I started law school 3 months ago, which means I see the same 60 people in my class every single day for hours at a time. Obviously, we’ve all formed our little groups, and there is a certain someone in my group that I have a huge schoolboy-like crush on. I’m 25 years old so it feels entirely irrational and I can’t really explain it, but everything she does makes me laugh/smile/etc. We’re as close as any 2 people can be that have seen each other hours on end for 3 straight months, and we have a fantastic friendship. She is really witty and funny, and we have a more-than-healthy banter between us that I personally would consider to be openly flirty, but I think it’s just her natural personality.
Over the past 2-3 weeks I started casually sleeping with a classmate in a no-strings-attached situation. We have kept it extremely quiet because law schools are as gossipy as high schools, but this girl somehow figured it out very quickly. She has broached the subject with me and asked me if I thought it was going to become something serious and mentioning that even though I don’t think it will be that the girl involved does (she apparently knows this because her and another friend talked about it and came to this conclusion). She also told me that she is here to talk to me about it if I needed someone to talk to (which I am not used to coming from a girl, so I don’t know what to make of it).
During these last few weeks she has also started coming to me for guy advice, including asking my thoughts on what another guy thinks of her that she has a crush in our class. This obviously makes me think there is absolutely no feelings on her part (I mean, she’s telling me she has a crush on one of my friends).
On the other hand she has also become more ‘handsy’ recently- playful slaps/punches on the arm, etc (but that could just be a byproduct of the comfort factor that comes with knowing someone for a longer period of time). Toss that in with the open flirting (or does she think it’s just friendliness?) and her frequently made comments that she “always seems to fall for the clever guy” and that she thinks I’m “super clever” and I have no idea what to believe (she tells me these things while describing hilariously awful first dates she’s been on).
This is especially frustrating to me because I am usually fairly strong at reading people across the board, but for the life of me I can’t figure her out. I’m sure a large part of it is that my judgment is clouded by my desire for her to like me, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.
I also don’t want to risk saying the wrong thing to her and forever altering what we already have because 1- we are going to see each other every day until graduation in 3 years and 2- I really like what we have as a friendship already.
Wow, it’s only November and things are getting complicated! Let’s look at the facts and then determine your best strategy.
Is She Attracted to You?
She may well be, but there are several indications here that argue against it:
You are really attracted to her, and if it was mutual, there should be some sense of mounting sexual tension – the sparks should be flying.
She has come to you for guy advice. If this was done before you started hooking up with the other girl, it almost certainly means you are in the friend box. If after, it could be a strategic response (conscious or not) to your hooking up with someone else.
She has offered to be your confidante for girl problems. This would be painful if she had feelings.
On the other hand….
Her vibe is flirty. The key question here is: How does she act with other guys? What you’re looking for here is some sense of being treated differently. If she is flirtatious/friendly with everyone in the same way, then it’s obviously not significant if she’s that way with you. If she is singling you out for special treatment, that is flirtation, not friendliness.
At the very least, you guys are sharing a mutual personality crush. The compatibility sounds off the charts, and usually when women feel that way, and make that kind of effort, it’s about more than friendship.
Observing that you are very smart while saying she falls for smart guys could be a good sign – except that presumably your law school class has 30 other guys who are also smart, so I’m not sure how meaningful that is.
In short, it’s hard to say. If you can’t read her in person, I certainly can’t from your description. Here’s where I’m really getting stuck, though. You spend the first couple of months of the semester feeling like a schoolboy around this woman, then start hooking up with someone else. Why? That would certainly send a message of disinterest to the one you really like. You don’t seem concerned about the fallout with this other girl should things go bad (which they obviously will, and soon).
I’ve always heard guys say that they would risk a friendship in a heartbeat for a romance, and it sounds like you would too, but you don’t want to ruin the friendship by speaking your mind and making things super awkward if she rejects you. Understandable.
Many women enjoy platonic friendships with men, and are highly motivated to cultivate them, provided they are not attracted to the guy. Why? Women want the male perspective, which can be tough to come by if you don’t read HUS regularly and they want advice given with authority. Girls also love hanging out with guys because they’re often funny, loyal and honest. Male friendships are ideally drama free, and women usually don’t use friendship as a means to get close to a guy and spring a move on him – the friendship is the end, not the means.
