I’m her fling on the side

She is a friend of a friend and I met her less than a year ago. I also met her boyfriend of two years at the same time. We all became friends and our groups merged after we all joined a recreational sports team. One day a few months ago, I noticed she was flirting with me. I did not flirt back because I didn't want to cause problems. A few weeks later, her "flirting" became so open and obvious that her boyfriend started noticing and complaining about it to her. So one day I decided to confront her. She told me she was surprised that it took me so long to notice, and that she was thinking I was just not interested. I told her how I did notice and that I liked her a lot, but did not want to be a problem for her relationship. Then we talked – and also kissed. Both of us were not sure if going any further was a good idea.

This evolved into an emotional affair. She told me about her problems with her boyfriend and her desires for children (her boyfriend does not want them). I admitted to her that I actually do feel lonely and want to have children, too. We recognized that we like each other a lot. I even began to speak of love. I got infatuated with the idea of being in a relationship with her and wanted to move forward. But she was still afraid of our feelings not being real enough, and she didn't want to be a cheater. While not getting everything she wants out of her current relationship, she clearly still cares for him – and they just moved in together a few months ago. She is the dominant partner in the relationship. Her boyfriend is the cliche "doormat." Sometimes she is disrespectful of him, even in front of others.

Anyway, I was disappointed, but we agreed to stay friends, nothing more. Every once in a while (especially after we see each other) she starts texting me in secret again – getting angry when I ignore her. I explained to her that I can't continue like this if she really wants us to be just friends. I can't emotionally disconnect from her if she still is making advances and then pulling back. Recently, after a day of spending time with her and her boyfriend, she started some serious physical contact with me again. Being a warm-blooded man with sexual desires, I indulged against my better judgement. Immediately after, she was sending me text messages about how she still feels attracted to me, but at the same time she's guilty about not letting me go and cheating on her boyfriend. She is obviously self-aware enough to understand that she wants to have her cake and eat it, too. She wants to live in a nice apartment with her submissive boyfriend and have fling on the side with a more attractive (yeah, I said it) guy. Technically, the "just friends" agreement is still in place right now. I'm not willing to give up my sports activities or meeting with our mutual friends just to avoid her. And we both still want to see each other – kind of. Secretly, I still hope we could be together. She just needs to decide to let her boyfriend go, which will be emotionally and financially (she in debt to him) difficult for her. I only know for sure that I don't want to be her "backup plan."

– What do you think?

What do I think?

I think that this woman's boyfriend isn't the only doormat in this scenario. You're the one who's at her beck and call for attention. When she wants more from you, you oblige. When she wants less, you put up with the emotional confusion. You say that she doesn't show her boyfriend any respect, but really, how much respect is she showing you?

I do think that this woman has been good for something. She got you to admit that you're lonely and thinking about having a family. It's time to use that information in a productive way. Do some online dating. Join one sports league that isn't affiliated with your current group of friends. Let everyone in your life know that you're ready to be set up and that you'd like to see some new faces.

Even if this woman breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn't the right partner for you. She is using you as a backup plan, and she's spent the past few months abusing your friendship. Start rewriting your fantasies, because she doesn't deserve to be in them.

Readers? Any hope for them? How can he separate himself from this situation?

– Meredith