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I have been friends with this woman now for almost 10 years, and I am terribly in love with her. The problem is she is married to my friend. The other problem is she has feelings for me as well, and we recently started to express these feelings. We have not slept together.
But the feelings for each other are strong and keep getting expressed in some way. It is driving me crazy! How serious should I take her? It almost seems like she is afraid to say goodbye to what she has so we can be together. Should I be manly and passionate and throw caution, and perhaps friendships, to the wind?
I just want what I want, and for years now it has been her. What say you?
—Desperately in Love
What say I? Well, I say it is very easy to be madly in love with someone you've never heard cut a fart.
Perhaps that's crass, but the fact is you're caught up in the excitement of the illicit. Affairs, even of the emotional variety, are exciting, dramatic, and crazy-making. What you're experiencing is infatuation.
The reality of a love is far more mundane and has little in common with this flush of crazy, especially given that you've never even consummated the affair. Can you really be in love with someone you've never kissed? Maybe in a Jane Austen novel, but in real life, some people kiss like hyperactive woodpeckers. Yuck. What if she's drooly? Ever get swimmer's ear during a makeout? I'm here to tell you it's no fun. The worst part is that there's no way to tell in advance that someone's a shitty kisser, and if you find yourself involved with one, there's really no polite way to "fix" them. I tried for years to "fix" the guy whose lips sealed both my mouth and nose shut when we sucked face. I'm lucky I didn't lose consciousness.
Sexual compatibility is also a big factor in a relationship's success. What if her bedroom repertoire hinges on baby talk and/or scat? What then? You'll have wrecked your friend's life and you'll be obligated (on some level anyway) to stay with the poopy squeaker.
And do you really want someone who left her husband for you? Do you have any idea of the kind of pressure that puts on a relationship? There's no "casual" when something starts as an affair. If she's leaving the stability of her home for you, then you'd best prepare yourself for a new roommate.
Where's the fun in that? Instead of getting-to-know-you sex, you segue directly into laundry night and arguing over the remote. Oh, and her divorce. That'll be tons of fun for everyone involved. Especially if there are kids. They'll hate you both, wind up in therapy (if they're lucky), and cost you tons in buying-their-love holiday gifts.
But before I get ahead of myself, how are these feelings being expressed? You seem vague on this, which makes me a tad suspicious. Are you reading something into a look she gave you over group Yahtzee one night? Did she beckon you in a dream? Or were there actual furtive whispers and genital pix exchanged via mobile cellular device?
This is one of those letters where I know it doesn't matter much what I say, because you already know the right thing to do. Quit pretending to be friends with her husband (because really, you're like the worst friend ever), quit pining over this woman who's too chickenshit to leave her husband without the insurance policy of another relationship to fall into, and instead concentrate on meeting someone with less baggage.
But you probably won't do that, will you? Ah, well. Feel free to write back when she's clogged your DVR with Lifetime movies and drained your bank account to pay her legal fees.
FYI: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or anyone you know is facing violence at home, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-2233. This line is open 24/7, and can give callers contact info for local resources.