Dear Thelma

I am a 32-year-old man and have been in a stable relationship for two years.

I have a childhood best friend. When he was single, we spent a lot of time together. We ate lunch together every day as our offices were close to each other, and hung out after work most of the time. We even went on “guys only” holidays together. He is the person that I can depend on, the one I can trust and the one who has always supported me.

Just recently, my best friend got himself into a serious relationship. Initially, I was happy for him, but the thought of him leaving town soon to be with his girlfriend is making me extremely sad. Even my girlfriend has seen a change in me.

I know that as his best friend, I should be more supportive. But I can’t help having strong emotional feelings for him.

I even begged him to reconsider his plans and to get his girlfriend to move over instead. When I did this, he just kept quiet and pretended like I never said anything.

I think I might be in love with him. I love my girlfriend but if I had to choose, I would rather be with him.

I think I might be in love with him. I love my girlfriend but if I had to choose, I would rather be with him.

I have always been straight, so these feelings I have for him are making me really confused. My girlfriend can see that I am upset with his plans and has been very supportive by letting me spend more time with him before he goes away.

Is this all because I’m overly attached to him? Am I going through separation anxiety?

Please help. I’m torn apart inside. – Confused guy

Dear Confused

There are a few issues here, all tangled together. Let’s deal with them one at a time. First, you think you may be in love with your best friend. You’re confused because you have always been straight.

Okay, to be totally practical, you have already asked your friend to give up his plans and by his silence, he has refused. This signals that he wants to move and by extension, that he’s committed to his girlfriend. So whether you are bisexual or are in a situation where you are feeling romantic love for him won’t make a difference. He has made his needs clear.

If you need to explore your sexuality as an issue by itself, do so. It never hurts to find out more about your personal nature, right? However, in the context of this particular problem, I think it may be more helpful to consider the big picture.

What strikes me most is that your best friend plays a huge role in your life. On a normal working day, you lunch together and afterwards, you hang out too. That’s an awful lot of time to spend with one person. On top of that, you share your holidays. You know, there are marriages where couples don’t spend that amount of time together.

Because of this, I think you are hitting the spot when you suggest you may be overly attached and that your concerns (is panic too big a word?) are due to fear of change.

Expand your friendship circle. Reach out to people you already know and like, and build on those relationships.

I’m going to point out two things. First, you are not alone. You have a girlfriend and from your description, she sounds wonderful: kind, caring, warm and supportive. Second, the fact that you have a great girlfriend and that your bestie is close to you too, suggests you are very capable of making good connections.

My advice is that you expand your friendship circle. Reach out to people you already know and like, and build on those relationships. You might also look to create new links, perhaps with friends of friends, and work colleagues. Your girlfriend and your bestie will help you with this, if you ask.

Then, when your bestie moves, you will have people to go to lunch with, and to hang with after work. It won’t be the same, but new friendships will bring you joy.

Also, hang on to the fact that your friend is building a new life for himself. You are rightfully happy for him, and that’s a loving attitude. You are a good, kind person.

The upcoming changes will be a challenge but if you work through them, you will emerge at the other end with a solid foundation for happiness.

One last note: if you find making these changes too stressful, and have symptoms of anxiety (shortness of breath, sweats, insomnia etc) do talk to your family doctor. Seeking the help of a therapist who can help you plan for meaningful change is also an option.

Good luck and do tell me how you get on.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.

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