Dear Jo: Feelings for a Friend
Columns represent the views of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Tennessee Journalist
I have feelings for a guy who has been in a relationship with someone else for a long time. However, I hangout with him a lot and sometimes think deep down he may feel the same way about me. We would consider each other pretty close friends. Whenever I see this guy and his girlfriend together, their relationship doesn’t make sense. It’s almost like it’s stagnant. Should I tell this guy how I feel? Should you ever tell someone you have feelings for him/her when that person is in a relationship?
Feelings for a Friend
Dear Feelings for a Friend,
First, I want to start this letter by saying– I have been there. And I start my letter this way because the advice I have to give is not what you want to hear.
I know what you want to hear: “it’s a classic romantic comedy set-up where you’re in love with your best friend and the only thing keeping you apart is that they’re dating someone else.” But that’s just not the reality of the situation you’re in, love.
The reality is this: you have a friend with a serious long-term girlfriend, and you can’t decide if it’s worth potentially ruining his relationship with her and your relationship with each other, to pursue a fantasy you have of the two of you.
Feelings may be emotions we cannot control, but we can choose what we do about them. You have chosen to continue to spend large quantities of time with someone you fantasize about being with, despite them being clearly involved with someone else. More than that, you think you know what their relationship is like based on what you see and, thus, are justified in your potential actions.
This is not a romantic comedy. In reality, you two are friends before you are anything else. As his friend, it’s selfish to drop a grenade like that into a situation you actually know little to nothing about. As his friend, the loving and caring way to handle this would be to distance yourself; let him work out his relationship.
Something tells me this isn’t the first time you’ve chased after someone who’s unavailable – someone who you spend more time fantasizing about being with than living the reality of being with. And at the end of the day, your feelings are not his responsibility, but your own.
Feelings for a friend, I know I’ve been harsh. But it’s because I know what it’s like to continually chase after a fantasy of someone because you’re terrified of being seen for who you are. You’re terrified of someone seeing you in all your faults and glory, and choosing to love you anyways; because then it means you have to let go of your fantasy of what love is.
But love is not a fantasy. It is a real, lived experience of another human being, in all their faults and imperfections, and choosing to see the good and do what’s best for them anyway.
If the day comes that he and his girlfriend break up, I fully support your right to tell him how you feel. But until that day, the relationship for which you both signed up is a friendship. The best way to handle your feelings is to be the best friend you can be.
Featured photo: Shutter/JoAnna Brooker