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How do I deal with a guy who I have strong feelings for but has a girlfriend he is trying to break up with?
October 8, 2006 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I really like this guy I've become friends with, but he has a live-in girlfriend. He has decided to break it off with her but hasn't actually ended things. Should I tell him how I feel? Should I ask how he feels about me? Is there a chance for a relationship even if he breaks up with her or will I just be the rebound girl?

I met this guy at the hospital 2 months ago (we are both doctors in a training program). He always been flirty with me and complimented me on how I look and has gone so far as to say that I'm "strikingly beautiful." A month ago we had a get together with a people, he ended up walking me to my car and talking - I told him I had broken up with my fiance recently and was in the process of moving out and that's when he told me he had a similar situation with his girlfriend of 4 years. He said they kept breaking up and getting back together but that he felt that things weren't working. I was very disappointed to find out that he was with someone but decided to keep in touch and be friends.

I just moved into my new place a few weeks ago which is just a few blocks from him. He came over to my place one afternoon to help me hook up my tv and ended up staying for 3 hours talking. Since then, I'd gotten together with him AND his girlfriend several times. We talk on the phone and text each other almost every day. He is very open with me and we've shared a lot of really private things with each other. He tells me that he knows his relationship is over but whenever he tries to break things off with his girlfriend, she becomes hysterical for hours and hours and eventually he caves. She lives with him currently and she would have no where to go if they broke up. I understand his situation because I had to go through a similar situation with my ex-fiance, but I'm afraid he's not going to have the guts to actually go through with it.

He's very intelligent, athletic, funny, sweet and gorgeous! I really really like him and feel that we have a connection, but we almost have to sneak around just to talk to each other because the girlfriend is always around and very jealous. We haven't talked about any feelings we have towards each other. Other than him telling me that he likes me and that he thinks I'm very attractive, I have no indication whether he would actually want to date me even if he wasn't with his current girlfriend. I've made it pretty clear that I like him and am attracted to him as well. I would say that I am initiating more of the communication between us than him. He has apologized several times for being unreliable and inconsistent in keeping in touch with me due to his current situation. He's said that I would be surprised to see how available he is when this situation is resolved.

Just to be clear, nothing physical has happened between us. I would never go after someone in a relationship. This is confusing though because he's told me from the get-go that things were all-but-over with his girlfriend. Should I just move on and resign myself to just being friends with him? Or should I stick it out? I don't want to be the rebound girl either. Is there a safe way to find out what his intentions are towards with me?
posted by Dr. Cherry to Human Relations (72 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is there a safe way to find out what his intentions are towards with me?

Yes. Wait until he breaks up with his girlfriend. For real this time. Then, when he's actually single, ask him.

You say that you'd never go after someone in a relationship, but he is in a relationship. "Going to end it soon" isn't the same as actually ending it. Until he can sack up enough to get out of the relationship he's currently in, this can't go anywhere good.
posted by MsMolly at 5:25 PM on October 8, 2006


I was in a semi-similar situation once, and I finally just had to draw the line with the guy - I told him flat out that I couldn't and wouldn't talk to/email him or see him until he was moved out and broken up with his girlfriend, for real. I stuck to it, hard as it was, and it helped motivate him to actually make things happen towards ending the relationship he wanted out of, and now we're together and happy. YMMV.
posted by tristeza at 5:30 PM on October 8, 2006 [3 favorites]


"I understand his situation because I had to go through a similar situation with my ex-fiance, but I'm afraid he's not going to have the guts to actually go through with it."

you had a live in lover for four years, and then broke up with that person? of yours break up after four years? I would be skeptical of his actual desire to get out of his current relationship. he doesn't sound too motivated if they are still living together.

also, you mention knowing this girl in the relationship pretty well ... does she say anything about it being over? if you are hearing opposite stories from him and her, that's also a bad sign--but not as bad of a sign as him still being there.

you seem attracted to him , which is good ... but he seems to have a bit of difficulty resolving his current situation. if he can get shut of the live in girlfriend, then i'd say go for it. if he can't, then ... no. i'd give him 2-3 months before moving on.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:33 PM on October 8, 2006


If I were you, I'd tread lightly. Since you're coworkers and living near one another, it would be tough to avoid him if you made a move and then he decided to go back to his girlfriend permanently.

As tough as it is, give him some space and see if he takes care of things with his girlfriend. He needs to sort through that situation first.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:35 PM on October 8, 2006


If he's playing footsie with you, via texting, email, and coming over, however innocently, you're already undermining his current relationship, despite your assertions that you'd "never go after someone in a relationship." And here you are, with an AskMe question looking for suggestions about how to move forward. So I say, enjoy it, wherever it takes you, and remember these days well.

That way, if it works out as you hope, when you're the one in a relationship with him, you'll know how the new girl he gets on the side really feels, and what she's trying to do to you.
posted by paulsc at 5:36 PM on October 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


Would you like to be with a man who, while being too weak to break up with you, would flirt with another woman he finds strikingly beautiful, hang out at her place for hours, shares private, intimate conversation with her, and texts and calls her daily? Because that's what this one does.

If that doesn't deter you, then I agree with MsMolly that you should at least wait until he's actually broken off his current live-in relationship. At that point, judging from everything else you've written, I doubt you'd even have to make any pronouncements -- it sounds like things would soon progress the way you'd like them to. But there'd be no harm in telling him how you feel at that point, either.
posted by daisyace at 5:38 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't think relationships are like 8-ball, where you can just put your dollar on the cushion to book the next game. I think the best thing to do would be to wait for the existing game to finish.
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


i find the comment from paulsc kind of snide and nasty. playing footsie is not the same as having an affair. if his relationship is really nearing its end, then i would not fault him for being interested in an attractive woman he knows. most humans would act this way, this is NOT a case of "once a cheater, always a cheater".

as for you dr. cherry, i agree with tristeza that an ultimatum might be appropriate. if he can't get out of a relationship that he claims is over, then he's a wus and you don't want to be with him anyway. you could just calmly state that you'd like to date him in the future, that you hope he follows through on ending the relationship regardless of you, and that you can't be friends with him at the moment, since you're attracted to him.

if he's worth having, then he'll dump her and date you. if he can't do that, it wasn't meant to be.
posted by tabulem at 5:47 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Either this guy is a wuss, or he's playing around with you for a little ego boost.

You need to issue an ultimatum, or at least tone down the flirting until he breaks it off for realz, yo.
posted by schroedinger at 6:00 PM on October 8, 2006


Er, and I would argue that continued, persistent flirtation with someone, while not on the level of a sexual affair, does indeed undermine a relationship and exists beyond the pale of honorable behavior. It happens to the best of us, but it's really gotta stop.
posted by schroedinger at 6:01 PM on October 8, 2006


Thanks for everyone who has posted reponses so far - this is what I love about getting answers from strangers...they're honest!

