DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I understand you hate Friend Zone questions but please bear with me as I think mine is most unique.
Three months ago, I packed up and moved to another state. Before switching cities, I visited my new home town about 3 times (you know, to get a lay of the land). The first time I went, I noticed a woman on the bus sitting in front of me. She was beautiful but I thought nothing more then she was a hot woman on the bus. The second time I went I saw her again and instantly recognized her as the woman from before. The third time I went I saw her a third time and was immediately smitten with her.
Before classes started I went to an orientation and low and behold SHE was there (lets call her Rose from here on out, not her real name of course). I said a few things to her but most came out nervous and uninteresting. This surprised me because I’m usually very good at talking to women. That night I immediately went on Facebook and found her. I chatted her up for the next three days before confessing I liked her and asked if we could go on a few dates when school started. She accepted.
I was traveling quite a bit before the semester started, so meeting with her was never really an option. Because of this I talked to her on Facebook A LOT (everyday). We would flirt a little and talk about some very sexual things. Occasionally we would get drunk and talk to each other.
When school started, I was regrettably a nervous mess. I could barley talk to her or even make eye contact. This was surprising because as I said before I’m VERY good at talking to women. This lasted about two weeks till I began talking to her. It was all very casual for about a week when finally I decided to ask her out. I stepped up, asked her on a date. Her answer was a no.
Over the past five weeks since, I have gotten to know her much better (we are very good friends)and at this point its fair to say I love her. I think about her everyday and care about her more than she’ll ever know. She is beautiful and because of this many guys try flirting with her. None of them can laugh with her like I can, and none would kill for her like I would. So last night at a dance (were me and her both hugging the walls and not dancing much), I confessed how I loved her. I told her that i think about her everyday and how if she said no I would be okay with it. She said no but was very surprised and I definitely got my point across.
And now Doctor NerdLove I need to know. How can I show this woman I’m serious, there is a chance we’re going to be hanging out on Halloween. Should I try something then? I don’t know. I really feel a spiritual and physical love for this person and I need a way to show them.
DEAR LOVE FOOL: I don’t hate friend zone questions, LF. It’s just that nine times out of ten, everyone who writes in already knows the answer to the question they’re asking. They just want someone else to tell them that they’re wrong and there is hope.
Now, before I get into the meat of your question, LF, I want to point out what you did right… and what you did wrong.
By the third time you saw her, you knew that she was a regular on your route; you had no real reason not to talk to her then. While I’m normally a bit loathe to suggest approaching women on public transit — they’re functionally stuck with you, and they don’t know if you’re going to follow them when they get off at their stop — familiarity can breed comfort. If you’re enough of a known quantity, you’re more likely to get a positive response when you say “hey”
I know it can be intimidating approaching a stranger for the first time, but once you learn to muscle through the anxiety, you can start making approaching women you’re attracted to an organic part of your life. As it was, you were still running the risk of never seeing her again, and you’d be kicking yourself for not taking the chance.
In your case, LF, the fates saw fit to smile upon you and give you a second chance by having her applying to your school. This time you managed to actually talk to her: good work!. And while you may not have impressed her with your gift of gab, but clearly you didn’t creep her out and she accepted your Facebook request.
Now here’s where you screwed up again: you didn’t strike while the iron was hot. Talking for three days before asking her out wouldn’t have been an issue… if you hadn’t been about to go out of town. It would’ve been better to go on a date before you would be out of town than to ask her to wait for however long instead.
It’s one thing if your schedules didn’t line up and the first chance you had was after you got back. In this case, however, it seems like you had the time and opportunity; you chose to wait instead.
And it’s not as though this caught you by surprise. You knew you were leaving; this should have been your motivation to ask her out on at least one date before you left.
Now, she did agree to go on a couple of dates with you, true, but she agreed knowing that this would be three months in the future. Her agreeing to go one some dates that far down the line is… well, it’s not really much of a promise. It’s far enough in the future that it feels less like a date and more of a polite way to get someone to back off for a bit. After all, it’s easy to humor someone when there’s that much emotional (and physical) distance; it won’t feel as real or immediate, and there’s always the chance that you’ll forget or otherwise let her out of it.
