Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Q & A: "falling in love with your boyfriend's best friend"

Q: I've come back into the dating arena after 5 years. I tried online dating. I met a guy online and we emailed for a month. We just recently met. I wasn't looking at him at the time with huge expectations, just a nice email pal. After we first met, I was thrown. We connected immediately and were instantly comfortable. Neither of us had any airs to impress. We were just ourselves. And it was great. We talked forever that first night, and the kiss goodnight was just as incredible.

We've met up a few more times since then, but he is rebounding from a recent breakup. I know that whatever connection he feels with me is holding him back from experiencing any new feelings for me. I feel myself holding back too. I know I want to get to know him, because I genuinely like who is he and how he makes me feel when we're together. My problem is I I have a problem? I read some of your other articles/letters to folks and you said to take it slow and get to know each other. Well, the sexual chemistry has taken over too and we've had sex. It too gets better each time. It's like we're learning about each other more and more, and it makes the "relationship" better.

I just don't know if he really wants to get to know me and see where it will go, or if I'm just a friend he can casually have sex with while he figures out if he wants to get back with his ex-girlfriend or not. He does call me everyday, even if he can't talk long or can't go out, if that helps figure him out. I could bring this up and talk to him about it, but I'm afraid to rock the boat with heavy-duty paranoia conversations. Do you think this can be a long-term relationship, or should I get out now before I get hurt? --Rebound or Ready?

Dear Rebound or Ready,
I know you've been out of the dating trenches for five years, but no, you don't have a problem. All singles have a problem with dating, so welcome to the club. I can appreciate your fears about getting hurt and your desire to protect your heart, but I'm not a fortune-teller, so I don't know if this will be a long-term relationship. But I can tell you this. One way to improve the chances of your relationship working out is to build a strong foundation based on friendship and emotional intimacy. It's fabulous that you've got great chemistry, but then there's always great passion during the honeymoon phase. What happens when the honeymoon is over? If you've only got great sex going for you, and you haven't built a friendship and developed some level of emotional intimacy, then you don't have the glue to make this a lasting relationship.'

Take the time now to get to know each other. I know that passion overcame both of you and "forced" you two to have sex and great sex at that. (I've been there myself…on more than one occasion.) Sex at the beginning doesn't make a relationship better; it usually just makes the relationship. If you want this relationship to succeed, take a step back, put the sex on hold and get to know each other's mind and soul. Then create a union of your bodies. It will be a much richer and deeper experience.

He sounds like a great guy but he is coming off of a break-up. Just store that information. But let's see what you know about him. He's attentive, honest about his feelings and his recent break-up, and he has great taste in women – you. Has he intimated that he may want to get back with his ex or is that your own insecurities coming up?

Do not, I repeat, do not have a heavy conversation. Instead be open and vulnerable about how you feel. Tell him the kind of bond sex creates for you. Remember, that women bond with their bodies. So once we've slept with a guy we're hooked. Guys bond with their cars, dogs, and sports. They only bond with a woman once they have made a conscious choice to commit to her. So sex right now has different meanings for both of you. Tell him that you want to take the sex out of the equation, (at least until you've built some emotional intimacy) so both of you can be on the same page.

If he's the kind of guy I think he might be, he'll understand and respect your feelings. Plus you'll have put some points in the emotional intimacy bank. If he doesn't, then he's not the man for you, and you don't want him. Welcome back to the dating trenches. Take a deep breath, keep your heart open and keep your sense of humor. You're going to need it.

Q: I just broke up with my ex of 9 months, then I found out she has a disease. In a way I feel it's necessary to be with her through the recovery plus I still love her, but our maturity differences are way too much. Plus, I just met a very nice girl that is much more mature and intelligent, and very attractive. We kind of had something going at a party about a week ago but I didn't think much of it. I come to find out she's very interested in me and is considering a relationship. She lives about 50 miles away from me. What do I do? Drop the ex for good and pursue the new girl? Keep the ex and drop the new girl? or drop both of them?-- So Confused

Dear So Confused,
Right now your ex could use a good, true friend to help her through these tough times. Check in with yourself, can you be a "friend" without leading her on? First and foremost, you don't want to hurt her if she still has feelings for you. And you also don't want to give her false hope that you're getting back together, because you're not. But you do want to be there for her.

