A married person cannot be friends with an LO

A common and understandable desire, can it work?
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STR
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A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by STR »

You may have read that I bumped into my LO on Dec. 10, after not having spoken with her in 3 months. (We live in the same building, and bumped into each other in the building foyer). She suggested that we should get together soon to catch up, and she said she would email me.

On Dec. 21, after not having heard from her, I decided to send her an email to initiate a meeting. I did this because I realized that I was harboring quite a bit of animosity toward her that had built up over the past year, and I wanted to free myself of that burden by initiating contact and treating her with kindness rather than continuing to hold a grudge. One of the things that was bothering me was a comment she made back in May of this year to the effect that she did not consider us to be “friends”. This was hurtful and confusing to me, and I’ve been stewing over it ever since.

We got together two days ago and chatted very pleasantly for a few hours. My animosity is gone and I feel much better now without carrying that burden around.

I had a very important realization today that I wanted to share, because it might be helpful for some of you.

I have known LO for more than 5 years. We get along well and enjoy each other’s company. We can chat effortlessly for long periods of time, while maintaining interest and energy in the conversation. For the past 5 years I have wanted and tried to be friends with LO. It hasn’t worked, which has been very frustrating and confusing for me.

But here is what I just realized today: LO and I cannot be friends. We can be friendly; we can get along well; we can have stimulating conversations over lunch/coffee; we can care about each other and support each other; we can like each other as much as or more than we like other people in our lives that we consider to be “friends”; we could even (theoretically) “be interested in each other if circumstances were different”; but even if all of that were true, we nevertheless cannot possibly be friends.

Friends are people who can see and spend time with each other without any constraints or concerns about how other people might be affected. Friends can invite each other to concerts or on bike rides or to “hang out” in each other’s homes. Friends can call each other at night or on weekends when one is bored and has nothing to do, and wants to see if the other person wants to chat or get together to do something fun.

My LO and I cannot do any of these things, because I am married and have a wife. Perhaps I could do some of those “friend” things with a male, but it has taken me a long time to realize that as a married man I simply cannot have female friends. I can have female acquaintances that I am friendly with and that I see once in a while, but such women can never really be considered to be “friends” in the same sense that I might have been friends with them before my marriage or in the sense that I might have male friends now as a married man.

I spent a lot of time and emotional energy feeling hurt over LO’s comment that she does not think of us as friends, and it has taken me 6 months to finally realize that she was correct all along and that she did nothing wrong or hurtful in saying what she said. She didn’t mean that she dislikes me, or that she doesn’t enjoy my company. She simply meant that circumstances are such that she cannot have the same type of relationship with me that she has with the people that she thinks of as her friends. She can do anything she wants with those people, but there are significant constraints on what she can do with me.

My Limerence for LO has been fueled over the past 6 months by my obsession over her “we are not friends” comment, and by my decision to cut off contact with her because of that comment. I feel like some chains have been broken now that I will finally be able to let that comment go, and I don’t think I will need to obsess over her as much as I have been.

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Gryphon
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by Gryphon »

I'm glad to hear that you're slowly starting to unfetter yourself from limerbeast. When I was single and ended up limerent a couple of times, it was almost, well, dare I say, fun. There was always that chance and the thrill of those euphoric rushes was great. But as a married person, everything changes. It's a terrible feeling to want somebody in a way that you know you should want your spouse (emotionally, intellectually or physically) and to know that you're going to end up hurting people.
STR wrote: My LO and I cannot do any of these things, because I am married and have a wife. Perhaps I could do some of those “friend” things with a male, but it has taken me a long time to realize that as a married man I simply cannot have female friends. I can have female acquaintances that I am friendly with and that I see once in a while, but such women can never really be considered to be “friends” in the same sense that I might have been friends with them before my marriage or in the sense that I might have male friends now as a married man.
This. Very much this. Until I got married, I would not have understood this quote, but being married has lead me to understand the logic inherent in the reality. I have male friends, but I only hang out with them when my husband is there. I might give one a ride from work or school, but we don't hang out alone. Even guys I was buddies with before I got married I now treat differently. I don't mean this as a judgment call against married people who do hang out with friends of the opposite sex, I just can only speak for myself that getting married changed things. Sometimes I wonder if that makes me weak or irrational, so it is reassuring to see that there are other people who understand the idea.

