‘Do I tell my friend my feelings remain?’ (Picture: Neil Webb)
Welcome back to The Sex Column, our weekly series in which experts share their wisdom with someone struggling with a sex, dating, or relationship problem.
This Thursday we’re helping out a man who’s struggling to choose between two women.
Having ‘fall into’ an arrangement with a friend, he hoped for something more but it didn’t work out.
But when he started seeing someone new, thoughts of that pal returned… and now his head’s a mess.
What should he do?
‘Last year I fell into an arrangement with a friend and hoped it would develop into something more but it didn’t.
‘I recently started a new relationship and thoughts of my friend faded away until I saw her about a month ago and now they have returned.
‘We’ve arranged to meet for dinner but I feel like I will be cheating on my new girl, who I do really like.
‘Do I tell my friend my feelings remain? Do I tell my new girl the truth about who I’m meeting up with? Should I even be leading her on if I’m confused?’
What the experts say…
Having feelings for two people isn’t entirely unusual.
‘It’s been a long time since I was dating,’ says Rupert Smith, ‘but from what I can remember, relationships overlap, feelings never quite fit into the places or people you want them to and you can do the wrong thing even when you try to do the right thing.’
If only our emotions travelled in straight lines, says Dr Angharad Rudkin.
‘You like two girls at the same time, one who is available to you and one who is less,’ she says, ‘but all you really have to do is base your decision on who would you rather be with — because you can’t have both.’
Is feeling confused in trying to distinguish between friendship and romance a familiar experience for you?
‘Perhaps it’s scary to be in a situation where you don’t know exactly what’s going on, which basically describes my love life up to the age of 35,’ says Smith. ‘Or, conversely, do you often find yourself creating confusion and ignoring boundaries?’
If this is a pattern you have found yourself in previously, an exploration into your earliest familial relationships will help you. For now, ask yourself: how would I feel if my new girlfriend sneaked off for dinner with her ex?
‘The one she secretly has feelings for and is hoping to get back with?’ says James McConnachie. ‘I suspect you would feel used, humiliated, angry and upset. But love is precious and regret has a long-lasting sting so if your feelings haven’t gone away, tell your ex how you feel. Tell her now and don’t wait for dinner.’
Because meeting her will inevitably complicate matters.
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‘It could even signal the end of your current relationship because of the mix of feelings you will be left with and because of the sadness and worry this will cause your current girlfriend,’ says Rudkin.
If your ex says no, it might help you make a fresh start with this new girl.
‘You know, the one you like, who likes you back,’ says McConnachie. ‘The one who deserves more than this.’
Maybe what is needed is time alone so you can meet the part of you who knows what they want.
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
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