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I Admitted to a Friend That I'm Interested in Him 

Dear Athena,

I have this friend I've liked for years. I finally admitted it to him. The reply I got was that he can only offer something casual. I'm disappointed in myself for missing my chance years ago when we were both single. Now he is supporting his ex-girlfriend (who is a stay-at-home mom) and their son by paying all of their bills. Do I continue to pursue him, or would that be a waste of time? I'm 31, still single, without kids.

Sincerely,

Pining for My Pal

Dear Pining,

Don't beat yourself up about "missing" your chance. I try to steer clear of the idea that there are missed chances in life — this view tends to leave us wallowing in regret. I prefer to think that everything happens for a reason. There's a reason we missed that bus or didn't date that guy. We don't always understand the reason in the moment, but it will reveal itself in time.

I applaud you for revealing your true feelings to your friend. That couldn't have been easy, but it sure was brave. Secrets fester inside of us and don't do much good. It's smart and healthy to take the kind of risk you did — you may get exactly what you want. Even if you don't, at least you know how the other person feels. And, oh, how freeing that can be — even if at first you're heartbroken.

I'm glad your friend was honest with you. Yes, it's a major bummer that he's not ready for a relationship, but now you can move forward with your life. It sounds like he still wants to be friends. That's great — in the long run. For now, ask yourself if it will be hard for you to hang out with him knowing that you harbor romantic feelings. If so, consider taking some time apart to heal.

I don't recommend waiting around for him to have a change of heart. You can't count on romantic feelings to just show up. You're young and single and should explore what's out there. If he sorts out the distractions in his life and you're around and available, that's great. But you can't twiddle your thumbs until he does — or doesn't. Life is too damn short. Go live it now.

Yours,

Athena

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