More Than Friendship?

Tuanya in Little Rock, Arkansas writes:

Dear Red,

I am a 39-year-old woman who has been married to the same man for 20 years. We have had some bad times during our marriage, and he used to be abusive (the past 5 years have been abuse free). I know it’s not a good reason, but I stayed with him because of the five children that we have together. Over the past year and a half I have become very close friends with a male coworker who is seven years younger than myself. He is very open and straightforward, and I feel that he is very honest and would never lie to me or hurt me (like I have been in the past). He has confided in me concerning past relationships and some personal experiences, we share very deep and intense conversations, and I feel that he understands me and vice versa. A couple of months ago our friendship turned into a one-night affair.

We both agreed that it should have never happened and that we would never do it again because I am married and he considers me his “best friend.” I believe that we both desire more from this friendship, but we are both settling for the friendship to compensate for not being able to be together. I have even considered leaving my husband, not just for him, but to give myself a new start. I just want to make the right decision and know if this is truly a friendship or if he has deeper feelings for me that could develop into something long-lasting?

Dear Tuanya,

You have two very separate situations going on, and while they are intertwined, you must continue to evaluate you circumstances individually in order to avoid regret. It is very clear that you don’t want to live out the rest of your days with your current husband, but you do want a life partner, and will want to remarry.

Looking at your marriage, you will eventually decide to separate. While things have improved a bit since the abuse has stopped, your relationship with your husband has become safer, but really hasn’t evolved into something that is personally fulfilling. The two of you have found a way to more peaceably coexist, and while you do not hate him, you fell out of love with him a long time ago. I really don’t see you getting that love back, nor does it seem like you really want to, but you also don’t seem as if you are currently ready or prepared to bring an end to the marriage. Because your home life presents as enduring and livable, you really don’t have to push yourself to make a firm and resolute decision right now. With the passing of time, your decision will become clear, and you will be able to move ahead with your life knowing that you are making the right decision for yourself. While it’s still not going to be the easiest transition, when the time is right, you will be able to create changes with a feeling of surety and peace.

Your friend and one-night lover does have deeper feelings for you, but he is not “settling” for the friendship. He cherishes it. He really does see you as his best friend, and the connection between the two of you is undeniable.

After you do become single, your friendship with your coworker will deepen, and your relationship with him will grow. But, this is not something that is going to happen quickly. Even though you both will want to be together, the first six to eight months of your “new life” will be spent alone. When the friendship with your coworker once again crosses into lovers, the relationship will secretive for quite a while. Even though the two of you are great together and for one another, I’m not seeing wedding plans at this time. While that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, it does mean that you shouldn’t make your choices under the illusion that a solid future with him is guaranteed.

I hope this helps you.

Brightest Blessings,


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