Q. I’ve been in love with the same guy for almost four years. We grew up together, we’ve been friends since we were 6, and he has no idea how I feel. That’s mostly because this is a friendship I really don’t want to lose, but also because he’s had a long-distance girlfriend for the last two years or so.
We’re both in college (over a thousand miles apart), so we only see each other in person when we go home for breaks. It’s not uncommon for us to go a few weeks without talking. It doesn’t matter; we know each other well enough that when we do talk or see each other, it’s like no time has passed.
He genuinely understands me in a way very few other people do, we have each other’s backs, we’ve worked together, and somehow we always have something to talk about despite our very different interests. I’ve struggled socially for most of my life; even when we were kids and I barely said a word to him, he never gave me a hard time or stopped trying to reach out.
I’m demisexual and demiromantic, so going out and finding someone else to help me get over him isn’t an option for me; I have zero interest in any of that stuff.
At this point, I don’t even know if I’m looking to get over him at all. I’m just looking to have days where he isn’t the first and last thing I’m thinking about. I want to be happy for him when he tells me he’s visiting his girlfriend, instead of wanting to throw my phone out the window. It’s gotten to a point where I can’t be around happy couples without being vaguely miserable (which is bad, because my best friend and her boyfriend have gotten very serious, very fast).
Any advice? Should I just suck it up and tell him and risk losing him in the process? Clearly distance and focusing on other things hasn’t helped, so what next steps are left?
STUCK IN LOVE
A. My advice is to stay busy with new activities and talk to people who share your interests.
Maybe those strangers will become friends. That’s the goal here — to find more cool companions who can chat, take walks, eat out … whatever you like.
I know I’m asking a lot of you. You said you have trouble in social situations, and I get that. But this can be a slow process.
Club activities tend to require basic communication; they give people reasons to make small talk. Sign up for two groups. If you’re already in five, make it seven.
You can keep your old friends, including the object of your affection. But I doubt he’ll be the first thing you think about in the morning if you have to run out to do something great.
I have to wonder whether your feelings for him became more urgent after your best friend found a serious boyfriend. If your closest companion couples up, it’s easy to say, “Wait, what’s my version of this? I want that now.” If you’re around fun, single people who are using college to get to know themselves and many others, you might lean into that experience.
I don’t know if the guy from home is your best partner for the future. Neither do you, so you don’t have to tell him anything right now. Take small steps to see who else makes you happy.
Your question seems to be if you should risk telling him about your feelings. I assume the ideal response from him would be that he also has feelings for you, and you two can therefore start a romantic relationship. Maybe? But remember he is already IN a relationship, and if he was interested in ditching that relationship for you, he could have explored that option with you already — and he has not. Another outcome from telling him might be he says he doesn’t feel the same way and you get “closure” — so you have an answer and can move on. I mean, go for it, if you want.
Don’t tell him. It won’t end well for you. He’s known you for all these years and nothing even remotely romantic ever happened between you.
It sounds like you are terrified of rejection. That’s understandable. Rejection hurts! As long as you don’t tell your friend you’re in love with him he can’t reject you. And as long as you believe you can’t find anyone else, no one can reject you. You’ve decided that living in a constant state of unrequited love is better than facing rejection.
What would telling him accomplish?? You’d still only see each other sporadically/on breaks. You are in college! You’ll NEVER have access to the same number of potential partners in your life! Don’t waste it pining for someone thousands of miles away.
While I agree you should keep busy and make an effort to meet new people, I’m not sure that adding a ton of activities to an already full plate of school is the best way to go. You DO need to focus on schoolwork. But I would suggest seeing if there’s group therapy on campus for students who feel isolated and socially withdrawn. I can relate to this because I was a loner in college (knew a lot of people but didn’t know how to become close friends), and if I had a do-over I would find a support group. Feeling connected to someone feels GREAT, but you’re discovering the hard part of life — not everything is reciprocated.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.