Auntie SparkNotes: My Online Crush Has a Terrible Boyfriend
Hi Auntie Sparknotes,
I have a crush on a girl (we'll call her Jill) in one of my online friend-groups, and according to a few of our mutual friends it's pretty likely she has a crush on me, too. In fact, one of the biggest in-jokes in our group is our marriage in a video game we play—which is a joke she started, by the way. However, there is one big caveat to this: her boyfriend.
Yeah, she does have a boyfriend (we'll call him Bob. I have contact with Bob as well, but we only idly chat). And while basically everyone in this group (including Jill herself, at times) agree that he's kinda the worst (he forced her to drop contact with one of her closest friends for what I can only assume are insecurity-related reasons), they overall seem pretty happy together (though I'm pretty sure that won't last much longer due to even her admitting that a relationship challenge is inevitable). I don't want to sound like I'm trying to pull a "nice guys finish last" card (as in, "Why does she date the douche and not meeee," or something like that), but I honestly can't see this in any other way.
I mention all of this for two reasons. The first is that I obviously want advice on this situation, but the second is far more serious: I'm worried that she might marry him. She's mentioned it a couple times (albeit in passing more than legitimately), and they've been together for 4-odd years now. While obviously this would be bad for me, my main concern is that I genuinely worry that it'd be bad for her. I don't think he abuses her or anything, but I worry that it might morph from semi-controlling things to just straight-up control if they got married.
I mostly stay really passive in issues like this, out of fear that my judgment is wrong and it could mess people up, so I wanted to get your advice on this. What do you think I should do?
Well, let's start with the good news: when it comes to the relationship between Jill and Bob, I think you should do exactly what you're doing, because what you're doing is the right thing to do. Unless she's asked you for your opinion—which she evidently has not—then it's simply none of your business. Staying out of it is the correct move! You should definitely keep on doing that!
But you should also be very clear with yourself about why you're doing it, and that's where things get a bit tricky. Because even if you had impeccable judgment as to the health of someone else's relationship (which you probably don't), and even if your objectivity were not called into serious question by the part where you're personally, privately rooting for a breakup so that you can swoop in to date one of the parties yourself (which, uh, you definitely are), you'd still be meddling uninvited in an intimate and private affair that has nothing to do with you. And while that's already a bad idea for all the usual reasons, it's especially problematic when you're doing it from behind a computer screen with someone you only know via the internet.
Basically, darling, this is the moment where you need to take a big step back, take a nice deep breath, and give yourself a reality check—not just when it comes to your perspective on this girl's relationship with her boyfriend, but also about the nature of your relationship with her. It's not that online friendships can't be real, rewarding, even intimate in certain ways. They can! And it's totally natural and fine to have a social circle on the internet, as do so many of us who spend a lot of our lives online. But at the end of the day, you must realize: your online life is only a narrow sliver of your personhood, your existence, and the multitudes you contain—and that's true not just for you, but for everyone. Do you know this girl well enough to like her and care about her? Of course. Do you have the kind of insight into her life that makes you any kind of an authority on her personal affairs, including a romantic relationship of four years with a guy she's serious about?
...It's your question to answer, Sparkler, but if you're honest with yourself I think you'll agree that the answer is probably not. And if you weren't so predisposed to detest Bob because he's dating the girl you like—if you didn't have a big, fat, personal stake in denouncing him as a controlling jerk—I think you'd probably realize what a flimsy case you're making for your "concern" about Jill's future. Even if they do get married (which could be anything from a feasible outcome to a ludicrous improbability depending on how old you all are), one severed relationship over what you assume was the boyfriend's insecurity (worth noting: you don't even know for sure!) just isn't evidence of anything on its own.
Which brings us back to your first question, which is of course your real question, supporting arguments about Bob's general unsuitability as a boyfriend nonwithstanding: you have a crush, and you want to know what to do about it. And the answer to that question, kiddo, is that you have two options: you can tell her how you feel, or... not.
That's it. Those are your choices, and they are your choices. I can't tell you which path to take, and I've no idea what the outcome will be if you do choose to confess. But what I can tell you is that you don't need to dress up your desires as something other than what they are in order to legitimize them. You like this girl, and you wish she would break up with her boyfriend and date you instead, and that is totally okay. There's nothing wrong with feeling that way! And there's nothing wrong with expressing those feelings to the person for whom you have them, either, just as long as you do it without agenda or expectation — and just as long as you have the grace and maturity not to make things weird if it doesn't go as you hoped. So tell her, or don't. That's your call. But if you tell her, do it for no other reason than that you feel how you feel, and you want her to know, because it's all the reason you need.
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