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Virtue of being patient with someone who may never reciprocate?

  1. Nov 16, 2014 #1
    I'm a grad student that has been stricken by the charm of another slightly more senior (though slightly younger) grad student. We've known each other a few months prior to starting grad school through a conference and have so far had a great friendship, doing fairly involved favors for each other and sharing things that no one of the opposite gender has ever shared with me. I get the feeling the person is just like this with everyone and I am not "special", but then again I have never seen them how they behave with potential partners.

    Some background:
    Her: I don't mean to put the person on a pedestal, but the person is a 10/10 by every imaginable standard, and she knows it. I really never thought anyone could possibly elicit as much joy as she does in our interactions. Tremendous overlap in interests, outlook, maturity, and goals. I would have never thought I would fall for let alone have a chance someone like this and have tried very hard to keep her out of mind, but I am not succeeding.

    Me: I am a hopeless romantic in his late 20's with absolutely no dating or sexual experiences. Made it through high school, an associates, a few jobs and a bachelors with only one short romantic experience near the end of the latter. Tried online dating multiple times throughout my 20's and never succeeded in getting a date. After an episode of depression brought on by my social anxiety, remedied with therapy, I ultimately gave up on this. I am allegedly attractive, though not in a traditional sense (some of my features are unusual). I am the most physically fit I've ever been and I get noticed and even asked for advice about it, though most of my life I've never felt that way about myself so I've never internalized it. Amazingly some people claim I look confident when I go about my duties, however deep inside I don't feel this way.

    She gets lots of dates and looks like has pretty much always been able to be with anyone she wants. I often feel like I don't have anything to offer other than simple-minded, good-natured companionship, which a lot of mainstream literature (yes I caved into reading this) insists is never enough. A sibling of mine claims the reason I am a failure with the opposite gender is my lack of "spicy" qualities, which is not encouraging. Apparently being oneself is not good enough, but I like being myself around her, I always thought -perhaps naively- that was the point of a relationship.

    Having already done multiple group get-togethers and I did eventually make the suggestion of "lunch", after which she ceased making eye-contact and went off on a tangent conversation-wise without giving a clear answer. IME, this usually means there is no attraction. Normally, from past experiences, I take the hint and assume this means there is no interest. But the person is still super-friendly as ever and isn't making things any easier.

    Do I push through this, be more direct about going on a date and risk alienating her? Do I accept this as a friendship and hope our growth in grad school might bring us closer eventually? Or give up altogether and just force myself to forget about romance? I feel like there is very little chance of success, a huge chance for disappointment, but the reward may be something I would have never imagined. I have lots of difficulty meeting new people and am afraid this is an opportunity that won't ever present itself again, I would like to maximize my chances even if it means waiting for years...
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    This is a dilemma for many us that we have overcome why we meet the right person usually someone we could never have imagined.

    By your description, this younger woman is an angel and she attracts a lot of attention. She's smart, beautiful and very poised knowing how to gently deflect conversations in other directions. She is the woman of your dreams so what can you do?

    You must give up your dream and become friends so you can get to know her better and better. I'm sure she's seen all the dating ploys in the world and so she's become very selective. Since she does talk to you, she doesn't view you as someone she must push away. She looking too for someone too and that's what you must find out. Maybe you are it and you've not acted natural enough to show it.

    Perhaps you can take a page from QM and become a little more unpredictable. Find places she might like, make some cookies or make her laugh. You could learn to dance or ask her to teach you the go out dancing. Be patient and be more patient and become a little more mysterious for her. Who knows what will happen? Perhaps having fun in this way is a training ground for the one you will meet or maybe it's her?

    Basically you must give up any infatuation you may have and see her as she is and know what she likes and from there you can decide on what is the best for both of you.

    Remember you are looking and she is looking for the right person so you can help each other find that person.

    One last note, remember you are both grad students working in the same workplace. In general it's a bad idea to date someone under these conditions because it sours the environment if you break up and in this case could cause someone to not graduate or not do as well as they should. She is aware of this and so she's friendly but not getting closer.

    Don't be driven by your fear in whatever direction you take ie take fear out of the equation and learn from your experiences both good and bad.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
  4. Nov 16, 2014 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    I was thinking maybe watching some romantic comedies would be good. My most recent favorite is About Time where the protagonist can't travel back in time to any moment of his life to redo it. He meets a girl, flubs through several meetings until he gets it right.


    You could talk about them with her or imitate some of what you see but be aware that she will see through these attempts so they have to be mildly humorous too and you must be able to be laughed at as part of growing up with some geekiness.