Just to clarify a few things - the things he and I have talked about, none have been inappropriate. we've just shared things about ourselves. If I didn't think he was attracted to me, I would just think we are friends no more. His comments about him being attracted to me have been indirect and subtle. He hasn't done anything about it or said that he wants to.

However, point taken that I would not want my boyfriend to act this way towards another girl. Then again, I wouldn't be with someone who told me he didn't want to be with me anymore.

According to him, he has told his girlfriend on several occasions that he thinks that things will not work out between them, that they're not right for each other, and that it would be best if they moved on. Her response is that she will not let him give up on their relationship and she has no where to go. He knows that he's being weak but says he can't just throw her out after 4 years. I know very well that is no replacement for actually breaking up with someone and that if forced to, she COULD find another place to live. Maybe he really just isn't ready to let go of this yet. I don't know.

I too think that the comment about him playing footsie with me had a nasty undertone. There is a reason why I'm here asking this question instead of already having told him how I feel or taking another step forward. I'm obviously thinking about this and trying to be careful. I haven't done anything to undermine his relationship. This problem existed before I ever appeared.

To tristeza: Did your guy tell you he wanted to be with you/date you while he was still in his former relationship?
posted by Dr. Cherry at 6:02 PM on October 8, 2006


Oh and the flirting has been way toned down since I learned he was in a relationship. We've hung out one time without his girlfriend present and he told her about it. We just talk.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 6:07 PM on October 8, 2006


I'm surprised by this ultimatum advice. Dr Cherry, I hope you don't take it. Ultimatums always feel like emotional hostage-taking to me, and that sounds extra wrong here.

You probably need to be just friends with this guy while he works out how to disengage from this woman - if indeed he really wants to do that. Even telling him you're romantically interested is essentially pressuring him.
posted by caitlinb at 6:13 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Since then, I'd gotten together with him AND his girlfriend several times. We talk on the phone and text each other almost every day.

This is seriously unethical behaviour. You're flirting with him and encouraging him while he is still with his girlfriend, trying to work things out, even if he says he thinks "It isn't going to work out."

Trust me, I've been the girlfriend, and you're acting like an asshole. You probably will end up being the rebound girl, and it'll serve you right.

but we almost have to sneak around just to talk to each other because the girlfriend is always around and very jealous.

For good fucking reason. I take it back. The two of you deserve each other.
posted by digitalis at 6:14 PM on October 8, 2006 [3 favorites]


While it could go either way, I think some of you are being a tad too harsh.

First of all, I think it's pretty obvious that this guy likes you. He may be pussyfooting around it (not a bad thing--we don't all have to be super manly men. i'm timid, too), but the sheer amount of time he's spending around you + the fact that he's divulging aspects of his crumbling relationship is definitely a hint.

Also, I don't understand why he's being painted as a sleazy guy immediately--so he can't kick out someone who he's been living with for four years and is clearly still in love with him/relies on his household to live and sleep at night. How does that make him a coward? The very fact that he "can't" do anything might actually point to an inherent altruism that hates seeing suffering in others--can lead to some puerile decisions sometimes, true, but I think that's mostly a positive thing. It's a difficult situation--if it persists for too long, yeah, he is, but let's see how this plays out.

It might be too soon for an ultimatum. That might be too drastic of a move. I'd say just make your feelings clear to him--can the flirting and tell him how you feel. Again, I stress, just because he hasn't said anything--you have to realize that a lot of guys don't know exactly how to say it, especially if they're having this cognitive dissonance about their existing relationship. What ends up happening is both parties subconsciously think they're "safe" in this gray area where nothing is "really" happening yet, and everything's tacit, making none of it explicitly "wrong" by social standards. The problem is, unless you're a masochist, this situation will continue forever until one of you does something, or some other external factor changes.

I mean, what's the worst that could happen? I'm still very timid about certain things, yeah--but I've gotten better. You have to take risks sometimes. In the context of 'losing him as a friend,' I suppose you could make the argument, but do you really want him as a friend? I really don't think so. You wouldn't be "losing him as a friend," you'd be "losing him as a potential boyfriend/lover," the former simply being a rationalization.

I say, go for it. Show him you're available; show him you want him, and that he's torturing himself. If it gets to the stage where you both acknowledge each other romantically, then help him devise a plan of coitus relationshipus and live happily ever after.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 6:19 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


For good fucking reason. I take it back. The two of you deserve each other.

Not that you deserved it, but I think most of the anger people have about this sort of thing stems from the irrational idea (whether conscious or subconscious) that relationships never, ever end, and love is eternal.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 6:21 PM on October 8, 2006


According to him, he has told his girlfriend on several occasions that he thinks that things will not work out between them, that they're not right for each other, and that it would be best if they moved on. Her response is that she will not let him give up on their relationship and she has no where to go. He knows that he's being weak but says he can't just throw her out after 4 years. I know very well that is no replacement for actually breaking up with someone and that if forced to, she COULD find another place to live. Maybe he really just isn't ready to let go of this yet. I don't know.

This paragraph makes me think you're thinking WAAAAY too hard about this AND he's telling you too much private info. You guys are walking RIGHT up to that invisible inappriopiate line and perhaps dancing across it every now and then, ever so lightly.

Quit talking to him and tell him you don't want to be a distraction to his relationship. If/when he's single, do tell him to call you, but otherwise keep your distance. Whether him and GF work it out is none of your business or concern.

and why would you want to date someone who allows themselves to be manipulated into NOT breaking up?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on October 8, 2006


Wow, I am really surprised by some of these angry comments. There has been some innocent flirting but like I said, hardly any since I even knew this girlfriend existed. We talk on the phone about nothing romantic. I am not encouraging him to do anything! She knows we talk, she knows of the one time we hung out without her. If you take away the flirting, we are just friends and that does not make me an asshole. I've been the girlfriend too but when there's something wrong in my relationship, I dont' blame someone else.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 6:22 PM on October 8, 2006


Just want to repeat what you're saying:

You're emotionally rocky, as you've just gotten out of a serious relationship.
He's emotionally rocky, as he's struggling with his serious relationship.
You both are doctors and are "thrown together" in a program causing lots of interaction.

