grown-up-love-is, at the same time that I had to keep traipsing here and there for career never long enough to develop meaningful connections, I have been swimming in the Global Ocean of Usually At Least One Person Crushing Ambiguous Friendships Between People Who Do Want “Relationships” and Know What They Want But Have Too Much Experience With Things Not Working Out to Give it a Shot Under Less Than Ideal Circumstances.

        So, yeah, kinda totally back in the Canyon.

    • Not sure if this is because I am emotionally unavailable, but I do have noticed how unaffected I am by other people’s crushes on me, while at the same time being quite the obsessive crusher.

      • I always thought it was because the guys who would actually like me were all pathetic losers (or else they would like someone who was deserving and amazing etc.) and I had the exquisite taste to be into that guy who was discerning enough to not give me a second look. See, I have GOOD TASTE. See, I am ABOVE DATING JUST TO NOT BE ALONE.

        Yeah, see, no, that’s all wrong. I wasn’t remotely above dating not to be alone, as any shred of affection was a guarantee of my unbending loyalty, and of course, AWFUL TASTE!

        • “…guys who would actually like me were all pathetic losers…I had the exquisite taste to be into that guy who was discerning enough to not give me a second look…”

          OMG, were you in the next cloning tank over?

          • It reminds me of a Nietzsche quote:

            “Discovering that one is loved in return really ought to disenchant the lover with the beloved. “What? this person is modest enough to love even you? Or stupid enough? Or — or —” ”

            That guy certainly had a way of putting words to people’s worst impulses.

          • Oh goodness yes. I’ve done that before – “if they think I’m that great there must be something wrong with them”. Normally it happens when my mental health is poor. These days things are fine, fortunately.

            I doubt very much that if someone likes you it’s because there’s something wrong with them. I expect it is very much that there is something very right with you. :) You may not think the person who likes you is worth your time, but even so I’m sure they have good reason to like you.

      • Pretty much this.

        I still can’t talk about my crushes without cringing, but I was in my early 20s and there was a friend who had a crush on me… and I was completely oblivious to it. Looking back, the signs were there and I never saw it, nor did anyone around us point out the obvious to me (or they did and I laughed it away?). I treated him as a really good friend, so when he gave me a heart-shaped necklace, I was caught off-guard.

        I think I laughed in his face and said “No” instinctively, because I was freaked out and I don’t like him and I usually hate heart-shaped anything. Talked to some friends, and it turned out it was some kind of Korean drama thing where the necklace he wore was a circle which can open up to accommodate the heart asdfdhjklk;’;

        So damn cheesy, and I absolutely hate the idea till today. Bleaugh. Anyway slow-fade on either side (can’t remember), and he got himself a girlfriend and I lost a friend.

    • I think me, maybe?

      When people express interest in me, I freak out, because I do such a fantastic job of losing myself with the people who don’t want a connection, so how much worse is it going to be if they DO want a connection? So I pick people who aren’t available, or don’t want me, or just straight up can’t or won’t know me as a person because they’re too busy objectifying me or projecting someone else onto me, thus validating my feelings of being essentially unlovable and invisible and turning me into a twitching pile of anxiety and abandonment issues. Except that while I’m doing that, I think I’m choosing someone who’s respectful and kind and won’t take up all the emotional space.

      And a lot of the time people who are interested in me first are just as unavailable as the ones who aren’t except they’re more aggressive about it, which is scary and overwhelming. Unfortunately, I often can’t tell the difference between fear and excitement. That’s terrifying, because it means I haven’t really been able to trust myself.

      I can’t claim to have fixed it, but my hypothesis is that if I have cheat sheets of red and green flags, created when I’m in a generally calm state of mind and with the input of trusted people, that’ll be a non-compromised decision-making guide for situations where my evaluation skills usually get trumped by my emotional patterns. I’ve been trying to ferret out those flags, which has resulted in a lot of long narratives of how I’ve been hurt – which is fine, since there were some Bad Things that happened, and having written examples of that helps me climb off the hamster wheel of processing when it starts spinning. The red flags are mostly physical signs of dissociation or fear, and specific behaviors, key words, and phrases (frex, using the word “organic” to describe relationship structure is a BIG FLAG HOLY SHIT GET IN THE CAR for me, because every time it’s been used by someone I was dating, it’s meant “I want to be in control and I want you to be really flexible and go along with whatever I want.”). Green flags are harder because in order to identify connected, loving behavior as a desirable thing, I’d have to believe that I deserve a partner who loves and respects and wants to know me instead of using me as a projection screen, and I’m still working on getting that belief cemented.

      I went on a date a couple weeks ago (first time in two years) and the post-date evaluation mostly worked – he’s exactly my type, which means it would be a bad idea. :-D Being able to spot that right off the bat and rein in the initial attachment response, even through the haze of “We get along really well! And he’s cute!” was a serious victory for me.

      Also this blog is helping a ton, as are the comments and some of the book recs (Attached and What You Really Really Want, specifically). So there’s that.

      I’m pretty sure this is a coherent post, but IDK if that’s what you were looking for. I’m so glad you brought it up, though, and I’d love input and more discussion, if people are open to that.

    • Oh hell to the yes. I tried to get around this by forcing myself to like a guy back who’d been crushing on me for a while (he’s a good guy! He likes the same stuff! Who needs pantsfeelings anyway?), and ended up marrying him. That method is NOT recommended (yeah, the marriage didn’t go so well or last very long…)

      • Oof. Sorry to hear, but thank you for sharing this evidence that the “Settle for the Guy who Likes YOU” method is far from foolproof, whatever certain authors insist on telling us …

    • OMG I have a letter sitting in my email drafts about THIS VERY THING. (Yes, it’s been sitting there since before the hiatus and changeover to web forms. I revise it about once a week. Sometimes I think if I just keep revising it, I’ll gain the clarity I need without ever having to actually send it in. Ahem.)

      Actually, not so much smothered as deer-in-the-headlights oh-shit-what-now panic. I have a very specific twofold problem with girls: 1.) I fix on wildly inappropriate women and form long-term, simmering aspirational crushes and then feel down on myself because I’m never as (insert: smart, pretty, educated, sophisticated, senior/accomplished in our profession or social circle – oh so many hopeless colleague crushes!) as anybody I’m attracted to, while using the combination of “she’s so awesome/wow I suck” as motivation to improve myself – and 2.) I get enmired in a horrible soup of panic/overthinking/what-to-do-next anxiety/hyper-self-consciousness at any sign of interest from someone girl-shaped, and manage to completely sabotage the thing.

      (There was also 3.) desperate hopeful sex with girls who are actually interested in my husband. I don’t have that husband anymore, and don’t do that anymore. Thank. God.)

      Meanwhile, men hit on me, which is pleasant and flattering, and after all IT’S NOT LIKE I’M SEEING ANY GIRLS ANYWAY WAAAAAAAHHHHH, so I have sex with them. That’s how I ended up in my horrible 20-year Darth Vader marriage, but it’s also how I ended up with my wonderful current partner, so, yeah, iffy at best. (I think this is how a lot of bi women find themselves with “I feel gayer than my sexual history would suggest!” angst? Definitely true for me and a bunch of my friends, anyway.)

      I think my problem is that I just never learned to navigate flirting, and instead learned to avoid high-flirt-potential interactions. I’m trying to figure out what to do about that. :-/

    • This is me. I am not just on one side of the Canyon of Emotional Unavailability (enjoy that phrase so much!)… I may actually be at the very bottom of the canyon, looking up at the sky.

      Everyone I have liked since high school, with one sort-of exception, has been unavailable in one way or another. That one exception? He liked me too and I just could. not.

      I’m getting some therapy, so maybe I will be better about this. Sometimes I’m not sure I want to be. It can be lonely here in the canyon, but I’ve got a system down.

    • Canyon of emotional unavailability, I love and identify with that phrase.

      I really do this. It got better when I stopped pretending that I had much interest in interacting romantically with men, but I still tend to get overwhelmed/smothered easily. I don’t get crushes frequently, but when I do they’re really intense and almost always directed at someone who is clearly unavailable, for whatever reason.

  46. I don’t have any surpassingly horrible stories about my own crushes, but I have one about someone else’s crush on me.

    When I was in my early 20s, there was a certain nightclub I went to every single weekend (and sometimes during the week, too) for like two years running. One night, some guy approached me and said he’d been noticing me there for weeks and was mesmerized by my hotness. He then asked me out, and I politely declined.

    The following week he found me again and shoved an envelope into my hand. It turned out to be a handwritten, five page, double-sided FEELINGSLETTER going on and on about how it wasn’t fair of me to reject him based on the nasty rumours people have spread about him because they weren’t true and he was actually a great guy and here’s a comprehensive list of all his awesome qualities.

    Turns out he was the owner of the club. I honestly hadn’t known that, nor had I known about any “rumours”. I had rejected him because I was (and am) into young, effeminate guys and he was a fat older dude with a moustache and beard. I guess the idea that I wasn’t attracted to him simply hadn’t occurred to him and he assumed there must be some other, more complex issue going on.

    But yeah. ten pages of handwritten angst because he’d spoken to me for five minutes and did not manage to get into my pants.

    That’s when I stopped going to that nightclub.

    • I always feel like the response to that should be “Well I hadn’t heard any rumours about you, but I sure am wondering about them now.” :P

    • The last man who openly expressed interest in me is married, 79, and a Civil War buff. He wanted me to join him on a jaunt to a neighboring state to look at a field where his grandfather may have fought. Not a park or an official battlefield, just a meadow somewhere in the boondocks. And yes, his GRANDFATHER fought in the Civil War. I am in the history field, but I hate the Civil War. My great-great-great-grandfather (also from this area, a hotly contested spot) fought for the North, which I really enjoy pointing out to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I am tempted to join the Daughters of the Union. Maybe the little lapel pin will serve as a prophylactic. I am nowhere near 79 (I am still trying to get my mind around my friends having kids) and I don’t date married men.

      Oh, he wanted to go on a Monday. That was the best day for him and his doctor’s appointments. I WORK. In history. On programs about the never-ending Civil War. (It is the Sesquicentennial, in case you missed that by living someplace other than the South). I DO NOT want to traipse about the countryside with an ancient married man looking at dumb fields.

      My boss has graciously offered to rescue me with many important tasks the next time he shows up at 10:30 am, ready to take me to lunch.

  47. Eurgh. I…am kind of in one of these right now? Also I would bet that he is doing it back to me? But I’m not sure I like him because sometimes he is annoying and has dumb hair? And my best friends are acting as some sort of horrendous peanut gallery/greek chorus where they keep making eyes at me and asking “if I want to talk about something…you know?”

    And none of this was supposed to happen because I TURNED HIM DOWN LIKE SIX MONTHS AGO. Note: this is not him creepily pursuing me! It’s just…complicated. But like middle-school drama complicated. Except 13 year old me was way too cynical and jaded for this bullshit.

    The only thing keeping me sane is how hilarious this is going to be in retrospect, however it ends. Yeesh.

  48. Know what saved me through crushville? Medieval literature. If you want a whole bunch of people who make total idiots of themselves over love and make FEELINGSGESTURES and grand speeches about how aflame with love they are, who make huge dramas over DOOMED ROMANCES, read about courtly love.

    So I was like, “If this person can live through that and still become a great poet/warrior/princess, so can I!”

    • I find this comment to be very comforting. We did not any stupid aspect of human behavior ourselves. :)

    • Yeah I’ve been reading first through War of the Roses era and now the Tudor court and just… wow, man.

    • Haha, right.

      This from Chaucer:

      But whan she saugh the grisly rokkes blake,
      For verray feere so wolde hir herte quake
      That on hire feet she myghte hire noght sustene.
      Thanne wolde she sitte adoun upon the grene,
      And pitously into the see biholde

      I think we have all biholde pitously into the see.

      • Oh, and BALLADS. How could I forget BALLADS? PEOPLE DYING PITEOUSLY FOR LOVE.

        There’s a version of Siuil a Run where the singer is listing all the WOEFUL things she will do when her love is gone, and she’s like, “my parents shall wish me dead.” And I love that song but some days I’m like, “For multiple reasons, sweetiepie.”

    • Conversely, this was totally my downfall as a teen because my group of friends was all super into Shakespeare (theater nerds [also not medieval I know but]) and instead of learning from it we managed to feel enabled by it. “Shakespeare’s lovers did all this shit too! And we’re going to completely have amnesia about the parts where it usually ends in disaster for everyone.”

      • ” And we’re going to completely have amnesia about the parts where it usually ends in disaster for everyone.”

        I love this! Classic teenage behaviour. I somewhat modelled myself Marianne in Sense & Sensibility – bad idea!

  49. Shit, I think I need to have a conversation…
    like now.
    ep!

  50. Crushes, oh god, so many…

    I think the most embarrassing one highlights how much my family sucks and taught me the value of not committing things to paper. It was Catholic school. I was probably 11 or 12. My brother was in the same class/grade, even though he was a year older. I had a huge crush on his best friend, M.

    One day I wrote M. a note from his secret admirer and signed it as “the girl with mountains on her coat” because on the sleeves of my winter coat had little mountains on the cuffs. Also, I put on lipstick and kissed the paper. But I wasn’t allowed to have make up, so the lipstick was from a Halloween costume. Y’all, the lipstick was green. (Maybe his secret admirer was the Incredible Hulk?)

    Anyhow, my brother got the note somehow, and brought it home, and showed my mother, telling her I wrote it. She blew up. I went into denial mode. She pointed out the mountains on my coat, made me put on lipstick, and tried to make me kiss a piece of paper so she could prove the lip-print was mine and that therefore I’d written the note.

    In retrospect, that was pretty horrifying and seven thousand kinds of inappropriate. And really did nothing for my relationship with my mother or my brother.

    My best crush story is from when I was in uni. At the time it was full of DRAMA, but in retrospect, it was awesome. It was after a party, and I ended up at Denny’s at 4 in the morning with the guy who I was crushing on, solely because I wanted to get between him and the girl he was crushing on. And later I found out that she was only there because she was crushing on me.

    • This made me laugh out loud. Sorry about your family though.

    • Love the idea of green lipstick on a love note :D

    • Families and not committing things to paper, oh so much this. I learned, long before I was old enough to crush, that writing things down in a private journal was the surest possible route to having my privacy, feelings and boundaries stomped on.

      Remember that scene in Harriet the Spy where the other kids read her journal and decide she’s evil? That’s what happens if you keep a journal. Someone will get their hands on it, they will share it with the people you would least like it shared with, and if you have written anything you wouldn’t say to their faces, you’ll be in trouble. Private journals propagate almost as fast and unpleasantly as the amateur porn film you made with your ex.

      • You guys make me feel sooooo grateful for my family. If any of them ever read my diary(ies) growing up, I remain unaware of it to this day. Writing in my diary was one of my biggest coping mechanisms in the months following my brother’s death halfway through my senior year of high school. I don’t know what I would have done without it. I can’t imagine if I’d been robbed of that at an early age. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Sitcom portrayals aside, it is actually *not* okay to treat family that way.

      • That was why I made the jump to Livejournal pretty early on. It’s a lot harder to hack my password than it is to search my room!

      • I was straight up the kid who had her journal read on the playground and no one talked to me until I left that school. It sucked, big time.

        I went home and threw away five years of journals and never journaled again until almost seven years later, when I decided that the grief that came with not writing was much worse for me than any potential of my writing being discovered.

  51. Oh man. I have a LOT of doozies. I’ll just hit the first one though, because otherwise this might be a really long post!

    R was a good friend of mine in college and we hung out with the same group of friends playing games, going out to movies, doing whatever. I always somehow ended up sitting next to him, or riding shotgun in his car. Basically, other than being a couple, we acted like a couple. When we finally got together, it was really good! For a little bit. I was being cool and respecting his wishes of not having a girlfriend, and agreed to just fool around. I figured that if we did that enough, he would fall in LURV with me! However, he got a date with another chick and I was all disappointed but wished him well and dropped it, no big deal. However, a few days later, he was talking to me and he was all like, “Oh, it sucks being in love with two people.” And that was what got my limerence going bad. ‘What?’ my head cried. ‘He’s in LURV with you? YOU HAVE TO GET HIM!’ And so began a couple year long chase where I would give him the BIG EYES and he would flirt back, but oh, no no no, we can’t date, but we can fool around, and then ‘break up’ and cycle that over and over again. Interspeed a couple of FEELINGSMAILs in there and it was terrible.

    I note that in my defense I was completely cool with just fooling around and kept it strictly casual (other than doing friend things with the group we both hung out with) until he mentioned LURV. Blaaaaaaah.

  52. There’s no point in me leaving any single story here. From when I was fourteen to when I was twenty-four, this, for me, was just how love went. You meet the guy, at some point you become attracted to the guy, you don’t say anything because it’s so awkward to convey those kinds of feelings and what if he feels pressured or icky? Better not to say anything. But you hang on, because you have a crush, and you hope that somehow there’s some safe way in the universe to convey that even though you don’t know any. Eventually, you realise you’re about ready to be done with this crush, but you can’t let go, because WHAT IF he secretly has feelings for you, too? So you hold on a bit more, until you really just want to be done because it’s killing you, and that’s when you send the FEELINGSMAIL. You know nothing will come of it. You have sharply pleasant secret hopes that something will come of it anyway, but you’ve been doing this for years and you know nothing will come of it and then, indeed, he sends a nice note saying “Sorry I don’t feel that way about you” or, in the nicest case when I knew I was an idiot to send it in the first place and he was still really nice: “I’ve been in your position and I really sympathise. Sorry it’s not going to happen.” It comes as a relief. You can let go, now. On to the next one.

    How’d I get out of it? Eventually I was really sexually frustrated to the point of not wanting to spend the time to get into a relationship before having sex, so I chose, wholeheartedly, to learn how to randomly hook up with guys at parties. That taught me how to convey sexual feelings; converting the “want to find somewhere more private?” moment of a hookup into a “want to go out sometime?” moment was an easy transition once I started wanting more serious things again. Eventually I met this guy at a party and knew myself well enough to know that I could get a crush on him in a couple weeks even though I had no strong feelings, yet. I fired every “you are sexy and interesting” signal I had at him (that is, I turned towards him, smiled, didn’t bother not-thinking-about-sex … I dunno, I sort of had the nonverbal stuff down, by then). It’s been almost three years and we’re still dating. I love him. But I don’t recommend anyone else taking precisely my route out of the loop I was in — unless you want random hookups for their own sake, as I did. In which case, more power to you!

    • Eventually I was really sexually frustrated to the point of not wanting to spend the time to get into a relationship before having sex, so I chose, wholeheartedly, to learn how to randomly hook up with guys at parties.

      This is what got me out of my terrible limerance pattern of behaviour as well. *high fives*

    • This is definitely relevant to my interests. A little late to the game, but I still think my life could use a Fun Random Hookup Period.

  53. Woo. Hahaha this is pretty timely! I am a 15 y/o and and got my first ever real! crush! …on someone who did not fit into my sexuality. I was pretty confused about that and nervous because I do not really have friendships with people my age. I was enjoying a friendship with this person? and wanting more. I read this website and am a big fan of using my words. I have gotten myself so many good things by using my words I should make a monument to the Captain. (Therapy, chosen family, casual friends and respect in school… the list is long).

    I did not want to freak them out and ruin the friendship by confessing? But from reading Captain’s stuff if I kept quiet and continued to crush and laid serious EXPECTATIONS over every interaction… that would be creepy and unfair. So I asked to be special friends! It is casual dating. For REASONS I cannot commit to a serious relationship. And we would not be the typical boyfriend/girlfriend either. I am using neutral pronouns for a reason.

    Though for full truth even this casual relationship is making me feel pretty squirrelly? I think it is my trust issues and the newness of the whole thing. Yes. Yay for therapy! I am lucky for my success in this. So I am going to go write my crush now! And maybe relax just a teeny tiny bit.

    • It sounds like you’re doing pretty great. Whatever pronouns you want are fine around here!

    • You are awesome! Keep on with your bad selves. Can’t promise you can’t be hurt but if you two manage to be as open as you’re currently being you’re doing a lot better than many people will ever do. ^_^

    • I totally second Hrovitnir.

      About the squirelyness/REASONS/this person not being in line with your sexuality. Do listen to your gut and feel free to go through the worrying of figuring yourself out. That said, milk the awesomeness of your connection with this other person for all its worth. One of the best things about sexuality is that you get to tell the story of your own sexuality. You can put this other person wherever he needs to be in your narrative (while being nice and not projecting all over him hopefully).

      I now identify as a lesbian. Senior year of high school I dated a boy despite having been going back and forth between lesbian/bi for years. We were never a “typical” couple* By our high school’s standards we were way too independent and not romantic enough. We eventually broke up because I didn’t love him in the right way romantically to want to be in a longer term romantic partnership with him. It hurt like hell, but God did I love him. He was beautiful, we took care of one another, we had a ton of fun, and all the physical stuff we did from cuddling to intercourse was amazing. On one hand he’s been a painful, confusing “exception” to my lesbianism. On the other hand he’s someone I loved full throttle and had a great connection with. All in all it was worth it.

      *I recognize that no couple is “typical” but I think there’s a combination romance + sex + monogamy + certain gender roles + certain sorts of romantic expressions + etc. that cultures recognize as typical depending on one’s age, religion, and class. Some units of people who have romantic/sexual feelings for one another will fall closer to this ideal than others, some will be further from it, some will fuck up the ideal completely.
      If you want some inspiration check out: http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2012/02/our-weird-love.html or

      • Thank you (all) for response! Your situation is more like mine… I am a genderqueer boy who just always knew he was gay, and then I get all fuzzly over a genderqueer girl. It’s… not quite straight, but it is out of my self-definition. I like the Pervocracy blog too! It has helped me a lot. I am very practical about things.

        If it could help anyone, how I decide to be so honest is that if I do not ask, I am not giving them a chance to decide for themselves. And if I ask they could say yes- win! They could say no- OK, now I know and can move on. Win! They could be a total jerk. That is all them and now I know I am better for not getting involved with them. Still a win! I am still a bit worried when I ask girls or women tho. I know they get a lot of pressure to not be “mean”. I do not want that fear to be the reason they say yes. Tho I think I make many girls and women feel safe because I am a skinny queer boy who is secure in his femininity.

        Wee derail.

  54. Mine is…kind of sad, I guess.
    I’d broken up with a guy that I really, really liked for reasons involving not being medicated when I should have been and then bounced through another relationship that was just…wallpaper when it wasn’t abusive. And to be honest the abuse swung both ways, I’m not proud of how I acted either and breaking up with that guy was the best thing I could have done for my self-respect. It was kind of…if we were fighting there was something there, and if we weren’t we might as well not have been in the room? I don’t know.

    Anyway. During the time I was in the wallpaper relationship I was hanging out with Dude. Dude was a little younger than me, but he was fairly good looking, smart, and very confident. We’ve had the “confidence is sexy” discussion here a lot. So I convinced myself that I was In Love with him. Spent more and more time with him, got closer, long talks…you know the drill.

    I’m pretty sure that I cornered him into deciding to date me. Once he did things went downhill fast. I kept up the crush behaviour, followed him around, tried to get into all the things he was into, and convinced myself it was For True Love.

    If he’d ever respected me he lost it fast. By the time it was over (four years!) it was one hell of an abusive relationship where he was using my Limerence to cut me down everywhere. I was doing something? It was a waste of time. I wasn’t into what he was into? I was wasting my life. I didn’t cook right didn’t clean right didn’t dress right didn’t sleep at the right times didn’t…pick something. But I persevered! I could make it work! It was TRUE LOVE.

    He ended up dumping me in a city I wasn’t a native of completely cut off from my support structure. That didn’t make it go away, though, because I had four years of convincing myself THAT IS JUST WHAT LOVE IS. It took a long, long time and some heavy therapy to get rid of that shitty idea.

    To make matters worse, I put myself through all that and I don’t have pantsfeelings. Never did. I just figured that sex was something you did as the price for TRUE LOVE and that there was something wrong with me.

    I’m much happier identified as asexual and the thing that makes me cringe the most is just how much shit I put myself through for not being “female enough”.

    My only other “crush” was in that same general time-period, but I identified the fact that he was a SOB much faster and managed not to get too wrapped up in it.

  55. I love this thread, it makes me feel so much better about my horrific crush stories.

    The most embarrassing was when I was 18 and had a crush on a gay guy. No, I didn’t realize he was gay (sheltered upbringing, all girls’ school, naiveté, massive wishful thinking).

    I was at university in the UK, he was an American guy studying for a term in Merrie Englande. I developed a massive crush. Why, I don’t know. He was really annoying in retrospect, he was very patronizing about Britain and even had a big case of Skippy Peanut Butter shipped over from America because he thought that England was “cute but too backward” to have equivalent products.

    Anyway, I invented all sorts of excuses to spend time with him even feigning a massive interest in his quest to find his Scottish Clan Tartan, no he was not actually Scottish but claimed to have a “Celtic distant relative”. I spent hours encouraging this, accompanying him on many trips to Scotch House, the store which caters for North Americans wanting to buy kilts and shawls in their “clan tartan”. I helped him try on several kilts, and helped him choose a hand tooled sporran and some nice “traditional wool” Highland knee socks.

    Eventually after months of lurking and tartan-helping, I invented an excuse to go to his room one evening hoping we could hang out on a stealth date. I was sad when he told me he had a terrible headache and was spending the evening and night lying in bed resting. I returned to my room to mope and listen to FEELINGSMUSIC, when I caught a glimpse of my Crush, dressed up in his kilt, leaving the hall of residence accompanied by a young man!

    Then it dawned on me… Oh.

    • Man, what is it about Americans and thinking other countries don’t have peanut butter? I’m American, and when I moved abroad (to another developed, western nation), basically everyone said, “BUT WHAT WILL YOU DO WITHOUT PEANUT BUTTER? SHOULD I SENT YOU SOME?” (And smart, traveled people! Not just hometown people without much knowledge of the rest of the world.) I get that other countries aren’t obsessed with peanut butter like we are, but, uh… globalization? Even if it’s not produced within the country (and the country I am in GROWS PEANUTS, making this persistent disbelief even weirder), everything is exported/imported these days.

      Also, you can buy it off the shelf for cheap at a regular grocery store here. I do not understand this persistent weirdness.

      • Years ago it was vanishingly unlikely to be imported anywhere outside the US, so there are lots of sad travelers’ stories of it being impossible to get. That kind of meme is tough to get rid of. And you can still find some really STRANGE substitutes: the “peanut cream” in Japan is… not any identifiable substance known to mere non-Japanese people.

        • Yeah, when I was a kid in Austria peanut butter was non-existent outside of the US and UN commissaries, and US personnel would drive all the way to Germany to buy it in bulk at the nearest PX. Imagine my surprise as an adult when I found it easily in the Middle East!

      • Yeah, as other commenters have noted, it’s not so much availability as pricing. In Russia, for example, you might pay $12 for a tiny jar. And given that I was working in archives with crappy cafeterias (or even crappier refrigerators to put a packed lunch in), peanut butter was a pretty important way to get calories.

    • I cannot stop laughing at the term “tartan-helping.” Brilliant summary of the American obsession with imagined ancestors and the tendency to assist one’s crush in misguided pursuits.

  56. Oh my gawd, this reminds me so much of my last crush, which lasted a year and a half.

    It all started out really promising and in my mind I already fantasized about how this would be the Cute Story of How We Met that we would tell all of our friends. (It really was a cute story.) Also: He was perfect! He told me I was the kind of person he’d like to be friends with! He was one of the few people who liked the same music as me! His social circle was great! But nothing really happened, and then he never called, and I had decided that, since *he* was the one who was out of my league, he should have been the one to call. And after that, there was a lot of stuff complicating it, but it still was long after the timeframe in which one calls people one likes.

    So, instead of just realizing that He Just Wasn’t That Into Me, I nursed my crush for ages. It didn’t help that I saw him a few times after that, randomly, at events we both had an interest in (I did actually invite him to those events, so, maybe not that randomly), but we didn’t have any real contact. Anways, the whole thing ended, how could it be else, in a drunk FEELINGSFACEBOOKMESSAGE that I promptly apologized for. He never answered, which, I really can’t blame him.

    Finally, reading CA helped me get over it, but it took me a long time to let go of the magic and perfectness of our first encounters. To this day, and I cannot believe that it was all in my head. So, here’s to hoping I will find some of this magic again soon.

    • Looking back, I guess he represented a different life, a better life, at a time in my life where I was losing everything I was and had been working for. It was like this was my chance to finally be a normal young person. Which is why I held onto this crush for so long.

    • I also had a crush where the first encounter was magical and perfect and then it took him forever to get in touch, despite the fact that he kept saying he wanted to hang out.

      “It took me a long time to let go of the magic and perfectness of our first encounters.”
      Yup.

      • People are weird – wonderful, but weird and illogical. I guess my Robot Brain doesn’t really get that :)

  57. I had a long painful crush on one of my lecturers in my final year of my Bachelors degree. He is one of those lecturers who likes to get to know students and has “favourites”. I was one of his. I came so close to telling him a few times but always resisted. I think he probably knew anyway. A few close friends had to listen to some very annoying drawn-out obsessing on my part, but I’m glad I never made the mistake of coming on to him or telling him.

    I moved away after I finished my degree and absence definitely helped me get over him so when I moved back and saw him there was no awkwardness. There was a very funny conversation where he said something that implied he found me attractive (I was dressing much more feminine then) and I was just so relieved he hadn’t said anything like that when I’d fancied the pants off him.

  58. During my 4th attempt at college, I discovered a tall, dangerous looking boy across campus. Between the long, unbound locks of blond hair and the motorcycle jacket, I was totally doomed. So I did the logical thing and stared at him for as long as possible while walking between classes, and also from across the cafeteria.

    Turns out, we had a mutual friend, who gave me helpful information. I made MORE logical decisions – make a FEELINGSMIXCD and invite Crush and Mutual Friend and Mutual Friend’s Girlfriend on a wildly innapropriate double date to the strip club where I was working at the time. Yes.

    It was Crush’s first time at a strip club. He was impressed with me. I was impressed with myself. Then a co-worker named Royalty asked him if he wanted any lap dances, and he thought that this worked like a high school dance, in that, when the girl asks you, apparently it’s free. Those weren’t free lap dances. He ended up having to put $80 on his emergency credit card from his parents.

    I gave him the FEELINGSMIXCD and we had a short, doomed romance. I got to explain the $80 charge to his parents, which actually went better than expected.

    • FEELINGSMIXCD!!!

      For L2, I made a mix CD that was not for him but for me, and it was, no shit, labeled “I Want to Fuck (Dude) But Can’t,” and I would listen to it and pine over him. After he and I were free to totally Do It, and I suddenly realized Yuck No, he found that CD while he was over at my house and was like, ooh, what’s this? And if I had still been all pantsfeelingsed for him, that would’ve been The! Perfect! Opening!, but instead I was like, yeah, I don’t listen to that anymore, I’ve kind of got different musical tastes now, you can have it if you want, it’s just getting dusty. I had actually only been talking about the CD, but later I realized how much he must’ve taken that as me talking about my obvious crush on him, now dead in the water.

    • :D Is Royalty her dancing name or real name? Either way, brillant.
      Also: oh man, I hope for his sake the location that card was used didn’t turn up on the bill!

  59. Ha. I have crazy relationship stories (like this guy I dated for two weeks clearly doing things so I will not what to date him but I keep dating him or this other guy that shaved his head at my apartment and put the hair in my medicine cabinet and told me to save it in case he needed it for DNA purposes), but the best CRUSH story I have is the story about one of my really good friends.

    Okay I had just moved to California for graduate school. I was meeting a lot of people in classes and whatever, but I was looking for some male gay/bi friends (perhaps with ulterior motives but also just to get to know people in the community). I totally sent this one dude a message on MySpace (hahaha, remember MySpace?) because he seemed like an awesome guy. So we message each other a few times. We seem to hit it off as we both have similar senses of humor and common interests and stuff. So we start chatting on AIM. Then I’m like, “Hey we should meet”. This all happened in like the span of two weeks. I’m one of those better-meet-sooner-to-make-sure-you’re-not-crazy type of people. He’s unsure. But he does end up hitting me up a few days later to ask me what I’m doing on Valentine’s Day. I had no plans, so he invites me to see his friends’ improv comedy show. I’m in! So we meet. And we totally hit it off in person. So we start hanging out. I meet people from the improv troupe and they seem cool, so I’m excited. New friends. And a new crush.