So once again: she MIGHT have been genuinely interested in you or willing to give you a chance and go on a date or two. Or she may have agreed to go on a couple dates thinking that there was the distinct chance that she wouldn’t have to actually go out with you. If you had asked her to go out the next day, say, you may or may not have gotten a date out of it, but at least you’d have an answer.
Letting things go until after you got back in town, on the other hand, meant that you were losing any emotional momentum that you might have had. Talking over Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp is easier than people would think; there’s a certain level of distance and abstraction lowers our inhibitions. As a result, you can find yourself talking about things that you wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable talking about face to face. This includes a willingness to be flirty — or at least SEEM flirty, even if there’s no real interest.
The other problem with putting the dates off until school started was that you built the moment up in your head. It’s no wonder that you were a nervous mess when you got back home. You most likely spent those weeks building those dates from a simple social outing to events of monumental importance. I wouldn’t be surprised if you started mentally mapping out every possible way things could go – and most of ’em leading to romance and/or sex. So now you’re back in school and the GRAND MOMENT is upon you! It’s do or die time! Gotta make it happen, after all that build up!
And then… nothing.
In effect you essentially psyched yourself out. This is another reason why you want to make your move as soon as possible: to avoid building things up to impossible degrees and over-investing in someone who you still barely know.
As a result, it took you another two weeks before you tried to bring up her going out with you… that’s two more weeks of bleeding away any emotional momentum you may have had. It’s not surprising that when you finally asked her out, she said no. She may never have intended to go out with you in the first place. She may have been up for it at first but time and distance caused her to lose interest. You’ll never know now.
So that brings us to today: You told her you loved her, she didn’t return your feelings and you’re firmly stuck in the Friend Zone.
(Standard disclaimer: There’s no such thing as The Friend Zone. There’re just folks who don’t want to date or sleep with you.)
There are many ways you could have avoided the problem in the first place, but now you’re looking for your way out and you’re hoping that convincing her of the depths of your sincerity is going to change her mind.
SPOILER ALERT: it’s not. Especially when you’re using phrases like “I’d kill for her”. I know you’re not serious, but that’s the sort of language that sets people’s Spider-sense tingling and makes them start eyeing the exits.
Making a grand gesture makes for great dramatic moments in the movies, but in real life it doesn’t work out the way you would hope. It’s not going to solve the problem for you, because you’re trying to fix the wrong issue.
The problem isn’t that she thinks you’re not serious about how you feel. The problem is that she just doesn’t like you back. Not the way you’re wishing she did.
Right now, the best thing you can do is accept the truth and focus on letting your broken heart heal.
That, unfortunately, is probably going to mean that you need to get a little distance from her. Hanging around her right now is obviously hurting you and – contrary to everything pop-culture has taught us – there’s nothing romantic or even terribly sane about subjecting yourself to that sort of pain over and over again. It sucks that she doesn’t return your feelings, but moping about and trying to backdoor your way into a relationship with her isn’t the answer.
The best thing you could do right now is take some time and distance and – and I know this is going to seem counter-intuitive – date other people. I’m a firm believer that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, as it were. It’s not that sex heals all wounds and so you should go get some strange, nor is it a matter of replacing her with the nearest warm body. Getting back out there and dating around will remind you that there are other women in the world – ones who might return your feelings. It’ll help you rebuild your confidence and self-esteem, while reminding you that as amazing as Rose may be, she’s not the ONLY woman out there. She’s ONE person, not the LAST person who could ever love you or that you could ever love.
So let Rose go. Be friends with her if you can, but accept that you’re friends, not potential lovers. Date around, meet other amazing folks and remember: he who hesitates is lost. Next time, do yourself a favor and make your move. When you’ve met someone awesome, remember what the sage said and do not throw away your shot.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com