DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in love with two men at the same time. One is my long-term boyfriend. We met at work, started dating and eventually moved in together. The other man is a childhood friend that I have known my whole life. He has always been there for me. Both of our families are so close, it's like we are one big family. My friend is also dating someone else. This is the first time both of us have been in relationships at the same time. So seeing both of us with other people makes me feel like we are living a fairy tale.
For the first time ever, I am beginning to wonder why we never got together, and it actually makes me scared to think we might go separate ways in life. I don’t ever want to lose him, and I realize now that I love him. My boyfriend is great, and he is everything I want. How do I begin to decide who I should be with? -- In Love With Both
DEAR IN LOVE WITH BOTH: Step back and survey your life. What do you like about it? What bothers you? What is fulfilling, and what is not? How does each of these men figure into your happiness? Could it be that you are confusing the love of friendship with romantic love? Pay close attention to what each of these relationships means to you and how each plays out.
The fantasy of “what ifs” can be debilitating for a person, and you could easily lose both of these men. You have to decide first if you still want to be with your boyfriend. What do you enjoy about being with him? Do you share values, hopes and dreams? Do you want to spend your life with him? If you are unsure, then he may not be the one for you.
Assess your childhood friend. What do you love about him platonically? What do you think you love about him as a partner? Could your jealous stirrings be simply because he has a girlfriend, or is it deeper than that? Sit with your questions and feelings and do your best to determine an honorable way to move forward. Do not try to have them both as lovers. That will end in disaster.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend is really competitive. She is an athlete and plays a lot of sports at school. We are pretty goofy and make a game out of everything. We will race each other, make bets and see who can do things the fastest. But sometimes it becomes nonstop. I can never just relax with her.
She is always egging me on to play her in something. Typically, she wins, but those rare times when she loses, she won’t let it go. She will ask for a rematch, and she will get mad at me if she loses. I just want to hang out like regular people without having to compete all the time, especially if it leads to her getting upset. How does someone break this habit? -- Stop the Competition
DEAR STOP THE COMPETITION: Stop taking the bait. Tell her you want to spend time with her, but you are tired of competing. Invite her to do noncompetitive activities with you where you are just together. Spend less time together with more space for just talking. Refuse to get caught up in the game when she starts it. Reduce that engagement by half.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)