Dear Amy: For several years I had a best friend, “Steve,” with whom I had quite a tumultuous relationship.
Although he claimed to be straight and I am gay, it ultimately transitioned into a sexual relationship quite unexpectedly, leading him to break up with his girlfriend. A few months later, my friend skipped town to try to sort out his conflicting feelings.
Overnight, he was never heard from again — by me or other friends. He really did disappear, having told me that his sexual feelings and his behaviors were things he needed to sort through.
Cut to 13 years later — I’m in a good, stable relationship with “Danny.” We really love each other but don’t have a satisfying sexual relationship.
Now, out of the blue Steve called me to say he is moving back. He said he’d love to see me and “get our friendship back on track” and get together with his girlfriend and my partner.
I acknowledge fully (and have worked through with therapists) that when Steve added sex to our relationship, I developed emotional feelings for him. But that was a long time ago.
My current partner knows all of this. I’d like to see Steve separately, to know why things happened the way they did. I know that by rehashing the past I’m potentially opening old wounds. I’m also sending a signal to my partner that someone from my past matters as much as he does.
Am I doing something wrong by seeing Steve when he’s in town? Am I cheating? Should I allow myself to explore the wounds that were left in an effort to understand myself more?
Dear Confused: If you’ve worked this through with therapists and worked this out with your partner, I’m left wondering what, exactly, you hope to work out with “Steve,” and how much work is required before you are finally free of this relationship.
It is not cheating to see a friend separately from your partner, but it is wrong to see someone with this sort of sexually charged shared history without your partner knowing about it. I agree with you that this is risky.
A phone conversation might be best.