Dear Dr. Nerdlove,
I have a problem with the Friend Zone.
I met a woman a little over a year ago at a public event, and immediately was attracted to and had a connection with her. Less than 10 minutes later, I found out that she had a boyfriend. I also found out that this boyfriend was close friends with a number of people who had recently become my close friend group. I was sad, but realized that I could not make a move on a taken lady, and especially not one who was seeing an acquaintance of mine.
About two weeks later, I moved into an apartment with this same girl and two other roommates.
I spent the next year dating a different girl on and off, in a relationship with a ridiculous amount of conflict and problems, most of which were caused by the fact that my girlfriend felt I was having an emotional relationship with the first girl (#1).
Three months ago, #1 and her boyfriend broke up.
I have spent the last year pushing down my feelings for this girl, and it has become something that I can’t deny any more. I see all of my core values in her, she makes me smile more than anything else in the world, and she is the only person I can imagine spending a day in bed just talking and laughing with 60 years from now.
We are extremely good friends, but I really do feel that there is something more. Our having a relationship would create a lot of drama in our friend group, but I have already accepted that and feel that it is worth it.
Naturally, I am scared to tell her my feelings because of the ultimate friend zone worry: it might ruin the friendship. However, I really do feel that she treats me like someone that she has feelings for.
She touches me often, and hugs me longer than any of her other friends.
She tells me that she misses me more than anyone else in the world.
On MULTIPLE occasions, we’ve gotten drunk at parties and danced, and she tells me I’m so hot, I’m so attractive, and then she makes it seem like she wishes she could make a move on me.
I cannot lose this woman.
I’ve never met anybody who made me as happy.
What should I do?
– Ross Needs Rachel
Yeah, you’ve got a problem alright.
(I mean, besides the fact that apparently you’re living in a sitcom. Do these relationships get especially dramatic in May and November?)
Just to make sure I have things straight:
You’re really close, emotionally.
She’s incredibly touchy-feely with you.
She gets drunk and starts going on about how cute you are while she’s dancing with you.
… why haven’t you asked her out again?
Oh right, the fear of “ruining the friendship”.
Let’s be honest here: seven times out of ten, when someone with a nasty case of Oneitis (as you seem to be displaying) uses the phrase “ruining the friendship” as a reason for not making a move, it means that they know if they make a move, they’re going to be shot down and the pretense of their friendship with the other person will be over. Of the remaining three times, two usually means to “I don’t think our friendship could survive the break-up if we did date” and the third is tantamount to saying “I prefer the drama of being miserable”.
(Considering you moved in with your unrequited crush… well, one has to wonder.)
That being said: you’re the only person who can really tell me which one is true for you. And in any case… well, you basically have to shit or get off the pot.
You’re not doing yourself any favors right now, Missing. Your ex was right: you were dating her when you really had feelings for Girl #1, which is a pretty shitty thing to do to someone. It’s one thing to try to get over someone by making a good-faith effort to open yourself to the possibility of finding a new love. It’s another to use someone as a bandage to try to tape over your self-inflicted broken heart. And to be perfectly frank, you were having an emotional relationship with Girl #1… and you were effectively throwing it in your girlfriend’s face.
So here you are. You’re single again. Girl #1 is single again. And she seems to be dropping some increasingly unsubtle hints that maybe, just maybe she wants you to make a move.
You have a choice. You can either take man the hell up and ask her out or you can “not risk the friendship” and do nothing. If you’re not going to make a move, then you owe it to yourself, to your friends, and to your future girlfriends to move the hell on. No more swaning about your apartment mooning over your crush on your roommate and dragging future dates into your drama. It was tedious enough when Ross and Rachel did it; your friends don’t need to go through it too.
(Or Zooey Deschanel or whatever the kids are watching these days.)
As an aside: You should worry less about the potential relationship causing drama in your social circle (as I’ve said many times: you don’t get to call dibs on someone, even an ex. Exes move on and date other people, and everybody can put on their big-boy pants and deal with it) and more about the ramifications of your living situation. Dating a roommate is tricky at best and a bad break-up usually ends up meaning “breaking the lease” too.
