Ruin a Great Friendship?
Q: I recently left my boyfriend of seven years who is also the father of my baby. I had been with him and only him up until a few months ago. That was when I met a wonderful guy who helped me to feel wonderful about myself. We spend every day together and do anything and everything. He makes me laugh, something I had stopped doing. We have spent hours talking, and he has told me that he can tell me anything. I can tell him everything too, except for one thing: I think I am in love with him. How can I tell him without losing such a wonderful friendship? -- Sandy, 24
Dr. Susan: Seven years with the father of your baby, and you left for someone who made you feel better about yourself? What you don't realize is that only you can make you feel good about yourself, and that this new fellow, and the next and the next (you're young enough to run through quite a few men before your time is up) will sooner or later fail to prop up your sagging self-image. You're new to him now, so of course he makes you laugh and enjoys your every comment and fills your head with complimentary remarks that convince you, for a time, that you're worthy of love. This lovely situation won't last, and you'll be back to square one. Happiness isn't something a man can give you.
But what you asked me was how to tell the new guy of your true feelings without upsetting the apparently delicate friendship you now have with him. I don't get it. How can you possibly spend hours talking with a guy and not get down to the nitty gritty of your feelings? Do you think he's spending so much time with you only because he enjoys your mind? I suspect he has the hots for you as much as you do for him, but apparently he's as timid as you are. Reach out, touch his hand, look into his eyes, and check out his reaction. Really open up the communication between you by talking about what went wrong in your last relationship and what you hope for in a long-term relationship. Genuine friendships aren't ruined by honesty.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.