How do I go about moving on from this?
June 6, 2010 3:32 PM   Subscribe

How can I begin taking steps to get past this heartache that I've been hanging onto after falling in love with my best friend and move on to find someone who is actually emotionally available?

I'm a mid-thirties mom, twice divorced, each marriage very short and each marriage resulted in a child, and near the end of the second marriage he was physically abusive. I've suffered from depression for about 15 years, currently on good meds. Divorced 2 years ago and had already started developing a close friendship with a work colleague. Him: early 40s and has always lived with his mother. He is her support in every way and they will never live apart. We slept together several times but he never spent the night; he couldn't let her know he was involved with someone. We never called it 'dating' though I wanted to. I fell in love.

A year and a few months later, I'm coming out of this sort of haze and seeing him for what he is: really a sad guy in a difficult situation. I want to keep the friendship but I can't stop the fantasizing, as it's something that's become such a strong habit in the last couple years (my marriage dissolving had nothing to do with him, but I did find him attractive the day I met him). I've told him I love him, he says he "cares" for me. I am well aware that I've clung to this false hope of a relationship because of my fears of being in a real one; this one was safe in that he wouldn't turn around and say he wanted me, too. Just saying this makes me feel ill with thinking about the wasted love and time in the past year. Time thinking of him, hoping for him, but also knowing I wasn't ready. Is that f'ed up, or what?

How can I move on from this recent pain and face the issues of my two failed marriages, my depression and anxiety, and everything else? I'm terrified to let go of thought of us together. I don't know where to start.
posted by dorothyrose to Human Relations (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It's not really very f'ed up. Don't be hard on yourself. :)

The book How To Be An Adult In Relationships talks about how grief that strikes you as extreme could suggest that the grief is echoing, or freighted with, other past griefs. Particularly when it is stronger than the actual relationship, you might be grieving for something you imagined could someday be possible, rather than what existed, making the grief more about the sadness of having these desires go unfulfilled throughout your life and which you had hoped this relationship would finally meet. So, that makes your grief and difficulty giving up this fantasy relationship a great window into grieving the other losses, betrayals, and/or unmet needs of your past.
posted by salvia at 4:18 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Every worthwhile relationship isn't necessarily the right one for the long haul. It sounds like you have one that's right for right now. There's nothing wrong with that, and it could be this is just the one you need to help you move on from your failed marriage and toward another relationship with someone with more long-term partner potential. Everyone we meet has something to teach us - take the lesson(s) you find here, and if/when the time comes to move on, see them as a gift of your time with that person.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 4:19 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think that just by asking this question you're starting to move on.

I don't think your time or your love has been wasted; you say yourself that you weren't ready, so you picked someone you knew would never really be available to you. You did what felt right for you at the time, and that's OK, not f'ed up. You couldn't face the thought of something real then; now you can, and you're ready to start moving on.

You definitely can stop fantasizing about him, but you may have to give up the friendship, at least for the time being. It's a neat trick some people can do to stay friends in those circumstances and still move on, but I've never managed it. But a little distance now doesn't mean that you can never be friends again, if that's what you want.
posted by emumimic at 4:34 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think you've already started the process of moving on by viewing your current relationship with a critical eye and coming to terms with why you've stayed with him for so long. But you can't really move on from him until you're willing to let go.

What can you do to help you move on? Spend time with friends doing things that you enjoy. Find groups on that sound interesting to you. Join a gym. Volunteer. If you keep busy doing things that you love, you won't have much time to second guess decisions you've already made, and you may even meet someone in the process. This recent heavily-favorited comment about moving on resonated with me, and maybe you'll find it valuable, too.

Please try not to judge yourself so harshly. We all have regrets and suffer periods of self-doubt. If it's of any consolation, you're definitely not alone in having these feelings.
posted by contrariwise at 5:11 PM on June 6, 2010

It might help to realize that he already has a woman in his life. He won't be leaving his mother for you, so at the very least you can work on your self healing.

I think that the fact that you're realizing you were in this relationship that had no future to shield yourself from a 'real' one is a step forward. You admit the problem, now you can start to try to solve it. Work on the problems you're having and getting yourself healthy, then when the right guy comes along you'll be ready for him.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:19 PM on June 6, 2010

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