Since nobody here is familiar with my story, let me give you the Reader's Digest version. 12/6/12 was D Day. We went to MC, then in 5/13 found out that WH was a sex addict. Even before that, I'd been distancing myself from the relationship, since I had started to realize that our problems went WAY deeper than just the A and the circumstances around it. Actually, if I'm honest with myself, I'd been distancing myself in some ways from WH for about 4 years prior to the A, due to the hurts his SA had inflicted on me and our relationship. In so many ways, our relationship was never good and healthy. We started a true separation in June, and I filed for D about 5 weeks ago. We'll be finalized in early October.
That brings me to now. I'm still going to IC, though recently my work schedule has changed and I have had to cancel the appointments I have scheduled. I won't be able to get in for another week or so, and I could really use some insight. One of my best friends is a guy who I've known through work for 6 years. We're very similar, and I used to describe him as "me, but a guy". We've been spending a lot of time together since D Day; his XW cheated on him 7 years ago, and he's been divorced for 6 years. He completely gets what I'm going through and has given me a lot of valuable insight. The issue is that although we never had any sort of inappropriate relationship while I was married, I'm starting to see that he cares for me a great deal, and has for a long time. While I can't entirely trust my own feelings right now, I care for him as well, and I would be interested in pursuing a relationship once I get a bit more sorted out.
But what do I do in the meantime? I've been addressing my issues from the marriage and A, and my IC is very pleased with my progress. While I'm not by any means out of the woods, I AM healing. I want to continue to make good progress and not set myself back, and I want to make sure that my not-just-a-friend doesn't keep me back or hang me up. He has offered to step back if necessary, and says that my healing is the most important thing to him. He was supportive of me when I was initially trying to work on my marriage, and has never acted selfishly or given advice that would benefit himself. He really is an amazing friend, and I don't want to lose that. But how can I keep myself from inadvertently using him as a crutch? I want to be whole and healed, not rug sweeping like I did for so long. Can I do that while still maintaining our friendship? Having him around hasn't hurt me so far, I don't think... I still spend a lot if time alone working through my baggage, and I also spend time with other friends. Setting boundaries (not being at our houses alone, hanging out only in public and for limited amounts of time), doesn't change the extent of the emotion I feel for him. Help?
Since my house burned down / I now own a better view / of the rising moon.
- Mizuta Masahide
Keep resisting using the relationship with this guy, and his understanding, as a drug to soothe the huge pain and upset by continuing to develop other friends and interests.
If there is sincere caring with him it will keep until you are more solidly on your own two feet.
Know that if you get involved and it doesn't work, that first break up after a marriage break up hurts much worse than you would think because it pulls all the unresolved stuff up all over again. It can really set up a destructive tailspin. So take good care of yourself and guard against leaping out of the fire and into the frying pan.
You are wise to pick public places, to not be alone together for a while. I can feel the tension this creates but I think it's not a great idea to relieve the tension by jumping in to another relationship.
Perhaps go on a vacation by yourself or with other friends to have time away from this guy and clear your head and gain insight on what you really want.
I think you are very wise to step on the brakes and wait until you are healed until beginning a romantic relationship. I think that the time you spend alone, figuring yourself out, is invaluable.
I'm just not sure how much healing you can get done if he's hanging around and you want to be with him.
That being said, if I were in your shoes, as much as I'd like to think I'd ask him if we could almost go NC for 6 months or so while I figured things out, I'd most likely, as IL said, step out of the frying pan and into the fire. And then it probably wouldn't work out because I wasn't healed, and I'd be devastated and mad at myself for ruining a friendship and ruining the possibility of a future relationship had I slowed things down.
I wish you the best of luck in figuring this out. Timing can be terrible, sometimes.
Married: 11 years, no kids
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. -Michelangelo
phmh - Yes, timing IS terrible. If we hadn't been friends for so long I'd be willing to write this off as a rebound and dismiss it. Actually, I'd probably run away screaming from anyone who was even remotely interested, because of my trust issues after STBX. But I already trusted this guy, and he has never, ever let me down or given me reason to question his sincerity or motives. I'm aware that my feelings are probably amplified, just because I'm lonely. But I can't dismiss the fact that we'd be GOOD together if I had my shit together. We have a great friendship where we share many activities and interests (something that never really happened with STBX, sadly), and I guess having a taste of what a good, "normal" relationship could/would be has sort of blown my mind. I'm trying hard not to let it blow my common sense along with it.
I DO sort of work with him. We could go NC, as we don't work directly together, but I'd still bump into him at least a few times a week (though we'd never be alone).
I already have done a lot of healing, in spite of him. I've always been very introspective, and identifying what I'm feeling and why is one of my strong points. I can tell when I'm trying to use him as a cushion, and I'll intentionally avoid calling him when I'm especially needy unless none of my other friends/support people aren't available. I've been journaling to help me identify my issues and track my progress. I'm trying hard not to use him, but I suppose only time will tell how successful I really am...
