My names Jenn, I’m 39 – I met Iain (also 39) 5 yrs ago when he came to my house to visit my flatmate. Initially, he came across a bit arrogant for my liking and it took a few visits for me to break the ice. Despite the slightly frosty beginning we found we had a lot in common and became fast friends. We were both in relationships that had passed their use-by date, a subject we often discussed, among others. Over the next few months we hung out at my place often, spending hours working on his car (something we both enjoyed) and we talked, talked and talked. Sometimes it was just the two of us but more often than not other friends were around including my partner whom I lived with. His partner was rarely with him when he’d come over. Although I only looked at him as a friend, I enjoyed spending time with him and it was mutual, it was an easy comraderie, with lots of humour and teasing. I was unaware of any controversy regarding the two of us, until a mutual friend pulled me aside one day and told me people had begun to talk about Iain and I and about how friendly we appeared to be getting. I dismissed the gossip as ridiculous but to my surprise our friend agreed, adding she’d begun to suspect something more intimate had happened between us. Even though I assured her it hadn’t, she maintained our familiar behaviour with each other said otherwise. I started to reflect on our interaction, we were very comfortable with each other, conversation flowed with little effort, laughter punctuated most of our discussions, he was a natural flirt and I had to admit, I enjoyed his attention. A few days after my discussion with our friend Iain pointed out that he’d noticed my partner didn’t like he and I spending so much time together – I scoffed at the suggestion, my partner is one of the least jealous personalities I know, but once it was pointed out I begun to notice the signs and was frankly dismayed. It was time I acknowledged to myself at least, that there was something developing between us and I had some thinking to do. One night a few days later Iain turned up at home, his partner in the car, refusing to come in and for the first time ever he looked angry. He and his partner had been arguing furiously so he was off to drop her home. During the 10min he was there, his ph rung at least 6 times – guess who! Clearly disturbed he got up to leave, he uttered a few expletives and something like “she has got to go – I cant stand her anymore”! He left then, promising to return the next day. The following day I didn’t hear from him at all, I txt and called, ph was off. Then I got a call from a mutual friend – Iain and an old friend of his had been caught up in a shooting and someone was dead – they were both in jail on charges of assault and murder. When I got the news I excused myself and went to the bathroom – as the reality of what had happened began to sink in, I began to cry, I sat and sobbed uncontrollably. It was in those moments that I realised how much the man had begun to mean to me – the thought that I might not see him for a month was bad enough, but possibly years, I couldn’t bear the thought, I felt his absence more keenly than I could ever have imagined. 4yrs on he is serving a prison sentence which should see him out in another year (for the record he didn’t hurt or kill anyone – his mate did and it happened before he could stop it). Those events served of course to not only change his life irrevocably but to also hinder any progression in our relationship, incredibly – we are both still with the same partners! We talk on the ph every day – I visit him once a week, I take care of anything he needs in there, liaise with his lawyer when required, write any letters he may need, contact anyone he needs to contact, in short I do everything his partner SHOULD do – he maintains she couldn’t manage half of it! I’d help him with anything if he needed it – and even being where he is he is a great friend. That however is the problem – for some reason since his incarceration he has become blind to his partners many faults and lack of support and caring, where as before he would point it out and discuss it, now he denies it and hides it, making out like everything is rosy! There have been rumours of infidelity and even a terminated pregnancy – he brushes it off as rumours and changes the subject. Our friendship now is as solid as a friendship can be – like I said we talk daily and I often write to him about all kinds of things – he loves getting the letters and shares them with fellow inmates much to my consternation. He is a little less confident of himself since being inside, he hugs and kisses me on the cheek when we see each other but he does it shyly without the arrogance of before. I regularly make him blush and stumble over his words but we are still as comfortable as ever and it is always a surprise how quickly the two hour visits pass. Long story short, I love him, like I have never loved another. Although my partner still lives with me, we haven’t shared a bed for 4 years and have agreed we are now just friends -Iain is aware of this. What confuses me now is why he continues to hold on to his washed up relationship? I have never told him how I feel – if he hadn’t been dragged away that night four years ago I believe the “talk” would have taken place ages ago. But because he continues his farcical relationship, I don’t feel confident sharing my true feelings and sometimes I think maybe the connection I thought we had is all in my head?? For four years I have been his friend, loyal, reliable, optimistic and supportive, that will never change. But I need to know whether the attraction truly is mutual, if it isn’t the sooner I know the better. Please help me figure out what I should do from here? Do I show him my cards now, wait till he’s out? Would he have spoken up by now if he had feelings for me (in a guys opinion?)? I wont be surprised if this one goes in the too hard basket – it’s a bit of a mess I know but he and I are teenagers no more and I believe it’s worth every bit of trouble and I will be praying that you think so too and are willing to help this hopeless romantic through this frightening but exciting journey! Please please please help me sort this out.
Wow, this is a long one! I truly believe there’s more than just a friendship here, but whether he’s willing to give up his other relationship I’m not too sure. My advice to you is to find out by just asking him. You don’t need to be straight forward about it, but rather ask key questions that would lead to the answer you’re looking for. These questions could be such like; when you are free, what do you think is going to be your future with your girlfriend?
Also, do you see yourself spending the rest of your life with your girlfriend?
You get the idea. My point is to fish out information that can lead to finding out if you even have a chance with him without reveling your true feelings towards him. This doesn’t have to be done in the same visit, it can be done over several. Once you have enough data you can determine if it’s a good idea to tell him how you feel.
Keep in mind that at some point you’re going to have to tell him how you feel and if he doesn’t feel the same way, you’re going to have to move on. You just can’t keep waiting forever for someone who doesn’t want a romantic relationship with you. You’ll just be wasting your life.
I have a question for you. Why are you still living with you’re boyfriend if there’s nothing going on with you and him anymore? That might be something that’s sending the wrong signal. If you really want to send the message that you’re available, I would consider really being single and living alone.