I Have a 20-Year-Crush on A Man, And He Still Hasn’t Asked Me Out!

I have read everything on your site, and no story matches mine, so here goes. I met the love of my life twenty years ago on a professional basis, and I knew right away that I was in love. We never became involved, only really good friends. He went on to marry someone else as did I, but we remained great friends with amazing chemistry always present. We have never been intimate; although, we did share one passionate kiss he initiated many years ago following a company Christmas party.

I am recently divorced, two years after he divorced his wife. We now talk a couple of times a week, and it is killing me that he has not asked me out. I compare all the other men I meet to him, and of course, none of them measure up. We have told each other that we love each other, but it never seems to evolve into more than just a platonic relationship.

Meanwhile, the men that are chasing me don’t have a chance because I am stuck in this torturous place, in love with my best friend.

We have seen each other through so much, and we are very supportive of one another. We talk about everything under the sun. But…it never seems to evolve into the whole enchilada. I have tried, several times, to cease contact with him so I can focus on another guy, yet he always calls and rekindles emotions in me. What do I do?

Maria

Dear Maria,

If you’ve read everything on this site, then you’re definitely familiar with the concept that men do what they want.

Now, of course, nobody actually thinks that this advice applies to them. It applies to other women who refuse to see reality. But not you, your relationship is different.

And if they’re not doing what you want them to, you have two choices: stay or go.

Now, of course, nobody actually thinks that this advice applies to them. It applies to other women who refuse to see reality. But not you, your relationship is different. Your feelings are real. Your chemistry is palpable. You’re in love.

Hate to say it, Maria, but splash some cold water on your face and wake up, you’re living in a fantasy.

Let’s start with your first line: “no story matches mine”. Really? I would say that about fifty percent of the emails I get come from women who are dealing with some form of unrequited love.

I’m looking through the archives right now: I Moved to Be With My Long Distance Boyfriend and Now He Ignores me

I Still Sleep With My Cheating Ex-Husband

I Love My Ex-Boyfriend, But He Only Calls Me When He Wants Phone Sex

My Catholic Boyfriend Refuses to Have Sex With Me. Should I Try to Seduce Him.

My Ex Keeps Promising to Commit, But He Never Follows Through.

And especially, this one: This Guy Loves Talking to Me But Does Not Want to be My Boyfriend

Are you getting the idea? Your story, Maria, is the most common story on Earth, the woman who is convinced that the man has equally strong feelings from her, except he’s just not acting on them, dammit!

Do you know how this sounds? It sounds to me like you are finding all the evidence you can to support your hypothesis (we have chemistry, we kissed once, he loves me platonically), except you’re ignoring the one thing that blows your hypothesis out of the water: He Hasn’t Asked You Out!

And if he’s been talking to you twice a week, in a period when he didn’t have a girlfriend, and he STILL hasn’t asked you out, guess what? He’s not going to. He thinks you’re nice. He thinks you’re cool. He thinks you’re safe. But unless he’s taken a secret vow of celibacy or has been trapped under a refrigerator since 2006, there’s nothing preventing him from asking you out.

Except for the fact that he doesn’t want to.

So if you’re perfectly content being in love with your best friend and not giving any other guys a shot, keep on doing what you’re doing. But if you ever want to find true love, by which I mean the reciprocated kind, you’re going to have to do these two things:

But unless he’s taken a secret vow of celibacy or has been trapped under a refrigerator since 2006, there’s nothing preventing him from asking you out. Except for the fact that he doesn’t want to.

1) Get out of fantasyland and realize that you’re not in love. You’re infatuated. Your chemistry is far stronger on your side than it is on his. If you still doubt me, remember: if he felt the chemistry that you feel, don’t you think he’d ask you out?
2) Slow down communication with this guy so he doesn’t have such a hold on you.

The more you treat him like a boyfriend, talking all the time, putting him up on a pedestal, the less time you have to devote to finding a guy who ACTUALLY feels romantic feelings toward you. If you need to cut off entirely, so be it. A good guy will understand that you need to go your own way to find happiness. Just don’t expect him to cut you off out of compassion, he likes you too much as a friend.

