Q: I have a long-distance friend whom I have grown closer to over the last year. Several months ago, I confessed romantic feelings for him, and he said he was shocked, didn’t know how he felt, but that I was beautiful, funny, intelligent, etc. We started flirting more, but he ultimately ended up rejecting me when I visited this summer due to the distance and my feelings being stronger than his.
Just over a month ago, he texted me out of the blue to guiltily confess that he had slept with a friend of his. I understand why he wanted to let me know, as he was worried about unspoken tension between us, but he gave me unnecessary information and it felt like he pushed shame about his own behavior onto me when he had already rejected me previously and we had agreed to stay friends. He just visited me for the first time, and we had a wonderful platonic weekend together. Spending time with him and being vulnerable with him again in person reminded me that I still have feelings for him. I believe there is still chemistry between us.
It gets more complex. I’ve been thinking about moving to his city for years due to its proximity to the industry I work in, friends (besides him and his circle), and the culture there. After he left to go back home, he told me that I don’t need to rush (I’m not rushing; I’ve been thinking about moving since before I had feelings for him) but that if I do decide to move there, he’ll help me find an apartment. Is it even possible to disentangle this move that I am strongly considering making next year from my feelings for him? Can I trust myself in my own decisions, recognize that things may never work out between us, and take healthy risks all at once? Part of me is still keeping hope alive that we will become more than friends even though I should let it go. The connection between us just feels undeniable. But I do have many reasons to move there that aren’t related to him.
A: Please absolutely move to this city if you think it will be even 1% better for your life and it’s feasible for you. You don’t need to use your life choices to make a point about how not into a guy you are to an audience of… no one. (Especially when you are actually into the guy.)
I am, frankly, always a little cautious about the idea of moving to a new city to be with a person. I think it often makes someone’s entire world all about their partner and their partner’s city and their partner’s friends. I think it’s very difficult to maintain a sense of self and not be shaped into the person who slots easily into your partner’s life. That’s my bias, though; obviously, a lot of people move for someone and do it successfully and happily while retaining who they are.
You’re allowed to try things that you aren’t certain will pan out the way you thought. It’s your first time being alive.
I don’t think that’s even close to what you’re considering or describing. It sounds like this move would be really good for you in a lot of ways. The fact that you have your own group of friends there? Green flag. The fact that it helps your career? Green flag. The fact that this is a move you’ve been considering for a while? Green flag! You do not need to worry that your desire to do this revolves around him. It doesn’t. Does his presence sweeten the pot? Unavoidably, yes — who wouldn’t want to be around their crush more? But that doesn’t make this an incorrect decision.
I also want to say that you are — as everyone else is — allowed to make foolish decisions in the name of a crush. This isn’t one. At least, it doesn’t seem that way from the outside. And anyway, there is nothing damning about making a decision because you’re horny or lovesick. It’s not evil. The goal of life isn’t to only make The Most Correct Choice or to never be influenced by fantasy or romance. You don’t win any points at the end of life for being circumspect. Even taking a crush out of the equation, you’re allowed to make a choice — like moving to a new city — that ends up being a mistake. You’re allowed to fail. You’re allowed to get it wrong. Maybe you move there and hate it. Maybe it’s harder than you expected to find a job. Maybe you find yourself missing your current city on a bone-deep level. Or maybe you want to move again to an entirely new city. It doesn’t matter. You’re allowed to try things that you aren’t certain will pan out the way you thought. It’s your first time being alive.
Enough about the move itself; it’s time to talk about this guy. It’s normal and fine and fun to have a crush on a friend. You’re not the first or last to have one. That said, I urge you to be a bit more honest with yourself about your intentions. For example, you mention that you two had a platonic weekend, but the weekend wasn’t really platonic for you. It was a weekend you spent hoping for “more” from this person. It seems like you’re less interested in this person as a friend, less accepting of what you have currently, and more focused on how it could become romantic. That’s not cruel or weaselly, but it might cost you this friendship. The fact that he told you about sleeping with someone else like it was a confession suggests to me that you both have let the prospect of romance seep into the friendship. You can’t use friendship as a holding place for something “better” to come along — and neither can he. (I would argue that friendship itself is pretty much as good as it gets, anyway.) You can’t pretend to be friends with someone while scheming and dreaming of dating them. Simply put, it’s false.
Whether you move to his city or not, my absolute strongest recommendation is the Reverse Landslide.
There’s no perfect way for me to explain what I think the limits of horniness are within friendship. You can, I think, have a one-sided crush on a friend that you don’t tend to, that you actively swerve around whenever possible — a crush that is simply an acknowledgment that you would be interested in this person if the circumstances aligned, but alas. However, this person has told you that they don’t reciprocate those feelings, and you haven’t taken them at their word. You’re saying, “You’ll come around!” And I know part of that is simple hope, which is fine. Sometimes, I still daydream about living in a castle with Heath Ledger. (Only a few minor speed bumps in that plan!) But it’s your job as a friend to not let your romantic interest in this person overtake your friendship.
Please do your best to let go of the idea that your chemistry with him will lead to romantic success. Try your hardest to see it for what it is: a sign of good friendship.
Whether you move to his city or not, my absolute strongest recommendation is the Reverse Landslide. You know in “Landslide” when Stevie Nicks sings “I’ve been afraid of changin’/ ’Cause I’ve built my life around you”? Do not build your life around this guy and what he might want in a partner. Do not try to become that. Do not shimmy into an ill-fitting Halloween costume of his fantasy person. Don’t adopt his likes and hobbies. Don’t decide which neighborhood to live in based only on his recommendation. Build your life up around yourself. Not because one day he might realize that you’re wonderful and he should be with you, but because you need to be yourself with whomever you end up with. You’re stuck with yourself for the rest of time — don’t make your life a performance or an offering for him or anyone else.
It’s A Pleasure appears here every other Thursday. If you have a sex, dating, or relationship question, email Sophia at BustleSexAdvice@gmail.com or fill out this form.