Just before we all turned 18, John was killed in a car accident. Mary was obviously devastated. She withdrew, and we just didn’t hang out as much anymore. I think it was too painful for us to hang out together, without John. The grief was unbearable. There were nights that I would wake up to the sound of John tapping on my window (as he did almost daily when he was alive). I soon moved out of state, and Mary and I lost touch.
Fast forward 12 years. I’ve never forgotten John and Mary. Actually, I’ve thought about John at least weekly all these years, and missed my friendship with Mary. Last year I moved back to my home town. I ran into Mary a couple of months ago at the grocery store. She walked right up to me and we hugged and cried. Our friendship has started again, just about where it left off before John died. She is even working in the same office building as me now, so we have lunch together most days, and go out together on the weekends.
This last weekend was Mary’s 31st birthday. She invited me to go out to celebrate with her and some of her friends. When she came to pick me up, her little brother, Max, was with her. My heart dropped to the floor when I saw him. Max looks just like John. The resemblance is uncanny, and frankly, it shook me up just a bit. It was like seeing a ghost. Max said he remembered playing video games with me when he was a kid and how much fun I was to be around back then, and he gave me a big hug, and … I felt something.
The attraction was apparently mutual. Sparks were flying all night. On Monday morning, Mary told me that she could tell that Max was diggin me, and asked what I thought of him. I told her the truth – he’s hot, but I didn’t want to cause any problems with our friendship. She said she would not have any problems with us going out. So she gave Max my phone number. He just texted me asking if I want to get together for a drink this weekend. Should I go out with Max? Or is this the whole age difference / resemblance to his brother whom I once loved very much thing just too complicated? Please help. — Too Old to be Crushing Like This
Maybe the age difference between you and Max is too great to overcome — there are certainly big differences between a 25-year-old guy and a 31-year-old woman — and maybe Max’s resemblance to his dead brother whom you loved very much will be too freaky for you to get past. But! Maybe neither of these things will be any big deal. Maybe Max is mature for his age — although asking you out via text probably isn’t the best indication of that; maybe losing his brother when he was 13-ish shifted things for him in a way that matured him faster than other boys his age. And maybe knowing Max as an adult will give you an appreciation for him that is different than your memory of his brother whom you last saw when you were 17.
You won’t — and can’t — know what your feelings will be toward Max unless you spend some more time with him. All you know now is that you are attracted to him, feel chemistry with him, share some personal history, and are forever connected to him by simple virtue of having grieved the loss of his brother whom you once loved. Instead of being weird, maybe all of that is a foundation for what could be a great relationship. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you’ll find you’re better as friends. But you won’t know unless you go out with him and see.
What’s the harm in having a date with Max? As long as Mary has given her blessing and assured you it won’t negatively impact your rekindled friendship, how does going out on a date with Max carry more risk than going on a date with anyone else you might have a mild crush on? It’s not as if you were married to his brother or that you even dated seriously. It’s not like his brother just died last month and you’re disrespecting his memory by moving on too quickly or trying to hold on to what you recently lost by dating his brother. You have processed John’s death. You aren’t under any illusions, I don’t think, that Max is John. So I say go out with him, see where things go, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to figure it all out on the first date. You’ll know in your gut after a few dates whether there’s something worth exploring with Max or if this isn’t any more than a friendly, mutual attraction.
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