Hi Dr. NerdLove,
Found you years ago back when I was a high school student and here I am now writing to you as a college student.
Here’s a backstory leading up to my current situation, which all started back in January this year. I transferred to an out-of-state university as a junior during the spring semester, and was a little concerned about having no friends in school once again.
Luckily, my cousin goes to this college and was able to introduce me to her friends in Smash Club. While I was a filthy casual when it came to Smash, they all took me in pretty fast seeing how I was a cute girl who wrote them notes daily, baked cookies on occasion, and speed-ran HuniePop during club meetings when I lose in bracket.
I met a boy who I’ll call Ludwig for this story. Let me tell you, the moment I offered him my duck umbrella during a rainstorm and he commented about how cool it was, I was infatuated. I can admit it was a unhealthy crush, almost bordering obsession, and I’m glad I was able to let go of those feelings and find closure despite it taking 5 months soon afterwards paired with quarantine.
I haven’t allowed myself to fall in love for someone for years since I was always planning to move away for school and I know I can’t do long-distance, which is why I fell as hard as I did at the time. At the same time, he broke up with his girlfriend shortly before I met him, but that was due to him still having strong feelings about his high school ex who also attended this college with us. Thus, you could guess when I inevitably confessed to him that I liked him, he rejected me and told me he wasn’t ready for any relationship.
Ludwig and I still kept in regular contact throughout these months, from January to August. Whether it was through Discord group calls or texting each other privately, it was always nice to have affirmation that he still wanted to be my friend and did look out for me. We actually did have a small misunderstanding that lasted from late July to early August, but we have since reconciled. We also discovered our initial confusion would’ve been solved faster and easier if a mutual friend didn’t interfere and asked Ludwig to not reach out to me, while assuming the worst from me and thinking I actually had it out for Ludwig from our mix-up.
However, I think it made us stronger as friends and once again reaffirmed that we want the best for each other and we still want to be positively involved in the other’s life. It was shortly after this when he opened up to me about his still present feelings for his high school ex.
Knowing full well I wasn’t the first person he’s talked to about this but also respecting his privacy enough to have never asked about his relationship troubles with any of our friends or himself in any point in the past, I had to tread carefully in a conversation that lasted until 3 in the morning. I thought it would be good to validate his feelings to a point, but bring him to reality when he talked about he felt she was the perfect one for him and other things relating to that train of thought.
Ludwig was still defensive to a degree, but he was still reluctantly open enough to tell me how he was scared of going to sleep due to him having good dreams about her and waking up into a reality without her.
It would be fair to say that my opinion of Ludwig went down a little after telling me he’s carried a torch for a girl that he hasn’t dated in years and still prioritizes her despite her ghosting him regularly. However, I didn’t let that conversation affect our friendship negatively, because why would it? After that conversation, he began to ask if I wanted to hang out with him in person, and our meet-ups grew more frequent throughout the month of September.
I slowly started developing feelings for him again, but they were a lot healthier in comparison to my first run. I didn’t let my crush get in the way of my other obligations or promises or priorities. I also made a conscious decision to not pursue it, seeing how it’d feel like I’m beating a dead horse and how he literally talked about his ex the previous month.
However, he grew increasingly more affectionate and started confiding in me a lot more than he previously had in the past. This should have made things obvious to me, but I didn’t want to read into it at the time or give myself false hope. Ludwig eventually did confess to me after we watched a stupid movie and drank two bottles of wine. I was shocked and told him flat out that I was shocked before telling him that I’m really happy and that I returned his feelings.
After that, we started dating after both talking about how we want to take things slow. He wanted to take it slow because it felt a little weird to be dating a good friend versus someone he wasn’t friends with prior and I did because it’s been years since I dated seriously and I was still relatively inexperienced.
If you ask me, I believe our relationship is really great and I’m fortunate to have as strong as a foundation we had to begin with. We both value communication and quality time and I know he’d never do anything that would intentionally hurt me. As an example of this: Ludwig told me he wouldn’t have taken a chance on us if he didn’t see us working out, as well as admitting his feelings for his crush were dying out and also getting replaced with feelings for me.
However, my main dilemma is that even though we’ve been through quite a bit platonically, Ludwig still feels incredibly anxious about our relationship and we’ve been keeping it a secret from our entire friend group minus three people. I didn’t mind at all at first because I cared and respect him and I still do. However, both our families eventually found out and now know about our relationship and I found it weird that it was still a secret from our friends. I brought it up to him and suggested we can surprise our friends on Halloween, which he seemed receptive to at the time.
However, when a friend of ours recently found out in a private hangout thanks to my lockscreen being a picture of Ludwig sleeping with my dog. I texted Ludwig about it and I think he freaked out before telling me as calmly as he can about how he still wants our relationship on the down-low because he still feels anxious about us and he wants me to understand that a little.
I told him right afterwards that I’m glad he was open to me about his feelings and that we don’t have to go public on Halloween if he’s not ready. I then reassured him that I’ll be here for him no matter what and reaffirmed that I like him and I like us. We then had a calm conclusion afterwards, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed about the aftermath.
I know his anxiety isn’t going away anytime soon, but neither will I and I always tell him that. I know he’s upset at himself about his anxiety throwing a wrench in an otherwise good relationship. We’re both happy with each other, but I always wonder if there’s more I can do for him to ease his concerns about us. Is there anything I might be doing wrong with my approach or reaction? Or is there something I could be doing more? How can I be a supportive partner to Ludwig and for him to truly recognize that?
A Former Lonely Sonnet