    So we continuing IMing and hanging out and stuff. He goes off to New York City for Spring Break because he’s planning on moving there in fall, and one night he texts me to tell me that he hooked up with some guy while he’s there. I’m slightly jealous, but at the same time, we’re not together at all and we haven’t even talked about dating or anything so I’m actually okay with it and don’t freak out. So he gets back and we continue hanging out. Then he invites me to his place to make me dinner. (So now this is a total date right?) So he makes me some tasty food, then he gets a phone call. Well two of his friends (one male and one female) from the troupe are going out for drinks and they want him to join. So he asks if he can bring me and asks if I want to go, and I’m like yeah lets go get some drinks! (Not that I haven’t already been drinking and am slightly buzzed already.)

    So we meet up with them, but the place we were supposed to be going is packed, so we decide to walk a few blocks to another bar. So we do. And I’m hanging out with him, and flirting and laughing, and walking down the street holding his arm (because I’m completely crushing on him, and we’re on a date, right?) So the four of us go to the bar. At this point my crush and the other dude get up to get us drinks (and my crush is buying me a drink, because it’s a date, RIGHT?) and when it’s just me and the girl sitting at the table, she says, “You know we’re sleeping together”. And I’m like, “Who? You and (the other dude who just got up to get drinks)?” She answers, “No, (the crush) and I.” So I respond, “No, I didn’t, but you’re not dating.” Basically it’s just a friends with benefits thing, but she INSISTS that it’s a monogamous FWB type thing (like THAT freaking exists). So I (being incredibly drunk by now), look her flat in the eye and say, “Oh, that’s surprising because he told me he hooked up with someone when he was in New York.” (Yes, I’m a drunk asshole.) She was livid. So needless to say, after that drink we all left. She said she needed to talk to him tonight, and he said that he’d talk to her tomorrow as he needed to take me home (as given earlier in the night, I was hoping this meant he was coming in with me, but now I assumed not), but she insisted. I told him it was fine he could go after he dropped me off. I told him when we got home what I said and what she wanted to talk to him about. And apologized as it was totally douchey for me to say that (which it was, although it was bitchy of her to try to “stake out her territory” in that way).

    Needless to say, the thing between the two of them was over. As was the thing between us. He decide after that that he needed to be grown-up (boo!) and not get involved with anyone since he was moving to New York in a few months and didn’t want anything to get started up that he couldn’t handle. So nothing happened between us except that we became good friends. And I totally had a crush on him until he left, and kept trying to figure out why he didn’t want to date me when everything we did together was completely datey (like when he invited me last minute to his family’s house in SF for Passover dinner and I went last minute like a dumbass and we spent the night together in the same bed and I could barely sleep because of my horniness). And we’re still good friends, and we’ve both found awesome people, but damn crushes are a pain!

  60. I too have a story about someone with a crush on me. I remember it because it left me pretty much speechless, I had no idea someone could be so invested in a person without even knowing her/him. Back when I was attending university, I was going to class after having lunch at home, and on the way, a guy attending my uni stopped me on the street and declared his love for me right there:

    - he had been observing me months
    - he liked me, how I dressed, how I behaved, my way of thinking (excuse me?!)
    - he liked me, like, A LOT (he repeated this at least 30 times)
    - I’m his ideal woman
    - he wanted to know where I lived so he could visit me (I wasn’t in my hometown)
    - something else I really don’t remember now

    I was pretty much speechless, then I collected myself, told him something like, “Thank you, but I’m not interested, I’m sorry…”. He then went, “But you’re always looking at me, I noticed that!”

    My face –> o_0

    “I’m sorry, but I never did. I’m dating a guy at the moment, I’m not interested, and I’m not looking for any kind of relationship right now.” He started to rant about how he didn’t care about other guys since he wasn’t jealous, we could me anyway over coffee to get to know each other. I had too much at that point, too many red flags: I excused myself, went to class and told everything to the guy I was dating (who happened to attend the same university and he had my back, he was actually pretty pissed). I’m dumbfounded just thinking about that episode. He had ruminated about me for so much time that he had literally built a parallel universe…

    • YIKES. That’s scary. Ugh, I’ve got the “I’ve been watching you” thing too, and honestly, how can anyone think that sounds anything other than incredibly creepy?

      • Thank God he left me alone after that. Actually, after the semester was over he disappeared from the face of the planet. No idea why. But the scariest bit was the fact that he had literally created a different person inside his own head. He was completely convinced that I was totally into him and totally his perfect match. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him that no, I had no idea who he was, and no, I was dating someone else and was pretty involved with this guy I was dating. He was shocked.

  61. Picture this: Sicily 1922…er, unnamed liberal arts college, early-2000s. I’d managed to lure my crush/friend back to my room to hook up once, but then we’d Used our respective Words to find out he didn’t want to be my boyfriend. Fine, I’m disappointed but I’ll cope.

    But he never stopped flirting with me. And then introduced me to one of his closest friends, who I started long distance dating. Somehow in my crush’s mind ‘looking after’ me for his friend meant acting like he was my boyfriend without actually having to be my boyfriend. To the point of crawling into bed with me and his BFF to cuddle during a visit.

    Cue the dramatic breakup, extremely ill advised rebound sex with the crush, and spending so long pining more than a victorian maiden in a coniferous forest that I ended up leaving the country so I didn’t have to see him with someone else.

    I haven’t seen him in years, but whenever my friends from back then bring him up or post old photos I still have a twinge of longing.

  62. I was living with my ex at the time (super awkward) and I was trying to trick myself into eating dinner by inviting people over to my house so that I could cook for them (because cooking for one person sucks and I would just skip it and go to bed). He was the only one who was free this one night so he came over and we talked about ridiculous things and computers and stuff and then it turns out my ex was home after all so it was super awkward and then I walked him back to the train and then on my way home it hit me. BAM. I remember the precise moment that I realised I had a crush on him and his awkward computer-nerdy face. I frantically SMSed my best friend at the time, who happened to consider both of us his best friends.

    My friend lasted two whole weeks before he finally told me to get my act together. I spent those two weeks firthing over him. I would sit in the room where we (and all our friends) hung out between classes and make sure I could see him over a book I was totally failing to read. I talked to him online every night (I had already talked to him online a fair bit so it wasn’t super weird). I sat near him, I stared meaningfully at him, I spoke about my FEELINGS to everyone who would listen. I even, and this is super embarassing, wrote an enormous FEELINGSPOST on my livejournal and filtered it so that only he could see it but didn’t tell him that he was the only person who could see it. (seriously, this is how obsessed I was after less than 2 weeks. I’d known him for years before that but there was less than half a month between me realising that I had a crush on him and me posting incessently on livejournal about how unbearable my crush was and fantasising constantly about him)

    And I think it would have gone on for years if my friend (who’d been to high school with crushee and knew him much better and longer than I had) had not taken me aside and told me to get it together.

    He looked me right in the eye and he said he was sick of hearing about it and that my crush was NEVER EVER going to notice my Significant Glances or Failed Attempts at Flirting. Ever. He told me, basically, that I should either ASK HIM OUT or just get over it.

    And so I… sent Crush FEELINGS-IM messages and he was super super surprised. Shocked. He had NO IDEA and had never even entertained the possibility that I would, in a million years, be interested in him. And my friend was right – had I not spoken up he NEVER would have caught on.

    But he told me that he thought I was nice and fun and attractive and so we went out on a date and it was super awkward and weird and I was so embarassed I could hardly eat but he was super nervous too. And we went on several super awkward dates.

    USE YOUR WORDS, folks. It doesn’t always work out. A lot of the time it is super awkward and weird and then stays super awkward and weird. But if I had never USED MY WORDS and asked him out instead of just staring at his adorable face across the room and complaining to all of my friends about how overpowering my FEELINGS were then…

    well we would never have gone on several super awkward dates/hangouts. Then a bunch of less-awkward things. Then, you know, some amazingly awesome fun hangouts and awesome sexytimes. And we certainly would not have gotten married last September.

    So there’s that.

    (USE YOUR WORDS, MY FRIENDS. WORDS ARE AWESOME)

    • Ha, yours is a much happier and well-adjusted version of my experiences. :D I have to work on using my words more…and not just TYPED words, but oral ones as well!

      • I approve of TYPED words! They’re still words and I dislike the idea that it only counts if you do it without access to a backspace key. But words in person are great too, of course so good luck practicing doing that :)

        Husband and I went months in the early days where we’d be all chatty and fine via IM and then be tongue tied and awkward in person. It still worked out fine :)

    • Ha, yes, the hilariousness of when weird crush finally levels up, and it just… isn’t? And as if weird crush isn’t enough, the few times I’ve hit that wall of “wow I am actually really not that attracted to you/find you super boring,” because that doesn’t match with the intensity of FEELINGS that came before, I go through these acrobatic rationalizations about how I must have intimacy issues? I must have been too tired? I must have drank too much/too little? I must be pushing them away because I FEEL too much? Couldn’t be that I’m just not actually into them, because then why would I have FEELINGSED so hard? Especially because my crushes tend to emerge when I’m stressed or unhappy about something in my life, I’m already in a place where I’m very well-equipped to go down a list of everything wrong with me, which is keeping me from connecting with this person I am obviously meant to be with.

      Slowly learning that there is such a thing as I’m Just Not That Into You (but would still like to kiss imaginary you in my head???).

    • Your post made me squee with happiness! Congratulations!

  63. Ugh, I had the odd crush in high school that I dealt with… not too badly, but when I was in primary school I had the most ridiculous soft spot for one of the boys in my class. He was the eldest son of an Italian family and very, very spoiled, and the son of an allegedly abusive man (towards his wife and female offspring) who was basically training his sons to follow in his footsteps. I was bullied a lot by basically every boy I knew at that stage, and he was one of the ones who used to pick on me pretty badly – but he had, boundaries, I guess, with how far he would go (which the others didn’t?) and he was also cheeky and rebellious and made me laugh, and somehow this was enough to make me adore him even though he treated me like dirt? Part of it was that when no one else was around he treated me a lot better, and when we got a bit older he used to confide FEELINGS to me and sometimes listened to my feelings, which made me feel like we actually had some kind of relationship/understanding, and that he was Hiding His True Self From The World and I was the only person who got to see that. Also, I had basically no friends, so. Even though he broke my stuff and called me names and hit me, I felt like, I dunno, we had some kind of connection.

    I fondly imagined at the time that no one knew about my feelings, although someone told me later that it was ridiculously obvious, because he’d say something to me and everyone would wait for me to deck him – because by that point I’d decided that the only way to deal with people picking one me was violence – and instead I’d just, like, beam tolerantly at him. He moved away when I was twelve, and I was really crushed, and before he went he told me solemnly that he would miss me.

    These days now it’s really mortifying to remember that I was so obviously sweet on him especially because it was a source of bewildered hilarity to everyone else (and also I have this weird feeling of residual fondness, because fucked-up though it sounds, the way my life was at that point, he actually made it better, because he listened to me and was sometimes nice, unlike most people my age). Sometimes I wonder if the way he treated me was something he learnt from his father – you know, treat women like doormats, but at the same time give them a reason to feel like they were special – and HOLY SHIT, I’ve just been describing a Darth Vader Boyfriend, haven’t I. Seriously, I NEVER REALISED THAT BEFORE. Uh.

    Anyway, he actually tried to friend me on Facebook a little while ago and I was like OMG NO, HOW EMBARRASSING.

  64. Ah, man. My most embarrassing crush story is from about two years ago – I was seventeen and had a crush on this guy a few years older, about twenty or twenty one. I have literally no IDEA why I had a crush on him, now. Anyway, I was convinced that he like, LIKED me. Despite often just not answering my texts. Or tweets. Or DMs. And, oh god, if there was no reply to my texts, I’d often send ANOTHER text, or a tweet saying “have you got my text?” or a DM saying “answer your texts! :P”. AND I KEPT JUSTIFYING THIS by saying “oh, he’s just not good at answering his texts!” or “maybe he hasn’t seen it!” or “he’s very busy!”. I made an arrangement to meet up with him, which I was viewing as A Date, but was actually Two People Who Are Acquainted With Each Other Going to The Pub. And…god, I got really drunk. Really, really drunk. As in, he had to help me up when I fell over drunk. And he was LOVELY about it, and helped me to the station and made sure I got back home safely, and I interpreted this as “he clearly LIKES me”. *dies of shame* I pushed for two more meetings-up after this, and was still clinging to hope even after he forgot he’d made the arrangement for the second one.

    Luckily, a mutual friend messaged me on twitter saying “Just ask [crush] out already”, to which my response was “WHAT IS IT THAT OBVIOUS?” *facepalm* It turned out Yes It Was Obvious and Yes Everyone Knew. Which prompted me to Use My Words and text him asking for an actual date. Which, obviously, was turned down but SO SO NICELY because he was a VERY NICE GUY (not a Nice Guy). And the crush lifted very quickly after that, and rejection really wasn’t that bad and if I’d only done that at the beginning rather than Conveying and Sending Texts Creepily Often I would have saved myself much angst and embarrassment.

    I actually came VERY close to doing something similar with the guy who’s now my boyfriend, although I at least had plans to Use My Words. I’d been overanalysing every message he sent me (“So, he linked me to a steampunk erotic webcomic? DOES THIS MEAN HE LIKES ME?” “So, he rewrote some biblical love poetry to incorporate bread metaphors and similes [injoke] and sent it to me by facebook, DOES THIS MEAN HE LIKES ME?” [Spoiler: yes]), and when going to Mutual Hobby where I knew he’d be I’d dress super nicely and send him Longing Gazes ™. Anyway, my PLAN was to go to the pub and then, after a pint, casually use my words to say “SO I LIKE YOU DO YOU THINK YOU LIKE ME TOO?” But what happened was that I chickened out of doing this due to feeling utterly convinced that he did not in fact Like Me Like That, then get very drunk with him, his friend, and his friend’s friends. Very drunk. Then sitting at his feet and making physical contact wherever possible and then connecting his face with my face. Which, somehow, worked, and he responded with enthusiasm. Then the next day I messaged him and Used My Words to say “SO I AM ATTRACTED TO YOU, HOW ABOUT THAT?” and he said “THE FEELING IS VERY MUCH MUTUAL, LET’S HAVE LUNCH?” and now we’ve been together for three months.

    So, the “get very drunk in crush’s presence” plan can have very variable outcomes, is what I’m saying. Using Words definitely a better strategy, despite the success of drunken snogging in my current case.

  65. Here is my story of unchecked limerence and the awful badness it can lead to; I apologise in advance for its length.

    I got with this slightly older guy right at the end of sixth form, all my friends went away for university, and I moved into my new boyfriend’s social circle. When we broke up a couple of years later, I didn’t have any friends of my own, only his, and I fell out of touch with them all after the breakup. I went through a period of eight months or so where I was incredibly lonely and depressed, but thought my inability to feel happiness must mean I was still not over my boyfriend. I had identified as a loner throughout school, even though I did have a small circle of close friends, and I was still thinking of myself as a loner-and-proud type after my breakup. My poor level of self-understanding didn’t allow for the idea of my being miserable due to a total lack of friends and social life.

    One day, I happened to bump into one of my ex’s friends, and this guy was very much my type physically, and he was witty and delightful with just a hint of it being a cover for something unhappy underneath that lured me into wanting to be the person to Save Him From His Inner Darkness. By the end of our conversation I really wanted to see more of him. I called him most weeks to suggest we hang out at the weekend, but he hardly ever picked up, so after a few attempts I would send a text. He sometimes answered, after several days when I had given up on getting a response and stopped trying to call him, when he found he had nobody else to hang with on a Friday night I guess. I knew logically that he probably was Just Not That Into Me, but I couldn’t get that option to actually feel real. Maybe he was just playing it cool because he really liked me and was shy of seeming intense. (Projection much?) Or, maybe if I could just get him to hang out some more, then he would feel the connection between our souls and be helpless to resist falling in love with me. I had no other friends and he was all I thought about, all day, every day, and it felt amazing to suddenly feel so soul-singing crazy happy after so long, like being on drugs. I thought it meant something to do with intertwined destinies. It didn’t occur to me that it might be about my having been so lonely for so long, because I still couldn’t admit to myself that I was a person who could feel lonely.

    We caught a movie one weekend, and I, a dirt-poor part-time student, blew my entire allowance for the month on cinema, food, arcade machines, and a surprise marshmallow-barbecue-by-moonlight in the field out back of the movie theatre, because I wanted so badly to seem fun and cool to be around. On the way home, he offered his hand to help me down a steep slope onto the path, and I panicked about looking like I wanted to hold his hand and chirped ‘It’s okay, I can do it!’ and jumped down by myself. Then I spent the rest of the walk home wondering if it was a romantic advance and I had spurned it and now he would never make another one again. Also if I had ruined everything by being too bolshy and self-sufficient, and maybe if I had just let him be the gallant knight who was helping delicate little princess-me, then that might have been the moment in which true love blossomed in his chivalrous bosom, and I had ruined it.

    Not long after that, he found himself in need of a housemate, and asked me if I’d like to move in with him. Even I knew better than to think this was anything more than a practical and/or friendly offer, but I did not know well enough to say no, and I accepted. He was a daily drinker, I was teetotal. I decided to let him ‘teach me to drink’. One night, not long after I moved in, I got horrendously drunk for the first time ever, and told him that I worried about how much he drank because I was concerned he wouldn’t be able to be a good father to our children, and oh, by the way, that I was super in love with him and wanted us to spend our lives together. He took my hand and said that he really liked me as a friend, but, and then I didn’t hear the rest because I was lying on my front on the floor, crying my heart out into the living room carpet and trying to explain all the reasons why we should be together between sobs.

    I woke up with a cracking hangover. He said to me, firmly, ‘Nothing changes,’ in a way that was supposed to be a reassurance that we were still friends, and I was grateful for it. Then we acted like nothing had happened. A couple months later, we started getting drunk together at weekends, which quickly progressed to getting drunk and making out with each other. We both knew we felt differently about each other, but we both pretended that it was cool and I was over him and that we could just make out drunkenly without it meaning anything, because we were both getting something we wanted out of it. That went on until he brought another female friend home one night, with the clearly-voiced intention of getting into her pants. That didn’t actually happen, but the crushing hurt it caused me was enough to be a wake-up call about what an idiot I was being, and I stopped making out with him after that. He acted like he couldn’t understand why, and kept trying to be physical with me when he’d been drinking. I refused, although every time I had to break my own heart to do it.

    By this point, my social circle consisted of Crush, Crush’s Sister, and Crush’s Sister’s Boyfriend (henceforth referred to as Sister and Boyfriend respectively). Sister and Boyfriend started coming to visit at weekends regularly around the point where Crush gave up on our continuing to make out, and we would all play board games, watch TV, and get drunk together. One night when we were all drunk and Crush was showing Sister something on the internet, Boyfriend put his hand down the back of my pants, and I was blind drunk enough to think this was exciting and to encourage him with my body language. I woke up the next morning with one hell of a lot of guilt, cleaned the house from top to bottom, and decided to stop drinking so much, since I clearly couldn’t manage to be a decent human being while drunk.

    A while after that, an occasion arose where I had been drinking, but had been very careful to not get out-of-control drunk in Boyfriend’s presence because I did not want anything further to happen between us. The four of us were at the house of a friend, looking after the dog while the friend was away. Sister and Boyfriend were allocated the master bedroom, Crush was allocated the secondary bedroom to spare him from his mild dog allergy, and I was to sleep on the sofa. When Sister went to bed and Boyfriend didn’t go with her, I got this creeping feeling that Boyfriend was going to wait for Crush to also go to bed so that we would be alone together. It was past midnight and I had nowhere to go to get away from him. I went to the kitchen, poured my drink down the sink, chugged a pint of water to get my head as clear as possible, went back to the sofa, and tried to fall asleep. This failed because I felt so alert and worried and twitchy about what Boyfriend might have in mind, so I ended up just lying there with my eyes closed, giving the impression of having fallen asleep.

    When Crush went to bed, I continued to pretend to be asleep so that Boyfriend would leave me alone and go to bed. After ten minutes or so, Boyfriend came over to the sofa and started touching me. At first, it was over my clothes, and I lay still and hoped that he would get his jollies and then go away. I did not want to cause a dramatic scene in our social group, and I was afraid that I would be equally blamed for what was happening because I had encouraged him before. I was also afraid of what he might do to me if I ‘woke up’. He was twice my weight, and leaning right over my body, and I suddenly had absolutely no idea what this man I had thought my trusted friend was capable of. If he were capable of sexual assault on a sleeping person, might he not also be capable of rape? If he chose to hold me down and jam a hand over my mouth while he forcibly raped me, I would not be able to stop him. And then, with the context undeniably changed from ‘drunken fooling around’ to ‘forcible rape’, what might he do afterwards to make sure I didn’t tell anyone? If he were capable of rape, might he not also be capable of murder? He could drive my body somewhere to dump it, tell Sister and Crush next morning that he had left me asleep on the sofa when he went to bed, and nobody would ever know what had happened to me. On the one hand I was terribly afraid of being raped and murdered, and on the other I was terrified of making this encounter something that was mutual and consenting by not reacting in Exactly The Right Way, and I was terrified of getting thrown out of the house by Crush for being a slut whore who tempted his sister’s boyfriend into being unfaithful.

    Regrettably in retrospect, in the midst of all this, I chose that my priority should be Crush’s opinion of my character. I know now that being sexually assaulted was in no way my fault. But prioritising Crush’s opinion of me over my own truth about what happened was my mistake, mine alone; and I have paid for it dearly.

    Boyfriend’s hand went inside my bra, and a short while later, so did his tongue. I continued to lie quietly and pray for him to get bored. When he unfastened the button and fly of my trousers, some line in my head got crossed, and I murmured and shifted and pretended to slowly wake up. Boyfriend shot back to his end of the Couch of Plausable Deniability and under his Blanket of Nothing Is Happening Here, faster than I thought possible. I made a little display of ‘discovering’ that my bra was half-off and my trousers undone, said ‘What the…?’ and then leapt up off the sofa and ran like hell for the door. If I didn’t maintain the lie that I had been asleep, I thought, then I might be blamed for what happened by Crush because I deceitfully and deliberately chose to spread myself wanton and prone in front of Boyfriend to tempt him. My trousers fell down to my ankles when I was halfway across the living room and I had to stop and bend over to drag them back up before continuing. I ran up the stairs and bumbled through doorways looking for Crush, who would, I was sure, be Fair and Just and Strong and would Protect Me, and maybe his heroic rescuing of me would even Finally Bring Us Together, just so long as I got to him first and made sure he didn’t think it was my fault.

    When I found Crush I was crying hysterically, which was part genuine, part alcohol, and part manipulation attempt because I desperately wanted him to believe I’d done nothing wrong, but wasn’t sure myself that I hadn’t been complicit. He jumped out of bed. I told him exactly what had happened, except I left out the part about the incident that had happened before, and continued to pretend that I had genuinely been asleep. He calmed me down. He asked me if I was sure. ‘My top was up here, and my trousers are still undone; of course I’m sure!’ I sobbed.

    He said believed me. ‘Really?’ I wailed.

    ‘Of course I do. You’re my friend. I trust you completely,’ he said, with all the power of direct eye contact. He put me in his bed and said he would deal with it. He told me to go to sleep. Then he and Sister, who had been woken by the commotion but didn’t know what was happening, went downstairs to talk to Boyfriend. I tried to hear what they were saying, but they were speaking too quietly; I could hear voices, but no words.
    The next morning, it took me two hours to get out of bed. I kept hoping Crush would come and ask me if I was okay and tell me what had happened, but nobody came, and eventually I had to force myself to go downstairs and face them all. Everybody acted as though nothing had happened, which was completely surreal, and I had neither the courage nor the fortitude to do anything but go along with it. We went out for the day, spent the whole day together, and Sister and Boyfriend decided to stay at our place that night. While they made the trip home to get blankets, I approached Crush in the kitchen. He was chopping carrots, and I leaned on the side and said, casually, with my heart hammering even worse than it had been all day, ‘So, what happened last night when you went downstairs?’

    Crush didn’t look at me. ‘Boyfriend was asleep. He said nothing like that happened. He didn’t know what you were talking about.’

    ‘I see,’ I said flatly. I went to look out of the window. Everything felt like a dream, like it couldn’t be real. Maybe it hadn’t been. Then I said ‘Do you still believe me?’

    He hesitated before saying, ‘I believe that you believe something happened. Like, maybe you were having a dream, and then a tree branch banged on the window and scared you, or something, and you got confused.’

    I sputtered. ‘My trousers were – ’

    He threw his knife on to the work surface with a clatter, turned to face me, and demanded, ‘Well, what do you want ME to do about it?’

    I went back to looking out the window, and after a moment, he went back to angrily chopping vegetables. I was furious, but I was also desperate. He didn’t believe me, and the most important thing in the world to me now was to change that. ‘Nothing,’ I said after a while. ‘Don’t worry. I’ll deal with it.’

    There followed a Nancy Drew style entrapment, in which I cornered Boyfriend the next morning and got him to snivel and apologise while I recorded the whole thing using a recording device concealed on my person. The next evening, I brought the recording to Crush, and got him to listen to it. He stared out the window, stony-faced, while the sound of Boyfriend saying that he was sorry for touching me while I’d been sleeping, that he’d been drunk, that he’d never do it again, filled the otherwise silent room. Then Crush said, ‘I’ll deal with it,’ and didn’t speak another word to me for the rest of the night.

    He never apologised for not believing me, or asked me if I was okay. He went back to acting like it had never happened. Sister and Boyfriend continued to come to our house for games, TV and alcohol every weekend. And I, faced with the choice between cutting loose from my only social group to find a new home with strangers, or joining with Crush in pretending that my sexual assult was a thing that didn’t matter so that everything could continue as normal, chose the latter. I was in some serious denial, and I was also too hurt and traumastised by what had happened to find the strength and self-confidence to tell them all to fuck themselves and go start over. I continued to live there and hang around with them for another six months like nothing had happened. Crush got a girlfriend, and I was devastated. He quickly moved her in, and then things went sour between them, and then our house became a horrible place to be and I finally decided to look for another place. I met someone else, someone lovely, and finally began to recognise Crush for the douchecanoe he was. It was a process, and it took a long time. I stayed friends with him for years before I finally figured out firstly that his response to my sexual assault did not deserve my forgiveness… and then also, that even proving I had been victim of something terrible did not oblige him to care about me.

    Thank you, Captain, for creating a space on the internet where I can tell this story.

    • Oh my god, your story is so painful, and yet so horribly real.

      Incredible, isn’t it, that you ever valued such a douchecanoe and his opinion of you more highly than you valued yourself and your own? And yet as this thread makes clear, it’s not just you, many of us have done it to one degree or another. It’s like the brain becomes fixated and refuses to process signs that the Crush is and always will be unkind to you and that more of his/her “specialness” in your life would not be nirvana, but hell.

      I’m so glad you eventually clawed your way out. Here’s hoping you have since attained a better appreciation of your own wonderfulness, such that you will NEVER short-change it for a douchecanoe again.

    • Wow. I am so sorry that happened to you. Fuck both those guys, seriously.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you. You are brave and awesome. Jedi-hugs to your younger self.

    • Ugh. UGH. Those people suck. And you are awesome and brave and undeserving of those sucky people.

    • Thanks for your kind responses, everybody. I really don’t feel like I was very brave! But perhaps the brave thing is finally being able to see it for what it was, and talk about it. What would have been brave, at the time, was to not be trying to get Crush to deal with it all for me. Given the chance to do it over, I would play that entrapment recording to all three of them in the room together, tell Boyfriend that he wasn’t welcome in my home any longer, and to tell Crush that if he wasn’t willing to back me up on that then I would be moving out. That would have probably ended with me moving out, and with Crush and Boyfriend both being furious that I would hurt Sister by proving what Boyfriend did. So yes, seriously, fuck them indeed.

    • Oooh. Fuck those people. Fuck them all with a rusty wooden spork. You even got a confession and he reacted like that? Ooooh – my Rageasaurus feels stabby on your younger self’s behalf.

      Jedi hugs and mad props to getting yourself out of there! (also to your very brave and impressive recording-device skills)

    • Fucking fuckers. That makes me so angry. And I could imagine myself in exactly the same position so easily. So glad you’re away from those people.

  66. Right now, I am in the process of fading out of a crush…

    It’s a bit complicated. I noticed hir about two years ago and – being an expert on that matter – jumped right into “pining from afar without making intentions known”-mode.
    When zhe announced that zhe had a new boyfriend, I must have acted somewhat heartbroken, maybe zhe picked up on that, I don’t know.

    What I know is that starting in May I gradually picked up signals from hir that COULD be constructed as flirting by a crushing mind. With inbuilt plausible deniability, that is.
    We were in a small group of university students that grew quite close over the course of last year. Everytime we met there were thoughts nagging at me:
    “Why did she ask me whether it’s still sexual violence if the people involved consented to it after that lecture on rape forensics in OB/GYN?”
    “Was zhe playing footsie last lunch or did zhe really confuse my calf with the table leg for an hour straight?”
    “Do smartphones really have keylocks that inadequate that zhe can call me ‘accidentally’ without saying anything on the phone?”
    “Was that episode of deepened breathing + drawing hearts on the back of the presentation handout due to hir thinking of hir BF?Or…?”
    “Are timed taps (tap, 2sec, tap… 10 min … repeat) on my forearm/foot just a figlet of my imagination?”
    “Do people generally invade personal space (10 cm) with their back turned towards me (me being able to smell body odour+perfume), cornering me under a cupboard and standing there without apparent necessity for minutes WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING / TALKING TO SOMEBODY ELSE? [btw: since that day, I know olfactoric signals can trigger the limbic system in split-seconds, ...]”

    I act quite androgynously in day-to-day life and people that don’t know me that well tend to assume I might be gay. I have had the suspicion that my peers might be guessing at my sexual orientation for some time before a woman in my group blatantly made a sexual suggestive move that left me pretty confused.
    This confusion led to me coming out as Neutrois and sexual abuse survivor to one close friend also in my aforementioned group who is best friends with my crush.

    In this emotional chaos, I sent a mail to my crush, asking her whether zhe was flirting with me over the course of last year without mentioning my feelings for her or giving examples of the behaviour I considered flirting.
    I really don’t know what I expected from that mail – zhe has a boyfriend after all… wishful thinking at work.

    Of course, zhe denied flirting [who wouldn't?] and I wondered if I really could have imagined all of the signs. :-(

    So I am in the process of fading out this crush. Not easy.

  67. *wince.* I’m sitting here cringing with recognition, so I should probably come out of lurking now, and ‘fess up to my own biggest act of stupidity, yes?

    I was sixteen and a freshman in college, working in the cafeteria in between classes, when a stranger — we’ll call him A — walked in. He looked sad, and at that point in time, I was … well, I was the kind of broken who would be caught by that, and want desperately to Fix It. He grabbed his breakfast, went out into the eating space, and when I followed with mine, oh look, there weren’t any open tables. I wound up sitting at his. (It Was a Sign!)

    We really did become good friends, over the next two years. And I was caught in the throes of that crush for all of it. He was twice my age. (He was older than my father.) He had interesting hobbies. He became the center of my circle of friends. He liked teaching us; he introduced us to new books, crafts, sports, music, the works. And, ohyeah, he was *engaged to someone else*. And then came the week before my eighteenth birthday, and a shared bottle of wine, and a movie at his place … and my usual good sense, that had kept my mouth firmly shut up to that point, deserted me. We wound up in bed together, at my instigation. And things went to hell.

    I can only imagine what it was like from his end; I don’t think he’d really understood before that point how truly unstable I could be, because when I was hanging out with him, I was expending great care to Be Worldly and Cheerful and Mature and Pleasant to Be With. But he was the first *voluntary* sexual partner I’d ever had, which threw me so much more than I expected, and he’d been the untouchable crush for *two years* and suddenly he wasn’t untouchable … and there was guilt, because hello, he had a fiancee … and to put the icing on the cake, I got pregnant. Between that night together and me finding out I was pregnant, however, A “disappeared”. Total radio silence — didn’t show for the birthday plans we’d made, no returned phone calls, nothing. And the longer that went on, the more frantic and clingy I got.

