am a 23-year-old straight female. A year ago, I moved across
the country after college to live with my boyfriend of four
years. He is in graduate school and is the only person I really
know here—I am working two part-time jobs, and my coworkers
are either much older than me or a very long commute away—so
I have been hanging out with him and his friends in my free
time. I’ve developed a huge crush on one of his good friends,
and I don’t know what to do about it.
I feel really guilty about it, even though I haven’t acted
on it and doubt anything would happen since I see this friend
only when we hang out together in groups. I’m not sure if
I should tell either my boyfriend or the friend about this
attraction because it would possibly (certainly?) make my
social interactions totally uncomfortable and I am basically
friendless outside of my boyfriend’s social circle. It’s hard
to get over a crush you see all the time and haven’t been
directly rejected by. Any advice you could give me about how
to approach this??
in a great while, I donate the right to answer a Savage Love
letter to charity. Grant Thornley was the winning bidder in
an auction last fall, and the money he spent for the dubious
honor of giving advice in this space went to organizations
that support neglected children and the homeless. Grant is
a Seattle-based career-management consultant, and what follows
is Grant’s advice for UOF:
be one thing if you’d said, ‘I’ve fallen head over heels in
love with a friend of my boyfriend’s; he’s my soul mate, and
I’ll die if I am not with him.’ But you didn’t say ‘love,’
you said ‘crush,’ which to me is something that is both surmountable
and surely not worth fucking up more than one relationship.
intriguing, UOF, that you don’t give any indication of how
things are between you and your boyfriend right now. Obviously,
you’re pretty committed—been together for four years, moved
across the country to be with the guy. Yet, despite this pretty
serious level of commitment, the primary negative outcome
you see of admitting to your boyfriend and/or crush that you
have these feelings is that it would make your social interactions
‘uncomfortable’? You don’t mention your boyfriend possibly
being hurt, or perhaps screwing up his relationship with your
crush, or causing a rift between you and your boyfriend. You’re
worried about uncomfortableness. It seems like you almost
don’t care. I think there’s something else going on.
moved far from home—do you feel isolated? Do you feel bored
and/or lonely? If your boyfriend is busy in grad school, it
could be that you’re also feeling neglected. Plus you’re working
two jobs—and even if they’re both part-time, that’s still
a pain in the ass. I think it might be that you’re just not
feeling great about life in general right now, and this crush
is symptom of that. But acting on an impulse that could make
things worse for everyone isn’t the way to fix any of this.
you’re friendless outside your boyfriend’s circle of friends,
get some friends of your own, for fucksake. If you’ve lived
in that new locale for a whole year and have not met anyone
you could be friendly with, you’re not trying. Look for people
who have similar interests, whether it’s fine art, tea making,
needlepoint, video games, rugby, animal husbandry, or whatever
floats your boat.
a saying where I come from: ‘Don’t shit where you eat.’ Do
not crap in the only social circle you have right now, UOF.
Walk the fuck away from this friend of your boyfriend’s, and
find some friends of your own. Oh, and if you’re so very
susceptible to crushing on a friend of your boyfriend’s, it
sounds like you and the boyfriend need to have a talk ASAP,
because you, my friend, are just not happy right now. Good
Thank you, Grant, for your generous donation and your well-written
response . . . and now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to jump
down your throat:
Whenever a married/partnered/girlfriended/ boyfriended person
wants to fuck someone who isn’t her spouse/partner/girlfriend/boyfriend—when
a technically unavailable person finds herself crushing out
on someone else—people insist that the crush has to be a symptom
of something. UOF, for example, wouldn’t be having
this crush, Grant writes, if she weren’t feeling neglected,
unhappy, and isolated. By implication, people who are content
at home—people who aren’t feeling neglected, unhappy, and
isolated—don’t have crushes.
I don’t mean to jump down Grant’s throat . . . or not just
Grant’s throat. This is a point you hear people—advice columnists,
couples counselors, Drs. Laura and Phil—making all the time:
Married/partnered people who are happy at home don’t experience
inappropriate or awkward crushes on others. The eyes of happily
partnered people—to say nothing of their genitalia—never,
ever wander. So if you’re having a crush on someone you’re
not supposed to, well, that must mean something is very seriously
wrong with your relationship. It’s a symptom. Of something.
Something dire. Diagnose the illness, treat it, and
you’ll be cured.
This, of course, is complete and total bullshit. Happily married/partnered/boyfriended/girlfriended
people have crushes on other people all the time. Not
because we’re unhappy or because there’s something wrong with
us or because our relationships are somehow diseased. It happens
because—I hope everyone is sitting down for this—however attracted
we are to our spouses/partners/boyfriends/girlfriends, other
people are also attractive.
So it’s entirely possible that you have a crush on this guy,
UOF, because he’s hot and you want to fuck him, independent
of your feelings for your boyfriend and/or his graduate program.
Crushes are normal, and our relationships—closed or open—would
be less stressful if we weren’t expected to go around pretending
that we never find anyone else attractive. And our relationships
would be more likely to survive the inevitable, normal, natural
crushes-on-others if we weren’t led to believe that attraction
is a zero-sum game, i.e., that finding someone else attractive
means you must find your partner less attractive.
All that said, UOF, while your crush doesn’t have to
mean something, it still could. The indifference you display
toward your boyfriend’s feelings, which Grant rightly highlights,
could mean that your crush is the person you really want to
be with. Sometimes, people meet the people they wind up with
under awkward, embarrassing, and painful circumstances. This
could be one of those times.
Help! I’m a 21-year-old female with a 20-year-old boyfriend.
We’ve been together about a year. Eight months ago, he was
in a horrible accident, which left him without his left hand.
We didn’t have sex until after he was hurt. The sex is great,
but he will only do it doggie-style, which is fine, and he
doesn’t do foreplay! Nothing! But he expects blowjobs and
handjobs every time we have sex! Is our relationship screwed?
Every time I bring this up, he tells me he doesn’t know what
I want him to do. Hello! It’s not that hard!
not sure what his missing left hand has to do with . . . anything
. . . but, um, here goes: Take your one-handed boyfriend at
his word, PHM. Chalk up the complete lack of foreplay—lacking
for you (it sounds like he’s getting plenty)—to his youth
and inexperience, and provide the direction he needs. He says
he doesn’t know what to do. So tell him: a hand here, a tongue
there, this squeezed, that rubbed. If he can’t do as he’s
told, tell him no more doggie-style, no more blowjobs, no
more handjobs, and no more girlfriend.
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