Soon, I began liking one of them. Let’s call him Adam. Months went by and most of my friends suspected Adam liked me back, but we always interacted in this more-than-friends but not boyfriend-girlfriend kind of grey zone. Finally, I confessed my feelings for him, but he didn’t give me a response. I pushed for one, but he never said yes or no and we continued in that grey zone.
Right around my junior year of high school, two years after befriending the twins, I was taking a class with the other brother — let’s call him Zack. I quickly forgot Adam and realized that Zack was much more of my type. After a few months of close interaction, Zack and I proceeded to that damned grey zone too. I knew he liked me and I liked him back, but I never told Zack how I felt because I didn’t want to seem like I just moved from one brother to the other. So we graduated and went our separate ways without ever coming clean about our feelings.
Three years after graduating high school, I ran into Zack and we spent some time together hanging out and catching up. I pulled up my big girl panties and asked him out, saying that I had liked him back in high school. But Zack turned me down, saying he thought I liked Adam all this time. I denied it, saying I only liked Adam our freshman year and that it was Zack whom I truly liked towards the end of high school. Zack seemed really torn and upset. I’m sure he was hurt. I tried asking him who he liked, but he said he never liked anyone (and no, I don’t think he’s gay). Since that day, we haven’t talked, and I felt terrible for ruining our friendship in addition to upsetting him. To this day I hear he hasn’t ever gotten a girlfriend, but I’m not surprised.
How on earth should I handle this past? I can already hear the chorus of “MOA and forget them!” but I just can’t. I still have feelings for both of them, and I am filled with debilitating regret because of how I handled everything. Though I have dated on and off, 10 years later I haven’t ever liked anyone else as much as either of the twins, and I still dream about them and miss them. Looking back, maybe who I really liked was a fusion of the two. Regardless, my friends and I all conclude that they probably both liked me, but chose not to go any further with me for fear of hurting the other brother. Does this even sound plausible? Can you help me figure out what the heck was going on and deal with this emotional baggage? I realize that many of my relationship insecurities and worries are related to this part of my past. — Double the Pleasure, Double the Pain
You say you are filled with debilitating regret because of how you handled everything, but from the story you tell, I’m not sure what you could have done differently for a better outcome. You liked both twins and confessed your feelings at different times — years apart! — and neither one reciprocated your feelings in a way that could lead to a relationship. And now, years later, you’re still analyzing “what the heck happened” and filled with regret over the whole thing and worried that perhaps both twins, in fact, liked you but couldn’t act on the feelings for fear of hurting the other. And then you say you aren’t sure you even liked either one as individuals, but as a fusion of the two. Honey, this is real life, not sci-fi erotica; you can’t fuse together two twins to make one boyfriend.
Honestly, you’re wasting precious time fretting over this non-issue. You liked a couple of guys in high school who either didn’t like you back or did like you back but didn’t act on those feelings. Why they didn’t act on those feelings is truly none of your business and doesn’t matter anyway since it doesn’t change the outcome. The fact that these two guys happen to be twins doesn’t change anything or even make the story all that more interesting. Do you have any idea how many young girls have nursed crushes on cute sets of twins in high school? A shit load. And let’s not even get started on how many boys fantasize about hot twin sisters, please.
It’s okay that you still have feelings for these boys. It’s sweet, even. They meant something to you and were an important part of your adolescence, but, like a favorite sweatshirt or a well-loved novel, these boys belong on a shelf — a metaphorical one, in this case — where you can visit them on occasion for a nostalgic trip down memory lane but fold up and put away when you’re done. They don’t deserve any more attention that that. And you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by building up the (non-) relationships you had with these boys in your mind. You’re allowing yourself to believe what you had with them was bigger than anything you could find with someone else when, in fact, not only did you not have anything more than a friendship with these boys, but also the person you think you fell in love with — the fusion of the two brothers — doesn’t even exist in reality. He truly is a figment of your imagination in the most literal sense that you’re dressing up and calling “emotional baggage” for the sake of keeping the fantasy going.
The only emotional baggage you really have, as far as this issue is concerned, is the fear of facing present-day rejection because the rejection you felt in your past still stings. But it’s been ten years and it’s time to let it go. You had a couple of crushes, you expressed your feelings — which, good for you, that takes courage — and you were rejected (whether or not the feelings were reciprocated is beside the point; if neither boy decided to pursue a relationship with you, regardless of the reason, that’s rejection, and what you’re feeling isn’t “debilitating regret” of choices made or not made but the sting of being rejected). MOA, let go of the imaginary character you think you love, accept that rejection happens to all of us and it’s not the end of the world, and open yourself to the possibility of today.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.