    By the time I delivered the pregnancy news and actually talked to him in person again, I had left numerous feelingsdump messages on his voicemail, including one that was so obviously a pre-suicide goodbye that I might as well have gone ahead and said the word. At that point, no sane and sensible person, even if he *had* loved me beyond all reason, would have wanted to deal with the mess I was. The only immediate *good* outcome was that in the aftermath of the suicide attempt, I miscarried. I wasn’t convinced it was a good thing at the time, mind you. But … I lived. (The friendship, obviously, didn’t.)

    I learned; I was so horrified at myself once I was back to solid ground that I started putting more effort into protecting myself, so that I’d never ever be that awful again. As part of that, well, I worked on clear communications, because half of what sent me into that spin was the sudden loss of all the rules and boundaries I’d *thought* we were playing by. Twenty-ish years later, I’m almost willing to say I needed it to happen that way, and I’m glad it was A, because it could so easily have been someone who would have been truly malicious instead of just caught off-guard and bewildered. But damn if the thought of him doesn’t still send me cold with shame.

    • I am so sorry that happened to you. He was a complete weasel to leave you with no response like that. I worry about your last sentence – you have nothing to be ashamed of.

      • Awh, thank you. He was, actually; a damned *phone call* to tell me he needed to clear his head and think about things would have averted a lot of that spiral. But a stronger, more stable me (me today, f’r example) would have been able to deal with it better. If there was any chance he hadn’t made up his mind when he took that break, I’m sure coming home to all. the. messages. evar. would have quickly changed that! I’m … ashamed that after investing two years in a friendship that worked so well, I let one vulnerable night and an attack of the brainweasels after it cause me to act so very badly.

        On the up side — that episode taught me that there were things about my childhood sexual abuse that I hadn’t processed and *would* trip me up if I didn’t. Some of what I went through with A, I would have gone through with *anyone* who had the luck to be my first chosen sexual experience. I came out of it where I
        needed to be, and three kids, a wonderful husband, and a move to a brand new country later, I wouldn’t change the outcome if I could. Just wish I could tell that to 18-yr-old me.

    • I had left numerous feelingsdump messages on his voicemail, including one that was so obviously a pre-suicide goodbye that I might as well have gone ahead and said the word. At that point, no sane and sensible person, even if he *had* loved me beyond all reason, would have wanted to deal with the mess I was.

      Eh, I think that’s being super hard on an 18-year-old girl. If someone tells me they’ve been friends with someone who’s been very attentive and kind to them for two years, and now that they’ve slept together, that person has precipitously cut off all contact, cancelled on previous plans, and stopped returning phonecalls, I would be ASTONISHED if that person (of ANY age) was not feeling insecure, anxious, and desperate to re-establish contact.

      If one of the teenagers I see at a university counselling centre told me that story, but then said, “I know that me being upset right now is the last thing he’d want, so I’m trying to be cool with it and handle it on my own,” I’d be like, GIRL, YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET A RUPTURED SPLEEN FROM HOLDING IT ALL IN. And I’d seriously worry about just how much emotional damage she’s willing to do to herself in service to the relationship.

      So I also think that a man who has gotten to know a bright, fragile, eager-to-please teenage girl and soaked up her adoration for two years would already know that dumping her on her head would make her go ballistic. And that if he didn’t want to deal with her going ballistic, he shouldn’t have slept with her.

      • I’m totally with staranise on this, you found out you were PREGNANT. He was older than your father! You may have instigated sex, but you’ve said nothing indicating he was an unwilling participant. HE WAS ALMOST 2 DECADES OLDER THAN YOU.

        I think if he was that “confused” by what happened, it was at least partially because he’d chosen to ignore a whole hell of a lot of stuff.

        Right now I’m feeling ALLL the judgmental feelings, and they are being directed at A, not you.

  68. Ah, crushes. The Long Unrequited Crush is my usual Modus Operandi as far as my dating history goes – and not usually because I don’t Use My Words (I always do, and early), but more because I am SOOO BAD at spotting the Obvious Red Flags in responses like “my girlfriend is so horrible but we’re definitely breaking up soon so let’s have some casual sex in the meantime and be Best Friends and you can help out with my business for free”. Yes, I let the same guy get away with that one TWICE (with two different girlfriends).

    • Not to be intrusive and bombastic and tell you what to do (after all, I let Almost That Same Guy stand me up — twice — and only escaped the exact same narrative because on the last stand up I backed away slowly and continued to back b/c I knew if I didn’t the likelihood of that happening was 1 minus an infinitesimal fraction) but … I think it’s time That Guy got a nice invoice.

      • Haha! Sadly it’s probably too long ago for that. The guy in question was a serial Abuser Of Goodwill, to friends as well as lovers, and nearly everyone I know got scammed into helping him out for free at one time or another until everyone got tired of his behaviour. Last straw for me was when he got me to go to the pet shop to buy some dead mice for his girlfriend’s pet snake (yes), then he wasn’t even home when I brought them round. So I just put the dead mice through his letterbox and haven’t spoken to him since. :D

  69. I feel silly because I was well into my twenties when this occurred. I had a colleague who lived in the same building as me so we’d carpool the 30 minute drive to work. He’d tell me a lot about his sex life that in hindsight was mega inappropriate but I liked coz I liked him and was going through a serious “I’m fat and no boys will ever like me” phase that I’d been in since my teens. I really should have picked up on his attitude of “women are evil and scheming” with all the talk of his ex wife and many ex girlfriends.

    He and his girlfriend broke up and he told me she’d accused him of cheating on her with me. I will admit, I was excited! Anyway, he got me over one night to help him do something, there was some wine and then there was some sexy times… Bad decision! I was transferred 1500kms away with work and left a week later. So I sent him an email and told him I liked him and wanted to date him. And….. No reply. So I sent a mega FEELINGSMAIL email about why do I do this and no boys like me etc etc. he responded by telling me I was evil and trying to ruin his life. Yeah, I didn’t take that too well. Luckily I was suitably insulted to respond only once (very defensively and retracting any relationship offers I’d made) and dated like a mad woman until I met my now-husband six months later.

    I have several more but I credit this one with being the cold water wake up I needed to stop thinking I was lucky if any guy paid me attention and I could date who I wanted! I feel better knowing the captain has made the same mistakes as the rest of us! Thank you Captain!

  70. I once had it bad for a guy I met at church. Him and his brothers were the main part of a group, and it was like a boy-band- you just pick your favorite brother and crush on him. (Ironically one was blond, one dark hair, and the other had blue eyes. And they were in a band.) Don’t think we were teenagers, we were all in our early 20′s.

    They were really accepting of me, which was awesome because I am not so great at making friends. The group was always doing some activity so it made it easy to get to know people. One of the brothers, Jonah, was more of the loner, creative type. So of course I liked him immediantly.

    I can’t tell you how many ideas, conversations, and evens I spent feeding his ego. I had the sneaking suspecion that he was used to the type of attention from people like me. He would always give me special attention just to keep me hooked, and if I got over-excited seeing him I would get the cold shoulder.

    The big wake-up call was when my sister pulled me aside and said, “Why do you like this Jonah guy? He just told me I’d be pretty if I dressed better.” She also told me how one of his brothers re-introduced himself in front of someone as if he’d never met her- despite the fact they had been hanging out for three months. Another of the brothers had told me that he was getting married to a girl he wasn’t even dating.

    The reason for all this? Because they assumed, probably correctly in some ways, that every girl who was ever nice to them was in love with them. And nothing is more fun then tormenting girls you lead on and making them look like fools. I literally recoiled in horror when all the peices fit together. We were informed one of the brothers was angry my sister got a boyfriend when he liked her, and that went against the gossip in the group that she was in love with him.

    I instantly felt completely stupid for liking Jonah and told him he was an asshole. I saw the first reaction on his face that was real, he had clearly never been spoken to that way. It took a while to forgive myself for being drawn in to their ego-feeding frenzy.

  71. Deeply unsexy workaholics who never stop talking.

    I represent that remark. ;)

  72. The year I was 18, I self-published not one but TWO slender, carefully-composed volumes of FEELINGSPOETRY. Carefully designed covers, Meaningful Epigraphs, you name it.

    They were for a lovely young lady and gentleman I knew. Who were among my best friends. Who were also dating each other (and had been prior to any friendship).

    They both already knew of my FEELINGS, because while she was off on a trip I finally got up the nerve to inform the gentleman. He was actually pretty pleased with this turn of events – “why yes, your giggly teenage-girl jokes with her about getting married and being soulmates DO seem meaningful! yes, let’s ALL date each other!”

    Unfortunately (and crushingly obviously, in retrospect), returning from a summer abroad to find that your best friend macked on your boyfriend in the service of a three-person relationship you don’t want… is not a good feeling! And I was so CONFUSED that she didn’t have good feelings! And we all cried a bunch and there were apologies and hugs and literally two days later I left for college, and any sane person would have cut their losses and been glad to still have two best friends.

    The FEELINGSPOETRY books came about four months later. I’m sure we can all infer how things went in the interim.

    Do not get on my level, y’all, it was a bad fucking level to be on!

  73. What a great thread! My most embarrassing crush was probably my first one, in middle school–but it has a twist ending. He was a popular, older boy, I was a nerdy nobody. My awkward phase was BRUTALLY awkward, so I never revealed my crush to anyone but my best friend, who also liked someone way out of her league (we were both sadly aware of how society, especially teenager society, views female desire when those females aren’t considered attractive). Oh, how we angsted together.

    Fast-forward four years. I’ve emerged from puberty surprisingly chill, confident, and, most shocking of all, pretty conventionally attractive (seriously, if you’d known what Preteen Me looked like, you never would have guessed). Crush had graduated the year before, but still lives in town and starts emailing me out of the blue. He wasn’t interested in me then, so my instincts to not act on the crush were probably right at the time, but he’s into me now that I’m “hot” (this should’ve been my first clue that he wasn’t the greatest person).

    We date for awhile, I realize he’s a jealous, possessive, manipulative jerk, and kick him to the curb. The end.

    I still have a hard time being straightforward about my feelings, though. As I said in a reply above, I’m so careful about not coming on too strong that I probably come across as cold to people I’m really into. Looking back, it’s probably leftover from feeling like I HAD to hide my feelings because I knew I’d be ridiculed for having them.

  74. I lived this very. same. story. Except 1) I actually lived with the dude for a year and 2) mine was a FEELINGSPHONECALL as opposed to a FEELINGSMAIL. There was also a, a few months later, some drunken word vomit over one New Years Eve.

    Honest to Gord, I’m surprised we’re still friends considering what an ass I made of myself. It took some time but with of a combination of me (eventually, post Drunken Word Vomit) taking him at his word and not pushing the ‘us’ issue and not trying to guilt him for not sharing my feelings, as well as him not doing the ‘how can I use this to my advantage’ thing and also not letting me be a little angry and bitter once in a while, we’re pretty much back to 95-100% normal again, and we’re both happily ensconced in relationships with other people.

    I’m really bad at flirting so I tend to do the straight-up, “Hey, you seem cool. I like you.” thing. I don’t have a great track record of this actually being successful, but it sure does save a lot of time.

  75. Oh, man. FEELINGSLETTERS were like my Modus Operandi for middle and early high school, until I finally woke up and saw how ridiculous I was being, and then kind of did a magical 180 in which now I am the person that tells my friends, “Sure, write the FEELINGSLETTER, but for the love of god, set it on fire when you’re done with it. It will not help you.”

    There are two incidences which still stand out in my mind as mortifying embarassments, though the letter-recipients’ reactions are totally different.

    FEELINGSLETTER 1: I was in the 8th grade and madly in love with the cutest boy in my English class. All year long I would go out of my way to be the one to loan him a pencil or to share my book if he forgot his and all year long I likely made ridiculous moony-eyes at him and wrote constantly about him in my diary. By the end of the year I decided, surely, if I write him a letter and just LET HIM KNOW how I feel, clearly he just hasn’t figured it out, then he will ask me to be his girlfriend and we’ll be together forever! (8th grade, I remind you)

    Yeah, well, I gave him the FEELINGSLETTER on the last day of school (thankfully, turns out) and he looked at me like I was insane as he took it and then I ran off and watched from afar as he stood right there in the hallway and unfolded it and made this appalled and clearly unsettled face. And then he crumpled it up and threw it away in the nearest trashcan, and then he turned to his friend and started talking animatedly with his hands. AND THEN HE POINTED AT ME.

    Needless to say, it went nowhere, except that by the end of the day I was super horribly mortified and thankful that had waited to the end of the year to give him the letter, because that way even if the story spread among his friends, it went nowhere.

    (He and I ended up being pretty friendly in high school, years later. No further mention of the 8th grade mortification, though.)

    FEELINGSLETTER 2: Freshman year of high school, near the end of the marching band season, I decided to tell the (super dreamy) senior drumline captain that I was totally head over heels for him by means of a letter. Hoooo boy.

    See, he was in a rock band, and he was a senior, and he had long rock n’ roll hair and a totally awesome car and a guitar AND he could sing, so he just pinged all my secret desires to date 1980s Jon Bon Jovi, apparently. In any case, I gave him the letter, and included — because HOW COOL AM I? — my email address/AIM.

    I got an email that very same afternoon from him that was SUPER sweet. It was along the lines of “Thanks for your note, it’s super flattering, and way cool of you to let me know, but I’ve got a serious girlfriend, and also you’re really young. But you seem like a really awesome chick, and I hope you find someone who is more your style!” which was successful in a) making me go ‘oh well’ and b) making me think he was like, 500x cooler than he already was. And he ended up being really awesome for the rest of the school year, always saying hi and introducing me to some of the drumline guys I didn’t know and so on.

    So, you know, not a tragedy. I still wouldn’t recommend FEELINGSLETTERS, though. Way more room for mortification and heartache, and I really feel like if you can’t have that conversation face-to-face you’re likely not in a good position to begin with in regard to that relationship (I mean, unless it’s long-distance, in which case you’re sort of tight on options).

    • The guy in FEELINGSLETTER 2 sounds really awesome. You probably couldn’t have been rejected any better. (Although I’m sure it still hurt!)

  76. Oh lord. So, here is my absolute hands down worst ever crush embarrassment story, from high school.

    There was this guy, and he was a jerk. A serious jerk. I didn’t like him. But he was unpopular, and I was unpopular, and I wanted a boyfriend, and somewhere, with my logic brain turned off, I said, “Hey! Maybe he will be desperate enough to want me if I flirt with him, and maybe all those things people say about boys picking on girls they like are true, and clearly, we are Meant To Be Together.” And so I started this elaborate fantasy narrative in which he foreswore jerkishness and turned into a TOTALLY DIFFERENT PERSON and loved me. And somehow, it became my reality.

    Of course, I couldn’t tell him about it, because he needed to Discover His Love For Himself. So I was just nice to him. And flirty with him. While he belittled and berated me. And then I realized the problem! He wasn’t Open To The Possibility. So I started sending him anonymous love letters.

    In his locker. In his mailbox. Once, I baked cookies in the shapes of little hearts and left them on his doorstep. I was INSANE. But it still didn’t work. And I was starting to get cranky, because while I knew all I had to do was break through The Shell Of His Wariness to find The Secret Hero Within, the guy I was seeing every day was still a massive jerk that I couldn’t stand.

    I used to do things like go to the candy store at the mall and ask the cashier, “What kind of candy says, ‘I know you’re scared, but I truly do love you’?”

    This lasted for around 2 months before my friend told him it was me and he responded by cornering me on my way home and beating me up. It was kind of an eye-opener.

    When I look back on this now, I feel a combination of awful and humiliated about it, but it was definitely an early lesson on believing reality instead of my hopes.

  77. Another highschool story… (ok, I don’t live in the States so I did not go to actual high school but the local equivalent, anyway.) I was bullied pretty hard in school at age 9-12, then at junior high the bullying stopped but I became the shyest, most socially awkward teen ever. Seriously, I went for like a year without basically talking to anybody.

    In high school I found some friends but I had an extremely hard time talking to any boys. One of my erstwhile bullies went to same jr high and high school with me, and he seemed to regret the bullying and was sort of friendly to me on ONE occasion in the last year of jr high. I promptly developed a HUGE crush on him, which continued into the first year of HS. I was too shy to approach him in any way, so I mooned, stole glances at him, talked about my crush on him to my friends… He was beginning to grow into a really good-looking dude and hung out with the cool kids. I was awkward, my friends were sort of semi-geeks and while I think I look really nice now in my thirties, I definitely wasn’t conventionally “hot” as a teen. So he probably had never even thought about me.

    My asshole ex-friend (that’s a whole another story) convinced me that I should write him a FEELINGSNOTE and ask him if he’d go out with me. Because I was invested in the idea of being “brave” and doing ill thought out and show-offish things to show I could overcome my crippling social anxiety instead of trying to manage said anxiety with either the help of professionals or by starting with small, low-stress forms of social interaction, I thought that was a good idea.

    So I wrote a note stating that I had a crush on him and asked him to meet me after school at a cafe. I worked up the courage to give it to him at the end of class and walked away without saying anything. I went to the cafe and waited, and amazingly he actually showed up. Even 13 years later, I still have to respect that he had the courage himself to come there and… tell me he was not interested in dating me. That moment was like the absolute global maximum of awkward.

    I went home, cried, and proceeded to crush on him in secret for the remainder of high school even though I proclaimed I was over him. Needless to say, I never spoke to him again and nearly hid in shame whenever I saw him. The only good outcome of that mess was that I had taken some extra physics courses so I’d have more classes in common with him. I discovered I liked physics and eventually went for an engineering/comp sci major in university. I work in software development now and I’ve always been really really happy with my career choice.

    My adventures in high school did not end there. (My friend group had the same phenomenon that other commenters have described: everyone HAD to have a boyfriend or a boy to crush on. Even those two girls who later came out as lesbians and now have a dog and a mortgage together) In another attempt to be “brave”, I asked a dude I didn’t even know to be my partner in a prom-style event. During the lead-up to the event itself, he developed a crush on me and I discovered I disliked everything about him. But I desperately wanted a boyfriend and wanted to get rid of my virginity, so I convinced myself I had a crush on him too and OMG HOW ROMANTIC it was when we eventually confessed this “mutual attraction” at the prom. We went out for 4 YEARS and I was desperately unhappy most of the time, until I finally came to my senses and kicked him to the curb. I will regret that relationship until the end of time and then some.

    One reason I dumped my ex was that I had developed a crush on an university classmate. He had initially crushed on me and we’d hung out together in semi-flirty ways, but by the point I became single, he’d started to have second thoughts. My crush, in contrast, totally bloomed and I basically manipulated him into hanging out with me, then kissing, then dating, then sex… I had mega pantsfeelings for him, but he’d never had sex before and wanted to take things slow. I persuaded him into making out and then going all the way, and in retrospect I feel that while he ultimately made that choice, I should have been WAY more sensitive to what he really wanted. He started to avoid me and then broke up because he wasn’t really into me, but thankfully, I had also realized that we didn’t have that much in common and the breakup went amicably.

    My next crush luckily was my now-husband. I finally had enough sense to get to know him slowly and let him initiate things. After a string of friend-dates that were increasingly more-than-friendly, we kissed and USED OUR WORDS to admit mutual feelings. We’ve been together for 8 years, married for 3 and have the cutest baby daughter in the world.

  78. I spent all my time with these two friends of mine, who were a couple. I mean all my time. We chatted all day long over the internet, we hung out together in the evenings, we had things going on over the weekend. All the time. And I got the worst crush I’ve possibly ever had in my life on both of them. So I kept making all the decisions to spend time with them and get closer to them, because clearly that flame needed feeding.

    And then she hit on me, and I decided to use my words and ask if it were possible. And they said that nope, because even though they liked me too, they didn’t think it’d be good for their relationship. And then we sorta had a thing anyway? It was very middle school, just flirting and holding hands and maybe it’ll work because feelings are totally reasons, guys! And then it wasn’t good for their relationship, and they broke it off, and oh my god guys, I fell to pieces. But I was able to keep it together just enough to be mostly functional, and we all wanted to be friends, so that’s good right?

    Note to self: That was incorrect. Issues don’t go away if you don’t change anything about your behavior except to say “nope this isn’t happening”. And if you don’t talk about it. And I was so scared that they were going to drop me because of all of this and afraid that all of this was my fault that I didn’t use my words very well. And that would have probably worked out better than a plane crash in the Pacific (only in a Great Lake, maybe), except they still had to sort things from the fallout on their end. And, again, issues don’t go away if you don’t change anything. So HOLY DYSFUNCTIONAL, BATMAN. Our worst selves just kept making each other worse.

    One of the worst parts was that by request (not mine), we didn’t tell any of our mutual friends what was going on. Which on the one hand yay no drama. On the other hand, yay omitting truth (lying) to friends. Especially by the end of this. Because having a falling out with someone on the DL is hard when there’s events every other month or so and you quit an activity that takes place every other weekend, and you miss everyone else and they miss you.

    So after MONTHS of being super super close except not admitting issues at all and me eventually realizing that hey maybe this isn’t working and that I was seeing the beginning of a slow fade, I pulled away a lot. And then asked if they had an African violet to give me, which they did. And then I felt relieved. I thought about how much misinformation came my way, and what seems to me to be some very manipulative behavior. And how unhealthy I had been the past few months, and how I need to be able to use my words better than that. And I got angry at the pot that the African Violet was in, because it was couched in terms that I knew were lies: this’ll take time, it’s nothing personal, you needed to figure this out for yourself, we’re still friends. And then I thought about the things I’d identified, and I felt better again.

    And then I went through a healing period of therapy/blocking them on FB/both of us doing the avoiding dance/missing them and then hating them and then missing them, and then not really caring all that much and I’m still getting over this but every day is better than the last. Turns out when you invest a lot into someone and trust them implicitly and they break your heart, it kinda hurts.

    In conclusion: Burning crush of burning made me act like a flaming idiot. If I can’t use my words, I need to reevaluate. If my burning crush can’t use their words, especially when asked to use their words, run like the dickens.

    • As for why? Long-term, desperate loneliness and having finally found “my people”. Having people who were willing to spend that much time with me was such a self-esteem booster. And having people who were willing to get close to me (with total plausible deniability, we’re just friends right?) – so awesome.

      Beyond using my feelings, I’ve definitely learned to trust my gut feelings a lot more.

  79. Oh lawdie, lawdie. So many of these stories ring true to me, I am terrible with crushes and there is pretty much never a time when I don’t have some form of one on SOMEONE.

    I have one which was undoubtedly my worst, THE ALMIGHTY CRUSH OF DOOM AND WOE. Seriously bad times here.

    I was 17 and in the spring of my second to last year of secondary school and I was looking at Universities and going on open days. Both my Oldest Friend and I wanted to look at a particular Uni and we arranged to go on the open day together and she brought a friend of hers along who also wanted to see the University. He and I hit it off immediately and we started texting each other loads, epic-ly long facebook wall post conversations and we met up loads over that summer (which was some effort for both of us as we lived in different towns/cities). He was the first real male friend I had had (all girls school, ya dig) and rather predictably I fell for him.

    However, I didn’t do anything except moon over him and it also turned out that Oldest Friend really liked him as well. But also hadn’t done anything, but now since he was “forbidden fruit” so to speak that made it even worse and I crushed harder. But we would often meet up as a trio and it would be hella awkward and one weekend over the summer when I had a free house I invited both of them over to stay at mind and we would watch movies and get drunk.

    We had a Lord of the Rings drinking game marathon and Oldest Friend went to bed earlier and left Crush and I alone. We were all drunk and earlier during the film session Crush and I had randomly been sat holding hands on the COUCH OF PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY (seriously that so much a Thing it isn’t real) which we were all sharing but quickly stopped every time she looked over. And when she left we ended up cuddling veeeery intimately. At one point I was lying on top of him while he stroked my hair and stared into my face and at another he had his arm round my waist and was stroking my stomach. We didn’t kiss but it sent my FEELINGS into overdrive as I now was convinced that he liked me back but wasn’t doing anything about it to spare Oldest Friends feelings.

    Not long after Oldest Friend got a boyfriend in a likely attempt to get over Crush and now I thought he might make a move, but he didn’t, and I was too awkward and insecure to do anything myself.

    And then shit got real. There was a houseparty that all three of us went to, there was drinking and general carousing and some time in the early hours I had a Deep And Meaningful Conversation with a mutual friend of me, Crush and Oldest Friend. I confessed my crush, waxed lyrical about how much I liked him and she took it upon herself (with my drunken and lovesick permission) to go and find Crush and tell him what I had said, ask him if he liked me, which under pressure he said yes to, and then drag both of us down into the kitchen, sit us down and tell us that we were now a couple.

    She then went and told everyone in the house that we were now a couple and Oldest Friend heard. Now Oldest Friend was not over Crush despite having a boyfriend and after Crush left to go to work and I was still there she came down and cried and told me I was a terrible person and that if I went through with this I would lose her friendship. I, being over the moon at having attained my Crush said that I was going through with it and she cried some more and left.

    Now it gets even worse, as may have been obvious, Crush didn’t really like me that way, he liked talking to me and we got on well and he thought I was attractive but he Just Wasn’t That Into Me. However rather than admit to this he tried a sort of Slow Fade after agreeing that we were an official couple and that we would put it on facebook and that were boyfriend and girlfriend. He would take hours, even days to reply to texts, he never called me and always made be the one to arrange seeing each other. At one point we didn’t see each other for a month for no good reason. However he refused to actually do the right thing and just break up with me. I felt like crap, as my good friend who I was head over heels for was turning out to be a shit boyfriend. And what’s more I had lost my oldest friend for him.

    I hung on, and hung on for three months, desperate to try and salvage the relationship (my first) that i had spent so long hoping for. However after three months, we met up and he was weird and distant, not holding my hand or kissing me the whole day (which was odd as while he was distant in between seeing me, when he did see me he acted like a normal boyfriend) and when I finally asked him what was up he told me that he was sorry that he was such a bad boyfriend and that he was really bad at relationships and that he didn’t what was wrong with him and that he didn’t know why he behaved like that. He said that it was up to me whether we would still be a couple and it was my decision to make but that if we stayed together he couldn’t say that he would be able to change or make the effort to be a better boyfriend.

    So yeah that sucked, I said we should end it as I couldn’t see anything else to do. Then I went home and cried lots and lots and Oldest Friend, showing herself to be the awesome person she is heard what had happened and reached out to me and helped me through it. She had finally got over Crush herself, partly as a result of seeing how he treated me and found a new guy who she actually liked. However I moped, and moped and several weeks after the break up, against all advice I wrote a FEELINGSLETTER.

    This FEELINGSLETTER poured out my heart and soul and told him how much he had hurt me and most of all how I wished he would have been willing to make the effort to be a better boyfriend and how I could have HELPED HIM do that and I could have HELPED HIM and work out what it was that WRONG WITH HIM (because I’d actually believed that bullshit he’d told me). And it was paged long and very heartfelt and embarrassing and I sent it to him and then facebook messaged him asking if he’d got it and read it and replied awkwardly saying yes he had and that he was sorry.

    Then weeks later I recovered and was excruciatingly embarrassed about my FEELINGSLETTER and have not seen or spoken to Former Crush since and that is a good thing.

    Phewf.

    • OH GOD AGGRESSIVELY HELPFUL FRIENDS! I started going out with my first boyfriend when a friend dragged me up to him and basically forced me to ask him out (it was obvious we both liked each other, with lots of cuddling and handholding, so I really shouldn’t have been as petrified as I was. But I was in 8th grade and incredibly socially nervous). So, you know, that was pretty awkward, but it turned out ok.

      The problem was when she engineered our breakup in the same way (for reasons that pass understanding, I had told her I wanted to break up with him). She came up to us as we were chatting at intermission of a play that he was starring in and I was stagemanaging and said that, since she had been there when we started going out, she wanted to be there when we broke up. I had been planning on breaking up with him after the show closed, but rather than lying in that moment (as I probably should have done) I dragged him off into a corner and told him that yes, it was true, I did want to break up. He did not, and was pretty upset. And then had to go onstage for Act II. I still cringe over it.

  80. Even though my mom had told me that crushes come and go and you probably just want to wait most of them out instead of doing something with them, when I was 16 I started a relationship with a guy I’d met at a party and got a crush on (he was a friend of a friend). He was nice looking and he was really interested in me (which I wasn’t used to) and I was already 16 and feeling left behind (a lot of my friends had started getting boyfriends really early and I’d never even kissed anyone) and anyway I really liked him, right?

    Just a few weeks later I’d already started losing interest, but now we were In A Relationship! And I didn’t really know how to break it off, and I wasn’t sure if I should, because I still liked that he liked me; but every other weekend when I’d stay over with him, or he with me, I was miserable. He’d want to do make-out stuff and I’d just sort of go along with it, but the novelty of kissing had long worn off and I didn’t like it anyway (I’d later learn that I’m asexual, too). But when we’d go out to clubs and parties with friends I felt so cool! I thought if I just pushed through something would click and I’d find out I wanted to marry him or something.

    So eventually, 6 months later, our friend-group all went camping together, and we were sharing a tent. And I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I dreaded every evening when it was time to turn in. So I broke up with him there. He got really drunk that day and started smoking out of some kind of weird protest. We still had a week more of camping to go. It was on an ISLAND. I had to relocate to another tent with a girl who had also broken up with her boyfriend there (she was also a friend of a friend), and I was just glad that that was even a possibility. It was all just bloody awkward and miserable. I’ve never been more happy to go home.

    A year and a half later, I met this other guy at a club/party. We became friends. After 3 months or so, I figured out I’d developed feelings for him. So I started dropping hints. It was stupid stuff like putting my hand down on the couch really close to him, and hoping he’d get that I wanted him to take my hand and… I don’t even know what I was thinking exactly… be really romantic about it?
    A few weeks later he asked if he could come by my house (it was 10 pm and he lived 2,5 hours away) and I said yeah sure (we did hang out all the time, but it was a weeknight and he had classes the day after and I thought it was a bit weird). I picked him up at the train station and on the way home he told me he was in love with me and asked me if I reciprocated. Turns out he’d never gotten any of my hints, but he’d liked me for a long time anyway, and although he wasn’t sure I even liked him back, he’d wanted to at least give it a shot. I said yes, and we spent the night kissing. Now it’s nearly 13 years later and we’re still together.
    So I really have to thank him for being a practical guy who knows how to Use His Words, because I sure as hell wasn’t at that stage yet.

    • If I could go back in time I’d tell myself to NEVER EVER break up while on a really really small island with no way off it until the trip is over and the next ferry goes and no way to avoid your new ex. Just kick your courage in the arse and have it grab the rest of you by the ear and drag it over to your boyfriend and break up before you go on the trip. Then bow out of the camping trip.
      Better yet, break up with him after week 5 and the limerence wears off and before the make-outs and sexing stuff starts. Or never date him at all, because most of it was wanting to be cool and being so happy about his interest in you. Though I doubt I’d have listened to that last bit.

  81. I am a fan of unrequited crushes. This perhaps doesn’t speak well of my emotional maturity, but I’m recently out of an LTR and I think the unrequitedness is actually the appeal, as currently the notion of requited feelings kind of makes want to break out in hives at the commitment-ness of it all. ANYWHO, that being said, there is and always must be a limit to things.

    In high school I liked Boy. He was handsome and funny and talked to me a lot in all of our many classes even though I was technically too nerdy for him to date (according to Rules of High School). We flirted constantly. Even now, I am sure that part wasn’t my imagination because he also flirted shamelessly with everyone. If this were an 80s movie, he would have turned out to be gay. Regardless, for 2ish years I harbored pantsfeelings, always willing to assume that his failure to act on his mutual feelings was based on our differing social cliques. We were Romeo & Juliet! We weren’t allowed to like each other THAT way, so of course he couldn’t make a move. But he didn’t date anyone else, so clearly he was pining just like me.

    Junior year arrived and we ended up in a tiny AP class together and spent even more time together, but always in a group. My crush grew stronger. I had read too much Austen/watched Clueless too many times, so I started saving stupid things: The pencil he loaned me in algebra 2; A note he wrote about how he liked my new shirt; a birthday card signed “Love, Boy.” Embarrassing, ludicrous things. We are then forced to go to his house to film a project on Brave New World. He was the director and cast me, the nerdy one, as Lenina (the sexy “pneumatic” character–yes, I was missing the point of BNW). I assumed this meant he thinks I’m sexy rather than acknowledging that it’s because I have red hair. To me, this was practically a public declaration. Our whole class would see this video–they would know he thinks I’m sexy. Yaaay.