Yeah, this could very well be disaster.
Likely, you need more time. Likely he needs time (and freedom). Last, if your program is intense, you're bonding via the common experience, not because you'd be "good togther"

If he leaves her - you will be the rebound girl, unless he spends some serious time alone, getting his head together.
posted by filmgeek at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2006


yes, the angry comments are what is really inappropriate here. the posts from Lockeownzj00 are spot on: life is simply a lot more complicated then some people think.

it can be very hard to end a failing relationship. (especially if the partner is codependent as this one seems to be.) sometimes another person (i.e. the lovely dr. cherry) is the impetus that is needed. that doesn't immediately mean that dr. cherry and mr. indecisive are terrible sinners.

but if you are the impetus, then whether you end up as rebound or whether this is the real thing... impossible to know until it happens.

good luck anyway.
posted by tabulem at 6:31 PM on October 8, 2006


I think there's a great possibility that they're both rebounding each other.

And the problem is?

So what if it isn't the love to end all ages? Not all relationships need to be spent defining what they are and aren't. It's possible that these two people could just...need each other at this time. Trying to qualify it in terms of whether or not it's a rebound, whether or not it's cheating...I think that's missing the point.

If it were just sex and she weren't looking for that, I can see why it might end in disaster. But even if it's two or three months, maybe that's the transition period they both need. Couldn't it be argued that being emotionally rocky and alone is even more dangerous for your mental state? ltimately it's up to her to judge, to see whether or not he is honest, he is serious, he is just in pain, or whatever.

And doesn't every relationship technically end in disaster, or some form of it, anyway?

Reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke: "Mitch, do you want uh apple? No, eventually it'll be a core."
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 6:32 PM on October 8, 2006


I say, go for it. Show him you're available; show him you want him, and that he's torturing himself. If it gets to the stage where you both acknowledge each other romantically, then help him devise a plan of coitus relationshipus and live happily ever after.
posted by Lockeownzj00


Thank you for acknowledging that life is a bit more complicated than a how-to manual. He may not be doing the most right thing, but he's not a bad person. The problem I forsee with even divulging to him that I have feelings beyond friendship is that I do not want to be a factor in his break-up. Then it would be like a crazy Jerry Springer love triangle, and that's the last thing I need. I figured that he would break-up with her because he has been having problems with her waaaay before I showed up, and I would just be around. I see now that I am a lot more than "around." I am involving myself too much.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 6:33 PM on October 8, 2006


And doesn't every relationship technically end in disaster, or some form of it, anyway?

Haha! Isn't that the truth?! I think my ex and I had one of the best most civilized breakups but yet it was still a bit nasty. It's made most difficult when you still really love the person but you just know it isn't right.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 6:41 PM on October 8, 2006


Quit talking to him and tell him you don't want to be a distraction to his relationship. If/when he's single, do tell him to call you, but otherwise keep your distance. Whether him and GF work it out is none of your business or concern.

What if I am not a distraction to his relationship? If he's made the decision to end it, what am I distracting him from? Besides, if we completely put an end to the flirting and we decrease the frequency of contact, can't we just be friends? Must I completely disappear because this girl is too desperate to leave on her own?
posted by Dr. Cherry at 6:46 PM on October 8, 2006


The problem here is not that you're going after a person in a relationship (being attracted to people in relationships is part of life, and you seem to be handling it pretty honorably); the problem is that he's not showing any signs of getting out of the relationship. Talking about how a marriage/relationship is "essentially over" is the oldest game in the book, and it doesn't even matter whether the guy believes his own bullshit or not. I know a woman whose life was essentially ruined by a guy like this; she kept hanging around, letting the rest of her life go to hell, while he strung her along... and when he finally did divorce the first wife, he married someone else! Then he told her that marriage was hopeless, and she was his true love, and he would definitely divorce this wrong woman and they could be together at last... I'm not saying this is what's going on, but you don't want to take the risk. Back off until he's truly single, then see what develops.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 PM on October 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


it can be very hard to end a failing relationship. (especially if the partner is codependent as this one seems to be.) sometimes another person (i.e. the lovely dr. cherry) is the impetus that is needed.

I agree -- for the more-unhappy person, liking a new person can be a step toward ending a failing relationship. Putting kids aside (there are none here), I don't think it's evil or horrible, just human and sometimes terribly sad for the less-unhappy person.

Those new relationships can have a lot of energy at the beginning and then peter out (not all of them, just a tendency).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 6:54 PM on October 8, 2006


He may not be doing the most right thing, but he's not a bad person... I see now that I am a lot more than "around." I am involving myself too much.

I believe you, on both counts. I think it's great that, in the little time since you posted your question, you've found yourself a good place between the expressed extremes -- the ones who considered both of you to be assholes and the ones who said there was nothing at all wrong with this picture. (And, if I erred a little on the first side up-thread, I apologize.) Best of luck!
posted by daisyace at 6:56 PM on October 8, 2006


I read somewhere that the recommended time-space between deep relationships is a minimum of a year (can't remember where) and somewhere else that you should allow at least one month for every year to get over it?

Anyway, here are my personal opinion-type answers to your questions.
How do I deal with a guy who I have strong feelings for but has a girlfriend he is trying to break up with?
I'd avoid him as much as possible.

Should I tell him how I feel?
I wouldn't. While they are still living together, there is still a relationship, however tenous, and they certainly do not need extra complications.

Should I ask how he feels about me?
See previous

Is there a chance for a relationship even if he breaks up with her or will I just be the rebound girl?
Yes, there is always a chance. Yes, you might be rebound girl. Best way to avoid that is to give him time to get used to being single.

Is there a safe way to find out what his intentions are towards with me? Time, I suspect. Wait until he's moved out or his girlfriend has, and ask him.

Have you thought perhaps that being involved romantically with someone you work with might lead to complications in your workplace? I wonder too if your shifts, the long hours and the stresses of your careers might also bring problems to any relationship. Is he really worth it?
posted by b33j at 7:04 PM on October 8, 2006


The problem here is not that you're going after a person in a relationship (being attracted to people in relationships is part of life, and you seem to be handling it pretty honorably); the problem is that he's not showing any signs of getting out of the relationship.

You're right. Talk is cheap. He's said so himself. So we're all in agreement about that. Sounds like it would be a mistake to wait around for him...

I agree -- for the more-unhappy person, liking a new person can be a step toward ending a failing relationship

I think it's ok if liking a new person shows you that there is better out there, but I myself do not want to be the cause of the break-up or the excuse for it. And I don't think that I will be in this case because like I said, I have no indication that he actually wants to date me...

By the way, I do know how this girlfriend feels as well. I was with someone too that broke up with me while I tried to hang on. As painful as it was, it was better when I actually let go and got myself out of the situation. So I do feel bad for her, but I know that things are much better once you get through it.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 7:06 PM on October 8, 2006


The problem I forsee with even divulging to him that I have feelings beyond friendship is that I do not want to be a factor in his break-up.

