My sports club crush went cold

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Dear Meredith,

I'm in a sports club and meet up weekly with a fairly large group of other people who like the sport. I’ve considered this a highlight of my week for years. I'm single and in my 50s. I never seriously considered that I’d meet a woman romantically there. I just go for the activity and for socialization, and we all go out after. I've made some great friends there.

For the past year, there's been a woman in the club who is a bit younger. I've come to like and enjoy conversing with her pre, during, and post games. I'm attracted to her and the conversations seem so unforced. I'm the type of guy who when I sense a woman is not feeling it and wants me to go away, I'll go away. She hasn't given me this "go away" vibe – until recently. Most days she would gravitate toward me, and sometimes we’d walk part of the way home together. She'd wait for me to start the walk at the end of the night, week after week. We exchanged numbers months ago and she has responded to all of but one or two of my approximately 20 texts. The texts are just friendly chatter about games.

I haven't asked her out because she has a longtime serious boyfriend I've never met, nor does she mention this boyfriend much. I've had discussions with other friends over the ethics of pursuing her when she’s taken. Some are for it, some against. Lately everything has gone cold. I'm getting the negative body language from her and the "go away" vibe, so I've gone away. The texts have stopped. 

Am I right to let it go? How do know why or if she's gone cold? I suspect she noticed my feelings. Do I just ignore her and move on, or stay in this agonizing friendzone, if that is even salvageable? Going forward, how do I get over these strong feelings? It is so frustrating because this light, enjoyable event I've so enjoyed has the potential to become a soap operatic mess. Sometimes I want to be angry with her for leading me on, but then I think she was just being nice. Sorry to ramble.  

– Deep anonymous

You wanted to know if she might consider a romantic relationship with you. Without having to ask, you got an answer. Consider that a small gift, even if it doesn't feel like one.

You ask whether you should "ignore her and move on." The alternative is to continue to civil and move on. You don't have to ice her out. Simply focus on socializing with others, and show her you're the kind of guy who can read a room. You're not asking for anything and you respect her space. Make that clear.

Also, continue to enjoy yourself. You loved this club long before she arrived. Who were your companions before? Find those people.

She did not lead you on, but you know that. She told you she had a boyfriend, and she only pursued a platonic relationship. This might be the only way she knows how to give you a signal. If you were closer friends who spent time together outside of the club, I'd expect more conversation about this, but you've both limited your interactions to one place.

That's something to think about as you continue to meet new, fun people – because you will. Find out if you can make plans on an off night. If the socialization extends past the group activity, the friendship has hit another level. That's when it makes sense to start thinking about more.

Also, it's pickleball, right? I'm just going to assume it's pickleball.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the LW initiate a conversation? How do you get over this and continue to enjoy the activity? What about the question about pursing someone who's coupled?