If you’re in a relationship and develop feelings for someone else, you wind up in a world of confusion. What does it mean and when should you leave?
Question: I am in a relationship of 7 years and I have feelings for my friend. I text her all the time, I make excuses to see her, and I’d prefer to talk to her over my girlfriend. I keep putting myself in situations that I know aren’t right, but I just can’t seem to stop. I know she has feelings for me too. I love my girlfriend, but this has me so confused. What do I do?
Answer: First things first. Don’t’ take this issue lightly. Your heart has been touched and you can’t ignore that feeling. Pay attention to this feeling and be serious with the issue. Our hearts get touched for various reason and you need to figure out how yours got here to begin with. If a person is in a secure relationship, emotions don’t simply spark out of the blue. Yes, we may have crushes along the way, but when our emotions take over, this is a sign that there is more going on than meets the eye.
Think of this time in your life, and these feelings, as a serious wake-up call. Maybe you have been screaming out for certain needs to be met and your partner missed it. Or maybe you never really shared what you needed and now this certain someone is touching that tender spot. Maybe you never really were in tune with what you actually needed until you got a sample of it. Or, this may be the sign that you are emotionally done with your current relationship with your girlfriend. Before you make a quick jump, I suggest major soul searching first.
Being around the friend right now will only complicate your emotional world. Interacting with this friend may only show you a distorted image of a glamorous time together without exposing the “daily grind” of life. Comparing the friendship to your relationship is like comparing apples to oranges. They are in completely different categories. Put the interaction on hold so you can make a decision on your current relationship with a more clear head. This is probably the hardest part. Sometimes we can feel so alive with this other person that putting the interaction “on hold” may be very challenging to do. However, you and your 7 year relationship deserve the time it takes you to make a clear decision. Get a support and an accountability partner that will help you through this.
The cleanest cut is making sure to close one chapter before you start a new chapter. Maybe your current relationship isn’t exactly done. Once you have this step back from your friend, examine the good, the bad, and the ugly in your relationship. Take note on what is going right and what is missing.
Answer the following question:
1. Is your relationship something you are willing to invest time and emotions in to?
2. If your partner make serious changes, would this help you consider diving back into the relationship?
If you answer yes to the questions, then maybe it is time to start expressing exactly (and clearly) what you need in the relationship. Your partner needs to know the seriousness of the requests and it can be helpful to let her know about your heart. Don’t avoid the conversations any more and make this relationship a priority. This may mean that you need to disconnect from your friend for the long term to create a sense of safety and reassurance with your girlfriend. Seek out professional help from a counselor that will help you two navigate how to mend things and make it right.
If you answered no to the questions, and you aren’t willing to invest time in the relationship no matter what your partner does, this may be the sign that you are really done. I recommend reaching out to others and counselors to help you through this time. Make sure you close this chapter without guilt before you enter in to the next relationship or rondevu.
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About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653