Tempted to re-use the “Back away from the boombox, Dobbler” photo again.
I recognize that this question will probably make me sound like a terrible person, because I am preparing for a selfish eventuality that may never come. But if it does, I want to be prepared…
So, I met a new guy about a month ago, and I fell hard. Every time we hang out (always in a group, but sometimes solo conversations ensue) I find I like him more and more. Naturally, he has a serious girlfriend — but he’s alluded a couple times in my presence (to others he knows better, but when I’m within earshot) that he thinks the relationship is on the rocks and probably won’t last much longer. Now, I am ABSOLUTELY not going to make a move while he’s still dating her, or encourage him to break up with her, or anything like that. He has no idea how I feel, because I don’t want to put him in an awkward position, and I’m really, truly content to remain friends with him if he and this girl stay together — or, for that matter, if they break up and he just doesn’t like me. (I might need some alone time to process my feelings, but I’ve done that and become really good friends with the other person before.) (Also, I’ve never met the girlfriend, for what it’s worth.)
My question is: if they DO break up, really and truly broken up with still no idea on his side that I have feelings for him, how do I then make my move? How do I avoid being a rebound with someone I haven’t known long, but who’s been in a relationship the whole time I HAVE known him? I know to use my words, but I don’t know how to navigate the timing — I don’t want to seem like I’m pouncing on him as soon as he’s free. Of course, I also don’t want someone else to snatch him up while I’m waiting for him to recover.
(My possibly overly-optimistic brain thinks he is attracted to me, since he’s flirtier with me than with other friends [according to them!] and has made vague statements about how timing never works out right in life. He’s never crossed a line into making any potential attraction clear, obviously, since he’s in a relationship. I don’t know if this is relevant to your advice or not, which is why I include it in parentheses.)
Here’s you avoid being a rebound:
Stop lying in wait for this guy to break up with his girlfriend and date you. Stop being his sounding board about his relationship troubles. Stop looking for cracks and/or signs of attraction.
Go do your own thing and find a new crush. DEFINITELY stop testing out whether he is flirtier with you than other friends with the wider friend group.
How someone acts when they are breaking up with someone (or thinking about it) actually tells you a lot about them. To you he’s the handsome guy of your crushing and connection who might soon be single. To her, he’s the guy who tells their business across the friend group and hints around that things will be soon be over. Or he’s just bitching and letting off steam, the way people do with their friend sometimes.
If you hang around at the edges of this fraying relationship watching for hints/dropping hints that you would like to give him a soft landing into serial monogamy, that is literally how you become a rebound. “I’m conveniently located and already into you, date me!”
I’m super cranky and tired today, so sorry if that was a big spoonful of Stuff You Don’t Want To Hear? It’s totally normal to notice people and crush on them, and I don’t think you’re a terrible person for thinking about this. And if you think you’re picking up on a vibe, you probably are. But do you need to act on every crush and flirtation? No. No you don’t.
So yeah, maybe don’t lie in wait and plan ahead for a happiness that depends on the death of someone else’s love. It’s bad juju. If this is meant to happen because feelings change over time and you guys do have a mutual attraction that you’ll eventually explore, it will all happen without you making any kind of plan.