Monday 5 December 2016

I'm feeling torn between college mate and my long-distance lover

Patricia Redlich

Published 08/05/2011 | 05:00

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I AM in a long-term relationship, but it has become a long-distance one, as I moved away to study. While at college, I met a guy in my class and we hit it off really well and started spending some time together.

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He is also in a relationship, which is also long-distance. I really enjoy spending time with him. But one night recently he suddenly said that I should break up with my boyfriend, because it's just too hard being with someone when they are living far away from you. I admit that in conversation I did say one or two things to him about my boyfriend which may have led him to say this. But I was taken aback, and hurt, and he just walked off. I do really like this guy and we are friends, and if I wasn't in a relationship things would be different.

He hasn't been speaking to me since and is cold when we come across each other, as we invariably do. I tried talking to him, but it didn't work out. My friends say that he really likes me and that's why he said what he said.

I don't know what to do, as I enjoy spending time with him as friends. But at the moment, he isn't even acknowledging my presence. I love my boyfriend but sometimes I don't know if we will have a future together, since being away from each other is so hard.

I can't stop thinking about this guy and want to sort things out, but have no idea how to get things back on track with him. I really want to know if he has feelings for me. On the other hand, maybe I should just leave it, walk away and focus, instead, on my relationship with my boyfriend.

Patricia replies:

YOUR friend is clearly feeling confused. It sounds like he blurted something out -- namely that you should break up with your boyfriend -- and then didn't know how to handle himself in the face of your response. But let's look at something else.

You fancy this friend. Yes, I know you love your boyfriend, but you also have romantic feelings for your college mate. In fact, between the lines, you're saying that if he had feelings for you too, you might reconsider your relationship with your boyfriend.

I know it's slightly more confused than that, but that's basically what's going on. My guess is that your college friend picked up on that, however unconsciously, which was part of the reason he said what he said. It's certainly the reason that you're frantic to make contact with him. It's not that you want to be friends again. You want to know if he feels the way you do, which is definitely romantic.

He's probably not behaving in the most mature manner imaginable, but the situation is clearly too complicated for him to handle -- well, on his own anyway. He has a long-distance girlfriend, too. So you're both committed to other relationships. And you sort of ran back into yours when he pointed out that long-distance was making things more difficult.

If you like, you're both hiding. He's withdrawn. You've failed to confront him. You're both dodging. No, that's not bad. When we're confused, simply treading water makes a lot of sense. You just need to recognise that you're holding back, too, that's all.

You keep telling me you are friends. Well, act like a friend. Find a quiet moment and talk to him. You can keep it light, if that feels right. Just chat, laugh and say you've both clearly come through a sticky patch. Or you can come clean and clear the air.

Just take on board one thing. You can't expect him to declare himself while you play safe, hiding in your relationship with your boyfriend.

You need to at least tell him that your feelings are confused and you'd love to try to clarify where you stand with him. Certainly, it's scary. It may well also be terribly embarrassing. But at the moment you have the worst of all worlds.

You're cheating on your boyfriend, even if only in your mind, which leaves an emotional distance between you. And you're estranged from your friend, not to mention the fact that this also makes the social situation in college very messy. Talk.

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