I’m still in love with my best friend. I say, still, because yes, I’ve already told her how I felt. I was drunk one night at a bar during my birthday and she had been dating this other girl and it wasn’t working out. And that’s when I told her that if I didn’t know any better I would totally go for her. Which was probably not the best way to come out with the truth, but that’s what happened.
Anyhow, she told me she didn’t want to lose me as a friend and that she was traumatized because this had happened to her before. She didn’t want to hurt my feelings because she didn’t feel the same way as I did.
And the truth was, I didn’t want to lose her, either. So, I agreed to try to work it out with myself and, well, the thing is, I’m also married. It seemed on the surface that I just had a crush and was obviously in a bad place in my own marriage. And that I was questioning my sexuality for the first time, and that was probably a lot for both of us to handle.
Eventually, she broke up with the girl and we remained closer than ever. It’s been about six months since I’ve told her how I felt and I still feel the same way. I figured our friendship was better than nothing. She hadn’t dated anyone else and we see each other all the time, dinners, movies, as complete best friends. And I wait and cherish all of those times that she reaches over and we hold hands. Or, that every time we say goodbye, we hug and I text her back to let her know I’ve gotten home safe. I’ve gotten used to being reticent and I’ve learned to be cautious since I’ve told her how I felt. Even when she tells me that she’s so happy to see me, I try not to let it get to me.
Anyhow, she told me last week that she met someone that she really connected with. I got jealous. It dawned on me that I was completely delusional and a hopeless romantic. I vowed to end our friendship or to put it on the brakes. So, I stopped calling her and texting her for about a week and then, she tells me that she misses me and loves me. We both know we care about each other and love each other as friends. But, how do you break up with your best friend that you’re in love with? Because you know it’s the right thing to do?
Anna says: Lady! You don’t “care about each other and love each other as friends.” She does. You’ve got a big ol’ heart-rending trunk of desire and romance and sparkles, and a little bit of friendship too.
Normally I’d say to ride it out, since most crushes tend to wane as time goes on, but you’ve been trying that for six months and are still in love with your friend. So, I’m afraid you’ll have to be more deliberate now. I don’t think you have to cut her out of your life or anything that drastic, but I do think you need to spend some time apart, with clear boundaries, and probably another mildly painful conversation about it. (Just a little awkwardness!) You can’t just disappear this time and hope she doesn’t text you lovey things about missing you—so lesbian. You need to sit her down and tell her, “Hey, those feelings I told you about six months ago? Yeah, they are still there and I need to take some time and space to get back to a purely platonic thing with you because your friendship is important to me and I don’t want to lose that.” Then take a friend moratorium. Try it for 30 days—no contact—and see how you feel at the end of it. If you’re feelin’ groovy, then slowly work your way back into friend mode, but avoid any overt displays of coupleness—like hand-holding, super flirty texts, etc. If you’re not feeling groovy, then take more time. Another 30 days? 60? It will vary from person to person, but the important thing is that you allow yourself the distance to get over her. Which you will!
Also, not to be a drag or anything, but what does your husband think about all this? If you haven’t mentioned it, I would do so asap. For two reasons: One, it will help defuse the crush situation, and two, if you’re interested in exploring your sexuality, which it seems like you are, you should run that by your life partner! He might be down with it, or with the three of you exploring together. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but sneaking around and lying and harboring Big Feelings for someone we can’t have only exacerbates those feelings, and usually not in a good way.
For more on moratoriums, will-power, and friend crushes, read these previous columns:
You’ve got this! Now you just have to make it stick and get back on the friendly track.