#1398: “Help, I’m falling in love with a non-single man!”

Dear Captain,

Two weeks ago, I randomly met a man and (we’ve talked about it together) we both felt an instant spark. We then spent the next days chatting (he lives a few hours away) and he has been the cutest, most flirtatious person I’ve ever met. he gives very thoughtful compliments, told me about his life, his family and his dreams in life (and vice versa) and I feel (even tho I’ve only known him a short while) very safe with him- something i don’t have often with men.The thing is that he’s got a girlfriend (they’ve been together for 3 years).

He has told me that he did not feel this love-themed excitement he feels for me about someone in quite some years and I have no reason to doubt it, I’m just unsure where this can go. We have not kissed or anything and I would not do that while he’s in a monogamous relationship, but there is a strong emotional connection forming. How the fuck do I proceed? My brainstorming has gotten me:

a) Stop chatting for the most part, only as friends, sit aside and wait if his relationship eventually breaks (chance that we part ways: strong)

b) Tell him to tell his girlfriend that he is also in love with someone else (bc that’s the thing: he also loves his gf which is fair) and see what happens (chance that she’s losing trust in him: strong, not good)

c) Tell him to softly talk to her about non-monogamous dating options and see how she feels about it (chance that she doesn’t want polyamorous/open relationship: strong and fair, can’t force that stuff)

d) I’m out of ideas and in desperate need of input, I sincerely hope you can help me unwrangle this knot in my head!

Thank you for your help in advance (even if you decide not to answer- i love your posts they helped me decide to break up with my abusive ex) and i hope you have a lovely day! (pronouns: they them)

Hello and thanks for the question and the kind words! It sounds like you and this guy both met a fascinating and sexy stranger who is making you question everything about your current lives and fantasize about new possibilities.

Let’s go through your list of options and see if we can come up with the right one for the right circumstances.

“a) Stop chatting for the most part, only as friends, sit aside and wait if his relationship eventually breaks (chance that we part ways: strong)”

I don’t recommend this one except for the parting ways part of it. Pretending that you’re friends is only going to get you in deeper. You’re not friends, you’re two people on the verge of an infatuation, and feeding that infatuation while he is still partnered does not seem like a great idea for you. Do you really want to be his sounding board about his existing relationship with somebody else, there to comfort him about his indecision and wait around for him to decide… something? Or do you want to, you know, actually date him when and if he’s able to do so freely? Mistaking those two things is a recipe for a lot of emotional entanglement and stress for you without much advantage.

b) Tell him to tell his girlfriend that he is also in love with someone else (bc that’s the thing: he also loves his gf which is fair) and see what happens (chance that she’s losing trust in him: strong, not good)

Telling his girlfriend he met someone else is certainly an option that he has! Sounds like¬† a) an extremely classic pop song and b) a whole lot of Not Your Problem. Crushes happen, and sometimes meeting someone new can be a catalyst for leaving a relationship that isn’t working anymore, but sometimes a crush is just a passing moment. Instead of advising a course of action, maybe ask questions. “Okay, you’ve said you have feelings for me, so, what* do you plan to do about that?”

*if anything. It’s been two weeks!

I recognize that this level of instant attraction is rare for you, but charming, flirtatious, men who love to talk about their hopes and dreams with an attractive new person while keeping their existing relationship are not exactly rare in the universe, and it’s healthy to be very, very skeptical. If Mr. Surprisingly Sexy wants to break up with his girlfriend and be single, he can do that any old time. If he’s interested in a relationship with you, he can make a series of decisions to make that more possible. I suggest that you give away nothing until you see evidence that he’s done so.

“c) Tell him to softly talk to her about non-monogamous dating options and see how she feels about it (chance that she doesn’t want polyamorous/open relationship: strong and fair, can’t force that stuff) ”

This is also certainly a choice that he has open to him if he is into non-monogamy. It’s probably something that should have occurred to him before seeking out random new exciting people and sharing all his feelings, but maybe this is the inspiration he needed!

However, we’re back to the whole thing where his relationship with his girlfriend and how she feels about things is not your problem to solve even if you had the power to solve it, which you don’t. Whether to open a three-year relationship vs. ending it is a complicated process and it’s not going to be solved with, “Hey, so I was wondering how you feel about opening our relationship btw I met someone great two weeks ago, so could you decide like, now?”

Not to mention, how do *you* feel about open/polyamorous relationships and is this the right match for you?

Here is my suggestion for option “e”:

First, watch Take This Waltz, a film by Sarah Polley. It’s about meeting someone who absolutely wrecks you with lust and the consequences. It’s a lovely film and it will hopefully make you feel less alone with all of these feelings.

Next, tell this gentleman that you’ve enjoyed meeting him very much and that he should look you up if and when he’s ever single, but you’re not available to pretend to be his friend while you flirt your faces off or serve as his breakup doula at this time. Wish him luck and assume he has the same access to therapists, friends, sympathetic bartenders, and anonymous internet forums that you do if he needs someone to lean on while he makes big decisions. Then, delete his contact info from your rectangular dopamine delivery device, stop responding to or checking for messages from him, and put your time and focus somewhere else. If he does change his situation and eventually come looking for you, you can make a decision then with more evidence about whether he is the real deal. In the meantime, enjoy and remember the feeling you got from connecting with someone, so you’ll recognize it when someone else inspires you in the same way.