Recently me and my nerdy boyfriend of almost six years have been going through a very difficult time in our relationship. To make this long story incredibly short, my boyfriend and I had an idea for our own original comic book. Since I’m a freelance artist, I volunteered to draw the comic and we would both collaborate together to write the story (but to be honest he was doing most of the writing). We came up with character designs, the title, half the script, the whole shebang.
But as months passed by we sat on the project and it went nowhere. I assumed it was because we were both too busy and just simply lost interest. But about two months ago he started asking me questions about the comic. The question started out pretty harmless at first, he would ask “Hey, do you still want to draw that comic we were working on?” or “Do you still like the story we came up with?”. Of course I said yes, I really enjoyed the story and the idea behind it all. But soon the questions became accusations, he started telling me that I actually disliked the comic and didn’t want to work on it anymore. I tried to convince him otherwise but he continued to accuse me of hating it.
After what seemed like weeks of being constantly bombarded with questions and accusations, I became bitter and angry and didn’t want to work on the comic anymore. In fact, I’ve grown to believe I hated it like he said. One day I exploded and told him that the story was ridiculous and I’ve never liked it to begin with. He was very hurt and nothing has been the same since. I felt awful afterwards, I should’ve noticed he was just feeling insecure about the project and was starting doubt his abilities as a partner/writer.
Now he’s telling that he’s losing interests in everything we used to love together. Whether its comics, animation, or even my personal work that I drew myself. He’s just seems uninterested and angry.
It feels like I’ve tried everything to make things better again. I tried to tell him that I was sorry and I really didn’t mean what I said. I told him that I still want to draw our comic together but he doesn’t believe me. And to be honest doc, after everything that happened these past few months, I don’t think I want to draw our comic anymore. But I’m willing to put aside my feelings and draw the comic anyway if that would mean fixing our relationship.
I know it’s wrong but I just can’t flush a 6 year relationship down the toilet over a comic that has never even been drawn. What do I do?
– Formerly Dynamic Duo
Um… I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this isn’t actually about the comic.
I hate to go all English Major on you, but I might as well get some use out of my damn degree: the comic sounds an awful lot like it’s a living metaphor.
I mean: early on, you’re both really excited and into it and you’re full of all of these hopes and plans and picturing this amazing future. And it’s awesome at first, but things slowed down a bit. Your day-to-day lives intruded and meant that you couldn’t devote as much effort and energy as you did at first… and really, your enthusiasm wasn’t quite the same as it was in those early days. And now that you’re reminded of those early days when the project was new and fresh and you kinda wish you could get back to it, but your boyfriend is a bit more preoccupied with it than you are and he’s taking this sudden dwindling of enthusiasm more seriously and personally than you are.
He seems to be thinking “Hey, what happened to that early new project energy? I’m still eager… is it me? Maybe she’s just not as into it as I am. Maybe she doesn’t actually like it. Maybe it’s something I did. Maybe she doesn’t like my contribution as much as she said. God damn it, is that it? I wish she’d just tell me what it is instead of brushing me off…”
Meanwhile you’re thinking that nothing’s wrong and suddenly he’s just coming at you about how his writing’s not good enough and maybe it was a bad idea and he really wants you to reassure him that yes he is a good writer and you want to work with him and while you try to soothe his anxieties, you’re just getting SO goddamn annoyed that he just won’t believe you when you say everything’s fine that you blow up at him.
And then things were said. Angry things that you didn’t really mean but you kinda did but you also really just wanted him to shut up already. And now you both really regret it, but you can’t really un-say everything you said, so now you have this confirmation of his worst fears hanging over his head.
Now just do a couple of Find > Replace functions, switching out “comic” for “relationship”.
Your boyfriend sounds like he hit an insecure patch and was worried about your relationship together. Because working on a comic together holds a lot of symbolic meaning – writers and artists have a relationship too, after all – it came to represent more than just a fun project together, it became the focus of his concern. He wasn’t worried about the comic as much as he was worried about the two of you and that maybe something was wrong.
You and the boyfriend need to have a deep, heart-to-heart talk about what’s really bothering him and how you can help him work through it.
Because I’m 99.999% sure it’s not the comic.