Expressing Yourself to Others/telling someone who is spoken for that you love them
QUESTION: I am a 24 year old guy and I am hoping that you can help me express myself to someone I care for very much. She is my previous manager, who just left the store a few weeks ago. She is almost 5 years older than I am, although at this point that doesn't seem to matter. What matters is the fact that she's engaged. Let me explain...
I met her about two years ago when, of all people, I worked for her fiance (then boyfriend of several years). He was always talking bad about her and flirting with attractive women who came in the store. I didn't think much about her then, but about a year later I transferred to her store and we began to develop a very lovely bond over a period of about 6 months. She decided to leave for another store not long ago, ostensibly as a means of making more money and being closer to where they live together. She said she wanted me to go with her and be her assistant manager there, and even considered demanding it as part of the deal with the higher-ups. She told me in a thank you card that she would miss me and that I was the best associate she'd ever had. A few days later, to make a long story short, something really bad happened at our store because of a policy that I didn't follow because, well, she never followed it either. I made it sound like I was pretty much the only one who ever broke policy, because I didn't want her to get in trouble. I almost got fired, and she was very upset because she knew how angry and disappointed I would be with myself about it. She even cried because of it. We texted from time to time before, but she texted me a lot that night, and she said some very sweet things that just melted my heart. She even told me that if I got fired she would likely quit. She visited me the next day and we hugged for the first time. We've texted every other day or so since then, and she's continued to be very sweet. I try to keep my distance and not latch on to her, because I respect her and her situation. She came by the store the other day, and she came up to me and hugged me, and then we hugged for a little extra long when she left. It feels like...maybe I'm delusional...but it feels like sometimes she's trying to say that she really cares about me, maybe even loves me, without actually saying it or giving me the wrong idea. I don't know if we would make a good couple, and I'm not trying to break up her relationship at all. It's just, love is so rare and special to me, and it just seems like if somebody loves someone, that that person should know it. And I want her to know. Is there any way that something like this can be said? Is it even possible? Thank you for any advice you may have.
ANSWER: Hi Matt,
You're in a rough spot, and I have to warn you. Your situation is not likely to end up in happiness, but even though you're going to likely experience gut-wrenching heartache, go ahead and tell her how you feel. Don't try to kiss her or do anything disrespectful. Don't carry on an affair. If she has feelings for you, give her time to end her engagement and then start your relationship anew. Although that is not a likely scenario. Odds are that she is in a confusing situation, and she is just reaching out for companionship. She may (and it's likely) care for you in some fashion, but the truth is she is engaged to another man. So she DEFINITELY has feelings for him. Why tell her? It's better to live with heartache than to live with regret. Besides you don't need to live in limbo. It will eat at you and rob you of the desire to find love elsewhere.
A potential side effect of this relationship may be that you get strung along for months and years in a suspended state of false hope. State your feelings plainly. Know that you want a romantic relationship, and if your feelings are unrequited--LEAVE GRACEFULLY. Respect yourself and all parties involved, and find someone who returns your affections.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Well, I tried to kind of tell her how I feel with a little gift. I've been racking my brain trying to think of ways to go about this, and I finally came up with giving her a mix tape. Nobody really does that anymore, but I was hoping she might like it. Nothing overtly romantic in it, not exactly anyway, but mostly a lot of songs that I enjoy and that make me think. The ones that resonate with my heart and how I feel about things. I didn't tell her any of that, I didn't want to make her feel weirded out. I finally had the day off today so I worked up the courage to drive to her new store and bring her lunch from one of her favorite places. I sat outside in my car for a long time just trying to get my legs moving. She seemed happy to see me I think, and the conversation was good. So I gave her the CD, and it went over well I thought, not too much said about it, not too weird I hope. We hugged goodbye as is custom now, and I drove home. I can't read her signals, Christy. She says sweet things like "I heart you" and "I love your face", like she's trying to tip toe around saying "I love you". I want to finish the phrase for her...she's all I can think about now. But what if she just thinks of me as a little brother? Do you think that's possible given what I've told you? Sigh, she makes me feel more alive and adventurous and, well, more "liked" than I've felt in a long time. But I've also felt the heartache of being the friend, the burden, the unwanted nuisance you didn't know you were until moments after you tell the center of your world how you feel. That's the end to every pretend love story I've ever been a part of, and I can't help but think it would happen here as well. I don't want to be afraid of love, but it's always been this way for me....It's so powerful, isn't it? At least from my perspective. I know it was a risk going there today and giving her the CD, but like I said, she coaxes the smitten man that I am to do things I didn't think I could. I never thought in a million years I'd make a mixtape for an engaged woman who is 5 years my senior and drive 30 minutes out of my way just so that I could give it to her today. Her fiance could show up at my store with a bat in the morning for all I know. But it was worth it :). Thanks for listening...
You're not going to like what I have to say.
When I said tell her how you feel, I meant TELL her how you feel--not make her a mixed tape of songs for her to maybe vibe or decipher or guess your true feelings about her from. How is that being clear and direct?
You're dragging this out and torturing yourself. You're being vague, because you're afraid of rejection. Your fear is well founded. It is LIKELY you will indeed be rejected. The goal in telling her how you feel is not to prolong your hope of what could be (which is a fantasy), but to bring you into the REALITY of what truly is. Then, you will be FREE to find love (mostly likely not with her).
You tell someone how you feel by saying something like, "I want a romantic relationship with you. Do you think you're going to breakup with your fiance soon, so we can be together?"
Now, you're thinking, "but she'll probably say 'no.'" And that's the point. You'll know she doesn't want that, but maybe she'll break up with her fiance at a later time and seek you out. Or maybe she'll say, "I want to be with you, too," and break up with her fiance. The odds of the latter possibilities are SLIM to NONE (as I mentioned earlier), but you'll never know if you don't ask.
I hope the mixed tape thing works out. And if it does, cool. My guess is that you have a fantasy that she'll hear it, miraculously know what you mean, and leave her fiance for you. What's likely to happen is that you'll just toil along in ambiguity for more time hopelessly pining over her until something changes like she gets married or you grow bitter or maybe find someone else. Even writing to me is part of the fantasy. It's just another way for you to think of her, but I'm telling you to knock it off and live in REALITY. Embrace what IS. It's hard, but you'll be better off knowing one way or the other.
Regardless, learning how to stand up and ask for what you want in life is a valuable skill that will serve you for years to come. If you can't do it here, save it for next time.