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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

For more than five years I have been going through a period of change: weight, career, new home, and personal growth. I have made these changes through self-help theories and a close male friend. During this period he has become the closest person in my life. For the last year his attitude toward me has become even more supportive and caring. I am beginning to feel that he is looking at me in a different way. Despite the fact that we have gone on holiday alone together, he has never made any physical advances toward me. I can see him as the man in my life, but I have second thoughts about friendships turning into love affairs. Often they turn sour and the friendship is lost as well. Should I put all of the cards on the table or should I sit back and wait for things to happen?

Answer

I understand your concern. Given how people are about romance and sexuality, you are concerned that you may ruin a wonderful friendship if the romance doesn't work out. On the other hand, what better basis for romance than an intimate friendship? If the friendship is a solid as you suggest, would it be able to sustain an unsuccessful attempt at adding romance to the mix?

One of the problems with people seems to be that when romance enters the picture, people change. They have different expectations of one another when they are romantically involved and they play different roles, often defining their respective roles by gender. Rather than relate openly and honestly, people in the throes of romance begin to hold secrets, and play the game of love. It is often the case that romance itself is an illusion. People relate to more to the fantasy than the reality of their relationship.

Just the mere thought of having a romance with your friend has already changed your way of thinking about him. You are already plotting and thinking about ways to be less honest. Prior to thinking about romance, you would disclose just about anything to this closest person in your life. Now you are beginning to hold back. If openness, self-disclosure and candor were the basis of your friendship, why not continue along that path with these newly developing feelings and use the occasion to explore that aspect of your friendship as well? You can discuss your trepidation, as well as your affection. If your feelings are mutual, then you can proceed with same honesty that you have enjoyed in the past and allow the relationship to blossom. If the feelings are not mutual, you can share your disappointment, and move on with the friendship; the disappointment will fade and you will still have the friendship.

3/5/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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