It's A Pleasure

I'm In Love With My Best Friend's Fiancé

And cheating on my boyfriend with someone else.

Q: I’ve been with my boyfriend for 13 years, since I was 17. We’ve been through more than you could imagine together — so many ups and downs. We still have trouble getting along sometimes with all that baggage and we rarely have sex. But we’ve lived together for eight years now, have pets together, and have been each other's family for our entire adulthoods.

Last year, I met someone else who made me feel so sexy and special. I finally gave in and hooked up with him a few times. It was mindblowing, even though we didn't have sex. We sext and get off together on the phone sometimes. I think he might be a little in love with me, and I'm a bit smitten as well, but can't tell if it's just lust or something more.

Also, I'm a little bit in love with my best friend's fiancé. We’ve all been friends for over 10 years and he and I have always been close. He’s a very special person to me, but we don't see each other very often. Whenever we do though, it still feels like we’re holding a candle for each other. We’ve never spoken about it but you can feel the tension, and people sometimes joke that we should just marry each other because we’re so similar in many ways. I'd never say anything, but I can't help the way he makes me feel.

A: There is one theme in all of this, a through-line as stark as a face tattoo: You are not taking responsibility for your actions. You write as if being with your boyfriend for 13 years is something that is happening to you, rather than something you are choosing. You describe cheating as “finally giving in,” as if it was inevitable. You claim you “can’t help” how you feel about your best friend’s fiancé.

The truth is, you’re responsible for all of this. I understand that’s hard to hear, especially when the outcome of your choices is making you unhappy. I suspect the problem is cyclical.

If you’ll allow me a metaphor: Imagine you need to clean your house, but you’re tired from work and feeling sad, so you wallow on the couch instead. You don’t have the energy to cook, so you order takeout. When you’re done eating, you leave the trash on the coffee table. You don’t want to get up and throw it away, because hey, you deserve a break — after all, you’re having a bad day!

The next day, however, you feel worse because your house is even messier. You treat yourself to more takeout on the couch, and since the previous day’s trash is already there, why not add the new trash to the pile? You’ll watch just one more episode of Real Housewives, then clean up.

Except one becomes two, then three, and then it’s too late to bother. The day after that, you’re overwhelmed by how much there is to do, so to cheer yourself up, you order more food. Now, on top of everything else, your bank account is running low. You’ll never make yourself feel better this way. What you really need to do is clean up, shower, talk to a friend, and get some sleep.

If you don’t appreciate yourself without the reflection of a romantic partner (or three), that should tell you something.

I say this because what you’re currently doing isn’t working. Even if you think your boyfriend and best friend aren’t aware of what’s going on, these are still heavy betrayals. If you want to have good relationships (romantic, sexual, or platonic), you have to be a good partner and friend. At no point in your letter did you express any contrition for your actions. That tells me you’re not in a place where you can think of anyone other than yourself, and that’s usually a signal that someone is doing very poorly.

Being kind to the people in your life should be enough of an incentive to change, but if it’s not, let me say: you’re also hurting yourself.

Right now, your actions are very self-centered. You’re giving very little love to others. Now, that may seem paradoxical! You’re in a long-term relationship and involved with two other men. But it doesn’t sound like you’re truly showing up for any of them. Instead, you’re using each person you mentioned as a means to get something: from your boyfriend, stability; from the other man, sexual validation; from your best friend, another love interest.

To turn things around, you need to break up with your boyfriend. (If the best thing you can say about a relationship is that you co-own pets... it’s not a good one.) Walking away will be difficult, but it’s imperative.

You also need to quit speaking to the other guy. That relationship is built around lies, which means no strong, healthy connection can come from that. It’s like trying to grow an orchid in a toilet bowl.

As for your best friend’s fiancé, you have a lot more agency than you’re giving yourself credit for. You might experience flashes of attraction, but you do not need to invite those feelings in and ruminate over them. Stop flirting; I’m sure everyone’s picked up on it if they’re commenting. Do not try to excuse your actions with “I’m just being friendly” or “we just connect” (or any other sentence with the word “just” in it). You’re smart enough to know the difference between flirtation and friendliness, and you won’t gain anything by being willfully naïve. You can make a choice to treat your best friend with respect, and you should.

I think you’re relying on these men to validate you because you don’t know how to like yourself in the absence of male attention. If you don’t appreciate yourself without the reflection of a romantic partner (or three), that should tell you something.

If you want tomorrow to be brighter, you need to do the work today.

Change will come as you build self-esteem and become curious about what led you to this place. Ask yourself hard questions. Why do you choose to stay in a relationship you’re not enjoying? What are you afraid of and why? What is the story you tell yourself about your life? Is it true? A therapist would absolutely help here, and I would talk to one if it’s at all feasible.

I’m not going to lie, this won’t be easy. Taking responsibility often sucks, but you’ll benefit deeply. It creates space for you to show up for both yourself and others. It gives you the power to learn who you are and what you want. It’s the only way to create a life that you actually enjoy. If you want tomorrow to be brighter, you need to do the work today.

Pretending that life is simply carrying you along keeps you eating takeout on the couch. It’s time to throw out the trash.

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