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This week’s dilemma is as follows:

You and your best friend, Mia, have been friends since you were little girls. You’re unfailingly loyal to her, and cherish her friendship more than anything, and vice versa.

When you are both twenty years old, Mia meets this terrific guy (let’s call him Christian), who you are wildly attracted to. You of course do your best to hide how you feel about him, but it’s hard.

Mia and Christian are very happy, but every now and then, you feel a certain chemistry between the two of you, whenever you’re alone with him. You can’t tell if you’re just imagining the mutual attraction, so you try to avoid being alone with him as much as possible.

A couple of years later, Mia and Christian announce their engagement, and you are utterly devastated. You feel incredibly guilty about the way you feel about him, and being around both of them becomes increasingly painful, so you start staying away from both of them.

You can hear the pain in Mia’s voice whenever you make excuses to not hang with her, but you just can’t help it, their happiness is killing you, and you can’t bear the way you feel.

A year later, Mia and Christian break up, and the wedding is cancelled.

Mia is devastated. Apparently he told her that he couldn’t marry her because he was in love with somebody else.

You give her all the love and support that she needs, whilst dealing with your own secret sorrow, and try your best to put Christian out of your mind.

Six months later, you bump into Christian whilst shopping, and he asks if you want to have a coffee with him. You assume he’s probably dating somebody else, and you refuse because being around him is as painful as ever.

Months later, you get a phone call. It’s Christian, and he wants to speak to you.

You reluctantly agree to meet with him, fearing that he wants to get back with Mia, and wants to use you as a route to her.

When the two of you meet, he tells you that he’s been in love with you for years, and wants to know if you feel the same way.

What do you do? Do you make your feelings known and agree to go out with him, knowing that Mia will probably be heartbroken, or do you refuse him, knowing that it would be the hardest thing that you’ve ever done, but Mia’s friendship is too important for you to mess up.

What do you do?


  • dew
    February 20
    9:22 am

    When I was in my early 20s, my BF dated a guy for a little while. Me and the guy didn’t have “feelings”, but I ran into him about a year later, and he asked me out. I felt a twinge of guilt, but accepted. He and I dated a short while, and my guilt continued to grow. I told my friend, who gave her blessings.

    The guy and I didn’t work out. She later told me it did bother her, but she didn’t feel right denying me my chance to date him. I always felt creeped out that I wasn’t more loyal to my friend, and have never considered dating a friend’s ex since then.


  • Mireya
    February 20
    11:34 am

    This is extremely tough to answer (at least for me). There is no black or white in this situation from my perspective. On the one hand, I’d feel that if I don’t explore the possibility offered of this man being the one right for me. On the other I would be torn by my loyalty to my friend. In the end, I think I would try to hide my relationship with him (provided I decided to explore it further) for a short while (that “short while” being about a month) if only to know him better and make sure that there is actually a chance that things could work out. Once I ascertained that I would speak with her, in the knowledge that chances are that our friendship would not be the same again.

    Fact is that this would be a test on the friendship between her and me more than anything else and how real that friendship is.


  • Las
    February 20
    1:57 pm

    I’m too much of a non-romantic to really take this situation seriously. You may not be able to control who you fall in love with, but you can absolutely control who you spend enough time alone with that falling in love becomes possible. There can be chemistry and attraction all over the place, but that’s not the same thing is being in love with someone, and love doesn’t just suddenly appear out of thin air, it has to grow and be nurtured. Him deciding to end his engangement has everything to do with his lack of love for his fiance (which is totally fine and the absolute right thing to do), not with any supposed love he feels for someone else. There’s nothing in the above scenario that indicates that the two people in question are truly in love rather than just being nitwits who don’t know how to deal with infatuation.

    Assuming that those two spent enough time alone together–maybe they work together, maybe they live in the same building–to actually be truly in love, well first, they kind of suck. They felt the attraction growing, they knew they were developing feelings for each other…they had the responsibility to walk away. But they didn’t and now they’re in love, and all that jazz. So what would I do? If I’m already truly in love with the guy and am ready to start living my life with him, then I might go for it and accept the fact that I’m going to lose a friend (it’s one thing to date a friend’s ex, it’s a whole other thing to be the “other woman”). But if I just want to explore the “what ifs” with this guy to see how it turns out, that would be a pretty shallow reason to break my friend’s heart.


  • Easy. Nothing. I’d move on. I have moved on. No way I’m going to date my best friend’s ex.


  • Well, here is my take as a gay guy…

    First off, Why would ANYONE fall for the whole “I always loved you from across the room.” thing?

    Does this guy have anything going for him that he might actually grow a backbone and choose what he wanted or is he a creep who sneaks around afraid of rejection and sets people up to be played for his own entertainment?

    Second, If you really have a “good friend” here then I would be all asking what this guys game is. Maybe your friend has some personal information she did not share with you about what really went on between them. I would so check and already had a chat with your friend before going further.


