#372: How do I perform a FEELINGS-ectomy?

Dear Captain Awkward,

Three years ago, I skipped 8th grade and started high school.  Most people were awful about it, but several girls and one guy (ONE! In my WHOLE GRADE!) who actually spoke to me treated me like a was a human being with thoughts and feelings, because I AM.  Being sad, lonely, and scared, I became close to these people, and quickly developed a crush on That One Guy.

Everyone has a That One Guy (or Girl), who makes them feel happy and giddy and better on a crappy day, at some (or many) point(s) in their life.  Unfortunately, my current That One Guy has solidly Friend-zoned me.  He is kind and smart and athletic and funny and, while he’s not gorgeous, his personality makes him seem to me much more attractive than average, which is likely how a stranger would see him.  Yet he is COMPLETELY oblivious to my feelings.  Once, he asked a friend of mine (who didn’t know about my feelings for him) to Junior Prom IN FRONT OF ME, then got confused when the next day I said I probably wasn’t going.  That’s how oblivious he is.

Anyway, I have recently decided I need to get over Mr. Oblivious, because he is now dating someone. (Another sort-of friend with no idea about my feelings. YAY!)  I was literally attacked by the thing sitting on top of my Facebook Newsfeed telling me that they are now in a relationship.  I need to get over him.  It is not healthy to have feelings for this guy anymore, because at this point if he ever did ask me out, we’d be starting at such unequal levels of FEELINGS that it would have disastrous results and, more to the point, he is Not Interested, which makes him Not Worth It.

So, how do I face her every day in class?  How do I get over this guy who has never deliberately been a jerk, just hurt me through his obliviousness and the fact that he, as a human being, exercised his right to have feelings for whoever he wanted and it hasn’t ever been me?  How do I pretend I’m okay with this in school, where I have to see at least one of them for about 5 of the 6.5 hours I’m in school?  How do I avoid breaking down about this?  He’s just a guy and I don’t want to need his approval or presence in my life to be happy.

Thanks for reading (and hopefully responding!),

Girl Frustrated with FEELINGS

Dear Girl with FEELINGS:

Your FEELINGS will fade with time. But I’m glad you wrote in, because there is a lot to talk about here and a few ways you can use this experience to level up the next time someone sparks your feelings before they become FEELINGS.

First, let’s deconstruct the moment when That One Guy asked someone else to prom in front of you because he was “oblivious” to your feelings for him. Why do you think he was oblivious about your feelings? Could it be that you’ve never said anything about those feelings? I know all about Firthing from afar, believe me, but you can’t be mad at someone for being oblivious about something that you’ve never told them about and are in fact DELIBERATELY HIDING. If you want to go to prom with someone in the future, next time, mention it: “Do you have plans for prom yet? Would you like to go with me?” Maybe he’ll say no. I can’t lie – that is a TOTALLY AWKWARD moment. But it is a totally survivable awkward moment. Your life will have many awkward moments like this (sometimes you’ll be the asker and sometimes you’ll be the ask-ee). They’re kind of necessary for getting to the kissing parts.

The objects of our affection can’t read our minds. You can be full of feelings and it feels to you like everyone can see them like the words are written on your forehead, but really, they’re invisible until you do something like using words to manifest them. Your friend, who is now dating That One Guy, also can’t read your mind. That One Guy dd not create these feelings in you and then cruelly fail to consummate them, even if it feels that way right now.

Second, let’s talk about the Friend Zone and why I hate that phrase and that concept.

“The Friend Zone” is borne of wounded entitlement, where you feel like a friendship is something you are settling for with someone who you think *should* be dating you. It isn’t a a place that someone else puts you. It’s a place that you put yourself, a kind of emotional penalty box, and it’s a bad place to stay for longer than say, two weeks after an awkward rejection from someone you like.

Take a week to fully wallow in bitterness, and then choose an adventure:

1. That One Guy is a good friend, and after a couple weeks of readjustment, you’re pretty sure that you guys will be good friends without all this weird tension.

2. Your feelings are too strong and too hurt and you need a big, substantial break from even being around them. Maybe you’ll be friends down the road, hard to say right now. Remain on friendly terms, but throw yourself into meeting other people doing other activities, writing, making art, volunteering, a part-time job. Distract yourself big time. This is a 100% okay option. If you ask someone out and they say no or like someone and they reject you, you get to bail on the entire thing if you want to and don’t have to pretend everything is okay for the sake of friendship that isn’t really friendship.

3. You will keep hanging out with That One Guy and your friend in the hopes he will change his mind and date you, carrying your wounded entitlement with you everywhere and letting it infect all of your interactions. They will notice the weirdness and repeatedly ask you what’s wrong. You’ll say “Nothing,” in that tone that means that obviously something is wrong. Things will eventually detonate in a giant dramabomb where you confess your feelings and also take him fully to task for his “crimes” of not feeling the same way or noticing that you were in love with him. High possibility of FEELINGSMAIL or FEELINGSART.

Many people choose adventure #3. THIS NEVER WORKS.

It never gets you the romantic attentions of the person that you’re interested in, because behaving like a giant bitter weirdo who is entitled to something that you don’t even have the guts to ask for does not endear you to others. Also, oneitis keeps you focused on someone who isn’t focused on you, to the detriment of other good things in your life, including other dating opportunities. By doubling down on your emotional investment you just prolong the time when you feel bad and weird and things don’t work out your way. It also increases your entitlement because now you feel like the other person owes you something because you’ve spent all this time obsessing over them. Some people do this for years.

Some fictional characters do this for CENTURIES.

Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams from Doctor Who

What did you do for 2,000 years?

Letter Writer, sorry to hijack your life with my fandom, but Rory Williams-Pond: I Do Not Understand Some Things.

Like…what did this guy do for 2,000 years besides guard a box that can’t be opened by anyone anyway?

Shouldn’t he have learned everything? Everything about history, languages, amazing skills?

Shouldn’t he have had friendships? Fallen in love with other people? Fathered children? Introduced past civilizations to hygiene and advanced ideas of nursing? Had 20-30 different careers? Gotten 250 separate university educations? Explored every possible road not taken? Been tempted away and returned a thousand times? He’s older than the Doctor now. And he has had many of the same problems as the Doctor, namely watching everyone and everything else around him die and fade away while he remained. The show says that he remembers everything from his time waiting, so where did that knowledge and experience go? Were there no good parts in any of those years? Can he have emerged with no secrets, no adventures, no gains except a better hairstyle? Is it romantic to hitch your well-being to one specific person (at least in this case she did love him back) or just pathetic?

Okay, LW, away from my fanfic prompts and back to you. You have done the hardest part by yourself, which is having a great attitude about not being entitled to his affections and looking for ways to feel better and take care of yourself. I applaud you. You are not going to hang around these people like a fart in a car waiting for one of them to love you That Way. I think you will feel better soon and get to keep them as your friends without much FEELINGSCARNAGE.

Stuff I suggest:

  1. Find a private place – like a journal, 750words.com, another friend who you can trust not to blab – and vomit out all of your feelings and your FEELINGS. Do it before you get to school each day. Sometimes just having that outlet where you can safely and honestly feel awful lets you have more equilibrium throughout the day. You’re going to feel better if you can keep your cool. When necessary, recite the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.
  2. DISTRACT YOURSELF. Take up some activity that has nothing to do with them and throw yourself into it. Make a safe place for yourself where you don’t have to interact with them. It can serve as a convenient excuse for why you’re not around so much. “Love to stay, can’t, band practice.” Coming into high school you were a year behind and felt lonely and like it would be hard to make friends, but now you have three years of being friends with at least one of the nicest and coolest guys in school. Probably there are some underclassmen who feel just like you did coming in. Can you mentor them or tutor them? Probably there are people in your class who have taken the last 3 years to level up and become cooler. Can you revisit some of those earlier impressions and branch out?
  3. Do stuff that makes you feel good right now. Read your favorite books, watch your favorite TV, wear your favorite clothes. Get your parents to make your favorite food, or cook your favorite food for them. Get enough sleep. Take walks or get other exercise. Kick ass in your classes, become The Amazing Homework Girl.
  4. His new girlfriend might attempt to become your best friend ever because oh my god, you have this awesome thing in common now! Be warned. Be cordial but not close. You do not have to become the person she talks about her awesome brand new love to in order to be a good friend to him. Keeping your distance is a way of taking care of yourself.
  5. Facebook: HIDE FEED. Hide story. Hide both of their feeds for say, 30 days. You’ll feel better and not get blindsided by little stupid hearts.
  6. Picture him doing gross, mundane, unsexy stuff. Picking his nose. Pooping. Clipping his toenails. Lighting his farts on fire.
  7. If necessary, like, he notices you aren’t around so much and is concerned and asks you about it and you feel like you might cry in front of him, ‘fess up to him. “I’m happy for you guys, but it crossed the wires of a small crush I was nursing, so I’m going to take a little space for myself and circle back to you when I can be really and truly happy for you.” It will be awkward, but if everyone is kind and likes everyone else, your friendship will survive a crush that didn’t pan out.

Time is your friend. I predict things will be better by American Thanksgiving. (Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, Canadians!)

177 comments
  1. stentord said:

    ” It will be awkward, but if everyone is kind and likes everyone else, your friendship will survive a crush that didn’t pan out.”

    And if he’s not kind about it, then you’re lucky you didn’t end up dating an unkind person.

    (Also, while I agree with the Captain’s frustrations about all the things one could do with 2000 years of eternal youth, I would note in partial defense of Rory that he knew that the fate of the entire universe hinged on the eventual re-opening of the Pandorica, so he wasn’t *just* sticking around because he was hung up on Amy. Then again, if he was doing it in part to save the world, he has even less justification for holding it over her head later to prove he loves her more.)

    • JenniferP said:

      Good point, but can’t you just check on the Pandorica a couple of times a day? Try to get a flat within walking distance to make it easy on yourself and then get an espresso and learn a language or 7?

      • Alukonis said:

        Okay but ALSO time was compressed and disappearing, so was it *really* 2,000 years? Plus he was really a robot so he couldn’t have had a different family because robots don’t have gametes. Or do those replicas have gametes? I’m not sure how close those robot copies are to humans.

        Also, I mean he obviously would have had to learn the local languages in Britain for 2,000 years, unless he still had TARDIS translator, in which case can you even learn any other languages because remember when Donna tried speaking Latin in Pompeii and dude was all “yo I don’t speak Celtic?”

        • I suspect he at least already knew Latin or whatever, because he had all the Roman shit in his head. My theory is that he didn’t have all TARDIS translator because to that point plastic Rory hadn’t even been on the TARDIS so he does in fact know a bunch of languages and historical trivia and they totally kill at pub quizzes and also I like the point that time was compressed.

          (I also try to tell myself that usually, when they’re not fighting, he only brings it up as a joke, and then she brings up something she did as a joke response, and then they have The Sex.)

      • Ali said:

        DIdn’t one of the signs in the museum say that the Last Centurion disappeared from time to time, but always came back if the box was in danger? He decidedly was NOT with the Pandorica in the museum itself. So he clearly went and did other stuff, at least in my headcanon.

        • This was always my understanding. It spent a lot of time where people could actually see it, and people only saw him occasionally, so he wasn’t there 24/7.

        • Kate said:

          Well it’s possible that he just wasn’t dressed up most of the time… he wasn’t seen after WWII but he was on duty at the museum, so my headcannon says that his armour finally was damaged enough to be unwearable after the bombing. (/goes back to lurking and reading awesome advice)

          • Well by the time Amy turns up I suspect someone getting a job at the museum who bears a passing resemblance to the Centurion would just get a “lol do you know you look like these artist’s depictions of the Centurion?” At some points in the past the exact appearance might be more well-known, at least to some people who lived/worked nearby. But now I’m kind of imagining him wearing his Centurion clothes over his normal clothes and just taking them off and wandering away nonchalantly to do normal person things every so often.

    • He also wasn’t “hung up” on Amy, it was literally 2000 years of the night before their wedding.
      (May have a LOT of this fic in their head.)

  2. volcanista said:

    I JUST LEARNED from a colleague that apparently about 10% of the population has no methanogenic Archaea in their gut, so they CAN’T LIGHT THEIR FARTS. And he just deadpanned that factoid into the conversation during a meeting where someone had just made a fart-lighting joke. It blew. our. minds.

