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Parallax - Advice

August 20, 2001

What are best friends for?

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I have never gone after a man who is in a relationship with another woman. Call it a principle, or maybe a subconscious moral. I'm now facing a more complicated issue. Ken (not his real name) has been a good friend of mine for the last two years. I was introduced to him as the new boyfriend of an old friend. We clicked immediately, hung out like good buddies, and I never thought of him in any other way. My friend left him, and he has been single since then; I'm just getting out or a difficult relationship. Recently I catch myself thinking about Ken in a different way. It's so banal, but we know each other so well. We shared laughter and sorrow when helping each other communicate with our "sweethearts." But we carry our past, both sharing the "can't-be-intimate" social situation. And of course there's the good old statement, "I don't want to lose him as a friend by trying intimacy." With all my heart, I wish Ken could find a soul mate - a loving female to be in a relationship with... However, it seems he can't forget my old friend. She's long gone and studying in Australia, but he still craves news from her. She is quite nebulous, so we always ask each other, "Have you heard something from Australia?" She's a precious friend of mine, and I even felt guilty in a way that she left Ken, because it put me in awkward position between them. I probably won't be the best choice for his next relationship, and any appearance of her in the city will threaten whatever he starts. She is my friend. I'm far from the thought to compete; it'll bring only negative occurrences - furthermore, it's under my dignity. Funny and sad. I don't know what to do. I can let it go, but I feel I'm going to miss something - IT'S SO RARE FOR TWO PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER SO WELL LIKE KEN AND I! Tell me how to handle this, please. Email to a Friend



Her view:

Dear Best Friend,

I would steer clear. You have two close friends involved and you are likely to lose both of them with any form of foray. If you are willing to do so, have at it, but it sounds like a lot to lose for a relationship that will most likely not survive.

You have the classic friend affection syndrome (so might he). You love him as a friend. He is great to you, understands you, knows what you're thinking, and is even kind of cute. Well, here's what will happen. You'll have an awkward kiss one day brought on by some strange moment. You know each other well, so in no time you'll be sleeping together and things will be exciting and passionate for about a month...you'll develop real feelings for him. By the way, your friend in Australia will be gone with that first kiss because the whole arrangement is just creepy - there goes friend number one.

Following this - in a few weeks or few months - your newfound beau will bring up said ex-sweetheart. He'll wonder what she's up to; he'll compare her to you. He'll still want her back. He will be compelled to tell you all of this - you being his best friend and all. Your heart will be put through a blender, you'll leave, and you'll hate him for a good year and a half. And that takes care of friend number two.

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His view:

Dear Best Friend,

I think what's really holding you back is not the "I don't want to lose him as a friend" argument, but rather, the fear of how it may affect your friendship with your girlfriend in Australia.

Call your friend in Australia and tell her how you feel. If she's as precious a friend as you think, she should be happy to talk about the problem with you. She's probably over him by now, and if you make your feelings for him clear she may well give you the green light. She may also give you some insights into him that would help you decide if you want to try the romantic route.

There's a risk she may be upset - but that risk may be worth taking, given how uniquely you feel about this guy.

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