If you know that pursuing the other girl will upset your ex, don't do it right now. If you're really interested in her, tell you'd like to see her but right now, as you need to be there for you ex. She'll respect you for your compassion and sensitivity

Q: I met this guy online. We emailed for a couple of weeks. He sounded pretty interesting, so I called him. He directed me to his website that was filled with lots of pictures of himself. The problem was that the first picture he sent me, didn't look like the ones on his website. Call me shallow, but I never would have contacted him if he had sent me those real pictures. What a weirdo. He started telling me about a woman he met online who came to visit him, but was into bondage. I'm tired of losers online. How do you separate the men from the losers? -- No More Losers Online

Dear Disillusioned about Internet Dating,
First of all, not everyone is a loser online. There are some really great men out there, but, there are some weird ones dysfunctioning at the keyboard. You just happened to connect with one of those. But don't give up. Just chalk it up to a bad experience and scrutinize more carefully the next personal ads and emails you receive. Mr. Right is definitely out there.

As for red flags, see Love Online. But here are some of the obvious ones:

Anyone who seems real aggressive or needy, probably is. You don't want a desperado.

If the email you're reading is boring, 'then theres a good chance that the author is too.

Suggestive language or lewd comments are definite no-nos.

Something is "not kosher" if a man only gives you a cell phone number or wants to call you. He's hiding something.

A picture is worth a thousand words. If there's no picture attached to his personal ad or he refuses to send you one, then you have to ask yourself why. I'd be a little suspicious.

You receive multiple emails and e-cards from him everyday. Watch it, he probably doesn't have a life.

Look for any inconsistencies between his personal ad, his email to you and your telephone conversation. Be aware but don't be suspicious. But do trust your gut. If an email doesn't feel right, send him an email saying thanks but no thanks. If a telephone call gets weird, just tell him it was nice talking to him, but there's not enough interest and you have to go…now.

Q: I started dating a guy about a month ago. The other night on the phone he asked what I want out of "what's happening between us." I stated that all things take time and in time I will realize if we have something more than friendship or if something more than friendship is possible. He said that he couldn't see himself getting into a serious, long-term relationship with anyone. I asked him why. After telling him that I liked things as they are between us, he kept reiterating his position. He explained that he did not want me to get my expectations up and then be let down. I told him that I did not have any expectations of what could happen between us. I just wanted to take the time to get to know each other and see where (if anywhere) it goes. I did a little test.

I made myself completely unavailable to him for one week. After that week I called and left a message while he was at work to just see how his weekend was and say hi. That was my entire message. He called back within 30 minutes and left a message for me to call him as soon as I got home from work. I called and talked about my weekend and asked about his. Oh, we live in two separate cities that are only an hour away. I kept the conversation short and told him that I needed to get some things done. It was almost as though he felt I was blowing him off. He wanted to keep talking and if I had any plans to come to his city this weekend.. He made sure to tell me several times that he would call me later this week to see what my plans were. I guess my question is simple. What am I supposed to think of the things he said? And then how things changed when I make myself unavailable to him? -- DJ

Dear DJ,
Me thinks he doth protest too much! He's just scared, for whatever reason, about getting involved, and he's letting you know that. Listen to his words, but pay more attention to his actions. Many men like the hunt. You've created a challenge for him by making yourself unavailable. You're doing the courting dance of the pursuer and the pursued. You're doing great because you're being authentic. You're not playing a game or being manipulative. You're interested and interesting but not needy and you're being alluring but genuine. Your self confidence and appreciation of you for you makes you that much more attractive. Keep up the good work.