JohnDeux
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by JohnDeux »

@STR: "....as a married man I simply cannot have female friends. I can have female acquaintances that I am friendly with and that I see once in a while, but such women can never really be considered to be “friends” in the same sense that I might have been friends with them before my marriage or in the sense that I might have male friends now as a married man."

STR, I've mentioned before how similar our respective emotional motivations seem to be and this statement is no exception....for *us* and those like us. But I do have to play devil's advocate and say that I know plenty of married men who have deep emotional relationships with other women that are not a threat to their marriage, and I suspect the same holds true for many women. Although there may be cases where what gets discussed in these relationships is not shared with the spouse, men that I've talked to say that they feel comfortable generally sharing all of this interaction with their spouse and the honesty all around helps maintain these different relationships. Call me a cad, but my extramarital female relationships pretty much gravitate towards those to whom I am physically attracted as well.....and thus would be quite dangerous to the marriage if they were to become anything but surface friendships. But just to throw out there that I think it is possible, and that is not even addressing the sector of society that practices polyamory.
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...."~ The Wizard of Oz

STR
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by STR »

Gryphon wrote:IWhen I was single and ended up limerent a couple of times, it was almost, well, dare I say, fun. There was always that chance and the thrill of those euphoric rushes was great. But as a married person, everything changes. It's a terrible feeling to want somebody in a way that you know you should want your spouse (emotionally, intellectually or physically) and to know that you're going to end up hurting people.
I know what you mean. I only recently (within the past few years) realized that I subconsciously ensured that I had an LO at just about all times, and that if one didn't present herself to me naturally, I would scramble to find someone I could pine over. How messed up is that. Limerence is sometimes thought of as "love addiction", which does a good job of describing my experience. I was addicted to being in love with or obsessed with someone, and I made sure that I always had someone to be obsessed with.
Gryphon wrote: This. Very much this. Until I got married, I would not have understood this quote, but being married has lead me to understand the logic inherent in the reality. I have male friends, but I only hang out with them when my husband is there. I might give one a ride from work or school, but we don't hang out alone. Even guys I was buddies with before I got married I now treat differently. I don't mean this as a judgment call against married people who do hang out with friends of the opposite sex, I just can only speak for myself that getting married changed things. Sometimes I wonder if that makes me weak or irrational, so it is reassuring to see that there are other people who understand the idea.
I only recently started to realize that I can't really have female friends. Since my ESFJ wife cannot meet all of my needs for intellectual stimulation, I decided to look for someone else to meet some of those needs. My LO was my first choice, because she was so good at it and because she's easily accessible (she lives in the same building that I do). But I realized after a while that it wasn't a good idea to have those needs met by a young, single, attractive female, and I also realized that it's not a good idea to try to start friendships with such women, either.

STR
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by STR »

JohnDeux wrote:But I do have to play devil's advocate and say that I know plenty of married men who have deep emotional relationships with other women that are not a threat to their marriage, and I suspect the same holds true for many women. Although there may be cases where what gets discussed in these relationships is not shared with the spouse, men that I've talked to say that they feel comfortable generally sharing all of this interaction with their spouse and the honesty all around helps maintain these different relationships. Call me a cad, but my extramarital female relationships pretty much gravitate towards those to whom I am physically attracted as well.....and thus would be quite dangerous to the marriage if they were to become anything but surface friendships. But just to throw out there that I think it is possible, and that is not even addressing the sector of society that practices polyamory.
Thanks for sharing, John. I have been working at trying to become the type of man who (1) is willing to engage with females that I don't find physically attractive, and (2) is capable of having a mature (platonic) relationship with a woman that I do find physically attractive but without ogling her body or fantasizing about her sexually or letting her beauty have any influence on how I treat her. It's not easy, but I've made a lot of progress.

