Dear Watson: One-Sided Love Affair
So I’m 27 and I haven’t been in a relationship in ages (4 years) and recently a really good-looking friend of mine started hitting on me during my year abroad in grad school. Like a lot. Like I think he’s a little obsessed with me. On my side I like him okay as a person but I don’t have real romantic feelings for him. I think he’s bit immature to tell the truth. But I also find him really attractive and I do like hanging out with him. I’ve been rejecting his advances because I instinctively felt that it was a bad idea to try to do something casual with someone who was so serious about me. But he says he’s open to a more casual relationship too and that he’s okay with my feelings being more platonic/friendly as long as the attraction is there. (Don’t worry, I told him nicely.)
On the one hand, I think there’s kind of a double standard going on; if a guy friend of mine told me he was thinking of dating / sleeping with someone whom he wasn’t that into just because she was physically attractive, I’d probably call him an asshole. On the other, though, I’m leaving at the end of the semester anyway, and I’ve been up front with him about why I’m conflicted, and I feel like it’s a little patronizing or disrespectful not to believe him when he says he’s okay with me being less into it than him. Would it be wrong to have a fling??
Could Stand to Get Laid
I don’t know the guy, so I can’t say for certain, but I think the answer depends on a few factors: how strong this guy’s feelings for you really are; how “immature” he really is; and how sure you are about how you feel about him. If you know anything about big decisions he’s made in the past that might help too.
The key thing is to figure out whether he’s still acting in his own best interests. Whether he’s just saying that he’s “okay with [your] feelings being more platonic/friendly” or whether he’s secretly hoping that your feelings will change if you give him a shot. You mention that he seems “a little obsessed” and that your instincts tell you that he’s “serious,” but you don’t give details. You’re right that it’s a bit patronizing not to take him at his word, but in this case, your instincts may be right, and his well-being needs to take priority over social protocol.
My belief is that when you get involved with someone you implicitly agree to act as a sort of mental health proxy within the relationship. If the other person somehow becomes incapacitated you agree to step up to the plate and look out for them. In this case, if you’re sure you’re not going to fall for him, and you don’t believe that he really understands that, you have to be firm and give him the “no” that he ought to be giving himself, no matter how good he looks in a swimsuit. But if he seems clear-headed and genuinely chill, or if you’re not so sure yourself about how you feel about him — well, you’re leaving soon anyway; live a little!
Dear Watson is The Faster Times’ weekly advice column. To reach Watson anonymously, write to email@example.com.
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