I recently started my freshman year of college and fell into this awesome group of friends, including this guy “J” who I immediately found myself attracted to. It turns out though that he’s got a girlfriend back in his hometown, so I’ve done my best to put my feelings on the backburner, but I keep getting myself into situations with him that are making things difficult.
We ended up in bed together the other night—it was an entirely platonic situation, except that I woke up in the morning to find that in a complete romance novel trope we’d ended up shifting in the night and were spooning. Lliterally EVERYONE who sees us together asks if we’re dating. There’s a pretty marked difference between the way he treats me and our other two girlfriends, like he’s worried about getting too close? (I’ve been known to over-analyze though so take that last one with a grain of salt.)
The worst thing is my feelings have gotten deeper. One night I completely lost it and had a panic attack, and J was an absolute rock and really took care of m— he gave me his shirt when I got cold, talked me through the attack, and I basically spent several hours in his arms as he was comforting me.
I don’t want to make things weird between us or the rest of our group but I’m really into him and I see him all the time so I can’t really just ignore it. I obviously can’t do anything about the crush because I’m not about to get in between him and his girlfriend. I guess my question is really just how do I deal with all this?
Fortunately, Sparkler, the answer to that question is a simple two-step plan!
Step 1: You wait until your crush comes back from Thanksgiving break and announces, inevitably, that he’s broken up with his hometown girlfriend.
Step 2: You launch yourself full-speed in the general direction of his face… after a respectful pause to acknowledge the sad end of his previous relationship, of course. (Five seconds ought to do it.)
And I know, I know: to anticipate this means getting your hopes up when you’ve explicitly been trying hard not to do that—and of course, it’s not a guaranteed outcome so much as a probable conclusion based on the entire human history of freshman year breakups. But at the same time… I mean, come on. This guy may be technically dating someone else, but he is also literally spooning all night in a bed with you (not to mention that the two of you are giving off Mutual Crush Vibes so powerful that they can be detected by any human being within a 100-yard radius).
So when you say that you can’t do anything about the crush, Auntie SparkNotes must point out that the crush is still doing plenty about itself, to the point where refusing to acknowledge it will become ridiculous very soon if it hasn’t already. And that is why, rather than putting on a transparent charade of non-interest until he’s officially single, I would like to gently suggest that you have an authentic conversation with him now about whatever’s going on between you. (Just pick an opportune moment when you’re alone together, roll over in bed, and say, “I can’t help noticing that you and I seem to feel more than strictly platonic about each other. Am I right?”)
Seriously, darling. When you’re spending hours in someone’s arms, whether or not you’re officially dating or he’s officially single, it is time to point out the big flirty elephant in the room. Let yourself express and acknowledge what’s obvious to everyone anyway—and give him the chance to do the same, and to do the right thing by you and his GF before your more-than-friendly behavior escalates beyond the cuddling stage. (Which, let’s be real, the girlfriend almost certainly wouldn’t be happy about if she were aware of it.)
For what it’s worth, based on your description, the odds are definitely in favor of you getting a happy ending with your dream guy—or at least moving in the direction of one. But if he doesn’t like you back, then at least you’ll know that he’s an insincere cad who plays fast and loose with both his own commitments and other people’s feelings. In which case you’ll also know exactly what to do with your crush: namely, drown it in ice cream and other enjoyable diversions until it’s good and dead, and give yourself the freedom to pursue someone more worth your time.
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