#455: Jealousy & Crushes in High School

Hello, everyone! I ducked out to South Carolina for a few days to see family. Regular computer access is now restored.

Two links today:

Dear Captain Awkward:

I am a 14 year old and am a freshman in high school. I’m a guy by the way. There’s this other guy that keeps flirting with the girl I like. He’s kind of my friend but since he’s not in my grade, we don’t really talk much or hang out much. After school, I keep seeing him flirting with her and she talks to him and laughs with him occasionally. It gets on my nerves so bad! I really like her and I don’t like the fact that he likes her and is always flirting with her.

I’m jealous because he gets to spend more time with her than I do. I’m a freshmen and she’s a junior. We’re both in band together and that’s practically the only time I get to see her except in between classes, before and after school. I don’t think she likes me and I also don’t think she likes him. What should I do? I want her and I can’t stand to see him always talking to her and her talking to him. I’m jealous. What do I do and how to I get her away from him? She doesn’t really flirt back with him nor does she flirt with me. 

Jealous Guy

Dear Jealous Guy:

This is hard, painful, visceral stuff, but I’m glad you wrote in.

If you want to go out with this girl, ask her.


Possible script:

Girl, would you like to hang out outside school sometime? I think you’re really cool and would like to spend more time with you.”

You say you don’t think she likes you, so she will probably say no. That will suck, but it is okay. It is normal. People’s affections and desires don’t always match up. If she doesn’t like you, she shouldn’t go out with you. Someday, at some point, you will ask someone this question and their face will light up and they will say yes. Or they’ll ask you this question, and your face will light up, and you’ll say yes. Maybe this girl will surprise you with her reaction. Any way you look at it, you get:

  • Momentarily painful rejection & puncturing of a dearly held fantasy.
  • Actual information about her feelings that you can use to make good decisions.

Right now you say you think she doesn’t like you. Sometimes people do give really clear signals one way or the other, but often they don’t. It’s way better to ask than to assume or try to predict the feelings of another human being. They are separate from you, and you can’t actually know what’s inside their heads, so ask.

If the thought of asking her and risking rejection is too scary, then let the whole thing drop. Give yourself a little time to get over it, and then find someone new who seems interesting and nice.

Your jealousy is real, and it hurts, and it’s awful. But it is also YOURS to deal with. Your feelings do not compel her affections. They don’t give you any rights where she is concerned. They do not and should not inform her behavior, or the behavior of this guy. He can talk to her if he wants to. She can laugh and flirt with him if she wants to. They can do these things even if they don’t really mean to do anything about it. Your question “How do I get her away from him?” is pretty disturbing. It implies that she needs to be rescued, and that you’re just the one to do it. She doesn’t. You aren’t. It’s also a bad habit to to assume that just because another guy is doing what you are too scared to do (flirting, talking to the object of your affection) that it makes him evil somehow.

This other guy is not the issue. If he magically transferred to another school tomorrow and never talked to her again, it doesn’t mean that she would immediately notice you. The depth of your feelings for this girl do not compel either of them to behave a certain way.

So, what do you do?

If you like this girl and want to see if she likes you, ask her.

If you don’t want to do that (and I understand why that would be scary & daunting), you get over it.

None of these are perfect, rosy, or necessarily fun options, but they beat the alternative, which is to hang around, remaining fixated on her, feeling more and more entitled to her affection and angry at your friend for talking to her, dropping weird hints or falling into strange staring or dramatic silences, and coming across as a total jackass. Read the crush thread for some harrowing tales of dumb things people have done in the name of unrequited love. Pretend that we are Jacob Marley, come to warn you, Ebenezer Scrooge, to chill out now before you send FEELINGSMAIL or make FEELINGSART.

You don’t have a choice about what feelings to feel, but you have a choice about how you act on them and how much you indulge them.

So, recommended course of action:

  • Be brave, ask her out. If she is not actually exclusively dating someone else, it’s fair game even if she does talk to your friend.
  • If she says no, be cool. “Well, I had to ask. Thanks for being honest.
  • If you don’t want to ask her out, that’s okay. But you can’t be mad at her for not somehow reading your mind.
  • Hang back for a few days and let the weirdness dissipate.
  • Also, high-five yourself for being brave and doing something hard and cool!
  • Resume normal relations – saying hi during band, etc. You didn’t do anything wrong by liking her, there is no reason to act like a fugitive. Show her that you can handle rejection.
  • Throw yourself into other activities, including meeting more people.
  • Think about reading more books & consuming more art by women – it’s just a cool way to spend your time.
  • Give it some time to feel better.

I think you will find Dr. Nerdlove to be a pretty valuable resource as you figure out the whole dating and asking people out thing.

And Jealous Guy, to be in the grip of strong feelings and to be able to take a step back from them and make sure that your actions and the attitudes you have toward people aren’t controlling or entitled – that’s big stuff. Current You might feel pretty powerless, but Future You is going to be much more confident about approaching people he likes and handling the possibility of rejection with grace.


108 thoughts on “#455: Jealousy & Crushes in High School

  1. Hi, (just a) jealous guy!

    You should try to spend more time with the girl you’re interested in. It’s probably tempting to talk to the other guy and ask him to back down. The thing is she’s the one who has the power to choose her partner. You can’t make your friend ”give her” to you without engaging in semi Taken-business. Even if he accepted and this girl likes you, it would still be shady behaviour.

    As scary as it is, ask her out. Then, you’ve atleast tried and grown as a person by doing a scary thing. And you can stop living in this will she/won’t she-state. Good luck!

  2. “You don’t have a choice about what feelings to feel, but you have a choice about how you act on them and how much you indulge them.”
    Really great words of wisdom, and a smart way to look at FEELS. I’ll have to keep this in mind.

    I’d also say to LW just to be careful of feeling entitled to someone. I know (and hate) the feeling of having a “rival” when crushing on someone, but your liking someone doesn’t mean you have a right to them over anyone else, nor does it mean other people can’t feel the same way about your crush.

    1. You have a crush for good reasons! Clearly you think they are attractive and fun to be around! While it can be kind of hard to know other people like them, too (because it’s easy to fall into a trap where you think you’re all competing to win their heart like some weird reality tv show), just remember: they have the same crush for the SAME REASONS. You have mutually agreed this person is pretty great! Isn’t it kind of nice to have confirmation from a friend that you have excellent taste in crushes?

  3. Oh, LW. I’ve been where you are and I know this may sound like the most useless advice ever, but I have to give it to you: If you can’t stand seeing them together, stop watching.

