Q. I’ve been too afraid to tell anyone in my life about my issue, so I’m coming to you for advice. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for the past five years. He’s amazing and my perfect match. I love him and want to be with him forever.
This past year I’ve been battling guilt because I also have a crush on my best friend. My best friend and I met in college, eight years before I started dating my boyfriend. Before we became friends, I had a huge crush on him, and ended up dumping the person I was seeing at the time to pursue it. My life took a tumble and I needed friends more than a new boyfriend, hence us becoming best friends. In hindsight, he liked me back, but we both tabled our feelings so I could get my life back on track. About a year into being friends, he started dating someone and I worked on moving on. Eventually I did move on, moved to another state, and met my boyfriend about a year later. We dated for a while in person, before I moved again for work, and we have been doing long-distance since.
Earlier this year, my best friend and the woman he’d been dating were having trouble in paradise and eventually split. Between emotionally being there for him through arguments and now through his breakup, it’s been really confusing for me. I expected them to get married, and now he’s single again.
I have this “nostalgia crush” popping up out of nowhere. Our lives have diverged (different states, different goals, etc.) and it makes no sense for me to feel this way about my best friend when I’m dating the love of my life. I tried to take a step back in communication, but I know he needs my support now during his breakup.
I finished reading “People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry today and, well, it has me all messed up emotionally, hence this letter. I feel like I’m in love with two people and the guilt kills me. I don’t want to implode my relationship for a “what if” nostalgia crush on my best friend who probably doesn’t feel the same way, especially while going through a breakup.
Help me Meredith. I need to move on again, this time for good.
THE NOSTALGIA CRUSHER
A. I’ve read that Emily Henry book. The thing to remember about it is that it’s fiction. (For those who have not read it, it follows two old friends who have history.) It’s a very lovey, romantic story, but it’s not a guide for making choices about real-life partners.
It sounds like you need to spend more time with your actual boyfriend. You’re long-distance, which means there’s less routine and more time to daydream about anything else. Make some good plans with him so you have more to look forward to.
Also, accept the crush as is. There’s nothing to get over, really. It’s a crush, and you will have a bunch of them in life. You don’t have to pursue them. They’re just sort of there. Crushes get weaker or stronger, depending on where you are and what you might need. Maybe if there was less pressure to get over it, you wouldn’t feel so affected by it. This person from your past is single and it makes you nostalgic. That’s all.
Also, you can help yourself (and your friend) by really listening to what he’s telling you. He needs you because he has complicated feelings about someone else.
One thing to think about in this case: I don’t think you’d pursue this crush even if you were single. You said this friend has other goals and a different geographical plan. You’ve had a bunch of opportunities to drop everything to be with him, and it never happened — on either side. You don’t seem to be in love with who he is now, just curious. That is a very different feeling, one you can work around.
You remind me of a younger relative of mine, to whom I say, in essence, “stop spreading yourself so thin.” You can’t do it all. You can’t be all things to all people. FOCUS on the priorities to focus on. Maybe trying to be this guy’s crying towel for every little thing is not working well for you anymore. Your original instinct was to give it space. You can do that.
If you could find a therapist, I think it would take only a few sessions for you to hear how silly you sound dwelling on all these conflicting feelings. And then you’d drop this obsession and move along in reality. You could try writing it in a journal. But maybe better to say it all out loud to someone. I don’t mean to be harsh; I just think you’re making a lot of drama out of some passing feelings, and it’s hurting you.
^Absolutely OUTOFORDER — you’re not out of order here. She’s ruminating and having obsessive thoughts which aren’t based in reality and have nothing to do with her past relationship. It’s all about her.
If he’s not Mr. Right Here, he’s not Mr. Right. You’re in one long-distance relationship where you have all the tedious work of a real relationship with little of the sheer physical joy and companionship, and you’re thinking of dropping that to sign up for more of the same?
^The windchyme rings true!
The fantasy is always better than the reality.
Stop being a fictional character in your own screenplay and start being a real human.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form. 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.