Ultimately, it's your decision, but I'll do my job as a respondent and say:

What if he doesn't have the confidence to do it unless you push him? I realize you might be comfortable with that, but here's how I feel about being "just friends--" you can't be. Most of the time.

It might be a platitude, but it just can never feel the same as a friend-relationship does. It will always be (at least until you don't have feelings for him anymore) "that guy I hang out with that I secretly like." When you have coffee together, if at any point you have to remind yourself that you are "just friends," you aren't; it's an imbalanced relationship where you add a healthy does of longing to every endeavor, making it distinctly different when you're just hanging out with 'the girls' or whoever else you might be friends with. Let's face it, looking at someone your heart is swelling for in the face and consciously suppressing your desire is a sign of something: that it's either lovers, or 'relationship purgatory' (not that you should break it off, just that 'friends' isn't the real alternative here).

I don't want to be the catalyst to your own or anyone else's suffering really, but I suppose I have to accept that giving this advice, so: I think there's a lot of bad onus on being "the other woman," but don't let that get to you. Don't let him pass you by because you want to be ethically sound enough to get into heaven or something (not that one shouldn't be ethical; just that following these societal notions of 'moral' are sometimes misleading), but don't let it become Jerry Springer either. The melodrama only happens if there's at least two histrionic parties. I don't know what you all are like, but it doesn't have to be something to write in your journal.

Like I said, this dangerous tight rope is just that--a tight rope. Neither of you are benefitting from this internal ambivalence you're causing yourselves (I think it's pretty clear he's keen on you), and unless you want it to become a story you tell over a few drinks, you've got to obliterate this gray area.

Unless you manage to completely sever ties with this guy, it's not going to end--even if it takes a while to resurface. Especially if you work with him every single day. Unless this training program ends in a week or something, you're going to be seeing a lot of each other.

Incidentally, what of that? How long is the program? Does everyone part ways after the programs over? Do you stay at the hospital? Are you becoming a resident, or something? This could change the circumstances, a bit. If you're parting ways in a month, that's one thing; if you're going to be seeing each other at the hospital for the next two years, that's another.

Methinks you should sit down and watch a few seasons of Scrubs. Surprisingly accurate show not only about hospitals, but about relationships.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 7:14 PM on October 8, 2006


Have you thought perhaps that being involved romantically with someone you work with might lead to complications in your workplace? I wonder too if your shifts, the long hours and the stresses of your careers might also bring problems to any relationship. Is he really worth it?

Yes, I have thought about it. While we did meet when we worked together, he is in a different program so we won't be working together any longer. We might bump into each other but that would be it. The long hours are definitely a consideration, but honestly, it's hard to find a guy who understands the demanding schedule of the hospital who doesn't actually work there. If he's really worth it? I don't know. He's got a lot of qualities I really like as a person, and I am more attracted to him than anyone in a very long time (that is before I found out about his girlfriend).

So even if we kept it totally platonic, you think we can't be friends?
posted by Dr. Cherry at 7:15 PM on October 8, 2006


...but I myself do not want to be the cause of the break-up or the excuse for it.

See one of my previous posts:

The very fact that he "can't" do anything might actually point to an inherent altruism that hates seeing suffering in others--can lead to some puerile decisions sometimes, true, but I think that's mostly a positive thing.

With the "ultimately your decision" disclaimer: if you honestly think that not making a decision is a decision in this case, I think you're wrong. Again, don't know you personally, but if the situation is tense at all (which it seems to be if you're "sneaking around to see each other), not wanting to be the catalyst of something is probably the least realistic and potentially childish thing you can do. Can't make everyone happy, unfortunately. It's all about not being a prick and minimizing the damage.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 7:18 PM on October 8, 2006


I think most of the anger people have about this sort of thing stems from the irrational idea (whether conscious or subconscious) that relationships never, ever end, and love is eternal.
I think it stems from the fact that what Dr. Cherry is asking about sounds an awful lot like driving a wedge into this guy's existing relationship in hopes of breaking him up with his current girlfriend. That's a pretty rotten thing to do.

It sounds like the existing relationship is not so good, and he'd be better off ending it (though of course Dr Cherry may not be the most neutral observer). But he needs to make that assessment, not Dr Cherry; and he needs to follow through on it himself.
posted by hattifattener at 7:21 PM on October 8, 2006


Incidentally, what of that? How long is the program? Does everyone part ways after the programs over? Do you stay at the hospital? Are you becoming a resident, or something? This could change the circumstances, a bit. If you're parting ways in a month, that's one thing; if you're going to be seeing each other at the hospital for the next two years, that's another.

Ok so the deal is - I am a resident. He is a resident. We are in two different programs in the same hospital. Mine is 3 years, his is 5. We met while on the same rotation, but our rotations from now on will not coincide meaning we will see each other sparingly at the hospital and probably won't work together again. Rumors can be spread however pretty quickly via nurses and other residents.

You are right. It's pretty much impossible to be just friends with someone you have feelings for and furthemore it sucks! I can't even believe I am in this situation honestly. I am the last person that would cheat with someone. I think the fact that he seemed so resolute about ending his relationship really threw me. Maybe it's all a con, but I've seen him with patients and other people. If anything I think it's lack of confidence, weakness, and indecisiveness rather than manipulation and cruelty. How can I judge him for that when I've felt the exact same way before?

So you're saying to obliterate the gray area how? sever the ties or tell him how I feel?
posted by Dr. Cherry at 7:27 PM on October 8, 2006


What if I am not a distraction to his relationship?

If he's made the decision to end it, what am I distracting him from?

Besides, if we completely put an end to the flirting and we decrease the frequency of contact, can't we just be friends?

Must I completely disappear because this girl is too desperate to leave on her own?


To me, these various questions say that you're looking for someone to give you permission to go for this, on some level.
Any chance that could be true, that you just really want this guy NOW, potentially ugly situation be damned?

And maybe you should examine your own emotional state i.e., your breakup with fiance might be bringing in issues here. Not trying to be down on you, but just suggesting that you look at one you want THIS guy, you know? There's nothing wrong with wanting someone, but is this really what you want?

So, you need to make up your mind: Do you wanna tell him your feelings while he still has a live in girlfriend or not? 'Cause t takes TWO to keep a relationship going, but only one to break it up. People have broken up and still lived in the same apartment, it IS possible, though obviously awkward. But not even that has happened. So ask yourself: Do you want to put yourself out there emotionally to a guy who is still in a relationhip? Yeah, he's said it's over, but HE HAS NOT ENDED IT, for whatever reason. Ignore whatever reason it is and just deal with the fact that he still has a relationship, do you want to go for him, despite that fact?

