Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
DEAR STACY: I am writing on behalf of a friend going through a nasty divorce. He decided to lease an apartment with a female friend who has also just left a long-term relationship. They spend a lot of time together – cooking and hanging out. Obviously they have developed a bond. It’s not physical yet, but he is growing feelings for this woman. He asked my advice and I think this is a recipe for disaster. They are both in pain and I think it would be like two addicts meeting in rehab or [Alcoholics Anonymous]. They share this one trauma in common and then numb the pain through physical intimacy. I think this could easily become a very codependent relationship. I told him he should avoid this, especially as they each have their own issues to get over, plus, he’s still in the middle of litigation. What do you think? –Concerned Bystander
DEAR CONCERNED, I think you offered your friend some very thoughtful advice – particularly since he specifically asked for it. But I warn you to be prepared for him to ignore that advice completely.
Yes, stumbling into a new relationship while going through a divorce is not usually a great idea. Obviously there could be legal issues, but unless both parties are comfortable with this being a rebound-style fling, it’s also risky because feelings could get hurt and Divorcing Guy could wind up alienating a good friend in the process. Still, please try to be gentle with him when he starts a relationship with Roomie. They have chosen to do more than just commiserate with one another, they are building a home together, something they both lost when their respective partnerships ended. When someone feels beaten up and abandoned by a failed relationship, that person looks for comfort wherever he can find it – it’s human nature. The wheels are already in motion on this one – Divorcing Guy may be asking for advice but leaving out the detail that he has already started the physical relationship. What he really needs right now is a good friend. Really good friends tell us the truth, as you have, and then keep listening without judgment. He’s going to need a lot more of that as he begins to truly grieve this loss.
Stacy Notaras Murphy www.stacymurphyLPC is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.