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Forbidden attraction

How do I handle this impossible situation without ruining my friendship?
How do I handle this impossible situation without ruining my friendship?

Dear Raina;

Several months ago I attended a party given by parents of my sons' classmates and met my friend's wife for the first time. We had an instant connection and laughed and talked for most of the evening. Because I was the only single parent at this party and I didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression, I made a concerted effort to spend time with the other guests, but kept finding myself in conversation with her again and again. After the party, I realized that I am extremely attracted to this very interesting, intelligent and witty married woman. What’s worse, I’m worried that some people at the party may have picked up on this. I’ve even started fantasizing about what might happen if we were alone together, or if her marriage were to end. I feel really guilty about feeling this way, and don’t know how to handle myself around her now. We live in the same Fort Collins neighborhood, and I see her quite often around the school and at the kids' sporting events. I don’t want to be cold towards her, but I am so afraid that she might suspect my true feelings that I find myself becoming increasingly stand-offish and reluctant to engage in conversation with her whenever our paths cross. I’ve also started avoiding my friend and turning down invitations to get together. How do I handle this impossible situation without ruining my friendship?

- Forbidden Attraction

Dear Forbidden Attraction:

This is indeed an unfortunate situation, but not impossible. You have no control over who you are attracted to, and should not feel ashamed of having these feelings. It’s common to feel attracted to, and even fantasize about people who are unattainable. The most important thing is to never reveal these feelings to her or your friend, or act on them, no matter how tempted you may be to do so.

You need to look at the situation like this – he is your friend, she is his wife, and, regardless of whether their marriage is a good one or not, they are the parents of your child’s friend. Of course it is always possible that their marriage might eventually break up, but waiting around for something that may never happen, and a potential relationship that may never work out if it does, is not only an extreme long shot, but also very unhealthy for you. Even if their marriage was to break up, the ramifications of pursuing a relationship with your friend's ex-wife, and the mother of your child's friend, would be profound.

You don’t mention if you’ve been dating at all. I suggest that if you aren’t currently dating anyone, you should start. Embark upon the dating scene with the goal of having fun and meeting new people, and you might just be surprised at what you find. At the very least, you will have less time to obsess about your friend’s wife. When you run into her, have a brief conversation opener planned – “how was the hockey game last weekend?”, “What are your plans for summer vacation?”, etc. – just innocuous small talk, keep it brief and friendly, then find an excuse to break away. The more you do this, the easier it will become, and you may even find that your attraction to her is simply rooted in loneliness and will dissipate with time. If it doesn’t, you will just have to keep your feelings hidden. Contrary to popular belief, every feeling we have should not be acted upon, especially when so many people could be hurt by doing so. If you feel the need to talk about these feelings, enlist a therapist or close friend that doesn’t know anyone involved, or even better – someone who lives in another city or state. Fort Collins is a small town in many ways, so talking to friends that might know the parties involved is definitely risky.

With a little time, you will get through this, and hopefully be able to enjoy the company of your friend and his family for many years to come.

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