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I’ve had romantic feelings for Jacob for a while now, but I have never acted on them or told anyone, fearful of jeopardizing my relationship with my husband. I always just push them deep down and ignore them. I’m not sure if Jacob has the same feelings towards me, but we flirt with each other often. That’s just kind of how our friendship has always been, and our relationship dynamic has never bothered my husband.
I love my husband so dearly and don’t want to hurt him. I’ve always been honest with him, but if I tell him or Jacob about how I feel, I know our friendship will never be the same. I just want these romantic feelings to go away. Help! — Three’s a Crowd
Your friendship with Jacob is never going to be the same, and the faster you accept that, the faster you can get on with figuring out where your marriage stands and where you stand in your marriage. It doesn’t matter how long you and Jacob have been friends or how close your friendship is; your relationship with your husband is — or should be — way more important. Jacob’s existence in your lives is interfering with your marriage. Your husband may not be aware that this is happening, but it is. When you have feelings for someone else, and that someone else is prominent in your lives, that person is interfering with your marriage.
The best thing you can do to save your marriage is to cut Jacob from your life. Your husband will want to know why you no longer want to spend time with him. I think you should tell him the truth. It’s going to come out one way or another anyhow. It’s either going to come out when your marriage implodes because the feelings you have for Jacob grow and grow (and potentially lead to something between you) or you can choose to tell your husband the truth now before a marriage implosion. To be clear: A marriage implosion may still happen, but it won’t be because you lied to your husband or kept a secret from him or let yourself get carried away by your feelings for a friend.
Here’s what you can say to your husband: “Lately, I’ve been developing what I think are more than platonic feelings for Jacob. Absolutely nothing has happened between us and it won’t — I don’t even know what his feelings are for me — but these feelings I have for him are scary and uncomfortable. Because my top priority is you and our marriage, I think the best course of action is for me to cut Jacob out of my life and for you and I to seek marriage counseling.”
I suggest marriage counseling because having intense feelings for another person while you’re in a monogamous relationship is sign #1 that things are amiss in your relationship. I mean, it’s normal to have crushes or be attracted to other people, but to have genuine feelings that threaten your relationship is an indication that there’s something missing in your relationship. If you have an open marriage or an open relationship, this might not be such a problem. But you don’t. And even if you did, it would not be advisable for your secondary partner to be your husband’s best friend!
I suspect this is a case of marrying before you were ready and then feeling a little itchy in your monogamous, committed-for-life marriage. You may discover through counseling that the love you have for your husband isn’t enough to sustain a long-term marriage — that you are more like friends than anything. Or you may learn that he really is your best match and that marriage often requires an effort of continually re-committing as you face numerous distractions throughout your life. One thing is for sure though: The friendships the three of you have shared together are surely changed forever. Trying to hold a grip on what once was is going to keep you from becoming who you’re meant to be, whether that is wife to your husband forever or another iteration of yourself.
My father periodically reaches out to me with superficial and sometimes vague messages. Our phone conversations are typically one- to two-minute exchanges, with empty promises, and then we don’t speak again for months. I attempted to develop a deeper relationship with him. I have even expressed how I feel, but all of our interactions leave me feeling like he is only trying to clear his conscience but has no real interest in getting to know me as a person.
I am ready to cut him off for good. I need to protect my peace. I’ve made great progress over the years; yet, every time he breaks a promise, quickly shoo’s me off the phone, or just disappears, I’m left having to repair the broken pieces within myself. Yes, family is important to me, and some of my close relatives tell me I should not cut my father out of my life. I get their point, but at some point I must take control of my healing. Would I be wrong to cut him off? — Daddy Issues
Nope, not at all. If you were able to have a very casual relationship with your dad through brief, mostly superficial interactions, then it would be fine to continue doing so. But you crave more meaningful relationships in your life, particularly from a father-figure, and when the relationship falls so far below what you crave, even if you have come to expect a certain superficial level of interaction, it upsets you. More than that, it sets you back, forcing you to re-repair broken pieces within yourself. No thanks. What’s the point in that? There isn’t one. Cut him out and tell family members who argue that they’re wrong, that this is your life, and that you don’t have room or energy or interest for a relationship that creates an emotional deficit you have to work to fill on your own.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.