Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Should I crush someone who might have a crush on me?

Dear HTT,

I have a small group of loosely connected friends that I hang around with on a fairly regular basis, some of them more than others. I have reason to believe that one of the guys in the group has a crush on me. He’s never said so straight out, but it’s just a feeling I get. I like spending time with him, but I’m not interested in dating him. Should I tell him? I don’t want to hurt him or make it awkward for the two of us to show up at the same events, but I don’t want to lead him on either. I don’t flirt with him, but I am friendly, and it’s possible he could be misreading the signals.

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Crushed


Dear Crushed,

You know, this whole crush business generates more visits to my site than any other topic. People who arrive at “Here’s the Thing” from Google leave a visible trail of search terms, at least half of which include the word “crush.” (Don’t worry. As I pointed out earlier, I can’t tell WHO is doing the googling, so your secrets are safe.) It’s fascinating, really, to imagine just how many people at this very moment are nursing a secret crush on a coworker, friend, teacher, buddy of a spouse, barista, bartender, or girl across the hall. As widespread as this situation appears to be, it’s puzzling that someone hasn’t figured out how to profit somehow. Or, more philanthropically, to come up with some kind of cure and distribute it widely, free of charge. I'm sure a cure would be welcome. Because by their nature, crushes are fun for a few weeks or months at best before they give way to frustration and pining and pints of Ben and Jerry’s. (Unless they happen to turn into relationships, in which case, they’re no longer “crushes.”)

After all, crush is violent word:

–verb (used with object)
  • to press or squeeze with a force that destroys or deforms.
  • to squeeze or pound into small fragments or particles, as ore, stone, etc.
  • to force out by pressing or squeezing; extract: to crush cottonseeds in order to produce oil.
  • to rumple; wrinkle; crease.
  • to smooth or flatten by pressure: to crush leather.
  • to hug or embrace forcibly or strongly: He crushed her in his arms.
  • to destroy, subdue, or suppress utterly: to crush a revolt.
  • to overwhelm with confusion, chagrin, or humiliation, as by argumentation or a slighting action or remark; squelch.
  • to oppress grievously.

–noun
  • the act of crushing; state of being crushed.
  • a great crowd: a crush of shoppers.
  • an intense but usually short-lived infatuation.
  • the object of such an infatuation: Who is your latest crush?

It’s probably no coincidence that “an intense but usually short-lived infatuation” that can cause no small amount of depression and googling isn’t called—I don’t know—a “nurture” or an “encouragement.”

So, getting around to your specific crushing issue: since this fellow hasn’t laid bare his feelings or asked you on a date, you can’t be certain he thinks of you as more than a friend. As such, I think it’d be a bit presumptuous to explicitly state that you lack romantic interest in him. For the sake of argument, though, let’s assume that he does have a crush on you. It’s quite possible that he already knows you aren’t interested and is just biding his time until the crush fades, as they tend to do.

I think your best bet is to remain friendly but pay attention to your boundaries. It’s flattering to be wanted, but continue resisting the temptation to flirt. If you usually only see one another in a group, keep it that way; if you have hung out alone in the past, maybe for a while it would be better to include others. If you have, or develop, an interest in someone, mention it to him as you would to any other friend, but take care not to be heavy handed or cruel about it.

Bottom line, treat this guy as you’d hope to be treated if the tables were turned.

Best,
HTT

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with HTT's advice. There is no reason to crush this guy's crush unless he tries to pursue something with you. It is possible that he doesn't have a crush on you. If that's the case and you shoot him down, he might get offended and think you are arrogant and presumptuous. Then you'll have tarnished a friendship for nothing.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to sing the praises of "Crushed"--Thank you for having a conscience, for showing concern for the feelings of others, for seeing potential for a problem and trying to set boundaries to keep this guy from getting hurt.