    Seriously. When you see them together, find something else to look at. If you hear them talking and laughing, strike up a conversation with somebody else. Not in the angry way that is like I AM PUNISHING YOU BY IGNORING YOU LOUDLY; by genuinely being interested in something other than them. Because every moment you spend with your eyes glued to the two of them thinking about all the talking and laughing you’re not doing is more time you spend thinking, “I don’t have that.” It makes you small. It means you tell a story of your life that says, “I don’t get to talk and laugh with the person I like.” And eventually that story will dictate reality, instead of reality dictating it.

    Focus on the people you can talk to. Find out about the secret passions and hobbies of the other people in your band section. Even if you and this girl end up getting together, you can go far in life just by being sincerely curious about other people. But on a more practical basis: how much attention you spend on things other than this girl really affects how much she isn’t the centre of your universe. And if thinking about her hurts, it means you really want to focus on other stuff.

    1. “And eventually that story will dictate reality, instead of reality dictating it.”

      This plus eleventy gold stars and a bucket o’ chicken.

    2. Yes, this is absolutely good advice. I, too, have watched someone I like interacting with someone else, and it sets of my thought spiral of “Well, obviously they don’t like me, I’m a terrible person, why would someone like me?” And then I’m miserable. So avoiding that situation, by concentrating on something else, is a good idea.

      Another suggestion I’ve tried to use, is to send my thoughts elsewhere when I find myself obsessing about them. I find my brain gets used to imagining these nice scenarios, because they make me happy, but when I get to reality it all comes crashing down and makes me feel awful. So I’m trying, when these thoughts come up, to say “No, I’m not thinking about that now” and move onto something else. It can take a little while to retrain my brain from automatically going there, but eventually the obsession does get less… painful?

  4. The Captain gives marvelous advice here, as always. As someone who sucked it up and just asked several times (only to be rejected most of those times), I can testify that it’s a lot better to find out and move the hell on with your life than to waste months obsessing over whether or not someone is interested. And when they DO also like you, it’s awesome. So if you go ahead and ask, you come out better than if you’d never asked, even if the answer is no.

    And it’s important to remember that just as you like this girl and haven’t really said anything to her about your crush, there could very well be someone else out there with similar feelings for you. If/when they do approach you, even if you’re not interested, have the decency to be kind to them and not make fun of them. Obviously you don’t owe anyone a date just because they like you, but you should remember A) how difficult it can be to ask someone if they like you and B) that they’re a person with feelings, too.

    1. “So if you go ahead and ask, you come out better than if you’d never asked, even if the answer is no.”

      I wanted to second this and also point out, she gets to say: No. That’s a full sentence. She doesn’t owe you a “Why not?” That might be the hardest part of the asking —> being rejected equation. It isn’t the other guy’s fault, it isn’t her being mean (although she may not say no kindly, but that’s a different issue), it isn’t anything necessarily about you, other than she chooses not to. Being calm and cool and courteous in the face of a No is hard thing to be.

      1. Absolutely. It’s super hard to just accept a no, but it’s also the best way to save face–if someone says no and you start being all “but whhyyyyy” or what have you, you don’t look good. If you can just take the no at face value, you minimize the possibility of being taunted by others, and minimize the general awkwardness of rejection.

        1. The best part about being able to handle a “No.” as a full sentence is that, hopefully, she will file you away as a decent guy, who was gracious and respected her wishes. This is a massive plus point should she ever happen to change her mind (which may or may not be likely). People who respect boundaries come off better in the long run, though it may not feel like that now.

          All the love and luck in the world to you LW, I’m rooting for you.

  5. This is great advice here, and I’d second checking Dr. Nerdlove. But I’d also add – the girl you like might give you a no, but it may be coached in sort of confusing terms. For instance, there was a boy who liked me in high school, and asked me out frequently. I didn’t like him back, and this blog (or actually, the accessible form of the internet), didn’t exist for me to help me learn to use my words and tell him so, directly but kindly.

    Instead, I always told him I had to baby-sit. It was only true some of the times. But girls (and grown-ass women!) are taught not to upset people, under any circumstances, so this is common.

    So I’d suggest that if she says she unavailable, for whatever reasons, and does not volunteer another option (she might!), that you believe her, and don’t continue to ask her. Please don’t try to wear her down, or make her uncomfortable by continued asking – it will only make her avoid you.

    1. YES, THIS. A good rule of thumb is, if she says “no, I’m busy that night,” you can ask about another night *one* more time. If she still says she’s busy and doesn’t suggest an alternative, that’s a no. If she says, “no, I’m busy that night but how about some other time?” that’s a maybe. And if she steps up and suggests a date herself, that’s a yes. 🙂

    2. I have a question for you and the Captain: what about Dr. Nerdlove makes him a good recommendation for these situations to you? Or, really, any situations?

      A while ago I followed the link on the Captain’s blogroll and read through a bunch of his posts… Some of his advice was good, but a whole lot of it was creepy, misogynistic as fuck PUA-style advice like cold reading (that section is all sort of ew) and “[texting] can be used to bypass women’s inhibitions and build momentum towards sex.” and “Your teasing and banter should have a sexual edge to it – calling her naughty, framing her as a sexual predator, implying that she’s trying to get you drunk to take advantage of you or that you know that girls like her have only one thing on their minds.”

      Basically, Dr. Nerdlove strikes me as a misogynist in feminist ally clothing. He dispenses just enough spot on advice to obscure the fact that he gives men advice in a way that is almost identical to the PUA-style scripts where “getting” women is treated like a game/battle and “bla bla” is substituted for whatever their chosen target might say. I know that DNL frequently SAYS not to treat women as interchangeable and to try to make meaningful connections with them as people, but a lot of his advice (especially his not infrequent recommendation of cold reading) basically advocates the opposite.

      I would never recommend DNL to anyone–with the possible exception of certain posts (and even then only with a boatload of caveats)–and I really don’t see the overall tone of the site being a good fit for Jealous Guy, since the last thing he needs is to be bombarded with messages about how to “get” girls.

      1. I have the same sort of feels for Dr N, but a bit more charitable — I think he’s an okay midpoint between PUA and a feminist, for baby steps into the world of Women As People? Actually I just sort of talked myself out of that after reading some more again. Yeah I’m not a fan either.

        1. That’s how I feel – I’d send someone to his Nice Guys post, but the more I go into his site it’s like…well, it’s like most feminist guys I know in real life, where it’s like, “Oh, cool, those are things it’s nice to hear from a white cisma – OH GOD STOP TALKING NOW.”

