READER’S QUESTION: “So there's this guy... (How many of our problems start out with those words?!?) I'll call him J. J is really great, and we've known each other for a decent amount of time. He's my younger brother's best friend and is also very close with the rest of my family, to the point that we joke he's unofficially our other sibling.
But here's the thing – I've been secretly crushing on/interested in him for almost three years now! I'm almost certain he's not interested in me, and that he never will be, even though (in my head, at least) we're very similar and would make a great couple. I know I ought to get a grip and move on! I even downloaded Hinge and have been talking to a few guys. But I just don't want to. None of it interests me whatsoever unless J is involved. How am I supposed to either get over J and meet someone new without comparing him to J or be comfortable with my unrequited interest in J? Which option is better?"
EVIE’S ADVICE: First and foremost, it’s important to address why you have been crushing on this guy for nearly three years. Is it because you know he’s “off limits,” as he’s your brother’s best friend? Are you dreaming of how romantic and exciting it would be to sneak around without your family knowing that the two of you are together? Sometimes, when we know that we can’t have someone (or can’t have him easily), the idea becomes more desirable because it’s a challenge. Or maybe you have grown these genuine feelings for him because he’s been around so often that you feel this closeness and vulnerability with him, seeing that he’s almost like a part of your family. Maybe it feels good to have someone around who knows the ins and outs of you and doesn’t judge you for being yourself.
Either way, it’s obvious that you find something deeply captivating about J, so it’s worth using this situation to figure out the root cause of your feelings, and then determine what qualities you’re most attracted to in him. Even though there may not be a future with J, the experience isn’t a waste because it will get you closer to what you are searching for in a relationship. What is it about J that you like? If you can isolate the specific qualities, then you can then apply that knowledge to future relationships, which would be a healthier way to "compare other men to J." Frame it as a way to get to know yourself and your preferences and standards better.
Use this experience as a way to get to know yourself and your preferences and standards better.
Unrequited love is certainly one of the most difficult types of love to face in our lives (just ask Iris from The Holiday!), and to be honest, it will likely happen to every woman at some point or another. There is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer here. The best thing you can do, aside from using this as a learning experience, is keep your mind busy and practice being open to other guys as much as possible. Of course, it will be tough in the beginning to strike up natural conversations with potential matches, go on dates (some of which are bound to be terrible), and ride the inevitable rollercoaster of dating, but you're doing the right thing by putting yourself out there and trying to move on. Keep that going and maybe pick up a new hobby too to help you get your mind off J.
In the meantime, see J as little as possible. Try not to hang out with him when he comes over to see your brother. Refrain from stalking his social media accounts online. The less you see of him (in person and online), the quicker you'll be able to get over him. It may not feel like it right now, but given time and effort you will find your husband and the difficult and confusing journey to get there will all feel worth it.
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