Adapted from a recent online discussion.
HI, CAROLYN: I’m afraid I’m seriously crushing on my close friend’s boyfriend, who happens to be close friends with my boyfriend. We all hang out a few times a week.
My boyfriend and I have had a rough patch and so have they. I’ve noticed that I’m developing feelings for him and I think the feeling is mutual. We haven’t said anything about it or crossed the line into inappropriate conversations; however, I feel like when we are in a group setting we just respond to each other more than anyone else. When we are hugging goodbye, which we have always done in front of my boyfriend, his arm lingers a little too long on my back.
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I know I sound like a high schoolgirl, but it’s gotten so bad that I’ve started dreaming about being with him. I have cheated before, on my first serious boyfriend when I was a teenager, and I don’t want to do it again. What can I do to curb these feelings?
— Once a Cheater, but Not Wanting to be Always a Cheater
DEAR ONCE A CHEATER, BUT NOT WANTING TO BE ALWAYS A CHEATER: I can see why you want to curb your feelings out of respect for your close friend — but why are you still with your boyfriend? Rough patch + feelings for someone else — life commitment usually (equal sign) sign that it’s over. No?
As for how to curb the feelings, distance is the only reliable way. It’ll be hard when your precedent is to see them almost every other day, but do find a way to pull back. Telling your friend outright about your crush would be the easiest if you’re open with each other that way, but saying you need one-on-one or alone time to deal with your boyfriend is also a perfectly good explanation, for now — you can tell your friend you’ve got a lot to figure out and you’re going to lie low until you do. That process can include extra time with your boyfriend and/or some good stretches of time alone to sort out your feelings.
What you need to figure out is whether you love your boyfriend, love the crush object, love whatever is just out of your reach, ahem — or don’t love anybody at the moment and just are having an awkward attraction at an awkward time. There’s no magic path to enlightenment, just introspection and self-control, be it ongoing or regained.
HI, CAROLYN: I just looked back at my calendar, and I’m EIGHT wedding gifts behind. It’s not like I was unable to afford gifts at the time; I have no excuse other than always being bad at responsibilities and deadlines.
But what to do? Just send cash? Ask them awkwardly what they still don’t have from their registries in my price range? Take the local ones out to dinner?
DEAR LATE: Take the local ones out to dinner, send a check and a nice card to the out-of-towners, laugh at yourself, and decide now on a future go-to gift that requires little planning, so you don’t keep stalling. Cash really is OK, by the way — it’s asking for it that leaves a grimy film.
You also don’t have to give a gift, but it seems as if you want to, so by all means do.