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My crush is in an open relationship

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  February 16, 2011 08:21 AM

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Q:I enjoy reading your column every day and think that you and your readers could give appropriate guidance about the following situation:

A few months back, I began to realize that I was falling in love with a woman I have known for some time but never got to know well. Being a hopeless romantic, I penned a letter to her stating that I had come to cherish our time/conversation and that I didn't know where our relationship was headed, but that I was so blessed to have her in my life.

She did not respond directly to the letter, though at other points she had told me that I was "endearing in every way" and made me blush (inside and out, I imagine) with other generous (albeit exaggerated) compliments.

Over the following months, we texted every night before we go to bed, hung out after work, talked intimately about life, and generally appeared to be engaged in the process of falling in love as I have come to know it -- the breaking down of barriers and the full sharing of oneself with another.

Yesterday, after playing board games at a local cafe for a few hours after work, she invited me to her apartment. I accepted, not thinking/expecting that anything physical would occur, but with heart aflutter that this was yet another sign of a desire for romance.

After looking at photos/artwork on her bed, I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I had fallen hard for her. She seemed excited to hear this first-hand, but also cautious, because, as it turns out, she is in an open relationship.

Such relationships are not for me (though I certainly do not begrudge others for engaging in them), but I now find myself between a rock and a hard place with two emotions/thoughts: (1) A wish that she had told me about her status earlier so that I could try to emotionally reorient myself (though I admit that I probably could not have stopped falling for her), and, connected with #1, (2) A concern that our relationship, somewhat paradoxically, cannot continue because we are so close, but cannot take the next step.

Should she have said something earlier? Exclusivity isn't important to her but was it reasonable to assume it wouldn't be for me? Do I try to slowly move away from the intimate communications we've been having, so as to create distance while not being reactive?

Thanks for your thoughts and your column

– Befuddled, NYC via Cambridge


A:Yeah, she should have said something about the fact that she was in a relationship, Befuddled. She wasn't considering your feelings. She wasn't treating you well. To be blunt, she was lying.

If you date her, you want to be the only one dating her. It's either you and only you -- or nothing at all. Yes, people are allowed to date more than one person at a time when they're on the hunt for a relationship, but she has already developed real intimacy with you. It's not like you'd be starting your relationship from scratch.

I'm befuddled, too. Tell her how you feel -- including the fact that you're irritated about her lack of honesty. If she can't make you feel safe in a romantic relationship that meets your standards, you're allowed to walk away thoroughly disappointed.

The lesson here is to ask questions. "Do you have a boyfriend?" "Are we falling for each other?" "What do these board games mean to you?" Ask these things sooner than later. You're entitled to answers.

Readers? Should she have disclosed her status? Even if she ends her open relationship, can she be trusted? What happened here? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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