Beliefnet
Dear Thomas,
I am gay, and I fell in love with another woman, who is married.  I have lived with a woman for 15 years, but have not felt happy in my relationship for a long time. I know the woman I'm in love with loves her husband, and she says she's not gay, but when she's had a few drinks she gets very affectionate and loving. Plus, she calls me every day, giving me the feeling she feels more for me than she's willing to face. She does love her husband, though he is often quite mean to her, and has been abusive in the past. 
 
Maybe I'm just dreaming, and not facing reality. But I feel so much for this woman, and feel so unfulfilled in my current relationship. Sometimes I feel like running away from both of them, and starting my life new. I've never dealt with such a difficult situation of being in love with someone who I will in all likelihood never be able to have a relationship with. I really just don't know what to do with these feelings and how to be happy again. There's an emptiness that I can't seem to fill. 
--Kim

Dear Kim,
At one time in our lives, most of us feel the pain of loving someone who is not available or who doesn't have the feelings for us we wish they had. You probably understand that it is self-centered and usually futile to force you attentions on such a person. The most difficult lesson in love is to protect the freedom of the one you love.

Your judgments about her relationship with her husband sound more wishful on your part than substantial. You seem to be rationalizing a situation so you can relieve your pain and fulfill your longing. It's time, I think, to draw in all those thoughts and focus on yourself. There are things you can do, and your letter offers a few hints.
 
You say you feel empty. Think of that emptiness as a quality of your life, not just the absence of a particular person you desire. Are there ways to make your life fuller, richer, and more interesting? I see many people who are desperate to possess another person as a way of filling their own emptiness. An intelligent woman is not going to want a relationship with such a person. If you really want more love in your life, a first step is to fill in the gaps in your own life.

Here are some possibilities: Attend to your friends, especially those you have been neglecting. Reflect on your work. Is it fulfilling? Do you have outlets for your creativity? Are you taking good care of your body and your home? Do you offer any volunteer service to your community? These items may sound remote from your current passion and desperation, but they may be more involved in it than you think. Each one is crucial to a full and engaged life, and if you want a satisfying relationship, you need to start with these aspects of yourself.

You might also look at your thoughts with a little distance. You say your current relationship is not satisfying. Wouldn't it make sense to deal with that relationship before embarking on another one? I understand that relationships often overlap, but in this case, your concerns about your current one is dangling. It needs attention.

You say you sometimes feel like forgetting about both people and starting your life anew. This is a thought worth considering. You don't have to be literal about this and go off on your own, but you could focus on yourself as your own person, rather than as part of a couple. Clearly, you need some renewal in your life in general. Find that personal renewal, and it's very likely that your relationship concerns will sort themselves out.

All that I'm telling you is a version of an old truism: You have to love yourself before you can effectively love someone else. When the important work of caring for your own life begins to fall apart, it's understandable that you would look for fulfillment in another person. But that's a weak and fragile way to enter a relationship. It's better to begin with strength and self-possession.
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus