DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I found your website after searching for an answer to my problem for hours upon hours on the internet. After seeing some of the advice you gave out, I decided to give it a shot and see what you had to say about my particular problem. You had touched on it a bit in some of the other articles, but there were always key differences that just seemed to change the circumstances in my opinion. So here it goes.
I met this girl a while back through a family member she went to school with. At first we just kind of knew each other and that was about the end of it until we started to text then later hang out, always as just friends. Eventually, we got closer and closer until we were spilling every secret that we had. We both know things that nobody else in the world knows about the other. We get along great, have similar personalities, senses of humor, and interests. We became best friends without a doubt. But then she dropped a bomb on me when she said “If we were both older, you would be the guy I would want to date.”
Now before this, I had thought a bit about the whole dating thing but just dismissed it as a passing fancy. But she kept dropping little lines like this until it became more than that. Eventually, I told her that I actually had thought about it and would honestly like to date her and see where it led. But if you thought that is as thick as this plot gets, you’re sadly mistaken. During this whole time together, she has had a boyfriend.
The guy is no good for her and she complains about him constantly, but still refuses to break it off with him. This is even his third chance with her. I believe I’ve made my feelings clear about her and yet she tells me that she is afraid to be alone and that’s why she won’t just dump him. But he honestly just doesn’t even care about her. She is super easy to make happy, but he won’t even take the time to text her everyday. The only reason I know this is because we are talking on FaceTime literally every night. He won’t make sacrifices for her that I have on a regular basis, but he is still the one she stays with. But the worst part is that through all of this, she still says things about dating me, but says that I shouldn’t be as nice as I am because I’m not her boyfriend. She loves that I am chivalrous when we hang out, but gets upset when I pay for lunch or open the truck door for her. Through all of this, I’ve held back from straight out asking her to go on a date out of respect of their relationship, but at this point, I’ve become more of a boyfriend than he has ever been to her. But I’m starting to lose my mind here. I’ve already changed so much for her (quit smoking, started eating better and exercising, made new career choices, etc.) but she just refuses to give me a shot, choosing instead to stay with someone who won’t even text her good morning most of the time.
The thing is, I just have no clue what to do. I really do love her, but at the same time, I don’t want to lose her as a friend. I just don’t know if I could be JUST her friend. I know it sounds like I’m justifying my staying in this relationship by making it sound like there is a chance that we could be more than friends, but she talks about what it would be like if we were dating or if she were my girlfriend all the time. So I have a hard time believing it is all in my head. I just don’t know what I should do, or even what I can do. I would appreciate any advice you have to offer. Hopefully I’m not just completely screwed or anything.
Thanks in advance,
Confused As Hell
DEAR CONFUSED AS HELL: I get a variation on this question basically every other week now, and they all more or less follow the same script. And when I try to be nice about what people should do or couch it in softer terms, I get a lot of arguments about why they should or shouldn’t do such and such. So, my dude I am going to give you the only advice you need right now.
Fair warning though: you’re going to hate it. You will get five lines in past the intro and rage-quit reading. You’re going to wonder why the hell you wrote in to me when you see this. But this is going to be the best advice you will ever get. It’s Chair Leg of Truth Time.
My dude, you need to make a move or get off the field already.
You need to decide if you’re going to take your shot by actually asking her out on a date or give up and move on. You’re hanging around in this limbo state, a point of quantum uncertainty where you both do and don’t have a chance. But you’re staying in this place because to make a move would collapse the quantum waveform one way or the other and, let’s just be honest: you’ve got a pretty good clue what the answer is gonna be.
Now here’s are a few things in particular I’m going to take issue with.
First: “I’ve become more of a boyfriend than he has ever been to her”
No, man. You’ve been her friend. Maybe a close friend. Maybe an intimate, one of her confidants. That doesn’t make you a boyfriend. Don’t round this mess up just to have something to tally onto your list of grievances against her.
Next: “I’ve already changed so much for her (quit smoking, started eating better and exercising, made new career choices, etc.)”
No. NO, no, no, no. You are not going to pass any of this off on her. Those changes you made? They’re for you. You do these things for you, because they make your life better, not because they’re your entry point into her pants. She didn’t ask you to do them. She didn’t make them a requirement for your being friends with her. She didn’t say “quit smoking, get a new career and maybe I’ll give you a chance.” You did those on your own, for you. Self-improvement isn’t something you get to pass off as “well I did these things, now you owe me a chance.”
And then: “She refuses to give me a shot.”
No. Sorry, I’m not going to let that pass. “She refuses to give me a shot” implies that there is in some way, shape or form an obligation for her to give you an opportunity. And no. That doesn’t exist. That’s Nice Guy territory and you never want to go there, Simba.
Here’s the thing, man: she may well be miserable dating this guy. You might indeed be the kind of guy she’d want to date. But while you may be the KIND of guy want to date, you’re not THE guy she wants to date. Because, quite frankly, she isn’t dating you. It’s not as though you’ve been subtle. You’ve had these conversations. She has yet to break up with him for you, which should be all the indication that you need.
And just to head you off at the pass here: this isn’t about “women love a
holes”. If we take her at her word that she’s not happy with him and everything is awful, then the fact of the matter is that she’s not ready to leave him. And that can take a while. Leaving a relationship, even a bad one, can be freaking difficult. She’s not going to leave until she has reached the point where staying with him is worse than the alternative and that might take years. If it happens at all.
