Dear Carolyn • The chemistry in my nine-month relationship is awesome, the hard work feels minimal, we stay up late and talk often. I've always wanted my lover to be my best friend. There's only one problem: He already has a best friend, his ex-girlfriend of eight years (friend of 17). He broke up with her because it was an unhappy relationship and their counselor said it was "maladaptive." Now that I'm in the picture, she makes all the time in the world for him. Since they both have flexible schedules, they go camping and canoeing together. They spend more time together than he and I do. When I told him how I felt, he said that he will not stop spending time with her because she's been a wonderful friend in dark times, and that if it causes an issue every time he mentions her name, he'll just stop telling me when they hang out. Did I mention she's in a loveless marriage and has been living with her husband for over 30 years? I am the age of her oldest child. My intuition tells me this is an extremely hot but completely screwed up relationship, but I'm seduced by our insane physical connection, and the opportunity for me to become the model self-confident woman unaffected by trite things like silly ex-girlfriends. Are we stupid?
Dear L. • Fish, barrel. I'll let it swim. For the record and in general, I feel for any opposite-sex platonic best friend of a relationship-minded heterosexual person (got that?). New relationships nudge all friends aside somewhat, but the opposite-sex best friend is usually either regarded with suspicion veiled by efforts to be above all that; or cast out on the business end of an ultimatum. Yet in many cases, a friend is a friend and the assumption otherwise is just not fair. So if an argument for staying is what you want from me, then you're on your own. If it's a push out the door, then I'm skeptical, because you'd have left by now without my help if that's what you really wanted. What's left to advise? That you stop kidding yourself with artificial, high-minded goals, and instead take a cue from the guy, of all people: Decide what you will and won't abide, draw those lines for others, and live accordingly.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.