      2. I checked out Dr Nerdlove’s podcast when Captain Awkward was a guest, and I thought that was good. So I subscribed and listened to a couple more. The one where he had a couple of geek comics on was the end for me. They were bantering and joking all the way through being all edgy and shit, professional comedians after all, but when in the heat of the comic moment, they start talking about one of their girlfriends and Dr Nerdlove says “she’s basically a fuckable zombie,” I was done. It’s bad enough to say that shit about some unknown or abstract woman (protip: don’t do that), but to say it about someone you know? Rly? So not ok and, yes, misogynistic.

      3. I think this post is great.

        When I link to someone, it doesn’t mean I endorse (or have even come close to reading) every thought they have ever expressed. I do think Mr. Jealous in today’s question will find a sympathetic community in Nerdlove & his readers.

        1. “find a sympathetic community in Nerdlove & his readers.”

          That is probably the worst thing that could happen. The male commentors of Nerdlove are the worst. Really, the worst. They are all convinced that because they struck out with a woman, and they are not tall/rich/whatever, that all women only want men who are tall/rich/whatever, and they consistently fail to recognize that complaining that women reject them when they themselves reject some women constitutes entitlement. They also consistently jump to the conclusion that all women have malicious intentions, and jump to the worst possible conclusion for every action by a woman. Oh, she stopped responding after a couple of emails? It can’t possibly be because life got in the way, and she’s not that invested in some internet stranger. It must be because she never intended to go out with you in the first place, and she was just toying with your affection b/c you aren’t rich/tall/whatever. There are some very nice, logical women there who patiently explain to these guys exactly why what they think is wrong, and they just. refuse. to get it.
          Nerdlove has said one or two good things, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. The overall toxicity of the community and the scripted, PUA-like advice on approaching women doesn’t make-up for all the problems. If you are going to recommend him as a way to figure out the whole dating and asking people out thing, I really think you should read more of the site and get to know just what you are recommending.

        2. I find the DNL blog off-putting, but in the absence of a CA forum the DNL forum is pretty awesome. Lots of feminist, CA-reading people there. The Nice Guys are there, too, but they actually do seem to listen.

      4. I 100% agree with you. He really does treat approaching women as something you can succeed at with a formula. Thank you for pointing this out.

    3. Very much ditto to this. There was a boy who liked me in high school, who I didn’t like back, and it turned into an enormous, horrible mess. But one of the (many) issues at play was that I did like him as a friend (at least, I did pre-mess) and wanted to be nice and let him down easily… which meant not directly saying, “No, I’m not interested in you like that.” High School Me hasn’t learned yet that that was not actually the kindest thing to do, and the guy who liked me took my non-clearly-spoken nos as maybe-in-the-future-yeses. So everything kept going and got worse and worse. Oy.

      So: if she gives you a kinda-sorta-not-really-no, take it as just a no, and then back off to give her some room so she knows you’re not going to be a creep towards her, and give yourself some room to process it and move on. (And that will be easier if you accept the no as a no, I suspect.)

      1. Sometimes rejectors are vague because they don’t want to hurt the rejectee’s feelings, and sometimes it’s because they’re afraid of the backlash. A few people upthread mentioned being yelled at, and there’s always the fear of stalkery creepers. My senior year of high school this one guy memorized my class schedule so he could follow me around and tell me repeatedly that he loved me. He was also pretty open about his admiration for the guys who shot up Columbine and would say creepy things like, “Violence solves everything.” I was 99% sure it was all just talk, but nonetheless I tried to avoid him instead of antagonizing him.

        1. That sounds awful, I’m sorry you had to deal with him. :-/ And yes, there are many reasons why rejectors are vague, and they are often entirely valid.

  6. Man, if I could pick any advice I wish I’d gotten and listend to as an awkward high school boy I think “just do SOMETHING” would be it. It is SO SO SO SO SO easy to just live in your own head, spin all these hypotheticals around and believe that you just need to find the exact perfect action to get what you want. And end up doing nothing, feeling all the crap like resentment and fear and longing and none of the fun things.

    Once I got older – and way older than I wish I’d learned this lesson – I discovered how much better life was when I just asked someone out/to hang/whatever and got on with actually experiencing things. Like the Captain says, that may mean the disappointment of rejection. But it gets it DONE. Then you’re free to get on to the next one and you inevitably get to the people who DO like you back.

  7. Feelings of jealousy are normal–even within a relationship!–but how you handle them now and in the future is going to be SUPER important. In all honesty, if you were older, people may have come down harder on you for expressing that you want to “keep people away from her”–but you’re young, and you’re dealing with difficult feelings for the first time, and you were cool and self-aware enough to write in and ask how to handle them. That takes guts!

    Please do be aware that desiring someone can make you want to “possess” them, and these feelings can get glorified in popular culture (COUGHTWILIGHTCOUGH), but while having these feelings doesn’t make you bad (we all have them!), acting on them would be very, very bad. Think of this girl as you would yourself–because she’s a person, just like you. If you had a couple of good friends (their gender is not relevant), and then you found out that one of those friends had been driving other people away, controlling other people’s access to you behind your back just so you’d have more time to hang out with them–you’d feel awful, right? I can tell you right now I would be hurt, angry, and NEVER want to date that person, ever. I’d be having second thoughts about whether I want to be friends with them at all.

    The captain’s script is good, although since it doesn’t say explicitly that you want the potential-hanging-out to be a date, she might not think of it as one. I know in high school, I was pretty oblivious to being hit on, and if someone asked me to hang out with them, I would take it at face value and assume they just wanted to hang out because they liked hanging out. So if she says yes, she might just be wanting to spend more time with you as a friend! But that’s not a bad thing, and maybe it’ll lead somewhere and maybe it won’t, but be sure to make your feelings clear if you start spending more time together. And don’t get mad at her if you make what seems like an offer of friendship, and she accepts it as friendship–she’s not trying to lead you on, she just, as you said, doesn’t see you what way. But someone, someday, will, and it’ll be awesome.

  8. Hey, Jealous Guy — the thing you’ve got going for you in this message is that you are Owning Your Feelings. You know that you are the one who likes her and the one who doesn’t like when the other guy talks to her, and you know that you are the one who’s jealous.

    That is a super big difficult thing, there, and I want you to know that. A lot of people talk about how how others make them feel, for instance, or think that someone is deliberately doing the thing to get their emotional reaction. Someone like that would be saying “He makes me jealous!” or “She makes me have pants feelings!” or “She’s just so beautiful, I had to kiss her!” Or other such stuff. In each of those examples, the person is putting responsibility for their own emotions on another person, blaming them for it, and expecting them to fix it somehow. This gives them the opportunity to be entitled and angry when the other person does not fix it.

