Dating Advice Guru Q & A: What if you fall in love with your friend?
Question From a Reader:
I know you are constantly cautioning against getting involved with someone who is married.
I never intended to, and really thought I was just starting a friendship, and as the only girl in a family of multiple boys, I never for a moment thought I couldn’t handle it.
Here’s what he said when we first started talking: “I love my wife, I have good friendships with women, but I have definite boundaries and if you cross them I’ll cut you off.”
As someone used to having guy friends, that sounded good to me. It made me feel I was totally safe, like I would be with my gay guy friends.
He told me I could lean on his shoulder with all my worries. I did.
He sends me texts, I send him texts. He has taken care of me in a lot of ways: emotionally . . . Even to a degree financially. I’ve told him things I’d not have told anyone but my closest brother (who died a few years ago). But I gradually found myself depending on this guy more and more over the years.
We live thousands of miles apart and see each other once a year at best, but for more than two years over the phone he has listened to me regularly and has given me good, sound advice and brotherly affection that sometimes seems like more. He has sent me songs—often songs with romantic connotations.
We talk on the phone two or three times a week. He came to my city on vacation last year and I’m going to his this year. And before you ask, no, we’ve never had sex.
Still, at a certain point I realized I was emotionally involved a lot more deeply than I’d intended to be. I know I need to cut it off but I can’t. It’s not just that I feel “in love” with him in the romantic sense.
Worse, I have the kind of love for him I’d have for a really close brother—the kind that makes you want all the good things for them, the kind that would make me grieve as much over losing him as I did over losing my brother when he died — but my feelings go even deeper, in a way I couldn’t feel for a brother.
I don’t want to hurt him, I want all the best things for him. He really is an amazing guy.
What’s wrong with me? Why did I cross the emotional line and how is he able to have this relationship (whatever it is) without crossing lines?
Why do men think it’s okay to have girl “friends” and treat them so well without realizing what they’re actually doing to our heads? How do they not get it? Why did I let myself stay in the pot of water until it gradually boiled?
How do men stay so detached emotionally? Why would he spend so much time on me without feeling anything more than friendship?
Missy, thanks for writing in. It sounds like you have a lot of feelings for this guy, which can be understandable given the amount of emotional investment you’ve made.
However, I’m going to have to warn you: What I’m about to say will not be easy for you to hear.
If you want some other dating coach to just coddle you and help you feel like a victim, that ain’t me, honey.
Yeah, I know, all those other would-be advisors out there would give you some rah-rah speech about “You go girl, he’s just another guy looking to lean on you for his own happiness, he’s using you, etc. etc.”
The fact of the matter is, from what you’ve told me, he’s done everything right so far.
And now you’re angry because YOU developed unrequited feelings of attachment to him?
Sure, he probably should pull back a bit on the contact, as this is energy he should also be funneling into his own relationship, but … whatever. He’s done a ton of awesome things for you.
Look – I get it… you spend that much time opening your heart to someone, you wind up feeling like it’s a real relationship.
But I want to run through the “facts” as I can see them in your message:
– He set clear boundaries at the start, and he’s maintained those healthy boundaries
– He’s been a gentleman himself and never abused those limits physically with you
– He’s been a reliable friend to you
– He’s taken care of you (both emotionally and financially)
– He’s respected his marriage by being faithful
– He’s doing what every woman seems to ask of every “male friend” out there
Now, let me get this straight… You want to pay back this friendship by WANTING him to cheat on his marriage with you?
Remember what they say: careful for what you wish for…you know the rest 😉
Look, Missy – it’s YOU who is trying to take advantage of him in this situation. You jump into a friendship – one that has been awesome for you, by the way – and now you want to blame him for … DOING THE RIGHT THING?
Your message to me even changed in tone from:
“What’s wrong with me?”
“What’s wrong with HIM?”
And even pointing a finger of blame at the entire gender of men for your emotional confusion.
Look, there’s NOTHING wrong with him. But you gotta admit that there’s a saying out there that fits this situation to a “T” – “You can’t HAVE your cake and eat it too…”
By the way – that saying used to confuse me, too. It just means that once you eat that cake, it’s gone. So you no longer really “have” it.
And I get it that you’re going through a series conflicting emotions right now – which is why you resent him for NOT crossing that line TOO.
You probably know in your heart of hearts what I’m going to say next. By the looks of it though, you need to hear it out loud from someone else – so here goes…
You can’t have it both ways!
