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Falling For the Man She Sees Every Day
Dear Dating Coach,
I am in a situation that I have no idea how to deal with. I am a thirty something female, with one female and one male roommate. My female roommate is rarely home, so it is often just the other roommate and I. I believe that men and women can be just friends, however, my feelings are becoming more than that towards him. I think we would make a great match because we have similar interests, values and backgrounds, and I often find myself fantasizing about being his girlfriend. It has become so comfortable living with him that we now relate just like an old married couple. We share almost everything, such as paying rent, cleaning the apartment, and hanging out (on occasion) together--and the only thing that is missing is the sexual/physical intimacy part.
My problem is that I cannot tell if he is having similar feelings for me. His behavior towards me is a mixture of chivalrous politeness and cautious friendship. We've only been living together for about two months, so I can't tell if he is waiting to know me better or isn't really interested and doesn't want to ruin a good living situation. I also have real concerns about that happening. I have the sense that he is not looking for a relationship (in general) at this time, but I don't really know this. He's never made a romantic move towards me and I've never revealed any of these feelings to him either.
What do you suggest I do to address my desire for a relationship with him? Should I take a risk and confess my feelings towards him or should I wait and see where things go on their own? --Falling For My Roommate
As I began to read your letter, my first thought was "friend crush." That is until I got to the part about you only knowing each other for two months. Even if this relationship had begun as a dating one, this is a very short period of time in which to get to know someone and become like an "old married couple." Therefore, my first piece of advice is to take a deep breath and slow down. You mention that he is cautious and polite towards you--which are certainly not bad things coming from a roommate, but which may be a signal to you that he senses your interest and is non-verbally establishing some boundaries. You also say that you hang out occasionally together. People in committed relationships spend more than sporadic time interacting with each other, roommates spend a lot of time in a shared space, but not necessarily together. See the difference? It is an important distinction since it can be very tempting to see what you want to see and interpret things in accordance with your fantasies and not the actual reality of your situation.
Let's say for the sake of argument that he does have a budding interest or is open to the possibility of something more. If this were so, how do you think a confession of feelings could impact the open and comfortable rapport you now share? If you have ever been on the receiving end of such a confession by someone you had not known very well, you could answer this very easily. Too much too soon is a red flag for most people.
So, what should you do with these feelings? Channel them constructively as you continue to get to know each other better and work together on maintaining a positive living environment. Suggest making a fun dinner together or renting a movie you both have wanted to see. Discuss your day from time to time and ask him about his. Show consideration and be a good friend. Once the two of you have shared some significant bits of information about yourselves to one another and have begun to build a track record that includes trust and real friendship, then the possibility of more can be revisited.
(from July 2006)
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"Attraction and chemistry"
Toni Coleman, LCSW
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