  • SamG
    February 20
    8:10 pm

    I agree with Teddypig. Ask the friend. Let her know what is going on. I would even go back further and let the friend know WHY I was not hanging around much. I’m sorry, but saying ‘I am more into your date than I should be, so I’m staying away’ may be hurtful, but it’s better than not knowing why the hell your BF has decided not to be there…

    Then again, I got a wonderful friend the day I found out the guy I was dating had had a crush (a year or so before) on her and told her that a) he’d had a crush and b) would you like to talk with him. She wasn’t interested in him, but we hung out sometimes at school. Turns out she and I became great friends and I married her brother. So now she’s a sister-in-law and friend.
    But, I faced it head-on from the very beginning. I just think that’s a better way to live.

    Sam…and yes, had she been interested I’d rather be dumped than be second choice…and she and I would still be friends.


  • How much of a jerk was he to a) let the girl of his dreams escape for so long and b) continue his relationship with Mia while he was “in love” with a woman he barely knew who was also his fiance’s best friend?

    The relationship, IMO, is doomed.

    That notwithstanding, if Mia is truly a friend, then resist temptation. That’s a whole lot of extra hurt for someone who did nothing to deserve it. Remember, she likely believed SHE was the love of his life and had a whole future with him mapped out in her mind. She might find love with someone else, but she’ll likely never be completely over that betrayal.

    I’ve never been in this situation, so I really can’t say. Chemistry is a hard thing to fight…but it is just chemistry. Maybe she can just sleep with him a few times on the sly and get it out of her system! JK!!!


  • I’m stuck on the concept of Mia’s friendship being too important to me to accept the guy’s offer. If her friendship was so important, why did I avoid her and all but cut her out of my life over the guy? It’s pretty clear I thought he was more important than our friendship then, why would it be different now?

    I doubt I’d date him, but I have to point out the major contradiction in the question’s story. Two plus two are not adding up to four in this.


  • Guh….I dunno. I don’t know that I’d be all that attracted to somebody who could stay engaged to one woman while he was secretly in love with another.

    For me, I don’t see it happening.

    But it’s one of those things where there is no black and white.

    I adore my husband. The kids and he are the greatest blessings and gifts in my life and I can’t see me telling a woman she should walk away from her chance at that because the guy was engaged to her best friend at one time.


  • Marianne McA
    February 20
    11:33 pm

    When I think back to the way I felt about my dh before I was married: I was crazily in love with him – if it had been a choice between losing my best friend, or losing him, she wouldn’t have stood a chance.
    I think, for me, when I was in love that way, it was such a overwhelming thing that – given that there was no actual impediment – the Chemistry would have prevailed: might not make me a nice person, but that’s how intense those feelings were.
    (And I take everyone’s point that the Boyfriend in the story doesn’t seem like the most admirable person – but I don’t think I was in the least objective when I was love-struck – be like expecting an addict to be objective about the worthiness of drugs.)


  • vulcan girl
    February 21
    12:34 am

    That’s the #1 Girlfriend Rule: Don’t date your BF’s exes.


  • West
    February 21
    6:39 am

    Well, my best friend and I wouldn’t care- if we were happy together, that would be it. She’d learn to deal, and same goes the other way. That being said, however, I wouldn’t really believe this guy loved me any more than he loved her. I absolutely do not believe in love at first site. Infatuation, yes. Lust? Bet your ass. But love? Hell no. It takes more than one look, or even one date to know someone well enough to love them. I’ve found that when people claim love at first sight, it’s usually a case of loving what you think they are, rather that what they really are. So I wouldn’t believe it anyway, and I’m not going to ruin a friendship over a guy who’s head’s too far up his ass to see who I really am. Remember, friends are the one who get you through when your relationships take a Handbasket Airlines flight straight to Hell.


  • Karen Scott
    February 21
    9:25 am

    Hmmm… So I was right all those years ago,when I argued that there is no such thing as love at first sight? *g*

    I happen to think that be it lust or love, the majority of women would agree to go out with the guy, no matter the strain that it would place on their relationship with the best friend. I would say that nine out of ten women would do the deed. Look at the number of people who have affairs with siblings’ and friends’ significant others.

    When people think they are in love, common sense tends to go outta the window, that’s proven every single day.

    I think that in order to give a truer answer, you have to replace Christian with the current love of your life. I think it’s much harder to be analytical about this, if there’s an emotional connection.


  • Karen Scott
    February 21
    9:29 am

    What Marianne said, by the way.


  • I think that in order to give a truer answer, you have to replace Christian with the current love of your life. I think it’s much harder to be analytical about this, if there’s an emotional connection.

    Okay, if you swap out the DH for Christian, nope, the best friend wouldn’t have stood a chance-hopefully we could still be friends, but my husband IS my best friend, he and the kids are everything to me and as much as I adore my closest friends, if I had to choose, he’d win hands down.

    Of course, I’d be mightily ticked if I ever did have to choose and whoever forced it on me would know.

