I’ve quietly been in love with the same girl for almost a decade. How do I move on?
Firstly, apologies for the lengthiness – I have a lot to get off my chest.
I’ll start by giving this scenario a bit of context. I’m twenty years old and have been living in a fairly quiet rural town for just over ten years now. I’m two years out of school and a few months away from leaving to go to university. All of the friends I made at school have already started university, with some even approaching their final year. I’m still in very regular contact with them, but opportunities to see them or anyone else I know are spread out across the year and quite infrequent. I’m generally frustrated by living in a place with little to do on a day-to-day basis, but get some relief from knowing that the situation will be changing for me very soon. The relationship-focused part of this story starts almost ten years ago. It’s quite simple to begin with, really – I started school, met a girl on the first day and fell in love with her. It’s as cliché as they come! It seems like it’s fairly normal for young people to have crushes etc, but this really did feel like love, a deep admiration. As time went on I began to realise that there was no other girl I thought of in this way, and to this day there never has been another like her.
She was a girl I got to spend a lot of time with in school through sheer coincidence. Our surnames started with letters close to each other, so seating plans paired us up frequently and we talked quite a lot. Now I’m openly willing to admit that for the majority of my school life, I had something of an attitude problem – I took a negative outlook on life and came across very defensive, perhaps even aggressive. The whole thing was something of a persona, but changing friendships and general maturation have allowed me to look back on those times and see where I went wrong. I’m glad to say I really have changed an awful lot. However, throughout it all, my feelings for this girl have remained the same. It’s a sort of pained, distant affection – my heart aches when I think of her, even today.
In a very school-like fashion, there was a time where some bizarre circumstances and the involvement of other people led to it inadvertently coming out that I had a thing for her (long story short, a friend misunderstood something she had said to be a suggestion that she might have feelings for me, and running on the assumption that I had feelings for her despite me never openly expressing them, decided to let her know), not something I had planned on happening. A lot of textbook school teasing and awkwardness followed and in the immediate period after that happened, she literally did not say a single word to me for quite some time. It felt like it could’ve been months, but I can’t remember exactly, and naturally it would have felt like a very long period from my perspective. This was pretty early on into our school careers, and after a while things just went back to normal as if nothing had ever happened. I have my suspicions that during that time in my life it must have been quite obvious to certain people that I admired her, but to this day I’m not sure if she ever knew up until that point.
Some time passed with no changes, but during exam season, she became quite seriously ill and was forced to drop out of school. I figured that after that point I’d never see her again, but she still remained the only girl I ever admired romantically, even during her absence when others came along that I was close with, and perhaps better suited.
I got a real surprise when she returned to the school around two or three years later – even more so when she ended up coming into contact with my then newfound social circle thanks to some mutual friends. In spite of this, I had very few opportunities to talk to her during that time. The one interaction I can remember was plagued by awkwardness, entirely on my part as I just kind of became flustered all of a sudden. She actually dated a friend of mine for some time as well. They were an unexpected couple but worked well as a unit – I genuinely was very happy for them, as I knew they were both good people.
Since finishing school, I’ve seen her only a few times, mostly in passing in the street or at casual gatherings when people returned home during university breaks. I eventually even mentioned that I’d had a crush on her to a few friends, just casually bringing it up in conversation and laughing about it as my notable lack of a love life had become something of a running joke by that point! However, I really don’t think they got an idea for just how deep the whole thing runs, and to them it would probably appear uncharacteristic of me to talk about it seriously. Naturally, it’s a difficult thing to bring up.
So where does this leave me now? I still haven’t got over her. As I look towards the future, I’m not expecting or hoping for anything to come of this, romantically speaking – I’m simply looking for a way to move on.
At the moment, I’ll openly admit that only seeing my friends sporadically has left me feeling lonely, and quite desperate to be able to move in a few months time to somewhere I know I can meet some new people. Part of me wonders if this is to blame for the whole situation – I do have a tendency to dwell on the past, which I think is in part due to me not making many new memories to replace the old ones, if that makes sense. Perhaps I’m in love with my memories of her more than anything else.
I’ve considered telling her. I know this would be a very selfish thing to do and the last thing I want is to cause her any discomfort, but I do wonder if being open with feelings I’ve kept to myself for so long would allow me to move on. Because I’m something of a romantic deep down, I actually penned a letter to her around a year ago, coming clean with how I feel. I had no intention of ever giving it to her, I did it purely for myself just to try and arrange my thoughts and see if it would help in any way – in all honesty, it made me strongly consider telling her somehow, but I was put off by what might follow socially, considering her relationship with my (now very spread out) group of friends. Knowing I’ll be leaving in a few months makes it seem like I have less to lose, but I might not have the confidence or strength to do it even if it did feel more appropriate.
The most bizarre thing about this all for me is that I don’t think I know her too well. I have a feeling that we really don’t have that much in common, and a lot about her simply eludes me – I’d love to have had the chance to learn the foods she gets cravings for, the films she gets lost in and the music that gets her dancing. My affections are just towards her as a person. I’m not sure if that’s normal, but it’s just how it is.
If you’ve made it this far – and if you have, I’m truly grateful – then these are my questions to you: How would you deal with this situation? Have you experienced something similar and if so, how did you deal with it? What would be your advice for the best way to deal with how I’ve felt for all this time?
I never thought I’d turn to strangers to help me with a problem like this, but here I am! I’m thankful for the opportunity to share what’s been on my mind. It’s been so long, I feel there must be a way to bring this almost ten year epic to a close.
Thank you very much for your time. All the best.