Dear Captain Awkward,
I am starting off with the intention of making this short, but I apologize if it becomes long, which it probably will. I just think it would be better if you knew the backstory. It’s interesting I promise haha.
So I guess I’ll just dive right into the issue at heart: How to tell a girl, that lives in another state, that you’ve never met, but have known for 3 years, that you are in love with her. Now I know this sounds strange, but just like those commercials on TV say, 1 in 13 relationships start online hahaha.
But this isn’t like that. We know the same people and I’m friends with some of her friends. It’s not like either of us are 60 year old perverts trying to “get some”. We’ve video chatted and talked on the phone and texted and facebook and all of that fun stuff. Anyway, Z. and I met online when I fell for one of her best friends at that time, J. She told Z. to try and find out if I liked her, which obviously I did. That was the only time that year Z. and I talked. And then one random day, she started talking to me again for no reason. It turns out she liked me a lot because I was so in love with her friend, but I didn’t know that quite yet. She told me that once we became closer friends.
So then we started talking a lot and it turned out that J. had no interest in me anymore and felt like it would fun to keep hurting my feelings. I turned to Z. to try and help me figure out the issue, and she did a good job helping me.
One night, Z. and I were talking about J. and I can’t remember what she said, but at the moment she sent it, my television froze and two of my lightbulbs exploded, and all this happened at 11:11. And right as it turned 11:12, my television unfroze. Now I know that sounds really fake, but I swear this happened. I couldn’t believe it myself. I just sat frozen in my bed staring blankly into space. At that moment, something tugged right at my heart, and I realized that I was in love with Z. Months and months went by without me telling her how I felt. We started writing each other letters and talking more often and then I just couldn’t hold it in anymore, so one night after we finished video chatting, I told her how I felt. I know, I know I should have told her when we were video chatting, but I was nervous. Everyone makes mistakes. Anyway, I told her how I felt, and she told me she felt the same way, that she liked me as well, but she still needed to think about everything. It turned out that she couldn’t handle the distance, so we stayed friends.
Time went by and we became best friends. We told each other everything and trusted each other with our lives. But I couldn’t stand being just that anymore. I couldn’t watch her be torn apart by the ass holes she dated. One guy tore her heart in half and all I could do was just watch it happen. Yes I comforted her through everything, but I wanted to be able to be there with her. I wanted to be able to just not tell her everything will be alright, but show her. For once in her life, I want her to be treated like the amazing gorgeous person she is. So I let her know again, but this time over text. Once again, I know very stupid of me. But she said she felt the same way, again.
So this time we “dated” for about 3 weeks… yes three weeks. Then she told me that it wasn’t working out because of how far apart we were. She wanted a relationship that didn’t consist of texting and video chatting. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t make it work if we just tried, and I told her that. She said she just needed time to let all this sink in, so we took a month away from each other. At the time, I was devastated and went into a deep depression. I cried in school for the first time because of her, not to point any fingers though lol. I still have not recovered emotionally from that day. But now I realize that she was right and that if we were going to be able to make it work long distance, we needed to at least be together physically first, even if only for a week.
So one month went by, and another, and another, and then we started talking again. Things were just like were before all the drama happened. We were best friends again, and I couldn’t have been happier, except for that fact that I was still in love with her. A few months after we started talking again, she got a boyfriend. She was extremely happier than she was previously because she had family issues going on, and seeing her happy made me really happy too, even though she was with another guy, and skipping to the end, who turned out to be an ass hole. He broke up with her because she wrote on my facebook wall, “you better write me letters at camp, or I’ll give you hell :)” She was broken in half, and it tore me in half as well.
Now at present day, we’ve become a little distant, but I know the friendship is still there. Things have been extremely stressful for both of us and I know that’s not an excuse to not talk to each other, but for now it is. Multiple times we tried to plan to meet each other either in her state, or mine, but every time she finds a way to stop it from happening. I don’t know if she’s nervous or not, I know I am but I’d do anything just to see her, even for one day. All I want is the time to show her how I feel, and this time do it in person. I’ve come to realize that I am not too good with words, so I just want that one moment where I can kiss her and let her know how I feel, for better or worse. But none of this can happen if we don’t ever meet.
So what I’m asking, and sorry it took so long for me to get here, is how should I handle this? If I have to wait longer, I will. I will wait as long as I have to because I love her with all my heart and I just want to be able to let her know. And although I can sense that she might have started developing deeper feelings for me as well, I’m just scared of losing her.
Okay I’m done talking, seriously. Sorry I put you through this essay of my love life. Thank you for reading, I really appreciate it. 🙂
Oh honey, no.
I can’t say I know how you feel, but I know where you’re coming from. I’ve mapped the territory. I’ve spent hours on the phone late at night. I’ve sent love letters and hopped airplanes and met airplanes and had the first moment I laid eyes on someone happen too late, too late, because my walls had already come down for this voice on a telephone, these emails and letters, these words.
This is one of my favorite poems, and the friend who turned me on to it DID ride those miles on a greyhound bus for love. Reader, she married the daylights out of him. It does happen. You’re not stupid or crazy for wanting it to happen.