    The way I see it, though, a friend should want you to be happy-period. If you really loved a guy and decided not to be with him because of a friend’s feelings, sooner or later, it’s going to damage the relationship with the friend. You won’t be happy, she won’t be happy, he won’t be happy.


  • The closest I ever came to this was when I had already slept — I mean, dated — a guy and moved on and one of my friends who didn’t know our history mentioned he was very attractive. I was happy to hand over my store of knowledge about the guy and let her decide what she wanted to do about it. I’d imagine friends with similar tastes could find the same guy attractive and they would all hang out together a lot. If they are really good friends they should talk about it. (I’m seeing this more as a college or high school thing, though, to be honest. My dear friends’ husbands do zilch for me and I suspect they’d say the same thing about my DH if I asked them.)


  • What Marianne said, what Karen said, and…

    Isn’t this often one of the premises for so many big misunderstanding romance novels?

    Without any strain whatsoever I can think of a number of titles with just this premise, or very slight variations thereof.


  • I wouldn’t date a friend’s ex because that’s some bad juju. But, seriously, am I the only one slightly creeped out by the pic??? That’s one of the Mormon fundamentalists from the YFZ ranch bustup here in Texas. How do I know this? Um, cuz I lived in Eldorado for my whole life and those pics of that clusterfuck are burned in my memory for the rest of days.

    I had the biggest wtf/amusement moment when I read the post after glancing at the pic. I mean, I guess maybe those women encounter this issue more than those of us in the general population with all the husband sharing and such…


  • Marianne McA
    February 21
    7:42 pm

    You meet loads of women (and men) who say they were overcome with love when they first saw their baby. In that context, people seem to be prepared to admit the possibility – I’ve never heard anyone suggest that the parent was mistaken about their emotions – that they were merely infatuated with their baby, or that they couldn’t really know they loved the baby until they knew it better.
    I (really am a horrible person) never felt that way about my babies, but absolutely fell in love-at-first-sight with my dh.
    My take on it is that the human brain can, in certain circumstances, produce an avalanche of hormones that produce the sensation that we call ‘love’. I suspect that the people who don’t believe in love at first sight are the real romantics, who want romantic love to be more than a physiological response to a particular set of stimuli.
    I’m not suggesting that romantic love is always just a tsunami of hormones sweeping through the brain – but I know it can happen that way, and the fact that it’s not very sensible isn’t important, because that’s not how evolution works – the mum doesn’t love the baby because of some rational decision, she loves it because her DNA will have a better chance of surviving if her brain causes her to have a strong attachment towards the infant. Similarly, I’d imagine, I didn’t love my dh at-first-sight because it was rational, but presumably he ticked a lot of boxes in some unconscious ‘Is This Your Perfect Partner?’ survey, and my brain was flooded with Go! Go! Go! hormones.
    (If I’d only thought of that a week ago, it’d have made such a lovely sentiment for Valentine’s Day.
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Sugar is sweet,
    And love is only a hormonal trick to ensure the survival of the species.)


  • Las
    February 21
    8:45 pm

    Karen, even if it were my current love, under the exact circumstances you described, the answer would still be no. I don’t believe that there’s only one person for me or anyone, and even though I can’t imagine my life without my SO now, there’s no doubt in my mind that if I had never met him or if we hadn’t taken things further early on for whatever reason, I’d be just as happy now, either by myself or with someone else. I know what it’s like to be in love, but I also know what it’s like to be terribly heartbroken, and that DOES fade. It’s really not that serious in the long run.

    And I’ve loathed “love from afar” romances, btw, even as a teen. I’d always mentally yell, “BUT SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HIM!” I’m just too boringly pragmatic.


  • Anon76
    February 21
    8:52 pm

    Before Karen said to swap out Christian for my hubby, I’d already done that.

    I wanted my man the moment I saw him, and that has not changed over the last 29 years. Call it what you will, but I knew I was going for the long haul.

    Thinking back on it, would I have loved him from afar as I watched my friend date him and finally prepare to marry him. Probably not. If nothing else I would have needed to clear the air, if for no other reason than to know I was being a twit and the attraction was not in any way reciprocated. (That’s usually what happens when the original link is just lust or infatuation. Our brains finally kick in and put a kabosh on it.)

    But see, I still have a problem working within this scenario as posed. It must be because I did get that big old whammy upon meeting hubster. I can’t imagine sitting quietly to the side and letting bygones be bygones.

    If that makes me evil, so be it. Friends are friends, but a life partner is precious in this world where people change partners like socks.


  • This is a tough one! But when push comes to shove and I’d probably have guilt the rest of my life, but I think I’d go out with him – see if it’s real and tell my friend if it is.


  • TaraW
    February 22
    5:25 pm

    This scenario would make a great movie or romance novel theme – and we’d all be rooting for the “underdog” couple. But I think that real life would be so much more complex, unpredictable, and messy. I really couldn’t say what I would do….


  • Nicole
    February 23
    6:09 am

    If its Christian Bale, loyalty to my friend may suffer a blow.


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