    You’re not doing that, even though it would be super easy to do so, and so GOOD JOB.

    But you are going the other way a too far, where you want to take responsibility for what other people feel and do. The Captain talked about that when she talked about how you can’t make them stop talking, and how you can’t keep her away from him. I get why you want to do that, but it’s coming from another kind of entitlement, where you want everyone else to do what you want, just because you want it. That’s a problem, and it’s something you’ll have to watch out for in the next few years. It gets harder to keep an eye on this kind of stuff as you go through high school and college.

    While you’re working up the nerve to ask her out, or deciding not to, you might think about why you like her so much. That’s crazy hard to do sometimes but it can really help you out. Is she smart? Really good on the trombone? Funny? Draws the best superhero comics ever? If you can figure out what is really awesome about her, you can look for it in other girls.

    If all you can think of for why you like her so much is that she’s really pretty and has a nice body and voice and you’re getting pantsfeels, that’s important to know, too! If that’s what’s happening, remember this: You can jack off while thinking about her all you want! But the girl in your head is the girl in your HEAD and not the girl in the real world. The girl in the real world does not live in your head, has nothing to do with your penis, and has no responsibilities towards your sex life, no matter what you do with the girl in your head.

    1. Oh, one more thing! If you do ask her out and she says yes and you date and then are dating and are boyfriend/girlfriend — and this is putting the cart before the horse but I want to make sure it’s said — she would still be able to talk to your friend, and if you tried to put a stop to it you would probably be being a jerk.

      I mean, you could let her know it made you uncomfortable, but you couldn’t make her stop talking or flirting, even if she was your girlfriend, and you’d be doing wrong to try.

      You can only ask for what you want and see what she says.

      1. Seconding this and the Captains advice.
        It’s good that you’re owning up to your feelings, but if you’ve been reading this site for any length of time you will probably recognise that its unlikely that she’s flirting with another guy AT you. She is probably in a similar boat to you – feeling Feels she isn’t used to and dealing with flirty attention from other people which can be a whole new thing for most of us during high school.
        Understand she’s a person who can say “yes” “no” and “maybe”. Try and accept that if the worst case scenario happens and she dates this other guy, that A) she’s not dating him AT you and B) It’s a learning process for all of us. In the meantime (if you aren’t planning to ask her out on a date) follow carbonatedwits’ advice and figure out just what it is that makes her awesome and try and see that in other people.

  9. Dear LW,

    I just wanted to comment and tell you that I know that it seems really scary to ask someone out and risk rejection. But it is so. incredibly. FREEING. Even if they say no. Think of it as pulling off a bandaid. You can rip it off very very slowly, where you feel a little bit of pain for a long time. Or you can rip it right off, and then the pain is over with! And the pain of freaking out and feeling jealousy is actually much WORSE than the pain of learning that someone does not like you. Because there are so many other people out there in the world, and you can ask one of them out! Which is a great balm to rejection.

  10. I wish I could take this post back in time and give it to me when I was in high school. That is all.

    1. On second thought, it’s not all.

      (I didn’t read the whole Crushes thread, so I don’t know if this was already covered there.)

      My particular brand of Overthinking It often leads me to wonder whether it was my asking him out that MADE him not like me. I don’t think this can actually happen. Either she likes you, or she doesn’t, and if you ask her out and she says no (or yes!), you’re merely discovering a truth that was already there. Reminding yourself of this may provide a much-needed boost of courage.

      (On the other hand, if you hang back and stare and eventually FEELINGSBOMB her, that very well might cause her to not like you.)

      1. This is not actual advice, but when I was a teenager I knew a guy who asked me out, then yelled at me in front of a crowd of people that I was fake and a bitch when I said no. (So, um, why exactly did you want to date me?)

        I found out later that he’d had a crush on me forever, but since he’d never really even tried to talk to me we were coming into the thing with totallllllly different levels of emotional investment. And I never, ever wanted to talk to him again.

        1. Geez, why would you?

          And also: who the fuck yells at the person they claim to love/have a crush on? He seems like a really unsafe person. I can understand he was hurt and I’d understand if he had burst into tears or something, but becoming aggressive is a big red flag.

          1. Tears seems like a Red Flag that the other person is way more invested than you. And that’s always a bit icky in my book. See: the latest episode of New Girl.

          2. I’m confused; why it would be ick if someone has a different level of investment from yours? That happens a lot, probably much more often than having the *same* level of investment. I mean, one person usually has reached some critical mass of FEELS to go ahead and take that first step.

            I agree that it can be awful uncomfortable to be confronted with an Unexpected Emotional Display (implicitly – of the non-threatening, non-violent type). That said, I’d be disinclined to shame anyone – but particularly a dude – for crying. Asking someone you like out often involves huge amounts of FEELS, plus anxiety, nervousness, embarassment & whathaveyou else. So it makes sense to me if a UED results from a “No”.

            Personally, I *think* I’ve always been able to make it to a bathroom or other unobserved place before the tears came. But I hate the idea that someone would think my crying b/c I’m disappointed and had my crush crushed is icky.

          3. @irishup

            It’s not the crying itself, it’s the big difference in Feels. I’m all for asking people out, but preferably before the asker has come up to the point of Feelingsburst.

          4. Ok – gotcha. I think that’s probably a learning curve, but again, individual thresholds for expressing emotions vary. And dudes get such heavy socializing against showing feelings in non-dudely ways, I’d hate to be a party to reinforcing that ish. In fact, I wonder how many of the outbursts people here are talking about are the result of the conditioning dudes get to express emotions in angry ways, rather than ways that are coded “weak”, like crying.

        2. Several guys at my school would do this thing where they would ask you out and then if you said no, laugh really loudly and publicly in your face, tell you it was just a joke and you were stupid and full of yourself for falling for it. It made the girls feel terrible and I know I certainly became far less inclined to say yes even to guys I did like because of the fear of humiliation.

          By far the coolest guys were the ones who didn’t try to awkwardly cover up a rejection with a fake out, but who just said ‘ok, that’s a shame, but thanks for being honest with me’ and left it at that.

          1. Er, obviously this would be asshole behaviour from any gender and to any gender, but in my school it was this particular dynamic.

          2. Dang did we go to the same high school?

            I’m fairly sure the guys weren’t even really asking me out, it was just the setup for the part where they laughed at me. Same result, though.