    Finally, Finally, he asked me to study with him one-on-one. He picked me up in his car and I was aflutter. Instead of studying at all, we went to Walmart to buy his mom a Christmas present. (In my tiny town this qualified as a fun way to spend an afternoon). He asks my advice, he’s solicitous. I am over the moon. We swing by his house and he introduces me to his parents and his parents do that thing that parents do. They ask a bunch of questions and drop hints that he talks about me a lot. They feed me cake and tell me I’m pretty will giving him significant looks. All signs point to pantsfeelings!

    And then, he drives me home. This wondrous event is never repeated and not even really mentioned again. He continued flirting with me in class and being as nice as ever, but never asked for more one-on-one time.

    To this day I have no idea if I imagined the whole thing and he just thought we were friends who flirted, or if it was really happening and then he chickened out. I suspect the former. Ten years later, I went to the wedding of Boy and another girl in that same AP class. It was lovely, not least of all because he’d lost most of his hair.

    At the time, his (to me) mystifying behavior finally cured me of the crush. It was hard to argue that he was not acting on his feelings because he was afraid of the social ramifications when he clearly wasn’t paying any attention to that stuff. I got lucky that I got the chance to conclude this without ever putting myself out there. Or perhaps it was unlucky, as it took a while longer for me to learn that sometimes that’s necessary to figure out what’s going on.

    • I am reading over my own comment and realizing that my crush reasoning was like a Limerance version of a mathematical proof, involving lots of if/then statements.

      If Boy wants to spend time alone with me, then he must lurve me.
      If he lurves me, then he won’t date anyone in his own clique.
      If he doesn’t date anyone in his own clique, then he must lurve me.

      What does this actually prove? I was never that good at math.

    • OMG, the Mystifying Behavior, what *is* that? There’s one particular guy I know who appears at random times in my life and does this on an adult scale –

      (“I will come visit you for the Most Romantic Weekend in your town, but won’t actually kiss you or encourage you to kiss me!” “I will invite you out for whole weekends of activities at my alma mater where you meet my family and friends and I say awesome things about you and still no kissing” “I will take you out on boats to watch fireworks and buy you steak dinners and, you guessed it NO KISSING”)

      –and I have to say that the weirdness does really help kill the crush. It’s like…huh? So odd.

  82. Oh boy, I didn’t learn how to use my words until sophmore or junior year of college, but before that I thought I was good at that sort of thing.

    It was a crush freshman year which taught me how bad I was at The Words, as well as not to take advice from my stoner dormmate and also to shave off my goatee, all of which were very important lessons.

    There was a girl in my 8 am math class (which I often slept through) who lived in the women’s dorm right next to the dorm where I lived who I would go to to get the homework assignments that I had missed, this turned into us often studying together and when I was going through a protracted and ultimately difficult breakup with my girlfriend from high school one of my friends informed me that Math Girl (as she will be referred to henceforth) was “probably pretty into me”. That made me latch onto her and really start to crush.

    I kept the FEELINGSFLOOD mostly to myself that semester, agonizing over how to talk to her and mentioning my “now ex girlfriend” and other things totally cringeworthy in retrospect. The next semester she was coincidentally in my French film class, except in the French instead of English discussion section. Well I finally got up the courage to ask her out. On Valentines Day. By leaving a FEELINGSLETTER accompanied by some FEELINGSCHOCOLATE and a FEELINGSFLOWER taped to her door. I didn’t see her at all from Thursday until the Sunday film screening, where I got there late and had to take the last seat, next to Math Girl to watch all three and a half hours of Children of Paradise.

    Finally leaving the screaning we made some small talk about how boring the 45 minutes of mime performance in the movie was before she mentioned that she had gotten my letter and she “just wanted to stay friends for now” Then she complimented my handwriting.

    Now I had the good sense to know that that meant no, but it was still mortifying, and Thinking it over it helped give me a great example of what not to do in the future.

    • Ugh, why do friends have to do that “s/he’s totally into you” thing?? My crushes now are VERY brief, since I always just ask the person out, but I had one recently where a mutual friend cornered me in the bathroom and said, “[Person] TOTALLY wants your bones, isn’t it obvious” and I was all, “Pff whatever” but inside I was like “REALLY???? WHEEEE!!!” and when I asked them out a few days later, they actually weren’t interested at all. Friends! I tell you!

  83. I have WAY too many experiences like this. Thanks a lot, Creative Writing workshops! Pretty sure I spent most of my college life in love with one terrible, overly-emotional, only-interested-in-one-thing “writer” or another, most of whom were enthusiastic about me until it became obvious that I didn’t want to just be another notch on their hipstery vintage belts and then did the slow-fade while telling me I was “just too good for them” and other similarly unhelpful things.

  84. I had this crush that started after high school graduation. I spent nearly every day that summer hanging out with this guy. I went off to college two hours away, and I spent time with him whenever I went home a few times a month. Before I left for college, I wrote him a letter. He responded very nicely, but he did not have feelings for me. I continued to like him for a few more years. I watched him date other girls, flirt with other girls, but I was still convinced that we were meant to be.

    Eventually, I fell out of like with him. I am not sure how it happened, but those feelings went away. So here we are, nearly 10 years later. I moved 1500 miles away. The funny thing is that he also moved to the same city. We live about 5 minutes from each other. We don’t hang out often because we have different interests, but we still talk. I laugh whenever I think about how much I liked him because I think of how he is now.

    I did a lot of stupid things during this big crush. He liked Neil Gaiman, so I bought original sandman comics for him. I found this gigantic poster. He lost his CDs, so I copied my entire CD collection for him. I would drive us to concerts 2 or 3 hours away, and he never paid for gas. He never said thank you for any of this. I went to movies I did not want to see just so we could spend time together. I bought CDs of bands he liked but I hated just so I could give him a copy. The whole thing was weird.

  85. I had the typical run of “I have no idea of how to get a girl’s interest in a not-creepy way” activities in high school- awkward, badly-timed inappropriate comments, vague hinting at feelings to draw them into deep, meaningful conversations, IMing and desperately trying to find a subject in common to talk about…it was all there. One in particular sticks out while I’m thinking of it, though. There was a girl who I was crushing hard on, and was dead certain I was in love with her, in the ignorant, impossible to dissuade way that only a teenager can really have. I’d tried all of the things I listed before to woo her, which, obviously, were completely unsuccessful. So much so, in fact, that her friends all made fun of me on a daily basis for even bothering to try, which was made worse by our respective social standings with me as the geeky loser who got picked on all the time and her being super popular, even in a school of 5000. She wasn’t actively hostile(that means she likes me!), but she was, in retrospect, very clearly not even a little bit interested and wished I would quit it.

    However, I was determined! She would See How Wonderful I Was if it killed me. After racking my brain for another way to impress her, it hit me- flowers! All women unequivocally love flowers! I was on the school fencing team, so I had a really long bag that I carried around every day which was a perfect hiding spot for them. It was genius in its simplicity-

    Step One- Present surprise flowers to Girl
    Step Two- ?????
    Step Three- Girlfriend!

    I carried out step one, but step two ended up being an incredibly awkward “Oh, uh…thanks, that was…uh…really nice of you”, after which she vanished and avoided me for the rest of the month. Step three never quite happened, but I’m pretty sure for her it was tossing them in the trashcan at her nearest opportunity.

    Eugh. Still makes me cringe a little thinking about it. In my defense, though, I want to raise two points. One, I feel like this took more balls to try than the typical Nice Guy passive “stand around and wait to be adored for my wonderfulness” routine. I mean, it failed miserably, but it was uncharacteristically brave for me as a kid. And two, it can actually be pretty smooth, if you were already in a relationship, or with someone who was actually receptive. At least, it worked on my wife, anyway.

    • Oh, yes. Sometimes the really nice thing about being in a relationship is that you get to do all the stupid romantic crushy things with someone who actually wants them from you. Surprise flower in a pot on Valentine’s day: awkward when you give it to your crush who had no idea you had any feelings; lovely when you get it from your boyfriend who you’ve been with for a year.

  86. Girls and boys, this story takes us all the way back to the 7th grade during the late 1980s to a rednecky town in New Jersey and my very first real crush. Young Palliser had recently moved out of her progressive, integrated, fun city to a place where “downtown” consisted of a ShopRite strip mall and people drank beer in the woods on the weekends for fun. I had gone from having a great group of friends, lots of extended family nearby and only a tangential interest in boys to having no social support system of any kind and pretty much no idea about the social mores of my new environment. I came home every day after school by myself, procrastinated/watched tv/did occasional homework and that was the sum total of my life.

    Enter Jason, the only boy in 7th grade taller than me. He had big blue eyes, was smart in school and was part of a small enclave of non-headbanger types (the social group to which I aspired). These crucial characteristics led me to overlook the fact that even back then, he was a right wing robot with a nasty streak. These days he is apparently a fixed income trader. Anyway, I had no idea how to express my feelings other than writing, “I love Jason H.” all over my notebooks. At a point I decided we needed more direct contact, so I took to calling him every day after school to find out the math homework. Every day. Poor Jason gave me the information as quickly as possible, our conversations lasted for no more than 30 seconds, and he avoided me like the plague for the next 6 years. Fast forward to freshman year at college when Jason and I went to schools in the same state. The concept of email had just been introduced and I on-line stalked him, wrote to him to say hi and mentioned that his personal contact information was just sitting there on the web for the world to see. Totally not creepy of me at all! He wrote me back and said he didn’t mind it being there, but could I please not write to him again as he did not want to be friends with me.

    I felt as if I’d been shot through the heart and for a few years I was so upset and angry at his callous treatment of my kindly email that I occasionally walked/jogged by his parents house to, I don’t know, see where my tormentor lived?

    Frankly, I’m just grateful that there was no social media back then and that Caller ID was a few years off. *Shivers at what might have been*

  87. CaptainAwkward and commenters, I am SO LOVING this post. Thank you all for sharing – so much awesome. My worst crushes were in the 1990s, before widespread internet/e-mail and texting (THANK DOG!) . . . although this post would’ve been such a big help!!

    One tidbit from back in the day: The advent of caller ID was a bit problematic. If you were a Caller-ID-discordant “couple”, one person (them) might at some point know that the other person (me) had called them once or twice or FORTY times because they weren’t answering the phone but they said they’d be home but they haven’t called back so maybe they’re home now so I’ll just try once more it’s been 3 minutes since my last call . . . OY.

  88. Ah, this story makes me cringe but I shall tell it anyway.

    So he was my next door neighbour from when I was 7 to… roughly 15, when his parents split up and he went to live with his mum who was the one to move out of their house. And yeah, I liked him the entire time.

    When we were young we would play games together (mums and dads with us as the parents bossing around our younger siblings, running races, pokemon, football etc.) and I knew I liked him – I would say we had to kiss when we were pretending to be parents – but at that young age ‘like’ doesn’t really involve a lot of heavy feelings.

    Anyway so I grew a lot more pants feelings for him as I reached my teens. I thought at the time that we were really good friends but looking back – he wouldn’t speak to me at school (because I wasn’t as cool as him) and then would be all chummy again at home and he would use me to get the best pokemon cards (or the best whatever it was at that time that we were into). I remember very vividly one summer where I had been playing in the paddling pool in our garden with my grandma and brother, in my swimming costume. My body had become this alien thing to me that I hated so when he came out into his garden with some friends I dashed into our garage to hide before they noticed me. I had to keep making excuses as to why I couldn’t come out to my brother and it was FREEZING in there. I could also hear their conversation and he was talking with his friends about girls he liked at school (needless to say not me). I was so hurt because up until that point I had been thinking he liked me but just didn’t want everyone at school to know. I was surrounded by mouse droppings, cold, wet, half naked and tear stained. I thought “fuck it” and walked out, hoping they wouldn’t notice me. They did of course.

    This kind of craziness carried on for a while, even after he moved.

    Recently he tried to add me on facebook and I clicked ignore. That is not a path I want to go down again!

  89. As a teenager, my BFF (who was male) worked at a record store in the mall (the good old days of record stores!). One of his co-workers was this totally Hot Goth Guy, with long dark hair, the “heroin” sheik body that was totally in during the late 90s, and gorgeous green eyes and olive skin. Being as I was an unemployed teenager, I hung out at the mall all the time. I would always stop in the record score, you know, to say “hi” to my friend (with the secret motive to see if Hot Goth Guy was working so I could stare longingly at him, from a distance, of course!).

    This went on for at least 2 years.

    When I was 18, I moved in with BFF and another friend, and for my birthday they bought me a ticket to see Underworld in San Fransisco. The best part, we were going with Hot Goth Guy and his group of friends. Oh.. my… god… I get to spend 4 hours in the car, driving to San Fransisco, listening to awesome music, with HOT GOTH GUY!!! What a birthday, indeed.

    Turns out Hot Goth Guy had a fiance. And she can tell right away that I have massive, seething crush on HER MAN! But its fine, we’re in a car, I can still hear him chatter away with his friends, and still secretly stair at him from the back seat.

    We get to the concert, Hot Goth Guy disappears with another friend he met up with. My BFF and I met up with our roommate, and proceeded to dance the night away, even after Underworld left the stage. It was an amazing show, one of the best concerts of my life.

    As Hot Goth Guy is climbing into the back seat to head home, way too drunk to be cognizant of anything, I mention to him that he will have to move over so someone else can sit next to him. Fiance pushes me aside and says “I’ll sit next to him, you sit up there!” She was definitely onto me.

    Fast forward 8 months. I had been to New Orleans over the summer, and by chance had a picture of Trent Reznor’s house. I was telling my BFF about this awesome picture, and he said “You know who would love to see that, Hot Goth Guy.” No. No way. But that would require me to actually talk to him. No. I can’t do that! He doesn’t even know WHO I AM!

    Ok.. muster courage. Its Christmas break, I have time off from the U. I’ll head down to the mall and just take this picture with me in case I happen to see him. Oh look, he’s working. Hmm. Breathe…..

    “Hi, Hot Goth Guy. BFF said you’d really like to have a copy of this picture.” *Blank Stair* “Well, its a picture of Trent Reznor’s house, and BFF said you were a big NiN fan.” *Eyes twinkle, Looks at Picture, Blank Stair* “Um, ok so here, you can have it. It was nice to see you! Bye” *Blank Stair*

    And I just gave away my picture of Trent Reznor’s house. *cry* (this was before the digital era, mind you!)

    Fast forward another 2 months. BFF says “I just heard that Hot Goth Guy’s fiance left him.” Me: “Wait, Hot Goth Guy is single? I mean, wait, no, that’s really sad, what happened? Ok but really, Hot Goth Guy is SINGLE?” Wow, I’m an ass.

    So I wait a few months, then work out the perfect scheme to invite Hot Goth Guy’s roommate (who was also my friend, and totally hot, but not into the ladies unfortunately) to go to the lake for the day, and I’d just happen to mention that Hot Goth Guy could join us as well. Well, roommate could not attend, but Hot Goth Guy was free! My plan worked perfectly!

    So we went to the lake. And spent the whole day getting to know each other. I feel totally head over heals for him THAT DAY, and we’ve now been together for almost 14 years (married for 10).

    Turns out he totally had a crush on me all that time, but was too shy to speak to me. When I gave him the picture, he was so surprised I even spoke to him that he was speechless. He used to give my BFF crap for not trying to get with me, so my BFF knew THE WHOLE TIME that both of us were massively crushing, and never told either one of us, which I guess made it more fun to discover on our own.

    • So, do you have that picture framed somewhere?

      • the funny thing is I haven’t thought about that picture in years. I have a feeling my husband has it hidden away in his secret treasure place. I’ll have to ask; it would be awesome to frame, regardless of the fact that I am a terrible photographer.

  90. I had this really terrible crush in high school that spanned probably… I want to say the entirety of high school and maybe a year or two after. It started where we spent this one whole party flirting (which High School Me didn’t even realize she knew how to DO) and then the next party two months later we had this super-romantic slow dance under the moon and stars thing and it was just ~*swoon*~ and beautiful and I lost my damn mind.

    He had a girlfriend and they fought all the time and they did that break up-get back together-break up thing and I was full of “IF YOU’D JUST DATE ME YOU WOULDN’T HAVE THESE PROBLEMS.” rage because we were SOUL MATES, you guys, it was FATE.

    And he was all “If I wasn’t dating her, sure I would date you” which I took to mean as a promise but was really probably just him trying to let me down easy and there were FEELINGSBLOGS (only back in that day they were FEELINGSJOURNALS) and FEELINGSIMS and FEELINGSEMAILS at least one of which was poorly disguised anonymous which is awful and completely embarrassing.

    And this went on for years. I mean, not with that intensity but I just LOVED him SO MUCH and I just wanted that chance to be with him. I dated other guys, but if That Guy would have looked in my direction for a SECOND I would have been out of there.

    I don’t even remember what happened. I guess I want to say that it was mostly time and the realization that if I had just kept my shit together and not have gone off the deep end, MAYBE things might have gone differently. I suppose it was a lesson I needed to learn but ew, I was awful and crazy.

    I can kind of laugh about the whole thing now. Kind of.

  91. I definitely have an awkward crush story! I had been living in a student house with him for about 6 months, and we had always talked quite a lot because we had similar interests but we began to get closer around this time, doing things like going to the cinema together regularly and hanging out in the kitchen talking long into the night, that sort of thing.

    Around that time he developed a massive crush on an exchange student who had a boyfriend back home, and he started talking about her a lot. It took a while for me to realise my feelings, and sex was clearly on his mind so we talked about sex a bit more than we had before, with our discussions becoming more personal. I considered him the most valued friend I had, at this point, and enjoyed spending time with him more than anything else. Gradually I began to find hearing him talk about how great she was a little difficult to hear, and I realised I was developing feelings for him. I was actually worried that I had developed them for no reason other than so I could feel jealous of her, and that I was a massive bitch because I had done this and because I wanted him to think I was beautiful and lovely like she was (she really was, she was one of the nicest people I have ever met), even though we were only friends.

    By the time it came to a head he was staying out most of the night to spend us much time with her as possible, and had gone from being a non-drinker to getting drunk every night, while somehow still managing his studies. Their relationship had gone up to a physical level despite her still being with the boyfriend, but it was clear that she wasn’t going to break up with the boyfriend. This became a bit frustrating to hear about, and my brain was by this point in full on Nice Girl TM mode, and I was yelling things like ‘WHY can’t you like meeeee instead?! I’m free and available! I attend all your film nights! I would never string you along!!’ in my mind.

    Just before we all went home for the Christmas holidays he met another girl he liked, and they quickly became intimate, which he was telling me about. We had always told each other about our love lives before, so this wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I realised I couldn’t take hearing about his any more. I felt guilty because I wanted him to be able to tell me things, but when we had both gone home for the holidays I emailed him and awkwardly confessed my feelings, along with a request to not hear about his love life any more. He seemed to take it ok, and wrote back saying he valued me as a friend.

    When we came back from holidays our friendship began to drift apart, possibly because my depression was getting worse and I was finding it hard to be around him because of my feelings. The exchange student had finished her time at our uni, and he was much better for her absence, and had become very popular, the centre of an active social group, while I was depressed and alone in my room, trying to get work done. In February, things came to a head- I sent him a drunk text on a group night out that basically said that I loved him but wanted him to be too drunk to remember that I’d said that. After that things became very cold between us, but I didn’t make the connection until I asked him what was wrong in April, and he told me he was really angry about that text. It had been too far, after the email confessing my feelings, to do a declaration of love, I suppose.

    He told me he would not talk about it, and told me to get out more and get over him. I had always got through things by talking and didn’t know how to handle not being able to talk things out. My depression became much worse, and I certainly did not get out more and get over him, and instead spent whole days crying, and at one point cutting myself, though I only did that on one occasion and kept things together somehow, meeting my deadlines even if the work I was producing wasn’t very good.

    I had been in a 3 year relationship before and had a couple of less long term relationships, but I had never had feelings like that. I didn’t think I would ever, ever feel so strongly for someone ever again. Losing someone who had been such a close friend hurt so much. It was made worse by the fact that I still had to see him in the house every day, and was uncomfortably aware that he had an incredibly active social life which he was expertly balancing with his studying. I had a couple of friends, and luckily one was very supportive, listening to me cry about him and taking me out of myself when I needed it. I am so incredibly grateful to her for what she did.

    When my time at uni finished (this all happened in the last year) I was able to move out, and only then did my feelings subside, though not immediately. It was an incredible relief. I had never realised how much a crush could hurt. I can remember just wanting someone to say ‘he will get to like you in the end, you will end up together’ soooo much, though looking back now this would really have only made my pining worse.

    I feel like I behaved in a bad and entitled way while I was in the throes of this crush, and with time I have come to realise that the way he acted was not malicious and required no apology. He did not have any obligation to be friends with me any more after the confession of my feelings. He was not having his social life/sex life AT me. My depression was what was making me miserable, not him, and it was my responsibility to deal with it, not his. Nice Guys TM and their anger towards women they have had crushes on saddens me, especially the way they get angry because the women ‘use’ them for favours, and the way they get angry when women talk to them about other men. If the woman has had no indication that talking about other men might be hurtful for you, then how will she know to stop doing it? And doing a favour for someone only grants you, in theory, a favour in return. It never has the power to produce romantic feelings in someone. I will always remember that you can’t MAKE someone feel for you the way you want them to, no matter how many film clubs you attend.

  92. Fortunately I never really dealt with this early on, perhaps because I was emotionally oblivious. I had crushes, certainly, but they were mostly limited to sighing from afar at just how /cute/ he was (because mentioning anything was literally just not an option, of course). Childhood had some moments of “OMG CUTEGUY IS PLAYING THE ARCADE FIGHTER WITH ME oh crap he just beat the crap out of me – you know, I’m not actually sure he knows who I am” and a Sooper Sekrit Coded Spy Notebook of Classmate Observations that got discovered and giggled at, but nothing humiliating or widely-mocked – so far as I knew. It probably got talked about, but: socially oblivious, to this day. What I didn’t know really didn’t hurt me.

    Oh! I’m suddenly remembering some tactics I’d use – always sitting nearby in class (oh, the thrill when we had assigned seating and I’d be right in front or behind!), secretly hoping we’d be put in group assignments together, etc. I even wrote an anonymous love letter once, goaded on by a friend. (A friend who had a crush on the same guy, and during some mutual interactions at one point, later told me, “He was looking after you in a weird ‘wtf’ way when you left, but then he smiled at me really nicely and said he’d see me later”! Thanks, friend.) In retrospect, I’m pretty sure I was nothing like discreet, considering several of my crushes made the occasional teasing reference to it (that I hotly denied).

    The only time I actually got into anything like a relationship in my teen years, he brought me a rose two days after we started “dating” and I was like, “Uh, that’s weird and too serious” and ended it. Then my first year of college and starting to Figure Out Who I Was and Emotions was entirely occupied with a stable and wholesome relationship (that ended gracefully when he graduated). So maybe it was inevitable that it happened after all of that, when I thought I was an adult.

    (And I am definitely not using my usual handle with this, because: embarrassing, and my normal one is pretty much connected to everything I do.)

    Basically: incredibly intense fling with all sorts of scorching sexytimes that ended abruptly after a monthish. I never got an explanation why, but I never really pushed too hard for one – I think I was too hurt and didn’t want to think about it at all. The embarrassing part comes after, when I’d orbit around him at any office events (we worked at the same place), swinging out to chat with other people but always eventually looping back in, just as, you know, part of being friendly and sociable! Then there were the hang-outs at bars and getting inappropriately drunk (or hoping he’d get inappropriately drunk) so that I’d have an excuse to stay over “until I sobered up” and we’d drunkenly hook up in the meantime. Or inviting him out to events, “just to be friendly.” Or the — I’m cringing — driving by his place late at night because I ached so much and wanted to be near him. Once or twice I dropped in out of the blue, when my judgment was sufficiently overpowered by hormones. Most of the time I drove on. Basically, any excuse I had, I grabbed. And he generally went along with it because… he liked the attention? He was too passive to say “you’re creeping me out, here, but I do like sex?” I’m really not sure.

    Eventually, over the course of months, I came to my senses. I stopped driving by his place. I stopped talking to him at work. It sort of helped that he got into a hot mess with someone else who’d told him she couldn’t get pregnant because of medical reasons (Surprise! She got pregnant). The last time I invited him out, he asked, “So… why do you keep inviting me to things?” and I panicked and backpedaled and blurted something ignominious like, “Well, you’ve been having a really bad time lately, I thought you could use some cheering up.” Because Just Friends, right? Totally plausible. But I knew what I was doing, and it helped me face myself and realize how pathetic I was being. I mean, really realize. And realize that trying to extend any contact I could get was not helping me to get over him.

    To wrap up an already tl;dr story, that was definitely the best decision. And at least I learned something from the embarrassment; ensuing heartbreaks have been conducted with a good deal more outward grace (I hope), even if they suck just as badly internally. We still work together (there’s not even awkwardness during work hours any more, though a little during socializing times), so sometimes I’ll look at him and think, “Yeah, still good-looking. But actually kind of annoying in some ways. Would I–? /Fuck/ no. That is a land of passivity and drama waiting to happen.”

    … er, I guess that isn’t really a crush story so much as a “one-sided emotional breakup wherein I learn the depths of my creepiness” story. :(

  93. OMG this thread has perfect timing.

    I often get crushes and this is problematic for me because I am in a very serious relationship that is going to last forever and also in my late twenties so I feel I am too old for this shit. As a result, I struggle with a lot of shame and guilt.

    (Sorry if the following has weird punctuation, I forget all the grammar rules regarding dialogue.)

    Recently I have been struggling with a crush on a coworker. He overtly flirts with me and I joke around with him but am VERY careful to make sure I am not flirty back, just funny. I never compliment him and deflect his compliments (I am super paranoid about this since I have let my crushes get flirty in the past and have gotten in trouble).

    I fantasize about this dude confessing his feelings for me and me having to shut him down, and lo and behold, one day at work he blurts out “I have a huge crush on you.” I don’t know what to say and kind of stare at him and he backtracks and says “Well maybe a little one.” I deflect it by jokingly saying, “Oh so you’re going to by me some candy for Valentine’s Day?” to which he nods emphatically.

    Of course, I emotionally freak out about this all night and decide that the next day at work I have to nip this in the bud, so I am going to tell him that I am unavailable. I had mentioned my boyfriend in the past but maybe he forgot that I had one. I feel so bad for this dude who longs for me so that he just couldn’t help but profess his feelings for me. I feel bad that I have to hurt him.

    The next day, I imaging talking to him and start choking up because I am fucking emotional so I decide to write a frickin note. I write, “Here is a note. This is high school again. If you were serious about what you said yesterday you must know that I am unavailable. If you were joking, that is a messed up thing to joke about.” I give it to him and tell him to read it later because I know I don’t want to talk about this at work.

    I am alone in the break room when suddenly he appears. “I didn’t wait to read it, and I didn’t want to write it in a note, I wanted to tell you in person. I was just joking.” Tears immediately start pouring, because I am now that person. That person with the big ego who thinks that someone has a crush on them and they had to turn them down, but then it turns out they were all wrong. I was mortified.

    The order of the conversation is hazy to me because I was so upset but I know he asks me if I want a hug and I refuse because wtf you don’t get to touch me after you fuck with me. He says I’m not a dumb ass and he wasn’t fucking with me because he didn’t think I would believe him. I say I was worried about him. He says that’s because I am a good person and I’m cool and maybe if he didn’t have a girlfriend he would be into me. The fact that he has a girlfriend makes me mad because what dude with a girlfriend tells a girl at work that she is amazing? He also makes me mad my asking if my boyfriend and I are having trouble or something and I definitely do not want to talk to him about that so I growl that we are FINE thank you very much. So he went home because his shift was over and I pretended I was sick and went home because I didn’t want to try to pretend to be happy.

    He actually managed to make me believe I was crazy. My therapist assures me that he was definitely flirting with me before and it’s not egotistical of me to have believed him.

    This incident was actually good in a way because it woke me up to the fact that I need to make my own life awesome instead of relying so much on the attention of others. I have changed my life a lot since then. Unfortunately, it didn’t shake my dumb crush on him. Reading that Limerence article was kind of amazing, especially the “intrusive thinking and fantasy” section. So, I’m not a pathetic weirdo?

    Ok whew that was long. :deep breath: Feels good to get that out.

    • Oh man, that guy was AWFUL. Pulling “that was a joke” is just LOW, because you don’t imply that it’s laughable that someone is lovable. You just don’t.

      I am so sorry that YOU ended up mortified about HIS screwup. (And mortified for what? For having the gall to think you might be worth loving? The fact that that is seen as wrong just shows how screwed up society is. It’s not actually healthy to go around thinking all the time that everyone hates you or just barely tolerates you!)

    • Ugh. What a total ass. Although, honestly, my best guess-from-afar is that he wasn’t joking, but then decided he TOTALLY WAS to protect his ego when you rejected him. Regardless, he was a gaslighting jerk who not only screwed with you, but also totally ignored your boundaries when you specifically asked him to a) read it later and b) not discuss it when you at work. I would probably give him a pass on (a) if he kept this info and his reaction to himself until after work, but he didn’t. He cornered you in a public area and ambushed you with his reaction, which you had very specifically asked him not to do. JERK. And then tried to make you the bad guy. DOUBLE JERK.

      You’re not a pathetic weirdo, and harmless crushes on people who give us positive attention are normal and understandable. They should be pleasant and fun (if awkward). But sometimes jerkfaces give us positive attention because they don’t care/realize they’re messing with another human, they like the return positive attention, or they themselves are genuinely crushing on you, but they just have no idea how to act like a reasonable caring person. NONE OF THAT IS ON YOU. Especially since jerkfaces are good at pretending not to be jerkfaces for just long enough to get their claws in. Just be glad you saw his jerkfaceness sooner rather than later so you can ignore his stupid face and focus on how awesome you are.

  94. Mine’s still a bit sore as the bad times were 8 days ago…

    I’m a regular at a local internet meetup group – weekly meets at breweries and other low-stress establishments. Met this woman about 6 months ago out of random happenstance, I ended up accidentally ignoring virtually everyone else in favor of several hours of chat with her about Battlestar Galactica, Farscape and other nerdy pursuits. Crush started instantly. (I did notice that I have this terrible habit of flirting with everyone /except/ the people I’m interested in…)

    Fast forward to about two months ago, we had become friends in the interim. It seems the crush is mutual but neither of us has said anything outright yet. Awkward tipsy flirting and a promise of a skimpy dress on New Year’s.

    Fast forward to about three weeks ago, we’d been periodically discussing the New Year’s idea. I ask if she’d be up for joining my friends and I for a shindig. She’s dismissive of it. I’m sad, but I move on and make other plans.

    Fast forward to about 8 PM, 12/31: “So, are we doing that thing tonight?”. Old insecurities from previously disastrous crushes had crept back in. I had completely misread her response, and it’s too late to fix it as I’m out of town.

    Maybe I psyched myself out about it? Maybe I’m reverting to bad communication habits when I’m stuck on someone? Not sure yet. All I know at this point is I’ve alienated her friends – friends who understandably put quite a bit of effort into trying to convince her to cut me out entirely. Who ditches someone on New Year’s, accidental or otherwise?

    I’m really hoping I’ll be able to recover this friendship and her trust in me, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve killed the crush thing pretty effectively. Regardless, I’ve re-learned an important lesson: Crushes are bad for decision-making.

    • Assumptions are NOT your friend here. You don’t know how she feels or whether she’s beating herself up for having scared you off and ruined New Year’s. Unless you’re leaving a ton of things out, I don’t think she’s lost “trust” in you. Waiting until less than four hours before an event to discuss logistics does not read, to me, like “really had her hopes set on this happening.” Right now, clear communication is pretty important. Admitting that you misread signals and plans fell flat because you really liked her and wanted to be cool about it is totally okay! I’d encourage it, actually, since it’s the missing piece that makes otherwise weird behaviour more explicable.

      • You’re right, assumptions are not my friend. In fact, making them is one of the habits I’ve been putting a lot of effort into stopping, but they still slip through from time to time – like here. Thanks for calling me out! I’m a work in progress. :)

        > Admitting that you misread signals and plans fell flat because you really liked her and wanted to be cool about it is totally okay!

