Q. At the age of 21, I was in love with “Steve.” We planned a life together, but broke up for a bunch of dumb reasons.
We’d see each other every two or three years at gatherings with mutual friends. I did eventually get over him and we both partnered with other people.
I’ve been with “Brad” for almost 12 years. I’ve helped to raise his (now 15-year-old) daughter and we are close, even though when she was 12 Brad and I moved 2,000 miles away. (Now his daughter is planning to move in with us.)
During one trip home, I met up with Steve and his wife one day for lunch. Steve and I reminisced the whole time.
A few days later, Steve told me he has more fun memories with me than with his wife. I feel the same way. We decided to talk/text more often because we miss our close friendship.
After three weeks of talking and texting just about every night, he confessed he never stopped loving me and wanted to kiss me the day we met for lunch.
I told him I felt the same. I asked why he didn’t break up with his wife and come back to me. We decided that we want to get back together in the near future. We also both feel that our current relationships are a result of us “just settling.”
Steve’s wife has no idea that he wants to leave her, but Brad knows about it and he is OK with whatever the outcome is.
Brad and I have been in a rut, but still love each other. I want to be with Steve and know he’s my soul mate, but feel bad leaving Brad.
Please help! What would you do?
A. You ask what I would do, but this isn’t about me; it’s about you.
You and your guy “Brad” are not married. You say you have been honest with him about the rekindling of your attachment to “Steve.” I’m not sure why Brad doesn’t feel betrayed by you, but according to you he is willing (if not happy) to release you from the relationship.
You are consciously and deliberately interfering in someone else’s marriage, and that is unethical. The ethical course is for you to state your truth, and then to tell Steve: “Get in touch with me after you have exited your marriage, and we’ll take it from there.”
There is also a child involved in this drama (Brad’s daughter). If you leave him, you will be leaving her, too.
I’ve always believed the whole “soul mate” concept was a stretch, but once you and he are unencumbered by other relationships and commitments, you will be free to test it for yourself.
Q. I feel like I’m spinning out of control.
I’m four years sober, and the love of my life died a year ago. This will always hurt, and I understand that. I’m in my early 50s.
I’ve been trying to get out and meet people and make friends, but I sense a needy side to myself that I do not like. I know neediness is something that can drive people away. I’ve been an introvert my whole life. I’m not on social media, by choice. The few connections I’ve made are special to me, and I’m in fear of wearing them out (calling too much, or texting). Tell me, what am I getting wrong?
Philip in East Texas
A. One way to deal with your (perceived) neediness would be to channel it in ways that don’t overly burden your friends.
I hope you are participating in meetings to support your sobriety. You might consider becoming a sponsor as a way to connect with and help someone else. A grief group could also be very helpful for you. Contact your local hospice center or hospital for recommendations.
It is OK to have needs. It is OK to have feelings, emotions, and challenges. Your true friends will understand that your neediness may flare, but friendship should involve a balanced exchange, where both parties’ needs are being met.
Q. Wow. I was not prepared for the letter from “In a Quandary,” the man who wrote of his wife’s illegal abortion, pre-Roe v. Wade.
I found this very powerful. I appreciated his willingness to tell his story, and your choice to run it in your column.
A. The response to this letter has surprised me a little bit — and has been extremely supportive.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.