But for it to happen, this girl has to ride those miles and climb through your window. And she’s not going to do that. And she’s told you that she’s not going to do that. Let me count the ways:
- You asked me how to tell her how you feel, but you’ve told her how you feel. More than once. She told you she couldn’t handle the distance and explicitly did not want a relationship of chatting and texting. She knows how you feel.
- She did try to date you, but broke up because of distance.
- You’ve made plans to meet that always fall through. If she wanted those plans to work, they would have worked by now.
- She dated lots of other people and was happy doing it. However those relationships ended, they were with people she wanted to be dating more than she wanted to be dating you.
I’m sure that she cares for you and values your friendship. But she’s told you in many ways that it’s not really going to work, despite whatever feelings exist. One way to love her is to listen to the words that are coming out of her mouth and take them seriously. Here’s what taking her seriously looks like: She says, “I do not want to have a long distance relationship.” You say, “That sucks, but I hear you.” And then you back off, stop pouring out your feelings to her, and live your life.
Here’s a hard, grown-up truth: Love, the feeling of love, the euphoria of it, the late-night connection, is not enough.
You’re not crazy, though. Long distance love feels good for so many reasons. You’re forced to say stuff out loud or craft it in text. You’re forced to use your imagination, and to describe things, and really say what you think or what you feel. So the relationship can become very vivid and intimate. It feels like you are really getting to know the other person, because both of you are sharing your secret selves, what feels like your *real* selves. It becomes a story that you tell each other, and when your daily life gets dull you can go hide out in this magic secret story. It becomes a lifeline.
It’s shy-nerd kryptonite, and for a long time, it was mine.
I think that the story you’ve been making with and around this girl might be eating your life. And I think a healthy way for you to handle things is to pull back on your contact with Z. and throw yourself into life where you live and stop waiting for her to climb through your window. She isn’t coming.
47 thoughts on “Reader question #58: How do I get my long-distance crush to give us a real chance?”
Eleven years ago yesterday my Ain True Love made the phone call that told me he loved me, even though he didn’t say those words for a while yet. Then he got on the bus. And I got on a plane. And he got on a plane, and eventually I got in a U-Haul truck and moved to freaking Texas, of all places.
Despite the ups and downs, and my truly not loving Texas after almost a decade here, it remains the thing that was Right to do.
You’re either willing to jump onto that bus/train/U-Haul or you’re not.
Unfortunately, sounds as if she’s not.
I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you’re Not Going To Fuck That Lady. You’re not going to “lose her” because you don’t have her. She’s too “nervous” to meet you because you’re being a creepy weirdo who won’t stop talking about how much you’re in love and “waiting” for her.
Stop communicating with this woman. Stop thinking about her. Find something (or someone) else to do. It’s not happening. Give it up before you fall further down this creepy weird hole.
Some people just can’t do long-distance relationships. They can’t even conceive of why someone would even try. I got a lot of crap from my senior year college roommates for long-distancing with a guy back home: it was stupid, I was wasting my energy, etc. And lo and behold, after three years of that followed by two years together and another four years long-distancing due to grad school, we are now finally, finally in the same state and extremely married.
I wasn’t wrong, and they weren’t wrong either: for them it would be a waste of time, because they’re not built for long-distance relationships. It wasn’t a waste of time for my husband and me because we are. It’s an intrinsic thing, I think, like introversion and extroversion. Unfortunately it sounds like you and your crush are incompatible in this way – it’s not going to change. And it is most definitely not your fault.
“…but every time she finds a way to stop it from happening.” You’ve answered your own question.
Right there in the fourth and third words from the end. STOP IT. That’s what she wants. You’re being stalky.
Captain Awkward says it so much sweeter though.
If someone doesn’t want to date you, then you should stop pursuing them. I assure you, if their feelings change, they will let you know. And if they were playing hard-to-get, they’re manipulative enough you shouldn’t date them anyway.
Basically, this ain’t happening. It wouldn’t matter if your revelation that you’re in love with her happened while a tornado sucked you out of your house and deposited you comfortably on a playground swing, or while Publishers Clearinghouse knocked at your door to hand you a giant cardboard bazillion-dollar check. It’s just not gonna happen. There are no magic words we can tell you to make Z understand that you love her, and that therefore she should give you another chance. That’s because Z does not have to give you another chance.
Please consider the fact that there are many, many women in your area, who you could date. Yes, they may not seem as special as Z – you’ve put this girl on a major pedestal and cast her as the star of your internal drama, so of course they don’t seem as special as her yet! What you have to do is let Z go… mourn for this crush and let her go. Then, start figuring out how to tell women you’re interested in them without a long buildup of friendship, in person, without the protective intermediary of a computer. This will take a while, but trust me, it is worth it.
Also, one question if you don’t mind coming by to answer it: How old are you? Because any other comments I’d want to give are really dependent upon what phase of life you’re in.
