Your Crush’s Relationship is on Rocky Grounds: Should You Make a Move?

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Matters of the heart are never easy, and sometimes you connect with someone who’s already in a relationship.

While I would never condone anyone breaking up a marriage, what happens if the person you’re interested in is in a relationship that’s clearly falling apart? Not a marriage, but a dating relationship?

This is a question that I asked on Facebook, and almost everybody responded with a resounding No! Great answer, absolutely. But were people giving me the politically correct answer?

Because let’s face it, clear relationship breaks aren’t always a reality. There’s no doubt that relationship waters are muddied when one person has one foot out the door, but isn’t quite ready to leave his or her partner.

Sometimes this happens because people are afraid to be alone. They’d rather stay in a relationship, even if it’s bad, because there’s a level of comfort, even if there’s a lot of dysfunction. You flirt with a person like this, and he or she flirts back. They cross an emotional line with you, if not a physical one. Maybe you know them, know about their failing relationship firsthand, so you realize it’s only a matter of time that your crush will be single.

Is it really that bad to make a move and go for what you want before the end of your crush’s relationship?

The one thing that many people who answered this question on Facebook agreed with was the reality that if you do pursue such a person, you’re asking for drama and possibly serious heartbreak. While you may think you’ve made a great connection, the person in the relationship hasn’t had a chance to process his or her feelings. You may provide a wonderful distraction—but that’s likely all you’ll be. A distraction. And once you start dating this person, your relationship might very well be short lived because the ease and flirtatiousness of a “distraction” has become more serious.

Instead of becoming a serious new partner, you may painfully learn that you were simply a rebound relationship—someone who helps the person who just broke up emotionally move on. But your relationship with that person is really an illusion—a pleasant distraction that was never going to last.

No matter your age, people learn this hard lesson every day. Even my teenage niece recently found out that pursuing a guy on the verge of a breakup wasn’t a smart idea. And while I didn’t make a bold move to go after a guy I really liked when I knew he was in a failing relationship, I let myself believe that the possibility of us dating was real. I liked him so much that I allowed myself to get my hopes up. And those hopes were crushed when nothing panned out for us.

There are no rules when it comes to the game of love, and sometimes you connect with someone who’s emotionally checked out of his or her relationship and it works. But other times—and I’d argue this happens the majority of the time—you become a happy distraction for that other person, but not a serious relationship contender.

Everyone should have time to process a breakup and emotionally disentangle themselves before moving on to someone new. When a person skips this process, they don’t give themselves time to grieve the loss of the relationship and work through the pain and disappointment. They don’t give themselves time to reflect on where things went wrong.

Without that reflection, people are doomed to possibly repeat the mistakes of the past, not to mention carry emotional baggage from their past relationship into a relationship with you. Worse, they might still have residual feelings for their ex that they haven’t worked through. Then you become a casualty when your new relationship falls apart.

If you have a wicked crush on someone and you know the relationship is doomed, be a friend. Be a friend as that person’s relationship falls apart, but be only a friend. Give that person time to process their breakup and deal with the aftermath.

If you’re a true friend, there’ll be no pressure on your crush to give you more than he or she is ready to. And if it’s meant to be between you and your crush, then when the time is right, your relationship can bloom. Pushing for something more serious before the other person is ready will more likely than not guarantee that you’ll end up unhappy.

Kayla Perrin is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning USA Today and Essence best-selling author, with 46 books in print. Perrin is best described as passionate, fearless, motivated and self-driven to excel at whatever she pursues.

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