Finally, please own up to the idea that your story is not unique. The only thing that’s unique is that you’ve believed your version of events, you and this guy should be together – for 20 years.

Time to let it go and move on.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Honey

    I have to say that Evan’s right on. Guys that want to ask you out, do. Guys that don’t, don’t. And obviously she knows this is true or she would have asked him out herself a long time ago – but she hasn’t because she knows that he’d a) say no, and b) probably it would make things too awkward to continue the friendship. It’s easier to live in a fantasy where it still might happen then to do something definitive that would shatter that fantasy permanently.

    Honey´s last blog post…Snowboarding, Sickness, and a Breakdown at the Grocery Store

  2. 2
    Steve

    Maria;

    I agree with Evan. I would also like to emphasize Evan’s central point because I have burned myself on it so many times before. As have many other people:

    You and the person you are interested in are just like everyone else. If that person is interested in you they will act like they are interested in you and in all of the typical, obvious ways. Rationalizations in your mind or from their mouths don’t count. If they don’t act interested in you, they aren’t interested.

    Men ask women out they are interested in.

    Having written that, I have recently had some nice experiences on match.com with women initiating contact with me. IF you can handle being rejected right away or after several nice dates, THEN you might want to risk asking him out and letting him know your feelings since you have been good friends for so long. If you are not afraid of being disappointed, go for it, you have nothing to lose.

    1. 2.1
      Urbangirl

      I agree with Steve here. You honestly never know. Maybe he feels the same as you do and he is attracted to you. He is just concerned that you may not like him back in the same way. I have actually seen this happen before several times. I would have to ask if it were me and I were in your situation. I wish that I had a long time friend that were single and I was attracted to. How exciting! You really do have to try to have an open mind when asking him though. You really don’t know what he will say. You may be surprised. Either way, sometimes, depending on the situation… I feel that it’s okay for the woman to ask. As in your situation.  Good Luck! If it’s meant to be, you’ll be together sooner or later.

  3. 3
    thomas

    How did his wife get him and how did that all play out? Did she go after him and ask him to marry her?

    It does not matter if it a man or a woman, sometimes, people get to the edge and never go past it. They need a little push. If he is riding the fence, then he has brought you with him. As you can tell, riding the fence has given you a rash in the groin, in a figure of speech. Get off the fence and decide what side you want to be on.

    For every action there is a reaction. If you push him into a relationship, then he is either going to give into the push or he will go the opposite direction. Still, your relationship will not be on a teeter totter.

    I have had a few female friends in the past that were in the same situation. They would hang on me, rest their head on my shoulder, spent quality time with me, grab my arm in public and escort me when we would walk, run their fingers through my hair, fall asleep with their head in my lap, …. you get the picture…

    When I would ask them what was up, if they were interested in me, they all reacted the same, they stopped their actions. Some people like the idea of attention without strings attached. Sometimes, it gets to the point where the other person has gone past a point where you have to ask them what their intentions are. Be up front and direct. Tell them that if they are interested then take it to the next level. If they are not interested, then the behavior has to stop.

    I have several situations in my life where I ask someone out and they ask me about my girl friend, the girl that is hanging on me. When I explain to them that she is just a friend and nothing else, the woman that I am after always tells me that it does not look like it.

    If you are out in public and the two of you are be buddy-buddy, other men that are potential mates are going to get the idea that you are already involved with someone. They are less likely to ask you out.

    You do not want to do it, but it has to be done. Be up front and honest with him. Tell him what you want and figure out if the both of you have the same goals. The attitude of, I might do it, I might not, is not going to work. It has not gotten you anywhere yet, and it is not going to. Jump in feet first into the water and see what happens.

    If he truly wants to be with you, then he will he will, if he does not, then he will back off and his behavior will change.

    It almost sounds like he is playing both sides of the fence. He is getting his attention, but is not committed to you. One side of the fence or the other. He is stringing you along and you are letting him.

