Right now, I’m a bit conflicted. There’s a boy (we’ll call him “James”) who goes to the same church as I do. When he first showed up, about two years ago, I couldn’t stand him and thought he was an arrogant, conceited jerk, but I've since learned that he's actually an intelligent life-form and has a great sense of humor. And a few months ago, I finally admitted it to myself: I like James. I like-like him.
He had a girlfriend at the time, so I didn't do anything about it. But he broke up with her a few weeks ago, and I’d been playing with the idea of telling him how I feel... until one of my close friends from church told me that she liked James, and now that he was available, she wanted to tell him how she felt. She had no idea that I had a crush on him too, so I did what I would do with any friend: I asked if she was sure she wanted to tell him, then totally supported her choice.
Unfortunately for her, James told her politely that he wasn’t interested. But she has since continued to talk to me about him, about how nice he looks, how she just loves the way he says her name, how she doesn't really believe he isn’t into her, etc, etc. It’s gotten to the point where I would consider it obsessive even in an unbiased position.
How can I help her get over a clearly unreturned crush? Would it be at all appropriate for me to act on my own feelings for James― and if so, what would be the best way to do so without hurting my friend?
Er, under the circumstances, I'm not sure you should be concerned about how to act on your feelings without hurting your friend... so much as how can you act on your feelings without your friend hurting you. This kind of romantic break with reality is how pet rabbits end up in pasta pots, you guys.
...And if even one of you knows what 1980s movie I'm referencing in that last line, I will be seriously impressed.
But seriously, sweet pea, here's the deal: your friend's creepy crushing is what it is, and all you can do for her is what you'd do for any friend who's running full-speed in the direction of Crazytown. Namely, you inject reality into conversations where you can, ask questions like, "Has he given you any indication that he's changed his mind?" when she starts going off the rails, and when asked your opinion, suggest as gently as possible that it's best to take this guy—and any guy—at his word when he says, "I don't like you that way."
And with that out of the way? Basically, everything I've ever said on the subject of "Two Girls, One Crush" applies here, from the part where you can't retain dibs on a crush after you've given it your best shot, to the part where it's nevertheless bad form to rub a friend's face in a painful rejection. So while yes, it's totally fine for you to take your own stab at James, you'll want to give your friend a grace period to let her immediate owie feelings heal a bit... with the caveat that if she chooses to use the grace period to delude herself about this guy instead of getting over him, well, that's her problem.
...Oh, and I just checked the timestamp on your email, and it's been more than a month since you wrote (Sorry! It doesn't usually take this long!), so forget waiting; you're good to go!
Of course, it bears mentioning that even if you take a run at James yourself, you have no way of knowing if he even likes you back, which makes your concerns over your relationship, let alone its effect on your obsessive friend, ever so slightly premature. So before you do anything else, go forth and figure out if your crush is requited. And if it is, and if your friend still hasn't given up, then it would be classy of you to give her a little more time by keeping your relationship discreetly on the DL. (And maybe getting James to casually mention that he's seeing somebody else, without immediately mentioning the part where it's you—on the off chance that knowing he's off the market will kill her interest in a way that being flat-out rejected didn't.) As long as you don't rub your happiness in her face, you'll be firmly on the side of good karma.
And if it isn't? Well, that sucks. But look on the bright side: you can give your friend a much-needed lesson by example in how to take rejection gracefully.
Or you can bond over your heartbreak, form a dynamic duo of obsessive rejectees, and boil his bunny together. You are your own master.
Have you ever competed for a crush with a friend? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.