Ask Dave-Should I Keep Waiting For Her?

She talks about a future with me, but says she can’t break up with her girlfriend. I’m so confused!

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
I’ve been in love with my best friend for several years, before I even admitted to myself or anyone that I was attracted to another female. I finally told her a couple of years ago, but she was in a relationship so we decided to leave it alone and
She is in a miserable relationship with someone else right now.
simply continue our friendship. She admitted that she was attracted to me, but that was it.

Recently, however, our friendship has moved to new level. It feels almost as if we're in a romance. She is in a miserable relationship with someone else right now. She tells me that she's no longer happy, but she can't break up with her girlfriend. I love her. We've talked about adopting kids and our future together. But I don't know how seriously I should take these talks if she can't break up with her girlfriend. Another friend tells me that if she really loved me the way she said she did, then she wouldn't still be with her girlfriend. The optimist in me wants to think that she just can't break up with this girl because she doesn’t want to hurt her. I'm so confused. I don't know if I should continue waiting around for her or just move on with my life.
-Confused & In Love

Dear Confused,
You are in romantic limbo, which is not a very fulfilling place to be. You have what I refer to as a “romance of the mind.” There’s lots of deep talk, but no action. Given that you haven’t put this love to the test, how real is it? I think it’s time to find out.

First, let me say that I understand how complicated love can be. Your friend truly may have romantic feelings for you, as you do for her. But, in ways she hasn’t expressed to you, she may feel tied to her girlfriend. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that if your friend was truly miserable, she’d have left her lover by now. Perhaps there are other ties that bind, such as codependency, not wanting to hurt her, real estate, kids, pets, financial entanglements, and even the very powerful force called “comfort in the known.” Any one (or a mix) of these could explain the inertia you’ve described.

That’s a possible scenario for her life. But the truth is that you don’t know exactly what’s motivating her to stay in this unsatisfying relationship. More importantly, you can’t control what she does. But you can take control of your own
Stand up for yourself and put your feelings to the test.
life. Right now, you are waiting in the wings, unfulfilled, patient—and focused on giving your friend the benefit of the doubt.

Now it’s time to address the situation. There’s a cost to waiting. The relationship is hurting you—it’s keeping you from finding a more rewarding love, and it’s possibly damaging your self-esteem. It seems to me that you have two choices:
  1. Let the relationship meander along, with all talk and no action. If you do this, you are choosing to limit your possibilities for sharing real love. She could stay with her girlfriend forever, complaining all the while. Not everyone figures out their own relationship puzzle. Personal growth can take years, and who knows what your friend’s timeline is? Do you want to be having the same “fantasy” conversations with her in a year? More importantly, would a real friend want you to be so miserable? It bothers me that she is willing to talk about children and a future together, yet offers no plan for getting there.

  2. Stand up for yourself and put your feelings to the test. Love is a powerful force and it can transform your lives if you’re both ready for it. With both feet planted firmly on the ground, ask for what you want. Tell her that you love her, but that it’s time to get real. Why has she stayed so long in an unhappy situation? Is she willing to leave her girlfriend? If so, when? In her mind, what would a romance with you look like? If she isn’t serious about wanting a future with you and if she can’t be more than a friend, then move on. Focus on getting distance if you need it and then setting healthy boundaries.
There is such a thing as unhealthy love. Just because you love her doesn’t mean that there’s a healthy relationship waiting for you. She has to love you and be available in order for your relationship to stand a chance. Only give your love to someone who will absolutely reciprocate it.

If she can’t be the lover you want, that doesn’t mean she can’t be a good friend. In time, you can establish a friendship based on reality—no more fantasy-land. But don’t underestimate your need for distance (even if temporary) in order to heal and move on.

Bottom line: Two wrongs don’t make a right, and two wounded souls don’t make one healthy, unified partnership. You have to be solid on your own in order to be great together.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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