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I have been friends with this girl for a while. She broke up with her boyfriend. We have been texting a lot – like 200 messages a week. I keep getting mixed signals from her, and I really like her. Should I go for it? But I don’t want to ruin the friendship either. We also hang out, and I think she looks for me in the halls.
-Ivan S. Bently (Kansas)
Hi, Ivan. Thanks for trusting us with this important personal issue.
There are a lot of possibilities to explain what’s going on here, but let me give you my “take.” First of all, you say she’s sending mixed signals, which probably means she is confused and not sure of exactly what she wants.
She could still have thoughts or hopes for the relationship she just left, or she might be waiting for you to make a move. She may still be in the healing process, and she may not be ready to be seen publicly with another guy yet.
Texting may be her way of reaching out and connecting right now while she finishes emotionally disconnecting from her ex. She may also be confused if her friendship for you sometimes seems likes it’s evolving into something bigger, but she’s not sure if you “like” like her.
As for you, Ivan, you are in a very precarious spot right now. She’s on the rebound and needs emotional support. She trusts you and feels better when she shares some texts or hangs out with you. She looks for you in the halls because she likes you, in one way or another, and that’s where you have to be careful. If you put the friendship first above your interest in dating her as a girlfriend, you are in serious risk of being relegated to the “friend zone,” which is a difficult place to escape from.
My advice to you is to get together with her and talk in person. It should be earlier and shorter than a real date, but it will give you an idea if she wants to see you or not. Tell her she needs to get out and take an hour to laugh and enjoy herself and you would really love the chance to talk to her in a little more depth, too. Pick a spot where your friends never go – maybe a Starbucks across town – so she will feel as though her privacy is being protected.
Ask her how she’s doing and if she is truly finished with her ex. Pay very close attention to her body language. Is she leaning towards you or away? Is she big-eyed and smiling, or detached and thoughtful? Is she acting “girly” or like a buddy?
There’s one more thing you must do: Tell her in a very matter-of-fact way that you like her. Then don’t say another word. She has to be the next one to speak. Look her squarely in the eyes so she can see your strength and your sincerity. Boldly and confidently grasp her shoulder or hands. Just make sure she knows you are interested in her in a romantic man-woman kind of way.
Be strong and kind but never emotional or desperate. Make her want to come to you for the caring and comfortable man you are and not for the nice boy who is “safe” and harmless. Her true thoughts and intentions should reveal themselves as the conversation unfolds.
Go for it,