        3. Geez. So when he said ‘fake’, he meant ‘turned out to not actually be the fantasy version of you I’ve been romancing in my head for months’, right? Like you’d actually inserted yourself into his imagination and led him on via telepathy, just so you could publicly humiliate him when he asked real-world-you for a date. Le sigh. Young people. How I don’t miss being one of those.

          1. Unfortunately, that kind of behavior isn’t unique to teenagers at all.

            My ex-boyfriend was a teenager times three. When I broke up with him, he loudly declared that I was a slut and an abominable person – and also, that he missed me and wanted me back.

            At least he let me know loud and clear that breaking up with him was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

      2. Sigh. I don’t think you’re Overthinking it. I know that for me, there’s a set of nonverbal “come hither” cues I give off or fail to give off. I have had someone ask me out despite my signals being polite interest only, and it is a total turn-off. I’m talking about pacing. One example – of lots – is a guy who approached me on public transportation, told me I was hot or something like that, handed me a business card. It’s not a bar, I’m commuting to a social event with people who are Not You. Second, if you hand your business card to every vaguely hot chick you meet, I bet you get some crazy drama in your life – it has the feeling of a craigslist ad. Third, I have flirted with people on the subway and then eventually took it to the next level (coffee or a public event) – many of these people are perfectly well-adjusted, wonderful people but I spend more than 30 seconds talking to them before giving them ways to reach my employer.

        I actually think CA is dead wrong here. It’s okay to ask someone out if you think they might like you (but aren’t sure), especially couched in such. When your gut instinct says they don’t, go with that. If you’re wrong, they’ll escalate, or better yet, you’ll find someone whose cues (verbal and nonverbal) are easier for you to parse.

        1. While your first paragraph is spot on, I disagree with your second. Some people are just plain bad at spotting when someone is interested in them; providing they’re polite and appropriate about it, I don’t see the problem with them taking a chance.

          1. Agreed. Saying “I think you’re cool, would you like to hang out sometime“, whether it’s to a school friend you’d like to get to know better or a crush, is not creepy and does not have creeper/stalker baggage. The whole point is DON’T try to plan this thing like the D-Day invasion, just ask, and then you’ll know, and if they seem unwilling for any reason, back off. We have to teach dudes that hearing “no thanks” is not the end of the world and girls that saying “no thanks” is not the end of the world.

          2. Yeah, sometimes people are mutually bad at just getting it. A few of my friends are guys who I started hanging out with because I was into them and wouldn’t mind dating them, but when I didn’t feel them giving me any “I like you back” vibes, I shrugged and stayed friends with them because hey, friends are awesome, we don’t need to date to enjoy each other’s company. And then years down the road they were all “by the way, why weren’t you interested in me when we first met? Because I was totally into you, I just want to know what turned you off about me.” If either of us had gone out on a limb and risked asking the other out, who knows where it could have lead?

          3. Word. Some of us are just bad at reading body language, and even those who’re good at it, aren’t infallible, if only because, as llamathatducks points out, people can suppress it or have non-“standard” body language.

            People aren’t mindreaders, is the thing, and it’s not rude or weird for them to Use Their Words and expect you to do the same.

            Besides, trying to divine interest or lack thereof from nonverbal/nonexplicit clues is what the Overthinking Road to Feelings Hell is paved with. I’ve been there, and making the executive decision to never go down that road again was the best thing I ever did, both for my peace of mind (no more hours wasted trying to figure out What They Really Meant By That!) and my social life.

        2. “When your gut instinct says they don’t, go with that. If you’re wrong, they’ll escalate, or better yet, you’ll find someone whose cues (verbal and nonverbal) are easier for you to parse.”

          In addition to what people have said upthread about some people just being bad at seeing existing cues, there’s also plenty of situations – especially in high school! – when people go out of their way to suppress potential “I-like-you” cues because they think it won’t be reciprocated and they don’t want to be creepy (or make themselves vulnerable). I know I’ve done this very, very often, and while it would be perfectly reasonable for others to have taken my behavior at face value (I mean, that’s what I intended for them to do), it also would not have been a problem at all for someone to ask despite not seeing crush-signals (as long as they were respectful of any answer).

          1. I’m generally of the opinion that people not getting what they want because they refuse to tell anyone else what that is, is a sort of a self-solving problem. They’ll either get their act together or they’ll be perpetually unhappy — you hope for the first, of course, but in the event of the second, it’s not your job to fix it. If you’re going to make an exception, though, it is for people in high school, who are still learning. So once you get to maybe late college age, I’d assume that people who are squashing signs of their pantsfeelings for you are doing so for reasons of Do Not Want To Act On, and respect that. YMMV, of course.

  11. Good on you for writing in, LW. If you follow this advice, you will be so much happier in ten years when you don’t turn into a controlling, toxic, undateable, stalkery dude. Now is the perfect time to learn how to treat women (including asking them out, this will probably be a VERY valuable skill to future-you that you will want to practice now), and to learn how to handle rejection.

    Understand that she owes you nothing, and that you have no right to control anyone else in any way. Ask yourself: if the situation were reversed, and some girl you were deeply uninterested in was trying to control how you interacted with other girls (or to control anything you did, really), would that piss you off? Would she come off looking really unbalanced and unattractive?

    If a girl you didn’t like asked you out privately, would you be like EW GROSS I’M TELLING EVERYONE HOW PATHETIC YOU ARE FOR THINKING I MIGHT LIKE YOU AND THIS IS GOING TO RUIN YOUR LIFE? Or would you be a little flattered, but try to let her down easy? I guess some of these things seem different in middleschool, where things get weirdly tribal, and a portion of the population is still working on developing their sense on empathy. But I will tell you now, the worst things that could possibly happen right now, by asking this girl out and possibly getting rejected… none of the bad outcomes from this are going to be half as shitty as going through life being afraid to interact with women, and then trying to passive-aggressively manipulate them and force them to bow to your will from afar.

    This is a really good opportunity to work on some life skills that I PROMISE will make you so much happier (and probably so dateable) in the future. Learning to get over bad shit without making it other people’s problems will serve you forever and ever and ever.

  12. One thing I realized later than I should have is… confident people? Don’t necessarily get what they want all the time when it comes to asking people out.

    The thing is, they ask, knowing another person’s “no, thanks” is not a referendum on their personality, worthiness, or likability. They feel bad if they get turned down, because who doesn’t? They think dating and romance are important, but not so important it is worth giving up yourself to the fear of romance failure. They accept that it happens, that other people get to make choices, too, and move along to other things.

    And I think they know it’s better to have the information than to catastrophize or invent a whole narrative about a person’s mind they can’t read.

