Ask Jono: Remain Friendzoned, Or Try To Win Him Over?
I just started reading your advice columns, and I love them! I know you did one like this (Liking A Guy Who's Already Taken), but my question is, what if you like a guy that has a girlfriend who you think likes you (the guy, not the girl), but they're almost joined at the hip?
Let me elaborate: last year I started going to a new school, and one of the first friends I made was this guy (pretend his name is Josh). He was extremely nice to me and one of the first people I met that are still considered friends. I think I started to develop a crush on him about 9 months ago, but I had a boyfriend at the time (his name shall be Garret), so I ignored those feelings. Garret and I broke up 6 months ago, and since he and Josh are best friends, he went on a rant about how evil and ugly I am and how I should be banned from society for having the audacity to break up with him (I may have exaggerated). Josh immediately stood up for me, telling Garret that I wasn't that bad at all, and he started to hang out with me more.
Things were going really well, and I think we were starting to head down the relationship road. And then I learned that he had a girlfriend. I don't know when they started dating, but I saw him in the corner of a hallway kissing this girl. I told myself that it wasn't a big deal and attempted to beat down my emotions again. Problem is, that's a hard thing to do when I'm constantly hanging out with him and being like a best girl friend to him. I'm willing to bet that he loves her to pieces, and I want him to be happy. But I also selfishly want to be happy too, and I don't really know how to do that. Should I be content with being friendzoned and move on, or should I somehow subtly show him that I'm better than she is (this is the mixed advice I got from my friends)? Or should I do something completely different?
My condolences on being in the "wanting him to be happy" phase. It's an awful phase. You can't hate him, which would at least bring you a sense of closure; you can't love him (well, not without bumping into the space currently occupied by his girlfriend). This is how I assume it feels, anyway. I doubt I've ever earnestly thought to myself, "Well, I wish her the best!" about a girl I had the hots for, unless "the best" was a very conceited nickname for myself. So I may not be the best moral counsel here, but I still want to caution you against saying it's selfish to want to be happy. That's like saying "Oh, I'm so selfish for eating this sandwich in order to remain alive." You're just being human, and with that comes the totally normal, acceptable human compulsion to push every other girl in the river and then have all of the boys forever. (Or just this one boy; you get the idea.) The point is, there's nothing wrong with this, and if you walk around thinking "I am a terrible gargoyle for wanting happiness! My feelings are as dumb as a butt!" then you're just going to make yourself do stupid, mopey things instead of things that are actually productive. The first of those productive things is to figure out where you stand with this guy.
For clarification, though: are Pretend-Josh and Faceless Kiss Recipient actually dating, for realsies? You said that you learned he had a girlfriend, and then you said you saw him kissing somebody; I'm just making sure these are two separate statements, and you didn't just infer the former from the latter (the fact that he was gettin' all kissy doesn't necessarily mean these two are in a serious relationship). You say they're "joined at the hip," but evidently not enough that this came up over the course of your friendship with the guy. If they are actually together, then he may never have realized you had any romantic intentions in the first place.
The event that caused you guys to start hanging out more—Josh standing up to his best friend for calling you a sewer mutant, declaring you hardly a mutant at all—does show some level of affection. It could have been just a platonic thing, but you're only going to confront your BFF for the sake of someone you actually care about. However, you also don't ignore the obvious romantic feelings of someone you actually care about and then go kiss the face of Anonymous Strange Girl #165. So either your feelings weren't obvious, or he understood that you were interested but didn't feel the same way (maybe because he doesn't want to date his best friend's ex). In the first case, there is still hope; in the second case, welcome to the friend zone.
What to do next depends on how clear you were with your intentions, and how he treated you. When you thought you were heading for a relationship, did these kinds of situations happen?
- He texted you into the dead of night, and for at least three consecutive texts, no actual information was exchanged at all (a string of LOLs and winking smileys, as opposed to "I AM GOING TO FAIL MATH, HALP.")
- He often attempted to hang out with you alone, outside of school—by design, not by happenstance. ("Let's go get ice cream!" as opposed to "Let's all go get ice cream, oh wait, everyone bailed except you, siiigh.")
- He noticed, and complimented, one of your Girl Things (where "Girl Thing" is something he wouldn't compliment on a guy, e.g. "hair" or "eyes" as opposed to "video game" or "impossibly large hamburger").
If he often did stuff like this, then my best guess is that he was interested but didn't think you reciprocated his feelings. If he didn't really fall all over himself to spend more time with you, and never said anything that could've been considered flirty, then I think he just honestly felt you two were good (regular) friends.
If you honestly believe that you two had something going, and then he just suddenly had an inexplicable girlfriend, then yeah, you can still hold out hope—though not by showing him you're better than she is (he's not going go "Jeepers, you can touch your nose with your tongue??" and dump his old girlfriend bodily into a garbage can). The only good solution would be to make your interest more obvious, so that it's clear you actually like him back. Just keep it classy. Showing you're interested and then letting him make the next move is okay; hounding him day and night until he finally dumps his current girlfriend and goes out with you out of exasperation is not (although you don't seem like the type to break up a relationship whose only flaw is that you're not in it). If, on the other hand, his behavior was never actually that flirty, then he probably just doesn't feel the same way you do. Sure, he stood up to his BFF for you, but maybe he draws the line at actually dating his best friend's ex. Maybe he really was just being a good dude, and he considers you nothing more than a close friend (who happens to be a girl). In that case, all you can do is try not to get hung up on him and just move on.