I may be in love with my friend. He may be in love with me. At the very least, we love each other’s company- we see each other every day, talk on the phone at least two or three times a day, and miss each other when we have to say goodbye. There’s a high degree of sexual tension that quickly manifested in our friendship, which we tried to control by talking honestly to one another about it and why it can’t come to fruition. Why, you ask? Because he’s in a serious monogamous relationship with a kind, beautiful, loving woman that I also consider a friend.
At first we tried to brush off the mutual attraction as natural – he’s incredibly good-looking, and seems to think the same of me. Whether it’s natural or not, there were nights when it seemed unbearable not to touch, so we decided we should spend time apart. But attempting to stay apart only amplified how much we’d come to rely on each other. We’d only get so far as four or five hours into the day before one of us called the other. Then we tried to limit our time together to include his girlfriend as well. Horrifyingly, her presence didn’t dispel the tension; it just made me feel guiltier. We’ve never kissed, we’ve never crossed a physical boundary, but something is happening.
He’s not going to leave her, at least not right now, nor would I ask him to. As strongly as I may feel about him, I recognize that they have a chance of working out as a couple, and they do genuinely love each other. We’re not going to have an affair, as it would only end badly for everyone. We’re probably not going to stop seeing one another. We’ve tried for the last two months and can’t seem to make that happen. We are trying very, very hard to keep things platonic. It shouldn’t be this hard.
If we’d met at a different time we’d probably be lovers. My friend is brilliant (but never condescending), kind, generous, talented, passionate, interesting, charming, funny, and warm. We spend hours talking – hours, every day, and there’s never a lapse in interest. We’re never bored. We can’t stop smiling around each other. We really really like each other.
Our friendship means everything to me (and him), and is not going to survive if we don’t find a way to curtail the lust that only seems to grow stronger. Lust or love, or both? What do I do, Sugar? I love him. I respect and admire his girlfriend, and I want to do right by everyone. More than anything else, I want us to stay friends, so why doesn’t that seem to be working?
Dear “The Friend,”
It doesn’t seem to be working because you aren’t really friends with this man. You’re having a sexually repressed mildly deceitful romantic relationship with him. You’re dry dating and this particular version of dry dating sucks and will continue to suck until:
a) your friend breaks up with his girlfriend so the two of you can explore your feelings for each other without being lying jackasses or
b) the two of you embrace the fact that we are all lying jackasses sometimes and you have an affair that includes sex and not just the emotional affair you are so obviously having so that you can see if this “tension” between you has a life beyond the don’t touch/don’t tell policy you’ve so achingly adopted or
c) you break off your relationship with your friend because you are falling in love with him and he is unavailable.
A is out because you have no control over whether your friend will break up with his girlfriend.
B is out because you’ve already established (wisely) that you don’t want to be a lying jackass (fun as that may be for a while).
But C is all yours, mi amiga. And from Sugar’s candy sweet vantage point it is so very crystal clear that it’s what you need to do.
C is not fun. At first glance, parting ways with your seriously cool, smoking hot, but oh-so-very-attached wonder boy seems like the worst idea of all. But trust me when I say that it’s the only route to get what you believe you want. Which is him. But it’s all of him. Not him on the sly. Not him as a “friend” you want to sleep with but can’t (and don’t and won’t).
To get what you want in a romantic relationship you must say what you want. Shall we say it together? You want your friend to be free to fall in love with you for real if you are really going to fall in love. This tortured, half-ass, over-heated game of faux friendship footsie the two of you are playing simply won’t do.
Maybe your decision to cut your friend loose will make it clear to him that he wants to explore what’s possible with you and he’ll do what needs to be done in his own life so you can. Maybe it will make it clear to him that losing a woman he loves in order to openly explore what’s possible with you is too high of a price to pay. Either way, dear Friend, you win.
I’ve been playing music (guitar and bass) since I was 11 years old. I’ve been in the same band since I was 20. I’m now 26 and still living in the same town, still playing the same gigs. I love my band. It’s a part of who I am. And we’ve released an album that I’m proud of (self-produced, but the local kids love it). Still, I wonder what would happen if I left. I want to see other parts of the country. Move around. Explore before I have a family to take care of. But then again, my band is my family, and I feel I shouldn’t abandon them. We’re never going to make it big, and that’s fine. But am I selfish if I decide to leave?
Considering Going Solo
Go! Go! Go! You need it one more time, darlin? GO.
Really. Truly. As soon as you can. Of this I am absolutely sure: Do not reach the era of child-rearing and real jobs with a guitar case full of crushing regret for all the things you wished you’d done in your youth. Sugar knows too many people who didn’t do those things. They all end up mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions of the people they intended to be.
It’s hard to go. It’s scary and lonely and your band-mates will have a fit and half the time you’ll be wondering why the hell you’re in Cincinnati or Austin or North Dakota or Mongolia or wherever your melodious little finger-plucking heinie takes you. There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days, freaked out nights and metaphorical flat tires.
But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful, Solo. It will open up your life.