    I do not recommend mind games, but once in awhile, they can not hurt. Take him out and introduce him to other women and see how reacts. If the two of you are out, talk to other men and see if he gets defensive.

    Another thing, you might have just a really nice guy that is a good friend. Sure there are a lot of those out there. You might be reading too much into his actions. When he says he loves and will do things for you, it might be more of a sister kind of thing.

    Two great people, do not always make a great couple.

    He might be that guy that you can count on when you need to move and need an extra hand. I do not know the whole story or his side, but that just might be all that it is. He might be the nice guy that will always be there for you, to pick you back up when you fall down. But that is all that he is, a nice guy with a positive attitude.

    If is he just a nice guy, with nothing but the best intentions, then you might be stringing him along as well. You might be trying to make him something that he is not. When he says some things to you, he might be just telling you want you want to hear, to make you feel better. He might be just telling you things, to make you fell good about yourself.

    It almost seems like he is a comfort blanket. When things are bad and cold, you can always talk to him to make things better and warm.

    Ask yourself, do you want him to be your brother or the man that you wake up next to in the morning. Your actions will show what you really want.

    Go find out who he is.

    Is he a nice guy that is like a brother?

    Is he someone that just likes attention with no strings attached?

    Or is he sort of an introvert that needs a little push to get over the edge?

    Once you find out who he is, a lot of your headaches will end.

  4. 4
    Rachelle

    Yes, I’m going to use that tired & cliche’ phrase of…

    “He’s just not that into you!”

    I don’t understand why we, as women, get into situations like Maria and try to justify the heck out of it. We always think “our” situation is different. We can have friends & family pointing out the obvious and still we don’t get it. It’s when you are removed from the situation aka getting out of Fantasyland, that you will see it for what it is! Bottom line, if the guy was interested, he’d be asking you out already.

    Believe me, I’ve been there!

    I agree with Evan totally, let it go & move on!

  5. 5
    Steve

    @thomas, post #3

    Thomas, I have been in the situation you describe in the quoted part of your post #3. I never knew what that was about. Your idea fits and that Marie can take from it is good. FWIW, I think this quote says it all well, the rest of post #3 isn’t needed


    I have had a few female friends in the past that were in the same situation. They would hang on me, rest their head on my shoulder, spent quality time with me, grab my arm in public and escort me when we would walk, run their fingers through my hair, fall asleep with their head in my lap, . you get the picture

    When I would ask them what was up, if they were interested in me, they all reacted the same, they stopped their actions. Some people like the idea of attention without strings attached. Sometimes, it gets to the point where the other person has gone past a point where you have to ask them what their intentions are. Be up front and direct. Tell them that if they are interested then take it to the next level. If they are not interested, then the behavior has to stop.

    I have several situations in my life where I ask someone out and they ask me about my girl friend, the girl that is hanging on me. When I explain to them that she is just a friend and nothing else, the woman that I am after always tells me that it does not look like it.

    If you are out in public and the two of you are be buddy-buddy, other men that are potential mates are going to get the idea that you are already involved with someone. They are less likely to ask you out.

  6. 6
    Jennifer

    @Honey #1- you have a great line in your post
    “It’s easier to live in a fantasy where it still might happen then to do something definitive that would shatter that fantasy permanently.”

    Until Maria faces the fear of her shattered fantasy, and all of the related repercussions like feelings of rejection etc., she will stay stuck and be susceptible to being sucked back into this relatinonship. The good thing is, she doesn’t need him to give her an ‘answer’ one way or the other…she just needs to realize and beleive that she’ll be okay without him. She’ll handle it and live through it. Easier said than done, but still very doable when she’s ready.

  7. 7
    Selena

    20 yrs.? Oh my.

    Maria,
    after all these many years why haven’t you initiated a discussion with him about being “more than friends”? If you are as close as you say you are, why hasn’t the subject of…”say have you ever thought about maybe us together…?” ever come up?

