This is an uncomfortably new situation for me, romantically-speaking. With all the horrific luck and terrible decisions that litter my dating history, I've never been HERE before. While many of the relationships I've had have fallen apart mercilessly and largely without my say-so, I've never had THIS problem.
The problem I speak of is unrequited love. Or unrequited feelings, I suppose. Feelings that feel a lot like love, except much more sad and painful. And hopeless. That's quite prevalent.
There will plenty of time before this subsides to cover the specifics. We've met this young man before, and I believe the general theme was the same. Perhaps not the unrequitedness of it all, but certainly the HELL that I've put myself through for (what feels like) not much in return.
It's probably worth mentioning that I haven't been very vocal about how I'm feeling, largely because I fear that anything I do say will be met with either hostility or ignorance. This, as an approach, is not something that I would recommend. Some things are bigger on the inside* and do need to be shared for the sake of perspective if nothing else.
But I'm not writing this for people who are in my situation.
I'm going to offer some advice to those of you who have someone like me hanging off your every text, tweet and instagram post.
There are, essentially, four ways to deal with someone being all unrequited in your direction.
1. Take advantage.
Allow them to take you out, let them spend their money and BY ALL MEANS sleep with them and act like it's nothing.
They'll come running every time, so it's not like it's your fault.
2. Taunt them.
While you're doing the above, you might want to rub their poor unlovable faces in the relationships that actually HAVE meant something to you. Or in the ones that you're conducting alongside this farce.
You've made it clear that you're not interested in them, so why not?
3. Be a dick.
Belittle their feelings. Tell them that they aren't in love and that they're stupid for thinking so in the first place. Maybe tell them they're insane.
Whatever makes YOU feel better. They probably need to hear it.
You may even want to combine those first three approaches to cause maximum damage.
Or, rather heroically, you could go with the fourth.
You see, the older I get, the more I come to realise that you have a responsibility to those who make the mistake of falling for you. Not a responsibility to return their feelings, or even to feel guilty for not doing so, but certainly one to do whatever you can to NOT MAKE THINGS WORSE.
Treat them, whoever they are, with the respect they deserve.
Maybe it is just a crush (in my case, a crush that has been going on for MONTHS and is showing no signs of abating) and maybe they'll just get over it. But, equally, maybe they'll need a lot of time and a lot of understanding.
I hate to tell you this, but a lot of it is on you. Ever tried thinking rationally when you're in love? You're the one with the clear head here. You have a responsibility - albeit a moral and not exactly obligatory one - to avoid one, two and three and to avoid being the one who adds to what is already a horribly painful situation.
If that means walking away, so be it.
But if it means hanging in there and BEING A PERSON, do that.
4. Be understanding. Be honest. Be kind. Be exactly the kind of person that they believe you to be.
*I would be a lot less embarrassed about this reference if Doctor Who had been slightly less terrible this year.