Dear Charlene: “I’m in Love with My Best Friend”
Every month, comic and writer Charlene deGuzman answers your questions about love, loss, and loneliness.
Hi everyone! I’m Charlene deGuzman!
I’ve teamed up with FLOOD to offer you all advice, support, and hope! Every month I’ll be answering any of your heart’s questions on life, love, happiness, and any of the deepest places in between.
Let me introduce myself. I was depressed at age eleven. I never thought I could ever feel happy or lovable. I spent my whole life trying to escape the pain. My life was a mess until I got fed up and did something about it. And now, as a recovered sex and love addict, I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
I’m here to listen and help. Ask me anything at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your identity will remain anonymous.
You’re probably never going to answer this but whatever. I’m sure I sound like I’m in middle school but I’m actually twenty-six years old. I’ve been in love with my best friend for over two years now. It’s not even a secret, I know she knows, I told her I was crushing hard on her long before she got with her boyfriend. I think now we just act like that conversation never happened. I don’t know. I get that she doesn’t like me like that, and I’m OK with it. We really do have a great friendship. We’re very close. Sometimes I think we’re even closer than her and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is kind of a dick. She tells me everything. She comes over when they fight. When she needs help she calls me. If she’s not with him she’s with me. I like being there for her. It makes me happy. But I’m not her boyfriend. I probably will never be her boyfriend. Sometimes I wonder what the fuck I’m doing. But I can’t change my feelings. What should I do?
Hey! Go easy on yourself! A lot of people have been in your situation, including me. I’ve been both the best friend and the girlfriend. I know how you feel.
Close friendships can be really tricky when there aren’t any boundaries. When two people are BFFs, and spend all their time together, and text all day, and can’t do anything without the other, they can become enmeshed. Don’t get me wrong, BFFs are the best, but if a weird dependency develops, it may be unhealthy.
Your situation is especially tricky because one person has feelings for the other, but they are not reciprocated. The truth is, as lovely as a friend I’m sure she is, your friend is unavailable.
I’ve got a lot of experience with pursuing unavailable people! People can be unavailable in different ways: maybe they’re afraid of commitment, or are very vague and wishy-washy, or don’t take care of themselves, or, in your case, they’re in a relationship.
BFFs are the best, but if a weird dependency develops, it may be unhealthy.
Your friend may be compartmentalizing. I have been guilty of this in the past. I would have one kind of guy for romance and sex, (the boyfriend or hook-up, usually unavailable) and another guy for emotional intimacy (the best friend, usually too available). I could never combine the two. I had zero boundaries and I was completely unaware of it. I always just thought I like guy friends more than girl friends. But really I just needed as much male validation as I could get because I was so unhealthy and starved for love.
Do you find yourself being in situations where you’re taking care of her? Are you often offering her support? When she comes to you, is she often in need? Is the relationship one-sided, or is it mutual?
In order to take care of ourselves, we must let go of the idea that we can change other people. I’m sure you’re hoping that your friend will dump her boyfriend and come running to you, and yes, anything is possible. But we must stay present with the current situation and the fact is: your friend has a boyfriend and she is unavailable.
Our relationships will always be a reflection of how we think about ourselves.
Although we can’t change other people, we can change ourselves. A good way to love and take care of ourselves is to set boundaries in our relationships. Is your friendship with her appropriate? If you were her boyfriend, would you be OK with her having a best friend like you? Would you be comfortable with the time they spend together, the things she tells him, the help he gives her? Is it clean, healthy, and honest? As difficult as it is to set boundaries, they’re important—if we can’t respect ourselves, how can we expect other people to respect us?
Look, I know it’s hard to just get over someone and let go. You’re right: we can’t just change our feelings. But these are some good things to start thinking about. The truth is, you are worthy of an available girlfriend. You are worthy of healthy relationships. And healthy relationships begin with you. Our relationships will always be a reflection of how we think about ourselves. So maybe moving forward, you could start focusing on taking care of yourself before taking care of her. Be honest with her. Set some boundaries. Say “no.” Give your attention and appreciation to people who return it. You deserve it, and you’re the only person who can do this for yourself.
And if setting boundaries upsets or disappoints her, just remember that what you’re doing isn’t only good for you—it’s good for her, too. It may be painful, but you will be the ultimate hero who helps the both of you grow and get healthy. FL
Read our Breaking feature on Charlene deGuzman.