I’m 19, and we have a 3 year difference; she’s 16. does this change anything? and I would just like to say I disagree with all the comments that I’ve been creeping on her. the only times I’ve told her how I feel is those 3 times. other than that I’ve kept it to myself and now currently only allow myself to talk to her a couple times a week. I agree that what’s going on is not healthy and good for me or her, and that’s why I’m distancing myself for a little while. but what people don’t understand is the full story of what happened between us, and there is no real way I could put that into words. people do not know her like I do, and people do not know me like I do and she does. I do appreciate the comments however.
Hold the phone. You’ve been online “seeing” her since you were 16 and she was 13. Now, you are out of high school, and she is still in high school.
Of COURSE she can’t visit you. Of COURSE it all fell through. She’s only gotten her driver’s license in the last few months, if she has a driver’s license at all. She still lives with her parents. I just…
You are super young. Both of you. I know, I know. You’re an adult and she’s an old soul. No one knows how pure and true your love is. You will never find someone like her again, who really GETS you. I remember nineteen. I remember sixteen. Nothing will ever be this intense again. But you know what? There are other people who will get you. Other people who will love you. And it will be richer and deeper because they will love you back. And it will be richer and deeper because you had this first love that was unrequited and you got over it.
She doesn’t love you. She may like you a lot! When I was 16 I had an 18 year old male bestie! Who later told me that he was in love with me, but I did not love him that way at all.
Please please please do the two of you a favor and go on dates with ladies who live near where you are, and could possibly love you the way you deserve. Okay?
I’ve tried dating other people, believe me I’ve tried. During the time that we weren’t talking, I have liked other people and I believe my feelings for them could of developed into something deeper. But they never lasted and then I always go back to this girl. Even when I was dating another girl, I sometimes thought about her. And when I have crushes on other people, I thought about her. I have matured so much as I am now able to go a long time without talking to her, I am not dependent on her and she isn’t dependent on me, and I love that. But I also am in love with her and I can’t get over her. Like I said, I’ve tried and I can’t. Now someone may come along in my life later on and I may fall in love with them, but I really don’t see that happening. We have been through so many things and we’ve stuck through with each other through thick and thin. I know that some people, even you maybe, believe that I’m acting very stupid and that it will never work out in the end, but I have hope it will and I’m not willing to give up so soon. Like you said, we are still both kids and both have experiences in life to achieve. we both have a lot of maturing to do and I’m hoping once we both are mature, we can be adults about this situation and I can know how she truly feels. but until then, yes I will keep my options open because i can’t tell the future, but I can shape it. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.
Dearheart, I do understand what you are trying to say, and I think that you understand what I am saying, and what the rest of the thread is telling you. I think you understand, but you don’t want to believe it. And I do know why.
When people, myself included, ask for advice, it’s typically because we want to be told that the course of action we have already chosen to take is good. What you’ve heard here is that your course of action is not good. It will not have a good outcome for you. We all want you to be happy! We want Z to be happy!
She may like you, but she does not love you. She has told you how she truly feels with words and with actions, and however deep and true it is, your love will not somehow cause her to love you. It doesn’t work that way.
You can get over her, but not if you are still interacting with her. Which means you would have to stop talking to her. Stop looking her up on Facebook. Stop talking to your friends about her. You love doing all of those things! Of course you do! But IF you want to get over her, if that is actually something you want to do, then you have to stop. You cannot still be friends.
To abuse a common metaphor, you let that butterfly go, but you also tied a string to its leg.
What you hope is that you will both mature, she will see the error of her ways, and come running to your arms. You hoped that the Captain and company would applaud your verve for love! That we would give you sure-fire ways to prove to her that your love is true! Perhaps a poem that would make her realize that you are the one she wanted all along! Believe me when I say this: the only way to know if she loves you for yourself is to let her go. REALLY let her go. Knowing and accepting that she may never come back. Close the door. Weep if you need to. Then go out and try again with someone new, and try with your whole heart.
And hey! I’m no fortune-teller either, so I can’t say what the future will hold for certain, but I can say that – based solely on what you’ve stated here – that it’s unlikely that you would be happiest waiting for her to never show up. I’m sorry we don’t have the kind of advice you wanted, and you probably won’t take it, but I do hope it is the advice you need, and that you know people are rooting for you to find love. ❤
Right. Hi, I was that girl about 12 years ago. LOVED the idea of having a romance, a deep meaningful relationship with someone male, and freaked the heck out when the idea of anything concrete actually might have maybe happened. I wasn’t mature enough to handle anything beyond the fantasy. It ended badly, obviously. And the only thing I regret was all the time I wasted when I could have been doing something useful.
You’re 19, she’s 16. You’re not willing to give up on something you invested so much time and energy and love in, but it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to happen right now. Even if she loved you with the fire of a thousand suns, she CAN’T be with you any time soon. She’s 16, not gonna happen. So what you do is you wait.
I don’t mean you should keep talking to her as much as you do, I mean you take a break. Talk to her occasionally (and I mean occasionally. Like really rarely. Don’t get sucked in again) but mostly, live your life. Go do stuff, with people. Concentrate on school, or your work, or your family and friends, whatever. Date an interesting woman here and there, volunteer, and just… live your life. Encourage her to live hers, but don’t try to make it be the life you want. Be happy for her when something good happens but don’t get sucked in! For Pete’s sake, let her graduate high school. There’s three outcomes of this.