    Also, I concur with all of this brilliant advice. I feel like there’s also a little bit of the fallacy going on that says if you lose these friends, you’ll never have any friends ever again. I *promise* that that is not true. You can walk away from your friendships, and the sad outcome is that you will probably feel lonely for a period of time until you make new friends, and then you make new friends, and it is okay. To go with the ongoing theme lately, the painful parts of these things are finite.

    • Pseu said:

      I am going to start every conversation today with that first sentence. THANK YOU.

    • Lym said:

      Okay, I’m laughing helplessly because I told my husband about the “no methanogenic etc” for the 10%, and he asked, “Is that covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act?”

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help said:

        BWAHAHAHAHA!

      • Rowan said:

        Choking. To death. On my cuppa.

      • I’m imagining someone using that for our disability support grant. Data entry would probably bring it to me or one of the other “Knows Things About Stuff” people going “what the hell” and I would laugh maniacally, and then turn it down unless they could show it had a serious impact on their life.

  3. Sheelzebub said:

    I’m seconding all of this advice. LW, he was oblivious–and other people were oblivious–because you never said anything. Now he’s in a relationship so yes, it’s a good thing to take steps to get over him. But next time you develop feelings for someone, tell them so. Ask them out. If they say no, accept it with grace and take the space you need to soothe your bruised ego (rejection is never fun). But say something. It’s not fair to expect people to intuit what you’re thinking or feeling.

    • My sense from the third paragraph is that she’s got this, with the benefit of hindsight (and some Captain Awkward reading?). It’s just that the absence of an available tardis means that once she figured out that it’s better to do it casually, before investing too much in the as-yet-imaginary relationship, she could not go back and do it right.

      • Sheelzebub said:

        I didn’t mean to come off as harsh–I was responding more to the fact that she called him oblivious (in all caps) and referred to him as Mr. Oblivious.

        • Whereas from his perspective, that prom thing? Suddenly one of his friends just decided she probably wouldn’t go. That’s all. He didn’t have any reason to connect that to anything that had happened the day before or think it was something to do with him.

    • Jane said:

      Is there. . . er. . . a time limit on Using Your Words? If through a combination of a cowardice and bad timing one has been nursing a crush for two months, is it still okay to to do a low-key, “So, how’s about going out on a date-date?” or has the moment passed once you know you will be emotionally fucked if (when, probably, sigh) you get turned down? (i.e. at this point is it better to try for a slow fade-out?)

      In other news, LW, count me into the “still doesn’t have her interpersonal skills shit together at age 24” group.

      • I think the length of time isn’t as important as the emotionally fucked, personally, and really it’s a matter of HOW emotionally fucked. If the risk is worth it, go for it. (But keep in mind the imbalance of feelings stuff.) If a rejection would seriously send you spiraling, reverse polarity and activate boundaries.

        • Jane said:

          To be honest, I thought about it, and mainly at this point what I want is Actual Specific Words from dude to the effect of, “No thanks!” so that I can wipe away the slipperiness of Sneaky Hope, pin this damn crush down, and murder it. (I tried to envision the “Sure I would like to go on a date with you!” scenario and my mind. . . sort of froze.)

          • JenniferP said:

            Only one way to find out: Ask.

          • As a chronic crusher and asker-outer, my advice is to go for it, even if you’ve been pining for a few months. I personally often enjoy a good pine, so sometimes I’ll let that stage linger for a little while so I can enjoy fantasy time. But even if it’s been months of intense crushing and you feel like you’ve gotten a little weird about it, there’s really no better cure for that than reality, i.e. finding out how that other person actually feels (particularly if you aren’t enjoying crush-time anymore). I’ve had I think two whole crushes actually accept a date request in the past, oh, 18 years or so, and many more rejections than I can count, but it’s still typically been better to get rejected, face it, and then move on. I promise from extensive experience that it is very survivable and sometimes even a relief.

          • Jane said:

            Thanks very much! As best as I can figure out my wobbly feelings, the friendship is pretty nice, but the crush is getting not-so-pleasant.

            Well. I have plans to get this straightened out in three days. Here’s hoping I don’t chicken out again. 😦

  4. Rosa said:

    If I counted right, you’re still in high school, which makes a lot of the great escapes older people have harder for you – you really are stuck in that building for 6 hours a day, even if it’s only for the next four or five months, and you really do have limited social circles available to you.

    So, mostly I have sympathy and a promise of hope – you have a natural break in your life coming very shortly. You’re going to graduate and change a whole lot of things about your life, gain new social circles (even if they are “other people working day labor while figuring out what to do” social circles), and have a very natural moment to redefine all of your relationships.

    But when I was 16 years old and starting my senior year of high school, I wish someone had given me this advice, so I’m giving it to you:

    Pick a physical or artistic hobby, if you don’t already have one. One that is good for stilling your self-talk. Walking, running, skateboarding, climbing, swimming, violin, meditation, drums, punching bag – something where you can, sometimes, achieve flow. This is really just the “distract yourself” advice in more specific form but it’s one that Officially Smart people sometimes need to hear, because it’s so easy for us to get lost in our heads.

  5. Esti said:

    We have *all* been there, LW. I don’t know if it helps to hear this, but my very first boyfriend ever was a friend I had crushed on SO HARD for about 3 years who suddenly became interested in me — and, as you predicted it would be for you, it was an UNMITIGATED DISASTER when we did get together. He was a really great friend but a notoriously bad boyfriend to every girl he dated, so mostly our relationship consisted of him treating me like crap and me letting it happen because OMGILOVEHIM and in the end it ruined a really nice friendship. Maybe every time you think about liking this guy, picture him kissing another girl in front of you on the way to prom “just to prove he could”? Because yeah, that happened, and the fact that I did not break up with him on the spot is a really good demonstration of why your instincts about unequal relationships are SPOT ON.

    If I could add one things to the Captain’s (awesome) list, it would be this: be honest with yourself about when this crush is directing your thoughts and actions. Like, really, really, honest. If you are like me (which sounds somewhat likely, from our similar high school crush stories), then you may engage in some or all of the following behavior:

    -dropping subtle “hints” that you like this boy that allow you to maintain plausible deniability but which you secretly hope he understands and causes him to realize he loves you (examples: joking about how you guys are a married couple, telling him with an “isn’t this annoying” air that people keep asking if you two are dating because it really seems like you are)

    -subtly (or not-so-much) fishing for compliments/affirmation (examples: talking about how unattractive you think you are, talking about how you don’t understand why people like you, relating negative things other people said about you to him in the hope he will disagree, or, if you are operating at advanced-level compliment fishing-with-bonus-jealousy-provocation, telling him another guy said you looked hot and that you think that guy is wrong)

    -trying to make him jealous (examples: talking to him about other guys under the guise of wanting advice or to vent but actually because you want him to know other guys like you, flirting with other guys around him, dating another guy you’re not that into because you want him to see you’re with someone else)

    -trying to create situations in which you two are together, even within a larger group (examples: making sure you always happen to be sitting next to him at group stuff, inviting him to hang out one-on-one a lot even though you don’t do that with other people in your group, trying to make sure you’re standing right next to him when a slow dance comes on during school dances, etc.)

    -analyzing, A LOT, every thing he says/does for evidence that a) he likes you, b) he doesn’t like his girlfriend/other girls, c) you two would be perfect together

    -oversharing with him in ways you don’t with your other friends

    -making decisions with “maybe this will cause him to realize he loves me” in mind (examples: trying to look nice for school/dances/events *because* of him, choosing classes or activities because he’ll be there or because you think he loves girls who are into music or film editing or whatever, doing things — drinking, drugs, going to places you don’t want to, hanging out with people you don’t like — you’re uncomfortable with because he’s doing them or asked you to do them)

    (Sidenote: wow, that list made me sad for/really amused by high-school-me.)

    Anyway: the thing about all of the things on that list is that it’s easy to pretend you’re not doing them because you like this guy. They’re designed to be that way, because you don’t want to risk him being able to say no if you just tell him straight-out that you like him. But it’s also pretty easy to fool YOURSELF with this stuff. Even if you know deep down that you only joined the school newspaper because he’s on it, you can tell yourself that you think it’ll look good on college applications. Even if you managed to walk at just the right speed to ensure you’d be next to him as you went into the movie theater and thus will get to sit next to him, it’s easy to pretend you didn’t. Even if you end up on gchat with him until 2:00 am every night talking about super secret personal stuff in your life, it’s easy to say “he’s just a really good listener and a great friend” when you’re actually doing it because talking to him gives you butterflies and you want to feel close to him.

    And the only way to really shut this crush down, LW, is to hold yourself to account when you start thinking/acting in these sneaky ways. You can’t get over him until you really and truly stop thinking about wanting to date him or how great he is. You can’t get over him if you keep spending an hour picking out an outfit you really think he’ll like or waiting for the person sitting next to him on the couch to get up so you can make a beeline for that spot. You’ve got to recognize when you’re in crush-brain mode and then shut it down immediately — go in the opposite direction, go talk to someone else, go put on that t-shirt you like but that he’s already seen you wear 20 times. And above all do not, at any time or for any reason, engage in protracted inside jokes with him about your thongs.

    (That last one is also courtesy high-school-me. Man, I was embarassing as a teenager.)

    • JenniferP said:

      I LOVE THIS LIST.

    • Logos said:

      geeeeeeez Louise, this [awesome in its insight] list was me, but IN COLLEGE. *weeps

      … oh, for Captain Awkward & the Army 10 years ago. Bless all of you.

      • Oh, me too. Oh, silly me. Man that sucked.

    • I did everything on this list. I took biology class just because my crush did.

      On the other hand, it turned out that if I hadn’t taken that class, I wouldn’t have graduated. I sometimes joke that if it weren’t for unrequited love, I wouldn’t have finished high school.

    • TheJackdaw said:

      THIS LIST. WHAT WAS MY LIFE WHAT WERE MY CHOICES. In other words, my stomach hurts from cringing with recognition and my face hurts from smiling from the same. This is a fantastic list and great, great advice.

      And Logos, don’t weep, I was like this up to and including meeting my (now) husband at 23.

    • PetPeever said:

      Wow. This. Omg.

    • Kat said:

      I’m cringing so hard for myself right now. The recognition, it burns!

      • heathenbee said:

        *Shares Recognition Burn Creme™*

        : /

    • Jaz said:

      Both the Captain’s advice and this comment were good for me to read. I recently told a guy that I liked him. Stuff happened. Turns out he doesn’t like me that way, but wants to really good friends the way we were before I developed romantic feeling for him. I went along with it with some secret hope that he would realise that he was in love with me too (for about two-three weeks) until I realised what I was doing (last week). Right now I’m doing my best to get over him. I’m kinda sad that he seems to think that I’ll go back to really good friends in the span of a week or less. So I’ve had to set all the boundaries and enforce them.

      I really need to watch out for the sneaky hope stuff!

      • Ali said:

        Good luck! I think you’re being really smart to set harder boundaries than you had when you were really good friends, at least for now. It will help you heal and ideally get back to a place where you CAN be really good friends,

    • WeeBoy said:

      Oh my God, this sums up pretty much the entirety of my teenage romance career. with one addition.

      -Do not convince yourself you can ‘turn’ him. He is straight. Really really straight. He is not boning girls to overcompensate for his latent homosexuality. He is boning girls because he is into girls. And he is a bit of a playa.

      (Change genders or sexual orientations as needed)

      • Stuffandnonsense said:

        OMG yes augh augh augh.

      • Fairy Stories said:

        But if it were a fanfiction, he totally would be! Which is so, so, so unhelpful. Every cultural narrative about romance, including a lot of “alternative” ones, involve completely the opposite of the healthy thing to do.

    • FlyBy said:

      Heh, I definitely did a couple of those in college. I was more than halfway in love with my now-husband for over a year before he even looked in my direction. My story ended well, but that kind of feelings-imbalance is problematic. I dealt with it at the time by consciously restraining myself (not completely successfully) and letting myself have a good cry in private when I needed it. And keeping busy with other stuff. When we eventually started dating I did wonder for a while if he really liked me, or if I was the one driving the relationship and he was more willing to go along for the ride than really interested. He was also pretty weirded out when he eventually found out that I’d had feelings that strong long before he did. It was very uncomfortable and I don’t recommend it. So yes, keep a lid on your unreturned crush as much as possible. Even if it does work out and you live Happily Ever After, having different interest/commitment levels when you start dating is really hard to deal with.

