Q: I've been friends with "Matt" for about seven years. From day one I felt instantly connected to him. During our first conversation we realized we had one very important thing in common -- surviving the same illness.
Initially, we met, exchanged emails, and hung out a couple times. I started to think, "Hey, this has the potential to go somewhere." And then I met his WIFE and KIDS. So I threw on the emergency brake. I no longer was in the pursuing mode and quickly retreated into friend zone. Only there was one big problem. I had already fallen head over heels for this guy.
Over some time, I tried distancing myself from him and was even in a relationship for a couple of years, but fate (our mutual love for sports) brought us back together ... as friends. The friendship was great. I enjoyed having him in my life. He made me feel completely at ease. Completely myself. Completely safe. Completely happy. We’ve been like that for years.
Which brings us to the present. "Matt" is fighting with his wife all the time. He is not happy. He talks about leaving her because he truly thinks the environment is unhealthy for him. He comes to me to release his frustrations and sit peacefully, watching the game, without any nagging interruptions. Meanwhile, his wife does consider me a friend.
I know that I should not offer much advice to him because my opinion is biased. I know that I should just let him talk and get it out, and just be there for him as a friend. But I'm conflicted. I think there's a possibility that I could love this man -- and have loved him for many years. Because of this, any opinion I could offer would have an ulterior motive.
In any other situation with any other guy, I have always told them how I felt. If the feelings weren't shared, I moved on. Simple. I want to do that now. I want to know if I should just move on. I don't know that I would be able to be with someone else completely until I know if "Matt" and I had a chance. I also know that I can't or shouldn't get involved because he's married. So, in the meantime, I just wait ... and hope ... and pray that the stars align and he somehow gets magic mind reading abilities to hear what is going on in my mind and in my heart.
What should I do? Do I tell him how I feel? Do I just be his friend forever and enjoy what we have (always wondering "what if")? I'm barely surviving over here ...
– Barely Surviving, Great Lakes
A: You have to tell him, BS. Otherwise, you might wind up watching TV with him for years.
He's your friend, so when you talk to him, you can give him the entire story. You can tell him that you've had feelings for him for a long time but that you were able to control them. Now that he's mentioning marital problems, your head is a mess. You don't feel comfortable giving him advice. You don't feel comfortable being his sounding board. You're sitting on the couch next to him with your fingers crossed. It doesn't feel good.
No matter what happens, you are not allowed to get physical with him while he's married. If you tell him how you feel and he leans in for a meaningful kiss, you must push him away. And you must set boundaries. Maybe you should only be seeing each other in a group. Maybe (probably), during this marital turbulence, you shouldn't be seeing him at all. Maybe you won't want to see him anymore after you hear his response to your feelings.
After you force the issue, you have to get your brain open to the idea of dating other people. Matt might give you a big "maybe someday" speech, but that's not good enough. You can't spend your nights watching him watch games.
You say that he makes you feel completely safe and happy. But how safe and happy can you be if you signed this letter "Barely Surviving"?
Readers? Any chance she'll wind up with this guy? Should she wind up with him? Should she stay silent and simply cut him off so that she doesn't get involved or tempt him? Should she confess her feelings? Help.
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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.