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BF stole my Tinder crush!

I met a guy on Tinder and introduced him to my friend… and now they’re shutting me out.

Should I tell him how I feel? Our elder has some advice on setting your emotions free.

Dear EWC

I am only 19 years old and obviously don’t have experience when it comes to my emotions so I came here for help. For the last year or so I have been using Tinder, a dating site, and there I met a guy named Ezra. Me and Ezra talked everyday for hours on end about random stuff both on the app and on Instagram. I could tell by the way we were holding conversations that there was no flirting there and we were on a route to be only friends. One time I even explained to him I wanted to be friends or even something more, but he explained that he got out of a bad breakup two years ago and is still very raw about it. He also explained that I need to take the initiative if I ever grow feelings. After a while we eventually met with each other and had dinner at a Japanese ramen shop my friend, Ashley, works at. I’ve told Ashley about Ezra countless times and when they met it was kind of awkward between them; granted she had to work.

After a while all three of us started to spend the night with each other a few times, and while it was very fun, I started to notice that they would talk and cuddle with each other more often, leaving me alone. One time, I even got a stomach ache and they left me in the living room while they conversed in Ashley’s room. Eventually I could tell they didn’t want me in the house, so I left. It was then I realised how sad I was about it and I cried continuously (mind you, I’m not a big crier). I started to feel a constant pain in my chest everytime they would be touchy with each other. They even hung out without me for two days straight. Me, being the emotionally constipated person I am, decided to pry into what they were feeling. Firstly, I asked Ashley (while she was tipsy) if she liked Ezra and she said, “Maybe a little bit, but I don’t know.” I was pretty upset by then and later when she left for work and it was just me and Ezra, I asked him if he liked Ashley. He said: “A little, but it’s too early to really tell. If she doesn’t like me: too bad. If she does: … I don’t know.”

After this the pain in my chest started to get worse and it was then I realised I have feelings for Ezra that I don’t know what to do with. I even told Ashley at the time of her confession that she could “have him”. I love them both so much but it pains me more than anything to see them grow closer and shut me out. I am stuck on if I should tell Ashley about how I am feeling and confess to Ezra (no matter the reaction so that I can just forget about it), or let them be together while I wallow in my own self-pity. Please help me and my selfish, emotionally-constipated heart?

PJH replies

As I read your letter, I became more and more saddened for you. At first, I thought you were writing about a typical three-way attraction, the kind that’s so common because so many of our romantic connections come through friends’ introductions. And, indeed, superficially, that’s your story, too. But by the end of your letter, I could see how to hurt you are by your girlfriend hi-jacking your prospective boyfriend. But I think it was your very last line that wrapped up your message, explained your pain, and pointed the way to a solution.

Let me return to the first line in your letter. The line where you write “I am only 19 years old and obviously don’t have experience when it comes to my emotions… For the last year or so I have been using Tinder.” I’m a bit concerned about your writing “only” 19. I think I know what you mean — that you’re feeling out of your depth dealing with the ups and downs of romance. It’s true you’re a barely launched adult. You’ve got a lot of life ahead; with just a little initiative, it’s likely to be filled with interest and opportunity. It’s way, way, way too soon to be feeling lost! People meet and fall in love in every decade of their lives! In fact, later loves are often richer and more fulfilling — I know. I’ve had first-hand experience!
But, I was also concerned about your use of Tinder. I know people use it as you have, for amicable conversation, but I believe most of the swipes are done with sex in mind, and I know only a tiny percentage of swipes lead to actual connections. As social media it’s brutal! I would consider it an “adults only” app for folks looking for hookups and not caring if they swipe right a hundred times before they get a match. When you refer to your disappointment over your friend “taking my one chance for happiness” I read that as Tinder talk. I’m quite sure if you sample a reasonable number of young adult activities in the decade ahead you’ll have many social opportunities and plenty of chances for lasting happiness. I write that because I’m sure it’s true, but I also know you’re devastated by your impression your friends have betrayed you.

Again, I write betrayed because that’s the closest I can get to the facts as you’ve experienced them. They’re clearly taking advantage of your introducing them, but I gather from your letter that your feelings for Ezra came alive after they connected so happily. That doesn’t have to be the end of the story. At 19, romance constantly blooms and fades and people change partners in their search for deeper connections. You can let Ezra know you’re interested. Your eyes and fingers can do the talking. The two of you have a history of friendship and understanding. Ashley may be more a plaything than a romance. And if cuddling is as far as you’ve gone, three can play that game! Don’t give up! He’s still part of your closest network.

I’ll close with a comment about your “emotional constipation” — a perfect description of the physical price of stifled feelings. As I understand you, it’s the public expression of emotions you have trouble with — you already feel and express joy, longing, and despair privately. I’m wondering if you could learn to loosen up through music, singing, and, maybe, dance. Look for ways to uncork your emotions and let others see you have them. Don’t be ashamed to have feelings show on your face. Practice honest responses, and reward yourself whenever you manage a candid expression. You’ll get the hang of it quickly when you find how good it feels to be seen, heard, and understood. The goal, to own what you feel, say what you mean, and mean what you say isn’t easily reached. As a species, we’re prone to dissembling, and sometimes that’s appropriate, but it’s not when we mask our whole selves behind walls of silence. So my advice is to talk to Ezra. Talk about your hopes and fears, and recognize that together you’re taking your very first steps into the world of adult relationships with all their pitfalls and promises.
And feel free to write back. I’d be happy to hear from you again.

Letter #: 443275
Category: Dating/Relationship

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