Divorce from abusive ex almost final, unexpectedly slept with a friend. We have loads in common but he's not (yet?) available. Cool it, or enjoy?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've been separated from my abusive husband of nearly 10 years for over 9 months. Recently I spent some time with a male ex-coworker and ended up sleeping with him. We've known each other for years but have never been remotely more than friends: for my part, I know it didn't cross my mind as we both had partners.
My separation involved me moving away for some time. My then coworker unexpectedly reached out to me during that time and confided in me some disturbing details about his relationship, which had some remarkable similarities to the one I'd just got out of (his partner is also abusive). I was happy to offer support (and yes, flattered and happy that he trusted me) but I was deep in the throes of heartbreak and thought nothing of it beyond genuine concern for a friend.
I discussed our friendship with my therapist who alerted me to the danger of transferring my codependency from my husband to my friend in distress, and I was very conscious of enforcing boundaries and not getting too emotionally caught up in my friend's problems.
After several months, I returned to my home city and usual workplace, but as it turned out at that exact time my coworker took a job on the other side of the country, so we no longer work together.
When I got back to work, I was conscious of missing him - as a friend - but we have stayed in contact online. He came back to my city for brief visits a couple of times in the last few months, to finalize his move, and on both occasions we saw each other, but as the result of a group invitation to a number of his old friends. As it happened, one of those times we ended up dining alone, but there was nothing non-platonic about it.
Recently, he was back in town once more, and once more I saw him, with a number of other friends. This time, he seemed to pay me special attention and we wound up deep in conversation and drifting away from the group. He shared even more information about his current relationship and I was shocked and dismayed to find out that the abuse he was being subjected to was in some ways worse than what I had experienced.
At some point in the evening, I wrapped him in my arms and we just held each other. It felt really right, but I had only intended the hug as a friendly hug of support. And then he kissed me.
We looked at each other and there was this feeling of electricity. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but there seemed to be no doubt for either of us than that we needed more privacy. So we quietly, mutually, agreed to go back to his hotel together.
We had a wonderful night, staying up all night talking. And making out. And making love. But mostly, hugging and talking. It felt sooo good to feel safe enough to be intimate again.
I had not felt ready to date again AT ALL - in fact, I almost kind of hoped that my romantic life was over. My lack of sexual/romantic feelings in general were making me sort of uneasy - worried about what would happen if they ever came back. But with my friend it felt so natural, because I do really trust him. So it was a huge comfort and a huge relief. We agreed that whatever else happened, we'd stay close friends and not have any other expectations.
He left for his new home city very early the next morning.
Since then, we've been in touch a little by phone and quite a bit by text/IM. I get a real thrill every time I hear from him and I miss him and worry when time goes by when I don't hear.
Given that he's still living with his abusive gf, and additionally is thousands of miles away ... I'm thinking that this crushy kind of thing I'm feeling is probably not appropriate. Even if I am "ready" for a new relationship - he's clearly not. It may be that he is just trying to find a way out of his existing relationship - since our night I've deliberately avoided bringing it up - but even then, even if he got out right now, I guess he'll still have some serious healing to do and it probably wouldn't be smart of me to expect anything whatsoever from him.
So, I think I should probably just reduce contact and try to distract myself. BUT ... it's so nice to feel this way. I know that some of it is just me being flattered - he really knows me, and he really likes me! and some of it is distraction from the pain of my divorce - but on the other hand, it's kind of a like a door was finally opened, or a switch flicked ...
I never seriously ever thought of other men while I was married, so even though this friend was right there in front of me, I never looked at him in that way, but I always really really enjoyed his company. I remember feeling disappointed on the days he wasn't in the office, and happy whenever i got to sit close to him and talk. He's incredibly intelligent, creative and passionate - but also sensitive and kind. We have an enormous amount in common - similar views on religion, politics, family, food, music ...
I want to do the thing that will be least hurtful for everyone involved, and my brain tells me that's to back off. But my heart wonders "what if?" .. what if this is just the wrong way to meet the right person?
We've both been pretty open and honest about our feelings of excitement and confusion and I think we're both committed to trying to maintain the friendship. As a friend - I wanted him to tell me all about what was going on in his relationship - but now - I feel - more worried, a bit jealous, guilty ...when he tells me details of his personal life. I've suggested to him that it would be better for him to talk to someone other than me about that, and he's indicated he's both looking for a more neutral friend to confide in, and seeking therapeutic help.
What should I do? I guess if it's meant to be, it will be ...