“Ugh: My dream guy has a girlfriend”

Dear Sarah,

I fallen for my perfect man: he’s handsome, successful, smart, and romantic—the “only” problem is he’s been in a serious relationship for three years! I met him awhile ago through my job (I’m a restaurant manager and he is a rep for a company that supplies us with craft beer) and thought he was a hottie, but we really connected at an event at his brewery a couple of months ago. Afterward, he invited me for coffee, and we chatted intensely for a couple of hours. I definitely felt some electricity but since he told me all about his girlfriend and how he was planning to get engaged on New Year’s Eve, I thought that he was just being a flirt or maybe I was misconstruing his signals.

Then things heated up, fast. We started texting all the time and sending each other silly Internet stuff, he cracks me up. We had more coffee dates and, although I began to develop a massive crush, it still seemed fairly innocent. About four weeks, ago he blurted out that I was “the kind of woman he’d always dreamed of being with but didn’t believe existed” (I said he was romantic, right?). Suddenly it felt like we were on a sailboat that had become unmoored in a hurricane. All our secret thoughts and emotions came rushing out—we fantasized about moving to California and maybe opening a restaurant together; he said I’d be an “incredible mother.” When I asked about his girlfriend he told me they had settled into a sort of comfortable but passionless friendship—which he thought was solid and good enough—until he met me. He hasn’t yet promised he’s going to break up with her, but he did say he wasn’t going to propose—which will be a shocker because they’ve already discussed getting married.

A few days ago, we kissed for the first time. Ugh, BIG mistake. Now I’m feeling 1000 times more obsessed with him and the possibility of our being together. We haven’t seen each other since, but I’m jumping out of my skin. I invited him to a holiday party at my restaurant this week but I’m worried that maybe he won’t like me anymore. I have this (admittedly, slightly crazy) fear that if I wasn’t the best kisser in the world, he wouldn’t want to break up with his girlfriend and be in a relationship with me. I’m losing it.

—Swooning in Oregon

Dear Swooning,

Ok, sister, slow down and take a deep breath. Let’s break this down into bullet points in reverse order because there are a few areas we need to address:

  • If he’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t be in a relationship with you because you’re not the “world’s best kisser,” would you really want to be in a relationship with him anyway? You encompass way more than a pair of hot lips.
  • On the topic of kissing, I could rattle off many reasons why it’s not advisable to make out (or make life plans) with someone who is in a relationship, one of them being, as you’ve felt so acutely, your own tender heart. I suspect you already know some of the others so lets just focus on protecting you right now.
  • Please revoke that invite to your restaurant’s party, stat. It may seem exciting and harmless, especially since you are in the same industry, but both of you are risking your professional reputations, big time. There’s also a chance that someone will pick up on your crushy vibes and report back to his GF and he’ll be catapulted into an explosive situation that’s more painful and abrupt than it needs to be.
  • He says meeting you made him realize that getting married to his GF would be a mistake, fair enough. But if he does break up, it’s not going to happen in an instant, and he needs the space to do that sensitively and with respect. I suggest you both back off while he figures out what to do in a clear-headed way without it being muddled up in an affair. I know it’s hard when you feel like you’ve been struck with a lightning bolt of love, but try to be in the present and focus on the holidays and your friends and family instead of what may or may not become a relationship. Which brings me to. . .
  • If you do end up in a relationship with this guy, despite the intensity of your feelings right now, it has no more or less chance than any other coupling of two people who have only known each other for two months. Just providing a reality check here. So, put your wild ponies back in the barn for a while, and see how things play out before you go any deeper into your crush. Allowing the extracurricular activities to become more intense before he resolves his other situation will only increase your anxiety and longing.

Love, Sarah

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