        This is an excellent point. When she texted me about plans for NYE, I did text back “I’m sorry, I completely misread your response when I asked you about this plan” but it seems like it’s worth re-stating when I see her in person later this week.

        Thanks for the advice.

    • I agree with staranise. (In fact, it took staranise’s post to help me understand what even happened, because I didn’t understand why you said she ‘lost trust’, either.) Yes. Unless you’re leaving a lot out, this is a simple (though frustrating!) miscommunication. I’d talk to her, reiterate you totally wanted to do NYE with her yet thought /she/ wasn’t into it so didn’t want to push it, and explain the miscommunication.

      • I’ve definitely left some details out, but I think staranise pegged the situation just about perfectly. Thank you for the advice!

    • Seconding those above. If she had absolutely had her heart set on your proposed shindig, she shouldn’t have waited 3 weeks to confirm details. She needed to Use Her Words in a timely fashion. All you ‘owe’ her by way of apology (and I use the word owe very loosely, because waiting until 4 hours before New Year’s Eve won’t even get you a reservation at a restaurant, much less full fledged plans) is a “sorry, I guess we had a miscommunication about New Year’s.”

  95. Oh my God.
    When I fell in love with my best friend, right at the end of high school (he was a year older than me, so he went off to college my senior year of high school, and then I wound up going to the same college, thankfully NOT because of him) I was still somehow in that middle-school mindset that telling somebody you have a crush on them always, necessarily means humiliation and awfulness, so I tried – VERY, VERY BADLY, YOU GUYS – to keep it a secret from him, hoping he’d make the first move on me instead.
    We were both Very Emotional Teenagers so there were a lot of long conversations on my couch about life, love, et cetera well after my sleeping parents thought he’d gone home, a lot of meaningful looks, et cetera. I made constant, unsubtle jokes about our parents trying to set us up (which, OK, they were, but I REALLY MILKED IT), about marrying him so he could take me to get my learner’s permit (don’t ask) and about all our friends who mistook us for a couple.
    My friend planned on moving to China for a while after college to teach English (which he is doing now! yay!) and I swear to God, I was going to write him a heartfelt, bittersweet confession-of-love I-could-never-tell-you-I-didn’t-want-to-ruin-our-friendship letter and give it to him in the airport. So he could read it. On his flight to China. And… what? I’m honestly not sure what I was expecting to happen there – either he would think I was a super sweet and self-sacrificing friend and I could “finally move on” (because obviously FEELINGSmail is good and necessary for moving on) or he would say he’d loved me all along and we’d be romantic pen-pals until he came back? IDK, man.
    Thankfully, I had a less terrible case of Oneitis (I was actually still hooking up with my high school boyfriend throughout all of this, which was even MORE dramatic) and so eventually, after I started dating someone else, I was casually able to tell him that I “used to” have a major crush on him and he said he knew. To this day, I don’t know whether he figured it out on his own or whether he knew because I, also, told ALL of our mutual friends about it, but that was enough for me to finally say to myself, “OK, he knew I was into him that whole time, and he didn’t move on me, so clearly he just Was Not Into It” and ACTUALLY move on.
    …. then a year later, when I was really happy with my new boyfriend, Crush Friend casually mentioned that he actually had returned my feelings the whole time, but didn’t want to alienate my high school boyfriend, also a good friend of his, by dating me. Said boyfriend would have cared literally not at all. So I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I was not imagining those weird moments and awkward longing looks being returned (combined with the frustration of knowing he kind of accidentally led me on like a motherfucker.)
    …but the story has a happy ending because we’re still friends, and we were obviously both too crazy to date each other, and I couldn’t take the Megabus to China to see this friend like I do with my now-boyfriend.

  96. UGHHHHH. I had such PAINFUL crushes in high school and freshman year of college. Like, it still causes me pain to think about them. I couldn’t interact normally (or really at all) with my crushes; I turned beet red, couldn’t make eye contact, and would pretty much just moon over them. I was a repeat Firthing offender. I did the whole hot-and-cold towards my college crush because I didn’t want to be obvious…I polarized between probably being soooo obvious to ignoring/making fun of him.

    And I picked the worst guys to have a crush on! Basically the only requirements were that they were taller than me and were kinda sorta nice to me (aka, acknowledged my existence). My two most obvious and painful crushes were seriously Christian guys with right-wing values. For a strong feminist, atheist lady, they were terrible matches.

    And then the summer after freshman year of college, I went on antidepressants. Like a magic potion, I was suddenly able to relate normally to guys! I could have guy friends without them automatically becoming guy crushes! Even if the antidepressants haven’t also made my life better in so many other ways, I would have forever loved them for giving me the ability to actually converse with the male half of the population.

    But boy, that Shame Spiral is so easy to ignite when thinking about crushes. UGHHH. I have to remind myself a lot that Me-Now has to give Me-Then a break for not having the knowledge/social awareness/capability that Me-Now has.

  97. It’s always nice to see others have been as awkward as you yourself have been…and even reading so many of these (going back and doing more after I post) I still cringe at sharing this story.

    I met a charming fellow working on a play in 1997 in Texas. At the time I was interested elsewhere and I think he was as well. We had instant friend chemistry and stuck like family thenceforth, but no sexual tension.
    1998 I am single and he is single. We go for a hike and in one spot I felt this Moment. “Oh shit, this is the moment you’re supposed to kiss, isn’t it?” I thought. Why, I had no idea. Years later we discussed it and he had had the exact same Moment, as if we had passed through a hypnotic pocket for a moment. But then we did nothing about it, as the Moment passed.
    In 1999 we’re still friends, I have a boyfriend, he has his first decent girlfriend and we all hang out all the time. We are close, huggy friends with zero sexual tension. He has historically had a LOT of lady issues that boil down to not being able to think of females as the same species as himself, so in his mind, they are either best friends, angels who can be adored but never sullied by his disgusting lust, or sexual objects.
    I move to California in 1999, and he comes to visit every year during Comic-Con. Meanwhile, he takes up with a woman who all our friends LOATHE and who treats him like total crap. We have a three hour conversation in 2004 where he talks about all the terrible ways she makes him feel, how she manipulates him, how he feels bad being with her, and where I ask the obvious questions like “so why are you still with her” and he dances around, as we all have done, justifying it.
    I type up this conversation (during which I was taking copious notes, for just this purpose) and email it to him, saying “when you feel confused about your feelings for her, read this. I am worried about you.”
    They get engaged, due to marry in 2006. I have a pretty lame boyfriend at this point.
    He comes out for one last Comic-Con in 2006 and I sit him down and look him in the face and say after all the things I know about her, why it’s OK that you’re marrying her. He looks me dead in the eye and justifies it with “she’s working really hard not to [be a total horror] and she really loves me” (oh how the self esteem is blinded by crumbs! We all know it, right, y’all?) so then I hug hum and am super sorry I can’t go to the wedding because I am unemployed.
    Not many photos from the wedding show them together.
    Two weeks after the wedding she moves them to DC where her family (who he hates, red flag) lives and where no one else he knows lives, he has no job, he doesn’t want to leave all his posse and of course they go because they are married.
    He never comes to California again and he falls completely off the map in terms of returning calls or emails. Our friend moves to DC and when she loses her job, I beg him to take her to lunch for me (I even offer to reimburse) and he never contacts her.
    I break up with super lame boyfriend in 2010. A few months later, my long time friend calls me out of the blue to tell me he has finally done it, he’s moved out from that wife, and we spend many hours of genuinely friendly motivated time analyzing and coping and venting and all that. I missed talking to him, but I had (truly, truly) no other thoughts about him.
    He flies me out to see him and give him moral support (he makes a lot more money than I do) and we stay at the apartment of our friend and have an amazing weekend of talking and sharing and laughing and drinking and watching stuff and showing me the city a little while she and I try to help him see the rightness of his leaving. He’s still conflicted of course because….well, you know. Manipulative horror, no one else he knows in the city, blah blah.
    Then we’re riding up a huge escalator into Dupont Circle and I look at him and suddenly realize/think/whatever that I am totally in love with him. And then of course all the pieces fit together – of course we were meant to be together, all our friends love us (and later confirmed that they did actually hope we would get together and never understood why we didn’t) and we have such natural affection and affinity and OBVIOUSLY he has gotten over all his weird women issues (uh huh keep telling yourself that)…
    Anyway, the next couple of months were insane. I couldn’t tell him, because he was in the middle of finally leaving that horrible wife, which was MUCH MORE IMPORTANT. And I did truly want his happiness more than mine, which convinced me further that it was REAL LOVE and all that. So he’s talking to me about his conflicted feelings and I am desperately struggling to maintain objectivity while also reminding him about how Awesome I am and how he needs to come visit me at Thanksgiving (especially since I bought him a ticket!) and get away from all the stress. And then I rehearsed alone and on Skype with our mutual friends how I would tell him, how I would Make It Happen when I had him on my couch and free from her tentacles and… His friends were all so excited for us, they love me and love him and miss him…as do I! My diary pages dedicated to this relatively short period are a centimeter thick.
    A week before he’s due to come out (and incidentally see me in an awesome show for the first time since that first one in 1997) he cancels, says he’s going back to her, and then vanished from the universe.
    However, the plane ticket was a sticking point. And eventually he sent me a check in the mail with no note or acknowledgement of anything. I never even told him. Maybe he sensed it? Maybe the wife sensed it even though no way could she have intercepted any transmissions which were all above board friendly.
    I miss my friend. I missed my chance to make a COMPLETE PRAT of myself, for which I am grateful, though not unlike the Captain, I did mortifyingly bore my nearest and dearest for weeks about it. Spurred by that abrupt and painful disappearing act, I joined OK Cupid, had some silly little dramas and flings, and now have a lovely person in my life who may be here to stay. (See post #83)
    But I still miss my friend and someday I hope I can tell him what happened – we would really actually laugh about it, just like that Moment in the Woods.

  98. I currently have a crush on a guy who makes minecraft videos on YouTube and lives on the opposite coast from me. I’ve never had a conversation with him. It is really the most absurd thing in the world.

    In high school, I had the angriest, most soul crushing crushes. I’d make up these stories in my head and cry and cry over my Deep! Unrequited! Love! I’m so lucky I found feminism in college. It really helped me form more realistic expectations of love and sex.

    Except when in it comes to minecraft let’s players, apparently *shakes head*

  99. Delurking to be so thankful that I’m not alone!

    Crush was a classmate in high school, fellow honor student, fellow choir member. We tended to have a lot of classes together, and so Shy Nervous Me developed a classic Shy Nervous Crush on him. He was so nice! He was so funny! He was so smart! And I was never, ever, ever going to tell him how I felt, because that would have involved using my words, and I didn’t figure out how to do that until college! In retrospect, I have a sinking feeling that I was horribly obvious, since every single member of the choir knew how I felt. But if he knew, he never said a word, just kept on being my Guy Friend. We hung out, he gave my carless self lifts, we and our respective dates caravaned to Prom together. He dated a few girls, broke up with them, talked wistfully about how he was sure he’d find someone someday, and how great I was to be his friend when he needed someone to talk to. And I kept smiling, and giggling, and making what I thought were casual comments about being patient and waiting for the Perfect Someone.

    Then came college. We went to different schools, but not too far away, and I started getting some self-confidence. And just as I was thinking that maybe I could be brave and admit my feelings (over the phone, from a safe distance), a mutual friend called, and started telling me all about how he apparently met his soulmate at orientation. That was a night spent crying into a pillow and a pint of Ben&Jerry’s.

    He married the girl he met at orientation. I married the man I never knew I always wanted five years ago. I do often wonder what would have happened if I’d spoken up–if nothing else, I learned that pining from afar (or near) is boring and frustrating as hell.

  100. Hmm, crushes yes. I have had them in my time. As a wallflower, all my crushes were of the Cannot-speak-to-crush-because-he-might-get-the-idea-I-like-him variety.

    The Crush (TC) began in high school. I was a freshman in marching band. TC was an upperclassman in marching band. He taught me to play Push It. That was the beginning. Months and years passed and I said almost nothing to TC beyond hello and how are you. I learned he had a girlfriend. I respected that, though it pained me. I told myself if he hadn’t had a girlfriend, things might have turned out differently. TC graduated and went off to college and I missed him (despite our lack of speaking to each other much). Eventually I wrote a letter. It was not a FEELINGSMAIL, but I was so self-conscious about it I figured it screamed FEELINGSMAIL just for existing. I gave a pathetic excuse for wanting to be pen pals. Ugh. Luckily, he was a truly nice guy (not TM) and answered it and accepted my pathetic excuse. Several letters were exchanged and then he suggested we meet and hang out. OMG. I panicked, but I said yes. He was still with his girlfriend, so I knew nothing could happen. We spent a lovely day hanging out doing random things. Just as I was starting to get comfortable, thinking everything was fine and we were friends and la-di-dah, he said, “I don’t know why you wrote to me.” He was at the dining room table and I was doing something in the kitchen. I took the coward’s way out and pretended not to hear him. Since he was a truly nice guy, he didn’t press the issue. But, I knew I couldn’t go on like that. That was the last time I saw him and eventually the letters fizzled out. I got on with my life, despite the fact that my crush lasted, let’s say many, many years after that. I kept thinking to myself, if only he hadn’t had a girlfriend, things might have been different. It was only when I grew up and was less of a wallflower that I realized: IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS HAVING A GIRLFRIEND. It had everything to do with: I was immature and unable to USE MY WORDS. Which is the moral of this story.

  101. **I know this is repost. Please delete the first instance of this comment, as I’d rather it not link to my commonly used internet handle. Thank you!!

    First time commenter here, but oh, what a fantastic thread. I get crushes very, very rarely (I have romantic feelings at all very rarely), but when I do it’s really intense.

    My first crush that I recognized as a crush happened when I was 17. I’d just gotten out of another relationship that I’d fallen into when I tricked myself into thinking I liked the guy when, no, I liked his ex-girlfriend, who was also a dear friend of mine (and one of a few crushes I did NOT recognize as such because they were on girls). I’d pounced on him when he and my friend broke up because that was easier than what was actually going on. That relationship ended badly, for obvious reasons, with drama on all sides, and as I emerged from the wreckage I started to realize I had feelings for one of my best guy friends, and had for awhile. He’d talked me through all the relationship drama and really been there for me, and I’d just never felt close to a guy like that before.

    Words were used…sort of. There’s was lots of talking around the issue. Flirting and furtive glances and hand-holding when no one was looking and Couch of Plausible Deniability-ing constantly. There three to four hour phone conversations every night where we talked about everything and about what we MIGHT be feeling. We commiserated over how we both had a track record of only wanting things we could never have and never liked anyone back when they liked us. (Ummm…..) There was only occassional making out, for reasons that are stunningly clear in hindsight.

    We fought A LOT as this progressed and weren’t particularly nice to each other. But I just felt like we GOT each other. We had some kind of connection that our friends couldn’t see or understand. He understood me. I was so sure we could (and SHOULD) make it work! We could be so right for each other! Also, if I could feel so strongly for him, MAYBE I WASN’T A LESBIAN AFTER ALL, right?

    Eventually everything fizzled and we stopped talking completely and caused even more drama in our friend group. This was all shortly before high school graduation and we ended not seeing much of each other over the summer and then going to college very, very far apart, but it was months of me sending FEELINGSMAIL and telling all of my friends about my FEELINGS in great and intense detail, and even after that stopped, and even with no contact, it was a couple of years before I was over it completely. We’d been such good friends! I’d felt so close to him! How could he not feel it?!

    I eventually came out a few years later. I ended up identifying as queer, but men I’m interested in sexually are few and far between and men I’m interested in romantically…well, it almost never happens. (Though, again, romantic interest is rare for me in general). He was an exception to that, and that was always weirdly in the back of my mind, not in a still hung up on it way, but in a “WTF happened there?” way.

    He came out a few years after I did. A mutual friend (same girl from above, actually) called meto tell me, and, in the words of another friend, it was like, high school was retconned for internal continuity? Mind. Blown. The second she said it, I was like, “oh, that makes sense.” But it had literally never occurred to me, despite the fact I had gone through the same thing AT THE SAME TIME.

    Now I think we probably DID recognize something in each other – he was a kindred spirit, in a way – just not in the way I thought at all.

  102. Well, the “end” (ha, ha) of my story is that this week I start therapy to help make sure that my previous cycle of:

    1. Identify CRUSH DUDE
    SIMULTANEOUSLY 2. Develop friendship with CRUSH DUDE AND 3. Begin obsessive and self-mutilating thought cycle about how a relationship with CRUSH DUDE could never work out because I am fat, disgusting, ugly, and also annoying, and therefore my friendship is a sham and I am a bad person and BACK TO START
    OPTIONAL STEP: Have feelings relayed to CRUSH DUDE in a humiliating way*; get rejected.
    4. Start experiencing depressive symptoms/panic attack-like symptoms because of the avalanche of self-hatred I have unleashed upon myself
    5. Move physically far away from CRUSH DUDE
    6. Avoid dealing with unhealthy feelings and pretend everything is all better now yay!

    does not become a huge big trap that I can’t ever escape from.

    Admittedly, this has only cycle has only gone through to completion twice (I’ve been having some difficulty figuring out whether I am somewhere on the asexual spectrum or whether massively low self-esteem and occasional depression are obscuring what sexuality I may or may not possess,) and now I am just before step 5 in round #3.

    I am still figuring out whether most recent dude and I are going to be friends (he does seem maybe amenable to that, but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea,) polite school acquaintances, or something else between; I am still figuring out if learning the asking-people-out process is worth it to me (as aforementioned, it’s not clear whether I do not develop crushes frequently because SADNESS — or if the occasional crushes I do have are outgrowths of stress and therefore will go away if I am calmer**); I am still figuring out whether a romantic relationship is something I want (never mind whether it’s achievable.)

    Honestly I can’t bear to provide details because I am still hurting from this recent go-round. I was trying really hard to be all mature and shit (by trying to keep my expectations for the relationship low, and then speaking up when that failed) and basically just ended up clotheslining myself on the cupboard door of the Treacherous Jerkbrain. I don’t really have any positive crush experiences to compare to, so it just feels like my biannual reminder that I Am Not Fit For Relationships.

    Whoo, therapy on Friday focused on this stuff.

    *Freshman year, a sort-of friend told the entire dorm floor which guy I had a crush on. (There was a slight delay in that case between “optional step” and “step 4,” where he briefly gave me the impression that he might be interested, aaaaaaand. . . no. I am still trying to negotiate a way to tell that story to myself in a way that doesn’t make it all my own fault for being stupid and not good enough, while still granting that maybe probably it is not a picnic on Maui to have someone (me) with uncontrolled depression raging and sobbing at you on a regular basis, while also allowing that he was kind of a misogynist and kind of asshole and did not handle things in the most mature way possible.) [To be honest, this last go-round was probably not that humiliating, unless sending an email that says "Doyouwanttogooutwithme BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO AND IF THIS MAKES THINGS WEIRD YOU DON'T EVER HAVE TO HANG OUT WITH ME AGAIN" is unusually awful. (Asking in person was not an option in this case, because I would have undoubtedly started sobbing.)]

    **Glad to know that other people also develop crushes in times of stress, though!

    • Oh dear :( It sounds like maybe you’d do yourself a big mental favour if you maybe just kept this guy at an acquaintance-level unless you feel a really strong connection.

    • Jedi hugs. That’s an awful cycle to be going through, but I think you are strong and brave to be able to identify it, and get help to find your way out. Best wishes!

  103. I have never, ever, ever believed my feelings were REALLY going to be reciprocated, so I am mostly the crush-from-afar type. Except this one time…

    I took a class with this guy in college; let’s call him Eric. Eric and I were always the first two people in the classroom, but he would never say hi to me. He would look up at me and then go back to his book/newspaper/staring at the desk. (You notice here how I am not saying hi either). I probably have pantsfeelings for him, but I don’t recognize them; I’m just super frustrated about his “rudeness” of never saying hello to a person who also never says hello to him. Eventually, I make friends with a classmate he is sitting near and he begins to interact with us both. Halfway through the semester, the classmate stops coming to class, so now he and I are friends.

    We would talk before class and sometimes during (bad students!) and after class… well… sometimes he can barely tear himself away from me; other times, he races out the door before I can even get up from my desk. Every interaction we have, every conversation, the words in that conversation are all analyzed to try to decode the FEELINGS that might be hiding here. He asks me on a stealth date to help him complete an assignment. I ask him on a stealth date to a game. He sends me some flirty texts and I send some back.

    After our second stealth date, we are chatting online when he tells me he has been feeling shitty. Of course, I asked him why and he tells me a long story about ANOTHER GIRL. And how many FEELINGS he has for her. And how she is a lesbian. And in an on-again-off-again relationship. But sometimes, SOMETIMES, she flirts with him and implies that she might be willing to date/sleep with men. Possibly him. While all this is happening, I am quietly dying in my computer chair. Then he tells me that he likes me, but he has been so confused about everything… he just doesn’t know what to do. At this point, I was stunned a my heart had been reduced to dust, so I said that we would just take things as they come and, you know, see what comes.

    Thus begins the summer of decoding his feelings. He never mentions this again. He never makes a move. I try to let him know with arm touches and attentive listening that I still like him. When I cannot stand it anymore, I send a FEELINGSMAIL. He writes back, admitting that he was hoping I would never bring any of that up again so he wouldn’t have to say anything. The short version: I am too sweet; he is too messed up. We should not be.

    I pretend to be over it immediately and spend an embarrassingly long time trying to convince him that he isn’t really a messed up person. He continues to date/fall for girls who bring the “drama.”

    The happy ending is that I did eventually get over it :)

  104. One thing I notice in some of these stories is a little bit of shame. I certainly don’t think I acted that well in my crushes, but it was mostly from social anxiety and not from really doing anything wrong. I don’t want to beat myself up about it, I just think in my situations everyone is young and a little confused, so I don’t mind it. I want to write about my crush experiences without shame.

    I didn’t really have romantic feelings until college when I met my friend K. He had a girlfriend, who I then hoped would disappear so we could get together, until I met and really liked her. We were all friends after that — she was in another school so it was harder to keep in contact, but he always made time for me, and we became good true friends. He would give me (sometimes romantic) advice and encouragement. I also had a thing for a mutual friend, G. G was very sweet and a little shy, and I asked him out awkwardly (but I’m pretty proud of myself I asked him out, rather than dumping my feelings — though I had never done that just because I wasn’t allowed to date until college). I don’t think he really knew how to go about it either. But we eventually went on a date I was really nervous and a bit weird, but he was pleasant and never made me feel bad…except one time when I made a sexual joke. (Oooh, there’s a bit a shame for you. I guess it needs another 5-10 years to be funny. Or forgotten.) Anyway, we were friendly enough but I still had leftover feelings (complete with fantasy getting together) but I didn’t approach him again. And then summer came after freshman year and he got together with a girl from his hometown, who was totally adorable. I met them as a couple a few times, and they were both very sweet. I’m not as close with these people anymore because I moved away a couple years ago, but I remember them fondly.

    One thing I noticed with my crushes is that I stayed friends with the sweet people I crushed on (as awkwardly as I did) and the boring or jerky people are just funny stories and examples of Red Flags in terms of friends (like, not mentioning a girlfriend, or saying no to hanging out (but wanting me to ask anyway, that’s what threw me off), or just not being interesting but oh wait so pretty so they must have a personality).

    • I don’t think shame is really a bad response to these stories, I just think it is a lot like most other emotions: healthy in the appropriate quantities, bad when it gets out of hand. I think most of the shame, like yours, comes in knowing that you made someone else uncomfortable, and to me that seems like a place where shame is absolutely appropriate, if not necessary. It helps as reminder in the future that the way you acted wasn’t cool, which can come in handy. I think most people here seem like they’re taking the good with the bad, and can say “oh my god this is so embarrassing what was I thinking !! but I learned a lot and that is not where I’m at today,” which is the important thing. I know I have stories about things that I am ashamed of, but I can ALSO laugh about them, because I’ve come a long way from where I was when I did The Bad Things. As long as you don’t carry your shame around with you and attach too much weight to it, I think a little bit of shame has it’s place.

      • Yeah, I realized after I commented that I sounded like I was shameless and everyone else was silly in their shame. I’m sorry, that’s not what I wanted to say. I guess it’s more that I (and others) felt guilty for making people uncomfortable, but I don’t think we should be ashamed of our actions, because we were trying our best. (Maybe it’s also a question of semantics!) And actually I think the way we shared our stories show that we aren’t ashamed, though we might feel guilty.

    • I think the shame is literally “If people knew this about me, they’d reject me.” It’s cutting very close to the fundamental fear that something about you is deeply unacceptable to others. So people are telling stories about how they’ve been rejected, stories where they act in ways they know might make some people reject them.

      I like this post. It’s people sharing those stories of shame, and not being rejected. It’s like taking all that old stanky stuff from the back of your closet and spreading it out in the sunlight. It’s all of us talking about our flaws and insecurities and laughing together in that fragile sense of having found shared humanity where we’ve found hurt and pain before.

  105. Picture me typing this with one hand over my eyes.

    Freshman year of college: I am 2,000 miles from home, everything is an adventure, and there was this boy. He was blond, captain of the fencing team (lovely muscles), spoke several languages fluently and majored in archaeology. (Raiders of the Lost Ark came out that summer. Yes, we are talking ancient history and I’m still capable of squirming over it.) He introduced me to The Princess Bride, Monty Python, and programming computers.

    I persuaded the teacher of a Near Eastern archaeology class we were both taking (a graduate-level class. Which I took to be closer to him. And I flunked, because I was a freshman with no experience in the field) to help me ask him to the year’s Big Dance. He agreed, Cthulhu knows why, and read out the invitation in front of the whole class.

    (We will now pause for groans of embarrassment. *gets up, puts more rum in the Coke*)

    He smiled, and gave me a reply later in the day. In ARABIC. Are you sitting there thinking “My goodness, does Epiphyta read Arabic?” That is an excellent question! And the answer is “No, as a matter of fact, I do not!” Being an extremely naive girl, I assumed that only an asshole would decline an invitation in a language that the other person couldn’t read, and I didn’t realize that we weren’t, in fact, going to the dance until a week before when I went to him to firm up plans — and he turned me down on the quad with a few thousand people around. There was FEELINGSMAIL. And then I went home for break, came back to find him engaged to the woman he’s still married to, and learned that he’d been quietly dating her the whole time.

    Not to be outdone, I agreed to go out with a guy who’d been mooning after me for months: we wound up married, which eventually led to a very nasty divorce, the destruction of our social group and a lot of time in therapy.

    Things are much better now. (But I still can’t watch The Princess Bride.)

    • Wow, how full of himself can a guy be? He sounds like a total asshole.

    • Dude sounds like a douche, but I’m not gonna lie: if *I* found a fencing archeologist, I would be JUST as twitterpated. Frankly, I think it was brave of you to take the leap and try!

      • After writing this, 48-year-old Me spent some time comforting 17-year-old Me: “Hey, kiddo, you did great! He was GORGEOUS and smart and funny and did we mention the muscles and the smartness? And you asked him out! That was so brave of you! And, as our best friend has said in other circumstances, the great thing about getting rejected by complete douchenozzles is that you don’t have to spend time with complete douchenozzles!”

        (17-year-old Me is also reading the other replies and chortling in a not very mature but totally understandable way, and wishing that the Awkward Army had been around at the time to say “Wow, what an asshole! Let us get ice cream!”)

    • What a dick.

    • Yuck. Jeez dude, you could just *say* no instead of making someone literally have to translate it. Yuck. What an ass.

  106. I didn’t understand for YEARS that there was a way to handle emotions and feelings that wasn’t:

    1. See object of future crush. Decide they are attractive, or receive some passing kindness from them. Begin to OBSESS.
    2. Gather information about them.
    3. FIRTH.
    4. When said crush did not manifest as makeouts, begin to resent them. End up hating them.

    I crushed on this one woman in college who I convinced myself was queer, despite her own stated preference to the contrary. The creepiest it got was walking unnecessarily past her dorm, but I pumped PANTSFEELINGS-based energy into what was a very casual friendship, making it last far longer than it should have.

    My most embarrassing crush was on my boss at a now-defunct queer bookstore. I started crushing on her the first day I worked, and pieced together from casual interactions a narrative about how she liked me back (we shared a cigarette once?), despite her obviously being in a relationship and completely uninterested. As soon as I stopped working there I FEELINGSEMAILED her excitedly, thinking that I’d finally get this thing started. Nope. No email back, nothing. And now I see her and her partner around the city ALL THE FREAKING TIME, and I’m still desperately awkward, because I don’t have the crush anymore, but I DO have the regret.

    And there were all those crushes inspired by minor hookups. At the time I couldn’t recognize them as being simple loneliness and desire for someone else to want me back, so they either fizzled into situations where I’d just PINE, or turned into terrible relationships where we had nothing in common except for sex and my FEELINGS.

    It still happens sometimes, despite my best intentions and more insight into the workings of my JerkBrain. I wish I could quit you, crushes!!!

  107. Longtime lurker, first time poster here :) This has been the most amazing thread to read! It’s literally all I’ve done all morning, and it’s made me reminisce about past crushes. I’m so glad I’m not alone in being totally awkward! I have a loooooooooooooooooooooong history of crushes and unrequited WUV. Between the years of 1989-ish and 2011, I probably had about 30 crushes of varying strengths and successes. It all started with a boy I loved and pined for between Grade 3 and 7. Two of my crushes led to disastrous, miserable, borderline emotionally abusive long term relationships, but most of them were innocent enough, short-lived and monstrously embarrassing (for me). The only times I’ve informed the object of my affection of my true feelings, aforementioned disastrous long-term relationships ensued. My usual MO has been to fixate, project, pine, stalk, never say a word to anyone about it, pine some more, and eventually get over it.

    Thinking about it now, the crushes that were the most cringe-worthy and pathetic started when a boy showed even the *merest* interest in me. I’m a pretty quiet person, nerdy and not into typically girly things, and during my childhood and early-mid twenties I had almost no self-confidence, so when I started to clue in that some boys thought I was cute/funny/smart/whatever, I immediately glommed onto them in the most pathetic way.

    I guess the most “interesting” crush occurred a few years ago when my seriously painful, effed-up long-term relationship (see above – that in itself deserves another entire novel – can we have an open thread on horrible relationships, too?) was in its death throes. I had started a new job at a school and struck up a friendship with one of the other teachers. At a social event at the beginning of the year, I overheard him mutter “damn” under his breath to someone else when I introduced him to my then-boyfriend. BAM. CRUSH. This guy potentially likes me? HE IS THE MOST AMAZING, INTERESTING PERSON EVAR AND ONCE I DUMP MY HORRID BOYFRIEND HE AND I SHALL FALL MADLY IN LOVE AND LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Well, in December of that year, the boyfriend and I finally called it quits but continued to live together for five months (!!!!) while he sorted his life out before moving back to his country of origin. It was absolutely one of the worst times of my life, but I was really happy in my job, and I really liked this fellow, so my work became my solace from the mess that was my home life.

    I fell into my typical crush-behaviours, but since I was so emotionally messed up and numb because of the détente of my actual relationship, this crush was particularly consuming and intense. Here is a by-no-means-exhaustive list – bear in mind I was 29 years old at the time:
    1) This fellow and I had a shared interest in graphic novels, so we started lending one another books (and I read – pun intended – all sorts of meaning into our recommendations)
    2) We went to a movie together (it was supposed to be a group outing, but only he and I showed: MEANINGFUL, AMIRITE!?!?)
    3) I kept our staff photo in my bedside table and would pull it out and look longingly at him
    4) I would find any excuse to walk by his classroom to peek in at him while he was teaching
    5) I discovered that he lived just a few blocks from my parents, so I would make excuses to visit them just so I could potentially run into him or park near his apartment building
    6) I only worked Tuesdays through Fridays, and I would MOPE from Saturday through Monday because I couldn’t be near him.
    7) I memorized his license plate and got *really excited* if we parked near each other. I could see his parking spot from my office window and would literally stare at his car for minutes at a time, multiple times a day.
    8) I would obsessively re-read any email he sent me, looking for any sort of hidden feelings.
    9) Any time he came to talk to me in my office I would re-play the conversation in my mind for the rest of the day.
    10) In assemblies or meetings, I would stare at him ALL. THE. TIME. I would situate myself so that I always had a good view.
    11) I had designed our wedding invitations; I wrote my name with his last name; I thought of what to name our kids (WTF – I have never wanted kids!)
    12) He texted me after our very boozy staff Christmas party to check if I got home okay! OMG! HE LOVES ME!

