Dear Wayne and Wanda,
For years I have had a crush on a boss of mine. I've worked in a grocery store as a checker for about five years, staying longer than I would have cared to because I liked him. He has been with a girl for a few years. Now he's moving an hour out of town and he didn't tell me. I will never see him again, but for occasionally in an online gaming community we're in.
I feel I blew my chances with him long ago: I heard him call me cute one time, and another time he invited me over to his apartment to see his new elite gaming desktop, but I did not acknowledge his compliment or take him up on that invitation. I never told him I liked him because every guy I've ever admitted having feelings for has rejected me. I have been interested in other guys in the meantime, but my boss crush was always at least on the back burner.
I feel crushed and don't know where to go from here. I would like to get a new job that pays more so I no longer have to live with my parents, but the trouble with moving out is I would be alone, since I tend to be introverted and don't have any friends outside of school or work. I'm still finishing college and not sure if changing jobs would be too disruptive. I was hoping you could give me some advice as to how to get my life back on track motivationally and emotionally, or maybe a reality check in the form of a smack upside the head.
-- Sad He Left Town
Heartbreak on Aisle Five!
Girlfriend, you need to roll the dice. And I'm not talking about those 10-sided dice you toss in Dungeons & Dragons or whatever games you kids are playing these days. I'm talking about breaking out of the Fortress of Security you've built around your life.
You're surrounded by gamers, who are typically a bashful bunch. But you can't expect any guy to make the first move. If you want to land a man offline -- your gaming buddy, your lab partner, your next cute customer, the manager at Bosco's -- you're going to have to step your game up.
Sound daunting? It isn't. You're into role playing games, right? Take the role playing into your daily life. Next time you see a guy you want to talk to, slip into the character of a confident, conversational woman who is a serious catch, then approach him and work to your strengths: Ask if he's playing the new Halo. Talk about energy drinks. See if he's part of your campus gaming group.
Even if there's rejection, let the experience of breaking out of your shell be a positive that builds your confidence. Still frightened? Think back on your missed opportunities and let them inspire you to be more engaged, more in the moment. Hey, we've all blown it in dating -- that's life. Just don't let your fails haunt you.
As for moving out of your parents' place ... you'll learn later in life that there are few greater luxuries than free rent. That said, there are few moments more embarrassing than getting busted in the act by your parents. So, until you get a serious boyfriend, or graduate and get a better job, or have your high-speed gaming Internet cut off by your parents, I say stay home.
I'm sorry. Unrequited love hurts so deeply.
I suppose the good news is that crushes need oxygen to subsist -- the oxygen being your ex-boss's near-daily presence in your life. By blowing town, he's depriving your crush of that oxygen. Eventually, it will fade and expire. In the meantime, you may want to consider somehow blocking him from the online communities you're in, just to avoid stirring up old emotions.
You're going to feel bad for a while ... until you don't. That's how it works. You'll wake up one morning and a thought about your former boss/crush will cross your mind, and it'll strike you how long it's been since you last thought about him. Man, I sure had it bad for him, you'll think. Oh, well. La-di-dah. On with my day.
It's no fun being told, "these things take time." You want a quicker, dirtier solution. You want to stop feeling crummy now. (And there are little things you can do -- take long walks, try things that force you out of your comfort zone, talk to people who make you happy.) But giving it time to stop hurting is what will make it stop hurting. Again, I'm sorry.
You can handle a change in jobs. You're smart, and you're ready for a new challenge. After five years as a checker, it's time to find something more lucrative, where you'll meet new people and learn new skills. No need to move out just yet -- it's OK to finish school first. Surprise yourself with what you're capable of.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As crush fades, student should step up her game