    I had a male friend for many years that I would sometimes think of as a romantic possiblilty in a vague way. It wasn’t until after several years I once tentatively broached the subject with him. He said he had thought about it too sometimes, speaking just as cautiously as I did.

    We never did ever get together and I could say it was timing–it seemed we were never single at the same time, or at least once I was single but still “getting over” someone else. In retrospect, I think the desire to be couple just really wasn’t all that strong for us. And that the idea of how if it didn’t work out, there would go the friendship.

    I suspect your friend may feel the same way if he has ever entertained romantic ideas about you. They may have been there, but not strong enough to act on; not compelling enough to risk rejection and possibly the end of a fulfilling friendship.

    And I think you know/feel this yourself. Otherwise, YOU wouldn’t have put off having such a conversation with this man for 20 years. Fantasy IS a lot safer than what the reality could turn out to be.

    You can continue on this way, in fantasy love, or you could follow Evan’s advice. Or you could decide to be a big girl and ASK your friend if he had ever thought of having more than a friendship with you. It would open a discussion, and no matter which way it went, you’d be forced out of fantasy and open yourself up to what happens next.

  8. 8
    The Seductress Within

    Maria,

    He feels safe with you, comfortable, glad you give him female attention and companionship and all of that wonderful stuff.

    He is not, in my opinion passionate about you or feeling the same kind of attraction you are.
    If he were feeling it, he would not be able to prevent himself from acting on it.
    It sounds like this fantasy you have entertained in your mind has taken on a life of it’s own-you imagine he feels it too, but I don’t think he does.

    The Seductress

  9. 9
    Joe

    It’s extremely unlikely after 20 years, but on the off chance that he does have feelings towards you, ask him out on a date yourself (and make it clear that you’re asking him out on a date, not just to hang out as friends). Whatever he says, you have your answer. If it’s affirmative, pursue it. If it’s negative, move on, nothing more to see here.

  10. 10
    Zann

    Great Job, Evan! A direct response to what Maria has presented as a “unique” or complicated situation. Except it’s neither. I have done some pretty incredible magical thinking in my time about what I perceived as a unique, special, smoldering, endless, star-crossed lover situation, and all I can say is if the guy hasn’t made the move after all those years, he’s not going to. But don’t take my word for it — just tell him how you feel and see what he does. He may squirm and hem & haw, and make excuses but what he says doesn’t really matter, it’s what he does. Why set up scenarios or situations to test him? Not necessary. Just ask the man. And if it’s not mutual, let it go. It’s his loss, but he’s had the pleasure of your devotion for too long. Time to take care of you & get YOUR needs met. Good luck.

  11. 11
    downtowngal

    thomas #3 said “…When I would ask them what was up, if they were interested in me, they all reacted the same, they stopped their actions” ….maybe they were testing you?

    Either way, I agree w Evan, if the guy’s into you he’ll make it known. At this point you should be true to yourself. Just as a guy will do what he wants to, you do what you feel is right for YOU.

    Start out by pulling back, don’t answer his calls. If/when you both eventually speak again and he asks you why (which he probably will), tell him the truth about how you feel and why you’ve been incommuicado. That throws the ball back in his court. If he moves ahead w you, great. If not, you’ll have your answer.

    If you never hear from him again, or if you do but he’s oblivious to the long hiaitus, then you’ll have your answer.

  12. 12
    downtowngal

    I also wonder, if you had such amazing chemistry from the onset when you were both single, why did you both marry other people?

  13. 13
    Shalini

    I am shocked that after reading all of Evans blogs you still don’t understand that you wont find your “autobiography” on any site or anywhere in the world. Someone who didnt propose to you in 20 years of time and got married and divorced in that time will never do so…

    And most of all you should not compare people to your ex- boy friend, lover etc. because there is a reason why you are not with that person!!!! You should not forget that reason!

  14. 14
    hunter

    I remember asking a woman out(that I was attracted to) for almost 10 years. I remember her saying things that pushed my away/turned me off. I would ask her to stop that, but she was blind as a bat. Had no idea what I was talking about.

