When Harry met Sally

We are platonic friends, but I get jealous when he tells me about his girlfriends and happy when he breaks up with them.

By Cary Tennis
Published December 11, 2003 8:18PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I met a great guy about two years ago I'll call John. He lives not too far away from me. At the time we met he made "the moves" on me. It was fun and we exchanged phone numbers. He visited, then I visited, then suddenly he just wanted to be friends.

He wasn't ready for a relationship. Well, who is? We have kept in close contact ever since. I "help" him with women and he "helps" me deal with men. But every time he dates or meets another woman I really freak out. I feel jealousy, anger and all those other destructive emotions you feel when you get dumped.

And when things don't work out with her I throw my own private party. How hateful! I am supposed to be his supportive friend. I know I have feelings for him and sometimes I feel like he has real feelings for me but I'm stuck in high school all over again, afraid to tell the truth. Can men and women be friends or will the "sex" part or wanting to have sex part always get in the way?


Dear "Sally,"

It seems to me that it's profoundly human to feel and act as you do. After all, you want him for yourself, don't you? So when your wishes are threatened or thwarted, when you sense that some other woman might take him away, you are displeased, as is quite normal. And when the threat passes, you are happy again.

But when he first said he wanted to be friends, were you honest at that point? What did you really feel? I'll bet you were hurt and probably a little confused. As you say, indeed, who is ready for a relationship? But did you say that? Or did you pretend that you understood, that it was OK? If you pretended not to care, you gave away a little of yourself at that point; you sort of chipped away at your own beautiful inner sense of what's true and what's good. So now you have to reestablish an understanding with him that's grounded in how you really feel.

What's stopping you? Perhaps you don't believe it's OK to feel these things. Why is that? Do your true feelings for him threaten your friendship with him? Are you holding out for a change of heart? Are you afraid that if you level with him, you'll lose all hope? I can understand that. But you have to make a choice. I don't think it's so great to be secretly gloating over his misfortunes. That's not friendship. So you really do have to level with him, even if it makes the friendship uncomfortable.

And maybe the two of you can live with this. Maybe he can understand. Maybe he, too, has deep feelings for you, and is just trying to avoid being hurt.

At the very least, doing so will show you that it is possible to be forthright about your feelings, that the world will not end if you tell the truth about how you feel.

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Cary Tennis

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