I am having a problem with a good friend and a love interest, and I hope you can help me out. Basically, my closest friend is just starting to date a new woman, they are totally blissed out, and while I’m happy for her (she’s been solo for a while now), I’m really hurting inside. You see, the woman she’s dating is someone I’ve had a mad crush on for years. I feel really torn. I don’t want to get in their way, nor do I want to be a fickle friend. But I can’t help thinking about the other woman and how we would be together. It’s so painful and confusing. What can I do to maintain my dear friendship and not be so affected by their love? Should I be honest and talk to my friend?
Yours is a dilemma for the ages: this is the stuff of Shakespeare plays and Woody Allen movies. Such a lovers’ triangle is explored in art so often because it can be so incredibly heartbreaking and dramatic—all the more reason I feel especially compassionate toward you and your plight. To witness a close friend fall in love with someone we fancy is a tall order, and your heartache makes perfect sense. That said, if your friendship (and sanity) mean enough to you, you’ll have to permit your feelings of disappointment and then find a way to seriously let this go.
You make it sound as if the only impediment to being with your crush is your friend. The hard truth is that we will likely never know whether a relationship would even materialize between you two if the situation were different and she were actually available. Being blocked from pursuing this woman is likely inflating your longing.
It is a trap whenever we find ourselves living in a constant state of “if only.” If only I had that girl, if only I had more money, if only they had stopped after the first Sex and the City movie . . . and so on. There’s no quicker path to deep suffering than wanting what we don’t have. Your only real measure of control here is over your mind: obsessing and fantasizing will bring you more suffering than their blossoming romance ever could.
As for whether you should tell your friend about your true feelings, I’m going to unconventionally advocate for withholding—at least for now. A honeymooning relationship is best left to its own delightful process and shouldn’t be invaded by a disgruntled friend. So if preserving your friendship is what you are after, find another outlet for your jumbled feelings, so you can witness the lovebirds without being pushed over the edge.