Doctor’s Note: I’m going to be traveling for the holidays this week. Rather than leave you guys hanging, this week I’ll be running Ask Dr. NerdLove questions instead of the usual programming. We’ll be back to the regularly scheduled programming next Monday. Have a happy solstice, a joyous yule, a happy Kwanza, a satisfying Drink-My-Urine Day, Merry Christmas and a thoroughly debauched Saturnalia. – DNL
Hi Dr. Nerdlove! I love your work and could definitely use some advice. I’m a girl and I have this guy friend who I’ve known for about three years now. We’ve always been flirty with each other but it never really amounted to anything; at the end of the day, we were just two nerds who hung out mostly to play video games. Thats probably how it always starts, eh?
Well this year something has happened between us and I have no idea where it came from. Maybe it was his whole “self-improvement plan” where each month he would ask friends for suggestions on his personality and then go about working on them that month. He’s become a much better friend and takes a lot better care of himself now, so maybe that has something to do with it. Regardless, when I came back from summer break (we’re both in college) we started hanging out as usual and suddenly there was an intense chemistry between us. We went from not even hugging to say goodbye to being extremely touchy. I’m not a touchy person at all, but we’d end up pretty snuggly on the couch any time he came over- even with other friends with us.
Everyone jokes about how we’re “such a cute couple” because we playfully fight (which obviously can get pretty physical as well), but then we both start denying it because everyone makes so much fun of us. We’ve always been friends so people think its funny to joke about it because they don’t know anything has changed, thus it gets embarrassing when they hassle us. Plus he is well-known for his “type” because he’s a short guy that goes for all these model-esque women, yet I’m his height. There’s all these other factors to his “type” too that I don’t really fit, one especially being that he doesn’t go for other nerds. And yet today he said “Let’s take a couple picture!” after laying down next to me on the floor, then stroked my hair and did all this other couple-y stuff. (Also, no, there was no good reason for me to lay on the floor. A bunch of us were just bored at a Christmas party, so we laid down on the floor and started doing barrel rolls. College kids.)
I know at this point that I definitely have some feelings for him, but I’m completely confused by him. He’s been on a few dates with another girl recently and I don’t know where that leaves us. Every time I think he’s gonna make a move its actually for someone else. I’m debating whether he goes out with the other girls to make me jealous or if its because they meet his self-professed “type”. I also am a kind of a “tough girl” so I can come across as intimidating, but he knows me better than that and is aware its just sort of a front to keep the jerks and creeps at bay. One thing I’m sure of is that he’s definitely feeling the same chemistry I am. I sat down with him the other day and told him I didn’t want him to be so touchy if he wasn’t planning on asking me on a date any time soon and he apologized, said he noticed it, and promised to work on it. However that only lasted a few days and then it went back to flirting and physical contact. It actually got worse, I’d say.
I don’t want to lose my friend over this but I have a feeling thats where its heading if I don’t do something. Its gonna start making me crazy if I have to spend my time with him trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do. Its starting to feel very childish or “high school” I guess, if that makes sense, and I’m not about that. But if I’m as impossible to read as all my friends say I am, I’m worried he’s just scared I’ll turn him down when thats not the case.
I don’t know. I’m done with words. Help is appreciated.
Dazed and confused
Ok, this may be the first time I can’t tell if someone has written in with their problems or if I’m trying to provide relationship advice to the cast of Lucky Star. Because quite frankly, this is such a tsundere ((A term from anime and manga, meaning a person who alternates between being irritable – tsuntsun– and affectionate- deredere. Sh-shut up, I’m not footnoting this because I like you, got it? )) relationship plotline that I feel like I should be checking TVTropes for plot spoilers.
But let’s put the character comparisons aside and look at things. You’ve been good friends for a while and now there’s suddenly intense chemistry between the two of you. You’re flirty, you’re touchy-feely and cuddly. You spend all your time together…
Why exactly are you asking me for advice again?
This couldn’t be more obvious. Dude’s into you. You’re into him. Even your friends are screaming at you two to kiss already.
Here’s why your loverboy hasn’t done anything: you put up an intimidating front – even though he knows better – and it’s making him nervous about actually taking things to the next level. “Hey, don’t flirt with me unless you’re going to ask me out” can sound like an invite to make the first move… or it can sound like you’re saying “S… stop getting the wrong idea! Baka!”1
Yeah, he may like those model-esque women… but he’s also clearly demonstrating that he likes you too. He’s (presumably) not dating other women to make you jealous, he’s dating other women because… well, what else is the dude supposed to do? He’s worried that you just told him to quit flirting with him because you’re not going to date him, even when you’re sitting there waiting for him to ask you out. The two of you are in shoujo anime relationship limbo right now, both of you aware that you dig each other but neither of you are willing to do anything about it.
Be very glad that I’m not anywhere near you; my tolerance for romantic comedy “can’t spit it out” drama is incredibly low and I would feel obligated to beat you both with a clue-by-four before lock the two of you in a closet until you accepted the obvious and started making out.
At the moment, homeboy’s terrified that you’re not into him. So here’s what you do: ask him out, already. This will solve all your problems: he’ll realize he doesn’t need to be afraid that you’ll turn him down and you’ll finally get all the damn tension out in the open instead of sitting around and wondering what to do do about things.
Honestly, the worst thing that happens is that he says no. In which case… well, it blows, but you’ve got your answer now and you can move on. At that point, you tell him straight up to quit flirting with you because you like him and his being flirty with you when he doesn’t feel the same way makes you uncomfortable.
But I’m willing to wager a not insignificant amount of money that he’s going to say “yes”.
- I feel dirty now. [↩]