Conversely, men generally say that they don’t waste time and energy on any relationship that has zero chance of getting to sex. There are exceptions, but in my experience, that’s the prevailing view. It makes more sense for him to invest his effort elsewhere, and that’s doubly true if he’s been LJBF’d by the woman.
There have been several studies looking at cross-sex friendships, and the biggest pitfall is sexual tension. In one study, 62% said there was sexual tension present in the friendship. Not only that, men indicated that sexual tension was a primary motivator for initiating the friendship in the first place, while women indicated they disliked it. So you have the sexes acting at cross purposes, which is often the case due to conflicting mating strategies.
Another finding is that cross-sex friendships tend to atrophy when one or both partners secure other romantic attachments. This is usually because new partners are uncomfortable with a strong level of intimacy between their partner and someone else. So it’s likely that your friendship will change when or if one of you falls for someone else. The truth is, friendships are always changing. Keeping things exactly as they are now is probably not a realistic option.
What Should You Do?
The blog Guyism has some suggestions for guys who have been friend boxed:
Having a hot female friend is always a challenge. Because no matter what you do, the word “platonic” sounds a lot more like a reference to earthquakes than your attitude toward that smokin’ bod. But how can you crack the barrier and add a heavy dose of attraction to the bland, unfulfilled vat of friendship the two of you share?
Here’s my take on their advice, which is pretty much a Game 101 approach:
Create some breathing space. “You’ll get to her when you get to her.”
Meet her halfway, but don’t bend over backwards to make things convenient for her. She won’t be invested if she doesn’t make an effort.
Tell her what you’re doing and invite her to join. “I’m going for a coffee at the bookstore, come meet me if you feel like it.” (Channeling Zen Master Yohami here, except that he would leave off “if you feel like it.”)
Tell her about the girls you are seeing. (You’re already doing this, and it is a DHV (demonstration of higher value) in her eyes.)
Talk about guys she is seeing. Guyism says to cleverly make fun of your competition, and this can be done to great effect, if you can pull it off. It’s tricky.
Don’t praise her looks or tell her she’s hot, etc.
Tease and poke fun at her. Good-natured only, please.
Show, but do not share, what you have to offer the one special woman in your life.
The bottom line is that you should treat her like a friend, not a love interest, while sparking her desire to please you and qualify herself to you.
My favorite advice on this topic comes from David Wygant. It’s advice I’ve followed myself, summed up as Say What You Need to Say. Some excerpts from Wygant’s blog:
Don’t Be Afraid To Express Yourself:
If you’ve already been friends for a long time with the female whom you’d like to date and she’s never thought about you in a romantic way, then you need to understand that there’s a good chance she’ll never think of you romantically. The way so many guys get themselves into the eternal friend zone is that they played it too safe when they first met that woman…They are so afraid of really expressing to her any indication of their romantic interest in her, that they go out of their way not to express any feelings toward her at all.
Four of my best relationships have been with women with whom I was friends before I became romantically involved with them. To do this, you must be patient…Not every woman you meet today is going to want to go out with you tonight. I tell guys to think of befriending women they meet like building a portfolio of interesting people with whom they can get together in the future. You need to treat women you meet like long-term investments.
If you are interested in a female friend and would like to get out of the friend zone with her, then you need to ask her out on a date. Take the risk. She might actually feel the same way about you as you do about her. She may have been developing a crush on you too. So what you need to do is take the risk, because the friendship can survive something like you asking her out on a date. You, however, don’t want to have to live with the self-torture of never knowing if you could have become romantically involved with her. Don’t wait to take action, thinking that will say something to you if she is interested…It doesn’t matter if she says yes or if she says no. It just matters that you take the chance. You will define the relationship one way or another, and then you can move forward.
How you proceed depends on the depth of your feelings. If this is someone you might see yourself with for a very long time, maybe even a lifetime, then the cost of staying silent is much higher than the cost of risking rejection. If you tell her you are attracted to her and want to date her, with confidence and dignity, she will respect you for it, even if she doesn’t feel the same way. You need not be an object of pity, nor feel humiliated.
There may be some awkwardness, but a strong friendship can survive that. In any case, the friendship is bound to change either way over time. Why not influence the outcome to your mutual benefit if you can?