Just over a year ago, I started a new job and met the man of my dreams. We clicked immediately, with so much in common that the conversations and laughs came easily. And quickly there was suspicion among our co-workers that we were more than friends. There was just one problem: He was my boss. Then there was a second: He was already spoken for. After three months of effortless banter, teasing, and flirting, I found out he was engaged. It surprised me, given how casual we'd become about what I perceived to be a mutual attraction. I'd begun to develop real feelings for him. Admittedly, it was extremely hard news to accept. And although I never would have tried to sabotage his relationship, over the course of the next nine months, I still tried to be as close to him as I could.
Now I've started a new job, leaving for better professional opportunities despite how difficult it was to choose working somewhere without him. It's been challenging, particularly because a part of me always hoped that when one of us found work elsewhere, we might finally have the liberty to pursue a relationship. I can honestly say that I've fallen in love. And he is now very married. Which brings me to today. We've settled into a nice friendship outside of the office. But while it makes me happy to know that we're still in touch, it hurts me, too. I worry that the closer we become, the harder it will be for me to move on.
So, should I stop investing in the friendship? Should I try to end it all together? Obviously, I care for him on many levels, more than romantic, making the prospect of losing him upsetting. I find dating to be difficult now that he exists as my image of "perfection," and unfortunately, as silly as it may seem, I can't quite let go of all hope that we won't someday be together.
— Office Friend
"So, should I stop investing in the friendship?"
Yes! The end. There is no good reason to stick around for this person. The relationship is only making you feel worse.
You say you care for your former boss on "many levels," but all of them about loving him and wanting more. Your entire letter was about the pain of managing strong romantic feelings for someone who isn’t available to you. You’re not in this for a platonic friendship.
Many of us fall in love with narratives – as opposed to real people. We meet someone nice and write a love story about how a future with them might look. It's natural to do that – and to fantasize – but our romantic tales should be rooted in some reality. Right now, yours isn't. Try writing a new story that's about you finding someone unattached. Your "image of perfection" shouldn't be someone who's married to someone else.
Readers? No reason for this friendship to continue, right?