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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Loving multiple people? Help!

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Author Topic: Loving multiple people? Help!
concerned404
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So right now there are two people in particular with whom I feel incredibly intellectually and emotionally connected. One is my current boyfriend of several years, and the other is a (male) friend of mine whom I've known for many years. I've developed very, very close relationships with both of these people in particular.

My current dilemma involves several items
:
1)I seem to have an uncanny ability to become close with people in the first place. There are easily five or six people with whom I feel almost as close, but these have remained strictly platonic, I think mostly because with the others, we don't mesh quite to the same degree. Even if I can resolve the current issue, what can I do to avoid the situation (which I'll describe below) in the first place.

2)My good friend, who has not really had much of a chance to get to know new people to the same degree, has developed some (apparently strong) feelings toward me. We both feel very drawn toward each other, and it certainly doesn't *feel* platonic, but it is still very much a result of the strong friendship we have built up over the last few years.

3)I am very much devoted to my current boyfriend. If there is such a thing as a soul mate, he would be mine, and I his. It's a really great, loving, open, mutually supportive relationship. He knows me possibly better than I know myself, as cliche as that sounds.

4)I feel very different kinds of connections with these two individuals in particular, but both are very strong, and I'm not quite sure what to make of the situation.
My friend and I have already once talked about this at length and resolved to focus on our relationship as a platonic friendship. But, frankly, the tension and attraction are difficult to dispel. We're both rational people, and we've been trying to resolve this, but neither of us have any clue as to how to begin.

5) I also don't want to hurt anyone. I don't know how to explain to my boyfriend that just because I feel strongly toward another person in a different way, it doesn't mean that I don't feel just as strongly (and frankly, more so) toward him. Furthermore, I don't want to hurt my friend, but I'm afraid it might be a little too late for that...he's already developed quasi-romantic feelings for me which I can't indulge.

6) I feel like if I had developed a similarly close relationship with someone (heterosexual) of my own gender, nobody would think twice about it. I'm allowed to cuddle and fall asleep with my female friends, but apparently not my male ones.

I empathize with and listen to people, so I generally become a trusted friend and confidante with a lot of people more or less organically. But I have no one, other than the two people who are involved, who I can discuss this with!

Help me! I need advice, new perspectives, etc, if I'm ever going to be able to resolve this in a way that creates the least amount of pain for everyone involved!

Posts: 17 | From: New York | Registered: Sep 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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quote:
Furthermore, I don't want to hurt my friend, but I'm afraid it might be a little too late for that...he's already developed quasi-romantic feelings for me which I can't indulge.
and

quote:
I feel like if I had developed a similarly close relationship with someone (heterosexual) of my own gender, nobody would think twice about it. I'm allowed to cuddle and fall asleep with my female friends, but apparently not my male ones.
I agree that, for many people -- especially if you're all heterosexual -- that might indeed be different were your friend not male. However, and I'd say more importantly, it sounds to me like your friend has romantic and sexual feelings for you when you do not want that relationship with him (is that right?), in which case doing those sorts of things, even if you had permission, probably wouldn't be wise because it would be pretty tough for your friend not to feel he was being given very mixed messages.

That said, and looking at the rest of what you've written, I suppose what I'd ask before anything else is what YOU would see as an ideal outcome with this. In other words, not thinking about what anyone else might want for the moment, or what might be possible, how would you, ideally, like to see all of this play out, and what do you think would be best for you?

(As an aside, how long have you and your boyfriend been together?)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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concerned404
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I've been with my boyfriend for almost four years, and we have, essentially, lived together for most of the past three.

In an ideal world, I would want to be able to maintain the relationship I have with my boyfriend while still being able to have romantic/sexual experiences with a select few other people. I suppose one difference is that my boyfriend and I really make sure we're around to support one another, whereas my close friendships, particularly this one, don't involve that same degree of dedication.

Furthermore, even if I were single at the moment, I don't think that I'd want a long term romantic relationship with my friend because of a number of differences in our long-term plans; but that wouldn't preclude enjoying a romantic/sexual relationship in the meantime. So far in talking with my friend (very specifically about this), I'm under the impression that he feels similarly, but I can't be sure whether or not that's actually the case.

I suppose my more realistic ideal outcome would be for my friend to find someone else with whom he can connect on a similar level (and who is available to be in an exclusive romantic relationship), and for me to somehow be able to get over my attraction to him. The problem is, for him those kinds of connections might be hard to come by/develop; he doesn't very easily open up to people.

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concerned404
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If it helps add context at all, my boyfriend and I are at the same school but have been dating since high school, when we had a long-distance relationship, whereas my friend is a childhood friend whom I mostly see during breaks and talk with online/over the phone quite a bit.
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concerned404
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Also, this has sort of been creeping up on us for at least a year and a half.
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Heather
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Am I correct then in understanding that no matter what, you are NOT interested in a secondary relationship with your friend?

