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As some background, I go to a co-ed boarding high school. I have a girlfriend back home and am straight. My wing in the dorms is filled with a large collection of my friends. We're close- we play basketball, guitar, tennis, and poker together whenever we have free time.

We're all straight except for one bisexual friend, whom I'll code name Bob. We completely accept and support his sexuality. Bob is quite emotional, and has talked individually to each of us about his social anxiety and coming out to a select group of people as bisexual. In his talk, he has mentioned to us (individually) that he's depressed because he has an intense crush on another male at our school, who he doesn't name (to me), has a girlfriend, is completely straight, and understands that there's no chance that he would ever be in a relationship with.

The rest of us friends have talked about it, in private, to confirm that I'm the only one that has heard the talk about the anonymous person he has a crush on three times. He's offered to tell another one of us who his crush is, yet this individual honestly declined the information (wisely, but it doesn't really help me). This leads me to think that he's specifically attracted to me.

As friends, we hate to see his obvious sorrow about this impossible relationship. However, in the case that this is possibly directed toward me (and I'm very sure this is the case), I feel like I have to do something for him to get over me as a crush, while still keeping him as a friend.

What can I do to help Bob get over me as a crush while still keeping him as a friend?

Note: We're Americans east of the Mississippi.

I've looked at related questions (Reject a close friend interested in dating me? and How can I help a close friend get over me?), but the difference here is that I'm not 100% sure that his crush is directed toward me.

Bob has specified that he has had this crush for several months.

  • Is his sexuality/gender part of what has left you needing guidance, or are you just including that as additional background information? – gen-z ready to perish Aug 22 '18 at 5:24
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    It's just background - he's open about this to the rest of us friends and is comfortable with it. – Rohan812 Aug 22 '18 at 5:26
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    one thing to clarify: Bob has only told you about this crush, and not your other friends? If so, verifying this is potentially a breach of trust if he chose to tell only you; was this told to in confidence? – dn3s Aug 22 '18 at 23:27
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First off, it doesn't matter what your friend's (apparent) sexuality is. Whether heterosexual (plenty of self-labelled "straight" people have same sex affairs/sex at some time), homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, or even asexual but romantic, it doesn't matter. What matters is

  • is it you they have a crush on
    and if so
  • do you wish them not to act on it towards you
    and if so
  • what do you want as far as friendship or other connections go.

If they haven't explicitly said it's you, then you have no reason not to directly ask. If they then say it is you, you can gently tell them you are flattered, but not after that with them. It isn't something you want now, and won't be something you are likely to want in future either. But you do like and value them a lot as a friend, and would like them to think if they can handle that, or if they need time apart (as friends) to process it.

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High school is a tough time for everybody and I understand why you feel you should do something to help your friend in this situation.

My suggestion is to actually do nothing. People have a lot of crushes in their highschool years, I have had a crush for every other female friend I have had at some point or another during that time. They come and go and that is perfectly normal.

Your goal is to keep your friendship intact. Do exactly that, don't change anything. The way you lose a friendship is to distance yourself and "give him space and time to figure it out".

I believe things will be back to normal in 2-3 weeks. If not you might want to have a 1 on 1 conversation about it. Exactly how that should go I can't really tell as it really depends on your personality and his.

I want to address some concerns about the 2-3 weeks range after OP noted that this has been going on for a couple of months. It is an arbitrary range based on my experience, it is different for everyone. Crushes generally last until the next one comes along.

Even though your situation has been going on a fair bit more than my estimate I don't believe that changes the situation. My guess is that your friend doesn't want to confront his feelings because he is afraid. He is afraid that expressing that he has feeling for you will change your friendship as rejection is certain. For him it is a lose/lose situation as telling how he feels will create awkwardnes between you two and not telling how he feels already does. I don't think there is a better way to show him that your friendship wont change than to actually not changing how you act around him. My experience has been that just doing/not doing something works better than promising someone you will do/not do something but that might not be the case for everyone. Maybe your friend needs to hear it to believe it. You should know better than me.

  • I posted one of the linked questions and wanted to say that this is the approach I took before my friend told me her feelings, and it's the one I'd stand by. Ironically, you're kind of in a better position to help Bob while you don't know you're the target of the crush, but either way, let him tell you on his own terms. – Firaga Aug 23 '18 at 5:15
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TL;DR:

I'd suggest you encourage him to tell you who his crush is. If they tell you that you're indeed the person he has feelings for, then you can tell him that that's not how you feel and so he knows and can move on. Don't push him to reveal his crush's name but let him know that you're hear to listen and help and let him decide what to do. As a friend, that's the most you can do.


Longer answer:

Personal experience

Back in high school, my best friend had feelings for me. He just found out I started dating my first SO, and suddenly he realized he had feelings for me that were not just "friendship". I was in the same situation as you, knowing my friend had feelings for someone but not knowing toward who they were directed, and it was painful to see him suffer.

He kept telling me how he was in love with someone but that a relationship with that girl would be impossible, so I kept asking why it was. He ended revealing I was the girl in question.

Be clear on your intentions

What I did and what you should do if your friend comes clean with you, is that you should gently tell him that you're not feeling the same way. He'll naturally be hurt not to be liked back but there are gentler ways to say no than others. For example, you could say something like:

Bob, you're an amazing person and a dear friend of mine. I'm sorry I do not feel the same way for you, for I would not want to hurt you. I hope it's okay and that we can still hang out with the band.

I learned from experience that people tend to keep hoping until they have a straight 'no', and that after being told nothing's gonna happen they can move on. Still, you need to reassure him on the fact that he's not gonna lose you (as a friend) for he came clean. I would not justify the no by the straight argument, because it's a rather impersonal reason. I guess that it'd be quite efficient to express that your feelings will never change though, so it's up to you.

Be patient

Now you can't force him to tell you his crush's name, so don't push him. The important thing is that he knows he can count on you, should you be the aforementioned crush. If he comes clean and that you're indeed the crush, then reassure him as proposed above, and then let him take some distance for a while if he needs to. I know from experience that many people need to stop seeing the person they like for some time to get over it, that's a normal thing. That does not mean your friendship is lost, just that he needs time to get back to the friendship relation. So what I'd say is be patient, be supportive, show your friend you're here to talk if he needs/wants to, and then let him decide what to do with this.

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