    Be a brave and considerate person- ask! Or be a considerate person and leave your friend and your other friend to their lives.

    1. Actually, I admit this is strange, but one of the hardest lessons I had to learn when I transitioned from a Nice Guy (read: jerk) to someone not like that was that all those “jerks” actually get rejected all the time. They’re not the “playas” I always thought they were.

      It hit home with one of those guys who actually let me ask him those questions, and he told me, if he counted up the number of rejections and compared them to the number of “yes’s”, he said the “yes’s” would be negligible by comparison.

      The lesson I had to learn was that rejection is the most common thing. Everyone gets rejected. It’s not saved for awkward people like me… even the model-handsome jock dudes and the shredding lead guitarists and the angel-voice singers get rejected all the time!

      Rejection is a universal thing.

      And that goes for both men and women.

      1. Yes! I know smoking hot, unbelievably cool babes who couldn’t get a date if their life depended on it, and tons of people who I would never date in a million years who can always get a date.

        Dating: it’s just a skill. It’s one that is heavily, heavily prioritized, at least in my American experience, but the point is that you can get better at it. It’s not something that you ARE, it something that you DO. Some people have a real knack for it, usually because they enjoy it, but even people who don’t love the game can still practice and get better.

    2. And if you get this concept down as a high school freshman, you will be so far ahead of the curve in social development you could flunk all your classes and still come out ahead of your peers in terms of net achievement for the year!

  13. The Captain gave great advice here, as per usual, but Jealous Guy, it may be pertinent to realize that the girl you are interested in isn’t wholly age appropriate for you. She has legitimate reasons to view you as out of her peer group.

    As a junior, she is approaching the land of legal adulthood. As a freshman, you are (most likely) below the age of legal consent. Sometimes juniors and freshmen do date. Sometimes it even works out. It doesn’t come with as many tangles and potential skeeviness as seniors and freshmen, but there are tangles and she has every right to have no interest in dealing with them.

    This doesn’t dictate how you feel. You have every right to like her! She may even like you back and you two might work it out, but being aware and conscious of the age gap is important. I know liking someone who is unattainable is often simultaneously wonderful and horrible. I’ve been there, but this is an additional reason you can’t hold it against her or the guy if she likes the guy who isn’t in your grade but not you (though I’m sure she likes you just fine as a bandmate).

    (If she skipped a grade or you were held back, this doesn’t apply so much, but she still is in a different peer group. Respect how that may affect her feelings.)

    1. This! You articulated the thought/feeling I was having, better than I could! It sounds silly once you’re an adult, but when you are a teenager, the difference between 14/16 and Freshmen/Junior is HUGE. (heck, she could be turning 17 — I did my junior year) The gap in emotional development between those two ages is substantial, even for the most mature 14-year-olds. Plus, you have the bizarre social strata of high school to contend with. Even though it sucks and seems stupid in hindsight, we do make decisions in high school — especially about friend groups and dating — based on stigma/what is socially acceptable for the group.

      Anecdata: I was a nerdy high school girl, and I did like boys who were younger than I was–but only one grade below typically (ie: when I was 16, I might have considered a 15-y-o…). Exception: when I was an exchange student to Germany, I was in a class one grade level below my normal one, and I did have a mad crush on a 15-year-old (I was 16 and then 17). BUT I think if I’d been in my normal high school environment, with all the stigma/social strata involved, I would never have even noticed the kids two years below me. I just didn’t consider people two years below me, romantically.

      1. When I was in 9th grade I got in a lot of trouble for dating an 8th grader. My school was K-12, but apparently the high schoolers weren’t supposed to date the middle schoolers because it might give the younger middle schoolers “ideas” or some shit.


    2. This warning about age and peer groups is not necessarily wrong but fwiw it was REALLY normal in my high school to see junior/freshman and senior/sophomore couples. I would almost say more common than people dating within their own academic years. Guy-junior/girl-freshman was more common but there were plenty of Girl-junior/guy-freshman couples too. I think a lot of it just depends on the culture of the school.

  14. I don’t have any advice for the letter writer that others haven’t already covered. I just want to say that I think the “consume more media created by women” advice is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever seen on this blog. It’s giving me painful flashbacks to the comment section of that particular post, but that in no way diminishes the awesomeness of the advice.

  15. Captain,

    This is brilliant, sensitive, non-patronising advice. Jealous Guy, you would do well to heed it to the letter! Not everyone will give you such a good steer! Good luck. 🙂

  16. I’d just like to second the ‘spend more time together and get to know her better’ advice. It also gives her a chance to get to know you better.

  17. I’m a little confused here:

    “Pretend that we are Jacob Marley, come to warn you, Ebenezer Scrooge, to chill out now before you send FEELINGSMAIL or make FEELINGSART.”

    I understand the FEELINGSMAIL advice, but what’s wrong with making FEELINGSART? I just think of how much good music wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for FEELINGSART.

    1. I think the problem is that FEELINGSART is then sent to the object of one’s affections rather than turned into a platinum cd or put on tour. Getting the emotions out is fine, but don’t assault your crush with them.

    2. What clodia and Irene said. I’ve written tons of FEELINGSMUSIC. What I haven’t done is contact the people who inspired it and said, “Listen to this. It’s about yooooooouuuu …”

      1. “This is where I was going to sing your name / Over and over again / But I chickened out in the final minute / Cause I thought you probably wouldn’t like it”

        Yes, Imogen Heap, that was the correct move!

        1. And maybe you been through this before
          But it’s my first time
          So please ignore
          The next few lines cause they’re directed at you

          —-Jack Johnson, “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing”

          I had to explain to my boyfriend why that last line made me giggle when we listened to the album for the first time.

    3. In the original FEELINGSART letter, the painting was a gift to a long-term crush.

      Being handed FEELINGSART about onesself is like doubly awkward, because you feel pressured to say something nice about a piece of art created by an amateur… but also do it while delicately responding to the implied feelings underneath, which you probably do not reciprocate.

    4. Once a guy (then 17) gave me a floppy disc filled with violent poems about a “whore” who doesn´t appreciate him, wink-wink-nudge-nudge. I was 16 at the time and didn´t even know he had a crush on me before. That definitely wasn´t an appropriate way of showing “affection” for someone for the first time. I don´t live near him anymore, but I always try to avoid him when I go home for a visit. So yeah, I think there is no problem to do FEELINGSART, just don´t give/send it to your object (and I was definitely an object, not a person for him) of your affection.

      1. A floppy disk? What, you didn’t even warrant a printout? Wow, creepy and cheap!

        (Apologies for the flippancy, because he sounds genuinely creepy and potentially dangerous, but … really, now.)

