Dear Stavroula: On Love and Friendship

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Dear Stavroula,

I am 22 years old and I find myself in a very difficult position. For a year now, I’m in love with E. without ever speaking to her about my feelings. We have gone out many times as friends, until six months ago she began dating my best friend since elementary school. We both met E. at the same time and we often went out all three as a group. Before asking her out, my friend had asked me if it would hurt me if they went out romantically, but I did not tell him the truth about my feelings at that time.

But now, their relationship is not going well, my friend flirts with other women when he finds an opportunity, and he told me the relationship with E. is not going well. I think he has taken over for me and wants us to be together, because he’s throwing me something implied by the type “I had to make up for you” and something like that. I do not know if I have to talk to her openly, I do not want to miss the opportunity to be with her, I think she’s my other half, but I do not want to spoil my relationship with my friend, too.

Nikos

Dear Nikos,

You are in a really difficult position and you have to decide what’s right for you to do.

You write to me that your best friend’s relationship with his girlfriend is not going well and she is also your friend. Have you asked her why she does not break up with him in this case? Wouldn’t that be sensible when one feels that he or she is in a relationship that does not suit and even at your age when there are no children and obligations involved? I think it would be quite important, before you decide what to do, to have her answer this question.

Because there are some people who find it hard to be alone and prefer to be with someone even if they are not compatible, perhaps because they fear loneliness or for various other reasons. Many times, in order to escape a problematic relationship, they find a third person and are connected with him in order to be able to be released from their partner. So I think it’s important to know what the girl’s real feelings are. She really wants to be with you because she has met you and she has chosen you, why does the way you see life and relationships and why you want to love each other, or is she looking for a way out of her relationship with her current boyfriend and are you the easy solution?

In addition, I think that even if she has chosen you and wants you to be together, it would be better to break up and spend time without getting into a new relationship. This period is very important to make clear what she did not do well in her previous relationship, what she learned from it, what are the limitations and concessions she is willing to make, what are her dreams for the future. Passing straight from one relationship to the next, she will not have time to think and mature, and there is a chance she will make the same mistakes and find herself in the same deadlock.

You write to me that you do not want to spoil your relationship with your friend. I do not know how much he cares about E., but regardless of that, I do not think it would be right, for you to get in the middle. Our friendships are just as important as our love relationships, if not many times more important. You have to think of the value of this friendship from elementary school. It would also be good to take into account the fact that he asked you before he was romantically involved with her, he did not want to upset you, he showed you that you are important to him. And it’s not his fault if you did not tell him the truth. So you have to think about how it will feel if you think that you are the cause of the relationship’s break-up and whether it is worth it to risk a friendship that has lasted for so many years.

For all of the above, I would suggest that you expect to see how E.’s relationship will evolve with your friend. And if it really does not work well and you’re sure that this is the girl you want, talk frankly to your friend before you do anything with her.

One last thing. You write to me that this girl is your other half. I suggest that you read Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. In a very beautiful way, it gives us the impression that we should not seek our other half, but perhaps a mature, complete person, assuming, of course, that we also offer the same.

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