Outcome 1: In a few years, you’re both a bit older and wiser, you realize that you still love each other. One of you moves to be near the other and an amazing romance ensues.
Outcome 2: In a few years, you’re both a bit older and wiser, you realize that you still love each other. One of you moves to be near the other, and after a few months you realize it’s not working out but because you’re both good people, you part nicely and get on with your lives. (that’s how it worked out for me)
Outcome 3: One or the both of you falls out of love with the other sometime down the road. You realize you’re better off as friends but because you were living your life in the meantime, it’s ok. You didn’t put off anything important for a maybe and you still have a good friend.
It kills you to see her dating these other guys? Stop watching. Go do something. Come back to her later and see if you both feel the same way.
How would I go about telling her we can no longer talk?
I personally would just not talk to her. Possibly you can let things taper off naturally (sounds like you probably can, based on what you said).
But if she wants to talk to you, or know what’s up, then just say that you realize that you two want different things so you need to move on. Or something like that.
I’m glad to hear that you’re listening to what the Captain (and everyone else) said. There are often people in our lives that we may love wholeheartedly, but it doesn’t always mean we should be with them. And sometimes in long-distance relationships, it turns out that you don’t want to spend that much time in real life with them (speaking from experience here, on both the love and the long-distance).
I would go for the slow fade over the big dramatic “I HAVE TO STOP TALKING TO YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH’ conversation. The second puts a lot of burden on her to manage your feelings and that’s what we’re trying to get away from.
The slow fade is a two-step process:
1. Talk to her less. Let some days go by between responses. Slowly phase her out of your daily routine.
She’ll probably notice. If she asks why, you can say, ‘You know what, I’ve been really hung up on you, and I’m trying to let go of that and just be your friend. To do that I need some time and space to focus on my own stuff, so while I want to be here for you, I needed to find a way to dial it back.”
2. Do everything you can to focus on other things. Reach out to your friends, spend time with them. Hang out with your family. Throw yourself into your summer job or classes or whatever. Decide you’re going to come out of the summer with a new skill – a foreign language (or programming language). Ride your bike, take long walks, read every book in your public library, build a workable human house out of Legos. Take a photo every day and get really good at photography. Find available women who live near you and ask them out on dates.
It may seem really hard and painful at first – of course it is – it’s hard stuff. Just keep telling yourself “It will get easier” and keep going, and it will. Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends, like, “I’ve been really hung up on this girl and I’m trying to get over her. Help me out, brother!” Friends are good at distracting you.
The other commenters, especially Sid & Ace have given you beautiful responses, so I’m not going to repeat what they say.
Your feelings for this girl are real, and I’m not going to tell you they are not just because you are both young. But your real feelings don’t necessarily translate into a workable relationship or requited feelings on her part. She told you she didn’t want a long distance relationship, and she CAN’T for the next few years at least close the distance, even if she wanted to.
Think of how much you grew and changed between 13 and 16.
And then think of how much you grew and changed between 16 and 19.
And think of how much you will change between 19 and 22.
Pull back and let her have that time to grow, and work on yourself. Minimize contact, get some therapy, throw yourself into studies, friends, work, other women, make art, do sports. Just accept, that whatever you feel, this romance isn’t happening right now. I promise you, I PROMISE YOU, if you disengage and move on you will gain some perspective and it will be less painful, though withdrawing might get worse before it gets better. Seek out counseling and the support of your family and friends to help you through it, and be really kind to yourself. You said in your first comment that you think things are unhealthy, and I give you mad applause for realizing that and pulling back on contact. Keep doing that.
I will wager that every single person posting in this thread has been in love, REALLY AND TRULY IN LOVE, with someone with whom it didn’t ultimately work out. We can’t will people into loving us, and we can’t will something into working when it’s structurally unsound. And every single person posting here has gotten over that love that didn’t work out (after a period of grief and possible obsession). Time does its work, life does its work, you do heal and you do move on.
Someday (like, YEARS from now) you probably will meet her in person, and it will go better if you are both whole people who have done a lot of living and exploring and if you don’t have so much obsession and need and expectation wrapped up in what that meeting will be like, so that you can actually meet as friends. If you remain this level of invested, that meeting is going to be weird and fraught and less likely to occur, because as denelian and K put it so well, you both have each other on pedestals and there’s no way it can’t be anticlimactic.
I wish you nothing but good things, and I don’t want to minimize your feelings or how important this friendship is to you (or to her), but you wrote me because you realized that something had to change. You thought that I could help you declare your feelings better, but I don’t have the magic words, and what I see in the story you told me is someone who does not want to be in a romantic relationship with you and also someone who is probably too young to be meeting the love of her life (or to act on it if she has). She is wisely holding you at bay because she knows it. Take some time and let yourself really know it, too.
