Q: I am a divorced woman in my early 30s. I am of the mindset that you can fall in love several times, especially when the right person comes around. For the last three years, I've had an increasingly friendly relationship with a coworker who is married.
Because of the nature of our work, we have spent many hours together in social settings. In the last year, our relationship became closer, as we would text, email, and discuss everyday minutia and work. We would also find ourselves running errands or doing activities together that we both enjoy.
Eventually, our relationship changed. He confided in me that his life at home was not good and that he had feelings for me. At this point I backed off and told him that he should concentrate on his life and work things out at home. I always had feelings for him, but I knew that he was married and that I had to keep those feelings to myself.
That lasted a very short time. I felt such a connection to him and it was difficult to go back to that "he's not available" mindset knowing that he had feelings for me. At that point it seemed like things intensified. Before we knew it, we were right back in an inappropriate relationship. After some time, I again tried to stop communication with him, but because of work, would still end up around him where he would say things that would lead me to believe that he wasn't sure what was going on with his relationship.
I know that he is married, I know that he isn't going to leave his wife, but there is a part of me that can't let go of the connection we have. If he were single, this would be an amazing relationship. I've been miserable not being able to talk with him and so we recently met to digest everything that has happened over the last months and mutually decided that we could remain friends, but without the constant contact we had been having. He also made it very clear that his relationship with his wife is still undecided. My question is, is it morally wrong for me to remain friends with him? Or should I just do the strong woman thing and move on and forget?
It isn't easy for me to find meaningful relationships. My struggle is that I know deep down inside that I may be keeping him close just in case ... just in case he does leave his wife or just in case it makes it easier for him to leave his wife. I don't want to be a homewrecker, but I also don't want to lose a very meaningful relationship in my life either. I know that the rational thing to do is to stop all communication with him and move on, but my heart is telling me otherwise.
– Knows the Right Thing to Do but Hopeful, NYC
A: It's probably morally wrong to continue a friendship with him, but that's not why I want you to cut him off. I want you to cut him off because this is a bad friendship for you. It's one big tease. It involves too much effort and too much hope, and I'm not convinced that either of you are capable of setting real boundaries.
I know it's frustrating. You finally got to know someone you like, fell for him, found out that he reciprocated those feelings … and there's nothing you can do about it. But it is what it is. He's married and you're a single person who has to take care of herself. This is one of those awful situations where you have to ignore your heart and let your brain to do the talking.
I recommend minimizing him as much as you possibly can. You don't have to give him a dramatic speech about cutting him off. Just ban yourself from texts and calls. Make plans with real friends who can keep you busy. Try to develop a crush -- even if it's on a celebrity. Start training your brain to think about someone else's face when you start to daydream.
Every time you second guess yourself, write down the facts. "He is married." "He has a wife." Reality lists always help.
And remember, you're only in your early 30s. You've already had two meaningful relationships -- the one with your ex, and the one with this guy. There will be others, and you have plenty of time to find them.
Readers? Is she allowed to be his friend? What should happen here? Will this guy leave his wife? Does it matter? Is her age relevant? Discuss.
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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.