      (And hey, in my defense I really was interested in the other guy I casually dated for a while, at least until I found out his last name was Vader. No excuses for the constantly trying to sit by him, though. And getting all tingly every time our sleeves brushed. Why the hell did I torture myself like that?)

      • heathenbee said:

        We do it because we love being the star in our own Twagic Twagic Dwama. Another pitfall of being obsessive, over-intelligent creative types.

        • Stuffandnonsense said:

          I never CAN understand why we do this. It’s not like there’s a hope of getting a star on the Hollywood Twagic Dwama Walk of Fame, or a moment on stage where we can get a shiny statue and say, “You like me, you really like me!” The only people who get to see it play out are ourselves and our (mostly bored or appalled) confidantes. Auuuuggrghhg.

    • SadieBlake said:

      My God. This so hard in so many ways.

      And my own addition:

      – turning down a TRIP TO EUROPE and taking the money you were given for graduation to buy a JEEP INSTEAD because he’s really into fourwheeling in the mountains. Plus it has flames painted on it.

      I seriously want to go back in time and shoot barely-post-high-school-me. Just, like, in the foot or something (though I suppose I already did that, didn’t I?), but still…

      • Grant said:

        But a Jeep? With flames? How awesome is that? (I miss my Jeep to be honest.)

        I think we’ve all done stupid things about guys/girls and just work on saving up and planning another trip to Europe!

        • SadieBlake said:

          Yeah… the flames were cool. The broken radiator / catalytic converter / everything else was not. Plus, if we’re being completely honest, it was graduation-gift money I wasted on it, and not my own….. so, added guilt over that.

          Saving up and planning another trip is not as easy as it sounds, either, when you’re a decade out of high school and still working for minimum wage. Nice dream, though.

    • Jiggs said:

      Oh man, this is all true and people still say high school is the best time of your life. The cognitive dissonance is insane.

      I will say that having been That Girl myself, I (and probably many others) now have a superhuman ability to identify this behaviour. Guys never believe me about this. My “No honey, she’s not leaning on you because she’s drunk – there are like 100 tables in here – she’s leaning on you because she wants to lean on you with plausible deniability” and the like are met with disbelief. I must be misunderstanding this poor creature! How can this be?!

      • Words from my father that helped get me through adolescence:

        The people who tell you that these are the best years of your life are wrong. They’re just thinking of how nice it would be to have someone else be responsible for things like food and mortgage payments. They don’t remember how out-of-control their hormones were and what that did to their feelings, they don’t remember how it feels to have almost no control over your own life, and they don’t remember what it’s like not to have their current level of wisdom gained from difficult life experiences (many of which took place during adolescence).

        These are not the best years of your life. Things get a lot better. You couldn’t pay me enough money to be younger than 30 again.

        While I could be convinced to revisit, say, age 28 if the sum of money involved were sufficiently large, I generally agree with the sentiment.

    • Britt said:

      My kingdom for a TARDIS to tell high school me this. Good grief. The worst is when you catch yourself doing the same dumb crap after not seeing him for YEARS when you are like fully an adult. /facepalm

    • MisMis said:

      Oh my… I STILL do this. Almost all of it. As a 28 year old MAAB neutrois. Guess it’s time to get quirkyalone or something. :-/

      • MisMis said:

        oh no… thinking of it: There is this thing you U.S.ians call high school reunion coming up… *must not re-crush hard on first crush* *arrrrrgh*

    • Rowan said:

      Oh sweet zombie jeebus, I am almost FORTY and I STILL do some of these things. Not a lot, and I usually catch myself and give myself a mental slap upside the head. But yeah. It’s totally fine for middle aged women to get crushes, right?

      • Oh hell yes, it’s fine for us older ladies to get crushes. HELL TO THE YES.

        I just hope we’re a little better about how we act under the influence, you know? I have a work crush and he is just seriously the MOST. The cutest nicest dreamiest smartest best-spoken and I dodged the whole romantic firthing bit and got caught up briefly (okay, once) in the “YOU ARE NEW IN TOWN I WILL INTRODUCE YOU TO EVERYONE WHAT YOU DO LIKE TO DO OKAY I KNOW THOSE PEOPLE TELL ME MORE” even as he was being quite vague about it. Like, “you know, I bike sometimes.”

        Then I stopped. Now I just enjoy going to ask him questions and looking in his dreamy blue eyes and wanting to run my fingers through his slightly mussed curls, and maybe unbutton his shirt a little bit because you know, well… and mostly enjoying how he is so smart and kind and beautiful and friendly and funny and his girlfriend had BETTER treat him right.

        It was so awesome to learn that I can think someone is just the BEST and that I still don’t have to do anything about it!

        It helps that Mr Wit and I can talk about crushes without being threatened. He’ll tell me about the hot lady and I’ll tell him about the hot gentleman and then we smile and say we love each other and it is all good.

        But you know, if us older ladies couldn’t get crushes, I wouldn’t have been all SQUEEEEEEE over Mr Wit before we started dating, and we wouldn’t be married.

        So YES. CRUSH AWAY. YOUR HEART LIVES AND BEATS WITH LOVE AND LUST AND JOY AND SQUEE.

      • I hope so, I totally want to still be rocking the crushes in ten years’ time!

    • Jane said:

      I’ve written this comment a few times now and it keeps getting eaten (oops.) But: This is a really insightful comment, and these are totally all behaviors I’ve noticed myself doing. But, LW, if you read this, please don’t use this list or this kind of list as a bludgeon to smack yourself in the face with. When I was getting over my first sort-of kind-of reciprocated crush-thing (hard to explain) I went through this awful cycle of doing this kind of stuff while I was around him, getting away from him, reflecting on how stupid I was for doing it, flipping into a depressive cycle, and then rinse-wash-repeat as soon as I saw him again. These things are not-a-good-idea because they ultimately harm YOU, not because they are a mark of incompetence. I think it’s important to emphasize that this is about making your own life easier, not being embarrassed for not performing a social interaction perfectly.

      Argh. Sorry. This whole thread is unfortunately kind of relevant to me at the moment, and I am writing through the feeling of wanting to go home and go to bed right now and/or a tension tummyache.

    • I would like to give all y’all solidarity fist bumps! It makes me feel so much better to know I wasn’t the only creepy crusher in high school.

      (I also would drive past his house if I could manage it. Ugh, Maggie.)

    • FindAStone said:

      Man, I need to send this list back in time to High-School-Me and smack her in the head with it.

    • A lot of this was me in college too. I took some awful classes to be with my crush.

      (Who, btw, asked me to help pick out the engagement ring he wanted to give his girlfriend. AND I DID.)

        • Lilly said:

          Wow… 🙂

          When I was 18 and charmingly naive I once spent money I could barely afford to travel back to stay at my university during the Christmas holidays to meet my BFF, my crush and some other dude. The real reason I went was of course to meet my crush in the hope that we would get together.

          Turned out, the crush only came because he had a crush on my BFF. The other dude had a crush on her as well and they got together, my crush was upset and gave a FEELINGSPEECH and sulked, leaving me alone at Christmas and unable to afford to travel home. My BFF was so wrapped up (literally) in her new amour. I think I still have the self-pitying FEELINGSPOEM I wrote.

          It was all kinds of awkward and pathetic. Now I just think it’s hilarious.

      • JenniferP said:

        Oh, buddy.

      • Jane said:

        A sort-of similar situation happened to one of my friends, I think — i.e. she was a bridesmaid in her roommate’s wedding, who was getting married to someone she had had a crush on for a long time. :/

      • liyyspoon said:

        I have also done the helping-the-crush-buy-jewellry-for-a-woman-who-isn’t-you thing. NOT RECOMMENDED

    • Stuffandnonsense said:

      *wince*

      I remember one guy I had a longstanding crush on — who I did some of this over — one day, handing out little cards with witticisms (or what pass for witticisms in 15-year-old boys) to all the girls around him. Mine said, “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you.” It was kind of crushing, but I took all my overanalyzation off into a corner, was upset for about a week, then avoided him for the rest of high school. No idea if he did it a-purpose because he’d noticed I had a crush on him and he wanted to be mean (adult me thinks that’s only about 10% likely), or if it was pure random chance, but it sure squashed ALL THE FEELS.

  6. I would like to second the comment about maintaining some distance between you and the friend who is dating your crush. I was in a similar situation about two years ago, and ended up letting her move in with me. All I wanted was to be a good friend to both of them, and to somehow prove that I was ‘over’ him–it didn’t work. It was far too painful for me, and I have little to no contact with either of them now.

    You are absolutely allowed to continue your friendships in a less claustrophobic setting. Maybe set some boundaries about conversation topics and hangout groups; make sure you won’t be hanging out with just you and the two of them, and I would suggest limiting your one-on-one time with this guy as well.

    • unagi said:

      I totally agree with emphasizing this no4 among the CA’s good advice. Either one or both of them may want to make you their relationship confidente, just because you are after all friends with both of them. New love wants to gush, and who better to gush to than Beloved’s good friend? Do not allow this to happen! Yes, you may feel a stealth curiosity, if only out of a secret hope that this way you’ll hear what’s not working and you can sneak your way into his heart. But this way lies madness, and the path is sure to be strewn with broken friendships. It’d be really, really hard for you to hear anything about it, much harder than you should ever impose on yourself. If things are going well you’ll be making yourself ill with jealousy. If things are not you’ll inevitably be tempted to make a move too soon, or try subtly to make things worse, and likely end up with both of them joining against you. If you want any hope of remaining friends with either of them in the long term, step back and firmly refuse to talk about their relationship.

  7. staranise said:

    HIGH SCHOOL IS REALLY SUCKY. People mostly haven’t learned to treat each other with kindness or grace. But, LW, if you want to get out alive and happy, don’t stay hemmed in by the lessons those hurts teach you.

    So, in grade 9, I was a geek on the lower rungs of the social ladder and only friends with other geeks. And I remember one day before Social Studies started, this guy–I don’t remember his name, but I remember his hair had frosted blond tips and he was good-looking and on some sports team–turned around and said to me, “Hey, do you want to go out with me?”

    And I struggled between being flattered and trying to remember who the hell he even was, and said, “Sure?”

    “Oh, too bad. Because I don’t want to go out with you!” And, punchline completed, he turned back to his friends and they all laughed. I was crushed and humiliated, because it felt like they were saying (and maybe they were!) that I was undesirable, undateable, and ridiculous for thinking I had a chance.

    The lesson I took away from that was “Showing any romantic interest at all in anyone = SHAME AND HUMILIATION”. So I hid every scrap of liking I had for anyone for most of the next… decade. In some cases, I actively set out to create the impression that I didn’t like someone, when I did. Because nursing an awful, painful crush for years and watching my crush flirt with and date people I knew was apparently better than that crushing moment of being laughed at an belittled. (Cliff calls it the The Worst Thing In the World phenomenon) For years I kept up a snarky, arms-distance pose, and thought, “If I’d only been doing that when the guy asked me, I’d have been fine!” when sometimes hurt is just unavoidable.

    So you know what? Sometimes you just can’t be okay with things. Sometimes you can’t keep a cool, calm, unruffled shell. Sometimes the only way to get out of the trap (other than gnawing off your own arm) is to let people see the gross, needy, hurt part of you so the trap stops being a trap after all. That’s why the Captain’s proposed response, “I’m upset because I was nursing a crush on you and I need some time,” is so brilliant. It gets you out of the bind you’re in because suddenly it’s not a bind anymore.

    Sure, then things might get awkward. Your crush might feel bad and not know how to deal with you. But between either doing all the emotional heavy lifting for all your relationships and never letting the other people see you sweat, and making all your feelings other peoples’ problems, there is a middle ground! It’s called “interdependence.” It’s letting people know that what they say and do matters to you and has an effect on you. It’s letting them backstage every once in a while, instead of always keeping up the show.

    • Alukonis said:

      I can so relate to this, and I really like this comment. Get the trap to stop being a trap – brilliant!

