I've been in your shoes more times than I'd like to admit. I've fallen for guys before their girlfriends fell for them and I stood on the sidelines while I watched their relationship bloom and blossom. It sucks, to say the least. I once fell really hard for this guy I met over the summer. Nothing happened between us and when school started, we both had to go our separate ways. When I saw him again, I realized that I still had feelings for him. Then I learned that he had recently eloped… So yeah, I don't really have the best track record.
So take it from someone who knows. I know it hurts to love someone who loves someone else. It hurts to watch him be with her, not you, to know that he's smiling at her, holding her, kissing her, and that you're hardly more than a blip on his monitor. All of that just makes you want to dig your heart out of your chest with a spoon, stake it, and throw it in the Potomac River. Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration… but then again, maybe it's not.
So there you are, standing on the sidelines, watching the one person you devote all your time and energy to, devote all of his time and energy to someone else. So what do you do?
That's right. I said it. Don't do anything.
Do not flirt with him. Do not try to steal him away from her. Do not confess your love even if you “think he should know." Do not sabotage her, do not trash her behind her back, do not do anything to spoil their relationship. That's selfish and it shows that you care more about yourself and your own happiness than his.If you break apart their relationship, you're not just going to be hurting the ex-girlfriend, you're going to hurt him too.
There are so many rom-coms that feature unfortunate love triangles where one guy starts with one girls and ends up with another. And they can be narrated two different ways. First, I love him with all my heart but he's with the wrong girl. That's probably how you feel right now. And yes, there are such things as bad relationships and “the wrong girl" but that doesn't justify your stealing him from her. If that's the situation, and he's getting hurt by a bad girlfriend, then you don't help him by flirting with him or picking up the rebound when the relationship does fall apart. You help him by being a kind and supportive friend. You can pick up the pieces when he gets hurt but don't put them back together to your advantage.
And second, I loved him with all my heart and she stole him from me.
Imagine you're the girlfriend, and you're with this amazing guy. And some other girl comes along and steals him away. And she probably does have genuine feelings for him. She didn't do it to be malicious or spiteful. She just saw everything that you saw in him. But it still kills you to know that he left you for her, and that she was selfish enough to get him to leave you for her. My point: do not be that girl. Do not be the girl that steals him away and leaves the ex-girlfriend crying and eating ice cream all day.
If it's meant to happen, it will eventually.
I know it hurts to watch them be together. I know you love him and he loves her. You may have loved him long before he ever laid eyes on her. But that does not make him yours. That does not give you the right to pursue him. That does not justify your ruining a perfectly happy relationship. I wish I could say something to make it hurt less. I know you want to make him smile. I know you want to make him laugh. I know you want to take stupid selfies with him, eat take-out together, and kiss him in the rain. I've been there more than once. But I promise it will get better. I promise that even if you don't end up with him, you'll end up with someone else.
And you won't have to hurt anyone to get there.