Thank you, and everyone else, so much for the responses. I took in everything that each of you said, and i have a lot of thinking to do. I couldn’t agree with you more about everything in this reply. I grew a whole bunch even between senior year of high school, and freshman year at college. It’s been really easy for me to pull back lately, but the only issue I have with that, is that she’s dealing with a lot of issues and one especially with her brother, because he has depression and has tried killing himself multiple times. I don’t want to leave her in the dust to deal with that on her own. But I mean i’m sure she can handle things on her own, or needs to learn to, like I have. (irony: asking for help in a blog) But yeah, I agree she needs space to grow, as do I. And yes, I agree that our first meet, if done now, would be extremely awkward, even with friends around. So I guess I’ll just live my life and when we’re supposed to meet, it will happen. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with my problem and I wish all the happiness in your life, along with everybody else who posted in here.
On a side note, your last statement reminds me of something she’s said to me. because of our recent separation of communication, we got into a fight and she said to me, “I have a tendency to put myself first which isn’t fair to anyone. I know I always apologize and nothing changes and I don’t know why I do that. I wish I had some excuse for it but I don’t. I do know I take your friendship for granted because I am confident in that relationship and part of me feels like no matter much I fuck up or worry about myself, you will always be here for me. I know it sounds like i’m using you but honest to god that is not my intention and I hope you know that.” So I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if that means she does love me, but just needs time and is waiting. Or if it’s just something nice she said.
It sounds like you have some good perspective.
I would interpret her statements extremely conservatively (remove your wishful thinking glasses). She’s saying she’s grateful to have a friend who is always there for her and who she can be herself around – up, down, sad, angry, whatever, herself. That is FRIEND. Not boyfriend. Take it as a compliment, not a sign.
In fact, interpreting her statements very conservatively is a good habit to get into going forward. Stop parsing them for signs you’re meant to be together!
You’ll be ok and she’ll be ok. Have a great weekend.
OK… by now pretty much everything I wanted to say to you has been said, but I just want to reiterate: Z is not speaking in code. She’s telling you up front that she values your friendship and wants to stay your friend. Don’t read any more into that, please, for your own sake.
Also, Z is completely *right* to be putting herself first as she describes it. She should be listening to her heart and following her own assessment of what she’s interested in, and it sounds like she’s doing just that.
Now, it’s time for you to follow her lead and put yourself first, too. You two are really, really not going to end up together – please let that sink in. And if you find that you’re too wrapped up in your intense crush on her to take her friendship for what it is and be content… then you are going to have to end this friendship or put it on a long hiatus. Z clearly appreciates your friendship and it does sound like you’re important to her, but you can’t truly support her through tough times if being “just friends” with her is causing you emotional anguish. That’s not friendship, it’s self-torture. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but it’s true.
Until you make some space in your heart and your life for someone new, your fixation on Z can’t fade away. And frankly, you’ve already spent way too long pining for someone who is clearly not interested in a romantic relationship with you. There are so, so many people out there who will be better prospects for you than Z!
Listen to Sid and Captain Awkward. It’s time for this crush to be shelved with your old journals. And DEFINITELY remember, we’re all on your side. This is probably all difficult to hear, but someone had to tell you. Good luck.
John Doe, it sounds like you are taking everyone’s excellent advice to heart, which is great. One thing in the comment above jumped out at me.
You said, “It’s been really easy for me to pull back lately, but the only issue I have with that, is that she’s dealing with a lot of issues and one especially with her brother, because he has depression and has tried killing himself multiple times. I don’t want to leave her in the dust to deal with that on her own.”
A close friend of mine married a woman he was no longer in love with because she was ill and she needed him and she was a selfish hag. Now they’re going through a horrible, painful divorce. Obviously, that’s MILES AWAY from your situation, but what you said about not leaving her in the dust to deal with her brother’s problems set off my alarm bells. How is her support network, other than you? Does she have other friends/family who can help? I think you really need to step back, and not feel that you must stay in touch to help her through the hard times. To be clear, I’m not saying that she’s using you. You’re friends, and you’re acting like a supportive friend. But right now, it sounds like that’s too painful for you.
The age difference makes it extra bad. You’re an adult, she’s a child. Sever ties, and move on. It sounds like you’re shy, so go find an animal shelter to volunteer at, or join a book club, or take up an MMO, or move into the library and get a 4.0. There are lots of shy-friendly ways to amuse yourself while you get over that relationship.
It sounds like you’re expecting to meet someone and just fall in love. That doesn’t happen. What does happen is you meet someone and you have fun. Love at first sight and realizations that happen during freak power outages are fun stories but they’re not really something to base a relationship off of.
I’m sorry, I agree with everyone’s comment, with the exception of yours. Love does happen, and you can fall in love at first sight, and even with people you can not be with in physical reality. There are connections people share that you just can’t explain. Call it what you want, but I disagree with you. And I am not shy, thanks for thinking you know everything about me, though. 🙂
I disagree with everything you have just typed. And thanks for thinking you know everything about me. 🙂 you must be a really smart person, congratulations. Use your power for good, my friend.
oops hahah i thought my first one got deleted, anyway, now you know my point in twice the amount.
a thing missed, perhaps.
you’ve stated that Z is female.
you DO know that, in this culture, women aren’t socially “allowed” to say “NO!”, right?
like, when you said you loved her, despite you NOT MEANING TO [and probably not KNOWING that you were] you put her in the position of HAVING to say she reciprocated – otherwise, she’s an evil bitch who has been using you or something.