    • dawnofthenerds said:

      I know that feel! Except for me, going to a really tiny school (12 people in my entire grade tiny), the minute one person found out I had a crush on someone, the entire school knew and would start teasing me about it. For years. I shut down to the point where contemplating asking someone out for coffee brought on a mild panic attack.

      So yah, heartily nthing the idea of asking someone out before you’ve become enormously invested in the crush, while it’s still fairly casual and rejection will seem a lot less serious.

      • staranise said:

        OH GOD WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT. It’s like this evil instinct! “Oooh, I know that someone has this intense nexus of hope and love and desire to be recognized and appreciated–time to mock the shit out of it!” As though by making other peoples’ crushes seem pathetic and naive, you can make your own feelings refined and sophisticated, instead of recognizing that we’re all messed-up, hungry people each hoping in our own way that the world will be kind.

        • Jack V said:

          “Oooh, I know that someone has this intense nexus of hope and love and desire to be recognized and appreciated–time to mock the shit out of it!” As though by making other peoples’ crushes seem pathetic and naive, you can make your own feelings refined and sophisticated”

          Oh yes, thisthisthis.

    • AnthroK8 said:

      Oh yeah. I am so familiar with that whole popular dude wariness feeling.

      And if he grew up to be a decent human being, he’d be appalled. Because it’s appalling.

  8. A little more on Suggestion 2: High school can be a bit of a fishbowl, especially by senior year, and even more especially when you have a small group of friends. Sometimes the feelings end up ricocheting around and causing much more damage than they would if everyone had a little more breathing room.

    If there’s more than one high school in your area, I’d encourage you to seek out activities where you might meet students who go to other schools. If there’s not, finding ways to reconnect with slightly younger high school students and slightly older college students could be a breath of fresh air. You’re going to spend the rest of your life socializing primarily with people who aren’t exactly the same age as you, and it doesn’t hurt to get a jump start on it. The Captain’s suggestion of a part-time job would be a good starting point for both these things.

  9. ona555 said:

    Dear LW,

    You know how sometimes when someone is going through something difficult, it seems likes all the people around them have to give are irritating zenisms like “there’s no way out but through” and “there’s a life lesson in all of this” and “when one door closes, another opens?” This is one of those times, and I’m about to be one of those people.

    There *is* no way out but through. I have been in your situation, all the way down to having skipped a grade and therefore being the youngest 9th grader in my high school, all the way down to having a hard time making friends and having silent, tortured FEELINGS for the boyfriends of my friends. It can suck something fierce, I will not lie, but you can get through it. I can tell you that now, blahblah decades later, I hardly think about my unrequited high school crushes at all, even though at the time it seemed like my world was ending. I tell you, it is surviveable, and even better than that– it’s thriveable.

    If you take the Captain’s advice and throw yourself into alternate activities, you are probably going to feel for a little while like you are faking it. That feeling will pass. You will learn more about yourself, you will discover what it is you enjoy doing (or don’t enjoy, conversely) independent of romance, and that right there is the golden ticket of life skills!

    Do use the hide function on FB. Do avail yourself of social opportunities which have nothing to do with your newly dating friends, and may not involve people you know at all. Do recognise that you wouldn’t have advanced a grade so quickly if you didn’t have amazing things to offer inside your amazing brain, and that no one can see what’s going on in there if you keep it to yourself. Do recogise that some of your peers will be intimidated by your mad brain skills, and that it might take a few tries before you carve out your personal niche and find your Team. I hope it happens for you in high school. I didn’t find my whole Team until after graduation, myself, but high school was part of that gathering where I collected various oddballs like myself and once the pressure was off, we oddballs were able to coalesce into Team Us.

    There’s no off button for feelings, but there is a way to learn to cope and to thrive as you move through the feelingshurt stage. Scuttling off to a corner to write bad poetry in a private journal has saved my ass, no lie. I know other people who have been saved by theater, or by doing charity work, or by throwing themselves into brainsmarts. You will find your process.

    • Mac said:

      I’m un-lurking to say Yes, THIS.
      LW, I feel like you are reading out of my past. I stayed in my age-grade level, but was home schooled until high school and as such didn’t have the necessary social skills to tell what people meant when they said things (I’m still ridiculously gullible, but getting better), or how to communicate FEELINGS, because I was and am very good at having feelings… lots of them, in every direction!
      I spent most of high school and the first half of college (oh, god help – was it really that long?) with a wicked, wicked off-and-on crush on a Very Inappropriate Boy (VIB). VIB was the subject of a few crushes in my friend group and treated everyone with the same level of mild verbal/emotional abuse, yo-yoing attention, and sexually minded sarcasm. I went through just about every item on the aforementioned list, repeatedly. I even joined the school paper because he was on it! I returned to situations that I realized mentally were a really bad idea but which my FEEEEEELINGS (pants and otherwise) said would totally get better. Totally. Eventually. Maybe…? Things finally came to a head about 3 years ago when I realized: no, he isn’t just stringing you along, VIB is actually just an asshole, and: asshole is not a positive character trait, and: yes, you *do* deserve better than that, I don’t care how charming he can be, and: those things he keeps saying are derogatory and cruel, not constructive criticism.
      It is very, very hard to do a FEELINGS-ectomy, especially in a small school/town/social group. But you *can* do it, and it is so very, very helpful to remove yourself from his presence and find separate interests. I ended up as an editor of both the school paper and the literary arts magazine when he dropped that class, and made different friend groups in high school and later in college that I knew he would not be interested in and would therefore not butt into.
      This got a bit ramble-y, but what I’m trying to say is this: It sucks now, it will hurt for a while, but you *can* ectomy your FEELINGS and you will fell better. This is a learning experience and you can use it to help you avoid pain and awkward feelings and miscommunication later in life. You may even find something else you can be passionate about, be it food, art, activism, or ocean kayaking.

  10. Such lovely advice. Who here wishes they had the captain living in their head during high school?

    • JenniferP said:

      Unfortunately I would have been High School Me, Firthing everyone along with you from the corner and dropping obvious horrible hints.

      • Probably would have been pretty entertaining during American History class, though.

        • JenniferP said:

          It was.:)

      • alphakitty said:

        You understand, right, that this is part of what makes you so awesome? You would not have nearly so much to offer if you had always known how awesome you are. You would be like an armchair travel writer.

      • crying in the bathroom said:

        Hahaha, I suppose so. I gave some of the most terrible advice as a teenager. It’s lucky you can’t be sued in high school.

    • Jaz said:

      I get to read the Captain’s advice while at uni at least 🙂 And I had Scarleteen for most of high school ^^ I count myself lucky!

      • OhMyLanta said:

        So jealous!

      • crying in the bathroom said:

        I think you are very lucky. But really, this advice is good no matter your age, the point is to pass on the wisdom.

    • staranise said:

      Guh, yes. Though I got some of this advice when I was a teen, declared it thoroughly useless and impossible, and sent back to Firthing.

      However, I went into therapy the year I started highschool. BEST. DECISION. EVER.

  11. You might look for local Other Cool Things to do. My friends circle wasn’t really into dating in high school, and we really weren’t into school dances and proms and things. But local storytellers, that was much more interesting, and nobody’s looking at Who Is Going With Who.

    It is okay if you are into high school dances! It is also okay if you’re not, and you can find alternatives that are better than sitting at home watching bad sitcoms with your parents or playing computer games or whatever.

    The advice about finding something interesting to learn to do is grand. I read somewhere that it takes ten years of motivated effort to become an expert in something. If you slack off or stop challenging yourself, you’ll stop at whatever level you’re at. So you might think, hey, what cool thing might I want to be an *expert* in by my mid-twenties? I can tell you, being expert at that age? That is freaking amazing.

    You can also have absolutely no idea and be trying all kinds of everything. That will stand you in good stead later when you’re like “okay I feel like… TAKING UP NARWHAL HORN CARVING” or you want to win an IRON MAN MARATHON or get a motorcycle and earn the IRON BUTT award.

    It is also okay to spend your time being ackful about this guy and this chick and high school and grrr. It’s a big part of your life right now, and that’s okay. I’m just kind of saying you can choose to make other things okay, and even if you don’t find the THING YOU LOVE, you can choose to try lots of things a little bit.

  12. name changed to protect the guilty said:

    Many people choose adventure #3. THIS NEVER WORKS.

    Oh, my God. I totally chose Adventure #3 for two years in college, which was the first time I really had feelings for someone. (To be brutally honest, there’s still a Taylor-Swift-esque part of my brain — 20 years later! — that resents that he never gave me the sweet sweet loving that I felt I was due.) I fell in love with this sweet, wonderful boy, I fell in love with his amazing girlfriend, I hung around them both like a sad, sad panda and tried not to let my FEELINGS interfere too much in our friendship. It was a hot mess. All I did was pour more and more energy into this hopeless devotion, thereby reifying it and magnifying it like a freaking prayer wheel.

    That we all came out of this as basically well-adjusted adults, and that one of us (the girlfriend) even has a healthy romantic life, is nothing short of miraculous.

    LW? Don’t do this, okay? Adventure #3 is a terrible, terrible idea. The Captain is wise in these matters.

    (Yeesh. I *still* want him to ask me out, and I mostly only date girls now. WTF?)

    • sarahcircusnachos said:

      Amen, another Adventure #3 survivor here. I was doing FEELINGSMAIL before Taylor Swift made it cool. Here’s the Cycle of Young CircusNachos’ Romantic Life:

      1. Develop FEELINGS for Perfect Guy Forever (Note: Candidates for PGF status must be criminals, drop-outs, moody artists, nursing a MRA-esque grudge against all women, or some combination of the above)

      2. Fling self repeatedly at PFG. Bribe with sex, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and sex as often as necessary.

      3. Contemplate suicide when PFG goes for someone less … frightening.

      4. Compose poem/write bad fan-fiction/stage huge inappropriate romantic gesture and present to PGF.

      5. Rejoice! He took me back! Now we’ll be happy forever! He certainly won’t have any unrealistic expectations of what dating me or living with me will be like, and he certainly won’t be upset when I mature slightly and decide I don’t want to have sex 4 times a day or buy him drugs any more. He definitely won’t call me when I’m hanging out with some friends playing SpongeBob Monopoly and accuse me of cheating on him. Nope, it’s all smooth sailing from here!

      6. Fuck, he’s really dangerous, isn’t he? Better look for another PGF to rescue me!

    • staranise said:

      I *still* want him to ask me out, and I mostly only date girls now. WTF?

      To be totally honest, even when I was 18 I knew that my gigantic emo crush was hopeless. We weren’t compatible. It wouldn’t work out. But he lingered in my memory for years as the Great What-If. What if it had somehow worked out?

      So a few years later, I was presented with the opportunity to have a casual one-night stand with him, and took him up on it. Through it, all the things that I knew made him less attractive presented themselves, until by the morning the enchantment had thoroughly worn off. But I was happy with it, y’know? I got to scratch him off my life list and move the hell on.

      But it’s like there’s always the image of the perfect self you could have been, if that person had only loved you. Letting go of them so often feels like letting go of that potential self. I totally wouldn’t recommend my actions to people outside a specific set of circumstances, but they were really helpful in reminding me that this dude actually had nothing to do with turning me into that wonderful person I could have been. I had to do it myself.

      • Two_Kinds said:

        I feel like I’ll always remember That One Guy In High School not because of anything so wonderful about him (though he was a nice guy), but because if only I had been that person I had always wanted to be – super outgoing, not crippled by FEELINGS and with very, very shiny hair – he would have liked me.

        When I think about him, I think about the person I wished I was in high school. Maybe that’s why those crushes stick with us.

    • That In A Hat said:

      I had Adventure #3 from the other side. A good friend of mine had nursed a crush on me (possibly on-and-off, but how the hell should I know?) apparently since we almost went to prom together. As far as I knew, I never led him on, and I’m pretty sure I had the “I don’t like you that way” talk. And that was a decade ago. Then he was out of the country for seven years, came to visit, everyone engaged in our standard cuddles-and-hugs routine and I thought nothing of it, since it’s something we ALL do. But then he did want to make it romantic, and I had to shoot him down all over again, which was hard as hell, because this guy is so freaking NICE and will go out of his way for any of his friends, but…y’know, no. Come to find out, he actually had girls interested in him back where he was, but turned them all down, somehow, I guess, hoping that we would be an item, and that all of his super-niceness (which I rarely responded to because I’m not good at that) would win me over through the years? I don’t even know.

