An old flame is sparking again. What should I do?

pedropacheco95 asks: 

Things started when we were both 14, I felt attracted to her, more because of her personality than because of her looks, though she is quite beautiful. I started to fight for her, did anything I could think of, up to the point of writing poems (decent ones, thank god) and making a declaration in the middle of our “prom” on our 9th grade. She always told me that she could only see me as a friend. Then at the end of 9th grade we went our separate ways and I tried to forget her.

A year later, on our 11th grade we met again and those old feelings came up again. Again I fought for her, gave her a big bouquet of roses once, another time i wrote her a letter that i wrote a bit everyday for almost a month. Her answer was always the same. Some could say that I was crazy and should have given up long ago, but while she was telling me no, she was leading me on. Because she lives just like 200m from me, we would come home from school on the same bus, and we would hold hands all the way and I would take her home everyday. Then we went to college and we started losing touch. I tried, more than once, to meet her for a coffee but she would always cancel on last-minute. One time I was supposed to pick her up at her house to go grab a coffee, only when I got to her house there was nobody there and she was not answering my calls or texts, so from that day on I stop talking to her.

2 weeks ago I saw she was online on Facebook and I just said hi. We talked and we agreed to grab a coffee, which we did last friday. It was going great, just two old friends catching up, until she started talking about our history and all the things I had done for her. Then she told me that nothing had happened because of her being afraid of losing our friendship, I was thinking to myself “ok, if only I had known that…”. But then she tells me how she never threw away anything that I gave. She still has all the poems I gave her, the big letter… She even kept the cloth that was tied around the roses that i gave her about 6 years ago, and she keeps it tied to whatever flowers she has on her bedroom.

Why would she do that? Is it possible that she has some kind of feelings for me? Now? After all these years? She said it herself last friday, I was always the right choice for her, but she has a tendency for the bad choices… And so I’m left with this mess in my head, not knowing what to do.

 Demetrius says:

This sounds like a pretty nuanced situation so I’ll try to avoid generalizing anything you’ve said, or the advice you’re asking for. Based on the timeline, you’ve known this girl for over 6 years, but up until 2 weeks ago, there was no real indication that she wanted anything more from you than a very close friendship. Normally, I’d say that you’re wasting your time and should move on, but let’s really dive into some things. Like I said, there are some nuances in your situation that lead me to believe you might have a shot this go round.

Going back to your days in high-school, you were very clear in your attraction to her and it’s true that she showed no real interest in dating you. However, she has kept your poems, a love letter, and the cloth that was tied around the roses you gave her, the very symbols of your attraction to her. I like my friends and all and if they buy me a trinket, I’ll keep it but what I wouldn’t do is keep love poems from anyone who I was not attracted to. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that counts for something. I’m not saying it means what you want it to mean, I’m just saying it is something. So, to answer your first of your two questions the reason why she kept your tokens of affection is because she feels some sort of affection toward you. Notice that I didn’t say “attraction” I said “affection“, which answers your second question of if she has some kind of feelings for you. She does, but they aren’t what you want them to be. But, it’s a start.

I think she has feelings for you, and they have developed over the years, but these aren’t the feelings of passionate love that you feel toward her. Based on what you described, it sounds more like a companionate love. It sounds like you both love and care for each other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a romantic spark, per se. Because you’ve been a constant in her life, she’s developed a certain level of affection that is probably hard to develop with a stranger. Everyone wants to be with someone who is loyal to them, and I think at this point she’s come to realize that you are incredibly loyal, having expressed your desire to be with her after numerous rejections.

Based on what I said above, I don’t want you to think that this sort of love is any less valid than say, a passionate love. It’s true that she’s rejected you a bunch, had and still has hesitance about dating you, but it doesn’t necessarily rule out passion developing between you two in the future. It would have been good to know that the reason that she didn’t pursue things with you in the past was because of a fear of losing you, but she was a teenager. It’s possible that she didn’t really understand why she didn’t want to date you, and only recently realized why she kept rejecting you. The fact that she has a real fear of losing you if you date only goes to show you that she really does have a companionate love for you. Passion comes and goes, but wanting to be around someone, to have them in your life, that’s pretty deep.

I don’t want to add to any more of the confusion you already have going on so I’ll tell you what I think you should do: ask her on a date. But, you’re going to do things a little bit differently now. I think it’s great that you love doing big gestures, and it’s clearly endeared you to your friend, but you’re going to want to not do a big gesture this go round. While big gestures can occasionally be effective, sometimes they work against you, especially if someone is feeling a certain level of anxiety about dating you. Think of professional athletes and how they practice before each game, and how they perform during games, specifically, Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard is a career 57% free throw shooter (for the uninformed, that’s really bad) during games. He’s been described as a much better free throw shooter in practice, shooting almost 83% (this is a very good number). What I’m saying is, when you take the pressure off, people tend to perform better. Instead of a grand gesture, ask her out on a low pressure date. Let her know that you understand her fears and if she’s interested, maybe you could go on a low pressure date with no expectations.

Doing that will set the tone and make everything very low stakes. Let her know that if she refuses your date, or goes on a date with you and decides to not pursue you romantically that she wont lose you as a friend. Assuage her fears by specifically telling her that no matter what, you’ll still be by her side. Based on what you’ve told me about yourself, I think it’s safe to assume it wont be a lie.

Before I close I just want to say that it’s STILL possible that she wont be ready to date you, and it’s possible that she’ll never want to date you. I think it’s worth the risk to ask her out because really, what have you got to lose at this point?

Good Luck Out There.

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