SHE CAN’T ACTUALLY SAY NO. she can’t tell you “you are creeping me out” [if you are – she may enjoy the validation you give her. which in and of itself is not bad – so long as she knows that YOU know it’s not going anywhere. and she probably thinks that you DO know, because as the list Le Capitan ennumerated above, she’s done all things girls have been taught to do OTHER than say “no”, aside from giving you fake info. but in *her* mind, it’s probable that you KNOW it’s not going to ever be “real” in that way, and so being friends with you still and getting that validation is still ok – until you cross the line. which… you’ve crossed the line. and now she’s all confused with the “but i TOLD him i can’t do distance, i’ve made sure we never meet, i ALWAYS tell him about my new boyfriend – why is he still DOING this, i’ve done everything right!” whereas from a “normal” guy’s point of view, they might see “this girl doesn’t want this dude, she’s just playing him, getting emotional support and validation from him with nothing given FROM her, and she gets boyfriends! what a manipulative *****!”
and they’re both right. she doesn’t even consider it manipulation, but SURVIVAL, and that’s HOW they’re both right.
also… i bet you 7-to-2 that she’s got you on a pedastal as high as the one you have HER on. not as “boyfriend” but as “best friend” – and that’s why she doesn’t want to meet for real. it WILL destroy that image, that both of you have – you’ll realize immediately that she DOES NOT WANT TO DATE YOU, and she’ll realize immediately that ALL YOU WANT IS TO DATE HER. both pedastals smashed… so she wisely avoids the whole mess.
also… i bet Z in real life? isn’t a tenth as cool as the person you’ve made up out of the bits she’s shared with you. and she’s probably afraid of falling off the pedastal you put her on, as she is afraid of you falling off the one she put YOU on. online/in fantasy the OPPOSITE of real. and it will bug you – like, you plane the perfect romantic dinner-date, and it turns out she a root canal done that morning. you decide to surprise her wth breakfast, she open the front door with a facial mask on. she might have yippy dogs. she might eat her nails.
you don’t KNOW any of these things – you can’t! just realize – there are 2 Zs. one is your imnginary Z whom you claim to love – the other is the Real Z who is willing to be your friend, but only if YOU go back to being HER friend. and friends don’t pressure like you’ve been.
I really like your point about how she probably has him up on a “friend pedestal” and has been responding to his repeated attempts to CONFESS HIS LURVE by saying “OK, but I need to wash my hair first, oh maybe you can visit me next year, lalala I can’t hear you!” in an attempt to preserve the intense, platonic friendship she wants to have with him. I’ve done that before… been willfully ignorant of male friends’ crushes on me in hopes that their feelings would just fade away and we could stay friends. Unfortunately, this works about as well as the LW’s relationship with Z has been working out for him…
However – I want to push back on your first point a little as I think it’s a bit distorting to say women “can’t say no”. It’s true that we are socialized to think that saying no is unacceptable, and to accommodate others’ wishes and avoid social friction. But look at the narrative the LW offers us. Z did say no. She’s been saying it over and over again. She’s been saying it subtly sometimes, but other times with incredibly blaring obviousness. He’s just persisted in trying to turn her “no” into a “yes”, at least in his own mind, each and every time.
The lesson here is not “women CAN’T ACTUALLY SAY NO” – it’s more like, “When a woman says ‘no’ you should listen to her the first time”.
i grant i was exaggerating for effect on the “No” issue – and i completely agree with you. when someone says “no”, we should listen.
but did she ever actually SAY the WORD “No”? [she might have – i can’t re-read it…] i remember him quoting things that i interpreted as “thank you but no” – i don’t remember any *actual* “No”. [which is what i was saying, about women not really being able to say “no” – we’re taught to find some other way that doesn’t SEEM like “no”, you know?]
also… is a 16-y.o high school student a “woman” as opposed to a “girl” [it IS a fuzzy line] i’m much more likely to think an adult woman would say know than i am a teenage girl – and concurrently, said teenage girl’s no will be less respected than the adult woman’s.
but – again, you are 1,000,000,000,000% RIGHT – the lesson here should be ‘WHEN ANYONE TELLS YOU NO, YOU SHOULD LISTEN THE FIRST TIME IT IS SAID”
“It turned out that she couldn’t handle the distance, so we stayed friends.”
“So I let her know again, but this time over text. Once again, I know very stupid of me. But she said she felt the same way, again.
So this time we ‘dated’ for about 3 weeks… yes three weeks. Then she told me that it wasn’t working out because of how far apart we were.”