        1. Haha, no worries, as this occurred long in the past (as you can see from the usage of a floppy ^^), it´s okay to joke about it.
          I never even thought of the possibility of a printout, and honestly I am happy he didn´t bother with it. It was a buttload of poems, and it was already overwhelming in this form, I don´t even know what I would´ve done if he gave me a big pile of paper! He was playing the whole thing pretty nonchalantly, so I think printing out would´ve signalled too much “caring” for him. When I think about it this was pretty much a testing of my boundaries and trying to gaslight me into thinking this is appropriate behavior.

    5. Making art is a good idea! Giving the person you have the feelings about the art…that’s FEELINGSART.

      1. Especially if it’s a Very Realistic portrait of them with your phone number written on the bottom (but no signature, to make it extra creepy), and you have folded it into teeny tiny pieces and shoved it between the vents of their locker. Sadly, I was the giver in this instance, not the receiver.

        1. I once had a boy make me a mix tape and write me a corresponding letter that he signed in his own blood. Then he biked to my house and had my brother leave those items for me on my pillow.

          The best part? I did not understand at the the time that this was an expression of FEELINGS. “Oh, a mix of all my favorite Beatles songs! How considerate and kind.”

          1. In his own blood? Whoa.
            I blame Lloyd Dobler/Edward Cullen and their ilk for inspiring this behavior! Aargh.

          2. Even Lloyd Dobler would’ve avoided writing a note in his own blood. Then again, the girl who dumped him did give him a pen, so maybe it’s an unfair comparison.

    6. A guy who went to the same art school as me showed his feelings by making FEELINGSART and showing it to me. I was like “uh, nice” pretending I didn’t notice it was FEELINGSART but tried to respond in a normal way.
      Then he asked my second boyfriend (I was in a poly relationship with two dudes then) whether he could be my third boyfriend. Second boyfriend was like “uh, that’s really not something I decide”. He never asked me.

    7. I only got given FEELINGSART once, and it was kind of adorable.

      His was just him “sharing” part of a book he was writing. Which just happened to be sci-fi (the mutual love that started our friendship) and just happened to star the brave, if troubled and sensitive, Captain Totally-Not-The-Writer and the smart, funny, sexy head engineer of the ship, Totally-Not-Me and a brief internal monologue by Captain Writer about how much he loved Looks-Just-Like-An-Idealised-Me.

      Being terrible at this stuff, I didn’t twig what he was trying to say in the work – which was incredibly well-written for something created by a 15 year old – until after I’d read it, met him back at school and told him in innocent earnest that I thought it was great and he’d make a really good writer. And then our school broke up the next day and we went to different sixth-forms and never saw each other again.

      I really wish he’d just told clueless-me that he liked me, honestly.

  18. You may also discover that being able to accept rejection/losing gracefully is a very attractive quality. Not just romantically attractive (though that, too) but generally. People respect and look up to someone who can acknowledge their emotions without being helplessly controlled by them, and who has the self-confidence to know they will have many more opportunities soon – whether that’s for romance, friendship, or victory. Master the art of hearing “no” with equanimity and you’ll be miles ahead of most high schoolers, and most adults for that matter.

  19. how to I get her away from him?

    Yeah. No. You don’t. You don’t “get her away from him”. That is not for you to decide; that’s for her to decide.

    Just follow the Captain’s advice and ask her out. The worst that can happen is that she’ll say no. And honestly, as scary as it sounds, it’s really not that bad! Seriously! Rejection can actually make you a better person if you let it. So let it.

    And if she says yes, then yay! You get to date her!

    But as the Captain said… your feelings don’t dictate her or his behavior. They aren’t required to act around your feelings. If she rejects you, that’s it. Let it go, and move on.

  20. All the advice here is great. I’d like to add – if she turns you down, make sure you make yourself get over it. No isn’t maybe, isn’t “if I try harder”, isn’t “she doesn’t know me well enough”, it isn’t anything other than no. Soft nos (like “I don’t want to date right now” or anything other than a “yes” fall under the same category).

    Don’t waste your time mooning over someone who doesn’t like you back.

  21. The Captain’s advice is spot on. One thing to add is that it’s good to get practice at taking chances putting yourself out there and risking rejection, and then actually getting rejected, and then realizing that getting rejected is not so terrible, and that never taking the chance in the first place is a lot worse.

    1. And it’s possible to deal with rejection in a way that doesn’t mean you have LOSER written across your forehead. If you get to write your own narration about being turned down, making it “I am awful and unlovable” just isn’t doing you any favours, and “That person is awful and deserves to be punished” goes somewhere ugly real fast.

      On the other hand, there are a lot of alternatives that really do work. You can say to yourself, and sometimes even to others, “That hurt and it sucks, but I believe I’ll get better,” or, “Well, I still have a lot to offer, even if [person] wasn’t interested,” or, “I’m a guy who dares greatly for what he believes in, so I have to take risks.” You get to decide how to interpret and talk about yourself.

  22. Overall, this is really great advice. I just want to submit a tweak to the Captain’s script.

    Instead of asking her if she’d like to hang out sometime, ask her on a date to something specific: “Would you like to go to the Homecoming dance with me?” or “Would you like to go on a date to see Beautiful Creatures on Friday?” Like Bittybird said, it’s good to indicate you mean a date rather than just hanging out as friends.

    “Hanging out outside school” could mean anything from getting high in a parking lot to going to a church social – she might want to say yes to one of those but no to the other. Even if she said yes to whatever hanging out means, having wildly different expectations could make it really awkward for both of you.

    Having a specific suggestion shows that you thought about her and her interests a little bit. And it makes the whole idea sound more fun!

    I agree with Hummingbear that you get one revision. If she says “I’ve already seen Beautiful Creatures” or “I’m busy on Friday,” it’s okay to say, “What about Life of Pi?” or “Saturday?” But after that, stop and say something like “Well, I had to ask. Have a good weekend!”

    Good luck! I’m rooting for you, LW!

  23. All of this is good advice, but I’d like to put out there that the “How do I get her away from him” and “I want her” jump out at me as remarkably possessive. That’s something that, generally, is a really bad thing – and, at least on a personal level, would make me want to run for the hills if someone used those terms to refer to me. Actually, it *has* made me run for the hills when they’ve done that. It turns the person your referring to into more of an object than a person, and that *really* isn’t cool.

    1. Yes, this.

      LW, this young woman can reject you for any reason, not just because there’s another guy in the picture, and that kind of attitude (as opposed to, say, ‘I want to spend time with her’) is definitely a thing that a lot of people consider a good reason.

