The Faithful Friend Part Two

The next day, Chuck and I went out to dinner after work, as we often did. This time, however, something was different: we were quiet, awkward even…not like our usual selves. The whole day had been a mess really–I didn’t think it was appropriate for us to be holding hands or kissing in front of our co-workers, so instead we had avoided each other like the plague. Flirting, which had previously come naturally to us, seemed inappropriate, as though at any moment someone would figure us out.
After dinner we kissed quickly and went our separate ways. Ugh.
I went back to our mutual friend for some back-up. “What the hell is going on? I thought Chuck liked me!”
“Do you like him?”
“Um. Of course I do! He is the nicest boy I’ve ever met, and he always treats me so well.”
“Maybe you only like him because he likes you.”
OK, fine, maybe part of the appeal was knowing I wouldn’t be rejected, but when I thought about it long and hard, I really cared about Chuck, and I wanted him to be happy.
“Do you think maybe you kissed him because you knew it meant so much to him?”
Hm. I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to make everyone happy, who is willing to bend over backwards if it meant I could make a friend smile. It seemed so unfair that Chuck was such a nice person, but never got any dates. He totally deserved a fantastic girlfriend…but he didn’t deserve a friend who dated him just because she felt like she should.
I realized our mutual friend was right…I didn’t actually like Chuck as a boyfriend, but since I knew dating him would make him happy, I did it.
I wish I could say that I sat him down, explained the whole situation and ended it before things got even worse. Alas, I was too scared to break his heart so soon after kissing him, so I kept it going, letting it slowly fade as the Summer came to a close. We attended different colleges anyway, so I figured Fall would be a natural ending point. I felt awful the whole time–it was like I was taking advantage of him every time he did something nice for me, or complimented me. It was torturous.
Several months after we had returned to our respective schools, a bit of info popped up on my news feed: Chuck was in a relationship. We usually sent emails back and forth, so in my next message I asked him about the new girl. She was great, he told me. They both loved graphic novels and crazy films. She was, according to those who met her, totally lovely.
It finally dawned on me that, although I felt like shit after kissing Chuck, I might have actually done him a small favor. I think going out with him for a little while helped him to realize that all crushes are not unobtainable, and that those girls you crush on are just normal people looking for love too (I, unlike Chuck, am still single).
That being said, I’m not advocating dating someone you don’t really have feelings for, but maybe give that shy guy friend of yours an ego boost. Tell him he looks good in his glasses. Introduce him to friends with similar interests. Most importantly, don’t treat him like just another friend! He’s a guy, he has feelings (maybe feelings for you!), and you need to respect that. Dumping all your dating problems on him is only going to make things worse–save that stuff for the girls.
And if you do wake up one day and realize you really truly have feelings for him, by all means, go for it. You can watch Win A Date With Tad Hamilton on your first date.

The Social Networking Headache
The Social Networking Headache
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