Dear Carolyn: I have a male best friend who I have (or had) an incredibly deep and really beautiful relationship with. This sounds very sappy, so you will have to believe me when I say it’s not my normal look.
Along with that, however, come really deep romantic feelings on both sides. He was married when we first became friends and although we acknowledged the feelings, we never crossed any lines. I encouraged him to do what he could to save his marriage and we kept a pretty safe distance.
When his marriage finally dissolved, our feelings intensified, but then he suddenly threw himself into the quickest rebound relationship of all time with admittedly a very interesting and kind person. She moved in with him and they ultimately moved closer to me, which meant he and I started spending even more time together.
And while we again never acted on our feelings, they became more and more obvious. We eventually talked about it, and while he realized he shouldn’t have gotten into this relationship so quickly and wasn’t that happy, he felt like he made a commitment and needed to make it work.
I didn’t want to carry on an emotional affair or spend my time pining for somebody, so I cut off all contact with him.
Eleven months later, I’ve never really missed anybody this much before. I think my biggest regret is that I feel like I didn’t fight hard enough for him. Is it wrong to reach out again to test the waters even though I know they are still together?
My biggest regret on your behalf is that you didn’t call bull on his “I feel like I made a commitment and I need to make it work” rationale the moment he slung it.
Think about it. Either: He really loves you, in which case his decision to tough it out with someone he doesn’t love is just thoughtless on all fronts? He left a marriage but can’t leave an unvowed coupling? Please.
Or: He really loves her, wants her more than he wants you, but doesn’t have the fortitude to say that to you outright.
Or: He doesn’t have a preference, you or the new woman or someone else to be named later, he just likes to be ensconced and the nest he was in was comfy enough not to want to upend it.
Someone who can’t own his feelings sounds destined to make you miserable one way or another. I’m sorry. If it’ll ease your mind to “test the waters,” then do it, but I don’t see any happiness for you here – not if he hedges again.
No doubt it hurts badly to have a him-shaped hole where your friendship used to be, but I don’t think seeing him as the true love who got away is a realistic branch with which to flog yourself. Besides: Don’t you deserve an unequivocal yes?
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