Dear Miss Emily:    

I’m apologizing in advance, as this is quite long. There’s a guy in my college with whom I’m good friends. He’s a stereotypical 20 + male in the sense that he flirts around with girls and seems to not have a care in the world. As a person, however, I’ve gathered through our 3 year friendship that he’s actually a very nice individual, responsible and mature in his own way. He has, for the record, never attempted to flirt with me or, if he has, it’s always gone over my head. Rather recently, I was very shocked to discover that he has deep feelings for me, a matter that he himself confessed. What struck me most was not just the confession, but how serious he seemed about it. He was quite plain on the fact that he wanted a relationship for keeps and clearly saw me in his future. I have to say, I’m flattered because he is definitely very nice and has many qualities that I admire and relate to. However, apart from the fact that I’ve never attempted to see him in a romantic light, I still can’t get over the shock of him being serious about a relationship. I mentioned this to him (ok, to be honest, I thought he was kidding and laughed to his face; sucks I know!) since, I myself, have been a spectator when he was around girls and have joked and teased him about it. Also, he has a rather wide fan club because he manages, according to some of my juniors, to show a boyish charm with that intelligent look.   He's not a nerd per se, but he is known to be well-informed. A very close friend of his, who also happens to be a pal of mine, swears by his commitment. She insists that though he seems easy going, when it comes to things he is serious about, he means it. I’ve had personal experience of his commitment to many issues but, with this, I guess it really hasn’t sunk in. After his confession to me, she admitted having known about it for months in advance and had finally coaxed him to open up to me. He had been debating telling me this since I’ve been known to have a fear of romantic relationships and commitment. He did break the news very gently and sweetly, assuring me that he wouldn’t pressure me into doing anything I didn’t want.  He also promised that our friendship would remain. However, he was very clear that he was determined not to be deterred by my answer, whatever it is,  and requested that I give it time. It’s been 2 months since the confession, and I find myself in a dilemma, half-excited and half-scared. It feels as though my logic is at war with my emotions. I don’t want to get hurt nor do I want to hurt him unnecessarily. What do I do?

---------------------------Miss Emily’s advice---------------------------

Dear Terrified:

You have turned this entire situation into one large dilemma, and it doesn’t have to be that way.  You have analyzed this to death and have come up with nothing.  You mentioned your fear of relationship and commitment issues.  I think that this is the core of your indecisiveness, because it sounds like he’s a guy worth your attention. As well, you mentioned the possible outcome of hurting him or you getting hurt.  There’s no way you can, or anyone can, prevent hurt feelings if a relationship doesn’t work out.  If this were a universal fear, the human species would have long been extinct (a tantalizing notion, but unrealistic).  This guy has been honest with you, but I think HIS big mistake is making you feel as if this is for the long-term, in his mind, and that is presumptious on his part.  The romance has not even started and he’s got you locked into “forever.”  You and this guy are intelligent people.  Almost everything has been done correctly – his forthright confession to you, his will to be undeterred in winning you over (of course, eventually he'd have to give up or make a complete ass of himself), and his patience in waiting for your delayed response.  It’s time to act on this.  Ask yourself, what is it, really, that keeps me from getting involved with this person?  If it’s fear of getting physically involved, then this is an issue that needs to be addressed with a therapist.  You may have deep-seated past issues that prevent you from carrying on a normal relationship with a man.  If, however, this is not the case, again, stop analyzing this, ad infinitum, and strongly consider taking your friendship with him to the next level. But do insist it be gradual and not the serious "for keeps" plan he envisions.  So far, fantasy and flattery have taken you to this point.  Now it’s time to go for it, or let this guy know that you are adamant about not getting involved.  In your heart, you know what you want to do.