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Parallax - Advice

December 16, 2002

Three's not company

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!Tricky situation. Three people live together (a woman and two men.) The woman has been in a long-term relationship with one of the men for over five years and considers the other man to be one of her best friends. Recently, she sent me a letter saying she was in love with her best friend. Wherein lies the problem—her best friend and I have mutual feelings for each other. She asked me not to say anything, but I feel awkward. I've repeatedly told her to talk with her roommates since I'm not directly involved, but she tells me she's 'just not ready yet.' I have no idea what, if anything, to do. Care to enlighten? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear In-the-Middle,

Not a lot you can do. The timing to come clean on your feelings isn't great, especially if they are unrequited. You may damage a friendship over something unattainable.

So I recommend some distance. Steer clear for a bit. Let her have it out with the roommate she is dating and the one she is in love with. Let it all come to the forefront, and when the pieces fall apart decide what you would like to do.

Of course, if you are head over heels for the other roommate, you may need to tell her up front (although I'd get some feedback from him first.) You may need an all-out talk to decide among the two of you how important your friendship is to each other, and how to move past a very delicate situation gracefully, so that everybody remains intact.

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His view:

Dear In-the-Middle,

What is more important to you? The feelings you have toward Man Number Two or your loyalty to this confused woman?

Of all the players in this little drama, you are the only one with complete information. Therefore, if you are at all interested in resolving the problem in your favor, it is you who must act.

The situation with Man Number Two is interesting. Do you have a sense of whether his feelings for your friend are compatible with hers, or whether he just really likes her as a friend? In the former case, his interest in her might trump his interest in you.

If you don't know how he feels about her, then your dilemma is whether to risk rejection by openly pursuing him in the context of this new threat, or sit by and watch (in deference to the woman) as she tries to woo him away from you, hoping he'll prefer you in the end.

Then again, if you do know how he feels, and you think he would prefer her, you have the same dilemma—go up against her, or sit back and hope she fails.

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