Friends Without Benefits?

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I found your site a couple months ago and have enjoyed reading your responses to people. Now I find myself with a question for you:

I've had a years-long close friendship with another woman that I think is more than that, at least on my end. We're both involved. We've had a few drinks and made out a couple times, the guys knew and didn't care. But I just need to know:

How do I fall out of love with this woman? Whenever we're together I feel home. My husband begins every phone conversation asking if I've heard from her today, if we've made plans, etc. He's pleasant about it, but sometimes if we're having an argument he throws in that he's sick of hearing about her all the time. I'm guessing that's not a good sign. I do not want to cheat or leave my husband because I'm not a cheater (make-out sessions aside) and I love my husband. But I'm feeling as though I can't let the status quo continue.

And I can't end the friendship, it would be impossible. That would be like cutting my arm off. Would therapy help? I'd like to keep the friendship but lose the love. Well, lose the more-than-friends-love. Or the crush. But I can't lose her from my life.

ANSWER

You've got it good.  This isn't a crush.  I know it.  My readers know it.  You've never been with a woman before and you thought, "How complicated can a make-out friendship be?"  It's only complicated if you have to end it and then it can be as hard as trying to say goodbye to your best friend and the person you're in love with all at once because that's what you'd be doing.  And that's why lesbians are doubled over in pain after a breakup.

Between being with men and meeting my wife, I dated (defined as more than 5 dates) 3 women.  Ms. I Was In Love With Her, Ms. I Liked Her and Ms. I Could Have Fallen In Love With Her.  I ended it with the last two fairly easily.  The first one lied to me about something significant and as a result, I felt I had no option but to break up with her.  You reference cutting off your arm?  You're not exaggerating.  Not one bit.  I didn't come up for air for months.  During my grieving period, Ms. I Was In Love With Her wanted to be friends with me.  She didn't want to lose the best friendship.  Well neither did I, quite frankly, but I couldn't tolerate the prospect of being friends with someone who I was still in love with.  I needed a disconnect in order to heal.  A few years later, we reconnected and began a friendship.  I now count her among my closest friends.

It's not happening ~ this fantasy of simultaneously maintaining the friendship, not hooking up with her, and falling out of love with her. You want change, but you don't want to change anything.  You'll figure this out eventually, because there's no way you're going to end the friendship any time soon, which by the way is really the only way to preserve your marriage to your husband and fall out of love with this woman.  You'll try not hooking up with her.  Unsuccessfully.  You'll try looking for her faults, honing in on them in a feeble attempt to control your love.  When that fails, you'll be left with one last decision:  Who To Leave.  And that is ultimately what it boils down to.  Yes, I believe that therapy can help you walk this path a little easier, and if you're lucky to find a great shrink, she might even help you to minimize the damage so that three people walk away with dignity.

Writer's Stats: Female, Bi.