¡hola papi!

‘I Want the Rom-com Ending, But My Crush Already Has a Girlfriend’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.

¡Hola, Papi!

After my last breakup, I stayed single for six months. No dates, no sex, just therapy, friendships, and long walks with my dog. It helped! I felt healthy and free of the toxic dynamic my ex and I created. So I decided to try the apps (for the first time ever). First date was a shitshow (he was so hot but tried to pressure me into sex). Second date, I felt nothing, but thought he was nice and figured I could try again. That led to a very calm and stable situation over the last three months that I have consistently refused to make exclusive or official. Perhaps that’s a sign.

So, an old friend was in town for a work event and I invited her to come stay with me. This is a person I had a massive crush on in high school, but due to low self-esteem I felt certain no one would feel the same way about me. I think deep down I know I had flirty intentions for this trip but was very much in denial. I even said, “I hope she has a girlfriend!” 

Of course, she has a girlfriend. And I’m disappointed. But that doesn’t stop us from flirting and having late-night conversations (20-plus hours over the span of a week). I start to feel like I’m in a rom-com, but then our time together ends. I acknowledge how I feel, and they reciprocate (and tell me how attractive I was when we were younger) while making it clear that they’re going back to their life (and wishing me luck). 

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it hurts! It felt like maybe this could be the beautiful start of someone seeing me and choosing me, and instead I’m left with the first big crush I’ve had in over seven years and wondering if I’m ever going to speak to her again. 

This taught me that I have to break up with the person I’m seeing so I appreciate that aha moment, but what do I do with these feelings of wanting someone I can’t have? I want the rom-com ending, but the realist in me knows that won’t happen. How long will this sad-puppy feeling last? How do I let go of a future with a person that isn’t meant to be?

Hopefully Hallmark

Hey there, HH!

Yes, you’re going through it, aren’t you? There’s a reason hope was in Pandora’s box with all those demons. Sometimes, hope is the most wicked thing there is, telling us to keep clinging to a prospect we know will never happen, but what if? What if?

First things first, it’s great that a lightbulb went off about your current relationship. If you haven’t broken the news to David Hinge or Jonathan Tinder or whatever his name is on your phone, you should definitely do so.

As an aside, I’m really interested in people who go on a floppy first date but think, Eh, why not? It’s like the polar opposite of my problem, where I need the heavens to part and one of those freaky angels with dozens of eyes to ask me if I’m ready to be torn asunder by love once again before we’re even done with our first round of cocktails. If this doesn’t happen, we can make out and add each other on Instagram, but nothing more.

Hmm. I don’t know how I’m an advice columnist. I should pursue a different career. I should, I don’t know … wash cars. I should build houses. I should shampoo people’s cats. Those are jobs, I think.

In any case, if I may make an educated guess here based on the literature you’ve provided: You don’t seem to have the highest opinion of yourself. If you went on a date where you “felt nothing” but then proceeded to stay with that person for three months, and you’re flirting with someone you know is in a relationship (and counting up the hours of conversation with them), you might be someone eager for positive attention in general.

Not that I blame you. Listen, can I officially approve of having late-night convos with someone you have a crush on while they’re seeing someone else? No. But life is like that sometimes. Sometimes you find yourself on a couch sipping wine, lost in conversation with a person who matches your energy, and the vibes are right, and it feels so cozy and warm — the way things should be all the time. What are you gonna do? Not lean in?

I get it.

But there’s time for whimsy and there’s time to recognize reality. It’s great that the two of you were able to reconnect and have a nice time together, but, as she said, she has to go back to her life, and so do you. It ought to be a life you’re excited for, a life where you feel like good things can happen for you and you don’t have to throw your hands up and settle for the first person who clears the low bar of “doesn’t suck.”

You wrote to me saying you wanted a rom-com ending. But rom-coms, of course, tend to end before the new couple has to go about actually being together, the mundane and the frustrating. A loving relationship won’t often feel like a movie. It’s easy to romanticize trysts and chance encounters, but those do not a sturdy relationship make.

And anyway, it sounds like your week together kind of was the rom-com, or at least a “Certified Fresh™ on Rotten Tomatoes” queer independent film. Those tend to be bittersweet, don’t they? Those cinematic moments will come and go. But then the movie ends and life begins.

You deserve something real. I hope you feel the same way.

Con mucho amor,

Originally published on April 27, 2023.

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Purchase Brammer’s book, Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessonshere.

‘I Have a Big Crush, But She Has a Girlfriend’