    The list goes on. It completely consumed me, from morning to night. He and I had long Deep and Meaningful Conversations (D&Ms) in my head. He was so understanding! And so kind! And so funny! We were totally destined for each other! He and I would NEVER fight like Ex Boyfriend and I did. He understood me!
    When my ex finally moved out in May, and I had gotten over the immediate sadness and emptiness of that transition, my crush on this fellow totally intensified and my stupid behaviours and feelings increased. I decided that I would try to make a move in September, and I spent the entire summer pining. Driving over to my parents’ neighbourhood to try to run into him. Looking at the photo in my bedside table. Etcetera.

    School started again and I still had all these crazy feelings. Except, I started to notice a few things. Like, if I was sitting in the staffroom, he wouldn’t always sit next to me. Or if he did, he might just exchange pleasantries and then talk to someone else (THE NERVE). Or, he’d only be interested in talking about TV shows that I don’t watch. Or, he’d make fun of something that was important or interesting to me. Or, sometimes he’d come into my office to chat, but he only wanted to talk about, say, Bob Dylan, and wasn’t very interested in what I had to say about non-Dylan related topics. I started to feel a little confused.

    Looking back, I find this crush interesting for a couple of reasons: Most of it occurred while I was in a relationship with someone else. That totally makes sense because (duh) I was OBVIOUSLY looking for something I needed, and it was a diversion from the real problems I was facing with the end of that relationship. It’s also interesting because there was this exact point when the crush ended. Literally every time I saw or spoke to this guy, I had butterflies. Sometimes I could barely form sentences. Then one time, we were mid-conversation, and I said something conversation-y (can’t remember specifically, it was just a normal conversation) and he kind of blanked on me and didn’t respond to what I had said, and carried on with his particular thread. This is EXACTLY what my ex-boyfriend would do: failure to acknowledge what I had just said. And I was like: CRUSH = OVER. That was it.

    I have no idea whether he actually ever liked me or not. That damned muttered “damn” that started the whole thing might have been said in jest, or maybe he really did like me. He’s a good guy; we get along well, but I’m SO GLAD that I never acted on my feelings. I always roll my eyes when I think of this crazy crush. I’m glad I recognized behaviors of his that were red flags.

    I am now in a wonderful, respectful, fun, future-planning relationship with someone I love, respect and admire deeply, and the feeling is mutual. There are no games or drama. Interestingly, despite my long history of crushes, this is the first and only one that started without a crush. I met him at a bar, he asked me out to dinner, and the rest is history!

  108. Oh, hell. Awkward crush stories.

    I was sixteen and had carved myself a nice little niche out in a small online fandom, writing depressing and messed up stories because I was depressing and messed up. Yay. Anyway, I became really good friends with a set of people, including a smart, sensitive, nice boy from another country who was only a year older than I was. We had common interests! Nerdy ones! And he thought I was totally cool! And we were awkward and angsty friends.

    Imaginably, I had a crush on him. But it was just a tiny little crush (though I think we drove everyone crazy with our “OH NO, YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON I’M GLAD YOU ARE MY FRIEND” conversations all over their social media (so much embarrassment). I don’t really get crushes that badly, so I was content to just nurse it a bit and let it fade out over time. Except that our mutual friends kept trying to tell me that he had a thing for me. I denied it so badly.

    Trust me, it gets so, so much worse. About a week before I turned seventeen, this group of friends got it through my head that the way my family treated me was FULL OF BEES. Also velociraptors. And, in the midst of apologizing for even existing, I also wanted to prove that I was a Good Person and a Good Victim of Abuse (If I am, I are You All Sure I Don’t Actually Deserve This?). So I let myself be talked into an insane scheme to try to Get Away. Because emancipation was Not An Option in my state, clearly the solution was for me to… get legally married to someone and then go off and do my own thing. It was decided that this guy and I, being close in age, could just convince Parental Unit 2 that this was just paper stuff and go our merry ways and get a divorce after a few months. (Oh god whyyyyyyyy. I didn’t see the bees. There were so many bees in this friendship. (In their defense, they were right about the family!bees.))

    And, while we were plotting how to do things and be safe and have contingency plans, I get a call from Guy and Mutual Friend. Mutual Friend sits us both down and goes “So, Kadi, Guy is in love with you. And you are in love with Guy. He’s hoping that you might want to actually give this relationship a shot.” (There was a yelp of “OH GOD WHAT NO WHERE DID THIS EVEN COME FROM” in my mind.) Then Mutual Friend, in a moment of supreme manipulation, whether he meant it to be that way or not, added “Then you’d have a family waiting for you, and someone who loves you.”

    You guys, it hit me right in the Feels. I convinced myself, in that split second that, one, I didn’t have a right or option to say no because PRESSURE, and two, that it would be awesome and that I did love Guy enough to try to make things work. Oh, baby, no. It was a terrible, terrible FEELINGSBOMB by proxy.

    Parental Unit 2 ended up being worse than Parental Unit 1 (I don’t even know how that was possible at the time, and I’m still messed up from that debacle.). Still, though, Guy and I gave things a really good try. When we saw one another, it was full of nice kisses and making out and hand holding and snuggles, which was great and I craved, and I really did love him, as much as was possible, given all of the Things. Buuuuuut Guy also was kind of a Nice Guy. And pushed my “can’t touch all the time” boundaries. And I felt like I was responsible for all his emotions and well being and depression and that was Not Going to Work. Not to mention, I had a lot of things on my plate and I was not in a good place to have any sort of relationship at all (I was a terrible girlfriend, I admit that freely).

    Guy was going to be in the same place I was for a holiday and I finally came to my senses and realized that it was Not Going to Work. So I sucked it up and wrote a firm break up letter (Thank goddesses for The Gift of Fear, which pointed out that Guy was not hearing my slow fade and soft no’s and told me that “No” is totally okay for me to say and I didn’t have to “be nice.”) a few days before he was going to head out the way I was. Much to his credit, he didn’t argue, FEELINGSMAIL, or try to convince me otherwise. Though it was a hella awkward group meeting, though (there were about six or so of us?). I ended up spending most of it chatting with Older Friend, who thankfully Used His Words about a month ago when he realized he had a crush on me, and was very graceful about my (hopefully tactful), “No, there are no pantsfeelings.”

    As it turned out, there were multiple people in our group who thought me and Guy hooking up was a terrible idea. They just didn’t tell me until then? Thanks, guys.

    Anyway, that turned me off crushes for a while. But then, of course, I had a crush on a writing friend a while later. Which was odd because this was the first time I’d actually been willing to realize that I had feelings for a lady person. And we flirted all the time and talked about our love and about how we were totally SOULMATES in another life and were Secret Lesbian Lovers. Oh, gods, it was so awkward.

    Then, last year, after we’d danced around saying anything because the possibility of rejection, she sucked it up and told me “Hey, I have a massive crush on you.” And ran off for a few days. Then there was a FEELINGSEMAIL OF CONFLICTION on my part stating “I think I have a crush on you and you are amazing and awesome but I am fucked up and have the emotional range of a teaspoon and I don’t want to hurt you. BUT I WANT TO TRY BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVELY AND NICE AND DON’T FLINCH AWAY FROM THE FUCKED UPNESS THAT I AM TRYING TO WORK THROUGH.” That ended up working out, though! And we celebrated our Arbitrary Anniversary Date two days ago. It was a crush and is a relationship without bees, whoo.

    (… That ended up being a really long story. OMG. I’m sorry.)

    • Oh my god, what was your friend group thinking? Especially when this plan wasn’t endorsed by everyone. It’s nice they wanted to help you with your family, but ugh…

  109. [...] their late mother when they read Cheryl Strayed, or feel better about an old crush when they read Captain Awkward. Sharing stories with readers can be useful, and I mean that in the Susan Orlean way, if it [...]

  110. Thanks everybody. I’m kind of in the middle of a situation that would fit here *QUITE* nicely, but since I’m in the middle of it I don’t have the perspective that would let me, you know, write out the story in a reasonable way without FEELINGSCOMMENTING all over here in lieu of doing anything productive towards getting over it.

    But the stories are helpful in reminding me that I’m not alone and it’s going to get better. Logically accepting that, at least, even if not always emotionally.

    • This. Argh. Perspective will come one day, it’ll make a good story some day, but this is not that day.

  111. Oooooh, and another topic that hasn’t been mentioned (I guess): Celebrity Crushes!

    When I was 14, I had a huge crush on Nick Jonas (mind you, he was really cute then, though I have a feeling he was really opressive towards his then-girlfriend, Miley Cyrus – why yes, I *am* unhealthily obsessed with celebrity gossip) and sadly, really clicheed, which I knew then too; then the lead guitarist of our school’s band (I still love their music though); and now a German rapper called Casper (oh my!) and loads of other people I probably don’t even remember.

    Not sure what insight this delivers, but these crushes do help figuring out how to get over ridiculous real-life unattainable crushes, I guess.

    • I am willfully celebrity crushing right now, actually. Adam Scott: too sexy. I don’t actually know anything about him, and don’t really need to. I just realized a few weeks ago that daydreaming about making out with Hot Celebrity Who Magically Has The Perfect Personality leaves me feeling WAY better than daydreaming pointless, pathetic comeuppance fantasies about my ex (that inevitably stick in my brain and give me nightmares, even though it’s been a FULL YEAR since the breakup). So, I am going with it.

      • When I was in high school, I actually had a rule about not having explicit fantasies about anyone I knew in real life. It was much too embarrassing running into them the next day. So there were a lot of abrupt midstream horse changes, as you might say. I’d start out with “Maybe we’re talking and I could just kind of lean on him… and maybe he puts his hand — NO, WAIT, NOT YOU — ahem, maybe if I was talking to Lord Peter Wimsey…”

        I tend to think of inaccessibility as being a selling point for crushes; anyone who might in theory be available is Just Too Scary. As a result, I was afraid for years that I only really liked men who were much older than I was (even though in actuality I was dating guys who were within a year or two of my age and was perfectly happy with that).

        • Celebrity crushes are a really convenient way for me to separate fantasy from reality. When I have a crush on someone I might want a relationship with, I have to think of them as a complex person who has needs that I might or might not be able to meet. Celebrities or fictional characters are exempt; in my mind they can always provide exactly what I want, when I want it, without me ever worrying about disappointing them, or treating them badly.

        • I was about to reply and talk about the celebrity crushes I’ve nursed – including with band members who are sorta-kinda-famous but who actually know my NAME, making it easier to delude myself into thinking these fantasies could actually go somewhere – when I noticed your comment about Lord Peter Wimsey. Now THAT is a character worth crushing on, and I may try using the same technique you describe to stop potential awkward-making trains of thought!

        • I am a Big Fan of the celebrity crush. I call them my Sekrit Boifriends (as in, our relationship is so sekrit that they don’t know about it) and my friends and family know all about them, which means that when they see something relating to one of my Sekrit Boifriends, they tell me or send it to me or what have you, which is delightful. Also, I find it’s a good way to reassure people that even though I adore this or that celebrity, I’m not unhealthily fixated, just having fun.

    • Oh the Celebrity Crush! I was in a very long secret relationship with a guy from a band. Even longer than my relationship with my actual beau at the time. They were a regional, southern rock/folk band, and I was in LOOOOVE with the accordian/spoken word poet/fife player. Luckily for me, my sister-in-law, her younger sister (also my BFF at the time) and I would go see the band together a lot. SIL was in love with the celloist/guitarist and BFF was in love with the lead singer/guitarist. We would go see their shows whenever possible from the time I was 13 until I was around 25, about 4 months before my wedding, when they finally broke up. We went to their farewell show and it was like a farewell to my freewheeling youth.

      I saw my Celebrity Crush out and about when I was on my honeymoon. Was that ever awkward! He was waiting on his coffee and, while I didn’t realize this until later, really, really had to go to the john. And I was all, “HI! I like LOVE you guys.” While he was all, “Umm… yeah.. sad we broke up… GOTTA GO!” Awwwkward. My new hubby just laughed at/with me.

    • Celebrity crushes just got a whole lot more awkward when I moved to a city where a lot of movies get filmed. :( BE MORE UNAVAILABLE, MOVIE STARS!

      • Yeah, I work as a background actress when I’m not in school, and I once had a kinda-sorta-not-quite-but-almost crush on one of the actors on one of the shows I often get called in to. Aaaaaawkward. Fortunately, part of my job as a background actress is to be quiet and unobtrusive and avoid eye contact with anyone important, so that works out all right. XD

  112. I was almost always too shy to do anything about crushes, beyond hanging out nearby and emoting anxiously. (Unless you count the relationships in childhood that I thought were Best Friends ones, in which I was ridiculously jealous and possessive of my friend, and which I realized much, much later in life were one-way romantic attachments. Ha, ha?) In college, I mostly spent time trying to figure out if the people I was interested in were actually into my gender at all. (Girl #1: No! Girl #2: Lost the crush before I found out; the idea of deliberately slacking on homework was so shocking to me that it killed the attraction instantly. Boy #1: Asked me out first. Boy #2: No!)

    But oh, junior high. In which there was a cool loner kid (I was in seventh grade, I got to think moody loners were awesome and mysterious and sexy) in my math class, and I was desperately interested in that person, and…I…couldn’t figure out if they were a boy or a girl. And that’s not the sort of thing you ask someone. And it was vital that I know, because at that age I was sheltered enough to still not be aware that same-gender romantic relationships were even a thing.

    So I came up with a clever plan. I got a notepad of blank paper, and wrote up a little survey asking about interests and so forth, and it had a box at the top to check for Male or Female and a line for writing in a name (did I mention I’m dreadful at facial recognition, and also at retaining names? even the names of people I’m really interested in?), and then I handed it to this kid and insisted I was trying to take a survey of different kids in the class for…some…reason…and if all the blanks and boxes could be filled out…

    *shudders at the memory*

    But mostly I just pined from afar, or tried to cultivate (or fake) an interest in whatever my crushes were obsessed with. Which is how I ended up attending several Red Elvises performances, reading every Terry Pratchett book in print at the time of that crush, pretending to like Jim Carrey movies, learning how to play GURPS, and attempting to enter Greek house politics. Some of which stuck in a good way, so…not a complete loss, there.

    • I am stealing that survey thing for a screenplay someday, I hope you don’t mind. Because it is AWESOME.

      I also have a history of getting way into whatever my crush is into at the time, which gives me a strange and spotty kind of education that I feel quite fond of now. “I got this degree in Neil Gaiman graphic novels, Civil War History, and film noir from Crush University!”

      • I would’ve said “hideously embarrassing in retrospect” more than “awesome”, but, man, if someone else can get some good use out of it, I’m all for it! Steal away.

      • Crush University! Yes! I have a degree in Dave Grohl trivia, evangelical Christianity, NHL hockey, and equine veterinary medicine from CU.

  113. Oh man, this thread. Even though I have had crushes on some nasty assholes who would do some shitty things to me (one in uni was particularly bad), this is all making me very glad that my last experience of it, while not reciprocated, was at least with someone awesome.

  114. I feel your pain! This post couldn’t have been timed better, because I’m just in the process of developing a major crush myself. Now, I’ve been a Captain Awkward follower for long enough that usually, this wouldn’t be a problem, and I would just use my words. However, in this case, the situation is complicated by the fact that the subject of my crush has recently broken up with her long-term boyfriend, and is in no emotional shape for a relationship right now
    For now, I’ve decided to suffer in silence and wait for her to get to a better place. I’m slightly worried about unintentional Nice-Guy-behaviour though; we were good friends before the crush developed, and still are, and I’ve been doing the friend thing of supporting her after her break-up. Is this dishonest, and should I be distancing myself until I feel she is ready to hear about my crush without causing her too much further emotional turmoil? Somebody tell me if I’m being a jerk, an idiot, or a reasonable person?

    • Hmm. My advice would be try and be a good friend, but don’t let your crush get out of control, and don’t expect anything. If you can’t do that, putting some distance between you might be a good idea. But I don’t know the specifics of your situation, so you know.

    • Well, what you do not want to do is this: http://xkcd.com/513/

      I keep writing and erasing things, because I think there’s not a very good answer to this. But my response boils down to two points:
      Right now, you are making the decision for her. You have decided that she is not ready, and you will wait until you think she is. I am not sure that is preferable to telling her the truth and putting the decision back in her hands.
      Also, you can be a good friend to her without being the post-breakup support, whatever that means. You can be the friend that organizes fun (group?) outings to take her mind of things. You can be the friend she does homework with. You can be a friend in a lot of different ways.

      • Yes, I agree with this. Also post-break-up support might be quite painful for *you*, not just because of caring about someone who is hurting, but because they are talking about feelings for someone else (potentially). Being a friend is about giving, but not to one’s own detriment.

        • Thanks for looking out for me! It’s a bit too late now, but next time around if somebody needs post-break-up support I’ll make sure that there’s no chance whatsoever that I’ll develop feelings for them.

          • I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, so to clarify I didn’t mean to criticise your feelings or say you should change them. I’m struggling to say things less clumsily so sorry for my poor wording.

          • Sounds to me like geekyisgod actually means, “if someone you have a crush on breaks up, it is totally okay for you to duck out of emotionally supporting them through that time.” Because, you know, you can be friendly and nice and everything, without sitting through long tearful conversations about their feeeelings while you’re secretly dying inside. It’s an allowed thing.

          • Yes! Thank you staranise :)

          • I didn’t mean to sound sarcastic, sorry! I knew what you meant, I just tried to say that it was to late to do anything about because those conversations already happened (which you couldn’t know).

          • Ah no worries. I hope things work out ok.

      • Your point about putting the decision back into her hands is a very good one, and I’m leaning more and more towards doing just that. It’s not the rejection I’m worried about, I can deal with that. What I fear is that she’ll think I’ve only been a good friend in order to get into her pants, which is so far from the truth. I didn’t choose to start having these feelings, and I really didn’t choose to start having them at this precise moment. Does anybody know if the Cap’n has a script to minimise the feeling of betrayal in this kind of situation?

        • If you wait a few months, she might *still* think that you were only being a good friend to her after her breakup because you wanted to get into her pants. I think the longer you wait, the more likely she’ll think that, actually. It kind of seems like a rip the band-aid off type of situation.

          but god, I don’t know. I completely sympathize and can easily imagine myself having the same dilemma.

          maybe you could phrase things in terms of your emotional needs? Something like, “I’ve been realizing that I’m getting a crush on you, and I know you’re going through a tough time right now, but because of my feelings, I don’t feel up to being a close shoulder for you to lean on right now. If you like me back, please let me know, even if it’s not until some point in the future, but in the mean time, can we keep things a little more casual between us?”

    • I have mixed feelings on this because I was on your friend’s side of the situation ones. Not exactly, because my situation wasn’t post-break-upsih, but I still wasn’t there emotionally. I remeber having a horrible “so you are here for feeeeeelings, not because we are friends” reaction. Ask yourself are you ready to be her friend ( and I mean really friend, not sort-of-hoping-for-the-best friend) in case she don’t think of you as a romantic partner. Would your friendish relationship be different if she was a male ?
      Anyways it’s good to be ready for the above mentioned “I thought we were good friends” reaction.

    • Thanks for the replies above! (For some reason the blog didn’t notify me, or I would have replied earlier.)

      The points you brought up are all ones that have been going through my head already, but it’s good to hear them from other people as well. I still don’t know exactly what I should do, but I know that I will definitely not fall into the Nice-Guy trap of the xkcd comic above — the choice for me is between tell now, or tell in a couple months, not between tell now, or wait silently until she figures it out herself while sabotaging her relationship. If she were to get into a relationship with somebody else tomorrow, I’d be happy for her and would proceed to get over my crush.

    • Myself, I go for telling her, but emphasizing that she doesn’t have to make a decision right away.

      “Hey Crush, I just want to say something up front. I think you’re a wonderful person, I really do like you, and in the future if you feel ready for something new, I think I’d like to go out with you. But that’s someday. Right now, I am happy with our friendship and I really enjoy spending time with you, even if we never end up going out together. But I figured I’d let you know. It’s kind of awkward to say this now, but I couldn’t think of any other time when it would be less awkward.”

      Because if you’re not doing the Nice Guy thing, and if you can live with the burning feeling of having an unrequited crush, it’s like ice cream. Being friends is like chocolate ice cream: DELICIOUS AND WONDERFUL. But moving from friends to a more intense relationship where you REALLY like each other is like fudge chunk chocolate ice cream: DELICIOUS AND WONDERFUL STUDDED WITH AWESOME.

  115. When I was in college, I told someone that I liked her via FEELINGSMESSENGER. What I meant to say was something like, “I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent together on the couch of plausible deniability, and in fact, I really like you. I know you don’t feel the same way, but I needed to let you know.” What actually happened was, I wrote, “I like you,” and then I literally went and sat in the literal corner of the room, as far away from the computer as possible. I’d like to blame this on anxiety and general coming-out angst, but I think it’s probably possible to be an anxious person who also acts like a grownup. Fortunately, she is a less awkward person than me, and she shot me down kindly but firmly.

    And that could have been that, but we had a bunch of mutual friends (hello, small college full of lesbians), so I saw her all the time until we graduated. Also, a few months before this happened, one of my friends had broken up with her. Several months later, she started dating another one of my friends. So, I’m the only queer member of our group of friends who couldn’t get her to go out with me. I still see all of these people periodically (what’s more fun than hanging out with your ex-crush? hanging out with your ex-crush, her ex-girlfriend, and her current girlfriend!), and I am just starting to get to the point where I can remember what happened without wanting to go live in a hole for the rest of my life.

    Also, my computer crashed a couple of years ago and lost all of my FEELINGSMESSENGER logs. Never underestimate the power of deleting the chat transcripts of awkwardness.

  116. Oh god, the cring-y memories! There was one time where I had a crush on Same Interests-guy. We met while partaking in our mutual hobby and clicked. We became friends and the friendship turned in to long chats at night, him talking wistfully about how he wished more girls were like me (I mean, c’mon!). His family is really tight with weekly clan-meetings… dinners… and he’d talk about how all he really wanted was a family of his own. Tug on my heartstrings some more! (Never mind that I didn’t want kids.)

    Long story short, we’d talk multiple times a week, I helped him with a really big achievement in our field of interest and he was so thankful he cried a bit. Squishy feelings all around. I was pretty much convinced that we were meant to be, and it didn’t help when all our mutual friends told me the same thing.

    Until I was out at dinner with a group of friends gushing over how wonderful SI-guy was and I saw him come into the place with a date . At first I thought it might just be a friend, but no. Hearing him give her the same spiel that he’d given me brought that crush to a crashing end.

  117. Oo, this is fun. And cringey as hell but y’know. Here I was thinking I hadn’t really had crushes on real people that I hadn’t Used My Words about until… I remembered.

    When I started highschool (a girl’s school) the rumours you first learnt were that one (female) teacher “looked like a man” and another male teacher was gay. Somehow in the first year of highschool I formed a massive crush on the latter. Maybe it was the fact he laughingly wore a dress to school when he was “bought” at a charity event. I don’t even know.

    The next year the crush kind of went away. The 3rd year I had a really intense dream about him over new years and that was the first year I had him as my teacher. He’s not actually gay, just mildly effeminate. He was tall and skinny – something I have a big thing for. He taught biology, enthusiastically. He had a great sense of humour. We could talk really naturally for ages outside of class. My weekends were drinking with my father’s friends so he didn’t feel old.

    Sooo, at some point, dying of lust, I sent him an email from a fabricated account. Can’t remember what I said. Not trying to *do* anything, I didn’t actually want him to be attracted to teenage girls, but to be in contact with him. He responded angrily and I thought about it and apologised for intruding like that.

    Some time the next year I ended up crying in his office (couldn’t find the teacher I was originally looking for) about my fucked up home life, and I kinda admitted it was me that wrote to him. He was amazed I was so young (how to flatter me, haha) and I was super pleased I’d hidden my firthing so well for over a year. We ended up talking a lot, we just got on really well.

    When I moved away I gave all my teachers flowers (I used to buy my teachers presents… yeah, I’m kinda weird) and I gave him a yellow rose. And got to hug him. Refrained from an overlong hug but OHGODHEWASWEARINGTHATLEATHERJACKET and siiiiigh.

    When I was 17 I came down and visited another teacher I adored and had coffee with him. Unfortunately I was still busy dying of wanting him so I’m sure I was super awkward. We emailed back and forth for a while but eventually he married another teacher from my school and had kids and it kinda faded.

    I’m 27 now and I have been with my wonderful partner for 9 years, but I still feel almost painful thinking about him. Goddamn.

  118. Before this thread runs out of steam, I must just briefly share the result of my only crush to have ever had a *good* ending. Back in my Uni days, doing the standard and terrible practice of Must Insinuate Myself Into Every Facet Of Crush’s Life, I noticed that he spent quite a lot of time hanging around with Other Girl. Aha! A Rival! I must befriend and Know My Enemy!

    Long story short, Other Girl also had a painfully unrequited crush on Crush. And we got on so well that she’s been my best friend for seventeen years. Every now and again we laugh our arses off at the memory of that sad little man we both used to fancy. :D

  119. Disclaimer: “It started as a Being crashless person is ok, don’t feel bad because the society tells you, you should have ‘em” reply, but turned into a recount of my own problems, so if anyone want to offer me advice, I would really welcome it

    My point is, don’t worry about not having crushes yet. Nothing is wrong with you.
    I was crushless for all my high school, college, and grad school. Hells, I still am. It doesn’t help that I am (“apparently”, – I am not sure because I have a different idea of beautiful, then the mainstream culture does, and I don’t fall under my own definition of hot) a striking green-eyed platinum blonde with what our sexist society calls an ideal figure.

    I used to go to conventions related to my interests but it always ended with awkward “would you mind If I invited you to the movies” question, and I didn’t feel like these people were interested in what I was actually SAYING about my actual reason of being there: Videogames, Robots, Hard Sci-fi or Aero modeling. I never cosplayed, didn’t dress “like a girl” and didn’t use any make-up. (Not like it should matter, people should be able to do all of that, without their competence being questioned – but still)
    It didn’t help.

    Eventually I stopped going, my small D&D/GURPS group fell apart, due to graduating and leaving the College town. I used to think that I just want to be left alone with my Soldering iron and tech stuff, but I it turned out I would like to talk about the said stuff with fellow human beings from time to time.

    Now I have a moderately successful old tech. related blog and a male nickname to go with it because I am afraid I won’t be taken seriously if people get to know my biological sex.

    Is there any non-awkward way of saying “I am not interested to talk with people who see me as a romantic interest and I would not consider starting a romantic relationship with a person I know for less then 3-5 years” but it would be great to talk with you if you’d just regard me as a fellow human?” I don’t want to insult anyone and it’s extremely awkward and upsetting to me, even if the person in question takes my refusal well and not trying the “what about a cup of coffee, can I have your phone number” route.

    • I don’t really see any way but bluntness, sorry! Pretty much sucks. *Hopefully* it’ll mean the painful process of weeding out Nice Guys and entitled people leaves you with some cool people, but it may well take a while. :(

      Total openness about that is the least complicated, probably ultimately less painful way to go.

    • If you’re anywhere near Wisconsin, I would suggest checking out WisCon–it’s a feminist science fiction convention held Memorial Day weekend. (I know, doesn’t solve your larger problem, but your competence wouldn’t be questioned for being a traditionally-attractive person who doesn’t wear makeup there.)

  120. One of my first times commenting here (still haven’t settled on a handle, but this one will probably do), but Captain Awkward and guest posters and commenters have been helping me SO MUCH in the last several months, and reading this post is also just so cathartic that I wanted to share my story as well. As staranise said up-thread, it feels wonderful to air out these embarrassing memories and not be judged, and it’s also great to see other people’s stories and realize how universal a lot of these feelings are!

    Anyway, my most ridiculous crush started when I was 12 years old, and continued until I was 18. And it was BAD. I had the most all-consuming crush on my good friend’s older brother, and for a while I could hardly talk about anything else to my other friends. I even had a ridiculous nickname that I’d made up for him that had nothing to do with his actual name or his interests or anything; thinking back, maybe it was just so I could feel that I had a special thing to call him that no one else did? Who knows. The first time he actually answered to my nickname for him, I was so excited it was absurd.

    A particular memory that stands out: one time, years into the crush, I was in the car with Crush, Crush’s brother (my friend), and one more mutual friend (Crush was driving), and the mutual friend asked if I’d finished dubbing some tapes that I’d promised to make for both him and Crush recently. I said that I’d just finished dubbing Crush’s copies but would get Friend’s soon, and Friend responded with a very loud and sarcastic, “Oh, of COURSE we all know why you finished HIS first,” and then suddenly realized what he’d said and clapped his hands over his mouth. The car went dead silent for about a full five seconds, and then Crush reached over and discreetly turned on the radio. Funny how that seemed like the most embarrassing thing POSSIBLE at the time.

    He knew pretty much the entire time how I felt, and I knew he knew, but there were also obviously no mutual romantic feelings and so there seemed to be no point in us discussing or acknowledging it. He was never anything but kind, and even became a friend to me himself (as opposed to just “friendly brother of a friend”) near the end of high school.

    I still remember the exact moment when I got over Crush, though. I ended up going to the same college as him (although not at all BECAUSE of him, despite what my teasing friends said), and one day he came to my dorm room to visit. My randomly assigned roommate started flirting with him by actually talking in baby talk, referring to herself in the third person and everything: “Woommate doesn’t know how to pway pool; Will Cwush help teach poow Woommate?” and he responded enthusiastically. It was just so far away from anything I personally found sexy or attractive in any way that my six year crush was OVER, just like that. In retrospect I’m not even sure he was actually flirting back or just being polite to her like he was to everyone, but it’s still a good thing that the crush ended, since it wasn’t doing anyone any good.

    • It’s so strange how something that’s lasted YEARS can be over because of a tiny thing like that. I’ve experienced that too and it’s such a relief but also quite odd.

  121. (A) Best thread ever. I adore the Awkward Army.
    (B) I know a lot of these stories take place when people are young, but I am here from deep into alleged “adulthood” to tell everyone that crushes that make you feel dumb and messed up are still possible way out here in your 40s. At least they are for me. The good news is that now, unlike when I was younger, I have the tools to control how I act, if not how I feel, and eventually the crush turns into something else (sex or friends or nodding acquaintance or me saying “who, again?” when he calls and actually meaning it) and no one has to endure making or receiving a “Sex Coupon”* complete with glitter any more. ::hangs head in shame::

    (*Confidential to T from college: yes, I know the Sex Coupon said “no expiration” on it, but it has SO EXPIRED. Really. Sue me.)

  122. I started a new job in university and one of my coworkers was hot. We shared an office and he was funny, smart, well-dressed and single! He was also a bit older and had his life together. Reader, I crushed. I spent the next two and a half years happily having a little office fantasy, no big deal, just made work more pleasant. At the start, I had a boyfriend, but over time that fell apart. I tried to talk myself out of getting my hopes up that it would turn into anything, like, “Hot Office Guy wouldn’t date you, he’s too gentlemanly to date a coworker! Also, you’re too young. And not awesome enough. Also: too young.” (I was trying to logic myself out of a crush, not tear down my self-esteem or anything). I always secretly hoped that when my contract was up he would ask me out. Hot Office Guy and I got along really well, had common interests, made each other laugh, were friends etc. which made difficult my self-convincing tactics.