I wish I had a dollar for every crush of mine who was happy keeping me on a string. I can think of at least five former crushes who sent mixed signals, responded vaguely whenever I suggested getting a cup of coffee, getting together for something other than a group/work/school outing, yet continued to flirt with me for months on end. At some level, these guys knew what they were doing because whenever I showed signs of getting over them, they took steps to keep me interested. And all the standard excuses--he's too shy to ask me out, he's just broke up with someone and isn't ready, he's got "issues"--it's all bullshit. With one supposedly "shy" guy, I finally "ripped off the band-aid" after 6 months of "does he like me?" frustration. I was told that he was interested in sleeping with me but nothing more--he wanted me around if he was lonely but out of sight if he found someone he did want to date. So I moved on. A couple months later when I had started dating someone else, he asked about the new boyfriend, listened as I blabbed about how great the new guy was (he's still great btw), and when I finished he asked me out on a proper date for the first time. I had the pleasure of saying no, but he wasn't interested in even my friendship after that. I was only any good to him if I was unattached, adoring and at his disposal.

Guys aren't the only ones who do this--I've seen plenty of female friends play the same kind of game--flirt just enough to get them interested, interfere with the guys' efforts to date other women, but never really intend anything more out of it. It's all about ego, and the boost one gets from getting romantic attention.

Flirting is fun but it is also a form of communication, and too many people don't take responsibility for the signals they put out there. Kudos to "Crushed" for being careful, concerned about the feelings of others and for not flirting with people who are not romantic interests.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when you have a crush, the guy knows it, shows slight interest, the crush goes to his head and then the games start, you never know what to expect, what he's thinking. This is what's happening to me right now. And it sucks as I do LIKE this guy, alot. He knows it, but now my ego and pride is in the way and I won't ask him out. If he wants me, he can make the effort.

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Anonymous said...

I have this going on right now.

Crazy about a guy I work with, knew for months he had a strong crush on me as well, I went through the agonies of 'should I let him know or not that I like him' for a long time.

In the end I did thinking it would make him back down (we are both married) and the electricity between us was almost unbearable.

I was wrong! he really pursued me, followed me around, the accidental touches escalated, the eye contact increased tenfold, all the time my feelings grew stronger and I felt he was trying to tell me that he wanted to take things further.

Then I told myself, he isn't asking cos he's shy, frightened of rejection, not sure he could be unfaithful, any excuse I could find and I really believed myself.

After a while though, I started to feel uncomfortable that he also played eye contact games with other women when in my presence, gave them similar attention to me, even when I was there!

This voice in my head said "but he's different with me, he thinks they're attractive but he has feelings for me" and then another voice said " you stupid fool, he's playing you" .

My emotions wwere up one minute, down the next, but I didn't want to believe he wasn't serious.

He has never actually said anything about the way he feels towards me, it's all just actions,

I know he would not take it
further, he has had plenty of opportunities to say something but has chosen only to say "I don't know ". I have not hinted that i would either.

I am now in a situation where I think he is actually stringing two of us along like this, both of us are hooked, and he possibly has already started with another one.

I even end up feeling awful for trying to back away from it, if I don't pay him the attention, he finds ways to DRAW ATTENTION from me.

This has gone from me thinking he was infatuated, to me being infatuated and all because of some blushing, strong eye contact and lots of casual touches.

I have tried to avoid him, telling myself constantly that I am being played, but then come back to the fact that a player would not blush around me,and then I am back at the beginning again.

At the beginning this felt great, an innocent secret crush, but it soon turned into infatuation which has been going on for months now.

My working day is affected, I am not putting my all into it, my marriage is becoming affected, although it was not brilliant before, but This crush has stopped me from trying to repair it.

I am constantly telling myself that this man has feelings for me, otherwise I think I would crack up, but in reality,I think I have a man here who just wants lots of attention from women because it makes him feel good.

Unfortunately for me, I do not feel good most of the time.

A word of advice, never tell them that you are crushing on them, or that your signals are serious.

They will ego boost themselves on it at the expense of your feelings and you will end up feeling a fool.