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Shrink Wrap: Help! I have feelings for someone else

Got an issue that you just can’t make sense of? Shrink Wrap is the go-to advice and support corner for the LGBT community. It’s similar to a Dear Abby but with a gay twist. Shrink Wrap allows you to ask questions about your personal life, relationships, sex, struggles, and anything else while remaining anonymous. Every week, we will answer up to three questions. Get real answers about real life issues. Anonymous and free! Give it a try, we dare you!

Confused writes:

I am in a relationship of seven years and I have feelings for my friend. I text her all the time, I make excuses to see her, and I’d prefer to talk to her than my girlfriend. I know she has feeling for me, too. I keep putting myself in situations that I know aren’t right, but I just can’t seem to stop. I love my girlfriend, but this has me so confused. What do I do?

Dear Confused:

First things first. Don’t take this time lightly. Your heart has been touched and you can’t ignore that feeling. Pay attention to these feelings and be serious with the issue. Our hearts get touched for various reasons and you need to figure out how it got here to begin with. If a person is in a secure relationship, emotions don’t simply spark for others out of the blue. Yes, we may have crushes along the way, but when our emotions take over, this is a sign there is more going on.

Think of this time as a serious wake-up call. Maybe you have been screaming out for certain needs to be met and your partner missed it. Or maybe you never really shared what you needed and now this certain someone is touching that tender spot. Or better yet, you never really were in tune with what you really needed until you got a sample of it. Or it may just be your sign that you are done. Before you make a quick jump out of the relationship, I suggest you do some serious soul-searching, first.

Being around the friend right now will only complicate your emotional world. Interacting with this friend may only show you a distorted image of a glamorous time together without exposing the “daily grind” of life. Comparing the friendship to your relationship is like comparing apples to oranges; they are in complete different categories.

It is important for you to put this other interaction on hold so you can be clear about decisions with your current situation. This is probably the hardest part. Sometimes we can feel so alive with another person that putting the interaction on “hold” may be very challenging to do. But you and your seven-year relationship deserve the time to work things through. Get some support and an accountability partner that will help you through this.

The next step is really figuring out what and where your heart needs to be fulfilled.

The cleanest cut is making sure to close one chapter before you start a new chapter. Maybe your current situation in the relationship isn’t exactly done. When you take the step back from your friend, examine the goods, the bads, and the uglies in your existing relationship. Take note regarding what is going right and what is missing.

Then answer the following questions:

  • Is your relationship something you are willing to invest time and emotions into?
  • If your partner make serious changes, would this help you consider diving back into the relationship?

If you answer yes to the questions, then maybe it is time to start expressing exactly (and clearly) what you need in the relationship. Your partner needs to know the seriousness of the requests and it can be helpful to let them know about your heart.

Don’t avoid the conversations anymore and make this relationship a priority. This may mean that you need to disconnect from this friend long term, to recreate a sense of safety and reassurance in the relationship. Seek out professional help from a counselor that will help you two navigate how to mend things and make it right.

If you answered no, meaning you aren’t willing to invest time in the relationship and that no matter what your partner does, it won’t change your heart, this may be the sign that you are done. I recommend reaching out to others and counselors to help you through this time. Make sure you close this chapter without guilt before you enter in to the next relationship or rondevu.

Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications – Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, San Diego local news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC #47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her new San Diego Couples Therapy website.