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Auntie SparkNotes: I Have a Hopeless Crush on My Friend, Who’s Dating My Other Friend

Dear Auntie,
I’ve liked a guy ever since the beginning of this school year, and so has one of my friends (I’ll refer to her as ‘T’). We both knew that we liked the same guy, but were pretty oblivious to the mountain of issues that this could create.

I began to get closer with him to the point where we both told each other about our troubled pasts, and my feelings became stronger, but I still never told him how I felt. I found out that he was playing with my feelings and making it seem that he liked me, even though he just saw me as a friend. ‘T’ also expressed her feelings to him, only to find that he wasn’t really interested at the time.

Months later, the emotional scars ended up healing, and forgiveness was given where it was needed. I still like him, and we’ve eventually become best friends, despite all the trouble in the beginning. ‘T’ is now dating him, and he’s come to me and said that she hasn’t been the best at being there for him (apparently ‘T’ goes from not really caring about him to hugging and kissing him whenever she sees that I’m in view). I’ve always been there with relationship advice, but my existing feelings for him are just growing and growing, and it’s literally making me ill.

He knows that I still like him, and he’s always there for me when I need help. But every time I walk into school each day and see them together, it’s like a stab to the side, because maybe if I had been sincere, things could have turned out differently. I know I need to get over it, but how? How do I get over someone whom I’ve always had such strong feelings for?

Ah, yes. How, indeed! Because that’s the problem, Sparkler: to get over someone, you have to be willing to recognize all the flaws that make him unattractive and undesirable. Whereas you, in continuing to hold a torch for this guy all year long, have also simultaneously blinded yourself to any possibility that his character might not be the greatest…which is perhaps why you haven’t noticed that he’s actually the WORST.

But he is! He really, really is! This guy has an established history of toying with your feelings for the sake of a cheap ego boost, and lo and behold, he’s still doing that. Sidling up to the girl who he knows has been crushing on him forever, casually letting it drop that his girlfriend just isn’t there for him the way she should be, stoking your hopes and preying on her insecurities at the same time, all so that he just happens to end up at the center of a perfect storm of competing female attention? There’s just no way that isn’t intentional, sweet pea—and it’s manipulative as hell. Even if he’s a likable person in general, even if he’s worthy of your friendship in other regards, the way he’s playing both you and his girlfriend is massively uncool. (And not for nothing, the fact that you don’t seem to feel even a little bit bad for her suggests that he’s not just messing with your heart, but poisoning your outlook in some pretty insidious ways.)

So when you say wistful things about what might have been, Auntie SparkNotes must gently point out that what might have been is right in front of you—only with your friend playing the role you hoped to get. And if your roles had been reversed? Then hey, instead of that knife-to-the-side sensation of yearning for the dude who’s dating your friend, you’d get the stabbed-through-the-heart experience of desperately clinging to your own boyfriend, knowing all the time that he’s talking trash about you and your relationship, behind your back, to a girl who’s always had a crush on him. Gee, doesn’t that sound fun?

…Yeah, of course not. But the thing is, you can see exactly how not-fun it would be if you were the one dating this guy. You don’t have to imagine what it would be like to be his girlfriend. He’s showing you exactly what it would be like! It would be awful!

So when you ask how to go about getting over him, here is your first step: look back at those last couple of paragraphs, and look at your own letter, and realize that you’ve been keeping your heart on reserve for someone who is just totally unworthy of it. Realize that a guy who uses you this way is not a good-quality human—and realize, too, that enabling his behavior is beneath you. Because when you grasp all that, you’ll be well on your way to extinguishing that torch you’ve been holding for him, not to mention renegotiating your relationship so that you’re not complicit in his mistreatment of his girlfriend (with whom you may actually want to resume your friendship someday, when this sordid drama has played itself out.)

You may need some time, distance, and intentional/intense focus on the guy’s undesirable qualities to start fully moving on, but you’ll get there! And when you’re not consumed by thoughts of him, you’ll have all kinds of wonderful real estate available for someone more deserving of space in your head and heart.

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