I was class of 2009 and so during my junior and senior years, I attended a vocational school for science. I met this guy named “Ethan” (for his privacy, we’ll call him that) and knew from the moment I saw him that I just HAD to be his friend. He was the quiet one, very observant, soft-spoken, 6’4” tall and lean. At first, of course his looks made me interested in him. But after getting to know him a bit better, I didn’t see him anymore—just his heart. He would follow me around during lunch breaks and there were many times when one of my friends would quietly say to me, “hey, don’t make it obvious, but Ethan is looking at you from the laboratory.” The classroom was separated from the lab by a long window and the door connecting the two areas. Sure enough, I’d casually look his way and he would be staring right through me, almost like he was lost in me. And we flirted off and on, playing footsies under the table (actually got called out because of it once, and when I did, his grip of his legs around mine tightened and he never did let go), he would sit with me during lunch and offer me some of his food, and sometimes he would come up behind me and tickle me and walk off. He was always in his books but other than our teacher, I was the only person who he would put his book down for. Honestly, I went back that second year because of him. We fast forward to now. It’s been almost 10 years and we hang out occasionally. Recently, things were said between he and I and I guess this is where I start to become unsure of what to do. I do believe he is on the autistic spectrum somewhere as I am, but this is where Ethan and I are at right now... One night, we ended up talking and opening up to each other about love and relationships. He told me a story about how when he was younger, he had been physically abused by his then girlfriend. Well, basically assaulted. Cops were called, etc. It was just a horrible situation for the poor guy. He told me that he has serious trust issues and that he trusts me but not completely. He told me that the thought of us together still crosses his mind from time to time but he whisks them away because of his trust issues. So, I asked him if I could please have an opportunity to start earning his trust and he said yes. His work schedule is inconsistent and he’s very introverted, spending his weekends usually with his D&D buddies (one of whom being a childhood friend and he tried a relationship with recently but broke it up because he was “afraid” but are still good friends, he says.) So, ill text him from time to time and tell him that I hope he’s having a good day and he says “you too.” Today I told him I missed him and he replied with “me too.” He doesn’t say much through text yet feels more comfortable in general texting versus hanging out. Again, VERY introverted. Today, I texted him and asked him if he even wants me to earn his trust because I felt like I was making all the effort and not exactly getting reciprocation. He explained that it’s his trust issues. He said a part of him says yes but a part of him doesn’t feel ready. I don’t know how else to go forward with him like this. It’s difficult enough being his friend because we don’t hang out often (he’s a 30 minutes drive out), but he’s made it known that he still feels something for me but I don’t know how to really earn his trust and it bothers me. He said it will take a long time and should I find love before then, he wouldn’t be hurt by it, just happy that I found someone. And although I don’t want to give up on him, sometimes I start to think maybe I should be just stay a distant friend to him. What do you guys think? How does one earn trust?