Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I’m in my late twenties, married, and very happy with my relationship. Both my spouse and I have a best friend we’ll call Keith. Keith has been our BFF for over 10 years, and I love him so very much. He’s befriended my spouse and I right after we started dating – so I’ve never been single around him, and he’s witnessed the whole gamut of my spouse’s and my relationship: falling in love, having arguments, making up, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, etc. He’s a big part of our life: he hangs out with us almost every day, we go on vacations and trips together occasionally, we’ve leaned on each other for emotional support though job losses and family deaths, etc. Point is, he’s a REALLY important friend to both my spouse and I.
The “problem” is… I’m pretty sure Keith is in love with me. Like, for real in love. He’s basically admitted it, in a long round-about way. He doesn’t date, he hasn’t had a significant relationship (more than 2 weeks or so) in the 10+ years I’ve known him. He’s open about how attractive he finds me, and that I’m the “kind of” woman he wants. And while he is just as kind and close to my spouse, he has told me privately many times that he thinks I’m just the bees knees.
Now, let me be clear that my spouse and I have no problem with poly relationships and we’ve even discussed the fact that both of us would be OPEN to it if the right person came along (we’re both bisexual, if it matters). But neither of us are attracted, sexually, to Keith at all.
I don’t know if there’s a “problem” here – Keith isn’t pressuring me to leave my spouse nor has he explicitly asked to be romantic with him (with or without my spouse’s approval). But I’m beginning to worry he’s hung up on me and won’t move on to someone else. Every time he tries to date, it never seems to work out. A lot of times it seems like the other girl’s fault, but I’m only hearing one side of the story. From my perspective it doesn’t seem like he spends much time on grooming or pursuing them because he’s far more interested in hanging out with us. He compares all other women in his life to me, I’m afraid.
(which I just have to point out, I have no idea why. I’m not trying to sound conceited)
I know he’s not asexual. I know he wants a girlfriend or boyfriend. I know he’s lonely (he talks about!) I KNOW he would want a partner if the right one came along. But I know firsthand how hard it is to move on when you’re REALLY hung up on someone else.
I don’t want to feel like I’m keeping him “on the hook” – I’ve never tried to give him any signals that we’ll ever be more than friends. But I’m just worried sick he’ll never be happy with someone else if he’s pining over me.
Part of me thinks I should try to distance myself from him, you know, “be cruel to be kind” and all that, but I love him (platonically) so much!!! He’s my best friend, and I know I’m his. Should I just… let him deal with it and stay out of it?
Putting the ‘Friend’ in Friendzone