Every week, Daniel Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Crushing the crush: About a year and a half ago, I was staying at an old college friend’s house when he unexpectedly confessed his bisexuality to me. We talked through his problems, especially his fear of coming out to his family and friends. Toward the end of the visit, we had a sexual encounter that, while enjoyable, was more about him dipping his toes in the waters of gay sexuality than a deep emotional connection between us. Regardless, he’s a friend and I worried about his lack of a support system since I was the only person he’d told, so I kept in touch.
Over time, this friendly concern evolved into a crush. About four months ago, I met up with him again, the first time since, and confessed. He turned me down, which I’d expected. We had an emotional, intimate talk about what we wanted, his fears, and our relationship in general. We had another sexual encounter where I suffered from performance anxiety over sleeping with someone I had such strong feelings for who didn’t feel them back. It was embarrassing and the rejection stung, but I’m glad I confessed and that we were able to have such an honest discussion.
But that brings me to the problem: I still have a crush on the dude! I’ve had crushes before (though none for as long), and the emotional pain of getting rejected has typically been a great springboard for getting over the crush. That hasn’t worked this time, nor has talking to friends or just generally avoiding thinking about him or talking to him. What should I do so I can move on?
A: I think talking to friends and minimizing your contact with him are both excellent strategies. I wish that doing the responsible thing could guarantee that your feelings would subside after a few months! But I don’t know how long this crush will linger, and since you can’t control your feelings, the best thing for you is to keep doing the right thing and trust that eventually your heart will follow. He’s been fairly honest with you so far, but it also sounds like he’s not great at foreclosing on sexual encounters where there’s an emotional imbalance, so I don’t think you should count on him to do that for you. I think it’s worth telling him—since everything is already out in the open between you—that you need to take some space from your friendship so you can get over your crush, that you wish him the best, and that he should let you be the one to re-initiate contact if and when you feel able to do so.