There are no real bad guys here, YET, but if you reveal these feelings BEFORE he ends it with her, this could get ugly, really fast.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:32 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think it stems from the fact that what Dr. Cherry is asking about sounds an awful lot like driving a wedge into this guy's existing relationship in hopes of breaking him up with his current girlfriend. That's a pretty rotten thing to do.

Wow, really? Ok let me reiterate...HE said that his relationship is over, that he doesn't want to work on it anymore. There is a wedge alright, but I'm not the one that put it there. If he even expressed the slight bit of hope that things will improve, I wouldn't even be on here discussing it. But you are right, it is for him to act on.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2006


To tristeza: Did your guy tell you he wanted to be with you/date you while he was still in his former relationship?

Yes. Long story short - he and I started dating while he was still involved with his long term partner. Not a good move on either or our parts, I know.

He kept talking about how much he wanted to move on from that relationship, and be with me, but it was so hard, and what would she do, etc etc etc....I finally just put my foot down that I wouldn't compromise and be in a half-assed cheating thing with him, and that he had to make a decision or that was it.

I won't say that what I said MADE him do anything, or that my ultimatum was the final deciding factor, but I do think it helped him to see that I was serious about not being the other woman, and helped nudge him toward doing something difficult that he could have put off indefinitely.
posted by tristeza at 7:38 PM on October 8, 2006


So you're saying to obliterate the gray area how? sever the ties or tell him how I feel?

...In a sense. But as I clarified, it seems like severing ties completely is 1) probably unlikely since you seem to be within six degrees of separation 2) will only feel forced.

If you reallly, truly think this is a bad thing, then stay away from him--but I don't think you should deprive yourself from happiness, or either of you from a chance just because of what you don't want to be. Close your eyes, think hard, and make a decision. Right now, you can't be "real" friends with him. Have you ever met an ex, years later? And were completely unattracted to them? That's how it should feel--and if it doesn't, you don't really think of him as a friend.

Alternatively, I'm not necessarily saying completely sever ties. All I'm saying is recognise that the choice isn't "friends vs. lovers," and rather "romantically/sexually-charged grey area vs. lovers," and go from there.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 7:50 PM on October 8, 2006


Alternatively, I'm not necessarily saying completely sever ties. All I'm saying is recognise that the choice isn't "friends vs. lovers," and rather "romantically/sexually-charged grey area vs. lovers," and go from there.

Thanks for your input! Well I can tell you right now, it's not a decision that's going to be made tonight despite all the great advice. But it sure has been interesting reading everyone's responses. I actually did not have a plan of action (other than probably backing off some) when I posted my question so I wasn't really looking for justification to do any particular thing. Just wanted to get people's opinions.

I can tell you that I do care about people and their feelings so when my actions affect others, I take them seriously. I am not and will not be "the other woman" because it really will hurt the girlfriend a lot if she finds out and I think I deserve better than to be someone's girl-on-the-side. If he really wants to break up with her, he can do it without my help and then he and I can talk about how we feel about each other at a later point. I don't think that he and I keeping in contact is wrong, but it will probably complicate things. I think from my end, I will probably back off and see how things develop.

Maybe I should date other people? Perhaps that will make him realize I'm not just waiting around for him? What do you think?
posted by Dr. Cherry at 8:11 PM on October 8, 2006


Run, Dr. Cherry, run!

A couple of things:
1. You are already the other woman, whether you like to admit it or not. Just because you aren't making the beast with two backs yet doesn't mean anything - he is emotionally involved with you in a way that he should not be with any woman other than the one he is partnered with.
b. You do deserve better than to be someone's girl-on-the-side, so run while you still can. When If he ever gets out of his current relationship, you can start from the beginning without the baggage that inevitably comes from starting a relationship while one of the parties is still entangled.
posted by dg at 8:27 PM on October 8, 2006


Maybe I should date other people? Perhaps that will make him realize I'm not just waiting around for him? What do you think?

I think that will only work if he knows that you were thinking of waiting around for him in the first place. Even if he has an inkling, he might not be sure either, so your backing off/dating other people might not have the desired effect. Then again, it could.

Don't force other relationships, though. Again; if it turns out other people, not him, are what you really need right now, then by all means, go ahead...but don't end up hurting other people by getting into something just because you're bored, or waiting for him (unless the other person knows that; something open), because it'll invariably be unfulfilling.

I've tried relationships I wasn't into before. I'm in one now. It's not fun looking at someone and knowing you made a huge mistake.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 8:29 PM on October 8, 2006


I've tried relationships I wasn't into before. I'm in one now. It's not fun looking at someone and knowing you made a huge mistake.
posted by Lockeownzj00


Ooh, you raise some good points! I would think this guy would know he might have a chance with me, but guys as I've found out are a lot more clueless than I thought. See, this would be easily cleared up...if he were single! Damn it, there's no way for me to make anything known to him without being labeled as a dirty filthy whore. I know I know, you say if that's what I want to do, I should ignore everyone's judgements and go for it...but I would be judging me as well.

I guess the only way it would be defensible to make my feelings known is to tell him and then cut off contact until the relationship is truly over.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 8:54 PM on October 8, 2006


Wow, really? Ok let me reiterate...HE said that his relationship is over, that he doesn't want to work on it anymore.

So what? He still lives with her.

I worked in hospitals for a decade. It's a tension-filled environment, and as you probably already know there's an awful lot of sexual relationships of varying lengths - irrespective of the participants' "official" relationships. One of the most common rationales for this is "It's so hard to meet someone who really understands what I'm experiencing." Let go of that. It's in the same bucket with "My wife doesn't understand me."

Maybe I should date other people? Perhaps that will make him realize I'm not just waiting around for him? What do you think?

The longer this thread goes on, the more I'm getting an uncomfortable vibe that you're scheming, or at least hanging around hoping to get permission to force some issue with this guy.

Walk away from this guy romantically, even if you "secretly like" him. He is living with someone. If that situation changes and you both happen to be single, great. Otherwise, live and learn.
posted by caitlinb at 9:02 PM on October 8, 2006


I guess the only way it would be defensible to make my feelings known is to tell him and then cut off contact until the relationship is truly over.

What's the difference between this and announcing, "It's her or me. Decide right now?" Why would you do this if, as you claim, you don't want to "cause" the breakup?

This is a high-pressure control move you're talking about. Personally, I never think that stuff is worth it, unless you're defending yourself against someone who is trying to hurt you.

