Please enjoy the holiday break. We'll have an update tomorrow and will return Monday.
In the meantime, I will be reading problems, questions, updates, and all of the things this weekend. I am grateful for those who ask questions, because so many others are wondering about something similar, and the sharing of it all ... well, it helps.
Former letter writers: where are you now? Did our advice help? Send us an update to [email protected] with “update” in the subject line. Make sure to say which letter you wrote. Let us know what happened next. We love closure.
I (a man in his 30s) have been strongly attracted to a close friend (a woman, just a few years apart) for a long time. When I talked to her about it, she said she's not interested in dating anyone, and we've remained close friends. I thought that over time, my unrequited feelings would eventually dissipate, but that doesn't seem to be happening this time. I want to be able to respect her feelings and remain friends, but I'm not sure what to do about my lingering feelings.
I think it's getting in the way of me wanting to date other people, and it's clear our friendship isn't going to change into anything more. When I think about trying to go on dates anyway, it feels like it would be unfair to the other person that I still have these feelings. But it seems like otherwise, I'm just spinning in circles.
Thanks for any thoughts.
What a self-aware person, you are. You come to this column already knowing so much – that your feelings aren't going away, that her feelings aren't going to change, and that your dating life is stalling out because you can't stop focusing on the real object of your affection.
What you didn't tell us is how much you talk to this woman. You say she’s a close friend, so I'll assume it's a lot. That's where the advice comes in, and ... you might not love it.
You need space from her so you can get over these feelings. Even though the two of you never dated, it's a bit like a breakup. Having some time without her attention, where you notice her absence, gives you the chance to accept the limitations. Maybe you'll see her more clearly if you're not seeing her at all.
Also, it might help your desire to seek different company. It's possible you'll notice things about other people that you missed before.
You're probably wondering, "How long of a break?" I wish I could say. Maybe you share friends; that would mean the break is more about texting and one-on-one hangouts, as opposed to social events with everyone.
She's been forthcoming and understanding, right? Let her know you need space because those lingering feelings are getting in the way of what's good for you – and for both of you.
The lack of communication might feel wrong at first, but that's the discomfort that can come with change. Sit through it. You might lose her as a close friend in the process – she might get slightly demoted – but that's OK. It’s not a punishment, it's just what's honest.
Readers? Advice for getting over a friend without losing the friendship? Or is it best to lose the friendship?