Dr. Love,I am a 35 year old, single man who is fit, financially secure and in good health. Just over a year ago, work transferred me to an new city where I quickly met and became friends with my co-workers, many of whom were also new to town. Particularly, I have enjoyed the friendship of two married couples.From the first time I met the wife of one of these couples (Let’s call her ‘Di’), I was attracted to her. Being married, however, I resigned myself to a friendship which was simply more meaningful on my end.Far from obsessing over Di, I dated off and on continually looking for someone I could be happy with. This being said, I’m afraid that my fondness for Di was hard to conceal. Even Di’s husband made quiet jokes about it, usually after we had been drinking or if he & I were alone playing tennis. Nonetheless, we all continued this friendship and I continued with my search.Several weeks ago, however – without warning, Di’s husband left her. Di, needless to say, was devastated. She confided in me the day after he left and I’ve been trying to be the best friend I can throughout this whole ordeal. For Di, I think this is the best thing that could have happen to her. She’s got her head on straight. She’s has the motivation now to make some career moves that she has always wanted try and she really seems to be enjoying her new found independence. All this, given that she still goes through periods of anger and grief for 5 years of marriage that was trashed.As for our relationship… it still remains friendly. Obviously, I have high hopes for its future being more significant. I know, however, now’s not the time to press for that. I keep fighting off urges to confess my feelings for her. All the time wrestling with the fact that she probably already knows.So?… How should I proceed? ( The Separation & Divorce, are assured and in the process of being finalized) Should I continue as a friend, and meanwhile date other people? Figuring that we’ll grow closer together when the time is right and if it were’meant’ to be.Should I do as many things as I can with her, all the while encouraging a closer friendship? Should I go for broke and confess my infatuation with her? What is the time-line for separation/divorce and new relationships? Are there stages that women go through? Wildness, Partying, Depression? Is it true what they say about rebound-relationships, that they never work out?What should I be looking for to make a move?Thanks for you advice…Anxiously waiting
You have been a perfect gentleman from start to finish. From the questions you asked, it is clear to me that you are a thoughtful, considerate and sensitive person. This woman will be very fortunate to have you as her partner.There are no rules here regarding stages of grief. People that become wild or party are merely acting out in order to dispell painful feelings of sadness, hurt or anger. As long as a person talks, then feelings do not need to translate into crazy behavior. And, likewise, if a person can own the feelings of anger that are a normal consequence of a failed relationship, then depression need not result.In your friend’s case, anger will be even more expected since she was dropped without warning. Because the decision to separate was not mutual, she should have feelings of impotent rage. If she doesn’t own these feelings, then she will likely become depressed. We should also expect her to grapple with trust issues, and she may exhibit fear of reconnecting with someone else.If she goes into therapy now and examines her failed marriage with a cold eye, she will work-out her rage and trust issues more quickly.Also, if she can understand that choosing a spouse who abandoned her the way he did was not an act of fate, bad luck or an accident. She will need to see that her unconscious chose this man knowing, on some level, that he was an abandoner. See my Advice Archives under repetition compulsion and unfinished business. The point here is, I can bet that she chose somene who was an abandoner hoping to heal an early wound. The wish: this time the abandoner won’t abandon me. In any case, if she can come to understand that her unconscious knew on some level what this man was about, she will be able to see that she can have control over who she selects as her next partner. In other words, she needs to see that there was a reason why she chose her husband and why she stayed with him. The purpose of understanding this is not to blame herself, but to help her realize that she has the power of choice. She chose her husband out of an unconscious need to heal, and, once this pattern is made conscious she will discover the power to consciously not choose an abandoner this time around. When she realizes her power of choice, she will feel stronger and more in charge. The result will be a willingness to trust and love again, as opposed to feeling suspicious of the opposite sex.In the meanwhile, I see no reason why you can’t tell her how you feel about her. You can tell her that you understand that she isn’t ready for romantic involvement now and that you aren’t rushing her to date you. Assure her that you will be her friend and not push her.As for dating others, make sure that you don’t send her the wrong message, that you are not interested in her and looking for others. You might also want to ask her whether she is attracted to you and whether she thinks she might be interested in becoming involved at some point in the future. Explain that you care so much about her that you would be willing to wait and not date others.Good luck to you both. I wish her a speedy healing and you both a happy life together. If she wants to work with me on the issues I mentioned above, my door or, should I say, my email box is open.