You've described this guy as weak, indecisive, and lacking confidence. And you're looking at creating some big drama scene in order to "win" him because ... why? Because residency is a bitch and you want human contact? Hey, anyone can understand that, but why can't you choose to console yourself with someone who isn't encumbered?
posted by caitlinb at 9:09 PM on October 8, 2006


The longer this thread goes on, the more I'm getting an uncomfortable vibe that you're scheming, or at least hanging around hoping to get permission to force some issue with this guy.

Hey, did you ignore that whole part where I wrote that I will probably just back off and give him some space, etc? Perhaps I should've put a smiley face after I wrote the part about dating other people, but really that was just mean to say - I should move on and not wait around for him.

I am not trying to get permission to do anything with him. If I wanted to do something by now, I would've done it. I don't need a stranger's permission to do so despite how interesting people's opinions are. They are just - opinions. You don't know me, so I am not going to get upset that you think I'm "scheming." If anything, I'm just way overanalyzing the situation. Thanks for you input anyway...
posted by Dr. Cherry at 9:10 PM on October 8, 2006


He's said that I would be surprised to see how available he is when this situation is resolved.

Yes, you will be suprised. Bail. Like yesterday.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:34 PM on October 8, 2006


Also, you are the other woman already. I'm not saying it to be mean, but to let you know that honey traps like this are set to give you plenty of reasons to tell yourself that you aren't committing the sin that you are. Hate to get all Biblical on you, (I'm not a Christian), but you are coveting thy neighbor's significant other.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 PM on October 8, 2006


Hey I'm not a Christian either so that Biblical stuff doesn't work on me...

Thanks to everyone who is trying to tell me that I'm a sinner...very constructive.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 9:44 PM on October 8, 2006


I hate to be the Nth person to say this but...

Politely but firmly tell him that as much as you like him, you cannot in good conscience be anything more than his friend until his current relationship is completely resolved. Period. The End. And stick to your guns.

Either he will end his current relationship with her, he will get back on good terms with her, or he will find some other resident/intern/nurse to flirt with and maybe shag. If he is willing to treat current girlfriend this way, he is willing to treat next girlfriend (you) this way. Read "House Of God" for pity sake.
posted by ilsa at 9:58 PM on October 8, 2006


I am nothing more than his friend currently. He has not tried to pursue anything further with me. He is not trying to "shag" me. For pity's sake?!
posted by Dr. Cherry at 10:03 PM on October 8, 2006


He has not tried to pursue anything further with me.

Oh, but he's definitely keeping you warmed up on the bench. Maybe things will work out fine, but probably not. How he treats HER is how he'll treat YOU.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:28 PM on October 8, 2006


Well, Dr. Cherry, you've disliked my tone upthread, and you've put on an amazing display of thread moderation since, which is sometimes considered bad form, as it's a pretty heavy handed way of trying to manage opinion, but let's put all that aside for a minute, shall we?

You're a young woman, and I'm an old guy. You know some medicine, and I probably know a thing or two about human motivations. Let's say I overlook the hairs on the back of my neck going up at most of your language/construction and the immediacy and constancy of your replies, and you try to pause for a deep breath before replying again.

The wisest people live their lives with a certian reserve, and a healthy respect for the effects their actions will have on other people's lives. They may seem to lack passion, and some do, but others struggle to master themselves and live wisely with passion still, so as to make fewer mistakes, and to learn more from those they do. If, in fact, that is your goal, you may want to ask yourself how your actions in this situation can best support your larger goal of living wisely. On the other hand, if your goal is to live large, then live large and don't look to others. But let's say, since you're posting here, you're looking for putative wisdom, however roughly put. What then?

If you stay in a parking orbit around your putative paramour, are you really doing anything positive for your own life? [Possible, if you view gathering additional information about the guy, and flirting harmlessly from freindspace as valuable.] Can your gravity and presence, even from a parking orbit, really have no effect on him, or will it induce a slight, but perceptible wobble in his axis, that will pull you too, eventually, slowly out of your chosen orbit, and towards some future cosmic collision? If your worlds do collide under such circumstances, will he or you be more or less likely to avoid similar orbits and collisions with others in the future, for having had this one? Are you egotistical enough to believe he'll never look at another woman, if your relationship with him hits a gravel patch? [No snark intended, but really...]

Relationships are hard enough, without clouded beginnings. And in a professional setting, personal relationships between men and women inevitably do have consequences all out of proportion, even though it be the opening inning of the 21st century. How you handle this, given your work situation, may have effects on the opinion of others, beyond your ability to manage, whether you agree that is fair or not. And I'm not talking about the gossip that flies around all workplaces, when there is any rumor of an office romance.

Colleagues measure your professionalism in many ways, not least of which is the wisdom you demonstrate in personal affairs. If you make personally important relationships with people that seem to others to be reasonable, colleagues and other people will tend to believe you are predictable and trustworthy, because what they think they know about your tastes and choices is borne out by your choices of others important in your personal life. If you make those relationships with people that seem unconventional for a person of your background, people will think your thinking is less conventional too. Nothing wrong with a doctor and a welder being together, but it makes for a strained social circle, generally, don't you see? So, you have to see this in that light, too. Is taking up with a colleague romantically, at this stage of your life and career, the wisest thing? If the relationship fails, or he changes course in 6 months, will you appear wise to those about you, or will they think your judgement a little less sober than they would otherwise? Is having another doctor as a significant other, the best balance for your own life?

I'm not particularly interested in any immediate answer you might offer to any of these questions I've posed. But they are pivotal to you making an important decision about your life. The id wants what it wants, and to chose something other than that is difficult for the most self-reliant ego, particularly if doing so seems to leave the heart wanting, too. But that's another point for self-examination: how much of your question is id, and how much is heart?

Good luck with all this. It's apparent you're pretty wound up about it.
posted by paulsc at 10:37 PM on October 8, 2006 [3 favorites]


I damn sure wouldn't wait around for his current relationship to terminate. If you're holding off on other relationships because you think this guy is about to become available, you may very well be wasting your time. (But maybe not; I realize you might not be in a relationship otherwise.)

You have no real idea, from what you've said, about whether his relationship with his girlfriend has a future. People quite often think relationships are over ... then, after a re-adjustment prompted by a near-breakup, the relationship goes on lasting for years and years.
posted by jayder at 11:03 PM on October 8, 2006


He's obviously interested in you. He at least suspects you are interested in him. His girlfriend already sees you as a rival and her jealousy is rational, although you are correct in your assertion that you have not yet done anything wrong. Dropping a confession of feelings in the midst of this already fraught situation is at least unwise if not unethical.

It has to be said that "I can't break up with the SO because she gets hysterical when I try" is like the canonical excuse of the serial cheater. Honestly, you sound too smitten to seriously consider that but from the outside it looks like a totally rational take on the situation.