I'm just a bit confused, because I kind of hear you saying you are, but then I also hear you saying you are not, as well as hearing what sounds to me like you feeling kind of responsible for giving him a way to express his feelings with you, particularly since he doesn't have them for others (which actually doesn't sound very healthy or helpful to me, and would create, in my opinion, a pretty odd dynamic). I also want to make sure we're all clear that getting sexually involved does not tend to dissipate feelings of attraction: in other words, sex -- unless it sucks, IMO -- is rarely a balm to make those feelings go away.

What I really seem to hear you saying is that you are interested in opening up your relationship with your boyfriend to explore relationships with people OTHER than your friend. Is that correct?

Can you tell me about the kinds of talks you and your boyfriend have had about opening things up?

(Just an aside? This post came at a very interesting time for me. This week I will likely start a thread about my partner and I opening things up. Mind, I imagine it is a LOT different for us than you, due to a massive age difference, due to us being clear we always wanted this as an option, but still, strange timing. [Smile] )

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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concerned404
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My boyfriend and I have definitely discussed many times the potential of opening up eventually. We've talked about both including other people in sex with both of us present and with individual activity. However, we've never really discussed things beyond being sexually open. And, as far as I can tell, what I'm experiencing at least (I suppose I can't be certain about my friend) is not primarily sexual in nature.

Also, I guess I don't really know what I want, because I don't really want to explore outside relationships with anyone else other than my friend (and even that's iffy), at the moment, but I also am afraid of this situation occurring again with someone else (no one in particular at the moment in mind, just that it might happen again). I don't want to leave behind a string of embittered friends.

I suppose then that may be this is sort of the right time to think about opening up the relationship with my boyfriend, but the other complicating factor is that I don't think my friend would do well in that situation...I think what he really needs(and what he's looking for) is a monogamous relationship at the moment. Because of this, I don't think it would be healthy for my friend to be in a relationship with me even if I did open things up with my boyfriend considering that he really doesn't have anyone else who he is as close with at the moment. I also seriously doubt whether my boyfriend would be ready for an open relationship (and by the way, I'm definitely going to be discussing all of this with my boyfriend once I can sort out my thoughts a little more), for similar reasons actually. My boyfriend as well doesn't have very many close friends with whom he connects on an intellectual level.

I also totally realize that adding sexual contact never really solves these kinds of things.

As to how I became aware of this issue, I suspected the way my friend felt awhile ago, and instead of dealing with it then, stupidly, I tried to ignore it and hope it would go away. Eventually, he brought up the way he felt in a conversation a little less than a year ago. Since then, we've tried to *just* be friends (I don't like using the phrase "just friends" in general, but nothing else really applies). We hadn't really talked about this in particular until recently again, at which point he said that he "still hasn't gotten over me."

I also have serious doubts as to whether or not my friend isn't just lonely and infatuated. And, as mentioned, it's really not healthy for him to have these feelings for me and not anyone else in the event of things opening up.

So in short I guess my conflict concerns my conflict of interest in wanting what is best for both my boyfriend and my friend.

I think probably the best outcome would be for me and my boyfriend to remain monogamous at the moment. I'm just not sure how to really maintain my friendship with my friend and have this work. I feel like as long as I continue to interact with him and he continues to not have a very wide social circle, his feelings won't dissipate. But it would be really, really painful for me to abandon him (in the sense of reducing contact both in person and from a distance) for awhile in hopes that he'll be prompted to seek out other connections.

The irony of all of this is that there was a very short period of time in late middle school/ early high school when I had romantic interest (it was probably mostly infatuation) in my friend, and he didn't have any such feelings for me at the time. I met my current boyfriend a few years later and fell head over heels for him.

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concerned404
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So, my friend and I talked some more yesterday. He basically put before me the choice of choosing him or not talking about this dilemma again unless I bring it up.

Well, we walked arm in arm for awhile talking and in the end he left with the latter conclusion. We were both upset; I'm not sure that I've ever felt more depressed in my life. I ended up staying in bed all day and I haven't been able to bring myself to eat anything; I just feel so outraged at myself for the pain I've inflicted and the fact that I don't have more control over how I feel.

I suppose part of what I'm feeling between these two is the distinction between being "in love" vs. "loving." Friend the former, boyfriend the latter. This sucks.

I'm worried our friendship is ruined. We normally have a lot of fun together; I don't know if we'll ever stop being bitter enough for that to be the case again.

Also, I really need to discuss everything that has happened with my boyfriend. Does anyone have any advice for talking with him about this? I love him so much, I don't want to hurt him too, but he needs to know.

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-Jill
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quote:
Originally posted by concerned404:
So in short I guess my conflict concerns my conflict of interest in wanting what is best for both my boyfriend and my friend.

What about what's best for you? I hear you being very concerned about both your friend and your boyfriend and trying very hard to make this situation turn out well for both of them, but I'm not hearing you express a similar concern for yourself.

What's the best outcome for you and you alone? What are your wants and needs and what's the best way to meet them? You are truly the only person you can be responsible for -- you have at best a very limited influence over anyone else's happiness.

--------------------
I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives but as nouns. --Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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