That’s two explicit nos, right there. “I can’t handle a long-distance relationship,” is a refusal; so is, “This isn’t working out.” I think that she’s doing an excellent job of clarifying her feelings and distancing herself from the toxic aspects of a friendship that’s being burdened with unrequited love. I get your more general point about nos, but that’s not her problem. And, really, from what I can tell, she hasn’t done anything to string him along. All of this is in his heart and head; she’s far away and seeing other people.
thank you [i was serious about not being able to re-read it – i WAS this girl once, allowed myself to be “convinced” to try dating. and etc, sigh]
so you are right – she said no. it’s not her fault he wouldn’t [couldn’t?] HEAR said no.
i apologize for mis-representing that. [although i do know many many girls who really can’t say no! i jumped to the conclusion based on my emotional response]
Yeah, same here. And, well, it’s sad! These friends are my friends, and it’s hard to be all, “I can’t talk to you for the indefinite future, because you refuse to stop believing in your lurve, and I also must humiliate you again by carefully explaining that I am not attracted to you and never ever will be ever no matter what even if I get super drunk or possessed by an alien or just really really depressed and lonely one day.” It’s easier to just avoid the hell out of them until the message sinks in. Trouble is, it doesn’t always.
“she doesn’t even consider it manipulation, but SURVIVAL”
YES. THIS. THANK YOU. THIS.
I think Tim Minchin’s statistically accurate love song applies here.
One reason why unrequited love can be so scary when you are young is because you do not think you will ever have as strong of a connection with another human as you currently have with the object of your crush. But as you go through life you will have crushes on more women and this will make you hopeful for the possibility of unknown future relationships when you are alone.
I love you for posting this song! Amazing.
A lot of nice people have shared their hard-won experience, which tells you that you can’t have what you want.
Let me ask a couple of short questions and offer a direct path to what you want.
Imagine you’re on a stage in front of 25 strangers. What is their numerical rating of your physical attractiveness, on a scale of 1 to 10?
Now Z is on the stage, and the strangers also rate her from 1 to 10.
Do your numbers match, or is your number higher? That’s it for the hard questions. Now proceeding of the basis of answer = not really, no.*
The path to what you want is to get your number equal to or higher than hers. How do you do that? It depends on the raw material (that’s you). Do your abs pop out like Thor the Thunder God’s? If no, join a gym immediately and lift weights every other day until they do.
If yes, then are you dressed in the same droopy drabness as 99 out of a hundred other males? Stop wearing the crap that you kicked under the bed yesterday. If you don’t know what to buy, observe the people around you until you see some guys that girls are looking at and whispering about. Copy what they’re wearing, or go and ask them what to buy. They’ll be happy to help you if you explain there’s a cute girl far away that you want to get with.
If you already know the business end of a hairbrush, then assess what else beyond your appearance you need to improve to really be your best self. Do you follow through on all your promises (I think you do). Do you prepare for your classes and show your intelligence and drive (I think you do). Do you spend part of your life focusing on others, listening to them, and actively reaching out to help them, even when it’s not particularly fun (I think you do). But I know zip about you. So do you do these things?
Finally, understand that this girl appreciates that you care about her. The next level is understanding that your job is to care as much about yourself as you care about her. She deserves the very best guy in the whole world, and your only shot at being that guy is if you work hard at your appearance, your head, and your heart. Give her a man to care about.
It’s up to you when you get started, but this job could take months to start showing results. If you keep on mooning around like you have for the last three years, will that get you what you want? All these nice people have told you no. I think they’re right. Do something. Care about yourself.
*If yes, then proceed to ask out any girl that matches your number. Nine out of 10 will say no, and one will say yes, so be prepared for the small sting of rejection in the secure knowledge that a yes from someone else is inevitable.
Thanks to Pidgey–that Tim Minchin song is awesome. My world shines brighter!
I’m approving this comment with extreme reservation. Once we start talking about rating attractiveness as numbers, I zone out, because it makes no goddamn sense. But I think you mean to be helpful?
This is terrible advice.
Going to the gym and getting a flattering haircut will not make you a more attractive person. Believing that these things make you a more attractive person will make you a hollow and unpleasant person. This kid is nineteen. I’m guessing that he is already plenty insecure–and already confused about the difference between looking good and becoming the person you want to be. He’ll be more attractive as he matures; he will eventually learn how to find someone who is actually meant to be with him. All of that is important. Accessories really aren’t.
It’s about more than being an attractive person. It’s about self-respect. I wouldn’t want to live in a house with paint peeling off the window ledges and gunk caked in the crevices of the bathtub, would you?
We are all physical beings, and our physical selves deserve care and attention, just as our intellectual and emotional selves do.
It’s my opinion; yours is different.
Good luck, OP! Work hard!
We have no idea what these people look like! Your comparison to the house with peeling paint and caked gunk is totally insulting, and your idea of people having numbers that describe their dateability is just nonsense (though I’m glad you recognize that it’s just your opinion). Please stop posting about this. PEOPLE DON’T HAVE NUMBERS.
Yes, regular exercise, eating right, and getting a good haircut now and again has a good chance of improving your overall well-being and self image. The Letter Writer’s problem is that he is hung up on a girl who lives in another state, who doesn’t want a long distance relationship with him. He could benefit from throwing himself into SOMETHING to absorb his attention – a play, a triathlon, an internship or job, learning a language – whatever will bring him into contact with new people and teach him some new stuff – but assuming that it’s his appearance that’s the problem is insulting and unhelpful. Knock it off.
