My friend is getting married but I know he has feelings for me

Tell Me About It: Somebody else told me ‘the groom loves you and the bride hates you’

“I’ve always had a feeling he’s had a bit of a crush on me but he’s never asked me out or made any kind of intimate attempt.” Photograph: Getty

“I’ve always had a feeling he’s had a bit of a crush on me but he’s never asked me out or made any kind of intimate attempt.” Photograph: Getty

 

Problem

I have a close male friend who I’ve had since I was about 18 and we’ve been great friends.  There has never been any kind of physical relationship with him but I’ve always had a feeling he’s had a bit of a crush on me but he’s never asked me out or made any kind of intimate attempt.

He’s getting married this summer and I don’t think his girlfriend has ever been that fond of me. I can kind of understand why but I have never done anything to actively take her boyfriend away from her and I’m careful not to give cause for concern. 

I’ve been invited to the wedding. I had confided in him that I was in two minds about my own relationship a couple of months ago and he had given some advice, but I got myself sorted with my boyfriend since. I was out a few weeks ago with my friend and a couple of other friends, and he started slagging me, saying that he had a few bachelors at the wedding for me. I ignored it.

Later, when the groom was gone, his friend blurted out that “The bride does not want you at the wedding – the groom loves you and the bride hates you”. 

I pretended I didn’t notice anything. I’m upset on a number of levels; my boyfriend will be uncomfortable if he comes, I don’t know if I can stay friends with my old buddy and I don’t know if I should go to the wedding.

Advice

Anger and upset comes across in your letter, and this is no doubt due to your feeling forced into a position you never planned to find yourself in – that of the object of desire of a good friend – and you are now also faced with the possible loss of this close friendship. However, it also sounds as though you have had strong inklings of your friend’s feelings for you for a long time, and now it has come to a head and you would prefer not to face this. There are two questions: one about the wedding and another about your friendship and what you want to do about this.

If you think this is a friendship worth having, then a conversation needs to be had between you two that is honest and upfront. Rules and boundaries will need to be established, and you will have to be careful about long nights out and drinking. 

He will need to understand that part of friendship is that he fully supports your relationships

The decision will have to be a friendship that has limits or no friendship at all. It will obviously be a lot harder on your friend in these circumstances, but he will need to understand that part of friendship is that he fully supports your relationships and not suggest you be available to other guys (at the wedding). The other aspect is that you now have two other people who need to be able to trust this friendship, and they will need to be involved with this agreement at some level.

Secrecy and evasion have played a role by all involved, and it will take courage and persistence to challenge this. Friendship dictates that you do your best for, and stand by your friend – do you believe that your friend is getting married to someone he does not see as number one is his life, and if so, is there a responsibility to bring this up with him?  

You can offer an excuse and not attend for her sake, but you have been given an invitation and it is your right to accept this or not

The main focus of the wedding is the celebration of a marriage between two people and in this situation the groom has compromised this somewhat by letting his friend know of his feelings for you. This is not your responsibility but it might make the day very difficult for the bride to have you present. If you are feeling generous and magnanimous, you can offer an excuse and not attend for her sake, but you have been given an invitation and it is your right to accept this or not. If you do attend, it might be important to make your boyfriend the centre of your attention and be careful with alcohol, as you are still angry and upset. 

It can be lovely and reassuring to have someone have a secret longing for us and it can make us feel desired. However, a time comes when this needs to be addressed and brought out into the open so that other people are not hurt. Your friend carries the most responsibility for this, but the ball has now landed in your court and whether you think that is fair or not, it is up to you to deal with the situation. Good friends can have difficult conversations, and the friendship can deepen as a result. It seems that going to the wedding or not depends on the type of conversation you are willing to have.

  • Trish Murphy is a psychotherapist. Email tellmeaboutit@irishtimes.com for advice. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into
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