  15. 15
    cinnamon

    downtowngirl,
    With respect to “Start out by pulling back, don’t answer his calls. If/when you both eventually speak again and he asks you why (which he probably will), tell him the truth about how you feel and why you’ve been incommuicado. ”
    I must admit, this is something I personally put into category “gameplaying”. If I was on the receiving end of such treatment, it would never turn into anything positive.

  16. 16
    hunter

    I blamed myself for years, until at a singles seminar I heard a woman ask the therapist, “How does a woman become more feminine?” Therapist replied, “Mostly keep your mouth shut.”

  17. 17
    Steve

    downtowngal Jan 8th 2009 at 06:52 pm 11
    thomas #3 said When I would ask them what was up, if they were interested in me, they all reacted the same, they stopped their actions.maybe they were testing you?

    Interesting comment downtowngal! Do you mean testing the man to see if he is interested? I ask because what happened to Thomas happened to me a few times during my college years. I always chalked it to up the to woman being unsure of how much she liked me. Is it a ploy to get the guy to declare how much he likes the woman?

    Start out by pulling back, don’t answer his calls. If/when you both eventually speak again and he asks you why (which he probably will), tell him the truth about how you feel and why you’ve been incommuicado. That throws the ball back in his court. If he moves ahead w you, great. If not, you’ll have your answer.

    I also agree with another piece of advice frequently repeated by Evan and that is to not play games. Maria and this guy aren’t college kids. They can afford to be a little bit more direct and honest. IMHO after knowing the man for 20 years I think it is okay for Maria to invite him out to lunch, express her interest and ask him if he is also interested.

    After 20 years of being friends he may have trained himself to think of her in only that way and possibly, a nudge in another direction might change things.

    Fair warning Maria, I don’t think it is likely, but what have you to lose?

  18. 18
    The Seductress Within

    Cinnamon,

    I don’t see pulling back as game playing at all. Pulling back is exactly what she should do so she can get her head straight and begin to focus on other men. It’s the healthy thing to do.
    He’s not asking her out.

    The only other possible thing to do is to come clean but I wouldnt do it for a couple of reasons.

    1.) From obvious evidence, she already has her answer.

    2.) What if he like the woman in Evan’s post, “Does my girlfriend want me back or is she just using me” has a case of loving the ego boost she gives him, likes having female attention and companionship and gives her a mixed signal answer that strings her along further because he doesn’t want to loose his good end of the bargan?

    Just because someone is honest and asks outright, doesn’t mean they’re going to get a honest answer back. She’s too vulnerable IMO what with 20 years of a crush to sort through his possible B.S.

    Let him go, Maira, don’t you want to be desired madly? Laying yourself out on ice hoping that he “someday” makes a move does not make you hot.

    Besides, I’ll bet if they did date, he’d fall off of that pedestal she put him on mighty fast.

  19. 19
    cinnamon

    Seductress,

    I think maybe I didn’t express myself clearly enough or misunderstood the intention behind downtowngirl’s advice.

    I think pulling back and reducing (or stopping) contact as a way of moving on with your life, giving up on someone who is not reciprocating your feelings and focusing on other men is by all means a healthy thing to do.

    However, pulling back and not answering calls in order to make the other person ask you what’s up, or, even worse, to make them figure up themselves what’s bothering you, is in my opinion a case of game playing. And it makes you still stuck on the guy. But probably we all have different standards for what we consider game playing, testing etc.

    Otherwise, I more or less agree with what Evan and the rest of commenters advised so far.

  20. 20
    Steve

    cinnamon Jan 9th 2009 at 10:55 am 19
    I think pulling back and reducing (or stopping) contact as a way of moving on with your life, giving up on someone who is not reciprocating your feelings and focusing on other men is by all means a healthy thing to do.

    However, pulling back and not answering calls in order to make the other person ask you what’s up, or, even worse, to make them figure up themselves what’s bothering you, is in my opinion a case of game playing.

    Well put.

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