Auntie SparkNotes: I Got Super-Close with My Crush, But Now She's Ignoring Me
I've been friends with a girl called Amy for a few years now, and through her I got to know Lily, who Amy has had a(n unrequited) crush on since forever. I wasn't that close to Lily until recently, when we both went to a two-week school camp that Amy couldn't go to, due to the fact that she has severe anxiety. Because Lily didn't have many other friends an the camp, we spent a lot of time together and had some meaningful conversations about our families and our experiences as queer girls. We even spent several hours lying on a bed together in our free time. I quickly developed feelings for her, and I thought there was a chance she felt the same way, because she seemed to enjoy my company so much.
However, since we've been back at school, she's been much more distant toward me. I'm starting to wonder if she was just treating me as a stand-in for Amy or one of her other good friends, given that we had barely spoken before the camp and it now seems like she's going back to how she acted then. Also, I'm in the year level above Amy and Lily, so I'll be leaving the school at the end of the year. I don't want to ruin my friendship with Amy over this, so I know the smart thing to do would be to just ignore my feelings until I leave, but I can't help but feel as if Lily was leading me on. Who spends all their time with, and tells really personal things to, a friend of a friend that they barely know? And then goes back to treating them as the friend of a friend?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Sparkler, but when you say "who does that", the question is really more like… well, who doesn't? Such is the magic and the tragedy of that fleeting relationship known as a "fling": a bond that burns hot, fast, and furious when two people are thrown together just so, but only lasts as long as the unique circumstances that allowed it to bloom—whether it's a summer romance, or a school retreat, or an experimental musical theater production of Grease! reimagined with penguins in the lead roles. Flings come in all shapes and sizes. And the kind you experienced, where you got insta-close with someone in the unique environs of a school trip, but ended up at arms' length again upon return to your normal lives, is definitely a classic.
Not that it sucks any less for being super-common, of course. You thought you'd sparked something, and it's natural that you're disappointed to see it not work out. But before you go assigning malicious, mind-gamey intent to the girl in question, I wonder if you've considered the obvious alternative: that your connection was genuine, but so were the consequences of maintaining it once you were both back at school—and that pursuing a relationship with you wasn't worth the social weirdness it would create. You said yourself that you don't want to ruin your friendship with Amy over this; isn't it possible that Lily reached that same conclusion? In fact, doesn't she arguably have even more compelling reasons than you do for not wanting to shake things up, when she and Amy have been closer for longer and will still be at school together next year?
Of course, she also arguably could've said as much to you for the sake of avoiding confusion, and maybe things would have been better if she did. But a failure to communicate is not the same thing as an intentional deception, and under the circumstances, it's not hard to see why she might have assumed that she didn't need to be so explicit about it. I mean, just for fun, try to imagine how Amy would've felt to see her BFF and her longtime crush return from this trip—a trip she was excluded from by her mental health issues—having very obviously bonded with each other.
Now imagine that Lily's distant behavior is an attempt to spare her friend from that incredibly painful experience. Makes a little more sense in that context, doesn't it?
None of this is to say that Lily definitely has such sympathetic reasons for acting this way; the point is just that those reasons exist and are worth considering, especially when your feelings are valid no matter what. You don't need Lily to be in the wrong to be hurt that things didn't work out; you're even entitled to approach her privately to express your disappointment, if you feel that would accomplish something. But at the same time, don't be afraid to appreciate your fling on its own merits, for what it was. It's not the worst thing in the world to mourn a relationship because it was over too soon, especially compared to the drudgery of having one drag on too long. And in the meantime, you may not have sparked a long-term romance, but you did experience the finite joy of sparking a connection—and you can always look forward to the day in the not-too-distant future when you spark one again.
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