      Long story short–do not choose Adventure #3; it’s unfair to you and it’s unfair to the person you’re crushing on. If you have serious “I want a relationship” feelings for someone, tell them, and if they turn you down, don’t try/hope to Win Them Back somehow. It’s uncomfortable, and really, it’s a little bit dishonest. Because now, while I’d never call this friend a “Nice Guy(tm)” and I know he is just genuinely a nice person, I still can’t help but wonder how many of those gestures over the years were him trying to get me to Notice Him. Uncomfortable.

      Honesty is fricken hard as hell, especially with the people you sincerely care about. But it’s the best choice in almost any scenario.

  13. H.Regalis said:

    “Is it romantic to hitch your well-being to one specific person . . . or just pathetic?”

    Cough cough SEVERUS SNAPE cough cough. I have to not be the only one who went all squicky went that stuff got revealed.

    ——————————————-

    Chose #3 myself (not in high school) and not to get all Jacob Marley on you, LW, but don’t go down that road if you can at all avoid it. While I moved on and have awesome friends and lovers now, I **to this day** still have really awkward run-ins with people I knew from that time, and it’s a downer to run into people who only remember you as a bitter, creepy weirdo :/

    • JenniferP said:

      Also, you’re a potions master, Severus. Surely you can whip up some tea tree oil shampoo and take a daily shower and keep that greasy hair under some semblance of control.

      • BadDaughter said:

        This is actually really on-point: Just because one person rejects you does not mean that you have to lock yourself in a basement and grade substandard essays for the rest of your life.

        Also, for heaven’s sake, keep your private life and your job as separate as possible. I mean, grading essays is bad enough when you like to teach. Don’t do it as a part of a decades-long hissycow-won’t-date-me-snit.

      • jenfullmoon said:

        Wow, someone else here isn’t attracted to Snape and his man-pain? I feel better. Because man, I do not get the appeal.

      • I’m now imagining Snape tossing this Fabio-quality mane. Because he is SO OVER your dead mom, Potter. Believe it.

        • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help said:

          Oh god, Alan Rickman with seriously good hair …

          *swoons*

    • Tosca said:

      Most definitely! I was quite insufferable in high school and much better now. I Firthed and creeped with the best of them.

    • quackmeansiloveyouindog said:

      Whenever I see someone/something that says “I want someone to love me like Snape loved Lily,” I must resist the urge to ask if they really want their creepy friend from childhood to crush on them miserably and resentfully from a distance for the rest of their life.

      • neverjaunty said:

        Although Snape lost Lily not just because of a crush, but because he actively continued to be a bigoted tool long after Lily said she would have nothing to do with him if he did so. It wasn’t just pining away from an unrequited crush. He lost any chance with her because of his anti-Muggle hatred.

        • quackmeansiloveyouindog said:

          But at the same time, even if he wasn’t a tool/bully/death eater/what have you, he never asked her out (that we know of, but I don’t think he would have), and she wasn’t interested in him romantically. And I’m not saying he could have turned off his feelings, but it seemed like he didn’t want to get over her- Snape had a severe case of oneitis.
          His behavior was creepy, and had overtones of Nice-Guy-ness. Why would you actively want that?

      • bluemonster said:

        Cackle.

      • And occasionally use racial slurs against you because they can’t bear to be defended by a girl.

        • W.T. said:

          And THEN consistently bully your orphaned and already-abused son from the ages of 11 to 16 after you’ve passed away! OUT OF LOVE!

          (Yeah, I don’t get people who glorify Snape’s ‘love’ for Lily.)

    • I tend to give those things a pass, when it comes to fiction — especially epic fantasy. But I did think it was incredibly sad. Snape’s whole story made me sad. He kept himself so anchored to the past and never allowed himself a second chance at happiness. Or love. Or life. I guess it was Rowling’s way of saying that some people are unhappy their whole lives through and there’s usually nothing you can do for them (but that doesn’t mean you have to be okay with it when they start taking that out on you, as Snape did with Harry — though she didn’t really get that one across quite as well, what with Harry naming his kid after the guy who bullied him for six years for no good reason).

    • Kaz said:

      I thought Snape was kind of a cool character… until his motivation came out. (I think I actually started talking to the book at that point. “Really, JK Rowling? Really?“) For one, being a creepy Nice Guy = not cool. For another, being so mad your crush got together with someone else that you bully their orphaned son when you are an adult in a position of authority = WTF EVEN. And also, if his motivation for the whole thing was LILY LILY LILY, that kind of implies that it… wasn’t because he realised torturing and murdering Muggleborns and the people who defend them for funsies is not okay? That if Lily had managed to escape Voldemort’s notice, he might still be a loyal Death Eater? Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be admiring this guy anytime soon.

    • dawnofthenerds said:

      I loved that particular reveal, not so much because it was enormously romantic, but because that one moment explained everything about Snape, why he hated and bullied Harry, why Dumbledore trusted him so absolutely, everything! The fact that Rowling could keep Snape an enigma for seven books only to reveal the core of his character in a single word was phenomenal.

      But yah, phenomenal characterization =/= good role model for relationships. Not at all.

      • solecism said:

        Actually, I kinda took it the other way. Relying on deathbed confession for the big reveal = poor writing. A final denouement via memory vomit to finally make it all make sense at the last moment feels pretty close to the Mack Truck solution to a writing problem. Plus, carrying out your angst into the next generation = icky. Heathcliff was not my hero, and that whole book was a real head-scratcher for me. And all of the bullying, insecurity, and dysfunction in the weird Severus-Lily-James drama puts teenage triangle on a pedestal in the worst way. You’re supposed to learn from that shit and move on to healthy adulthood, not immortalize it as a Tragic Love for the Ages. Gah.

        LW, I got nothing useful to add. All of the advice is excellent. Distance, distraction, and time, sweet, healing time. Good luck.

    • IrishUp said:

      Wow, I had a completely different read on Snape/Lily;

      Sure, he was a creeper with low self esteem. And shitty enough to hope to Nice Guy Lilly once V put James was out of the way. To me, he remained unable to move on to someone else *because* his being such a petty shit got her killed. To his credit, he faced *that* head on. He lived the rest of his life in penance and atonement, putting himself in harms way. She stayed the LOHL because he put her on that pedestal to keep beating the shit out of himself with. Maybe he never trusted himself NOT to be a shit after that, and keeping her up there was a way to never have to engage.

      I’ve met people who’ve never gotten over things That Big that they blame themselves for. That’s some pathos for sure, but the Greek Tragic kind, which doesn’t earn my disdain. IRL shit goes down that we *are* someway culpable for that breaks stuff inside us we can’t fix – at least not back the way it was. SOMETIMES that shit IS that our actions “lose” us a person we love, and we never love that way again.

      There is a Japanese mending technique called Kintsugi – “to patch with gold”. It’s using gold-flecked lacquer to repair broken ceramics. The idea is: you can never glue a vase or plate back to Pristine once it’s broken, so you fix it in a way that is obviously mended, and yet beautiful. I love kinstugi (or kintsukuroi – repair with gold) as a metaphor for recovering from loss. That’s how I read what Snape did – *his* kintsugi.

      • I’d be able to see that better if he hadn’t treated her son like shit. (Also all the other non-Slytherins.)

        • Burnt Umber Ella said:

          I’ve seen justification for that in fic, which I accept as my headcanon: the Slytherins are fucking hated. Not a single teacher likes the Slytherins. From the moment you are Sorted, you’re released into this pool of sharks where everyone is trying to one-up each other AND you know that everyone is going to hate you and your friends. So maybe you keep trying to succeed within Slytherin, and have rivalries in-house, but outside that common room, you will present as a united front because no one else is going to be your ally – not the Headmaster (who will suddenly give hundreds of points to his alma mater house on the night that you think you’ve one), not the teachers (who will side with their houses), and certainly not the other students. Slytherins stick together, and Snape is their only ally as a teacher and as Head of House.

          • Yeah, but you can be the kids’ ally without outright abusing the rest of the kids in the school.

        • Burnt Umber Ella said:

          Also, Harry is the living memory of the fact that James Potter, the dude who bullied him throughout his entire school career (seven years’ worth of bullying, goddamn), had sex with his crush! Multiple times! Baby-times! Snape is a petty bastard.

  14. Stay Excellent said:

    Step 7 should sorta be step 1, in my experience. It’s what started this trouble, and provided you do it in a manner that doesn’t unfairly burden him(pick a good time and place, keep it brief instead of FEELSDUMP, have a clue how you want him to go about the friendship afterwards-do you want him to give you some alone time, do you want to avoid the topic of him and his girl in convos, etc.), can save a lot of bottling up. Besides, his reaction can help pop the fantasy bubble you’ve created around the relationship in your head.

    Also, minor nitpick on Rory doing jack-all while he was the Last Centurion: he needs to keep a low profile instead of messing with Earth’s timeline, perhaps, and he did pick up plenty of skills and experience, but only access it in times of emergency to avoid brain owwies.

    • GemmaM said:

      Yeah, I always found that the best way to get over a crush was to confess it. It would be lovely to have the self-control to stick to steps 1-6 and keep 7 for if he asks you if something is wrong, but for me, that would have been beyond my mojo, I’m afraid. I always needed to hear the inevitable “Oh! Sorry, I don’t really think about you that way” before I could stop hoping that somehow things would work out.

      That said, the letter writer seems to have come to the conclusion that it would never work, even if he became interested, due to the severe inequality of the FEELINGS involved (which is wise of her — probably wiser that I would have been) so maybe knowing that would be enough to help her move on, by itself.

  15. Susan said:

    Dear Girl with Feelings,

    This is not advice, but I really want to say it to you anyway — I really admire you after reading your letter. It’s been ten years since I was in high school, and I’ve learned a lot since then — including, as you put it :

    “He’s just a guy and I don’t want to need his approval or presence in my life to be happy.”

    That is an awesome sentence to read. I didn’t have enough self-confidence in high school to think things like that (I do now), so now I’m imagining my high-school self having a friend like you to give high-school me excellent advice.

    You’re great, and you’re definitely going to figure out how to deal with your Feelings and carry on being great.

    • Mac said:

      Yeah, absolutely. I seriously wish I’d had this kind of emotional maturity when I needed it. You seem very self-aware, and ahead of most of us at that age. Keep up the good work.

    • THIS. Self-awareness high-fives all around! I know it’s sucky (as someone with a long history of Firthing until I realized the Object of My Affection wanted someone thinner/blonder/with a penis), but you sound like you have the tools you need to be okay. You rock!

  16. Mary said:

    So yeah, another person who’s been there, and who had the whole thing of smallish high school (70 to 100 people in my year, depending on how far along we were), smallish town, etc. And crushes are WEAKNESSES to be MOCKED, etc.

    This advice is a little bit double-edged, because you’re probably already doing it with a different goal. Basically, it’s to explore how it would feel to be cool with this, to feel OK about it.

    I imagine you’re already doing this because you want to act like you’re cool with it. That’s not quite what I mean. I found it useful to explore how being cool with it would feel like. Obviously not all the time, but it was a useful escape from the FEELINGSVORTEX actually, to be able to play at what it would be like to not care. It ends up as being kind of my version of imagining the person picking their nose. Just a sort of self-reality check: this is what it will feel like someday, when That One Guy is That One Guy Back In the Day.

    Also, with regard to widening your social horizons, it’s something of a cliche in Australia, and it doesn’t work for everyone and may not for you LW, but towards the end of high school, the social status quo started shifting a lot for many people I knew. It’s because people know that the value of their high school status is time-limited: suddenly more people wish they had good marks for university entrance and have to stop ragging on people who do, or they simply realise that the day after you all graduate, their precise status in their group won’t buy them 6 hours a day of social safety any more. I wouldn’t advise you to seek out the company of people who actively bullied you in the past, but (assuming that wasn’t the entire grade), it may be a good time to start being open to getting to know people in your grade you’ve never had much to do with. They may be becoming more open to having something to do with you.

