She Never Left Her Husband

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Hi Meredith,

I am a single divorced man. My best friend “Roxy” helped me see the light and support me through the divorce process. For many years now we have had a relationship that goes well beyond friendship. We love each other deeply. The problem is that she is married. She and her husband have done counseling together and individually to make their relationship work, but nothing ever changes. She has said repeatedly that neither of their hearts are in it. She describes him as her “roommate.”

We have both expressed, countless times, that we want to be with each other. Last year I told her that I could no longer keep this up, and that in one year I would be moving on if things didn’t change for us, meaning that she start the divorce process. At the very end of the year she told her “roommate” that she didn’t have anything left to give and wanted a divorce. They told their immediate family the news. I was elated.

Then, only a few weeks later, she took it all back. She says she got scared and everything started to get real. Now she’s in the same cycle she’s been in for years: being unhappy and unfulfilled in a “disaster of a relationship,” as her counselor put it. I am devastated for me and for her. I told her I can’t be in her life and on that roller coaster anymore. So, not only have I lost the love of my life, but also my best friend. Since the devastation, she is still saying that I make her happy, she thinks about me all the time, and she wants me in her life. There’s always some little nugget from her that I construe as hope. I feel like I have been strung along for a long time and it is continuing. For example, previous to her backtracking, we had planned a getaway in July. Even as recently as a couple weeks ago when we spoke, I brought up how sad it was that we wouldn’t be doing that together and she said, “July is still pretty far away.” What?

This whole situation has been overwhelming for me, especially after having almost made it to the finish line together. Most recently, I have cut off all contact with her which is extremely hard. How do I REALLY move on and stop hoping that we’ll be together? I know we would have been perfect together. But now I feel like I’m wasting my time hoping when there is no real hope left.

– Lost, confused, hurt, but still in love


“I know we would have been perfect together.”

Maybe. You know she was a wonderful friend and more. But you also learned she had trouble making difficult decisions and following through. That’s not great partner behavior. You have no idea how this might have played out if she was with you, all the time, for a long time.

I am so proud of you for having the courage to cut contact. I know it’s awful and feels like a gigantic loss – because it is. Please know that this part is supposed to hurt and that you’ll feel all the stages of grief. The “anger” phase might be helpful when you get there, even in moments, because it allows you to acknowledge how much she didn’t offer. A soul-mate-type person doesn’t behave this way.

Roxy was the person who was around when your life changed. She was a confidant, so she already knew everything when it was time for love. Sometimes I think we’re all lazy romantics – that we like friends-to-lovers stories or similar tales for ourselves because it means that when a relationship starts, the hard work of getting to know a person is already done.

Meeting someone new would be a wonderful challenge and no less romantic. Finding someone available – who has the courage to take next steps – might give you the chance to bond with someone who understands where you’ve been. Also, I think a single person would be pretty free to travel. Imagine the romance you could have with someone who isn’t on pause.

Roxy isn’t your soul mate, your savior, or your best friend. She’s a person who’s played an important role in your life, and that will always be true. She helped you get free to do wonderful things. Don’t miss out on them. There is so much hope here – for more.

– Meredith

Readers? How does one get over this?

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