    In the end though, you either click or you don't just don't let your fears of rejection dictate what you do or don't do just be yourself and be natural. You can't succeed if you don't try.
  5. Nov 18, 2014 #4


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    If you've suggested lunch together and she didn't jump on it, it's not likely you're on her radar in terms of a potential romantic partner. In my experience, if two people are interested in each other, they'll go out of their way to take advantage of an opportunity to be together.

    That's probably not what you were hoping to read.

    As for living in the "friend zone" you've got advantages and disadvantages. On the con side, it can be very difficult to maintain a friendship with someone you're interested in pursuing something more with. For one, you have to stand on the sidelines while this person dates other people. Secondly there's the inevitable question that will come up as to whether you're being a friend for the sake of friendship or whether everything you do is based on that fact that it might lead to something else.

    On the pro side, there are a lot of advantages to having an outgoing friend. She will likely have friends of her own, for one, and she might be able to introduce you to people.
  6. Nov 19, 2014 #5


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    To the OP:

    From what you've described above, it does sound to me that the woman you speak of does not see you as a potential romantic partner but more as a friend, and that feeling is more than probably unlikely to change. Since she's outgoing and friendly, then as Choppy has suggested, she likely have friends of her own, and so can introduce you to lots of other people.

    Since you've stated that you've remedied your depression as well as social anxiety through therapy, my suggestion for you is to work on making new friends. Join clubs or find some activities (outside of your studies preferably) that you are interested in. Because the wider the circle of friends you make, the more likely you will end up finding someone else you will be attracted to and who will find you attractive.

    (As an aside, I feel that online dating is a waste of time, but one possibility is to use Meetup to meet new people around common activities or interests. I've never used it myself, but I know a number of people who have, and have made many new friends that way.)

    Another suggestion is to not put your friend on a pedestal. You claim that she's a 10/10 but that view may be coloured by your current state of information -- she may have faults that you are not aware of, as does everyone. Keep her as a friend, because it's always important to have friends, but don't worship her.
  7. Nov 21, 2014 #6
    Step 1. Go talk to her!

    This will help you know understand why she looked at you. Without clearly seeing for myself, I couldn't begin to explain why she looked at you.

    Step 2. Report to us
  8. Nov 28, 2014 #7
    Be out with it. It's what I did, although, it didn't work, I have no regrets either. I didn't do anything wrong, it just so happened that she is not interested in me. That's fine, it's better knowing than not knowing and thinking about it endlessly. For what ever reason she does not like you "like that" - you can't let it throw you off - sure, demons will slip into mind: "I am just not cool enough..." , "what does someone like me have to offer to someone like her..?", "I'm too [insert a negative sensation]". No! Nothing's wrong with you. Be proud of yourself and what you have accomplished. There is no neutral option - ask her specifically if she wants to go on a date with you, if she does, tell her how you feel. If she refuses do not turn it into an ego race, do not try to "get back at her". There is always the possibility that she might not actually be what you thought she would.

    Report, soldier!
  9. Dec 4, 2014 #8
    Assuming you made it plain you want a lunch date with an eye towards getting intimate, then you definitely got a no-go. Awkwardness will subside with acceptance, and acceptance is why man invented bars.
  10. Dec 11, 2014 #9

    jim hardy

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    I've been similarly infatuated by socially sophisticated women.
    In hindsight it was fortunate that the women involved had the good sense to recognize we were just too different.

    You seem insightful .........
    Find and watch, then send to her the Jose Ferrer version of Cyrano de Bergerac.

    If she doesn't bite on that don't worry - the next one will be all elevens.

    old jim
  11. Dec 11, 2014 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    We should close this thread the OP has never responded since he opened it so our advice is falling on deaf ears and we'll not know the outcome anyway.
  12. Dec 12, 2014 #11
    I haven't responded because not a whole lot has happened, and grad school is a busy time... But I'm done with finals and pulled some high grades, so there's something.

    She has progressively been contacting me more and more through sms, particularly after an exchange that made her laugh substantially, she appears to be having fun. In person her behavior around me is still the same I think. I haven't brought up having a date explicitly again (I wasn't very direct that one time I described). I don't know what to think other than the fact that I can't believe she would genuinely be interested in me romantically, so all I'm doing is listening and keeping my expectations low.
  13. Dec 12, 2014 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    That's good to hear both academically and friendship wise. I think the key point to bear in mind is that workplace romances are fraught with danger. If they go sour then people feel miserable, grades may drop and they get into a slump. Also coworkers talk and that can mess the workplace up as well. Going slow is the best strategy in this situation.
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