Q. I’m married to the love of my life and we have been together for more than 11 years. We are good friends with another married couple. I am a woman; we are all straight couples. I’ve always had a “crush” on our male friend — let’s call him “C.” We met five years ago. He and my husband are best friends and talk frequently. C lives a few states away. Usually, I do not talk to him much, but we visit the couple (and their kids) once a year. Every time my husband and I visit, C is always on my mind. Nothing sexual, honest! I just love being near him, I love what’s on his mind, and his personality. We clash playfully and, I don’t know. ... I just like being around him. I made a list of things I like about him, what I don’t like about him, and what I want from him. In my perfect world, the four of us (plus his children) would live together, non-sexually, but mutually and platonically loving each other.
I love his wife, his family, but mostly him. I could not even imagine anything sexual with him. The most I can imagine is holding his hand. I get this feeling every time we visit. I do not believe he feels as strongly as I do. The four of us have discussed moving closer together, and even getting a duplex together. We discussed retiring together, etc. Our friendship levels are mutual, but with C ... I feel like I am finally coming to terms with my feelings for him, this soulmate/platonic love. I could never discuss this with my husband because he would be hurt and confused. I would love to discuss this with C, but only if he felt the same. I would rather live with my feelings silently than ruin whatever we have. I really want to know how he feels, though.
I wish there was a way for me to communicate this with him, but I am unsure how. He’s pretty straightforward, but treats me like a good friend. Sometimes our legs brush together, or I feel our hands linger when passing something. He doesn’t text me or reach out to me exclusively. He doesn’t make excuses to see me alone when we are together. He doesn’t say much when we are alone together. It’s soul crushing, I am crying over these feelings, the need to expose how I feel without embarrassing myself. I am so confused. I am confident I feel a platonic love for him, and I have never felt this way before about anyone, besides my husband. This need to be with them.
I have never told anyone how I felt, but this is the first time I actually allowed myself to process these feelings. These feelings wane with time, but come back stronger when we are all together again. I guess my question is: What should I do with these feelings? Honestly, it would be nice for this crush to go away, but I do not want to deny these feelings. I know I feel this way for a reason. But why should I bother embracing feelings like this if the other person does not feel the same?
A. I think it would help to better understand the nature of these feelings. At first you seemed to be describing a lovely platonic connection — the kind that makes you want to talk to someone all night, without any desire for a romantic or physical relationship.
Then you spoke of an arrangement that could fall under the umbrella of polyamory — some kind of quad polycule, assuming everyone Is interested in the idea. But you seemed unsure about what that would entail and how it would change your own marriage.
After that, the letter shifted, and suddenly it involved longing and tears. It became clear that this is a one-sided crush on one person. You’re not getting the phone calls and private attention you want. You’re examining casual touches and every interaction. The primary friendship, meanwhile, is the one between your husband and his best friend. Can you accept that?
My advice is to talk to a therapist about what all of this means, how it evolved, and what you dream of having with your husband and this couple. You’re at your most conflicted when this other duo is close, yet there’s talk of moving closer. You want to ask a question about what this could be, but you haven’t figured out what it is yet.
Discuss It all with a professional (look for someone who is open to talking about non-traditional relationships). Think about how you feel about your marriage when you and your husband are alone. You say you’re confused, and that’s the thing that stands out most. The not knowing. Before you make any decisions about what to disclose and request, think more.
Your first paragraph makes it sounds like you have a flirty relationship, but by the end of the letter, it sounds like he barely knows you exist. I think there’s something missing from this letter: What is your relationship like with your husband? He’s “the love of your life,” but how do you communicate? Do you get enough attention from him? This letter reads as though you are unhappy and are looking for distraction.
I’m married 30 years and have several couples who are close friends but I’ve never dreamed about us forming our own little community. ... You should definitely NOT tell C any of this.
The focus on random physical contact undermines your insistence that this is a platonic attraction. Brushing legs, a lingering hand do not stand out if you are not sexually attracted to him. If you could admit that, then you could start to deconstruct this idea for what it is — pure fantasy.
It sounds to me like you are craving some sort of romance, but don’t want to feel like you’re cheating, so you’re thinking about having one big happy family. Please find someone who can help you work through all of this. Good luck.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.