Another thing to consider: if she were to break up with him tomorrow, she’s not likely going to turn right around and date you. She’s given him three chances now. If things are that bad and she has passed on breaking up with him three times? Then she’s going to have her own stuff to work out before she’s really going to be in a place to date anyone. Even if you were a viable option, she’s going to need to be taking time away from relationships and dating in general.
Another possibility? She’s not as upset as all that.
She may be blowing off steam. She may be appreciating that she’s got you dancing in attendance on her, being the sympathetic ear to her drama.
Or what she’s saying and what you’re hearing are two different things. She may be complimenting you, but “you’re a great guy” and “you’d make someone a great boyfriend” aren’t the same thing as “you’d make a great boyfriend for me.” And if she is saying “you’d make a great boyfriend for me,” you may well be missing the silent “…if I were attracted to you.”
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering why, having told you all of this, I told you to ask her out, lo those many paragraphs ago.
That’s because you need to cauterize this wound. Until you get your answer, until you collapse this wave, until you take a damn stand, you will spend all of your time and energy on this and never go anywhere. This relationship will eventually come to an end and in the aftermath you will realize just how much time you wasted doing nothing. By asking her out, you cut the bulls
t. You will save yourself years of moping and heartache and pain and time that you could have spent dating people who want to date you.
So it’s time to quit this passive-aggressive “well, I have feelings for you but I won’t actually ask you out” nonsense. It’s a stalling tactic. It’s not out of respect for their relationship. Trying to couch this in terms of respect is bull and you need to have more respect for yourself than to try this. You told her you have feelings and want to date her. The only difference between that and “Will you go out with me” is that one is passive. You laid it out there in hopes that she’d pick it up for you.
Well. She didn’t.
So now you have two choices.
The first is that you straight up ask her out on a date. No “well I would totally date you if.” No “I have feelings for you.” Just a straight “I want you to break up with your boyfriend and date me instead.”
The second is that you admit that she may like you, but she doesn’t like you the way you wish she did and you let this go. And that means no sticking around, trying to be her friend when you know you can’t. No waiting for her to break up with him in hopes that the window will be open long enough for you to climb in.
You end this. You forgive yourself for loving if not wisely then well and you move the hell on.
And if she says no? Same story. You take that no for what it is: no, she doesn’t want to date you. Not “not right now”, not “no, but maybe in the future.”
It will suck. You will hate it. But you will have gotten your answer. There will be no more ambiguity. No more nights of wondering “what if”. Now you know. And in knowing, you won’t have to waste any more time on a dream that can never happen.
I know. You hate me right now. You’re angry.
But believe me: I have been where you are, I have done what you’ve done and I’ve got the emotional scars to prove it. This is what I wish someone had told me back in the day. And so, as cold as it may sound, as harsh as it is, I am giving you this advice.
Quit stalling. Ask her out and take the L that is likely in your future. Or move on.
Either way: you’ll be much happier in the long run.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a 29 year old male and primarily date online these days. In my earlier twenties I read a little pick up artistry from one David De’Angelo, who liked the “Cocky and Funny” school of thought. So I would go out to local malls and such and try these sorts of techniques. I had some nice conversations but most I approached were attached. Go figure.
Anyway, I told a buddy of mine about my little experiments and he pointed out that I could approach someone who had a boyfriend, who might not take very kindly to some nerd hitting on his girl. Basically, I could get my butt kicked by a Neanderthal. Apparently this sage bit of advice sunk in because I quit approaching people offline (well, that and people online were more likely to be actually single.)
So, is this a rational fear? You’ve approached way more people than I have, so if it’s gonna happen it would have probably happened to you once or twice. Have you ever had a guy get in your face over accidentally approaching “his” girl? (I don’t like that term but for lack of a better word.)
I ask because the online method doesn’t seem to be working for me these days. It’s pretty slim pickings here. I’m in a rural area, for context. So maybe it’s time to try approaches offline, but I have major approach anxiety, in part due to this fear I have.
So what do you think?
Anxious in Ohio
DEAR ANXIOUS IN OHIO: In all the thousands of approaches I’ve made, in all the times I’ve approached women who had boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and very protective fathers and brothers, I have never gotten my butt kicked. Nor have I had Big Moose try to pound me flat because I tried to talk to Midge. I’ve had guys in clubs try to out “alpha male” me in weird passive-aggressive ways, but it’s never come even to threats of violence.
(I did, in fairness, once get threatened with a Lochaber axe, but that was an entirely different situation.)
In fact, I’ve had more near-misses with violence from drunks trying to pick fights, which had nothing to do with any of the women I talked to.
Also one clown with a gun. But again: entirely different situation.
Point is: most people aren’t violent. You’d be more likely to get the “you talking to my gurl” schtick in high-school than you are as a grown-ass adult and especially in places like malls. Unless you are seeking out women in astonishingly aggressive areas – trying to pick up chicks at a Hells’ Angels bar, for example – I don’t think you really have much to worry about.
99 times out of 100, if you try flirting with someone who has a boyfriend, a simple “Oh, ok, cool, sorry to bother you,” to her (seriously, women hate it when you apologize to their boyfriends for hitting on them. It suggests you see it as an insult to him) will settle things perfectly well.
And that 1 time out of 100, you can probably talk your way out of it anyway.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)