    But to be honest the only thing that really worked for me socially while still at high school was getting the hell out of town, special interest camps and such, with total strangers. Local stuff like inter-school theatre and part-time jobs and so forth were still full of the same people (since the town only had four high schools, and one was a private boarding school with a really strong internal sporting and arts culture and rich kids who didn’t have jobs, so, three for the purposes of most of these things). Everything that happened at local teen gatherings still went straight into each high school’s status/gossip/bullying mill. REALLY FRUSTRATING.

  17. z said:

    A few years ago I badly needed a FEELINGS-ectomy (there was a really messy situation with a good friend). I conducted this operation quite successfully, and we are now even better friends sans awkwardness. Some of what I did won’t apply to you, but it may apply to someone else, so here’s what I did:

    1. We had a period of high ambiguity during which he wouldn’t give me a straight answer as to whether he wanted to date. I know now that the reasonable response to that is to go ahead and treat that as a no, but I was WAY into him and lacked perspective, so I was strung along and angsted a lot. I did, however, do one reasonable thing: I firmly asked him to give me a clear answer by a certain date just before the end of the school year (this was during college, and it was already late spring). That way, when he finally said no, I could take the summer to feelingsectomize.

    2. For that summer, I went to a foreign country. This was the best thing. We couldn’t text each other constantly as usual. We were in way different time zones, so I didn’t intersect with him much online. And I was plunged into totally new experiences that took over my life and helped me not think about him so much – plus I was away from everything that would remind me of him. (Of course this wasn’t the only reason I went, but this side effect was great.)

    3. I went on long walks by myself and explored the town I was in and listened to music and let myself be a bit sad, and steered myself to songs and feelings of slightly melancholy resignment – and eventually of confidence and new beginnings.

    4. I didn’t contact him much. I didn’t totally cut him out, but I just didn’t talk to him much, and that was enough.

    5. I mentally conditioned myself. When I found myself thinking wistfully about him, especially about cuddle sessions that had happened (yeah, it was a weird ambiguous period) and ones I wished had happened, I mentally punched the fantasy – or maybe fantasy-him away and apart. This started out almost involuntarily, in anger at myself for the fantasy, but it became a conscious strategy to make those thoughts really unwanted, and I think it helped.

    So by the time I came back to school, I was fine again and ready to just be his friend. I know still that if by some miracle he became interested in me I’d be interested too, but that’s it, and I’m totally fine with the knowledge that that’s not gonna happen.

    Of course, you’ve probably still got a while to go before the summer, and you’re hoping the crush will go away before then. That I can’t help you with – my crushes have all required a big break like that to go away. This means that I have often been saddled with a crush that I was pretty sure was not gonna go away for a few months. Sometimes this was painful, but sometimes I actually managed to reframe it into something pleasant (if the person in question was a friend and not freaking out over my feelings, as happened the first time I had feelings for a girl). The last time this happened, the person in question was a truly beautiful guy I was beginning to be friends with; I quickly ascertained that he did not want to date me but was flattered by my feelings and would be happy to continue getting to know me and giving me hugs. So for the remaining couple of months before I graduated this June, I took pleasure in being around him, admiring how friggin attractive he was, doing nice things for him sometimes, having interesting conversations, and getting super-amazing hugs from him. Yes, occasionally I would get all distracted and heartachey (most notably when he kissed someone five feet away from me while talking to me and expected me to continue the conversation with no pause!); I used those feelings to make art (I’m a musician) and dealt with them in private. Overall, though, it was a good couple of months.

    The major caveat for such an attitude is that you really have to take pains not to be creepy. Really really. It’s okay to extra-enjoy someone’s company, but you have to really respect their boundaries and avoid making them uncomfortable.

    • Hellion said:

      Re: #5: Possibly this is only funny to me, but I recently had to force myself to get over a guy, and I decided that whenever I thought of him, I would think of something really gross/unpleasant so that I would start to associate him with unpleasantness. I decided on kittens getting dismembered by machetes. But instead, whenever I tried to think of that, I would think of kittens HOLDING machetes, with bandoliers slung over their furry chests and bandannas around their heads. I imagined these kittens conducting guerilla warfare in the jungle. So the whole “associate him with unpleasantness” thing didn’t work out because my mind didn’t cooperate, but it’s become an inside joke with myself. For awhile, whenever I thought about him I would think “KITTENS WITH MACHETES” and just start laughing to myself.

    • Post-Structuralist Meta-Awkward said:

      I don’t have words for how helpful this comment was for me. Thank you for sharing. Probably printing it out, in fact.

  18. MissPrism said:

    Well, that’s the first year microbiology practical ALL SORTED OUT.

    • MissPrism said:

      That was meant as a reply to Volcanista’s first comment. Not sure what happened to the threading!

  19. neverjaunty said:

    LW, one thing that stands out from your letter is that you don’t describe yourself as doing anything. That Guy has all the action scenes, and you just….stand on the sidelines and feel things, you don’t describe yourself as doing anything. I don’t mean that as blame-y, I mean that it’s hard to pull yourself out of a bad situation if you see yourself as powerless to act except through wishing other people notice your needs.

  20. joze said:

    Wow, you totally nice girled him. Take a break. Get some distance. Follow the captians very good advice.

    • AnthroK8 said:

      Do you mean that as a lady-counterpart to Nice Guy ™? Because yeah, choosing Adventure Three is a mistake and does involve entitlement. But Nice Guy ™-ism also has a whole heap of male privilege attached to it that gives the entitlement a lot more power than nice girling gets.

    • heathenbee said:

      I think LW deserves more credit than that; she clearly knows what she has been doing is unhealthy and has made no excuses for herself, and further her letter shows she’s sincere about *wanting* the Captain’s very good advice. For someone in high school, that is amazingly mature and responsible. Frankly, I think she has put many of us much older folks a bit to shame, lol

  21. Piemouth said:

    LW, I feel so bad for you. I’ve been in that place. I think nearly all of us have, and it hurts so bad. The Captain has given you a lot of fantastic advice. I’d like to underline one sentence:

    “That One Guy dd not create these feelings in you and then cruelly fail to consummate them, even if it feels that way right now.”

    Popular culture has so many reinforcements of that idea. “Let me free, why don’t you babe?” and all that, and it’s easy to get into a mindset where this is something he’s doing to you so why won’t he stop. No. This is something we do to ourselves, and the object of our feelings often doesn’t even know. We do it because we’re human and want to connect, so don’t feel ashamed of those feelings. Some time you’ll have feelings and they’ll be requited and everything will be great. Really.

  22. joze said:

    ETA, In college adventure 3 also had a high chance of drunken hook ups ending in a lot of awkward unpleasantness when the morning came not with a realization that you’re soul mates but with a hang over and confusion.

  23. TheOtherAlice said:

    Oh, wow. I really, really feel for you, LW. I hate to sound all “oh, little one, let me tell you things I learned by Living”, particularly as I’m only 21 damn years old, but let me tell you some things.

    Basically, I have been there, and I did pretty much exactly you’re doing right now, minus the self awareness and writing a letter to an awesome advice columnist. So props to you there, you totally beat younger-me on those points. I, sadly, also chose Adventure Number 3 when dealing with my (massive, not at all hidden) crush. And it was complicated by the fact that the girl he started dating? Was one of my best friends. And then he cheated on her and told me and I got myself horribly in the middle of things and…yeah, anyway. Don’t do that.

    If I were you, or if I were able to go back in time, take younger-me by the shoulders and shake them, this is basically what I would say. Your crush either doesn’t/didn’t know you liked them, or knew and is choosing to desperately deny that knowledge in an attempt to avoid the awkward. As we all know, this is never going to happen. The awkward is unavoidable. It has already happened. So. Time to embrace it! I would tell your crush you kind of liked them. Do it casually, tell them you’re happy for them, and you hope their relationship is awesome, but tell them you’d prefer not to talk about their girlfriend etc etc too much, because it’s a bit sensitive. Keep out of their relationship. Try and find other people to hang out with (I took up hat making! It was awesome!).

    And, mostly, you’ll be totally fine. You’re clearly supersmart, emotionally and academically, and you sound really put together and awesome. So I have no doubt stuff will work out for you! You may just have to push through a bit of awkwardness for a bit, I’m afraid.

    • OhMyLanta said:

      Yep, I wish I’d had the presence of mind (and the access to CA) that the LW has, especially in college, when I was mired in a triangle in which I was, in turn, the object of unrequited affections, the giver of unrequited affections, and “the girl that he started dating” (in the POV of one of my erstwhile friends). Hellish.

      BUT now I can use past tense when I refer to it, because I am well, well out of the whole mess, thank the dear and fluffy lord.

  24. Hey LW, I’ve been in kind of a similar situation this year, and I would say that ABOVE ALL, do NOT try to pretend nothing’s wrong and carry on as if nothing is happening. Your current status quo is not an acceptable status quo, nor is it stable. Your feelings are alive and growing and if you keep trying to contain them in this Forcefield of Tragic Secrecy, eventually they’re going to explode and your guts are going to spill all over whoever’s closest at the time. There’s lots of good advice in here. Get some distance from the situation. If they ask, you can tell them what the Cap’n said about the crossed wires and stuff, but if they don’t, you don’t necessarily need to say anything. Unless, of course, they keep pushing to hang out together, in which case, yeah, give them that limited backstage pass and let them know what’s going on. (And if they don’t respect your boundaries after that, they are not very good friends.) Honestly, it’s going to be an awkward moment, but it’ll be a lot less awkward than it would be if you let this keep building and then they found out through a big emotional breakdown full of accusations and tears — not to mention, considerably less damaging to your friendships and to all the people involved. It’s like ripping off a Band Aid: best to get it over with so you can move on.

  25. SadieBlake said:

    There is one other thing I might add to the Captain’s list – it helped me perform a bit of a FEELINGS-ectomy myself.

    Write the whole dang thing and post it on the Missed Encounters section of craigslist. Be as specific or as general as feels good.

    It’s Schrodinger’s Loveletter: You can imagine simultaneously that he will a) find it and know it’s him, b) read it and not know it’s him, or c) never read it at all ever because seriously, who reads Missed Encounters?

    You get to pretend that whichever eventuality helps most is the true one, because it is out there in (a dark, murky, out-of-the-way corner of) the world, rather than in a journal where you know no one else has seen it. And it somehow helps to put it out there and walk away.

    I did still have to keep seeing this guy around – he was a regular customer where I worked. But knowing that he could have [possibly maybe but not very likely but still maybe] read it, and was acting like nothing had changed (because of course he never read it, right?) helped me go “Huh… Oh well.” It gave me an option to see his lack of interest in whatever light made it easiest to bear.

    Good luck, LW. And good on you for being smart and mature about this whole business. I have a feeling you’ll do A-OK.

  26. small-town-awkwardette said:

    Hey, LW here.

    Captain, I just want to thank you about a million times for responding. Don’t apologize for referencing Dr. Who though. Dr. Who is awesome, even though I would’ve spent my 2,000 years differently than Rory did. Much differently.

    And to all of you lovely, wonderful people commenting, thank you for sharing your stories and making me feel more like my FEELINGS are normal, manageable and, ultimately survivable. Perspective is really important and you guys have helped me get that. Even though usually LW’s GET Jedi hugs, I’m going to send you all some for being awesome. Okay, sent.

    You have collectively given me the hope that I CAN get through this, with the help of Team Me, (my mom, a few friends outside the group and my therapist that I’m seeing for other reasons) and a nice, shiny pair of Confidence Pants.

    • AnthroK8 said:

      I always find Really Great Shoes are crucial for these kinds of emotional tar pits. As colorful as possible. Remember. Purple is a neutral! So is anything that sparkles!

      (You’ll be fine- it sounds like you are getting there already! How fab is that? So fab.)

      • Grant said:

        Purple is a neutral? 😉 You must think along the lines of Marie from Breaking Bad!

        But I second shoes/shopping. If you can afford it, go out and treat yourself!

  27. Greg said:

    I’ve been there tons of times, well into my 20s, and the thing that helped me break the habit was when I recognized my propensity toward emotional masturbation. I would fantasize about what it would be like if we were together or what I could have done differently to not screw things up, etc, etc. I’d create alternate realities in my mind and just go there when I didn’t like real reality, and it made it much, much harder to move on. So I suggest just stopping yourself when you catch yourself fantasizing about him (not just sexually) and come back to the real world.