If his presentation of his situation is legitimate obviously he needs to man up and just deal with ending his relationship and its fallout. Personally I think it would be better he do it without knowing for sure you are waiting in the wings for him. I'd also say that in this case broken up is not enough, they have to be out of the shared living arrangement entirely (i.e. they are not on the same lease, not he moves in with you while she "sorts things out") before you take up with him.

Dr. Nanojath's rules of relationships are few but one of the firm ones is never hold out for someone in a relationship. The smart play is to dial things well back without making any big thing of it. By all means be open to dating other people. You can't get on with a relationship with him so get on with your life. Better decide now what you're going to tell him when he inevitably starts into you about what's the matter, though.
posted by nanojath at 11:11 PM on October 8, 2006


Once the guy is single (seperated from ex) ... he's probably gonna want to fish the waters a bit. sounds like he's a tarzan guy - who doesn't let go of the vine he's on til he's got the next one in hand.

I'd say let him ride... or keep it cool - stay friends and see where's he's at in 3 and 6 months.
posted by specialk420 at 11:14 PM on October 8, 2006


Dr. Cherry wrote...

What if I am not a distraction to his relationship? If he's made the decision to end it, what am I distracting him from?


I think a general point people are making here is that he has *not* decided to end his relationship. Period.

I think you should ignore what you think you know is going on inside the relationship, and treat this situation as "I have a crush on this guy, but he's in a committed relationship right now."

Bopping back and forth between "I want to get together with him and he says his relationship is over" and "I can't get together with him because he's in a relationship" will drive you nuts. Hell, it's driving me nuts just reading your posts about it.

Anyways, your mantra should be "This Guy Is In A Committed Relationship". I think it will clear up your options quite nicely if you take it to heart.
posted by tkolar at 12:05 AM on October 9, 2006


Lockeownzj00 wrote...
I think most of the anger people have about this sort of thing stems from the irrational idea (whether conscious or subconscious) that relationships never, ever end, and love is eternal.

I think that most of the anger people have about this sort of thing stems from the fact that relationships are very human things that take a lot of hard work, and have their ups and downs.

It's bad enough when you're having a serious crisis in your relationship -- knowing that your partner has decided to start fantasizing about greener pastures rather than staying present and working with you is just devastating.

Dr. Cherry has already used the words "flirting" and "sneaking" here. While she disavows any intent to have an affair (emotional or physical) I can understand why the use of those words have sent so many people's alarm bells ringing. From her description she appears to be one of the fantasies that this --- I won't call him a man, let's say oversized boy -- is playing with rather than dealing with the relationship he is in now.

As such, I think the anger at her is somewhat misdirected. If her intentions are as innocent as she believes, she's merely reacting to a cute guy flirting with her. The asshole here is the guy, for failing to see through his current relationship before signalling to women that he's ready for a new one.
posted by tkolar at 12:27 AM on October 9, 2006


we are both doctors in a training program

As someone who's been a doctor in a training program, I'd suggest just staying friends until you're done with training.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:48 AM on October 9, 2006


[a few comments removed, take metacommentary to metatalk]
posted by jessamyn at 5:39 AM on October 9, 2006


The issue here I would say is respect. He needs to respect you enough if this proceeds to give his whole self, which he can't.

He needs to respect her enough to stay faithful till its done.

You need to respect that a four year relationship is a tremendous investment on both peoples part and will take a while to "undo" successfully. She is not a bad person and doesn't deserve to be disrespected and the same goes for both of you.

My advice to you, would to be to not say anything explicitly, but draw back on spending time together for the moment give him time to resolve this relationship.

If I were giving him advice. I would tell him to frame his breakup in respect as well. Tell his girlfriend that she deserves a guy that loves her with all his heart and that she will find him, but that he is not that man. Then, he needs to help her find a decent place to live and shore up her confidence a little. Its not like he all of sudden hates her, he can help in this situation.

When this is happening, you stay out of it. Completely. I know you know her casually, but don't suggest places to live or places to work, it could cause a crazy blow up and finger pointing. Just dissapear till its over.
posted by stormygrey at 6:27 AM on October 9, 2006


As others have said, you are already the other woman. You and he are emotionally intimate. You should stop that, it isn't nice. Dump him like a bad habit. If he comes back in a few months and tells you he broke up and moved out, you have an open field.
posted by LarryC at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2006


Thanks for all the replies so far...some really great points have been made. You're right paulsc, I'm wound up about it. And really, that's silly. I do actually like this guy as opposed to just want to satisfy my id. However, I see now that I'm way too emotionally involved. And this is not a positive situation from any angle.

There's really nothing wrong with my moral compass. I have to make decisions every day where I choose to do the right thing. But as you all know, sometimes it's hard to see all the facts when you're in the middle of a situation. So this has allowed me to take a step back and really look at things.

I really did think it was very innocent. I did not have any intention of breaking up his relationship, from the information I got from him, I just figured it was going to happen on its own. But I guess the consensus here is that I'm meddling in it just by being present.

And you all are right - relationships can go on for a very long time even when one partner thinks things are pretty much over. I guess I felt like I knew where he was at things in his relationship since there was a time I felt the same way in my past relationship before I actually got the courage to break things off. But that's neither here nor there because no one knows when and if that is going to happen in his case. It would be silly of me to wait around.

The bottom line - he is in a committed relationship. You are right, if I just look at it that way, it's very clear what the appropriate course of action is.

After having slept on it, I know the best thing to do is not express any sort of feelings to him, to just to back off and let him deal with his situation- meaning break things off with her completely and her moving out completely.

As to what I will say if he asks me why I'm distancing myself, I am not sure...any thoughts?
posted by Dr. Cherry at 8:09 AM on October 9, 2006


Tell him he knows why- don't even bother wasting your energy trying to explain it to him. This guy knows exactly what he is doing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


You appear to be underestimating both his level of self-interest and your own in this matter. You're taking his statements about his relationship at face value, according them the same importance you're according his actions toward you. For respectful people in circumstances fraught with potential pain, those two things need to be in as close agreement as possible. There are many reasons, not least the interest of an intelligent, attractive young colleague, why he might be misrepresenting the status of his current relationship.

On the other hand, your own protestations of innocence coupled with your stated conviction that you have no effect on his pronouncments or feelings about his relationship, indicate that you aren't really acknowledging your own role and desires in all of this. Consider for taking some time out to think about how you would feel if your long-term bf were discussing your relationship as part of an intimate and flirtacious relationship with an available colleague. What would you think about your bf? What would you think about that other woman?