Q: I just broke up with my boyfriend two weeks ago. At the time I thought it was the right thing to do. We had been together for almost 11 months, but the last three months had been affected by my insecurity. You see, I was, and still am, insecure of my feelings towards him. This was my first proper relationship, and it became serious a bit too sudden for me. He has always said that he loves me, but I'm not sure if I ever have loved him, though I care for him deeply. I don't really have the right to complain, he's wonderful in every way; intelligent, good-looking and he has always treated me very well. But, as I found out when I got to know his friend, there was something missing between us...

His friend eventually became my best friend as well. We connect in such a special way, it's as if we're soul mates. We're on the exact same level, have lots of things in common, we want the exact same things out of our lives, people would say we're perfect for each other, personality-wise... And after a long period of tension between us, we eventually both fell in love. He feels a bit stronger for me than I do for him, actually he tells me he loves me, but I just feel the excitement of being in love, something which I haven't felt for a long time. I broke up with my boyfriend mainly because I was tired of being torn between the two of them, I couldn't choose, and I just felt it wasn't fair to my boyfriend to be with him as long as I felt something for his friend as well. I had a terrible conscience, and I still do. I didn't break up because I was sure that I wanted to be with his friend more than I wanted to be with him - I wasn't sure. And I'm still not.

Right now I don't know what to do. I don't know if it was the right thing for me to break up, my ex-boyfriend has a lot of great qualities, and I miss him like hell. My options are now to go back to my boyfriend, stay alone or get together with his friend. All of these things means I'm either going to lose one of them or both of them forever. Besides, I don't know if I ever can get together with my boyfriend's friend, it would hurt him too much. Please tell me what you think I should do, how you think I should handle this, I'm so miserable. --Ann

Dear Ann,
You're just little miss popularity. You were right to break up with your boyfriend when you realized that "something" was missing. It wasn't fair to him. And I can understand your falling in love with your boyfriend's best friend. Sometimes things just happen. But going around breaking hearts and not taking responsibility, now that's not very nice. Does the ex-boyfriend know about you and his friend?

This is how I see it. First you're not sure about your boyfriend because you feel this connection to his friend. Then the boyfriend's friend expresses his love for you and all of a sudden you back off. Now you don't know which one to choose, but you're keeping them both on a string until you make up your mind. Meanwhile, what about these guys? They do have emotions and feelings. Have you even thought about them? Have you considered that you may drive a wedge between their friendship?

I know you're new to dating and being in the trenches is really hard. There are no easy answers, but there is the right thing to do. Be honest with yourself and with them. Don't play one against the other. Think how you would feel if your boyfriend started seeing your best girlfriend and strung you both along. It would hurt, wouldn't it?

Be responsible. Decide. If you can't decide, then neither one is the right one. In any event, as hard as this is, you need to be totally honest with both of them. This is where character, integrity, and values come into play. But you can handle it. I know you're miserable little miss heartbreaker, but this is a very valuable lesson. I think, not intentionally of course, that you're going to break a few more hearts before you attract ‘the one."

Q: Recently I met a guy online that lives fairly close to me. We decided to meet. He's the sweetest guy but he's not really all that cute. He has the potential to be a real hottie, but I guess he just never had anyone to help him. And I want to make him cute, but I don't know how to go about doing that without hurting his feelings. What should I do? I really want to date him but I need to be attracted to him first in order to develop a relationship. Help! Should I tell him or just casually try and do my thing? -- Attracted But

Dear Attracted But,
Clothes don't make the man. As I said in this week's column, you can change the wrapper but it's what inside that counts. If he's really a sweet guy, don't pass him up. You can always teach him how to dress later once you're in a relationship. But you can't teach a guy how to be a great guy. Got the message?

Most guys will tell you that they learned how to dress from their girlfriends and wives. But remember, a guy's ego is really fragile. You need to build him up first and then you can make the necessary adjustments by working your girl magic.

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