Is My Best Friend The One I Should Be With, Not My Live In Love?
Dear Alison and Tony (or Leather & Lace): This site seems to give great advice. My boyfriend and I have been together about 1 1/2 years. We’re both in our early 20’s. My current boyfriend and I are young and have a lot to learn, but I am nervous that he is not as eager, or ready, to grow as much as I am. I worked overseas for a while, and so my boyfriend and I were temporarily separated on and off, and during those times, I began to doubt whether or not he was really the one for me. In fact, I hooked up again with an old love who really has been a “best friend” almost my entire life. I think my best friend and I always had feelings for each other, but our timing was always off. Anyway, I got back together with my (official) boyfriend, and moved in with him. We’ve been living together about six months and as I get to know him better, my feelings of doubt are being reinforced. I love my boyfriend, but he is stubborn and uncompromising. And he is so negative. Even worse, I’m beginning to be a bit physically turned off by certain things he does, and our sex life has started to suffer. But I still love him and I don’t want to break his heart, especially so soon after getting back together and moving in, but I am wondering if I am just young and confused about what I want, or whether or not my best friend is the right guy and not the guy I’m with right now. I keep wondering if my best friend is the one I could be happy with and grow old with and I am making a mistake. This is really heavy on my mind and there is no one I feel comfortable talking to about it, so thanks for listening and hopefully, responding.
Alison’s Take: Is my best friend the one I should be with and not my live in love? Am I with the right person, not the one I’m currently with? We hear this question a lot and I think we can help a lot of readers and you as well. So thank you for contacting us (Alison & Tony or Leather and Lace — feel free to call us by either), and for putting your trust in us. Your letter was very long and personal, so we have edited it to protect your privacy and to make it easy for our readers to understand the issue. But as I see it, you are young and trying to settle down before you have had enough life experience to really know what you want. You have a best friend for whom you have unexplored feelings, and a boyfriend for whom you have feelings that you’re uncertain about. All things being simple, it would be easier if you were unencumbered and single, free to explore not just your feelings for your best friend, but with other people.
Your twenties are a time of experimentation. It is important for you to have experiences with a lot of different people, because by doing so you figure out what’s important to you not just in love relationships, but in all relationships. Alas, you have already ended your decade of discovery too quickly by moving in with your current boyfriend. Lots of young people rush to do this because they are “in love” and want to be together, but getting that serious and living with someone before you know what you really want, stunts your ability to make a good decision.
Everyone has top “must-haves” for a partner, that will make their life easier, more successful, and satisfying. And everyone has top “non-negotiables” that when found in a partner, would make life with them unpleasant to unbearable. If, for example, living with a man who won’t compromise or who is very negative, makes you want to stick an ice-pick in your forehead every day, he’s not going to be an appropriate partner for you, no matter how many wonderful qualities he might have. My strong hunch is that by rushing into a relationship with your current live in love, you haven’t been able to figure out what you really want from a partner. However, you are beginning to get some idea of what things would make you miserable.
If you are only in your early 20’s and you have only been living with your current boyfriend for six months or less, and you are already having serious issues with him, that is a sure sign that you are either not compatible with each other (which is likely) and/or you are not ready to settle down with anyone (also very likely). I know it is easier said than done to tell you to move out, but it does seem like you’d be doing both you and your boyfriend a great kindness to do so. I’m not necessarily saying you should break up, but I think you both need some space, and time, to figure out what it is that you want and need. “Taking a break” when you are a couple is risky, because if you are not really right for each other, you may end up splitting up for good, but it would be far better to know that now than to continue living together with doubts and dragging the relationship on until neither of you has a kind word to say to the other.
Tony’s Take: Is your best friend the one you should be with? Hmmmmm, there are three interrelated issues going on here. All concerned with your growing and maturing view of yourself, your world, and the people within it.
Your first issue is your younger boyfriend. Even though he is only a year younger physically, the differential in maturity between men and women makes him three or four years younger. This is why you are getting so much petulance and push-back.He views parts of the relationship as if you were an older sister. The implications for the relationship are not good because he does not have the maturity to discuss the issues in the relationship and his immaturity will express his frustration as selfish sexual acts such as his kissing and probably his inattention to foreplay.
You have trapped yourself in that the foreign travel has found new and exciting roles for you — worlds that you want to be a part of. Your boyfriend is a by-product of location and cultured as much as he is a person. This is why you feel guilty about the possibility of leaving him. You know, without knowing, that it was not he alone that you fell for, but also the place and the time.
The thoughts about your best friend are a warning from deep within you that what you are doing with your boyfriend is ultimately, wrong. You must, however, be very careful because picking up your best friend on the rebound can do bad things to a relationship unless you have totally cleared the emotional storm which will follow from breaking up with your current boyfriend.
Quite honestly, your best course is to find another overseas assignment someplace else and use the time to get your life back together and to explore whether there is a possibility of a deeper relationship with your best friend. Invite him to join you for a weekend and spend some time getting to know him on an actual, intimate (not sexual) level. Sadly, there is no way to easily fix your current relationship because it’s six to eight years before he will have the maturity to be the guy you need. He’s a high school romance, and it’s time for college.
HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE THIS ISSUE? Have you ever wondering if your best friend or someone else was a better choice after you made a commitment to live with or marry someone else? We’d love to hear from you. How would you answer this reader’s issue? Please share your thoughts in our comment section. Also feel free to share this Q&A with your social media contacts and link to it (or ask us if you would like to have our exclusive content for your web site–just remember it’s copyrighted, you must ask written permission ).
We can’t help you if we don’t hear from you and you can’t move forward if you don’t make a move. Since this is a web site where others can benefit from the Q&A, there is no charge for the advice either. This is the moment to take action and send us your question!