A close friend fell in love with a film star. It was mutual.
They visited each other’s home country. Eventually, he moved across the world to be with her. They’ve been married for a few years and have a loving relationship based on honesty and attraction.
I’ve also grown close with her. We chat occasionally by text and infrequent emails, congratulate each other’s successes and share some details of our lives.
When here, the couple stays with me for part of their visit. Earlier this year, I travelled to visit with them.
However, in a recent email, my friend’s wife confessed that she’d fallen in love with me.
She explained that it doesn’t cheapen her love for her husband, for whom she continues to fall in love every day. But she often finds herself thinking about me.
She’s confided her feelings to her husband but not to the full extent.
Our friendship’s never been romantic on my part.
I told her clearly that I don’t believe I’m in love with her, while agreeing that we’ve developed a very strong bond. I haven’t discussed this with her husband.
How can I work towards building a healthy, nurturing friendship with my close friend’s wife?
Use the geographical distance that already exists, and give them time to deal with her revelation about having feelings for you.
Be busy, text less. Direct any communication to both.
You shouldn’t have to end contact, unless her husband is very upset about the situation.
If that happens, you need to talk to him directly, and apologize for any misleading signals you may’ve sent his wife.
You’ll have to assure him of your own position, of caring about her only as a valued friend.
Since their relationship appeared to be happy before her confession, your best response is to let them get on with it, until it’s evident that you three can still be close friends.
Four years ago, my husband retired. We appear to have a loving, supportive marriage, but in reality he’d reciprocated feelings towards one of his past much-younger students, which hurt me terribly.
Last year, she married an older man.
My husband’s recently been diagnosed with dementia. We no longer have conversations. He can’t recall anything from one hour to the next. He refuses to get up off the couch except to eat.
He’s 79. One physician suggested starting the sometimes-lengthy process for getting him into long-term care.
We live in a small community where we’re well-known, so there’s no one in whom I can confide. I’m very lonely at 65. I still work part-time to pay the bills.
Sometimes I think I should’ve let him pursue the younger, greener, pastures several years ago. I still love him but I hate what’s become of us.
When I was in my early 30’s and he was late-40’s it didn’t seem to matter. Now it feels like my life is over. What lies ahead?
Frustrated and Heartbroken
You cannot carry all the responsibilities for caregiving and planning for his future care on your own, without personal support.
Put past issues behind you. Ask his physician what you can expect about your husband’s dementia, then learn what community supports are available, including home-care help, a dementia hotline, counselling for caregivers, etc.
Don’t hide your situation. You need friendship, and interests outside your home.
Learn which local long-term care facilities would be most suitable, when the time comes.
FEEDBACK Regarding the young man who admitted having once behaved inappropriately with a girl in the past (April 27):
Reader – “You’re very correct that #MeToo is having a positive effect and is long overdue. He sounds like a nice guy who made a mistake.
“I certainly don't condone any unwelcome touching, but this is one transgression which will likely be his last. How about recommending that he move forward and continue respecting women properly?
“Believe me I want male violence and gender inequality to end, it’s been a plague on this earth, but be careful the advice you give, your access to social media makes your words very impactful.”
Ellie - That’s why I applauded his current understanding of consent, in the couple’s relationship.
But he feels guilty, so can make significant amends by speaking out if his friends disrespect women. And by being politically active on gender equality.
This isn’t “bearing a cross forever,” as you described it.
Tip of the day:
If a friend’s partner expresses unwanted romantic feelings for you, give the couple time and space to re-connect without you.