One need not think that either one of you has nefarious aims in this situation to think that it's not a good one, or that you should mutually back-off.
posted by OmieWise at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2006


On lack of preview: good response.
posted by OmieWise at 8:32 AM on October 9, 2006


Dr. Cherry - a good friend of mine is in a relationship where the guy was in exactly the situation you describe you are in when she met her current boyfriend. They flirted and he felt really guilty. She went to a MUTUAL FRIEND, gave the friend her phone number and said, "If he breaks up with his girlfriend, give him my phone number". Guess what? Six months later she got a phone call. Today, they have been living together for six months.

Here's another story. A guy down the street from me (and the friend of a friend) came to my house for a bbq. I think he's super cute. We flirted ALOT. I then checked with my friend... guess what? He has a live-in girlfriend that ALL his friends agree is a terrible relationship. Then he started inviting me to things... so I pushed and said, are you attached? He admitted he was. Then he invited me to a World Cup party. Before going, I made it very clear, that we could only be friends and that I was not interested in being the bridge for him to get out of his existing relationship. Guess what? I haven't received anymore invitations and I'm just fine with that.

I agree these relationships can be ambigous and its hard to see someone and befriend when you really like them. I take my friend's example as inspiration and try to keep it very honest and that seems to keep me out of trouble. Good luck!
posted by zia at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2006


On preview, what to say if he asks why you don't call... well you said you initiate most of the contact. So it will be interesting to see how long it takes him to contact you. But that aside, I would probably just say either "I've been busy" or, more honestly, "I feel weird about hanging out with you so much wnen you have a livein girlfriend - it feels unfair to her and to me". I don't think you need to say more.
posted by zia at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2006


Zia, thanks for sharing your story.
posted by Dr. Cherry at 12:40 PM on October 9, 2006


Note to Dr. Cherry: A note not so much on the original post, but the subsequent ones - don't be so apologetic for your feelings. I think some assume that just because you're seeing if there is an actual connection (instead of some fleeting infatuation) with this person, you must be some anti-christ/homewrecker. You're somewhere around a 2 on a 1 to 10 scale on my personal "bad-shit-to-do-o'meter" with people in relationships.

Is it possible that if he better knew your feelings, he might be less hesitant to hold onto his failing relationship? This somewhat sets you up to be the "rebound" girl, but the title (and premise) itself is a little juvenile. I know plenty of people who are years out of relationships, and still have all of this "supposed" rebound baggage. The fact is that people bring things in and out of relationships all of the time, both for better and worse. People are so concerned with "being the bridge", or "being the rebound" or whatever. It seems to be a perception thing, and it shouldn't be more important than the connection that you feel to this person itself.

Zia's second post has a good recommendation on how to throw your hat into the ring and put the onus of action on him. It sounds like you have have enough self-respect to not just wait around for this guy or let yourself get trampled on. What you have here isn't something you find everyday, and because he's seemingly stuck in a dead-end relationship doesn't mean you should just squash your feelings and get on with life. Find a way to let him know.
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 1:19 PM on October 9, 2006


I personally think you've got his girlfriend pegged as some lunatic who can't live without him. Here's what I see:

He tells her maybe things aren't working out. [He is obviously NOT saying, "Look, this is O-V-E-R. Stop."] She reacts emotionally, which is normal, to the prospective end of her four-year relationship. "But why? Don't you love me?" to which he replies, "Yes." "Then let's just work it out..." "Okay." And then, as far as she knows, they do. Someone said it earlier, you're obviously not hearing the same story from the girlfriend.

So stop blaming her for anything, because you have obviously not taken the time to get to know her as well as you know him. I can't fault you for that, as you are just naturally closer to him, but you are doing a lot of conclusion-jumping based on JUST your guy's side of the story.

My advice: calm down, don't do anything rash, and find a mutual friend of the BOTH OF THEM to ask what the hell is REALLY going on with them. Worst case scenario, the friend will tell you that they have been behaving this way for four years, and you will know what an idiot this guy is. Best case scenario, the friend will find out from YOU that they have problems, offer the girlie a place to stay, and a break-up will commence.
posted by starbaby at 1:35 PM on October 9, 2006


I'm sorry Starbaby, I totally disagree. That sounds very machivellian. I advocate a straight forward honest approach.

Dealing with a mutual friend is unlikely to provide clarity on the status of their relationship, but I would bet that it create all kinds of drama as the mutual friend adds their opinion and views to the situation. And passes information to the girlfiend and passes judgement and takes sides.

I think if you make yourself clear, not because you want to break them up, not to share your feelings, but just a simple observation on the existing situation and the fact that it makes you uncomfortable and is unfair to (most of) the parties involved, you will feel very good about yourself and you will have no regrets.
posted by zia at 2:59 PM on October 9, 2006


I do not necessarily think that the girlfriend is a lunatic. She's emotional and hanging on to someone that expresses in the very least ambivalence about being with her. Most of us have been there. So I get it. Maybe he's been telling her that things will work out, maybe he hasn't. The post by starbaby makes a lot suppositions. Your point is that I've made a lot of assumptions on her based on what he's told me - you're right. But the truth is neither of us will know what is said between them. I guess the real point is that I shouldn't take what he says at face value, and I agree. There is no mutual friend, but I think involving other people could get really messy anyway. Besides, regardless of what is REALLY going on between them, it doesn't change what I should do.

I think some assume that just because you're seeing if there is an actual connection (instead of some fleeting infatuation) with this person, you must be some anti-christ/homewrecker. You're somewhere around a 2 on a 1 to 10 scale on my personal "bad-shit-to-do-o'meter" with people in relationships.

Thanks for stating I'm not the anti-christ =) You hit it right on the head - I was trying to see if there was an actual connection. Maybe it doesn't matter as much if I'd be the rebound girl, but I wouldn't want to be just a person to fill a void left by someone else. But hey, how can you ever tell if someone really likes you for you...sometimes you just have to risk it. You are totally correct about people having baggage even when a lot of time has passed and even through multiple relationships. I guess it depends on the person. This is all hypothetical talk though because at present, he is still with his girlfriend.

As for the current situation, I think the last two posts by littlelebowskiurbanachiever and zia make a lot of sense. I also spoke with my mom who suggested much of the same - that I do let him know that this situation, as it is, is inappropriate and unfair and that it cannot continue. That wouldn't be full disclosure of our feelings but it would accomplish owning up to the fact that the right thing to do is not be in contact while he's figuring things out, and that if things change, we can get back in touch and see what happens. I think I would feel much better about my actions if I did that.

Thanks for your posts :)
posted by Dr. Cherry at 8:50 PM on October 9, 2006


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