And how will I actually know I'm healed? Or healed *enough* to put myself out there? I know from IC that there are some issues from STBX's sex addiction that I won't even really address until I'm in a relationship, simply because they involve sexual intimacy and feelings/thoughts that may or may not arise. And I read all kinds of things here about people encountering triggers during dating that they never expected. I could arbitrarily say 6 months, but how would I really know?
I remember the exact moment when I felt that shift inside from anxiety about dating to feeling it was right to meet men. It was a feeling of ease.
Isn't a lot of this about self trust? It sounds to me like you are handling this pretty well given the circumstances.
[This message edited by InnerLight at 12:13 AM, September 12th (Thursday)]
I know that most of us started dating way too early. I thought I was healed, and started dating about 8 months past D-Day (3 months past divorce.) Luckily no one got hurt. After a few months, I took some time off (about 6 months), started dating again, and this time, I do feel healed, but I suppose I could find out in the future that I'm still not.
I also lost a friendship because he came on to me and I wasn't used to politely rejecting people, so I handled things the wrong way. He was so embarrassed that he dropped out of our running club, no longer does local races, and I haven't seen him in well over a year.
Another thing that concerns me about your situation is that you're coworkers. The fact is that most relationships don't work out. What will the environment at work be like if the relationship ends?
That being said, it's easy for me to sit here and say these things because my emotions aren't involved. As IL said, you just have to trust your gut and really, hope for the best.
It is a lot about trusting myself. In some ways, all of this fallout from STBX's infidelity increased my trust in myself. Yeah, I did a lot of rug sweeping over the years, but I SAW the things that were wrong. I excused them away or ignored them, but I still saw and felt that things weren't what they should be. Now that I know that my former reality wasn't "normal", it's like my eyes have been opened. I feel a profound sense of relief just knowing that part of my life is over. I never again have to worry about not feeling like I'm enough, because I WON'T settle for that. I won't settle for someone who can't/won't/doesn't share certain interests, because I now know what it feels like to enjoy (as opposed to tolerate) activities with someone who loves them as much as I do. I won't settle for someone who can't provide the emotional support I need and who isn't willing to pull part of the load. This ordeal has taught me that the things I want/need aren't unreasonable or unattainable.
People do tell me I'm coping really well, but like I said in my OP, I started this process 5 years ago. I started to find myself when I realized then-DH wasn't willing/able to share my interests and passions. I started my journey, and in a lot of ways I left him behind. It used to make me sad; I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me that he didn't want to go with me. Now it's painfully obvious that he was the problem. Not that I am blameless in some of the issues in our relationship, but his A, his issues from the SA... They have nothing at all to do with me. It's been difficult, and lonely, and heartbreaking at times... but it's set me free.
phmh - I'm so sorry you lost a friend... That must have been really difficult, especially at a time when everything was still so raw.
If things don't work out, work would be awkward, but I don't think it would be unbearable. I'm actually looking at transferring to a different division of the company after the first of the year, and we'll have much less professional contact after that. When we met, he was my direct supervisor, but we've since gone on our separate career paths, even though we work at the same place.
I guess in a lot of ways, unless something major changes in the near future, I've already decided that I want to try. It's just a matter of when. We've already been inching that way, and unless I slam my foot on the brakes, it'll likely just continue. Maybe it'll just happen if it's supposed to, and I'm way overthinking this?
I also moved forward in my own interests and development while I was married since there was a certain amount of distance in the marriage. But even so it has taken me time to let the layers of who I was as a married woman go, and to discover more of myself as a single person. Don't shortchange yourself that time. It makes a difference to how a relationship is founded.
I waited 18 months after separation to date. Perhaps in an ideal world I would have waited even longer, another year, but I couldn't live without sex that long. We have our desires, we have our rationales and somewhere between the pull of them we make our move. Just really watch how you form an attachment that makes the foundation for a whole relationship., and sets your life on a path for years to come. Do it as consciously as you can.
[This message edited by InnerLight at 11:55 PM, September 12th (Thursday)]
Contrasting with that is this massive need I feel to share. STBX and I didn't have a very sharing relationship; we didn't have interests and hobbies in common. Actually, he didn't really have any of his own because he was so unhappy with himself that he couldn't really enjoy life. I've been sad for a long time that I wasn't able to do things with someone who enjoys them as much as I do.
I feel like I'm at war with myself. I know that means I'm not really ready. I desperately want to indulge myself, so grab hold of what was missing for so long in my marriage, but if I'm honest, I know I don't yet have the resources to invest in a relationship. I have to take care of me first.
It's so hard to walk this line. My not-just-a-friend and I have talked about it, and he is happy to just share my company for now. We both want more, but we also both want me to be whole. I guess I'll just keep doing what we're doing: having coffee and good conversation, sharing activities we both love, and trying to remember that we'll have a better shot at success if we can wait.