  28. Ali said:

    LW, you skipped a grade, but it sounds like you’re in your junior year of high school–so all those other people you used to share classes with are probably around now. Did you have friends before? Can you reconnect with them some now? Staying a little distant from your new friend group is probably going to make this easier, but if you have other people you knew and liked, reconnecting with them may be a good way to do so.

  29. That In A Hat said:

    Firstly, oh, I could do a little dance over Cap breaking down what is wrong with the Friend Zone. What a horrible concept it is. It’s amazing how simple words can solidify into a whole mindset that poisons friendships.

    Secondly, following on Cap’s “stuff I suggest” #’s 1 and 2: http://zenpencils.com/comic/50-neil-gaiman-make-good-art/

    Make good art. Create something. Write a poem, write a fanfic, write a novel (hey, NaNoWriMo is coming up). Draw, paint. Learn to knit (knitting is so very zen). Pick up a jewelry making kit, or crochet those little amigurimi things. If you’ve got access to an instrument, play the hell out of it (ukuleles are, like, ten bucks, and it is almost impossible to feel sad while playing the ukulele). Make something. There’s nothing so good for the soul, especially when you’re laid low with FEELINGS, that CREATING something. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, it’s just you making something that wasn’t there before.

    You’re young. Which means you’ll create completely different kinds of things now than you will ten years from now. You’re full of feelings. Use them. Put them out there into something. Hell, I’m 27 years old, and the last time I had a bad case of heartache, I still sat down and wrote an emo poem. You’d be surprised how difficult a good brooding is to sustain when you find yourself trying to find an appropriate rhyme for “thoughtless jerk.”

    Best of luck, LW.

  30. Tash said:

    LISTEN TO CAPTAIN! This advice is AWESOME. I wish I read it two or three years ago

    I have BEEN there – an awesome cute guy who I thought was perfect for me, and just too shy to ask me out – nicely ignoring how full on an outgoing he is in every aspect of life. Then a year and half of severe crushing later (and day-dreaming of marriage – wow, I was far gone) a friend I had been squeeing with (who also turned out to have a severe crush on him – that was messy) told me about a girl he was planning on asking out in a few months after finishing crazy High-School-Exams-that-take-over-your-life. I then had to spend a week with him on a music tour where I confessed feelings.
    SO DIFFICULT AFTER bottling THEM FOR YEARS. Now that was a fun screaming-cursing-drama-queen-fest! But it is worth it because it helps you get over them and is massively thereputic, and in a weird way strengthens the relationship
    Watch out for massive comparison-ment between yourself and his girlfriend. And even though it may take 6 months or so, or even longer, to heal, overall it means you can move on to an awesome person who likes you back .. 🙂
    *hope it works out for you!*

  31. Sheelzebub said:

    I’m not typically a big fan of hers, but Maeve Binchy wrote a short story kind of about this? The main character had an unrequited crush on her boss, and he had no idea. She was to go away with him on business (truly, just on business) and her aunt, who had heard about this man all the time from the lovelorn worker bee, made her promise to not speak very much to him except to ask him questions. Just let him talk.

    So the main character did that. She asked him questions, let him talk, asked him about something he had mentioned, etc. She didn’t jump in with suggestions to help or get awkward or whatever, she did as she promised and treated this as an interview/research. And she realized that her boss was a douche and a toolbag and her crush quite evaporated. (He ended up being quite enamored of her because she let him yammer on for a couple of hours, but. . .well.)

    I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes crushes from afar (or even from anear) are so strong because there’s only one person involved. Once you get to know someone well, the crush may intensify or it may cool considerably. I dated a guy who I had a huge crush on and within two weeks of dating him and getting to see the side of him I didn’t see when we were friends I was, well, over him.

  32. Copyleft said:

    How disappointing–a provocative and promising title like “How do I perform a FEELINGS-ectomy”, and then NO advice on how to actually sever your emotions!

    I’d been hoping for some practical tips of how to cultivate greater indifference. It’s a quality I’ve always admired. My best friend from high school was a master of callous impenetrability–no one and nothing could hurt or upset him in any way, and I desperately envied that trait. He just radiated cold contempt for anyone who tried to hurt him; it was brilliant!

    So where’s the advice, Captain? How can the rest of achieve this level of sublime disregard?

    • JenniferP said:

      It’s not actually possible. It just takes time and then you feel them less.

      Also, trying to dampen bad emotions just dampens ALL of your emotions. Or you become an asshole like it sounds like your friend was, but that doesn’t mean he was successful at getting rid of his emotions, just, he handled them badly.

    • molly said:

      A favorite quote I know, from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”

    • staranise said:

      It’s like developing immunity to iocaine: you ingest poison every day. You get so used to pain in your system, new pain doesn’t register. You give up seeing other people as people, deaden yourself to hope, and lose the ability to empathize. Then you just don’t care.

      Or you take acting lessons.

      There’s a reason most of the rest of us just get FEELINGS: because opting out of them is really, really shitty.

    • In recovery still said:

      You don’t want a feelingsectomy for real, says I from one who knows. For one, if it were successful in only excising vulnerability type feelings, it’d turn you into kind of an asshole and two, you can’t actually only excise one area of feelings and if that seems like a small price, let me tell you, two decades on from when I started trying to reverse mine, that way only depression, dissociation, and inability to form new relationships lies. Essentially I ended up not caring about anything – including my own life.

  33. SweetMisery2790 said:

    Captain, I have a question about a part of this letter. Isn’t it at least a little insensitive to ask someone out (or especially ask them to prom!) in front of another person? Even if LW didn’t have a huge crush, isn’t it still rude to ask someone in front of other people and put them on the spot (I hate ÜBER public stuff like that), and doesn’t it call LW’s attention to not having a date to the prom?

    LW for the record, I brought up going to junior prom with my crush, and he 1. Told me it would be weird, 2. Then asked my opinion about asking another girl. I did feel friend zoned, like my crush just said ‘no, I don’t want you, but I want you to sit here and find me someone better.’. It sucked. I’ve since realized we weren’t compatible, and we’re truely friends, with no pants feelings at all.

    Also, I went to prom with a totally platonic friend, and it was awesome because there was NO DRAMA!!

    • JenniferP said:

      It’s not the awesomest to put someone on the spot like that, agreed.

      • OldBrownSquirrel said:

        Dilemma: for guys, waiting for an opportunity to ask a woman out when nobody else is around can come across as physically threatening. If she’s always with her friends, the guy has a choice of hovering (bad), asking her out in front of her friends and risking public drama (bad), or just not asking her out.

        Maybe the solution is to assume that a woman who wants to be asked out by a particular guy will engineer opportunities to be asked out, and if she’s always with her friends, that’s a hint to leave her alone.

        Since guys aren’t generally expecting to be asked out, though, they’re probably not thinking in those terms, and the always-with-the-guys scenario is less likely to be a hint. Also, guys are less likely to feel physically threatened by hovering women, so waiting for an opportunity is less likely to be problematic.

        • JenniferP said:

          Also, the person in this example was 15 or 16 at the time.

        • Another option would be “Can I talk to you alone for a moment please?”

          • dawnofthenerds said:

            Especially if you only step a few feet away from the group of people. Far enough that you can talk without them overhearing, especially if you speak quietly, but still within line of sight. Trying to separate a woman from her group of friends can come across as threatening, but if you stay close to her friends, it shouldn’t come across that way, though YMMV, as always.

          • Or asking over the phone, if you have their number. Then nobody has to see anyone’s facial expression.

  34. Tabitha said:

    I think most of the Captain’s advice is great except for the last part. I think telling people about a crush that you had for them but isn’t going anywhere works fine if you’re in college or older but I would not recommend telling anyone in high school that sort of thing. While FEELINGS are hard for everyone to deal with most teenagers have a hard time coping with plain old feelings and even the nicest, kindest friends can be cruel simply because they haven’t learned how to react yet.

    To illustrate, I really liked a guy in high school who I knew liked someone else. I knew he liked her because a mutual friend of ours had let slip that he was thinking of taking her to prom. She freaked out and stopped talking to him. I spent a lot of time being his sounding board for how hurt he was by her behaviour (as a side note this is a good reason to turn off his Facebook feed, also if he wants to text, call or IM you I cannot recommend too strongly that you be busy when he does). Eventually I decided to let him know that he was being unintentionally hurtful and I didn’t want to talk about his feelings for her anymore. I didn’t FEELINGSDUMP but he still got freaked out and stopped talking to me altogether. In high school even knowing someone has a crush on you can be a lot to handle and not everyone can manage it with grace. After high school if people are still freaked out by the fact of a crush you can safely write them off as assholes.

  35. Hanna said:

    I want to reiterate what I’m sure you’ve been told a lot already: Sometimes high school REALLY SUCKS, and sometimes other people REALLY SUCK.

    As Captain said, telling someone that you like them and them having to awkwardly say they don’t feel the same way is MEGA AWKWARD. And after that, the other person will probably feel awkward around you because they’re worried about hurting your feelings even more. But if you act like it’s no big deal that they said no, “other fish in the sea” and all that, things will go back to normal much quicker.
    And guess what? If they know your feelings for them, and aren’t total assholes (like you say This Guy isn’t), then you won’t have to deal with the awkward/hurting situation where he asks your friend to Prom in front of you. As I said, once it’s clearly stated that you like them, they will consciously be trying to avoid hurting you more. And if they don’t? If they still pull a move like asking out your friend while you’re RIGHT THERE? Then they just showed you why it’s good that you aren’t with them- they are a big jerk, and you deserve better.

    I went to a very big highschool, so the idea of not having many potential-friend people is foreign to me. But I can guarantee that freshmen year is hard on EVERYONE. So maybe some of those people who ignored you/weren’t very friendly with you back then, can be potential friends now. I’m not saying you have to change your whole friend circle, and certainly don’t think you should force yourself to be nice to someone who used to bully you- but having more people you can interact with/hold a small conversation with will make it easier to not be so close to This Guy or his girlfriend. And if everyone in your graduating class still sucks, you now have people in the classes under you that you could make potential-friends out of.

    Also, I’d recommend bringing something to school that can pull you out of the world. (portable TARDIS anyone?) A book, a portable videogame, a sewing project, a sketch pad, whatever you like. Something so that if you start feeling hurt and worry about breaking down, you can distract yourself from all those FEELINGS. It can also come in handy so you won’t be forced to talk to This Guy/His Girlfriend (“Sorry, I really want to finish this chapter/get to the next save point/whatever, can’t talk”) or if you find yourself alone/feeling awkward, you have something to occupy yourself with rather than twiddling your thumbs/staring at your phone pretending someone just texted you.

    Also also, you’re more than half-way done with high school! I know that it still feels like you have a lot of time left, and the situation sucks NOW and thinking of the future probably doesn’t help… But really, you’re almost out of there. If you go on to college, there is so much age-difference that can happen in every class that no one will know/care if you’re younger than them. Being academically ahead in college will get you responses like “Wow you must be really smart! Want to be study-buddies?”, and “Damn well I hope your birthday is soon so you’ll be old enough to join us doing ___ (age-restricted activity)!”

    Regarding Doctor Who and The Ponds… I have so many angry FEELINGS about that abusive/not healthy relationship, I don’t think I can say anything without exploding into a big rant!

    • Leah Jaclyn said:

      but regarding the ponds, it does totally make sense that he would do that, because it wasn’t Rory, it was Amy’s conception of Rory, it all came from her head.

    • I’ve actually given Doctor Who a time limit of two more episodes to shape up and stop putting girls in boxes or I’m done. So sick of Moffat’s creepy.

      • Hanna said:

        Yes! I’m so tired of his sexist, racist, inconsistent, same-tropes, etc writing problems! I was done with him before he even said that this season is to be “over-dramatic, action-y, fast-paced, each episode like a movie”… Can Doctor Who get a new head writer please?

        And if it wasn’t Rory, then why does he hold it over her? He claims that it’s obvious he loves her more because he sat around and waited for sooooooo long, even though she never wanted him to. And that’s just one thing I see as being pretty wrong with their relationship, there’s many others.

