Hi Ethan, it sounds like you're wanting a couple of
different things at the same time: wishing it would go away, but also wishing
you could get it out there.
It definitely sounds like in your mind you’ve firmly linked
your anxiety in your mind to a need to tell your friend how you feel about him,
and if you were to do that, you would no longer feel anxious.
I think there's a key difference between the girl you fell
in love with at high school and the current scenario. You were single then, so the motivation for
telling her was to find out if she felt the same, and you then ended up
It’s interesting that you say you find it easy to manage
your sexual attraction to him. How are
you managing to do that, and how is it different to how you manage your other
feelings for him?
Distancing yourself is not easy, for sure, especially if
you're working together as well - it's also why the consequences of telling him
need to be thought through carefully, because it will be hard to avoid him if
this doesn't work out. But distancing
isn't just physical, it's in your mind also.
If you want to try staying friends and ‘ride out’ these feelings to see
if they go away, then you’ll have to retrain the way you think about him moment
to moment. You're making the choice to
see him in a certain way, to anticipate his texts, to hang out with him when
you could be spending your free time in other ways, to look for signs in conversations
that he's into you. These are all individual
opportunities for you to break the circuit, but you’re right, it’s hard work
and there is no off switch.
If you decide to tell, what is it that you are telling? That you find him sexually attractive? Or that you're in love with him? Two very different things that can cause two
very different reactions, and will without a doubt change your friendship. You may feel like it lessens your anxiety,
but what about the burden that puts on him if he doesn't feel the same way, or
isn't in a position to reciprocate (from what you've said, he identifies as
I feel in your post that while you say you don't know,
you're perhaps looking for permission to tell him. I can't make that decision for you, but maybe
this has given you some food for thought.