    2. Seconded. I saw “I want her” and got worried. LW, you’re using some concerning language. You shouldn’t phrase it as you “want her”, not like a puppy to be owned, a candy bar to be consumed, a pair of sneakers to be flaunted. You should phrase it as “want [verb] her.” To spend time with her, want to get to know her, want to hold her hand and sing song to her, even want to have mad sex with her. She’s a person with which you will interact, not an object to be desired.

      And, of course, while you can want to [verb] her, you can’t demand or even expect that she want to [verb] you back.

  24. Asking somebody out directly is a fine thing to do. But if it’s just too hard right now and you want to do SOMETHING, try this:

    1. Think of something you’d personally like to do.
    2. Say to her, “I’m going to go do X at Y time. Would you like to join me?”

    If she says yes, great! You don’t know yet if she’ll like you romantically, but she at least thinks she’ll enjoy hanging out with her. If she says no, that’s sad, but the exchange won’t be too awkward because she’s rejected that specific plan, not YOU.

    As others have noted, you can privately count her no as a real no if she doesn’t say, “But would you like to do Z instead,” or “Maybe some other time?” It will still hurt, but it’s a little easier to deal with in the moment when you haven’t put yourself all the way out there.

    Oh, and if she says no? Go to that thing you invited her to, either by yourself or with other friends. It helps prove that your every happiness isn’t dependent on her.

    I’ve used this strategy as an adult. I’m not proud.

    1. “If she says no, that’s sad, but the exchange won’t be too awkward because she’s rejected that specific plan, not YOU.”

      See, this grabs me the wrong way, It’s perfectly possible to want to do something, just not with a certain person. The above sentence is also a great example of a soft no. A soft no is still a no.

      1. Agreed, Kellis. If someone rejects your invitation, you have no way of knowing why they rejected it, and it’s not your right to know. It is their right to have their reasons and keep those reasons private if they want.

        Interpreting a rejection as, “They just didn’t want to do that thing! But they didn’t reject ME!” is a dangerous path because it’s an invitation to keep asking.

        It’s tough to admit to yourself that many people don’t like you Like That–and that some people just plain don’t like You. It hurts, it makes you feel worthless. But it’s also true, and it’s true for EVERYONE. Realizing it, and admitting it, stings in the short term. But it helps a LOT in the long term, and it will help you make good decisions when trying to date.

        1. “Interpreting a rejection as, “They just didn’t want to do that thing! But they didn’t reject ME!” is a dangerous path because it’s an invitation to keep asking.”

          Exactly! And whoops, now you’re in Stalkerland. Party of one.

      2. Hm – I think in combination with the next sentence it’s sound advice. I see no fault in asking in a way that may help the asker cope, as long as the asker understands that unless the askee comes up with an alternative they actually have been rejected.

    2. “I’ve used this strategy as an adult. I’m not proud.”

      Why wouldn’t you? It sounds to me like you noticed something about yourself and found a good way to deal with it.

      1. I was extremely pleased with myself when I came up with the strategy sometime in my twenties. I only feel a little chagrinned about it when I read threads like this, about how you should just learn to treat rejection as no big deal. 🙂

    3. > I’ve used this strategy as an adult. I’m not proud.

      I think this is just a strategy, not one to be proud or ashamed of. Neutral.

      It’s exactly the advice offered to people who want to make friends when they’ve found a group that feels comfortable: to ask some member of that group to join you in doing xyz thing you have planned.. (Can’t type more — display weirdness is hiding things.)

  25. I have to chime in with my perspective which isn’t completely on line with Captain Awkward’s.

    It’s not quite clear from your letter how much interaction you actually have with this girl. Do you talk to her: a) not at all, only firth b) only about subjects at hand like “pass me that something-something” c)have actual conversations, about things like movies, what did you do last weekend, similar?

    Beacuse if the answer is “not at all” or “only about subjects at hand”, I WOULDN’T recommend asking her out before you’ve worked up your courage to try to get to know her a little bit first.

    I related in the crush thread my own experiences in high school. I developed a huge crush on a guy without basically ever really speaking to him. For various reasons, chiefly because I was over-invested in the idea of being “brave”, I asked him out (in a FEELINGSNOTE). It must have been a complete surprise to him, and of course he wasn’t interested. It didn’t cure my obsession, hoo boy not one bit, and made me feel like a complete and utter idiot and worry that everyone in my HS had heard about that episode.

    It wasn’t even the last ill-advised thing I did in the name of being “brave”, before I realized that the bravest thing I could do was to climb out of the hole of my social anxety one litle bit at a time by, you know, actually talking to boys like they were normal human beings.

    This may or may not apply to you, LW, and I hope you are not offended if it doesn’t. I’m sure there are people out there to whom it applies.

  26. LW, I think the Captain gave some excellent advice. You’re in high school, so I’m going to try to be nice when I give my advice:

    1) Ask her out. Maybe she doesn’t feel that way towards you, maybe she does. Think of this is more information-gathering. If you have confirmation that she’s not that into you, you can definitely move on (and think to yourself, “Eh. Her loss.”). If she does like you that way then great, go out and have fun!

    2) You can’t really get that other guy away from her because here’s the thing: she might like him. She might like him as a friend, or she might like him as more than a friend. No matter how she feels about you or him, no matter how you feel about her, she’s a person and she’s allowed to have friends and/or romantic interests. Think of it this way: how would you like it if someone you weren’t into (or even someone you were into) tried to block you from hanging out/talking with one of your friends because they were jealous? That’s happened to me, and I resented the guy. We weren’t even dating, I wasn’t into him, and even if we were and I was, I’d be livid at him trying to control me like that. She’s not a thing. Also, please keep in mind that when you have a girlfriend, she will also have the right to talk to/hang out with other people (including members of the opposite sex) as will you. “How do I get her away from him” is not a healthy attitude to have.

    3) If she’s not that into you/you don’t want to ask her out (no shame there, I totally get that), then do what you can to not see that much of her. Hang out with your friends. If you don’t have a lot of friends who are girls, make an effort to get to know them as friends. Not just the ones you think are cute or the ones you might like to date, but all of the girls in your orbit. Get to know them and see which ones you have things in common with and like hanging out with. See which ones are good fits for you as friends. We are not a separate and mysterious species, I swear. Once you start seeing girls as not-that-mysterious and as awkward and weird as any dude, with the same hangups and insecurities, you might not feel so anxious. You’ll also have some more cool friends to hang with.

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