    Fast forward to when my contract was, actually, up. I had accepted that nothing was going to happen with me and Coworker but hadn’t let go of the crush. About two weeks after I left, I got a message from him, wanting to meet up for coffee. We had never done non-work-related things outside of work. Can you see where this is going? “This,” I told myself firmly, “is not a date. He probably just wants to catch up.” So we go for coffee. We spend five (!) hours talking. It is now dinnertime, so we find a restaurant and eat. It was a delightful evening. At the end of dinner he hoards the bill and asks if this can be a date. To my surprise, instead of being delighted that my fantasy scenario was playing out, I inwardly FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. I declined the offer of a date, he walked me to public transit, I went home and freaked out, in the uncontrollable shaking, panicky, can’t sleep for two days kind of way. Apparently I had been very successful in convincing myself that this wasn’t going to happen after all? I spent a confusing and overwhelming couple days trying to decide if I was going to recant my rejection (smooth, I know), and jump at the opportunity to finally date Coworker. He messaged me apologizing for making it awkward, I messaged back also apologizing for making it awkward, stuck with my decision to not date him (I had recently started reading the Captain, so FEELINGSMAIL was avoided!) and then suggested that we see a movie together as friends in two weeks BECAUSE THAT WOULDN’T BE AWKWARD AT ALL (spoiler: it was). Anyway, we didn’t see each other for several months after that and our friendship has recovered in the catch-up-every-six-months kind of way.

    Am I the only one who gets supremely weirded out when people start showing interest? Like, I usually have some sort of freak out followed up with agonizing over what I’m going to doooo, even if I have feelings too?

    Also, just wondering if there might be a correlation to being a late-blooming or minimal crusher and being an introvert? I fall into both categories and some other commenters seem to also?

    • Oh, man. I was a PRO at using convoluted crazy mental logic to convince myself that none of my crushes were ever mutual, so on the rare occasions that they WERE, I totally lost my mind and couldn’t handle it. So I feel your pain there.

      As for your wondering about introversion and late-bloomers/minimal crushers, I can’t say I fit into the category. I’m deeeeeeefinitely an introvert, but also deeeeeeeefinitely a serial crusher who started way early with the crushy behavior. So if there does turn out to be a correlation there, I’m your statistical outlier!

    • I would have been delighted and started dating him… but I am not you. I guess you wanted to keep it a fantasy?

    • I am a non-crusher, as far as my exp. goes anyway and as far as I know, I am an introvert, just like my Mathematician Mum. I get tired of talking, even if I like the person I talk to. I don’t know if there is a general connection, though.

  123. This has been a lovely thread to read! I have two sagas, both with women because somehow my crushes with men things have generally gone in a shagging direction rather than a Firthing one.

    First saga! So I (female) did the typical queer woman thing of having a huuuuge crush on your school BFF, staying up all night talking on the phone, writing each other lengthy FEELINGSNOTES/EMAILS about school, family, books, life ambitions, etc – we understood each other in a way that neither of us had experienced before and it was just the best. When I first met her (at 15 years old) I was so oblivious to the idea that I could have pantsfeelings for a woman that I even joked about how it was a good thing she wasn’t a dude because then I’d want to date her and HA HA that would just be TERRIBLE, because we were so perfectly matched it would just be TOO AWESOME to exist and this way we can be soul mates forever. Oh my <.>

    And then as got a bit older and realised I had at least mild pantsfeelings. But I decided that I probably only felt that way about her because our emotional connection was sooo intense and one-of-a-kind soulmatey, not because I was actually into women, nooo. But I had a very lovely boyfriend at the time so I just stfu, avoided thinking about it, and carefully avoided ever touching her in even the most casual ways (and thus, my awkwardness about touching friends was born – it did not exist before this). But our friendship continued and was one of the most rewarding things in both our lives I think.

    Then when we were 21 something weird happened. She went through some kind of mental health breakdown around exams and/or a breakup and refused to tell me anything about it, or anything about her life at all, insisting that all conversations should be about my life only and if at all possible dedicated to friendly-mocking me in hurtful but supposedly friendly ways. Which I got indignant about and tried to push her into being more open with me, which led to an endless progression of arguments over a few weeks eventually spiralling down to like the effect of the ultimately unknowable nature of reality on our friendship, which led, in a desperate attempt on my part to reconnect with her on a substantial emotional level and also to counter a statement from her that she was unloveable, to my saying ‘okay, here’s a secret I’ve never told anyone ever and intended to take to my deathbed… I used to have a crush on you’.

    After the weeks/months of yuckiness that past tense was almost entirely accurate. But if she’d responded with a melty heart mine would have melted too. Predictably enough, this did not happen. My confession stressed her out but good and proper, and after a couple of hours of intense conversation about what exactly I meant by it (yay, connection!!!!) our pretty much dead friendship remained pretty much dead. A few more unpleasant incidents later (up to and including her telling me she wished she’d never met me and that she could push me off a cliff) we stopped speaking.

    A few years after that when I guess she was doing a lot better mental health wise, we got back into cautiously low key friendly contact and now speak maybe once or twice a year. I still don’t know wtf was going on there but at this point I have no intention of finding out.

    Second saga! I met this woman at work drinks – we didn’t work together but were in the same building. She caught my eye the second I saw her, I sat down next to her and we ignored everyone else all evening in intoxicating chatter about how Dawkins can be a prat and unreasonable beauty standards and all sorts. I fell instantly head over heels in a way I had never experienced before, spent all night dreaming about how amazing she was, and the next morning sought her out and acted like a true awkwardeer in trying to compliment her but getting flustered, trying to arrange social plans but getting flustered, etc. Just her face or voice melted me into an absolute puddle.

    We started bantering by email during the day and went for drinks a couple of times, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. The more I talked to her the more my conviction that she was the most incredible, stunningly intelligent and, er, stunningly stunning person on this Earth grew, and to my delight I felt a definite mutual chemistry. Except for one snag. I tried to work out whether she was at all queer and just COULD NOT for the life of me. I gave her every possible opening to come out either way and she returned with an extremely pointed, awkward silence, and avoidance of pronouns. This dragged on for A Long Time, mostly due to other things I had going on in my life. I fretted, since this fishing was a rather blatant flirtation tactic on my side and I wasn’t sure how to interpret her non-response.

    Eventually the other things in my life resolved themselves and I felt renewed energy on other fronts. I decided that this was clearly an unhelpful angle of enquiry. She probably is some flavour of not-entirely-straight, I thought to myself, because I’ve never known a totally straight person be so evasive about their sexuality. Perhaps she’s closeted, or uncertain, or straight identified but finding herself curious about my attentions? I DON’T KNOW and clearly what I need to do is USE MY WORDS and see whether she is into ME personally not my gender as a hypothetical. Right?! Right! I’m going to be a grown up about this and not assume anything, just ask about the only bit that is my business, i.e. Will You Go Out With Me. My friends were all like woo yeah you go!!

    So I plucked up the courage and asked her out On A Date. And she looks right into my eyes in a way that absolutely melts me, kisses me on the cheek (which, likewise), and says ‘I’m so sorry, you’re so lovely, but… I just started seeing someone’. Deep Meaningful Look, and then goodbye hugs. She sent me a message on facebook that evening reiterating the ‘I’d love to, you’re lovely, but alas’.

    OH THE DISASTER! If only I had not Firthed longingly! If only I had asked her out the day I met her instead of taking so damn long to try to figure out her sexuality when that was so irrelevant! Much crying into my pillow! This is the first time I’ve had any kind of Feelings beyond pantsfeelings for anyone in five years and then I mess it up like a colossal idiot! But also a tiny, warming glow of ‘someone incredible likes me back!! it’s just shitty timing, and you never know what might happen in the future’. But despite that consolation it all hurt quite a lot so I withdrew from all the chatting – we still talked occasionally but not as much, and despite intense curiosity I avoided asking about her relationship and whatnot, figuring she knows I’m interested if she’s ever in a position to take me up on it.

    BUT THEN! Six months later, someone in the office dropped a reference to My Crush going on first dates with a bunch of people. MIND BLOWN. Why did I withdraw from her, why? Maybe if I was still in contact she would have mentioned being single again in just a natural way and then …!!! Since she is clearly some flavour of not confidently queer, maybe the situation needed me to take a more active role before anything could happen! I have fucked it up soo bad! The angst, but also the hope! So I plonked myself by her at the next pub whatsit and started chatting.

    …And then her boyfriend walked in and they smooched. I watched for what felt like a million years and then escaped to cry allll the way home and then some. Because clearly I am the worstest and will never find anyone as awesome as her to love me because 1) there is no second such person in the entire universe, for srs, and 2) I am just so DAMN INCOMPETENT that I let the probable LOVE OF MY LIFE slip right through my hands. For the second time, no less! The failure!

    It gets worse, in a way that is probably obvious from this writeup but was far from obvious to me at the time. About six months after that, she’d moved away from the job/city and in her absence I was feeling slightly more zen about the whole thing, and I ended up spilling my heart out to a mutual friend. Who ummed and ahhed and told me that er, she’s definitely 100% straight identified, and definitely was 100% single at the time of turning me down in favour of a made up pronoun free partner. So… pants. On the bright side, I could stop pining after The One That Got Away and blaming myself for all the fails, but on the less good side, thinking it was a mere timing error was kind of comforting, and my year of pining looked super ultra pointless if she was never into me at all.

    In retrospect, I think quite a lot less of her for the white lie, especially reiterated in writing. I know it’s natural and understandable to say that kind of thing when you’re put on the spot, but it really did string me along for a good long time, and at thirtyish years old she should probably have better ways of turning people down. But what can you do.

    For what it’s worth, after that I ended up having a fling with a delightful woman whose clear, unpressuring communication was like a breath of fresh air after all the hints and surmises and almosts of The Crush, and that basically sorted me out.

    • Haha, er, that was meant to be ‘oh my >.<’. And my apologies for the caps-filled rambling sentences, yikes!

    • First story: MY LIFE. I have finally gotten to the point where I can think of it without imploding with shame but oh my god. Just imagine that, after her breakdown and the continuing decline of our friendship, you insert FLYING TO [OTHER COUNTRY] TO HAVE A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN ABOUT YOUR LIFE AND ALSO CONFESS YOUR LOVE FOR HER. Seriously. What. In. The. Fuck. How. Did. I. Ever.

  124. first post here and I’m n’thing the love for this post and the Awkward Army and what a great idea.
    I’m also here to confirm that this behaviour (once started as a teen) can go on well into gray hair and supposed adulthood. I believe my personal journey as a serial crusher started when I was 14, although really that was a classic case of “first time I ever found a boy cute” and he basically wanted to get together with a good friend of mine from day 1 and I didn’t accept reality and when they ended up dating my world ended for 2 weeks although I never told him how I felt and did my best to make them both feel bad about dating so… for some reason this meant I would never find someone to love me.
    Second big crush was with a guy I barely knew although we went to school together and had since 7th grade. In 11th grade he showed INTEREST (conversation + hand holding) and it took me a while to a) notice and b) decide what I wanted because I never believed he would really like me and when I did decide I liked him, I of course never told him, because … hm. But he was clearly meant for me!!
    4 months of looooooooooong conversations (mostly about how he could never feel love for anyone) – okay let’s call them “conversations” as the dialogue part never really happened – and he backed off, probably getting my extremely weird puppy love vibe paired with “please make me worthy”. 2 months of radio silence (although I’m sure I threw him 1000 resentful looks and dressed all in black- oh, the drama), and he decides to pick up right at the beginning: looooooooong psychoanalysis of his inability to love anyone. This continued throughout the entire second half of the school year.
    Thankfully my parents moved that fall and me with them and we talked onyl once after that, when I came back to visit my best friend (still today) a few months later and told him “I was kind of in love with you back then” and he awkwardly shrugged and said, “yeah I thought so but I wanted to be just friends and so I didn’t want to think about it”. Which I guess is understandable. A few weeks later he started dating a girl, confirming that he could love someone, it just wasn’t me.
    If the story ended there, I wouldn’t be coming out of lurk-hood: oh no. You see, at our 10 year class reunion, I was kind of admitting I was looking forward to seeing him and when I did: RED FACE, WHITE FACE, RED FACE, WHITE FACE (all me, alternating). Articulation non-existent. It was just like 11th grade again and this upset me so much I wrote him a very long FEELINGSMAIL that was a re-hash of what he already knew and he was kind enough to answer – with the same basic sentiment: knew that, couldn’t reciprocate, sorry?
    At the time, it felt like I had done something super brave and cathartic and only a few years later, around the time I discovered blogs like these and learned about Nice Girls and Nice Guys I felt like the world’s biggest cringe wouldn’t be enough. I had such a d’uh moment, like what did I expect him to say or do? And how pathetic was it that 10 YEARS LATER, I was still nursing this monumental hurt over an unrequited crush. Unbelievable.
    Anyway, 5 years later, at another class reunion, he avoided me from start to finish and I was deliberating just apologizing to him for the whole thing but then thought: ENOUGH ALREADY. Leave the poor guy alone. My best friend, who was fantastic along the whole journey, and was super-supportive as well as encouraging me to let it go for my own good, was finally like: you’re not going to fix anything now.
    And so we remain. Which I still kind of feel is a shame because I hear he’s a cool guy (who still talks a lot about himself *grin*).
    It’s weird because a lot of what was written above about the “Canyon of Unavailability” really applies to me too. Both of my recent crushes were non-starters: one was a direct report of mine (which is just a no go) and the other has a girlfriend and is almost 10 years younger, so not really an option, but either way I start the whole crush convinced that it will come to nothing but it’s so rare for me to find any guy attractive that I fall for my own bullshit every time.

  125. I’m a longtime lurker, but hadn’t posted yet. What better time than on a thread about awkward crushes?

    In high school, while being an awkward lonely nerd, I had a crush on another awkward lonely nerd. It never turned into anything (I never used my words) and our combined awkwardness was a bit too much to take for both of us anyway.

    I used to walk to school and he would take a bus that went through my neighbourhood. At some point, he started taking the bus at the next stop so that he could walk me home- we would chat and laugh and stuff. We weren’t even friends or anything outside our daily walk home, in fact, that was pretty much our only interaction, but I really looked forward to it every day.

    One day, the conversation was apparently so interesting that it went on for a while even after we reached the building where I lived. We remained there under a tree in front of the building, chatting some more, when all of a sudden the conversation stopped and turned into INTENSE SOULFUL GAZING into each other’s eyes (more like awkward staring.) Then we both took a step forward (it was like a bizzarely choreographed dance of awkwardness). Then we both took one more step and we moved in close enough that the tip of our noses were touching and I could feel his breath. Then we stopped like this…

    For what seemed like a long time (and surely was a good few minutes). Neither of us said anything or had the guts to move in for an actual kiss. I felt paralyzed with a combination of joy and terror.

    Eventually, it was obvious that we were a couple of idiots and the whole thing was too strange, so we stepped back from each other again, and he blurted “WellthenIshouldgohomenowseeyoutomorrowIguess!” and dashed off, while I stood there for a while wondering what the fuck had just happened.

    Shortly after he stopped walking me home.

  126. The scene of my worst and last Angsty Crush experience was in high school. I was totally in love with my best friend. We had many Nothing Happening Here moments as we tried to not expose our crushes to each other. We would snuggle in his BED! (his bed!!!!) watching movies, and basically make up any excuse to be with each other all the time. The main issue was that I was too shy to lay down any signs that I liked him, he was too scared by his feelings to do anything about it, and we just went round and round with each other on the metaphorical Carousel of Plausible Deniability.

    I ended up transferring schools. Although we hung out pretty much every day, and still doing the carousel thing, he tried to get over me by flirting with a Major Bitch from my old school. He would tell me about it sometimes (Which, yeah, is a dick move, but hey, we were 15), and I tried to hide my overwhelming hurt by making up stories about all the cool guys who liked me at my new school (totally not true, I was very much an outcast there). The major bitch’s friends were involved in an after-school activity with me, and made my life there a living hell, as they were aware of our obvious love for each other. They’d follow me around saying stuff like, “Why would he like your ugly ass when he can have Major Bitch? You should leave him alone because he’d never want to be with someone like you.” (I should also mention that while deep down his personality is awkward geek style, he’s incredibly good at hiding it and was therefore one of the kids in school who was popular with every clique.) You know, lovely high school stuff. I thought he was totally in love with HER, so I didn’t ever tell him about that particular breed of Mean Girl activity until much later.

    Fortunately for both of us, he figured out after a long while of this craziness that what we were doing was rather stupid and asked me out. (I will freely admit that he was and is much more emotionally mature than me.) We dated the remainder of high school, college, got married, had a kid, and are still insanely happy with each other. Now Major Bitch and Co. are an ongoing joke in our family. It’s what I consider the ultimate in mean girl revenge. Also, I am not emotionally mature enough yet to deny that I love getting revenge. :)

  127. I saw a few people adding stories of Crush Made Good, so I thought I’d throw one in.

    My current BF was a crush monster for years and years. We worked together, and I guess every time my back was turned he would just FIRTH at me, and his friends endured years of hearing about this beautiful amazing girl at work. I had no idea, because he (very carefully) only talked to me about work-related things, and not even, like, sociable chatty work-related things, but just the barest bones “so-and-so is out sick today so we will need to move the widget to the whatsit” and then he’d run away and I’d be like, man, that guy is such a square.

    EVERYBODY at work knew he had it for me, and saw him firthing to death, so the day I casually mentioned to a coworker, “You know what, BF is kind of cute,” they immediately went running to let him know. And that gave him the confidence to USE HIS WORDS and ask me on a date, which surprised me tremendously because I had always thought he didn’t like me much (’cause he never talked to me!), but I said sure why not, and it went AMAZINGLY well, and then there was a second date, whereupon he finally burst and told me about the massive crush he’d been nursing for years and years, to the point where whenever he took his mom out for mother’s day she’d start in with, “And when are you going to ask that girl at work out? I am sick of hearing about her.” He told me all this in such a gleeful way, like he was a little boy who finally got an ice cream cone, he was just barely restraining himself from jumping up and down because “oh my god I’m on a date with pfcmarie you don’t even KNOW,” so it came off as super adorable instead of inappropriately intense.

    The first time I met his mom, she asked politely, “And how did you two meet?” and he said, “Well, mom, I think I told you about her once or twice,” and she was like “OH MY GOD IT’S YOU FINALLY I kept telling him to get on that.”

    • That is incredibly cute! I’m glad it didn’t go weird when he told you about the crush :)

    • Haha aw, that is cute! Though I can’t help but thinking “wow I hope Guy I Work With Who Never Talks To Me In Person But Really Awkwardly (and kind of annoyingly) Chats With Me On Company Intant Messenger never reads these boards.”

  128. Through most of my teens I’d have a bunch of crushes at the same time. All of them would be super secret and I’d daydream about how we’d accidentaly meet and hit it off but never actually talk to them or talk about them or anything more than maybe look at them once in a while from across the classroom. So all in all pretty harmless and nothing serious.

    My first more serious crush was an American I met while on vacation in Asia. He was ten years my senior and I was 16. We started emailing after the vacation and we’d flirt and he would be wildly inappropriate I just didn’t see it that was cos I was only 16 and I got showered with compliments as well. In a way he was just what I needed at 16: someone who told me I was awesome and gorgeous but an ocean away so no risk for being pressured into something I would later regret. At 16 I was not ready for anything physical beyond friendly hugs.

    The guy in question, the guy in his mid-twenties who’d hit on teens? I heard from a mutual acquaintance that he was doing time for statutory rape. Not really surprised there to be honest.

  129. I developed a crush on a girl in eighth grade. I didn’t realize it was a crush, because my knowledge about queer sexuality was not so much and it didn’t occur to me that girls could have crushes on other girls; I just thought she was incredibly cool and wanted to hang out with her all the time. At the time I was going through an occult kick and was into the concept of past lives, so I developed a theory that we’d been together in a past life.

    What did I do? The only logical thing I could do when I was terminally shy while crushing: I wrote a letter. I don’t remember what was in it, except for my past life theory. There was probably some stuff about thinking she was cool and had good taste in books and movies, and how I was sure she wasn’t going to return my TOTALLY PLATONIC NOT AT ALL ROMANTIC HA HA affection.

    I spent an evening writing and rewriting it to make it pretty. I burned through a lot of Anne of Green Gables stationery that night (and missed the incredible irony of writing a letter to my crush on stationery dedicated to my first-ever OTP). I sealed it in my last Anne of Green Gables envelope, wrote her name on it with embossing powder (anyone remember that stuff? I used to melt it over a light bulb, it was great), and took it to school with me with every intention of giving it to her.

    I never ended up giving her the letter; I kept it in my desk and spent a few months going back and forth between “this is stupid” and “must share my feels”. When we cleaned out our desks before graduation, I found the letter at the bottom of my desk, realized it was my last chance to give it to her, went back and forth for a few minutes, and finally decided on “this is stupid” and threw it away unopened and unread. So somewhere in a Chicago landfill is my bizarre eighth grade femslashy feels through a filter of occult weirdness.

    (And then ten years later after coming out I remembered this incident and went HOLY CRAP SO THAT’S WHAT THAT WAS I FEEL BETTER NOW.)

  130. I would apologize for the length, but this topic lends itself to length…

    Anyway, in my college sophomore spring semester, one of my classes did group projects in which people were grouped alphabetically. The prof handed out the list of groups and members and told us to get into our groups. I was talking to the group members I already knew when suddenly, ****He**** stepped up. A complete stranger, tall, handsome, square jaw, steely blue eyes, *and* a uniform (ROTC)…I looked at his uniform name tag, looked at the list of people in our group, gazed straight into his eyes, smiled ever-so-slightly, and said throatily, “You must be X.” He looked back at me and said something like, “Yes,” or “I am,” or maybe “Why are you staring at me?” or “Do you need to clear your throat?” I dunno, I don’t even remember because I was lost in his eyes. Clearly, we had A Connection.

    I had a serious boyfriend, though, so I wasn’t going to act on this crush, even if we had A Connection. I had enough self-awareness at that point to know that it was just a crush. When I had previously had crushes in high school, the way I got over them was generally when, upon talking to the guy, he said something stupid or offensive or otherwise demonstrated that he was not my Soul Mate. So I decided that the best way to cure the crush would be to get to know X.

    Thing is, this cure works if you actually listen to what the person says. If, instead, your internal editor overwrites everything that comes out of someone’s mouth (or hands in the case of (e)mail) with what your Soul Mate would have said, it doesn’t work so well. X and I had a class together every weekday, so on 3-4 days out of seven, we walked together after class for 5-10 minutes, chatting. Every conversation only further demonstrated to me that X and I had that Connection I had been so sure of from our very first meeting.

    I wasn’t going to cheat on my boyfriend, though, so I decided that clearly, X and I would just be Unacknowledged Soul Mates forever. I would be happy with BF, and X would be happy with his GF [about whose existence I didn't know at this time], and there wouldn’t be any angst. But there would always be that knowledge, lurking in the backs of our minds, that if just a few things had gone differently, we would be Acknowledged Soul Mates. It wouldn’t put a shadow on our separate happinesses, mind you – I wasn’t planning to pine over him forever. It would just be super romantic, the kind of thing that twenty-years-wiser you occasionally stares off into the distance and smiles about while violins and harps gently narrate the falling rain.

    Things went on like this for the next couple of years. We were in the same relatively small major, so we still saw each other pretty frequently, although we didn’t have classes together after that spring. Then, he graduated, and I started my own last year. We struck up an email correspondence. It made me ever so happy. At this time, my relationship with BF was falling apart, and I still knew in the back of my mind that X and I were Unacknowledged Soul Mates forever. So of course I was way too clingy/demanding/entitled and sent too many excessively long, personal emails. (I cringe thinking about the things I revealed to X. I’m so glad he’s a perfect gentleman.)

    Finally, I broke up with BF. I told X about it in yet another too-long email, and he sent a kind and caring reply in which he revealed that he, too, had recently broken up with a long-term partner. The violins and harps swelled to a dramatic crescendo as I read about it. Obviously, we both needed to heal…but what could be better than healing in the arms of your True, Acknowledged Soul Mate?

    Let us draw a veil over the next six months, for the sake of the author, who is still wholly embarrassed about her behavior.

    The part I hated even at the time was that the limerance hit me hard. When I was in X’s presence, I became a shy, wilting violet, who was frozen with anticipation, anxiety, and pantsfeelings. It was painful and awful to be so shy and so unlike myself. (You would think this would be a clue that X was not my Soul Mate. But no. I was utterly clueproof.)

    X was always very kind, didn’t take advantage of me (when he definitely could have), and let me down as gently as possible in response to my inevitable FEELINGSMAIL. I licked my wounds for a while, continued to send creepy/entitled/stalk-y emails that were trying far too hard to show that I totally didn’t care about my bright fancies having fallen into ceaseless ruin, and then finally graduated college, started work, and decided to actually take some space from X instead of just repeatedly vowing that I would. I did still send X the occasional email or facebook message just to “catch up” (i.e., casually mention that I was being pursued by multiple handsome, attractive men), but even I could get the message from his rare responses and nonexistent initiation of communication, and the intervals between messages grew greater. I am now finally over the phase of continuing to contact/FB-stalk X. (I’m not on FB anymore, which helped.)

    But here’s the hell of it. A small part of my brain is STILL convinced that X is my Forever Unacknowledged Soul Mate. Now that I’ve accepted I was being creepy and inappropriate, that part of my brain pipes up and says, “You know, I bet we could find his contact information and send him a nice long FEELINGSAPOLOGY. And then…who knows?” I remind that part of my brain that (1) the best apology is to never contact him again and (2) there will never be a “who knows”. So the brain shuts up. But then, it muses, “You know…you and X went to the same university, and that university has a long tradition of traditions and family and whatnot. Is it such a stretch of imagination that your children [I am married with one son. I have no clue if X is married or has children. My brain makes up all the details for me] might also go to that same university? What if they were roommates, bringing you and X together again? Oh! Or what if you have another child, and it’s a daughter who looks like you, and he has a son who looks like him, and…It would be SO romantic!” NO, BRAIN. NO, IT WOULD NOT.

    Anyone have any tips on getting the part of your brain that read too much Anne of Green Gables as a kid to permanently STFU?

    • I don’t have advice, but I do have a very sad tale of what happens when Soulmate Crushes go on too long. My aunt went to Big State University X. For context, she graduated in 1967. While there, she dated A Boy, whom I’ll call Ab for short. They were very serious, and Ab asked her to marry him shortly before graduation. Aunty declined for reasons unknown, and moved back to her home state, far, far away.

      Ab went on to marry a local girl and have 2.4 kids. (But not before calling Aunty on his wedding night just make absolutely positively sure she didn’t change her mind.) Aunty never married because of her own mental health issues, and died rather suddenly in her mid 50′s.

      My mother, btw, is Aunty’s twin sister. Completely identical twin sisters. In the 90′s my father was transferred to the same state that Ab lived in, the same state as Big State University X. Shortly after my aunt’s death, Ab found my mother. How, I don’t know as this was waaaay before Facebook. Not before AOL, but still. Teenage me is thinking maaaaaybee this guy is a stalker.

      My mother was seriously into grieving her sister, and they became pen pals. There was nothing romantic about it–all of their long, angsty letters to each other were about their mutual love of Aunty–but he begged my mother to only write him at his office, never call his house; he wouldn’t be able to explain it to his wife. Ab’s son was the same age as me and we were both attending Big University X. He would write my mother these long daydreams about how Son and I would meet, fall in love, marry, and finally fix the wrong that happened when Aunty turned him down. You know, when he wasn’t writing about his actual obsession over actual Aunty.

      It. Was. Creepy. The man had been having an emotional affair with a ghost for 30 years, and here’s a mirror image of his life’s desire, living just down the road from him! Someone who will talk forever and ever endlessly about his love for this ghost he hadn’t seen since NINETEEN SIXTY SEVEN.

      My mother finally (and I’m talking a decade later here) wised up that maybe this little pen pal relationship wasn’t all that healthy and did the slow fade. But, wow, it was really painful seeing how long festering crushes can turn into something so dramatic. And also, maybe a clue as to what Aunty’s reasons were for turning down that proposal.

      • That is creepy as all get-out. Your aunt definitely made the right call.

        It’s also kinda sad for the guy. How much happiness did he miss in his life because he kept feeding his Painosaurolophus?

        • I mostly felt sad for the wife and kids. Who wants to be married to a guy who’s in love with someone else? There would never be any pleasing a guy like that.

    • Okay, this:

      “Thing is, this cure works if you actually listen to what the person says.”

      And this:

      “It would just be super romantic, the kind of thing that twenty-years-wiser you occasionally stares off into the distance and smiles about while violins and harps gently narrate the falling rain.”

      And this:

      “It was painful and awful to be so shy and so unlike myself.”

      ALL THESE THINGS. SO ME. I mean, in retrospect, I can look back at all the things crushes said that were like “ewwwww” or “um not so much” but IN BETWEEN all those lukewarm or straight-out gross things were beautiful insights that completed me! And OF COURSE we’ll never do anything about it but isn’t it even MORE romantic that we’ll never do anything about it, let me look out the window and think of that a while, perhaps while sighing, perhaps while sighing theatrically.

      One of the last times I hung out with my crush, I was bored stiff by him. There was just no *there* there. I didn’t feel like myself at all, just kept waiting to relax into our perfect mindmeld sync that we obviously had, and when I didn’t, decided I must be too tense or awkward or emotionally unavailable. Instead of realizing, you know, if I don’t feel good around him, he doesn’t make me feel good. That’s not my fault, that’s just my reality.

      Do I know how to get over the weird crush? I do not. I have exclusively chosen for major crushes guys who are not-so-secretly huge JERKS, and eventually the jerkiness becomes too large to ignore and that ends the weird crush for me. Or, I should say, it totally DOES NOT end the weird crush for me, but it ends any desire or ability to spend time with the real person. The version of them that lives in my brain, the one I snuggled up against so often, the mind-crush that understood me so well, I still find myself returning to them and thinking of them. If I didn’t have a real significant barrier between me and that other person (a jerkitude too far), I’d still be superimposing the mind-crush on the real person, pretending they’re one and the same.

      So I don’t get over it. I’m trying a new thing instead! 1) I let myself have dreamy thoughts about them when that feels good, and I don’t feel bad for it, because this is no different than thinking about what I’ll do when I win the lottery. 2) I distract myself with something else when dreamy thoughts feels bad (like anxious or sad), and I don’t try to question or stop the bad feeling, it just is and it’s valid and I respect it, the end. 3) I’m trying to recognize that the mind-crush has valuable information hidden in it. Mainly, this is the idealized version of somebody who makes me happy, so that tells me something about the kind of qualities I want in my life/a partner. So when I have the dreamy thoughts that feel good, I try to boil down what’s feeling good here, and why, and the same with the anxious-making thoughts. My last crush made me realize I am needing more flighty flaky theatrical art stuff in my life, which is not something my current partner brings to the table, but it is something I can provide myself. He also made me realize the things I really appreciate about my current partner that jerky crush-man didn’t have (mainly responsibility, conscientiousness, humility, and grown-uppedness). My mind-crush version of dude had both, but real crush dude was just a manic pixie dream dude, and a real pain in the ass who made me count down the minutes till I could return to my empathetic nice responsible boyfriend.

      So, maybe there is no “getting over it”? Maybe it’s just taking the object of your feelings and removing it from the outside and bringing it back in. I mean, you already know the REAL dude isn’t for you, so this isn’t even about him. It’s about your heart and how it wants HARD and feels BIG and looks for what MATTERS to you, and fills your mind with things that make you feel good, and those are all good things?

      • Thank you ,Quanonymous and pfcmarie, for what you’ve written. It’s all helpful for me (and amusingly told /well-written). I may adopt the last paragraph of your post as a mantra, pfcmarie.

  131. My (ongoing) crush problem:

    So, lately I’ve been having this terrible fantasy……Essentially, at some point I need to return a book lent to me by The Boy. Since he lives in New Mexico and I live in Michigan, this will require mailing the book to him. In the package with the book I include a letter (hand-written, of course) where I confess all my True Feelings about me and him and “our relationship.” I do this in a totally non-obsessive way that manages to be witty, honest, charming and totally heart-wrenching. I’ll end the letter in some totally nonchalant fashion (or, you know, as nonchalantly as is possible after a giant, steaming FEELINGSDUMP) and be all “Give me a call sometime.” He’ll call me immediately, totally smitten, and confess that he feels the exact same way (even though he’s the least emotional man on the planet but it’s my fantasy, k?). We’ll somehow work out our relationship despite the fact that we now live on opposite sides of the country and get married and have two kids and a dog and live happily ever after. And this is all possible because we totally dated for six months and were really close friends before that so he probably still has feelings for me, right? Even though he’s kind of still in love with his best friend? And we live on opposite sides of the country? RIGHT???

    So that’s my FEELINGSMAIL fantasy.
    Ugh.

