Hax: Assess scenarios about crush

The Washington PostSeptember 3, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I have a long-distance boyfriend whom I adore, and plan on spending my life with (assuming things stay on track).

I’ve developed minor feelings for a friend of ours. I have ZERO plans of acting on these feelings, I just have noticed that I react to him more intensely than I do to most people. The “crush” is on the level of wanting to hang out a lot, and sometimes wondering what it would be like to kiss him. We hang out alone and in groups that often include his sort-of girlfriend.

Should I try to spend less time with this friend? Is it possible to have an intense friendship that provokes these kinds of feelings without threatening a relationship? Am I kidding myself in thinking this is harmless?

EXTRA-RELATIONSHIP CRUSH

I can imagine a couple of paths leading you to the exact point you describe, each requiring a completely different answer.

Scenario A: If you’re young; didn’t spend time locally with the boyfriend before he became a long-distance one; have a love that’s heavily attraction vs. compatibility based; and/or neither you nor your boyfriend wants to relocate so your long-distance days are indefinite; then setting “Make long-distance relationship work” as your goal is shortsighted.

Scenario B: If instead you’ve racked up some life miles; have a local history with your boyfriend that says you’re rock-solid and you prefer his company to anyone’s, including this friend’s; know yourself to be susceptible to proximity crushes and have no reason to believe this current one is any different; and/or have a clear end date to your living in separate places, then sticking to your “make it work” plan is the only rational way to think.

However, this is some fairly strong evidence you’re prime to shift affections:

“I react to him more intensely than I do to most people,” “wanting to hang out a lot,” “his sort-of girlfriend,” “wondering what it would be like to kiss him,” “intense … feelings.”

Either way, the sensible thing to do is limit your time around the friend until you’ve come to an honest, Scenario A vs. B assessment.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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