Dear Style & Substance:
I am in a little bit of a pickle. I have mouth-watering, earth moving feelings for this guy. He is smart, classy, funny, attractive and very exciting. He made a move to take our friendship further a few months ago and I resisted because one major obstacle is we have a mutual friend who also adores him and they had a fling for a few months. This friend also confides in me about how much she misses him and how much he meant to her during their time together. I have never told her of my feelings for him or that he had shown an interest in me back then. I have a short window to make a move on this situation as he is considering moving from the area. I’m afraid if I do, I might hurt my friend more than I can anticipate. I know there are a lot of “fish in the sea” and friends out there, but they both are great people. I am afraid I will regret either choice. Can you shed some light?
We will agree with you, in that this is a pickle! Being very conflicted with your loyalty to your friend is very admirable and very telling – in that there are other feelings to consider. If you believe that there are two sides to every story, and that the truth could lie somewhere in between, it would behoove you to take some time to investigate a little further without a commitment!
We think that a first step may be to tell him that you’d like to say “yes” to a date but that you have a dilemma you would like to talk to him about in person. This gives you a chance not only to investigate how he responds; it also gives him the opportunity to explain his feelings, past and present, for your girlfriend. This conversation can also help you to check the temperature on your feelings for him. See what he says and does...as his expressions and body language will tell you much more. Don’t treat it like a court case or inquisition, but more about loyalty to your friend and trying not to hurt anyone in the process.
Once you have done this, if you are leaning toward dating him, then you will want to be up front with your friend. Before the 1st date, explain your decision in a not-asking- her, but more like gently telling-her, kind of way. Share no more with her, as it could be painful for her initially, and you ultimately don’t want to hurt her.
Take it slow with him, you know what we mean by that, as this will give you time to build a real friendship/relationship that is not defined purely by physical, “mouth-watering” attraction! Proceed with caution, if he is considering leaving the area, and ask him to clarify his aims in moving. Is he looking for a job, attending school, or is he on an adventure? His intentions will point to the direction he and you may want to take your relationship. Are you ready to commit to whatever the future may hold for the two of you as a couple?
This decision is a good indicator of your character and your approach to building and maintaining relationships – friendship, romantic, or even professional. Consideration of the feelings of others while being true to yourself is the standard by which you can evaluate yourself.
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