I’ll stop now too, sorry.
I already do, thanks for asking! And I live with people who don’t have a problem with that. My parents brought me up to not care all that much about surfaces. My mom’s surroundings tend to be cluttered; my dad’s somewhat less so. They’ve been happily married for nearly forty years, and show no signs of breaking up over rancid caulking or faded planks. And although I’ve heard many wise suggestions from them about how to find and attract wonderful people, I cannot remember them ever comparing me or love to weatherproofing.
We are physical beings, but we are not storefronts. It is wrong to tell an impressionable teenager that his most diligent work should be on his presentation. He needs to find out what he wants, not what other people prefer. Eventually, he’ll find someone meant for him. If he actually wants washboard abs, then he can get them and enjoy them. If he’s sloppily dressed and soft around the middle, he’ll eventually find someone who likes those things or doesn’t mind them. That person might be an athlete or a fashion plate; they might just be a lovable couch potato.
Your definition of physical and intellectual development is shallow. And yeah, that’s just my opinion, but I got it on good authority from a great big loving family whose marriages are a lot more sustainable than a flat stomach. My opinion is also that this warped vision of self-fulfillment–this altruistic narcissism–is a serious problem for most people, a barrier they must tear down before they become loving adults. So you should stop spreading it around.
Oh wow, I got chills reading this since it is very nearly my LIFE.
Letter Writer, you must attempt to forget this girl. And it will be hard. It may be the hardest thing you will ever do, because you are addicted to her. Your brain has formed associations and carved deep channels of repetitive thoughts and worn the same old fantasies soft like an old, comfortable blanket. You will tell yourself that you need to stay away, you will stay friends with her on facebook but set her updates to not appear in your news feed. And you will stay away for a few days. But you will think about her every day, or nearly, and think of her when you hear a band that she likes or see something she might be interested in and think about sending her the link or posting it to her facebook. And you will hold off, until one day you’ll think yourself in a good mood, suitably detached, and you’ll send her a message to be friendly, and she’ll reply and you’ll say something and she’ll say something and it will all come rushing back, the blissful chemical response of being in love.
But you aren’t in love with her, and you never were.
You are in love with the person you constructed out of the edited stories that she told you about herself, with her internet persona, with a sanitized and pedestalized person whose flaws–annoying habits, body functions–are invisible. And if you did finally meet, this fantasy would come crashing down. If you’re a shy nerd like me, you’ll be nervous and she’ll be nervous and your nervousness will chain onto each other until your heart nearly seizes, and later will come the crash–“I drove/flew x hundred miles for this?”– and you will want nothing but to never see that person again.
Obviously I’m projecting a little here, and sometimes it does work out. But I am the sad veteran of numerous failed internet relationships, and they all had that element of putting the other person up on a pedestal, and the outcome was always disappointing. Not even in a spectacular way, but just a sad deflation of hopes long built up.
Your relationship, Letter Writer, could be given a second chance (and I say this somewhat selfishly, not only just holding out hope for you but for myself as well) but you will have to draw back, and try to shed all the expectations and hopes and assumptions that you will burden the other, real person with. If/when you do meet your friend in person, it has to be like two strangers meeting, with their history of interactions a blank slate, or as close to it as you can manage. Or else the disconnect between what you wanted and what they ARE will destroy your chance.
I wish people would stop playing “the game” and following “the rules”. It’s ecause people make up all these stupid rules that peope start believing them and end up behaving like morons instead of following their souls. The power outage thing strikes me as what Jung would have called a sychronicity or meaningful co-incidence- but you have to bear in mind that human beings have been conditioned by all this game ruish to act like a bunch of cowards and fail to live up to their potential. I have two kinds of problem in this arena- firstly a similar type, whereby there is long distance contact and then the girl is too much of a coward to put it aside and meet, and secondly other peoples’ girlfriends hitting on me at parties then retreating back into “relationships” they can whine to all their acquaintances about. Which is another form of cowardice, almost stockholm syndrome. I can relate to your frustration young J- just be aware that people are cowards and hope this woman pulls her head out of her arse before she reads too much more retarded dating advice.. I hope you meet a decent human being not subject to all this biological self esteem bullshit- when you do let me know where they are all hiding!
Um, what letter did you read? I read one in which a very young girl made friends online with a sympathetic guy and didn’t totally push him away because he was nice to her, and there for her, even though she did not want to date him and is not in love with him. If there’s a game here, it’s the self-deluding “Sooner or later she will realize! She will pull her head out of her ass!” mantra that you are repeating here.
It is not cowardice to not date someone you do not want to date. Z has done everything but scream “I DON’T LIKE YOU THAT WAY!” into the LW’s face, and she hasn’t done that because she’s young and because he is her friend.
I know the LW will meet many decent human beings, and if he does not approach them as if they are too cowardly to appreciate his amazing manly studness, then some of them will date him. And some of them will love him. With luck, he’ll love some of those people back. I think that is extremely likely and I wish that for him. Just…I do not think it will ever be Z, and he needs to work on being OK with that.
Also, we stay in dysfunctional situations because they are working for us on some level.
Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” -Mark Twain
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