  132. I’m a recidivist, but getting better. It does not help that I am shy and not adept at flirting.

    One year during high school, I gave valentines to the entire orchestra I was in, so that I could put my phone number on one of them.

    For about 4 years, I had a crush on a dear friend. A mutual friend talked me out of spilling my guts to him, for which I am very grateful, because he does not fancy women and I am one. (Years later, I made an analogous mistake, asking out a co-worker on what I thought was a date, but what he thought was just two simpatico nerds going to see a set of Harold Lloyd films, which resulted in the awkward but necessary “I’m flattered, but I like men” conversation. The films were still fun, but had I known at the beginning of the night what I knew at the end, I would have been paying better attention rather than angsting about whether I should try to hold his hand.)

    And one requited crush story: Current Partner and I have known each other for 26 years, since elementary school, and were told all.the.time that we ought to date, but didn’t have romantic feelings for each other– just good friends. At some point about 8 years ago, I was working second shift and coming home too alert to sleep. CP, with whom I’d stayed in contact, lived a couple time zones to my west and a night owl, so I started calling him after work. Eventually I noticed we were talking every night, for hours, and that I looked forward to that phone call a lot. I did not try to be subtle. When we saw each other next I said, “My feelings for you have become somewhat less Platonic and somewhat more Aristotelian.” And then we made out.

    • When we saw each other next I said, “My feelings for you have become somewhat less Platonic and somewhat more Aristotelian.” And then we made out.

      That is awesome, and I must remember it for future use. Much better than the “Do you like me? Check YES or NO” approach to these things.

    • When we saw each other next I said, “My feelings for you have become somewhat less Platonic and somewhat more Aristotelian.” And then we made out.

      I have NEVER heard a more wonderful pickup line!

  133. For the entirety of my teen and pre-teen years, I had the worst case ever of Every Story Needs A Romance. (Ever!)
    Given my vast experience with teen fantasy novels and dumb movies, I was firmly convinced that every new experience while I was single came with an attractive man who would turn out to be OMG The One. So when I started high school, I promptly picked him out. Because if the movies teach us anything, it’s that a year of high school is just the backdrop for a perfect romance culminating in prom.
    The trouble was, I didn’t bother with details like actually meeting him before I decided it was eternal love for always. Added to which, I somehow had the idea that if I prefaced confessions of how much I adored him to everyone else (but never him, of course) with “don’t tell anyone, ok?” it was a magic cone of silence that would keep word from ever reaching him.
    And did I mention I’m obvious enough about everything I’m thinking that it kind of borders on a disorder?
    So, looking back, I spent a year and a half convinced I was in love with a man I never actually had a full conversation with, who knew it the entire time. We went to high school together for four years, had multiple classes together every year, were in three of the same extracurricular activities, and to this day I have never had a full conversation with him. And the irony is, if I hadn’t decided I was going to be in love with him and it was destiny, we probably would have been friends.
    So I learned the valuable lesson that a key ingredient in romance is knowing one another’s names and talking and stuff. Eventually, I even managed to learn that every life experience doesn’t automatically come with a soulmate, and frankly, life’s the better for it.

  134. I want to tell you all about being on the receiving end of an awkward crush. JUST THIS WEEK! I went on a first date with a fellow I met recently. It was a lovely evening and he was chatty, cute and funny (YAY!). At the end of the night we were getting ready to go to our respective homes and the ‘will we kiss’ shy eyes were happening. I said “hey are we gonna kiss?” and he giggled, then kissed me and then stopped and buried his head into my hair/neck and started crying! I had no idea what had just gone wrong – I thought maybe either a recent heartbreak or I was a terrible kisser. He regained composure and said that no, it’s because it was the first time kissing awesome me and he was just really nervous because he really liked me. So that was weird and I was trying not to laugh in shock at this strange situation (I’m only a person – just like him). Then he was very embarrassed that he had cried and excused himself and went home. He’s followed up and asked me if I want to go on a second date, but I’m not so sure. Everything seemed ok until the crying.

    Oh, I had so many awkward crushes in younger year that I made even worse by firthing and reading into EVERYTHING as a sign of our true love. The worst of these was a guy I worked with when I was in my late teens/early 20s. He was a total babe and incredibly intelligent. I had a boyfriend at the time that I wasn’t so much into, but had been with for a long time so couldn’t really see myself without him. Anyway, everyone knew I liked the guy at work because I couldn’t talk to him without my face going red, I would always ask about him etc. etc. He probably knew I liked him, but I was weird about it and didn’t know how to talk to him. I remember one time thinking I should ask him to lunch, but couldn’t think of where I would suggest we could eat so I just left it. That was the closest I ever came to using my words! One time he let me share his umbrella when it was raining and I was pretty sure this was it and we were going to end up together forever. Another time he let me stay at his place after a work night out so I didn’t have to go home. I was pretty sure this was the night we would kiss, but it wasn’t. I bought him an over the top gift and left on his desk (for everyone to see!) as thank you for letting me stay the night at his place. So awkward. It went on for about 2 years. It was excruciating, because I just didn’t know what to do with all of these feelings and kept tripping over myself to not make it obvious. The people at work thought it was hilarious to make me go and talk to him about work or get him to sit next to me in meetings, because I would get really shy and my face would go red. In the end I had just built it up to be so much more than it was and it was uncomfortable for me, him and everyone else. I eventually left the workplace and stopped seeing him around. Looking back, I actually think we could have been friends if I hadn’t been so hung up on this fantasy in my head. During that time I kept putting myself down with things like “he’d never be interested in your because you’re too fat/dumb/young etc.” A few years later I heard that he thought I was cool, but that I just acted really strangely/awkwardly around him. We’re Facebook friends now, and he’s totally politically conservative, so I’m so glad I’m over that crush.

    • Wow! That is really sad and weird for that guy :[ I definitely would have reservations about going out again with someone who had me on that kind of pedestal/revealed that he was that Incredibly Sensitive, because that sounds kind of suffocating and I don’t know that I’d want to get his hopes up. But if he is otherwise pretty great, I know I would want so badly to hope he isn’t as messed up as that one little (or, probably actually massive, glaring) warning sign suggests. Augh! Good luck with that D:

    • It’s possible to be SUPER INTO someone and convert that to a real relationship, even if lopsided emotional investment can make it pretty hard. (We see it in this thread!) And on the other hand, you don’t know what else was up with him that day, and the stated massive crush could’ve been a cover for some other upsetness. I don’t know the guy, and maybe there are other clues you’re adding up to be uncomfortable. Given just the crying, though, I’d give him that second date and a chance to be more chill, because it sounds like you had a great time until then.

  135. Oh lord.

    I spent all of my 20s in a relationship, so when I came out of it I was completely taken aback by limerance.

    “No answer is the answer” took. Years. To. Learn.

    Wow.

  136. First time commenter; I couldn’t resist.

    When I was in college, I did a summer internship in a third world country with 21 other college students, all of us from the US. Being the intense and close environment that it was, the organization had a strict no dating policy that we all observed to the letter of the law. And several of the group promptly started dating on the airplane ride to Los Angeles. However, not I. I was crushing hardcore on C. He was so cute with his glasses and he was a POET omg you guys. We actually used our words on the last day of the trip, acknowledging Feelings for each other, and then he decided that he wasn’t ready for a relationship. But it was my first requited Feelings (I was super sheltered growing up) and I was pretty much on cloud 9.

    Should have ended there, amirite? Hahahaha no.

    The Crush continued. And I interpreted his actions as relationship-worthy. He went to school in Florida but happened to be near my parents’ middle-of-nowhere home in California over Thanksgiving break that year, so he came to visit my whole family and gave me swing dance lessons in the front entryway. He came to visit me at my school in Chicago in February or March of the next year, and I took it upon myself to give him a super great time. We went to Navy Pier. We saw Blue Man Group. We hung out with all my friends in my favorite places. I flirted till I could flirt no more.

    You know what that got me? Well…it actually got me my darling husband. He was one of my group of friends and had been nursing a crush on me for a month or so prior to C’s visit. But when C showed up and I did everything in my power to woo him, my now-husband took notice and said to himself, “Self, you’re gonna lose her if you don’t man up and say something.” So he said something very romantic, I said ok, and here we are 9 years later with baby #2 due in March.

    I heartily approve of crushes now :)

    • Awwwwww! Your darling husband sounds like The Brom, who saw a co-worker’s interest and thought “I must say something NOW”: as it happened, I wasn’t at all interested in his co-worker but thought he was rather interesting, and our 16th anniversary is in March. :-)

  137. Crushes, gracious. But it took me until I was 26 to figure out that not everyone has them, since that is so different from my approach & the approach most folks interested in a date with me used. So very awkward, all the time!

    & there’s something terribly crippling, for me, about a crush. How could I possibly speak to them about my feelings at all?! So it’s nice when / if (and this only has happened once, properly) a crush moves past being pure obsessive attraction and into affection & friendship. Far far far better for treating them & myself as proper human beings capable of communication & with wants and desires; rather than someone moping around after a largely theoretical entity

  138. Man, these stories have stirred up a lot of feels for me. My limerence guy was not the right person for me and did some morally questionable things. But the FEELINGS. He was one of my best friends. We did date-like things together. We spoke French together. We danced together. There was so much Couch of Plausible Deniability. I guess this is unshakeable, even though I haven’t spoken to or really thought about him in almost 5 years, truly in my brain-of-brains do not want to be with him, and am probably going to marry the person I’m dating now. Gosh what a weird trip back in time.

  139. Ugh, this one makes me cringe to remember, and it’s been a good long while.

    So I was in Speech. There…there is a LOT of crushing going on in Speech. I mean, it’s all articulate young men pouring their (or someone’s) heart out and/or being witty and charming and while wearing dapper suits, no less. Just off the top of my head, I can remember three guys that I was kinda obsessed with. The whole “pitter-patter-pitter” and blushing and stammering kind of obsessed, not the stalker-obsessed.

    Er. Mostly.

    So, there was this one guy. We were from different schools, but we’d talked a bit. He had gorgeous blue eyes and was funny and cute. Didn’t know him all that well, though. But then he was in my favorite play. As my favorite character. And…well. Yeah. Crush.

    Which would have been the end of it, because in all of high school, I pretty much never acted on a single one of my crushes. I think Freshman Year I asked a guy to the Sadie Hawkins and he stammered something and ran away (and asked me out again via songtape years later, so…I don’t even know. High School is stupid). But one of my friends said that This Guy was her brother’s best friend and he was alright, and I should totally call him and ask him out. No. That’s stupid, I said. It’s just a crush.

    I have no idea what the hell finally possessed me to take her up on the offer, but she gave me his number and I called him up right the hell out of the blue and asked him out. To the prom. This guy I barely knew.

    Yeah, he said no.

    And…that might actually be the creepiest thing I’ve ever done. Sheesh.

    • I’m not seeing why this is either cringeworthy or creepy.

      Maybe I’m missing something, but … you liked this guy you knew a bit, so you phoned him up and asked him out.

      And that was it? No stalking, no FEELINGSMAIL, no creepy boundary-crossing, no years of broken-hearted yearning? Sounds like you did pretty well!

      (I know prom is a big deal in the USA, so maybe that aspect of it made things more socially awkward, but still.)

      It’s not inherently creepy or shameful to be attracted to someone just because it turns out they aren’t into you in the same way.

  140. Oh, yikes. Awkward Crush Stories, so much cringe and yes-that’s-just-like-me! Because it was so awesome reading everybody’s crush experiences and realising I’m not the only one, I am delurking to share my story too.

    I was about twelve and heavily crushing on this guy in theatre camp. Looking back, I think it was actually cute the way I got all warm and fuzzily happy when next to him. As I was pretty ok with just feeling my feelings without doing anything about them, my crush would probably have fizzled out if not for the Two Incidences.
    First Incidence, at theatre camp, the Cool Girls were at some point hanging out in the dorm talking about crushes. Me, awkward and shy, was there as well and got flustered when they started pushing me to reveal mine, but at the same time I was also happy that I could participate in this secret-revelation and gave in, stating that I had *had* a crush on Crush. They were really surprised in a hurtful “Whaaaat, him? Seriously?”-way but promised right away not to tell anybody. Well. Whilst promising, they got up and ran to the other people in the next room, effectively telling everybody (at least that’s how I remembered it through my cringeing). Of course, nobody believed that my crush was in the past, except maybe for me, as I’d kind of convinced myself that it was. I was so embarassed.
    But that embarrasement was nothing compared to Incident Number Two, shortly before performances in queue for the toilet. I was standing behind Crush and behind me stood my friend. My “friend” had nothing better to do than to loudly say, “You are in love with Crush, is that right?” (no accident, she did realise that Crush was in front). The mortification! I remember afterwards dreaming about the incident going “No, WAS, I WAS in love with him, seriously, I WAS”. To her credit, friend ended up apologising later.

    But, as I said, the crush did not end there, probably also partly because Crush never even reacted to either of those incidences (not that I blame him). I somehow convinced myself (why?!) that it was a huge deal and that, actually, I was really in love with him and we were Destined To Be Together… The next six years, I adored Crush from more or less afar (we crossed paths repeatedly), never EVER saying anything. It was a weird mixture of Romantic Dreams and hating those feelings, believing I was stupid for having them. Even some years after high school, whenever I thought I saw him from afar, my heart gave a little jump.
    I was so glad when, a year and a half or so ago, I stopped having that reaction. It probably had something to do with me having my first boyfriend, a case of completely unimagined feelings, reprocicated, that weren’t dancing in circles in my head and heart without ever having an outlet. (Thanks to therapy during the final two years of high school and this site, I also finally learnt the merit of Using My Words, I am glad to say.) Also, Crush? We met again in person at a class reunion and I now realise that he’s quite the douche, always was. Not a bad person, but definitely not someone I’d date or even hang out with as friends.

  141. “In my defense, it was Washington D.C. in the 1990s. If you’ve ever watched the West Wing, you’ll have an idea of what the dating pool was like: Deeply unsexy workaholics who never stop talking. I know those characters have an avid fannish following, which, okay, cool if that’s your thing, I guess? The whole “I am convinced everything I say is vitally, deeply important and you should listen while I speak in paragraphs” thing really doesn’t wear well on 25-year-olds fresh out of the intern pool.”

    Derail here: Is DC still like that? My career might be taking me there for a few years and I’m terrified because I picture a city entirely comprised of political science majors.

    • It’s still kind of like that. The fast-talking, Type A, overachieving young politicos are all still here, but the city has become marginally cooler — you can actually find people who, say, don’t work for the government! But it sometimes takes some digging.

      • I’m so nervous. I took a lot of poli sci classes in college because I loved the subject matter but I couldn’t stand 90% of my classmates, and now I might have to pay for grad school by working for the federal government. I don’t want to hate my classmates/coworkers for the next four years!

        • If that’s your worst worry, you’re in good shape. People who work for the federal government are… people! Some of them great, some of them awful. They are not all uptight bureaucrats any more than everyone who works for a company that employs more than 3 people is a “corporate drone.” Some people even work for the government to make the world a better place!

          • Heh, it’s not my worst worry, but it’s up there. I know the problem’s in my head, since the problem is how I feel about that personality type, rather than their very existence. However, in general my mental health varies a lot with my environment and I don’t know if DC is a good fit for me. Some big decisions coming up!

          • See, I grew up in the D.C. suburbs, an area in which the federal government is the biggest freakin’ employer by far! So generalizations about “the personality type” of people who would work for the mega-employer are about as valid as generalizations about the “personality type” of people who would work at any other area’s biggest employer. They are people who want jobs.

          • That makes sense. Part of my worries are cultural (I’m a dual citizen and also have an adjustment disorder because of my inability to re-integrate into US society, and I think working for the government might aggravate that) and a lot of it is based on my experiences during college. I’m trying to convince myself that the Real World is not like college, or like childhood memories of different stereotypes associated with different agencies. Eg, people who work for DoD watch too much AFN, people who work for State are more liberal than you would expect from someone who watches that much AFN, people at the NSA are awkward, and people at the Agency are assholes. But by that standard, maybe I’d fit in at the NSA…

            I should visit DC and see what life there is like for 20-somethings. My fear is that I’ll have trouble meeting non-pretentious people who have hobbies outside of work. Ironic, coming from a Brooklyn resident!

    • I’m in my twenties, and I have lived in D.C. for almost three years. I’m heavily involved in the arts and performing community. I also work for a nonprofit on Capitol Hill, but it’s more like “Parks & Recreation” than “The West Wing.” None of my friends are political types, and I rarely interact with anyone who is outside of work. There’s hope!

      • Ooh I could work with Leslie Knope! As long as I can avoid that campaign manager lady during election years…

  142. [...] Open Thread: Crushes, started by the always-awesome Captain Awkward, and elaborated upon by Awkward’s incredible commentariat. [...]

  143. My most cringeworthy story is about being on the receiving end of a crush, and behaving really badly.

    I had a friend in when I was about 12; call him John Doe. We would volunteer together to help serve school lunch (this was a thing you could do at my school), and I would hang out at his after school Bible study. I wasn’t really having crushes on anyone, at that point, but I liked being his friend.

    There was also a boy at my school with a similar-sounding name, call him Gene Dee. Gene Dee was pretty mean. (I mean, I’m sure he’s a completely different person now, but he didn’t behave well at that point in his life.) He mocked my clothes and hair, and one time he threw rocks at me. I wanted nothing to do with Gene Dee.

    One evening, the phone rang at my house, and it was for me. “This is Gene Dee,” I heard the voice say. (The voice was sort of mumbling.) I was terrified–Gene Dee had my home number, and was following me to my house! “I like you,” said the voice “Will you go out with me?” I drew the only logical conclusion at this point: since no one could possibly have a real crush on me, Gene Dee was mocking me. The real message was that I was ugly and unlovable and I was going to get rocks thrown at me again. I hung up in obvious distress. He called back, and I heard my mom answer the phone. She told the caller, “I don’t think she wants to talk to you.”

    You can guess the obvious plot twist. I went to school and discovered that John Doe was upset with me. He wouldn’t look at me or talk to me. And really, the poor kid had every right. He had used his words in a direct, non-pressuring way, and I had given him an extremely cold response. I should have apologized and tried to explain. Instead, because I was ashamed of the whole thing, and because the phone call had felt so horrible on my end, I just refused to say anything. He didn’t reach out to me, and I didn’t reach out to him, and our friendship was over. I moved a few years later and lost track of John Doe. I’m sure he has his own traumatic version of that story. I hope he has gone to have an awesome life filled with awesome romance.

  144. I think the moderation queue ate my embarrassing confession.

  145. My best crush story comes from my first year of college. I went to a very small women’s college, and oh my GOD THERE ARE SO MANY HOT LADIES. I had crushes on so many people–a handful of male professors, a bunch of students, everybody. One of them was a persistent crush on my best friend, who lived on the other side of the world (Virginia to Australia, yep).

    Did I at any point think, “You have a whole college full of attractive women you could date, maybe don’t pursue this?” HELL NO. Instead I wrote a FEELINGSTORY and posted it on fictionpress (the non-fanfiction sister site to fanfiction.net, which was a big deal, okay?) about how I adored this girl and she had no idea. Cleverly I used no names. She…figured it out.

    And then we dated long-distance (and, later, in person) for almost nine years. She’s still my best friend (and sleeping in the other room), and though our romantic relationship is currently not functional, she’s pretty fantastic.

    I FORGOT THE BEST PART. About a year into the first stretch of ldr, I was accepted into an anthology about coming out stories. My extremely long-distance crush and FEELINGSTORY (and a link to it online!) are forever enshrined in print, along with actual FEELINGSIMS we had.

  146. Hello.

    So my crush story is hapening right now. I’m in my twenties but I’m not very experienced with matters like this – I have just come out as a lesbian – so any help would be very appreciated.

    I work with M and we have become good friends in a relatively small period of time. She made me feel comfortable in away that I never have before and I started to flirt with her. I sometimes touch her hair and hug her lots and I bought her some cookies one time (so she gave me a hug and I joked about what she would do if I took her out for dinner – she laughed and said “are you going to?”). She has also asked if I want to meet up after work for drinks but this has only been talked about and hasn’t happened yet. So there’s some stuff going on… it’s all very new for me. The thing is that she is bisexual and has a boyfriend – who she has never said a good word about.

    I know I should probably use my words and tell her that I really like her and leave the decision about what she does up to her. But I feel like I have already made it very clear that I like her and would like to pursue something. I feel very vulnerable and as I’ve put myself out there a lot already I don’t know what to do. Should I give up on this?

    • I’m not even sure this falls under the term “crush,” since part of what makes a crush a crush is that it is founded on air — with a crush, either you don’t actually know the person as a person, and/or you have over-invested emotionally in proportion to what you have ever gotten by way of encouragement that they’d be up for a romantic relationship. At least, that’s what I think of as a crush. Which is why some crushes actually turn out well — time passes, communication is had, and it turns out there is reciprocity! And yay, it becomes one of those crush success stories!

      What you have is some interest on your part, and some encouragement on her part… nothing definitive, but also not the whole disproportionate obsessiveness aspect. Yet. That you’ve shown us, anyway.

      The crucial question I see is whether she is bi but monogamous (in which case hitting on her would be like hitting on anyone else you know is in an ongoing monogamous relationship — not cool, even if they’ve complained about their partner to you), or whether her relationship with him (and your inclination) would make it ok for her to see you both.

      If the latter seems to be the case, I would say that it is time to use your words definitively. Everything you have done so far has been on the safe side of the plausible deniability line — if she had said, in outraged tones, “Are you hitting on me???” you could have said, “No! Of course not! I know you have a boyfriend! And I’m totally not interested in you that way! Sheesh!” Which people like to reserve as their safe line of retreat-with-dignity. And the problem with that is, the very ambiguity that gives you safe harbor means she can’t be sure what you mean.

      But it is possible to ask someone out in an not-plausibly-deniable way, and still retreat with dignity. Which is by not waiting aroaund fantasizing and over-analyzing and building things up until you’re in that horrible over-invested place where a “I like you but not that way” feels like the end of the world. Keep it casual — “I know you’re with BF, and I don’t want to be a jerk if I’m wrong about whether you’d be open to anything else, but I wanted you to know that if you wanted to indulge you woman-loving side for a while, I’d be interested.” The key is being prepared, if she reacts badly, to say “yeah, I wasn’t sure, but I figured best way to know was to use my words. No hard feelings, eh?” or something similarly not-bitter-and-resentful.

  147. HOLY CRUSHES, YOU GUYS. I adore this thread, and not just because it’s a good read – no, it also just helped me realize two important things.

    For the first gazillion stories, I was like, “huh, guess I got through my youth pretty non-awkwardly”. My first crush was a jerk who was my friend yet belittled me at every opportunity to feel better about himself. But I never acted on it. And then I got a very sweet boyfriend who lasted from age 15 to 23, so I skipped all the High School romantic drama.

    Then I came here, and I read one too many stories from bi women who crushed on girls before knowing you can crush on girls. I’ve recently discovered that I might be bi, but I’d never made the connection that I might’ve been bi before the thought occured (yes, I’m stupid sometimes).

    But, holy shit. In 6th grade, I made friends with this girl in my class. She was the sweetest person, and she was creative like me, and we’d write stories together, and she was smart and funny and mature, and I latched on to her for dear life. We’d hang out every day all the time, and we’d write notes and stories in class (which nobody cared about, because we were quiet and got good grades).

    This lasted for a year or so. Then life threw some pretty hard things at her, and she didn’t confide in me. Instead, she started retreating. And oh boy what I’d give to have known that “no answer is the answer” because I panicked and pressed harder. I’d strike up conversations at every opportunity, I’d write her, I’d Firth her hard in school, I’d cry to online friends and write so much FEELINGSDIARY and FEELINGSPOEMS.
    Then I started getting angry. Because while she’d hang out with our friend group at school, she wouldn’t talk to me. Everything was cold and awkward, and suddenly I didn’t feel like I had any friends left. It didn’t help that she’s a delightful person who everyone liked, often over me.

    Cue FEELINGSMAIL. Oh god, I’d forgotten about that. It wasn’t THAT bad, but holy batman learn to take a hint! It was this long, guilt-tripping mess of, “I feel treated coldly, I miss you, I’m SO SAD WHY U MAKE ME SAD!”

    She replied. Rather coldly. I especially remember one line, “I’ve felt for a long time that someone I know needs a hard kick in the ass; turns out it’s you”.

    Cue much crying and much FEELINGSDIARY and much parents being worried.

    Eventually I got over it. I reconnected with old friends, and I got over the obsession. So when, 1½ years later, she emailed me to reconcile, I said yes. We met up, it was awkward, but she was still very sweet and very sad about what had happened, so we continued hanging out.

    Today, she’s still sweet and funny and smart and delightful, and she’s my best friend.

    However: It has been so hard to trust her again. I have a very black-and-white relationship with trust, moderate self-esteem issues, and I have a hard time forgiving things I can’t rationalize away. And I haven’t been able to rationalize the way she cut me out. It’s been nagging ever since, “If she could cut me out like that then, why not now?”. At some point I decided screw it, this friendship is on borrowed time, but at least she’s lovely now. I just gotta make sure I never pressure her or ask for help or jeopardize the friendship (because walking on eggshells around your oldest friend is a good sign…).
    And part of me has been carrying this tiny piece of resentment and fear for many years now.

    But… and I have no idea why it took me so long to take a good hard look at things back then… I was MASSIVELY CREEPY. I was CLINGY and had NO sense of boundaries. And that feelingsmail – well, what did I expect? Corner and feelingsvomit out over any fourteen-year old fighting with family and personal stuff, and I bet they won’t react graciously.
    Holy hell, past me, what were you thinking?

    Damn.
    1) Friendship might’ve been a crush.
    2) She had GOOD REASONS to react as she did.

    I love you, Awkward Army. I promise no awkward intense crushing though ;-)

    • “If she could cut me out like that then, why not now?”

      If I’m reading right, that was still during middle school? I would cut people AMAZING slack for almost anything during middle school. Indeed, a couple of people have apologized to me for completely lousy things they did to me then, and I thought that was awesome and think quite differently of them now. I didn’t happen to end up close friends with either of them (one’s a friendly acquaintance I see at parties and such, one lives further away and is more distant), but I am pretty sure I could be if circumstances warranted it.

      • I know that, but it has always fit a little too perfectly into the “I’m inherently, inexplicably unlovable and everyone will always leave me!” angst that I’m only recently starting to overcome.
        Honestly, it’s not much about her, but mostly about the realization of, “holy shit, there were tangible reasons that I can actually control in the future!” Very mundane as realizations go, but also necessary, considering I still (at 23, sigh) tend to do a downplayed version of “creepy crush” whenever I meet a potential friend. It’s so strange and awesome to have the words and the knowledge to understand that dynamic, and to feel able to change it!
        In any way, thanks, and sorry about the analysisvomit! I’ll definitely keep your words in mind, considering First Jerk Crush recently texted me out of the blue. I wonder what kind of person he is now :-)
        Takes a good amount of courage to apologize for old things like that, btw. Sounds like they evolved into really cool people!

    • Second the cutting of slack. I’m around kids that age all day, and it’s amazing how perfectly sweet and lovely kids can do the shittiest things to each other, sometimes just because someone – who they normally like a lot, even – is annoying them in the moment. I’m talking spectacular assholery and abject humiliation for the other kid, and they just don’t quite get why that’s not okay and why that person thinks they’re an assmonkey now. Capacity for complex thought, but very little empathy just yet.

  148. Oh man. My two favorite disastrous crush stories actually happened back to back in college. So I liked this guy, who happened to have a master key, as was mentioned above, and allllllll the girls adored him. He was the funny guy, played guitar, and looked like a male model, so, you know, all the things that matter to really naive college girls who don’t realize how often a lot of that is pretty carefully crafted. Anyway, because I know All the Girls like him, including my best friend, including his best female friend who was the president of the theatre fraternity and so the queen of our social circle, I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone because I never like that guy because I am shy and awkward and that guy does not even know my name.

    Shock of shocks, this one knows my name. He not only knows my name but seems to make extra effort to make me laugh, and he notices that I’m also funny, and we develop this great sort of screwball comedy-esque rapport. And so, I work up the courage to tell a good male friend, who, turns out, has a heaping case of the Nice Guys, so he tells The Queen of the Theatre Majors under guise of “We should totally set them up!” with the true intent of sabotaging the whole thing and then come riding in on a white horse and scoop me up and I will give him All the Sex. The Queen then sends both of us a FEELINGSAIM (back in those days). His is a massive Nice Girl guilt trip, mine is a weepy, “If it weren’t me, at least it’s someone I really like, and I really like you.” Which goes on to tell me why he didn’t date her, not because he didn’t like her but because of his massive commitment issues, but hey, maybe he’s gotten past that…I am naive, like I said, so I take this at face value, and I start seeing everything as signs that this guy doesn’t want to date me, and I assume she just meant the best, so I stick to her side for a bit because she is Such A Good Friend. But Crush and I keep ending up at social events together, and there is always massive flirtation, and occasional making out, but everytime, The Queen must call a conference at which she must announce to all involved (which means everyone within earshot) that she is Still So Sad, but she is Such A Good Friend, she just wants us to be happy together. Every time. Like it hadn’t happened before. And everyone drinks it up like Kool Aid, INCLUDING ME. Eventually Crush got tired of my gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, and I’m sure also of her having to call a meeting everytime we had a mashing of faces. I’m not sure why it never occurred to either of us to quit listening to her.

    Just following this, as I was licking my wounds from that experience, I met a gentleman we’ll call Mr. Clean (strong resemblance). And we date, and he breaks up with me, very likely because I won’t have sex with him, though he doesn’t say so. And I still have very strong feelings for him because Reasons, and yet I remain friends with him – a case of the Nice Girl, desperately hoping he will change his mind. I spend several nights crying my heart out at my best friend’s apartment, and she spends those nights telling me he’s a jerk for dumping me, very likely because I won’t have sex with him, and she knows it’s because I have no desire to have sex with anyone yet. And about a month later someone tells me, under the Such A Good Friend guise, that Best Friend and Mr. Clean had sex sometime during all of this. And I go over to her house and do a massive FEELINGSDUMP on her – not out of some double standard but because she had front row seating to my hurt and exactly why it was so painful because I was still so awkward and hadn’t realized there was nothing embarrassing about electing not to have sex yet. And then I ask him to talk, and to his credit, he drops what he’s doing and meets me on campus, and I have another FEELINGSDUMP, and again, to his credit, he listened and apologized and very clearly stated that he had no desire to date me. We took some time off from each other, but we ended up being very good friends who had some lingering pantsfeelings and occasionally acted on them, and by then I knew I wouldn’t ever want to date him, so I actually have some very fond memories of our antics. Best Friend and I eventually recovered as well, but I think the FEELINGSDUMP on her damaged us a bit.

  149. I had a huge crush on a friend when I was in high school. Entirely unrequited, but it was obvious to at least all the adults around and no doubt many of the other teens as well. I ended up doing a FEELINGSSNAILMAIL (yes, this was before the Internet), to which he responded most graciously, but without reciprocation.

    Fast forward a couple of decades and I meet up with this same friend (and many other old friends I haven’t seen in eons) on FB. Eventually I meet up with him and his wife and some of their friends for drinks one evening when I’m in their city for an event. Had a great evening drinking and talking, went back to their place to watch a movie with the group. At some point in the wee hours of the morning, the old friend left the room for a moment. His wife turned to me and said (in front of everyone) “So, you used to be in love with “. I was magically transported back to middle school in an instant. It’s amazing how embarrassing an old embarrassment can be in the right circumstances.

  150. (Hopefully this isn’t too late or too long). I have three excellent stories of crushes, all terrible in their own ways.

    Crush #1: Senior year of high school. My best friend has a guy that totally likes her, she’s an awesome cross-country runner, and so is he, (I’m totally not), we’re all in classes together and he’s quiet in the way that is (erroneously) perceived by me as pensive and mysterious (oh boy oh boy no). So, she knows I like him, and we both (her and I) know he likes her (she didn’t like him though), and I’m pretty sure we were pretty sure he knew I liked him, and so we often all three of us hang out together. I can’t remember how much mooning I did, but definitely some. But I also knew for a fact that he was interested in her, not me, and was mostly ok with this. (So Love Triangle, check!, unrequited crush, check! and him-only-hanging-out-with-me-