Q. There is this guy I realized I have more feelings for than I originally thought. Let’s call him Nick.
When he and I first met, Nick instantly liked me, but he never told me. I didn’t really have time to get to know him before entering into another relationship. Since Nick is a gentleman, he didn’t tell me about his feelings until much later. The relationship I was in at the time wasn’t good for me. Nick watched from afar and supported me through it. Nick also moved away during that time.
I ended that relationship, and Nick and I started talking over text messages and social media. I planned to visit him. Right before my trip, he told me that he liked me when we first met, and was excited about my trip. Neither of us had any expectations. It was a great visit and we ended up hooking up once during my visit.
I went home and realized that I had real feelings for Nick. I didn’t know how to tell him, so a few months later I planned another trip down. On that trip, I was planning on telling him how I felt. But right before my trip, he told me that he has a girlfriend. This was surprising because her name was never mentioned prior to that night.
When I got down there, Nick and I talked about the new girlfriend. He said that it was new and he would see how things went. To me, there were some red flags. I didn’t think she was good for him. I told him that I supported him in the relationship and anything that he did. I didn’t think it was fair to tell him my feelings since he didn’t tell me his feelings for me during the early stages of my relationship.
Once I came back home, I tried to put my feelings aside. A few weeks later, Nick came back here to the town that he grew up in. While he’s been here, he and I have been hanging out. When he talks about her, he now says he loves her and wants to get married. A few times I have stayed over and we hooked up. He also has made subtle subconscious comparisons between me and her, in my favor.
Part of me feels that if he truly cared about the girlfriend as much as he says, he wouldn’t be doing things with me. My feelings for him are still there. I feel that part of him has to still like me. Do I tell him my feelings and risk losing my friendship with him?
A. To be fair, it seems as though both of you are pretty confused about what you want.
The back-and-forth you and Nick have experienced isn’t all that out of the ordinary. Sometimes it takes us quite a while to realize our feelings for someone. That’s actually a good thing; the more time you spend with someone, the deeper you get to know him or her. Initial attraction is nice, but it takes repeated interaction with one another to really get a sense of whether or not this person is right for you.
What do we mean by right? If we’re seeking a romantic relationship with someone, the criteria for such a union typically involves emotional, intellectual, verbal and sexual connection. It sounds like you have that with Nick. But to make the relationship “right,” you need one more essential element: respect.
Nick’s respect for you. Granted, Nick is not aware of your deeper feelings for him. Due to this, he is not able to honor you and your needs properly. That said, he is sending you mixed messages by spending meaningful time with you while his girlfriend is not present.
Nick’s respect for his girlfriend. I think we can all agree that unless Nick has an open relationship, having intimacy with you—whether it’s sexual or emotional—is disrespectful to his partner.
Your respect for yourself. Are you respecting your needs? Can Nick offer you the kind of devotion and effort a romantic partnership needs in order to survive? Clearly some kind of communication has to be established between you and Nick. You may not need to share your romantic feelings for him, but he does need to know what you want from him. And you need to know the same from him.
You both may need to redefine your relationship.
Although the two of you have a connection, it doesn’t mean that the connection is meant to be romantic. It may be that friendship is the best connection you both can have, particularly if he claims he is in love with someone else. Telling him you respect that friendship will likely preserve it. The real question is, are you able to maintain a non-sexual relationship with Nick—one that respects all three parties?
You may feel confused, as though much of this situation is out of your control. The truth is, the decision-making begins and ends with you.
Author: Rachel Astarte
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Toby Israel