Regarding my LO, I think she was correct in saying that "friends" is not the right word to describe us. When we were talking about that, I think I said something about trying to figure out where we are on a spectrum from "Just neighbors" up to "Spouse", where we are clearly not spouses, but also clearly (in my mind, at least) more than "Just neighbors". It was in this context that she didn't feel like "friend" was the right word.

The more I think about it, the more I think that what she was getting at is maybe that we are on a completely different spectrum altogether, one that doesn't have "Spouse" on the high end of the spectrum. I feel like we are more like siblings or cousins or even uncle/niece (she's 13 years younger than me), where we are capable of having a close, supportive, emotional connection, but where there is no chance of a physical relationship. But the caveat is that we can't really "hang out" with each other the way that relatives might, so I'm not quite sure what word would best describe our relationship...

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Jess
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by Jess »

Very good and interesting viewpoints from everyone! I resonate with so much of what you all have said although I am a married female with children. I have only had one LO that I met when I was 15 and we have remained extremely close friends for the last 15 years. I miss the days of when we could just go to the movies, hang out talking until two in the morning...etc. Although people usually have always assumed we were on a date :/.

I see what you are saying that it isn't possible, but just like limerence a true friendship is something very hard to give up. Sometimes I actually wonder if I didn't have limerence would I have to admit to myself my life is rather boring...

STR
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by STR »

gessykahall wrote:I miss the days of when we could just go to the movies, hang out talking until two in the morning...etc.
I would love to be able to do those types of things with my LO, but it will never happen. The thing I try to tell myself is that while doing those things with my LO would undoubtedly be super exciting at first, the newness would eventually wear off and I wouldn't necessarily value those times any more than I currently value doing those things with my wife.

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Jess
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by Jess »

That is a very good point STR. I don't get to see LO in person all that much, but I can tell you that for me the novelty of it never wears off. :| I can only pressume that having a healthy marriage would definitely impact that though. I am very happy that yourself and others I have read on here have relationships like that. :D

Rothko
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by Rothko »

By next week, my LO will have left work for a new job in another city- so our friendship will have to survive a completely new set of circumstances.

That's going to be incredibly difficult, as we're both married, both have small children, and finding a suitable, appropriate time to meet-up is going to be a challenge for obvious reasons. In the day times we'll be at work, miles away from each other; at night and at weekends we'll be with our respective families, and there are no social connections that could bring us together. We've promised to stay friends, and we do get on fantastically well, but life is presenting some serious obstacles to that happening.

Even texting each other will be awkward on a number of levels. I'll be worried that her SO may give her a hard time if another man is texting his wife; she'll have the same concerns over my SO; result- neither of us will text each other.
There's also the problem of not wanting to be the one who initiates and all the dancing around that goes on with that. There's always one person who does more of the running, and although I'm comfortable in the knowledge that LO does genuinely like me as a person, I'd still feel awkward if it was always me making the first move. She likes me but I like her more- that's the truth of the matter, I'm sure!

So, although my limerence is fairly under control at the moment, I'm inevitably going to have a rough patch while I adjust to these new circumstances. Hopefully, the reduced contact will see my limerence fade completely and I'll eventually be quite comfortable with very infrequent 'catch-up/ are you still alive?' type contact, but the thought of potentially losing this wonderful person from my life just fills me with sadness. I've come to terms with the fact that we will never have a romantic relationship, and I've made peace with that. But to probably be denied a friendship as well would be really hard to take.

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David
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Re: A married person cannot be friends with an LO

Post by David »

Rothko wrote:I've come to terms with the fact that we will never have a romantic relationship, and I've made peace with that. But to probably be denied a friendship as well would be really hard to take.
Seems sad but true. In my mens workshop we talked about this very issue, no easy answers , perhaps that part of growing up, accepting we cant have everything we want? I share your frustration as its rare to feel such a deep connection with another person, but sadly limerence gets in the way of that soul connection. Maybe thats the bigger spiritual lesson, learning to let go with love, grace and compassion?
Do you want help with limerence from the founder of this site?
I'm a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, medical practitioner and leadership coach.
To book a session see http://loverelations.co.uk/on-line-support-for-limerence-from-dr-david-perl/

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