Q: I’m getting more and more scared that I have gotten myself into something that I won’t easily get out of, or not even sure that I want to get out of. I’m really confused and don’t know what I even want.
You see, my partner and I have been close friends with this other couple for almost 10 years. We go out or are at each other’s homes almost every week, sometimes more than once a week. We take care of each other’s homes and pets when needed, and have gone on extended vacations together. We’ve been a happy little foursome.
But now, things are changing. The problem is that I and one of the person’s in the other couple have fallen in love. (I’m not using pronouns and other details so as to keep from giving away who we are.) Anyway, it started about seven months ago. This other person and I have been seeing each other every chance that we can. However, I know that this can’t go on forever, one or both of us is going to get caught and all hell will break loose.
It’s not just that all hell will break loose and we risk losing our partners and couple friends, but I’m not sure that I want to keep the status quo, anyway. I mean, I’m not sure that this is a seven-year itch thing, I truly feel like I’m in love with this other person. So, maybe I want things to blow. I just don’t know. I’m really confused about all this.
I know from reading your column for years that you won’t tell me what to do, but maybe you would tell me what you would do if you were in my shoes.
Playing with Matches
A: Well, I can’t know what I’d do in such a situation, since I’m not there and I don’t know all the particulars in this situation. But, from what you say, I can give you some thoughts about what I would hope I’d do. First, you are right; it’s just a matter of time before this foursome implodes. If I were smart, I’d stop this relationship with the other person – letting this person know what I was doing, and why. Then, I’d get myself into therapy and work on finding out what’s going on with me and/or my relationship with my significant other. At least, I sure hope that is what I would do.
Q: My boyfriend lives in clutter and thinks it’s just another way of being in life. He doesn’t see it as a negative. He says that he knows where everything is and how to get his hands on it. Actually, he is pretty much right on that score. He is pretty much able to find things, not maybe as fast as an organized person, but he does find things within a somewhat reasonable amount of time.
But I have to say, his messes in every corner of the house makes me feel crazy. I can barely see the floor in every room, except the kitchen. In the kitchen, I still don’t know what color the counters are.
I have to admit that I knew this about “Calvin” shortly after I met him. He took me home and I saw it all, but I guess my priority was in a different place, then. What I didn’t know was that I would fall in love with him, move in…and that he wouldn’t change! Now what do I do? I love him. I want to be with him, but his messy lifestyle is making me crazy.
In a Mess
A: I’m sure that Calvin has heard from many people and many times about his living style. He has learned to be defensive about it. Take him out of that mess, to a neutral place and tell him – in a non-blaming way with no name calling – how the mess feels to you, internally. Let him know that this is not a moral issue, but more like a survival issue for you, being able to survive in that environment. Don’t make it a clean up or I’m moving out conversation, but a “how can we make this work” meeting. Get Calvin to make suggestions in solving this issue.
It might be easier for Calvin if you start with just one area and get him committed to keeping it up, then move on to other areas when he feels successful with the first area. Also, Calvin will probably need help in getting any one area organized, so offer to help him. Good luck and keep me informed.