Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am a guy, and I play a sport with one of my friends that I like. She probably does not know I like her, mainly because I have not told her yet. I have not told her because we are just friends now and I'm afraid that if I told her, it might ruin our friendship. I don't want to ruin our friendship because she's a great friend and she is very nice to me. What should I do?
-- Torn and Very Confused
Wow -- so many sports metaphors and clichés I can use here, I can't pick just one ... pun overload!
I guess I'll play it straight for once. Your feelings and this situation are not unusual, buddy. In fact, these things happen naturally when you're having fun, being yourself and showing off your muscles. Well, at least it happens to me and my awesome muscles all the time.
Wanda and I have written millions of words over the years encouraging lonely people to follow their passions, which will lead them to meeting people with similar passions. You're already there -- you're doing what you enjoy and meeting people you're interested in romantically. Now it's time to put on the full-court press (sorry, couldn't help myself).
Ask her if she wants to practice whatever sport you all are playing sometime. Or ask her if she wants to carpool to the next game. If she agrees, you can always try to add a post-practice/post-game meal idea. Too obvious or aggressive for your style? Set up a post-game team meal at a local joint and make sure you end up sitting next to her. No pressure there. If there's easy conversation and chemistry, you can always exchange numbers or set up a plan for after the next game.
Go get 'em slugger!
Wayne, you're such a killer base coach, urging men along as they press relentlessly toward home plate. Now let me put on my bullpen coach hat for a moment. I really don't know anything about baseball but I do use Wikipedia, and it says the bullpen coach advises and works with someone who is about to enter the game. That someone is you, Torn.
You've been hovering, waiting, contemplating, and you are ready to step up and take a chance. It's good that you've spent so much time thinking this through. You realize that this could end badly and you might lose a friend. That's a very potential outcome.
Still, I agree with Wayne: Follow your passion. Now the question is how. You can try Wayne's way -- carpools, sporty sessions and sneak-attack dates where you cleverly lure her into hanging out. This could work.
However, speaking for women everywhere, I say just tell her how you feel. Why? First of all, we females are constantly told that men say what they think, so we shouldn't read between the lines. If you leave her guessing, don't assume she'll read your mind. We women are culturally conditioned not to do that because we're led to believe that, no matter what, we'll read you wrong.
And secondly, telling her how you feel is a win-win. If she doesn't reciprocate, at least you know and can move on. And if she does return your feelings -- well congrats, Torn, you've hit a home run.
• Wanda is a wise woman who has loved, lusted and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He likes his sports-playing friend but fears telling her