        • I’ve actually stopped watching. The sexism and racism would have been bad enough on their own, but then you add in the creepy weirdness of River Song’s whole backstory… I mean, when they first introduced that character (during ANOTHER WRITER’S RUN), I thought it was the most amazing idea in the world! What could possibly be more tragic and compelling than a love story that runs backwards for each participant — where every time you meet, you know the other person more, and they know you a little less? Then Moffat got ahold of it and it was ruined. 😦 Sometimes, I like to mentally return to what that storyline looked like in Silence in the Library and pretend the rest of it never happened, and just revel in the glorious potential that idea had.

          • dawnofthenerds said:

            Not to mention the plot holes you could drive a tank through. The Silence has these huge grandiouse plans that Make. No. Sense. (thanks, Moff-man). It’s really too bad, because I really do like River. Why would I identify with a know-it-all archaeologist with a flare for the dramatic? Gee, no idea. She was the first character in the New Who that I really identified with, and that’s a powerful thing.

            She’s not unproblematic, especially that bit in the latest episode about never letting the Doctor see you age. Yes, squash all your worries and pain into a tiny little box (Pandora’s perhaps?) so that you can pretend you’re not hurting him while he’s probably doing the exact same thing. NOT HEALTHY!!

          • SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

            Oh god the plotholes. This entire season has been terrible but The Angels Take Manhattan you could speed a truck through swinging the wheel back and forth like you were trying to flip the damn thing over, which for a companion’s last episode is NOT what you want. How is adding a name to a gravestone LESS of a paradox than going back to pick someone up (even a couple of years later to avoid tangled up timelines) and putting a gravestone there? How the hell can the Statue of Liberty move if they can only move when *no one’s* looking? Why can’t the Doctor just pick them up from New York instead of Leadworth? There’s probably a plothole every five minutes.

            And yeah, everything has to be kept perfect for the Doctor. *eyeroll* My oldest sister did a super fanvid to Living Doll that seriously highlights the creepiness and unhealthiness, mostly focusing on Amy and River but it has bits from, like, ALL the girls that live in boxes (though not Oswin sadly, since it was done before season seven).

          • lizzieonawhim said:

            Her life also revolves completely around the Doctor, which is very not good.

            I liked the idea of the Silence, but yeah, they made no sense to me. You know what else he ruined? The weeping angels. He made them too complicated and specific and suddenly they weren’t as scary anymore. The monsters under your bed are not supposed to be that clearly defined; they lose that element of the unknown that makes them so much more frightening. We were never supposed to know so many tiny details about the angels.

      • Jake said:

        I’ve basically given up until they get a new head writer. I mean, I’m still watching because I’m unemployed and bored (and I’ll want the backstory once they shape up), but I’m not expecting anything.

  36. Key said:

    Dammit, I’ve got to get to watching Doctor Who!! The internet and now real life friends are leaving me behind. And now I feel I should make a bookmark for every post I don’t understand so I can go back and read them and understand the metaphors once I’m caught up.
    Back up to read comments now…

  37. sarahcircusnachos said:

    I know I’m late to the party here, but I just wanted to offer the following – As people go about their lives, dating, breaking up, inviting you to things, not inviting you to things, etc, very very rarely are they having their feelings AT you.

    And if you do happen to cross paths with someone cruel and twisted enough to have feelings AT you, you have bigger problems than romantic entanglements.

  38. twomoogles said:

    When I have a crush I feel like everyone else can somehow immediately tell. Like it’s written all over my face and HOW CAN PEOPLE NOT SEE IT AAARGH! They probably just think ‘She has a weird look on her face. Maybe the clam chowder isn’t sitting well…’

    It’s really hard for most people to tell what someone else is thinking. Yes there are people who are super obvious about crushes, but since it seems like he and at least two of your female friends didn’t realise it, this was probably actually not you. So these people weren’t so much oblivious as they were not psychic.

    If I asked someone out or expressed interest in someone, and the next day someone nearby was acting weird, or bailed on something, I wouldn’t necessarily think the two events were related in any way. It seems really obvious to you, but it probably didn’t ping with anyone else.

    I remember my FEELINGS!crush. I would flee when he came into the room, because it was just too intense! But, I don’t think anyone else who I didn’t tell worked it out. But I definitely did the subtle hinting thing mentioned above, too.

  39. Very, very late to the party but wanted to add: As another person who skipped a grade, with all the problems and social awkwardness that it caused, don’t let it stop you from going outside your social circle and finding new friends. I switched groups in high school several times. I also recommend finding friends outside your grade – up or down – for that awkward moment when all your friends turn 21 and you’re still 20.

  40. S. said:

    In the intense world that is high school, I think it is very, very hard to have Captain’s Adventure #2 not slip into Adventure #3 unless you ‘fess up. Those are just an awful lot of hours that your schedules overlap, and there are often NOT other social spaces you can retreat to. If you’re keeping it all very quiet, the patterns of hanging out will reassert themselves, but if you explain why you need space, then your friends, including your crush and his girl, can become your allies is creating some alternatives and opening up extra space within the constraints you’re all living under, because they sound like decent people who don’t want their happiness to be causing you pain.

    (FWIW, pretty much exactly this did happen to me in high school, when my crush got together with the friend I’d been pouring my heart out to when I was in the early throes of my obsession. They stayed together for just a few weeks, but they both knew how I felt about him when they got together and it was enormously painful, but in the 25 years since it happened, not only did I get over it, but I ENTIRELY forgot that it happened until this letter brought it back. I’m on good terms with both of them, in an infrequent email/see you on FB kind of way.)

    (Also, I can give you some advice about what *not* to do to get over your high-school crush who perhaps eventually you also dated except not for very long because of that whole unequal-investment thing! Don’t, after he graduates and you’re still in high school, go visit him at his college and stay in his dorm room and n his *bed*, even, then come home and write a one-act play about the experience for your creative writing class. Because you will find it impossible to explain to your creative writing teacher why you can’t submit your play to the literary magazine. So don’t do that.)

  41. Just because time has collapsed doesn’t mean that 2,000 isn’t a long time, and just because he loves Amy doesn’t mean that he isn’t waiting for a woman in a box. There is nothing about this that makes any sort of sense. He runs his hands over the carvings of the damned box and thinks about coma patients, the ones in his hospital in his century, and how their families would come and read to them and stroke their hands. And lo, though their brains were damaged and unhooked from their empty bodies, there was humanity to be had there, in the faith loved ones who came to bear witness and memory to living coffins.

    Of course there was that horrible part when his coma patients were all possessed by snakey eel things that brought the vengeful eyeballs down, but Rory won’t let that sort of thing affect his basic faith in the human race. If he did, he wouldn’t be Rory.

    Turning away from the box always feels like coming off from life support, and the secret passage leading upwards is always so dark and the guardian stone so heavy that sometimes he feels like he should just stay.

    But the stone circle is cold and still under the starlight, and how many people from Rory’s time have seen Stonehenge without its fences and carpark, flanked by the constant traffic of A344 and the A303? Seeing the small-but-weighty stones, soaked with moonlight and meaning, is an impact that he can feel somewhere in the former region of his ribs. He could almost believe in magic, if he hadn’t seen so much of the world. But then there’s his fiance, buried underneath his feet in a box, frozen in amber. Magic wouldn’t let things like that happen, if it was real.

    Of course, there is the unicorn. An artefact of collapsed time or a creature of magic – neither quite explain it. Rory only knows that it isn’t a figment of his imagination; for one thing, he would have dreamed up a prettier companion, and for another, its farts are just too beefy.

    The unicorn is very much a prehistoric beast: roughly-carved and shaggy, broad and robust, and dark brown all over with a paler belly, like an animal painted on a cave wall. Its horn looks like what it is – old bone, and brutal. It pads up, placid as ever, its heavy hooves printing the frosted turf.

    “You know I’m not a virgin, don’t you?” he says for the thousandth time. “I’m really not. I’m plastic. You should just leave.”

    The unicorn never seems to care. It rests its heavy jaw on his shoulder and breathes with him; Rory’s breaths shallow and useless, powered by some internal spring, and its breath steamy and sweaty and smelling of chewed grass. Two unnatural creatures unhooked from their time.

    “I don’t know what you want,” he says tiredly. The unicorn just drools on his sagum. How ridiculous to know the particular name for his red woolen cape, but not to have any idea how to use it is a conversation. Rory feels inescapably weary, down to his plastic. He wishes that so he could unspool the chain of his thoughts and pick out only the ones that are his, like chaff from his cloak, and it’s only the year 1100, and there are so many years to come.

    “It’s good to come here,” Rory tells it, scratching its coarse black beard. “It’s good to just make sure.”

    The unicorn stiffens and pricks up its ears. Rory sees it, too; the little dark shadow crawling along the plain. There are no villages close nearby, but here comes a child. He sighs, and they walk down the hill to meet it, the unicorn straining at his side like an overeager dog. The unicorn loves children. Rory does too, but he doesn’t make a big deal about it.

    The child seems to be powered by a small internal engine, covering the ground quickly. Stubby-legged and determined, stumping along towards Stonehenge in the middle of the night. It’s androgynous, in the way that the Standard English Villagers of this time seem to be; round face and brownish clothing, really bad haircut.

    “Are you the Roman?” it asks belligerently.

    Rory sighs. “Do you see any other Romans?”

    “Yeah but are you the Roman. The last one. From Stonehenge.”

    “Do you see any other Romans With Unicorns From Stonehenge?” Rory asks. “‘Cos if you do, mate, I’ll have to sue them for trademark infringement.”

    The child stares at him. “Are you the Roman with the Unicorn from Stonehenge who can come to do our dragon?”

    “I don’t do dragons,” Rory says testily, and the unicorn at his side huffs in agreement. Rory pulls out the tattered piece of vellum that serves as their business card and unrolls it: Williams, Unicorn & Co (Motto: Have Gladius [and secret gun], Will Travel Moderate Distances. He points out the codicil explaining how they Don’t Do Dragons, but the child remains obtuse. And illiterate.

    It transpires, after a long and predictably difficult adventure, that a pterodactyl has taken up residence in the village church, and it takes a remarkable amount of time and energy to get it down and get it to go away; eventually Rory sells it to a group of lost-looking Egyptians, and on the way home, he and the unicorn have a marvelous time giving bad directions to pilgrims.

    Unfortunately an itinerant painter lived in the village, and while he used a lot of artistic license, it was pretty hard for the Last Centurion to explain after that that he and his partner Didn’t Do Dragons. Business roared, like a pterodactyl who has fallen in love with a stained-glass window, and the world went on, time collapsing like an origami flower, containing as many possibilities and adventures as any human heart.

    And a woman dreamed under Stonehenge, and upstairs a man lived.

    • Two_Kinds said:

      Um, WOW. Round of applause for you, because this is just awesome. I love that ending and, also, the rest of it.

    • JenniferP said:

      I love this and also you. Thanks!

    • That is pretty dang cool. 🙂

  42. Oh my god. I thought I was the only person on the planet who actually *used* Litany Against Fear. Thank you for making me feel both more and less nerdy in all the positive ways!

  43. Post-Structuralist Meta-Awkward said:

    Late to the party, but I’m wrangling with the possibility of a FEELINGS-ectomy right now and wanted to share the analogy my brain has been concocting.

    Everyone has a house full of feelings!mammals, one for each person they know. They come in different shapes and sizes, but the ones for people you like tend to be more like fuzzy cats, and the ones for people you don’t like tend to be more like scratchy/prickly rodents. Anyway, I’m dealing with a feline feelings!mammal that has recently grown a REALLY long, REALLY soft tail, which represents my (unworkable) ExtraFuzzyTouchFeelings for this person. Like, go look at pictures of Persian cat tails. Only much longer.

    So this feelings!mammal wanders around your house and it’s such a nice, nice cat, only its tail keep knocking over your cup of coffee and your mint plant and your inkwells, so now your house is covered in coffee and dirt and ink. And the Awkward Army tells you that if you distract yourself for a while by playing with your other feelings!mammals instead, and maybe finding some new ones, the tail will shrink down to a much more manageable size and your house will no longer be such covered in coffee and dirt and ink. But you *like* this feelings!mammal and it likes you too and it would be so so sad to stop playing with it, and the tail is NEW and SPECIAL and EXCITING and SO VERY VERY SOFT and you just can’t stop petting it.

    …yeah. This is my brain. Luckily I am in another country and will soon be visiting a THIRD country, so I should be able to pull this off if I can just stop petting that goddamn tail.

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