You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I have known my best friend since the 10th grade, and now we’re both 27. Until about six months ago, he and I were strictly friends. I knew for a long time that he had feelings for me because he told me so, but he did not know that I had feelings for him too until recently. I kept them to myself for many years because I valued our friendship. Also, I was at one time acquaintances with his high school sweetheart and felt that even after they broke up, it was not a good look for me to express how I felt. He’s been married now for four years, but separated for the last two. Six months ago I reached out to him after having a very intense dream about us. At that time, we had not spoken to each other in months.
Now again, I stayed away because he was married and I knew how I felt about him. When I had the dream I did know he was separated but I thought that they would work it out. I did not know the severity of the separation. I spilled the beans that day confessing everything about my feelings for him and the dream. We have been inseparable ever since. So, what's the problem, you ask? My feelings for him are overwhelming. I feel like a teenager in love. I can't wait to see him and spend time with him. However, he is still struggling with his divorce. I have found myself in love with a man who had been terribly hurt and no longer believes in love, and definitely not marriage. I understand the hurt; I've been in love and lost it before too, but I don't understand the defeat that he feels. I cannot see how he allows the situation to break him and keep him down for so long.
As his friend I try to help him through his feelings but as a woman in love I am in despair. He says he loves me, and I feel it, but he also makes it clear he does not want to be in a relationship now nor in the foreseeable future. I know he loves me being in his life and he has said he knows of only two women that care for him, the other being his mother. Me not being in his life would send him further into his closed off world. My heart says stay around and walk the walk with him because I love him. But my head says tell him we must part here because I want to be somebody's wife someday, and I would love to be his but that seems like a far stretch.
Head Over Heels
Slow down and listen carefully to what he is saying to you. While you may be "head over heels" for him, he does not feel the same about you. It has only been six months since you shifted from a "strictly friends" status to a "maybe" friends with benefits status, at best. In that time period, you have developed dreams of marriage and a fantasy life with him. While you have had feelings for him for years, he changed your "strictly friends" status because you have made yourself easy and convenient for him. He is likely to view the two of you as being in a temporary rebound relationship.
He has been honest with you by making it clear that “he does not want to be in a relationship now nor in the foreseeable future.” Which part of this do you not understand? For whatever reason, you are only accepting what it could be rather than the reality of what it is. This man is emotionally and legally unavailable. Do not fool yourself, he is not "struggling" with a divorce. If he really wanted a divorce, he would have one by now. He has unfinished emotional business with his estranged wife and he is still married. He has emotionally baggage that you cannot unpack or fix for him. That is something he must do when he is ready. You must back off and give him time to emotionally heal and make some decisions for himself. I understand that your love for him and your desire to be his wife keeps you hanging in there. If you are not careful, you will be hanging in there and waiting a lifetime for him to change. You must decide if you are worth it and want more than being a friend with benefits in a rebound relationship. If you want that to change, it is up to you. Change starts with you! – Dr. Sherry
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