Friday 23 February 2018

Dear Mary: We've been friends for so long, but could we be more?

I am 24, and a pretty normal guy. I'm still at college, I have lots of friends that I hang around with and no major problems.

I've had lots of short-term relationships with girls that were never really going anywhere and always ended fairly naturally. But there's a girl down the road that I've been friends with for years, ever since we moved into this house well over 10 years ago. She and I have met regularly, as my parents are friends with her parents and we are at the same college. We have been able to talk about almost everything since we were in our teens and are never short of conversation.

We never went out as such, and she has had lots of different boyfriends which never lasted long, a bit like myself. We have laughed about our various "affairs" and I find that we seem to have so much in common. I love her sense of humour and her sense of the ridiculous, and she is also very pretty.

Now I'm beginning to think that I'm very strongly attracted to her. This seems silly, since I have known her for so long. Am I mixing up friendship and desire? I'm also afraid that if I start anything with her, it might not last and then I would lose her as a friend.

What should I do?

Mary replies: THERE are lots of different ways that people fall in love -- sometimes it's a very strong immediate attraction which continues in the long term. In other cases, it develops gradually and it takes quite some time for a person to realise that the person they are seeing means a lot to them and they want to make it more permanent.

You know about your feelings for this girl, that you get on wonderfully well and you find her very attractive. Obviously a lot of other guys think so, too, as she has had no shortage of boyfriends.

Have you any idea as to what she thinks of you? Maybe you are like a lot of guys and are not good at reading signals, whereas girls are fairly astute as figuring out whether somebody is interested in them.

It may be that she thinks about you the same way as you have thought about her up until now, and sees you more as a brother figure than as a potential partner.

But you will never know until you do something about it, so I suggest that you find some social occasion such as a party, or a gig with a band/ group that you know she likes, and ask her if she would be interested in going with you.

I appreciate your concerns regarding it not working out long-term, but there are lots of instances where people have remained friends with their exes, so bear in mind that you would not necessarily lose a friend. However, I know a group of young men around your age who have made a pact not to date each other's sisters as they don't want their friendship to be jeopardised in the event of things not working out, so you are not alone in thinking ahead.

But sometimes it's better not to play things too safely so why not take the plunge before somebody else gets there before you, and you will be left wondering about what might have been.

An old proverb puts it really well -- faint heart never won fair lady.

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