Just because this guy was an excellent (and I mean excellent) friend to you over the years, doesn’t mean you get to go turn on him and make him the bad guy because he suddenly fulfilled your dreams of the ideal romantic boyfriend.
And who’s to say that this guy would have been anything like this with you if he HAD made you a romantic interest? Maybe this is his way of acting out all the unfulfilled parts of his marriage.
(See, now you have me crucifying the poor guy…!)
Look, I’m not trying to chastise you, but don’t make it HIS fault that you aren’t getting what you want.
Take a moment to look at it from his perspective. He is simply NOT the guy who can give you what you want.
Besides, do you REALLY want him to cross that line? You care for him obviously, and the last thing you want is for him to do something that will wreck his marriage – and his life in general.
Just keep that thought in mind whenever your feelings for him start to swell up from time to time.
Nevertheless, love without the return feeling does suck. Big time.
I know what it’s like to be in that SAME exact situation, trust me. And I understand how hard it is to shake off those feelings when it firmly has you in its vice-like grip.
But there’s a reason you’re leaning on him so hard, isn’t there? And that’s because he’s there.
I’m going to put out some suggestions for you that will help you keep the magic of your friendship – while perhaps also giving you the ability to find your romantic love as well:
– Start by valuing the friendship you have, rather than the romance you DON’T have. It sounds like he’s done a lot for you, and maybe gratitude is the best place to start when reflecting on his feelings for you…
– Maybe this guy is a spiritual replacement for the brother you lost… Perhaps the universe has actually given you a GIFT in the form of this friendship…
– Decrease the amount of time you spend wishing you had a romance with this guy and actually interacting with him. Every minute you spend with him is a minute you could have been spent looking for Mr. Right (SEE: http://www.datingadviceguru.com/soulmates if you want to know more about how to do that)
– INCREASE the time you spend actively seeking out NEW relationships with AVAILABLE men.
I mean, are you dating right now?
Or are you putting things on “hold” while you search your heart and build up more investment in this fantasy relationship? My guess is that it’s the latter.
And you know the worst part? From my own experience, I’ll bet you even feel a twinge like you’re “cheating” on this friend of yours by pursuing other possible romances.
And so you probably let that area of your life fall stagnant. But now is the time to stop making excuses for not moving on with your life.
I know the mental discomfort of confronting the reality that this guy can never be more than your friend. That also means you need to divert your romantic attention towards OTHER guys.
Those are pretty uncomfortable thoughts to deal with, but you KNOW this is the RIGHT thing to do.
So, if you get out there and actively start dating, you’ll discover that this friendship can be treasured once again as just a friendship. This is the ONLY way to get over your feelings for your special friend.
More importantly, you’ll realize there are, indeed, plenty of single, emotionally available fish in the sea.
You asked: “Why do men think it’s okay to have girl “friends” and treat them so well without realizing what they’re actually doing to our heads? How do they not get it?”
Again, let’s drop the “men do bad things to women” rhetoric here.
The reason men think this is because WOMEN THINK THIS TOO. And they do the exact same thing to men!
(Some guys call this getting “Friendzoned”. Personally though, I avoid using this term because it comes off as being entitled since the other person isn’t obligated to reciprocate your romantic feelings. But I digress…)
In fact, I hesitate to say, in my experience both in coaching and in relationships – women do this much more than men do. Mostly because women have less of a problem with keeping healthy boundaries with their “let’s just be friends” guy friends.
This is something we all do. I’m not trying to beat you up over this, but there’s really only so long you can cry over the “relationship that will not be…”
Sometimes romance spoils the best friendships, so let it be what it will be.
So it’s time to get back out there, and leave this man to be a blessing in your life.
Let’s find you the soulmate you want and deserve!
Speaking of which, when you do find an available guy you’re interested in, here’s something to think about…
Did you know that every guy is subconsciously waiting for his woman to give him that secret signal that she’s The One?
Once his partner gives him this all-important telltale sign, it will flip all the right switches in his head that will completely UNLOCK his heart.
This is something most women miss and they end up wasting a perfectly good opportunity. I recently put up a video explaining how this signal works – and HOW to “transmit” this to your man.
Seriously, this one factor alone will break down that wall men typically put up when he’s feeling “confused” or “needs space”. And you know how they LOVE to do this just when things are going well…